• Published 26th Nov 2014
  • 572 Views, 8 Comments

This Is Your Story! - Mahayro



Three ostracized mares formed and now maintain a camaraderie of tough love, good works, and wild partying...but there is more to their lives than meets the eye. A new, mysterious perspective on brokenness and self-understanding.

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Chapter Eight

The clock told of an unfathomably late or early hour--though no sign of sky was present to confirm or deny it--when the gang stirred again. Berry and Carrot rolling together onto Colgate did the trick to snap all three out of slumber.

"Bucking Elements. Act like they own the place."

After spitting this out, Berry got up and took the empty glasses from all around the chamber, passed out a pair of water glasses to replace them, and gathered the pillow-seats by the tea set to place around the warmth of the fireplace. Colgate and Carrot took the side seats while Berry fetched her own water, they conceding to her the center stage that she and her attitude often took.

Assembled, Berry shook her head down into her forehead-bracing hoof in lament. Her slightly slurring tongue revealed a still-impaired state. "Well shit...that was definitely kin'a weird."

"More like let-us-never-speak-of-this-again weird."

Colgate for once agreed with her less foul-mouthed friend, nodding and nasally sounding the affirmative.

"Oh well, at least there's booze." Berry raised and turned her head sloppily to each side, baiting their approval with a weak smile. "Always there to save us from 'rselves...or maybe just to save us from havin' to be ourselves. I 'unno." She raised her glass. "To booze!" The others repeated the toast but not with much enthusiasm. Water glasses clinked together.

And so they just sat around the fire for a while, each to their own, staving off future hangovers one sip at a time.

Carrot and Colgate stared into the glowing mass of logs, possibly also lamenting a party's end. Berry followed suit with her action; however, she had instead drifted into wonderment about how to keep it going. Upon concocting her next idea, she gently smiled with slitted eyes and picked her head up, eventually drawing the others' attention. "Actually...why didn't you ask little old me to do a magic trick? I got a couple."

"I'll answer that after I get some more sauce in me. I blinkin' need it."

And so Colgate chugged her water and made the round this time, preparing each request with a shiny-toothed smile while the others looked on eagerly. Berry had gone for her usual wine before but was feeling more like cider now. Carrot also opted for that upon hearing the notion. The mixer took a bit more time to make her own poison, Pony Island Iced Tea. She filled and set out extra mugs for the others to grab freely.

In that awkward lapse between consumption and its effects, Carrot finally opted to give a little tour of the place, the reason they were all even together that night. She learned after a couple attempts that neither one of her companions was very interested in Clopfucius, and only Colgate showed the slightest interest in the stacks of comics and Far East media. But her explanation of the hidden clay layer keeping the ceiling intact and dry prompted some scientific discussion; Colgate marveled at the architectural solution, but Berry kept asking what kept it up (while Colgate kept tiredly trying to explain it in a way that made sense to her). Berry also admired Carrot's choice in cookware; the two seemed to share a fondness for frying, and they babbled on about recipes. This talk of food also prompted Carrot to set out what ready-to-eat goods she had from the fridge and pantry; Colgate and she each had a cherry blintz, and Berry shoveled in two carrot dogs with relish.

Somewhere in this, just as they were seating about the fireplace again, the alcohol's magic kicked in.

"So, uh, what do you do if you wanna take a dump around here?" Colgate's elegance apparently flew out the window when under the influence--or out the door, as would have to be the case here.

Carrot meekly replied, "Uh, um...I have...my own solution... You know, I wasn't expecting company yet. Just go somewhere outside, I'll take care of it later."

Berry spit-took her cider. It might have been the first time in all her life that she'd spilled a drink under her own control.

She rattled her poor friend so hard that her brains could've fallen out. "Don't buckin' mess with me. Almost made me shit myself."

"Yeah, and it'd be the wrong place to--" Colgate found herself cutting off a joke she didn't want to tell.

Piercing the ensuing unpleasant silence, Berry shouted, "Next chance I get, I'm building you a damn outhouse!" She suddenly calmed, remembering how they had a way of getting things done. "Actually, Cole, can that be our next mission?"

