• Published 2nd Nov 2013
  • 8,290 Views, 346 Comments

Alienation - Longtooth

I am not Twilight Sparkle. We share one body, one past, but not our souls. I do not know why I am here, or why I have done these terrible things. This is my story.

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Emotional Range

The advantages to getting drunk on your first night alive are not to be overstated. I mean that, if I had to do it all over again, well, I’d aim the table away from Twilight’s sidekick. But after that I’d still go drinking. Alcohol strips away the rational you. It takes logic and reason and folds it in together with emotion and desire. Get drunk enough, and the most absurd things will make perfect sense. When you don’t know who you are, getting drunk can show you quicker than anything else.

After two glasses of whatever it was that Berry had ordered me, I was much more willing to engage in some social interaction. A plate of the best hay fries I have ever had also helped. I mean that. They were crisp and lightly salted and warm and starchy. The flavor exploded in my mouth. It got rid of the aftertaste of the drinks, and that would have been enough all on its own. I tell you right now, Twilight never had any hay fries that good, and I haven’t found their equal since. These fries were magic.

So, with a buzz in my head and a plate full of digestively dubious heaven, I engaged in a conversation with Heather and Berry.

“You might want to go easy with the drinks,” Heather said as I emptied my second glass.

“Okay,” I agreed. I wasn’t going to, of course, but it’s always good policy to look like you’re listening to your barmare. That was a lesson I didn’t need to learn. “Berry, what kind of drink suits ‘going easy’?” I asked, deferring to the expert. Berry gave me this strange smile. Bemused, like she thought she was dreaming. But she gamely named something that sounded innocuous enough.

“Dear, if you’re not used to it, ya don’t know your limits,” Heather said. “Maybe some water would be best for ya.”

“No,” I replied, looking steadily into her eyes, trying to convey how much I was determined to throw caution to the wind. “Go with what Berry said.”

She nodded. “Well, alright. But don’t ya make a scene, or I’ll have you out of here.”

“Cross my heart and hope to fly,” I began the promise on automatic, but stopped myself quickly. The last thing I wanted was for Pinkie to show up. It would be awkward, confusing.

“This your first time out drinking?” Berry asked as Heather mixed the drink.

I nodded slowly. “You could say that. I didn’t really come out here for that, I was just hungry.” I punctuated this by chomping down on another hay fry, savoring its unhealthy goodness.

“Well, since you’ve decided to sample the sauce, I think I’ll give you a proper introduction to the joys of getting soused.”

“Was that a pun?” I asked. Because I honestly didn’t know, and the Twilight parts of my brain were insisting that I had to find out.

Berry shrugged. “Heck if I know. Now, what to have you try next…”

Heather placed a new drink in front of me, giving a stern glare to Berry. “Now, don’t go pushing her. The poor dear’s just had a terrible day. She’s not lookin’ for one of your wild nights, Berry.”

I took a sip from the drink. It was red and smelled like cherry cough syrup. It had nowhere near the kick of the last one, and I suspect Heather had watered it down considerably. I could still taste the alcohol under the cherry flavoring, though, so at least she wasn’t completely cutting me off. “I don’t know what I’m looking for,” I admitted, catching the attention of both mares. “Today was… no, you’re right, it was terrible. But it… it was a wake-up call. It was a slap in the face.”

“O, my dear girl, I can’t imagine what you’re goin’ through,” Heather said, laying a hoof atop mine. “Do ya want to talk about it?”

If she had asked three drinks later, I might have. Instead I shook my head. “I don’t think talking will help. I don’t need to talk about what I’m feeling. I need to find out who I am, what I want. I just… Okay,” I nodded, a split-second decision made, and turned to Berry. “You want to get me acquainted with drinking? Show me the ropes? I’m up for that. Let’s do it.”

“Ya might find you regret it in the mornin’,” Heather warned.

I smiled at her, probably the first sincere smile I had ever given. Maybe the first smile period. “As a friend once told me,” I said, taking a long gulp from my cherry-syrup drink. “That’s future-me’s problem.”

