• Published 21st Jul 2016
  • 5,900 Views, 76 Comments

As I Lay Smiling - shortskirtsandexplosions



After falling victim to unfortunate circumstances, Pinkie Pie receives a visit from her sisters Maud, Limestone, and Marble.

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Sister

A large empty room stretches before me.

Shiny crystal walls and glass doors line the edges of the castle chamber.

All is silent.

All is still.

But then...

I hear hoofsteps.

A door creaks open across the way. A tiny gray figure appears, dwarfed by the size of the room above and behind her. She wears a drab gray tunic and trots toward me. Something is balanced atop her flank. I can't tell what it is from where I'm lying.

She trots closer... ever so slowly.


"Mrmmmmfff..."

Heavy hooves.

Scuffling.

Dragging.

A mare paces left and right across the castle chamber before me, her muzzle locked in an endless frown.

Every now and then, she steals a glare at me. Her yellow eyes are hard, piercing. Then—just as quickly as the glance begins—her eyes dart away.

"Hrmphh!" She huffs and continues pacing across the empty room.


The figure trots closer to me.

It's been a full minute, and she's barely one third of the way across the castle chamber.

I spot the hint of calm teal eyes glinting from afar.


A mare stands directly in front of me, hiding her face behind a straight swath of gray mane hair.

Her shoulders slowly rise and fall.

A momentary tremble shudders through her.

Her head turns ever so slightly.

I see a single eye... violet and sad...

As if feeling my frozen glance in return, she flinches. I hear a timid squeak, and her face is once again hidden.


The figure continues trotting towards me.

Two minutes have passed; she's halfway across the castle chamber now.

My gaze focuses on the object balanced across her flank. It's a book—bearing a cover that's just as gray as the mare's coat and mane.

I can already make out her deadpan expression as she crosses the distance between us.


"Grnnnngh!"

The pacing mare pauses in the middle of the chamber.

She pulls at her mane. Her lungs heave.

She hunches over, seething, The lines in her light gray muzzle turn thicker... angrier...

Her nostrils flare. I see another flash of yellow eyes, and she spins about to continue storming around in furious little circles.


A heavy sigh.

The shy mare gets up to leave, her tender shoulders wobbling under the weight of the moment. I watch as she makes it halfway to the nearest door—but hesitates.

Another sigh. A sniffling sound.

She turns. She looks at me.

Sad, sad violets.

Head hanging, she trots back to my side... and sits down in a melancholic slump.


At last, the mare has trotted the full length of the castle chamber.

Maud Pie stares at me. Her calm teal eyes take several seconds to blink.

We stare at one another for the better part of a minute.

And then...

She trots to the left... disappearing from view.

Momentary silence.

A loud dragging noise pierces my ears. I see Maud backtrotting in from the left, her muzzle biting onto the edge of a stool. She drags the object until it's positioned right in front of me. Maud lets go of it... stands silently... then reaches out, nudging the stool a few times until its four legs are at a perfect angle to the corners of the room. This takes a long while. I hear the silent, muffled groans of the Castle of Friendship settling around us.

Once everything is perfect, Maud grasps the book balanced on her flank and sits down directly before me. She flips through several pages, her calm eyes dripping over the paragraphs like molasses. At last, she finds a spot in the text, takes a deep breath, and opens her muzzle—


"Just how stupid are you?!?!" Limestone Pie stops pacing in circles to bark at me. "You know what?! It's your fault that you're in this condition!" Her nostrils flare and flare some more as she leans into me, snarling. I can see the red capillaries in her eyes. "As far as I'm concerned, you deserve to be like this! Grnnngh... a grown pony should know better!"

She leans back, folding her forelimbs as her whole gray face washes over red.

"I mean it! This is downright embarrassing! Mrrnnngh... and to happen to a Pie no less!"


"Your friend, Princess Twilight, let me borrow this from the library here in the Castle," Maud drones. Maud breathes. "There are many, many books in her chambers. But this one spoke to me the moment I saw its title."

She leans forward on the stool, holding the book out at forelimb's length.

"And considering recent events, I think you will find it very fascinating too." She shakes her head icily. "No. I'm sorry. It's not a cook book. That's something we can read together later."

Her eyes fall from me and settle on the pages in front of her.