Colgate then tried to steer this all back in Carrot's favor, turning to her rather than Berry. Though judging from the dazed look in her eyes, she shouldn't have been steering anything. "We'll get that taken care of for you, honey. You mean so much to us. L-look, we all came together for you tonight just to have this party. Forget stupid things like outhouses and water spigots. You need meaning in your life, Goldie--uh, sweetie. And we're gonna help you with that. Ohhhhh Celestia, I love you so much..." And so she stumbled around to Carrot's far side and draped gently around her, nuzzling her neck and groping at her sides. Carrot could do nothing but twitch and blush, utterly bowled over by the affection (and apparently not by the dropping of her old name).

Berry took real surprise to this, her expression frozen--but then she chose to lay on the irony: "Damn, Cole, I gotta keep you away from th'liquor!" She wolf-whistled, then took the occasion to join in on Carrot's ear, nomming hungrily.

These ponies needed therapy. Maybe a few different kinds of therapy. Shock therapy, for starters.

The boozy one and the brushy one locked eyes, by coincidence, while lost in their promiscuity. And they stopped.

If this isn't betrayal, what is?

Colgate pulled back first, returning to her seat; and Berry did the same a split second later.

"Oh, righ', th'magic trick! Check this out, guys!"

Colgate, who had most certainly seen these tricks, rolled her eyes--but she wasn't too troubled not to politely smile on and sway as Berry backed up. Carrot couldn't be troubled for anything besides blushing at the earlier antics. Poor Carrot.

Berry hummed pleasingly as out from her own personal ether came a tall wineglass, tossed fancy-free from one hoof to the other. Hm, hm, hmmm, and then it flipped over her head and behind it, caught back there. Hm, hm, hmmm, two seconds and up it went again, over her head and to the front, caught expertly, only now filled with a red and clear and bubbly liquid. Not a drop had spilled. Magic!

Carrot went crazy with the clopping; Colgate joined in, just to be a part of the cheer. Berry beamed and carried on.

"Oh come on girl, show her the Fountain of Booze!"

Berry cut back at Colgate, "Oh come on 'rself, tha's fer the finale!" More calmly, she continued, "Actually, my next trick'll be..." she called forth a drumroll with her tongue. "I will now make this drink...disappear!" The other two got quite a hearty chuckle out of this.

But Berry aimed to impress even in this: She inverted the glass entirely, inches from her lips, and swallowed the whole thing in not even three seconds. Again, not a drop hit the floor.

"I gotta say...there are some stallions I know who partic'arly appreciate that one. Ehe."

Carrot herself took a couple seconds to appreciate what she'd just witnessed; Colgate leaned over and gave her that ole wink and nudge. "Best swallower in the land--even put Pinkie to shame." Maybe Carrot still didn't get it. What a prude.

Berry caught that remark and just about raged on her right then and there. "Ay! No more Pink talk a'right? Damn that girl. Life hoofed to her on a platter and she suddenly doe'n't wanna take a bite. We're the BGs, guys. We're waaay better than that. Shittin' rainbows, remember?" No one argued, 'cause screw Pinkie, apparently.

For a minute or two, each mare contented herself in silence with the numbing warmth of inebriation--an experience that is best shared but ultimately still felt alone.

Then Berry slapped a forehoof around Carrot, more like a friend than whatever else she'd been to her today. "So, I have some'n to present to you all tonight...here she is...the newwww Carrot Top!" She more-or-less dragged Carrot to the center of the room before continuing the spiel. After this, she traipsed about the room, shouting toward no one in particular: "She slices! She dices! She can 'old two tons of water in 'er 'air! But most impor'ntly..." Berry came about and regarded Carrot in the eyes fully...and her own visage became soft, proud, warm, cherishing. Berry held out a hoof presented for a shake. "She ain' somepony's fool no more. Ye're one of us now fer real now, girl. It finally bucking happened...thank Luna, I's about to get ready to give up on you." And Carrot clasped it.

"Cole, y'ole bum, say yer piece now, I know you got some'n' to say to 'er too."

From the other trashed mare in the room: "Probably isn't the first time somepony found themself in a rave. But now you got a house too, and it's looking like a home already."

Berry interrupted, grunting, "Feel more like cave to me... Oog oog."

Colgate got up and smacked her hard for that, then went on in the offender's direction. "Berry, quit being a butt. Don't you get it? She found her soul in that rave last night. I know it's not a destiny, but it is...it's something. And this morning sh-she wasn't sure about being herself, but"--turning back to her host, her softness of tone dialing up from wool to pure gossamer--"believe it or not, you didn't need to be told a thing today. I think you walked the walk without even realizing. L-like Berry said...you're nopony's fool." Ha!

