• Published 13th Aug 2016
  • 6,271 Views, 161 Comments

The Sun Shines No More - CGPH



After getting attacked on the street Sunset’s life begins to spiral out of control. As her mental and physical condition worsens, she soon finds that her salvation may lie with an unlikely trio.

  • ...
11
 161
 6,271

Chapter One: Grey Day

Sunset Shimmer walked briskly through the empty streets of Canterlot. It was Sunday evening and she was on her way home from a long study session at the town’s library. She didn’t really have anything to study for this late into the school year, but she and her friends found the library a good hangout spot and “study session” sounded better than “try not to get caught playing computer games”.

Pinkie Pie and Applejack couldn’t come due to work, so the meet was only between herself, Rarity, Fluttershy and their newest addition, the Twilight Sparkle from this world. As for Rainbow Dash… Apparently playing hooky from school wasn’t enough and it turned out she had to avoid anything that sounded even remotely educational. So while it was just the four of them, they had still had a good time.

Sunset and Rarity played a game of cards, Fluttershy browsed cat videos on the internet and Twilight… Fair dos to her, Twilight actually did study. The four of them spent the day there, sharing personal stories, playing silly games, and just in general enjoying the circumstances their lives had put them in.

But now it was late and they all had homes to get to. It was a school day tomorrow and things had already started to get dark out, and although Sunset admittedly enjoyed walking home in the dark (she found the atmosphere very therapeutic), it didn't hurt to be cautious, so she'd left with ample time to get herself home before the sun had completely disappeared behind the horizon. Twilight actually tried offering her a ride home, but on the basis they lived in opposite directions and her flat was only a short walk away, Sunset politely declined. The four girls all said their farewells at the library gate and went their separate ways.

There was an unforeseen benefit from walking home at this time: one hell of a nice sunset to admire.

Oh, how narcissistic of me,” she thought, smiling at her own joke.

A chilling breeze of cold air brushed against her face, causing Sunset to tighten her scarf.

It was late November and the cold had really begun to set in. Christmas was just around the corner, and snow seemed ever present on the horizon.

They only had a few short weeks of school left now before they broke up for holidays. This would mark Sunset’s fifth Christmas in the human world, but only her first that really mattered. The first three she'd spent alone, ignoring the holiday in favor of self pity and scheming. And then whole "Anon-a-miss" incident of kind of spoiled last years festivities. Thus this would mark her first actual Christmas where for once, everything was how it was supposed to be.

Even back when she was the old Sunset, she always loved this time of year. Near as she could figure out, although the origins of the two holidays differed greatly, Christmas was essentially this world’s version of Hearths Warming Eve. It was one of the only constants she found when coming through the portal, and she’d be lying if she said the nostalgia didn’t play a big part in her love. From the decorations, to the carols, to the snow crunching beneath her feet, to the streets bathed in an orange glow; Sunset lived for it. Normally she didn’t like the cold, but she could get over it if Christmas was involved.

The scarf she wore right now in particular she treated as a festive item. It was given to her by Rarity the previous Christmas, when she and the girls had stayed over in Applejack's barn. It was dark purple, with her initials SS stitched into one corner. Rainbow once joked that to anybody who didn’t know her name, it probably looked really dodgy.

Sunset gave another light smile at the memory and glanced up at the sky.

Despite there still being just enough light for her to see unaided, the street lamps had already come on, giving Sunset an early taste of her eagerly anticipated Christmas glow.

Her observation was suddenly interrupted by contact.

“Gah!” she jumped in alarm.

She felt a force roughly bury itself into her leather jacket and drag her back. In the confusion Sunset automatically pulled against it. She didn’t know what was going on, but she didn’t like it. The little resistance Sunset could muster in the heat of the moment wasn’t enough, and she was torn backwards. The warm light from the streetlamps suddenly disappeared as she was dragged into the cold shadow of an alleyway. At this point her disorientation hit its peak and she lost her footing. She fell backwards into the force that was dragging her.

She could only force out a yelp as she fell, falling back into what she instantly knew was a person. Sunsets head shot around, trying to make sense of the situation. What was going on? Was she being mugged? Is that what a mugging was like?

Sunset’s eye’s settled on a person now in front of her. It wasn’t the person she’d fallen into, as they still had hold of her jacket and presently, was the only thing stopping Sunset from falling to the floor. The new person was only in frame for a second before descending upon her.

“Wha-“ Sunset tried to get out.

A fist collided with her face.

She felt the dull knuckles cut their way through her cheekbones, and an audible crack was heard as her neck was forced to the side. Her world span as a white daze overtook her vision.