"From page one hundred and twelve of the Equestrian Geological Almanac on Anomalous Minerals." Her teal eyes focus on the words. "'Samples taken from multiple animals, plants, and ponies petrified by wild cockatrices display a consistent pattern. All organic matter subjected to cockatricean petrification resembles sedimentary carbonate rocks that have undergone recrystallization and other various metamorphisms over time. While this seemingly qualifies cockatricean organic transmutations as an anomalous category of marble, it does not consist of calcite, dolomite, or other carbonate minerals most commonly found in natural marble deposits. Much rather, it would appear as though a magical force empowering the gaze of the cockatrice utilizes a transformative mutation that forces the organic construct of carbon based life-forms to mimic the solidity of carbonate minerals, insomuch that they structurally resemble stone minerals subjected to geological metamorphisms that result in a dense and unbreakable material.'"


"But you're not just any Pie, are you?! Nooooo noooo-sireeee!"

Limestone paces and paces, huffing and puffing.

"You just have to be the dramatic one in everything you say and do! I don't care how many stunts you pull off grinning. Drama is drama! It's in your blood! Don't deny it!"

She gallops up and hisses in my face.

"It started when you left my farm! When you left Holder's Boulder! When you left my family!" Her breath condenses across my face. "What?! Were we not fun enough for you?! Did we get sick of you throwing stupid pointless parties for a rock farm?! I bet that's it, isn't it?! You got bored! But did you settle for telling us?! No! You resorted to drama—drama queen!! You just hadddd to run off and try and make an even bigger... more dramatic splash with the Cakes! You always did love the center of attention! The front stage! The spotlight!"

She hollers in my ear.

"Well that stupid cocka-demon wasn't a stagehoof, you pink dummy!" Her lungs heave as her eyes turn to yellow pinpricks. "Who were you trying to impress with that stunt, huh?! Your goofy friends?! That stupid little kid?!"

Limestone leans back, folding her forelimbs with a confident frown.

"It's all about that kid, isn't it? Tell me, Pinkie Pie..." I can see her teeth grinding together. "...was he really worth saving? Was he really worth you getting yourself into this stinkin' mess?" The tips of her ears burn bright red. "Was he really worth more than three of your very own sisters?!


Marble Pie shuffles close... then shuffles just a little bit closer.

Her steps are tiny, timid things—like her breaths.

Once she's at my side, I see her head tilt up. Those violet eyes are ever soft... ever glossy. They reflect pale-white stone, and soon it's too much.

Marble clenches her lids shut. Soft sighs bring her to a spot beside me on the polished castle floor—where she lies down and rests.

Warm and still.


"'While the organic matter of carbon-based victims subjected to a Cockatrice's stare might resemble the structural integrity of marble deposits...'"

Maud flips a page.

She continues reading, calmly, steadily:

"'...a microscopic examination of cross-sections broken off from petrified plants reveals that all of the constitute cell parts—chloroplasts, cytoplasm, ribosomes, and the vacuoles in between—are perfectly preserved in their entirety. The function of the act of cockatricean petrification—it would seem—is to lock down all of the biological capabilities of the animal's victim. This would allow a cockatrice to freeze its prey, drag it to a far more agreeable location, and then un-freeze the victim so that it can feast on the plant, pony, or animal without worry of any undesired interruption.'"


"'Pound Cake'... pffft..." Limestone chuckles bitterly. She leans stiff against a wall to my right, shaking her head with a crooked smirk. "Wow... what a lousy name." She punches her left hoof into her right fetlock. "Makes me wanna pound the stupid little kid in his stupid little face!"

She kicks off the wall and starts angrily pacing once again. She grumbles—if only to make an excuse for how hard her lungs are hyperventilating.

"What was that little poop machine even doing in the woods to begin with, huh?! This pathetic village was built with the Everfree Forest in its backyard, for crying out loud! Don't you think the locals would—I dunno—put up signs saying 'Warning! Beyond these limits, your little drooling rascals stand the threat of being turned to stone and eaten by a half-chicken half dragon abomination!'"

She swivels about and punches the wall of the chamber.

"Grnnngh!" Limestone stands in place, shoulders rising and falling with her heated lungs. "Should have put that little brat on a leash!" She spins and points at me. "And you too!" She marches closer, sneering. "Thinking you actually have what it takes to rescue the little scamp from something so flippin' deadly. Take it from your older sister, Pinkie..." She points at herself. "You can't rely on impulse to save the ones that you love! You gotta be tough! You gotta have brains! And you gotta have loyalty!"

She grabs me and shakes me as hard as she can.