Carrot finally expressed herself. "Guys...I'm...I'm gonna cry. Jeez, I'm--I'm so sorry for doubting you all!" Carrot felt the full weight of her new position, years in the making; and it made her chest heave all happily and such, though it caused her face to leak so.

But did you really earn it?

Berry picked up the slack again, sidling up to her real close, looking ever more sloshed. "Carrot. You have jush been oh so awesome in jus' couple days--and for years ye've just been freaking out and shit. Like jus' week ago, ye coul'n't even think abou' bein' happy wit'out bein' sad. I mean, I kept believing in you...becaushe I wanted to. Because I could tell you'ere some'n special. But every'ing'sh jus' gone in fast forward lately, shit's gone nuts, and you jush figured out who you wan' be."

Colgate blurted, in good humor but once again too loudly, "Hey, dipstick. I just said that."

"Well, hold on, I's gettin' to the good part." Berry panted, catching a breath she'd lost between chugs of cider. "And hun, sherioushly, you ever gonna tell me where you got that pushy--"

Carrot pushed back: it was now her turn to smack Berry. With her nose upturned and as daintily as the moment would allow: "One does not ask a lady such questions!" She gave Colgate a wink--whether out of shared retaliation or some sort of pride, one could not say. Then, back to tipsy friend mode, sour and frank: "But yeah, I'll be paying that bill for the rest of my life."

Berry suddenly fretted, pained and nervous. Way to be there for your friend in need.

"And you owe me one for blabbing about that, you little snitch." Carrot licked Berry on the cheek, to show no hard feelings, more like a dog than...whatever they were to each other. 'Friends with benefits' didn't seem like the right thing. Maybe 'partners in crime'? But that worked better for the other--no, not really for them either.

Berry waited for the request, swaying and smiling. Carrot only grinned back, but with her upper lip upturned somewhat dismissively. So they just drank by the fire in silence for a few more minutes.



"What's with you and Pinkie?"

Berry suddenly grimaced a bit, more at Carrot for asking than at her own thoughts. "Oh, Miss Stick a Cupcake In M'Ass?" Colgate also glared at Carrot for bringing the drama back into this.

"No, I mean, like...are you a thing?"

Colgate gave Carrot the biggest "are you blinkin' serious" look of her life. Berry Punch's own mellow humor toward life died like a shot into murky water as she hid her mug in a mug while her eyes drew low and dangerous.

"Oh j-- Were! Were you a thing?"

Berry coldly droned from the mug, "Cole, can you get this'un? I'm still too pished at that pishant."

The minty-whether-she-liked-it-or-not mare calmed and took a crack. "I could explain--but, how about I just show you?" She hovered up Carrot's glass of water, still half-filled, between Carrot and herself. "See this... This, this is Pinkie." And she took into her horn-glow a mug of cider from the booze-pile. "And here's Berry." She raised the mug above the glass, then poured some of the cider into the water, making a wispy yellow liquid mess with bits of froth. "Th-they're, like, the greatest things. Always good to have 'em both around. But you can't mix 'em. See what I'm sayin'?"

"Uh..."

"They both got their approaches to partying and they get to clashing every time--and it keeps coming up. I don't know why--it just does. And it always just ends up like weak beer. They get through it but...oh, I dunno, Berry's right, I hate talking about this."

"And, y'know, it's not jus' her either..." Berry shifted back to a more mischievous tone. "All those Elemen's of Awesome Sauce. 'Oh hey guys, let's pish all over town then get ever'pony to cheer us cleanin' it up!' Do it 'nough times an' I guess the goddesh-ses give you the keys to the shitty. The city. The shitty." She cackled wildly to herself at how that sounded.

"Like that one time there's this mass murderer pony out t'ere, pushin' fillies in a well 'n' 'push'n carts o'er a cliff an' shit. You know what they do? You know what 'ese buckers do? They take it as a chance to play buckin' mind games with th'one who's savin' 'em in th'first place." More despondently: "An' they ne'er even caught the guy who did it! Nopony e'en gives two shits 'round 'ere! Ain' loyal t'no one bu' 'emselves...buck..." Then, drowsy and very very slow and low, hardly talking to anything but the air two inches in front of her face: "Cole, why do we even do this a'ymore..."