What? Yes, that was Spike, and yes that was Twilight he told that to. Look, it’s confusing enough as it is without the extra effort of keeping it perfectly straight whose memories are who's. Anyway, I shouldn’t have to, because it’s obvious. Anything before that morning is Twilight’s memories, everything after is mine. If you catch me referring to Twilight’s memories as my own, it’s because, well, they are my own.

That night was… memorable. Nothing amazing happened, you understand. The real fun didn’t begin until I took my show on the road, so to speak. But still, this was an important time for me. Berry ordered drinks from across the alcoholic spectrum. I even tried out some of the salt-water available. Let me tell you, it is hard to compare between the two. I prefer alcohol to drink, and salt on my food. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, salty food doesn’t mess me up as much. Salt water makes my insides feel like they’re being squeezed up into my head, expanding my skull like a water balloon full of viscera. I walk around afraid to bump into sharp corners as if my swelled-up head would just burst and then my brain would splatter all over… dammit, I got sidetracked again. I blame you. Where was I going with this again?

Oh, right. Berry showed me a lot of different drinks. Some I liked, some I hated, more than a few I absolutely adored. It didn’t take long before I was drunk and having a blast. We played a few bar games. Pool, darts, trivia, that kind of thing. Some of the other patrons of Heather’s got into it too. It was a party, and it was all for me.

I found out a lot that night. I found out that I lacked a lot of the social anxiety that plagued Twilight. I don’t deny that the alcohol was a factor, but when Twilight got drunk it only made her fears worse. With me, it flattened them, made them distant and not so scary. I also learned that I felt things differently than Twilight had. I could have discovered that merely by examining my reactions from earlier in the day, true, but that was panic and guilt and fear skewing any sort of analysis. This… this was something more stable to make conclusions on.

I feel more than she did. Not more deeply, but more in general. Twilight’s emotional range was fairly narrow, only extreme situations could push her beyond a comfortable norm. Or Pinkie Pie. Who I guess counts as a mobile extreme situation. I'm not so stable as that. I feel the whole range, and it takes much less to provoke a shift in what I'm feeling.

What? No, I'm not 'over-emotional'. I'm just more emotional than Twilight. That's not saying a lot. Okay, yes, as I admitted earlier, I'm a bit of a drama queen. Oh, ha-ha, very funny. I can see you mocking me with your eyes. I bet you're just laughing all of this up, aren't you? I bet you think I'm just...

Sorry. That was a just straying a little close to the last conversation I had with Rainbow Dash. The one that ended… Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. One consequence of being super self-reflective is that I have bouts of super self-consciousness too. Doesn’t help that I've got a temper. It didn't come out that first night, thank Celestia, but you've probably already noticed it from what I had done earlier.

Of course I know all about it now. I've spent so much time on introspection there's barely a part of myself I'm not aware of. That’s not me bragging or anything. The point isn't that I figured it all out, but that I had to in the first place. I managed it, but there have been… setbacks.

No. I’ll get to those soon enough. That night, though, Berry Punch and Heather helped me with a crucial time. A first blush of self-discovery. I'm... thankful to them for that, and I don't think I could leave it out of the story without feeling like I was ignoring them and what they did. I mean, I could have just said 'I went to a bar and got drunk', but that would fail to capture the significance of it. It would trivialize something precious. I don't want to do that, I don't want to make moment of my life less important than it is. I deserve that. I deserve to treasure even moments like these.

I damn well earned them.

Well, like all things, the night eventually had to end. Berry walked me to the library, her tolerance for booze orders of magnitude above my own. I probably wouldn't have made it all the way up the stairs to the street without her. As it was, I barely managed to make it to my bed, and collapsed.

I woke up around noon, my head pounding with a hangover from Tartarus and my heart surging with the sudden realization that I was still me. I hadn't been sure, that first night, exactly who would wake up in the morning. I hadn't thought about it, hadn't even wanted to consider the possibility, but I've got all the critical thinking training that Twilight does, and that meant that I'm going to consider all the possibilities, even if I don't want to. Especially if I don't want to.

So waking up still me was a relief. Not enough of one to drown out the hangover, sure, but a relief all the same. I had just started life, I wasn't ready to give it up yet. I'm still not.