"All of which you threw into the proverbial trash can the moment you skipped out of town and threw yourself into the Cakes' lap!" She releases, letting me collide with the crystalline wall behind us. "Are you happy now?! You stupid fuzzhead?!?" She pants. She spits: "What if I was irresponsible enough to let this happen to either Maud or Marble?! Try smiling that off, ya party animal! News alert! Being an idiot hurts ponies! You think I'm mad?! How do you think Maud or Marble are handling this?!?"


A sniffling sound.

Marble raises her head. Her gray lips tighten, and for a moment she looks like she's about to say something.

"Mmmmm..."

She barely manages a squeak.

Sniffling again, she trots in close...

...and nuzzles her soft cheek against my leg.


Maud's teal eyes flash towards me.

"'While no research has been done on petrified bodies of animals or ponies—since such a scientific act would be considered both cruel and inequine—it is expected that the essential components of living animal cells are suspended in much the same way as the plant species that have been examined during cockatricean petrification. This would include the nuclei and mitochondria found in every living animal and pony. Essentially, the very building blocks of life are frozen in suspended animation by the hitherto unexplained power of the cockatrice's gaze.'"

For once, Maud lowers the book in her grasp.

"I know you're probably wanting me to read on. But I quoted this brief, tiny excerpt as a preface into this next part, which I think you will find most fascinating."

Taking her eyes off me, she flips towards the far end of the tome.

"From page two hundred and one of the Equestrian Geological Almanac on Anomalous Minerals." She breathes in... breathes out... and reads: "'Of all the equine subjects in known medical history who have been petrified and then had such petrification reversed, every single one of them came out of the ordeal in perfect health—or, at least, the same state of health they were in the very moment that the cockatrice's stare turned them into metaphysical stone. This has been taken to be firm proof that petrification—while alarming in its transmutational qualities—does nothing to subtract from the overall organic composition of the victims that fall prey to a cockatrice's stare.'"


"And you know what the hook, line, and sinker of all this is?!"

Limestone chuckles.

She avoids my gaze. She smirks. She shakes her head. She chuckles some more. She avoids my gaze.

"Shortly after coming here... I was told by Rainbow Dash and Applejack that the cockatrice—the monster that did this to you...??"

She chuckles harder. She's facing away from me now.

"It was found dead! Dead! Stupid lizard-turkey tried fleeing across a lake the very moment the search party discovered it! Isn't that great?! Isn't that just spectacular?! The one thing... the absolute one thing we all need to turn you back from stone has up and croaked!"

A grunt, and she kicks at the floor.

"How in the heck are Princess Twilight and her nerd friends expected to br-bring you b-back now?!"


Maud Pie closes the book.

She looks up at me.

Calm, slowly blinking eyes.

"As you can see, living things that are petrified by the cockatrice always retain their natural state of health upon being unfrozen. So, you really shouldn't be worrying about yourself, Pinkie Pie. When the day comes that you're no longer petrified, you will return to normal, almost as if you were never petrified to begin with. In the meantime, you can enjoy being the kind of substance that I have focused my entire career on. A rock. I think this is a new opportunity for sisterly bonding."

She blinks.

Five seconds later, her blink ends.

"That was a joke," she says. "Now that my anecdote is over, I think I should tell you why I'm really here. No doubt you have already talked to the calmest member of the family: our oldest sister Limestone."


"I hope you're happy with yourself," Limestone grumbles.

Her voice is softer, somehow. Wavery. I watch her shoulders shrug and shrug again as she hugs herself, glaring off into the furthest corner of the chamber.

"That little brat gets to live on... all because you decided to stand between him and the cockatrice like an idiot. And for what?"

She brushes her mane back, only for it to fall back in place. She doesn't appear to care.

"Not that it makes much of a difference. You left the family years ago. You're just a shadow back at the farm. And—let's face it—you were never all that good at herding rocks. Sometimes I think you stayed around as long as you did just for the rock candy. I mean—look at you! So frickin' bright and... and fluffy. There are times that I think that you were dropped down our chimney in a basket."

A shudder.

"Still... didn't stop me from trying to look after you... which is just what kills me. Part of me wants to think that you did this on purpose... just to spite me... to taunt me. 'Cuz then it would mean that you care that I care... y'know? Like a sister cares for a sister? Because I can never friggin' tell with you sometimes—what, with the way that you always stupidly care for everypony. I just... I just can't read you, Pinkie. You're too bright, too bouncy, too colorful. And then something like this happens and... and it's like I'm never ever going to really know... y'know?"