Her Cole had warmed up to this, one of their favorite topics: ripping on the "main" ponies of the town. She slapped Berry on the back lovingly, adjusting to seem a bit more drunk herself, a big gooey ball of empathy. "'Cause someone's got to, Berr. S-someone's got to. Someone's gotta put those nutjobs in their place." And she rested her head on the back of Berr's neck.

"Nutjobs...heh...wanna break Rai'bow Dash inna li'l pieces? Jush make ev'r'un stop carin'. She wouldn' last as a BG for a buckin' week." Mumbling offhoofedly into her mug: "Altern'ively, jus' giv'er a jar o' peanu' butter." She chuckled blearily, leaning into Colgate, eating up her warmth and passive affection.

"An' wha'bou' tha' big buckin' bear? Buckin' Twiligh', savin' th' town again. 'Oh, I don' wan' be a bragger', she says. Bu' wha' was she doin'? Wha' 'as she doin'? She's readin' up on 'ow do jus' 'at! Di'n't try to show 'at blue girl nothin'." Absurdly incredulous with a high pitch now: "Maybe nex' time I go to a liberry I ask the liberran to read all t'books for me. 'At's how it works right? Right!?" Twisting it all into aimless anger: "Yeah, don' trust Twilight far's ye can shit." She yawned and growled. But the others didn't really know what to say to that one, even though they had all been there.

"An'... Cole, hold me..." Cole already was holding her, of course; she just squeezed to remind her. "The cider. We lost cider fer whole year 'cause buckin' pride o' that Apple Family. We could 'ad two brands o' cider 'n 'is town but she'shtupid 'nough and pig-headed 'nough--" she suddenly coughed "--t'at Applejack. She let 'em use the town's trees agains' 'em and 'ey turn into big ole figh'in match an' wreck alla' trees fer nex' year, all 'ey needed do was make 'em buy 'er own land. But no, let's buck up ever'thin' and"--she reared up and stomped down, knocking back Colgate and yelling--"let's wreck ever'thin' 'cause that's what buckin' frien'ship's all about!"

Carrot finally started to show reaction to this tirade, smirking and pondering wicked thoughts about those darn Elements with upturned eyes.

Cole, flat on her back, offered with a too-innocent smile, "Maybe they were just protecting market share?"

"T'hell's that?"

But then Berry remembered something. "Oh yeah, you wan' 'ear about Pinkie. Alrigh' ever'pony, lis'n up, I learned shom'n at that Appleloosa dig few days 'go. Met with Berry Hills 'n' Berry Cordial out there. Y'know 'ow they wen' ou' an' made th' ponies n' buffaloeses make up?"

Colgate, sitting up again, smiled and let out a sultry "Mmm-hmmmmm." Carrot just lowered her eyes upon interpreting this and remembering the train station.

"Yeah, Cole. Buckin' Hearth's Warm'n' mir'cle, 'f'you knew what that Pinkie Pie did. She sang song to 'm, tried to get'm to make up 'n all that before all hell bra--brell--broke loose. But she did it, 'cause she...she brough' up hoof-an'-mouth disease. Like--" she paused "--the chief buffalo guy's dad died fr'm that shit." Her voice suddenly turned much clearer than it should have been able to--also mild and pleading. "'S not a joke! 'S not a thing you joke about! 'S buckin' plague o' their people! Forget Appleloosa, Pinkie coulda started a goddess-damned war on Equestria with that shit! How you feel if zebras were singin' 'bout Nightmare Moon 'r somethin'? Is serious business! An' we all just laugh it off!" Stop this. Stop it right now.

At least the war on apostrophes was settled. Gotta find a different way to write her being mega-drunk.

Colgate positively purred into Berry's mane, having started to lose herself in her own empathy. "Ye're so right Berry, goddesses... We need to do something about 'em. But hey, what were you saying about that wagon before?" She flashed her pearly whites, eyes half-cocked and aimed roughly toward Berry's left cheek. Berry started to glance back toward her flank when--

"So what did you do to Pinkie?" Carrot called this out of nowhere, it seemed--very level, very calculated. After the looks of confusion that met her, she added, "Tonight, I mean, when she was tripping out. That was not the Pinkie I know."