She fell limp against the figure holding her. Before Sunset had time to recuperate from her daze, a second fist hit her. This one right into her gut, but Sunset could have sworn it went straight through her. The air was forced out of her lungs in a zombie-like cough and she felt her soul drain out of her body. She tensed up, and attempted to keel over into the fetal position, but the figure behind her clung tightly to her jacket, holding her up.

The pain from her face and stomach suddenly turned into nothing more than a tingle, and even her panic drained away as her body switched to autopilot. She was at the mercy of her attackers now, who seemed very aware of that.

The figure behind her stepped aside, letting Sunset fall back. Her head crashed into what was clearly a gravel brick wall, and suddenly her whole world seemed to revolve around the taste of pennies. She could taste pennies, she could smell pennies, and as far as she was concerned she had become a penny. Her body soon followed suit and she collapsed in a heap on the ground, folding up like a deckchair. Her head had stopped spinning, but instead ofthe slow, gentle halt she would had preferred, everything crashed down on her like a ton of bricks. A thumping pressure in her head caused her to force her eyes shut. With each pump her head felt like it was getting tighter and tighter, as though she was a balloon on the verge of popping, and each pump was a breath blowing her up. Sunset groaned in pain and her eyes leaked open. She could make out the fuzzy silhouettes of four legs stood in front of her.

She opened her mouth to call out, took a jagged breath and closed it again. The taste of pennies was churning her stomach. Luckily she didn’t have time to focus on that, as suddenly two hands made contact with her again. She tried to fight it, but her best efforts managed to amount to just a flinch and a brief whimper. The hands closed around Sunset’s arm and dragged, pulling her into the sitting position. She had no choice but go along for the ride. Two more hands came into view, sealing themselves around her other arm. Sunset knew what was coming next, and tensed herself up as she felt them lift her. As she gained altitude, black spots dotted in the corner of her vision.

She was pushed back against the wall again, this time her attackers spreading her arms out and pinning her down. Even in her disorientated state, Sunset could suddenly feel how exposed she was. She heaved and tried pushing back, making any attempt to free herself. She thrashed from side to side, but her weak struggles were nothing against her attacker’s strength. A new taste joined the pennies in Sunset's mouth. She licked her lips, recognizing the salty sensation and realized she was now crying. It was now she was able to make out the source of the metallic taste in her mouth; her own blood.

Sunset lifted her eyes forward. Even through the white daze, black splotches and darkness of the alleyway, she could make out the two figures standing before her. Despite the large jackets they wore -the hoods of which did a good job at masking their faces- she could tell by their shape they were female. Quite who they were, she couldn’t say. But she knew enough to know they did not have good intentions.

Sunset closed her eyes, preparing to have her pockets pillaged or her jacket torn from her. But the ransacking never came.

What did come however, was another swift punch into her gut.

AUUUGGH!” Sunset wheezed.

The air escaped her lungs at a speed that felt like sandpaper surfing up her neck. Her arms pulled against her restraints as her body tried yet again to retreat into the fetal position, but they remained firmly pinned against the wall. Suddenly the concrete floor and the feet of her attackers were the only thing in her field of view, as she realized her head was hanging limply.

An unseen hand took a fistful of Sunset’s fringe, and before she could respond to what was happening her head was lifted up, only to go careening to the side again as another fist was smashed into it. Facing the ground, the little light she could make out was now tinged red, and the taste of pennies in her mouth was stronger than ever. The thumping in her head seemed to focus primarily on her left eye now, which Sunset could only guess was were that last punch had landed.

“Please… sto-“ was all she could force out.

Again her head was lifted up by her hair, this time with the back of her skull getting smashed back into the brick wall. The white daze returned and the black spots clouded her vision. Sunset’s body shuddered and then hung loose. Whatever little resistance she could give was now gone. She submitted to the pain, and braced herself for whatever was to come next.

The girls took turns hitting her. Each blow hit causing Sunset to go a little bit more numb. In a strange way she was thankful they had attacked her head first, it meant she couldn’t feel the true extent of the rest of the pain they were inflicting on her. Each hit into Sunset's stomach caused her body to react, trying to contract in on itself but unable to because of the girls grasp. Sunset dry heaved, but all that came out was a light dribble of blood. One of the girls hit her in the face again, but it didn’t matter now, Sunset had ascended to a new plain of existence where she was above feeling physical pain. All she could do was watch and get thrown about as the girls lay waste to her.

She didn’t know how long they were there for, but things had gotten darker now. Whether that was because she was losing consciousness, her eye had swollen over or they had just been there that long, she didn’t know. In likeliness, it was probably all three.