"You know how confused and angry she gets when you do intense things. Heroic things."

Maud stares at me.

"And Marble Pie. She gets quieter when she's concerned for you. You could hear a pin drop during the train ride over here."

A blink.

"And now... because the cockatrice that did this to you has passed away, there's no telling if you will ever be unfrozen from stone. At least in our lifetime. Of course, Twilight and her unicorn friend tell us that they're working around the clock to find a magical cure. And while that might bring Limestone some hope and it might settle Marble's fears, I think I know your friends enough to realize when they're not being honest with us. It's a hopeless situation. I know this... and I think you do too, Pinkie. Which makes me wonder why you put yourself in such danger to begin with. I know it was because you wanted to save our cousin, but did you ever once stop to think if there was a better, safer way to protect him? Did you ever once think of your sisters? Of us?"

She gently places the book in her lap and folds her forelimbs together.

"Pinkie, you've always been impulsive. And while this has angered Limestone and worried Marble, it brings me great relief. Few ponies have witnessed 'Pinkie Sense' in action like I have. So while the rest of the family is scratching their heads, I can only imagine that you had a supreme purpose in mind when you impulsively threw yourself before the cockatrice in the Everfree Forest."

Maud speaks calmly. There's the tiniest of twitches to her ears. It matches the sudden gloss spreading across her teal eyes.

"I choose to believe that. I have to believe that. I understand so many things in this world, Pinkie. I understand rocks. I understand geology. I understand physics and metamorphisms and the seismic vibrations that foretell disaster. You're the one thing on this earth that I can still afford to believe in. There's a... comfort to your absurdity. I am sorry that I have never had the courage to tell you that before. But now, I fear, I will not be able to tell you that again."

She sits silent and still for an alarming space in time.

"That is all I have to say for the moment." There's a little movement inside her throat. "If you do not mind, I think I will sit here with you for a while."


She continues nuzzling my leg.

Finally...

...after many timid breaths...

...Marble Pie looks up.

Her muzzle is covered in tears, but the muzzle beneath those violet eyes is bearing a smile.

It's a tiny thing. They're all tiny things with her.

Even these words: "Mmmm... I used... I used t-to think that there was something wrong with me."

She gulps.

She stammers.

"Being... the way that I am. Never... r-really wanting to... mmmm... sp-speak to anypony..."

Her ears twitch.

"...but every day that I see you... you're always exactly what you want to be, Pinkie. And you're not ashamed of it. And with every smile and with every hug... you taught me that it was okay to be who I want to be."

She sniffles. The smile brightens, even if for a brief flash.

"I don't think I could have made it this far without you." She bites her lip. "And... and I'm afraid, Pinkie. I'm afraid of what it's going to be like when you are gone."

Her eyes fill with tears. So she closes them... and she buries her sobbing head into my chest.

"Please... c-come back to me... come back to us." Her shivering breaths christen us both. "I n-never thought I'd be this scared with one less pony to t-talk to... but it's so scary, Pinkie. It's so scary not h-hearing you laugh..."


At last, Limestone turns to look at me.

Her frown is a moist thing, and she blinks the two yellow criminals responsible.

"Can you even hear me inside that cruddy white shell? Would you even have anything smart to say if you did?"

She shakes... quivers.

Sniffling, Limestone brings a hoof to her tear-stained face.

"And that smile... that stupid friggin' smile..." Her breath chokes on something. "What were you even trying to do at the t-time? Tell the cockatrice a knock-knock joke?"

At last, she caves. I watch as Limestone buries her gnarled face in her hooves.

"Hrmmmff... idiot... such an idiot. I don't... sometimes I-I don't think I even know h-how to smile. Because... because you were always the one to smile f-for me. Was I pr-protecting that all the t-time? And not you?" She whimpers. "Such a selfish idiot. I'm so selfish, Pinkie. I should... I should have kept you from leaving. I should have held on tighter. For your s-sake."

She twirls... stumbles... and falls into me. Her limbs hold on for dear life, and I feel her tears cascading over my shoulder.

"I d-don't care about your smile anymore! I j-just want to pr-protect you! And I messed it up... I messed it up real bad..." Limestone sobs. "I know you're in th-there! Somewhere! Come back to us... stinkin' fuzzball. Come back. Please... mrmmmff... don't make your oldest sister beg..."

Her shuddering breaths echo across the chamber.

Eventually, everything is devoured by silence.