Colgate casually mumbled to her, "If Berry told anypony what was really in that bag of goodies, she'd be locked up for life." Maybe it's listed under 'E'?

She was about to facehoof, but she beheld Berry's slack-jawed pallor--and that drew her to mindlessly drop the hoof and follow suit.

Carrot took several seconds to consider this. Then in a flash, her eye twitched, her ears laid flat, and she drew breath loudly. She boiled with frustration or indignation, putting a lot of facts together fearfully fast for being a bit bashed. Or maybe she'd reached that perfect level where it makes you think way better?

"Berry!" Tipsy Carrot was long gone--here comes Mad Carrot.

"Yeah?"

"What happened to Colgate last night!? Were you the one who drugged her last night!?"

Bunnies in a blender, she was gonna end all this fun right now, wasn't she? Berry and Colgate were now glancing coldly--at each other.

"And the birthaversary thing? 'Berry's prescription' huh!? Prescription for getting me killed!?"

Berry turned back and resumed her gentle assault on the faded-yellow one's tender ear tissue--but Carrot flipped out, grabbing Berry's entire body with little more than a huff and tossing her away. Berry flopped like a ragdoll to the tea set, not harmed and not caring. While the room remained silent and Carrot's eyes followed her every move, Berry casually walked to pick up another cider mug and chugged away.

So nonchalantly and aloofly she wouldn't know a chalant or the opposite of a loof if one bit her in the face: "Oh don't you worry 'bout that, hun, you gotta trus' me sometimes. You needed a seri's break from your comfort zone or ye weren't goin' nowhere with nopony. Ye've been too cooped up in writin' an' yer silly little fan'asies an' you never acsh'lly get to live any of it that way. We're jus' helpin' ye do that."

Colgate got right-out pissed at this, growling.

Berry wobbled in a trot toward Carrot with a foreleg against her own chest, casting her head up like the crazy she was, amending, "Oh, fine, so I was helping ye t' 'ave a good time out there. But I was watchin' you whole time too. 'S not like I just turned ye loose."

Carrot clarified through clenched teeth: "You. Drugged. Me."

Berry sweetly replied, swishing her head with all sass and no shame: "And you. Buckin'. Loved it."

Colgate grunted aloud, pawing the ground, ready to break the mare next to her. More mad at Berry, or yourself?

Carrot was about to retort, but Berry stopped her with a hoof to the mouth. "And maybe we di'n't--"

But Carrot was done with Berry's game. She took Berry's forehoof with both of hers and shoved it in Berry's own mouth, pushing it in once for good measure. Then she spun fully toward Colgate. "And you knew?"

The dental dam--oh wait, she's not a mother, whatever--lost her angry resolve. She sighed and shrugged, apparently finally accepting her accomplice role.

Carrot's voice tumbled down a long distant trail to her inner self. "I--what? No...nonononononono..." Then Carrot suddenly choked on her own breath, welling up with something awful. But it wasn't crying, not sobbing, not that creepy needy crap she does in her sleep. She was wailing. Very deep stuff, shouting from the depths of the gut, howling to the cosmos, dissonance and hurt and all kinds of wrong filling the air. Protest, torment, rage, and terror stormed her reality all at once--the four horses of Carrot's personal apocalypse.

This caused both the others deep discomfort, and they didn't know how to respond--not like they couldn't but would try anyway, but like they really screwed up and now they didn't even know how to try. They were plumb out of their wits in futile shock.

"How can I trust anypony anymore? Please, tell me this is all a bad dream or something! Just...make it all stop! You're my friends, right! Make it stop!" She shouted as she derailed into meaningless syllables, booming profanities against all rational thought. She tore at her voice box, hating. "Make it stop! Just...stop! STOP VIOLATING ME!" Yeah, sure, these ponies are all there for you, they'll make you feel better if it makes them feel better.

Tear open the floodgates!!

"Yeah, alright." Slowly, too slowly, Colgate continued, "Carrot...I'm sorry...I should have gotten you some shoes from the Magical Shoe Fairy store. The ones that protect you from your best friends' dirty secrets!!"

Berry faced Colgate. Their eyes met. The sacred stuff behind them did not. Carrot lowly backed out of their way, but then her vocal pain and fury revived and went on and on.