The day was… boring, honestly. I spent it cleaning myself up, taking stock of the remaining stores in my broken kitchen and hitting the books. I only went out once. I intended to go to the hospital, check on Spike, but... I couldn’t do it. When I was standing there, looking at the doors, thinking of how he would look at me, what I could say to him that might even begin to apologize for what I'd done... I just couldn't do it. I couldn't face him. So I turned tail and ran.

It's not like Twilight would have done any better! I'm not a coward because of that! I'm not! Anypony would have reacted the same way. Anypony.

…I’m alright. Anyways, there was no way I was opening the library. Not only was there still a gaping hole in the side of the building, but I have no interest in sorting books or helping clueless ponies trying to find their way around Twilight's filing system.

Not that Twilight is any good at navigating her own byzantine book code. She had Spike for that. I freely admit that I'm no better there, either. Which was a problem because I wanted to research what was happening to me.

I didn't find anything that night. So it shouldn't surprise you that I went out drinking again. The next day was the same, essentially. I went shopping, got a few foodstuffs that didn't require an oven to prepare. I avoided Applejack’s stall in the market, was careful to go when Twilight’s other friends were least likely to be about, and ignored every knock at my door. I wasn't ready to see any of Twilight's friends, and ponies coming over to express their sympathy were just... infuriating. So I avoided them all. I searched the books in the library during the day, and I went to Heather's and tried to find myself in a glass by night.

Yes, I am aware of how this behaviour would be unhelpful in the long run. I was stewing in myself, looking so hard inward that I was completely ignoring the consequences of my actions in the outside world. As you'll see, this policy came back to bite me, and hard.

Three days after I woke up and Twilight didn't, I was starting to find possible answers. All of which I've discarded in the weeks since, but they all looked pretty convincing at the time.

The first, easiest solution was a mental break. Twilight was no stranger to cracking under stress, and it turns out there are a lot of very interesting and unique ways a pony can go crazy. She could have created a second personality, one that came to the forefront and took control. There were and are a lot of inconsistencies between this theory and my reality. It's still a possibility, that I'm just some splinter personality that took over because Twilight's real mind wasn't able to handle life, or something equally pathetic. I don't think so, though. We share a lot, but not enough to convince me we're the same mare deep down.

The second, more disturbing possibility is that I'm some sort of imposter. Changeling, Mirror-Pool clone, etcetera. There are a half-dozen options that could create a physically identical creature with a markedly different mentality. The memories thing... I don't know. Nothing really explained that. An imposter that could completely absorb your life's experiences? It's a scary thought. But why didn't I have memories of my own then? Why am I limited to her past? It doesn't' add up.

A third possibility is that I am the result of something that was done to Twilight. An invasive spell, a Poison Joke-like effect, heck, even some mundane poisons and drugs have been known to cause disassociation and radical personality shifts. I don't think it's a spell, I would have discovered any traces of such magic by now. I really don't think it was some sort of 'super-naturals' effect, for much the same reason. Mundane explanations are... problematic. Honestly, this is possible, but I would actually countenance the idea that I was some kind of Changeling with brain damage before I looked to poisoning for causing this.

There are other options, each more unlikely than the last. Near the bottom of the list, right around involuntary dimensional soul-exchange, is actually the one that I want the most. And that explanation is essentially a non-explanation. It could be that there is no reason for me to be here, no reason why Twilight is gone. It just happened. I popped in, she popped out, and that's the way it's going to be from now on. It's not a satisfying option, by far, but it has the advantage of being non-reversible. It means that I'm here to stay, and that I don't have to worry about Celestia deciding she wants her student back and... and I don't know what, but it ends with me dead.

Of course I understand that this means the exact same thing for twilight. Of course I know that! Do you think I'm happy about it? Do you think I wanted to have my own existence predicated on the annihilation of another? No. I would never want that. But if given the choice? I think I would take it. No, not think. I know I would take it. If it's her or me, I will always choose me. I... I have evidence for why this is the only rational response. I have done the math. I...

I'm trying to justify something that may not even be true. Heh. Sorry, again. Back to the story.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The day Celestia came to visit.

Author's Note:

True word count: 10,207. Days 1-7 covered.