"You cou'n't keep a secret if 're stuck in yer shittin' mint-hole!"

"You couldn't b-be an honest mare if all the booze in the world were riding on it!"

The cries for a long-forgotten innocence yet sheared air and nerves.

"Y'can' win a thing 'n yer life, not f'rhonesty, not fer bein' nice, not fer nothin'! 'Cause ye don' ev'n know wha'is ye want! 'Cause 'at's all you is, is--oh wai', 'at's right, you read the paper--so's y'c'n tal' wi'--" she coughed wildly "--wit' yer work frien's. 'Bou' what? The buckin' weather!?"

"It's more than you'll ever know about the world! When y-you're not spying on your kids or giving us a hard time, you're too blasted to even know what's going on around you!"

And the howls, they kept falling.

"Well, maybe 'at's 'caushe I like it that way! 'S a compl'cated worl', I's jus' a creature o' habit. Bu' you... Y' 'on't deserve frien' like me. Or her. Leas' she does sum'n' 'sides work 'er ash off. You need ush jus' be able t' buckin' catch 'er buckin' breath. Bu' wha'bout you? Wha'you do f'r'ush? Acsh'lly--buck! Wha'you do f'r you!?"

"What?? You can't be real, Berr. You know why--"

"You want the real Berr? You want the real Berr?" As Carrot's squall poured on, Berry's teeth scrunched and her thighs all buckled. She grunted, and she cast off all signs of inebriation instantly out of sheer force of will. Luna almighty. "This Berr would kill for you. And this Berr would die for you. Maybe I already have died a little for you. Died for what? A girl who doesn't even remember what she wants in life anymore!?" Berry carefully stepped about her target, eyeing all around before halting in front once more.

"You think that I don't mean a single word that I say?" She stood her very tallest on hindhooves, now bearing a tiny hoofcrafted vial drawn from her mane. "How's these words for you, then? No...more."

There's no way to keep track of the intensity anymore. Just make it all italics at this point. There's just no other way.

"I. You can't."

"Mama Berr's been through too much horseshit today to care. You ain't done shit with your life, all these years. So I say, no more. We're through."

Tinkssh. Closing time. The vial's liquid and all its sweetness leaked all about Colgate's legs, and Berry returned to level with her.

"Wha-wha-wha-what about--"

"You've told me yourself, girl--more times than I can count. These missions aren't your own, they're just ways to bide your time until you can make your move. But you ain't got no move to make, and you ain't got no time left to make it. We'll be dried-up old mares in no time and you just failed the test. Not my test. You failed at life. Nothing I can do to help you anymore. So just drop the act--just drop it and forget about it, like you forget about everything else. Drop it and get out of the way already. Get out of my way. I got a family to care for."

And the rain will fall... It falls for you...

"What--No!" A glow of magic enveloped a simple tiny hourglass pulled from Colgate's mane--a near-match to her own cutie mark. "You...you've bucked up all that is you!" Mercy, never in her grown life has she... "It's all coming to me! You...you...oh, no goddess in this world or the next c-can save you!" A single huff briefly disrupted her high and livid and trembling intonation, and the hourglass twisted gently, now high in the air. "If the kids were all that mattered...you should've ignored me all along--just like I deserved! Now they have nothing! Now you have nothing!! You gave it all up for a worthless city planner named Min--"

Berry coughed violently. What is happening to her!? Her tone...

"You would throw that at me. You are...you are worthless. So here is the last secret. The secret of having hope for your dried-up soul, your want of little comforts. That secret means nothing now. Because you are nothing. You should become nothing!"

Crickssh. No more time. The grains ran wild all about Berry's forelegs along the floor, spilling far beyond their former confines to infinity.

"So...I really should become Falcon after all."

And the words ceased. And the wails waned to whimpers, and then to whispers, and then to nothing.

Berry breathed fast. Fast. Her eyes. Eyes that know a world that you don't know. Eyes that will end your vision of the world. Her mouth, open. A frown. Open to live and rend you dead. Dead to you, to everyone. Death. Death if you say another word. Run. You should run. Everyone should run. Now.

Colgate stood. She stood, looking back, repaying no fear. Colgate defied death. But she would not provoke it.

Berry breathed hard. And breathed. And breathed. And breathed. And...breathed. And it slowed, and the rage blew over.

"I need a drink."

She came to the booze pile.

The former Death spoke in sharp monotone. "The Matrona. It's gone. Why is it gone."

Colgate's eyes and Carrot's eyes could not lie. They looked to each other. They looked to Berry. No meaning.

"Where is the Matrona."

An empty bottle appeared out of nowhere. It appeared behind Carrot. You're welcome.

"Where is the Matrona."

Her eye twitched. Nothing can stop her now. Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.

This is it. Last chance.

Colgate fretted. "How could it--it's too big to sneak out in a mane...Jam didn't take it... Pinkie? Did Pinkie--"

"No. It's gone. It was here after they left. It's gone. Where is the Matrona."

Carrot had spent the last several minutes tucked under her stove, wishing not to be here. Her bum backed out and knocked it over as she tried to get out and help them find it. So she found it, alright.

"It's empty. Who drank the Matrona. You cannot lie to me. I know."

Carrot stumbled trying to get on all fours. Her eyes could not see. She did not want to talk right. Everything was a blur. Life sucked but it drifted on slowly for Carrot. Carry on. Figure it out. You're wildly drunk on tequila but you've pulled through worse. Be strong. Tell the truth. Tell the truth of the tequila. You're not a lightweight after all. You just needed it. Needed it when the fighting started. That's why you hid.

"I...did..." She shook her head madly and sat up despite it all.

It won't work anymore. She's too aware. But maybe it was enough.

And if it doesn't--where does the story go?

The monotone scythe was traded for sabers of accusation. "You. Did. NOTHING! It isn't on your breath. You lie. Lie for whom."

"I...for--for what? I--oh...oh. I'm doing it right now, aren't I?" Why does her voice sound so hopeful? "You do know who--"

She leapt onto Berry in a fit of crazed tearful passion. Berry instinctively kicked her clear, but she also saw her very non-hostile expression.

Make her your enemy. Make her never come back again so you can get your life back.

Colgate spoke. "Berry--what's going on. I hear it. I hear--it's the thing in my dream--"

"It's real. It's real!" Carrot rushed for the writing desk.

Berry bellowed. "Stop."

They stopped.

"Nopony move."

Silence. No breath. No movement. No blinking.

Berry walked behind the Clopfucius wall-scroll nearest the door. What the great mare seeks is in herself. What the forgotten mare seeks is in others. That is what it read.

Her head peered out from it. No weaponry in her voice now. Just warning. "Five seconds. You have five seconds to live. Show yourself."

She spoke not to Carrot. She spoke not to Colgate. Somehow, they knew this.

In truth, six or seven seconds passed. Let no one say Berry was not generous.

BANG.

Berry fell flat on the ground. Out from the standing scroll tumbled the cannon she'd wielded. No stallion or mare alive could fire it and stay on two hooves. Neither a party cannon, nor a bass cannon--an annihilation cannon shaped like a shotgun.

No.

Dirt. Dirt was falling. It caught in the mesh. And water. Water came through it.

"No!" Carrot screamed.

Dirt came down. And it came down.

Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack.

The ceiling buckled in on itself, splitting and crunching together on the line from door to fireplace. And the net nearest the door gave way. It fell. It all fell. No escape. Too much dirt. And there was more dirt now. Even more, pouring out the net opening onto the door. And it piled and rolled back. It was everywhere.

And the water. So heavy. So muddy, so entrapping. So hopeless.

"The fireplace! Go for the fireplace!!"

Carrot cleared the way. Colgate pulled Berry free from the wet dirt piled saddle high about her, needing both horn and hoof's help. She'd hit her head on the tile from the blast, out cold now.

Carrot kicked out the logs. And they gathered and waited.

They waited for help.

Everything was about to fall.

Then what?


The story ended unexpectedly.



Dear reader,

There may have been no helping this conclusion. A book is chained to its writer, and it seems they have met their end.

However unfortunate a turn of events, you somehow found this story afterward. So, please know this also--your pitiful reward in hoping for completeness and closure.

You found the Boogeymare. You found the lecherous stalker. You found the aliens. You found the thief.

You found nopony and everypony, including the very mares of this tale.

You found the invisible pale unicorn.

Bury him down by the river.


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


Author's Note:

How will the story go on? The third "act" awaits... Come back tomorrow to discover it.