Then, there was a new factor. Up until this point, the only sounds Sunset could hear was her own jagged breathing and the thumps as her attacker’s fists collided with her body. The attackers themselves had remained almost entirely silent, outside from an occasional grunt to add emphasis into a punch. But now there was a new sound. A voice, and it was growing ever closer.

“STOP, Y-YOU’RE GONNA KILL HER!” the voice spluttered. Even in her state, Sunset could tell the speaker was distressed.

She mentally thanked the voice. But unfortunately, the voice’s begging did nothing to impede her attackers. Punch after punch was sent into her gut and chest, with the occasional one in her face. She was at least getting used to the rhythmic beats, and could prepare herself mentally for them.

But then the rhythmic beats came to an abrupt stop, and she felt the arm pinning her right arm down get jolted. She couldn’t lift her head to see what was going on, but her confusion was quickly explained by the voice.

“Aria please stop! She’s had enough!” the voice begged.

There was another jolt on her arm, and for a split second Sunset felt relief. A very brief relief that was then snatched away as the pressure on her arm returned and another fist collided into her face. Not a second later, there was a jolt on her other arm, and the voice returned.

“Adagio you said we weren’t going to kill her! We need to go, please!” the voice shouted.

It took a second but the force pinning her left arm against the wall released, allowing her body to drop limp. Sunsets left half swung round, crashing into the legs of the other attacker, who at this point still had her arm pinned against wall. There was a silence, before a very audible grunt, and Sunsets other arm came free. She flopped face-first against the pavement, and if she actually had any feeling left in her head, she’d have probably cared. Though her attackers had released her, she could still feel their presences. They were talking. About what, Sunset couldn’t make out. But she prayed whatever it was was more interesting than her.

Then, a noise she recognized. Footsteps. Quick footsteps. Growing quieter.

Her attackers were leaving.

A wave of relief washed over the still-conscious parts of Sunsets mind, but the relief that came too soon. Another impact, much harder than any before, was delivered into Sunsets chest. There was a sharp crack and even with her body numb, she felt it. Sunset let out another violent cough, causing blood to splutter out of her mouth and onto the pavement before her. And with that the remaining attacker joined the other two, and Sunset was alone. There she lay, eyes closed.

She didn’t move.

She didn’t think.

She just, existed.

At some point she’d stopped crying, making the only sound discernible to her being her own wheezing breaths. No dripping pipes, no cars in the distance, nothing. It was as though she’d gotten off a roller-coaster and gone immediately to the surface of the moon. The entire world around her had fallen silent, as though she was the only living being in it.

Sunset didn’t know how long she was laid there for. She didn’t know how long the attack had lasted. She didn’t even know how long ago she had left the library. But she did know that that world, the world of her friends, the world of magic and Equestria... couldn’t have felt more far away than it did right now.

She seemed to dip in and out of consciousness. Sometimes she was able to think, to process, sometimes it’d be revealed she was just dreaming that she could think. Her head danced around her, whatever little light she could make out from the end of the alley way was visible from each direction at any given point. To say her head was spinning would be an understatement.

But oh, how she wished she could have stayed in that state.

The first thing that came to her was thankfully, the coldness of the pavement against her face. It had obviously rained sometime previously, and the mixture of drool and blood coming from her face wasn’t helping matters. She licked her lips and swallowed, getting another hit of dirty pennies. She winced.

The second thing that came back was the thumping in her head. First it had started off in the distance, but then gradually got closer. The rhythmic thumping of her own heartbeat got louder and louder, like a giant monster was running towards the city. Each thump flared the whiteness in her vision, and put her head ever closer to the point where she was sure it was going to burst. Sunset went cross-eyed and tensed the muscles in her ear canal, trying anything to fight off the pain. But nothing worked, and she tried instead just to block the pain out.

She failed.

She tried focusing her vision forward, and could make out the rough outline of what looked like a trash can. The sun had set during her attack, and the only light she was getting was from the street lamp back out on the road. But her eyes were adjusting reasonably well to the darkness, all things considered. She could make out the nearby trash can, and the short distance she’d had to travel to get back out onto the street.

She lifted her hand towards the trash can, planning how to use it to pull herself up. What a mistake that was.

All around her, pain flared. Her chest contracted, tightening around her lungs to the point where she couldn’t breathe. A wave of pain swept through her gut as it seized up, like she’d done thousand sits ups all at once. Sunset gasped out in agony and dropped her hand, having only gotten it barely few off the ground anyway. She winced, waiting for the pain of her sudden movement to stop. It didn’t, but it did slow. The thumping in her head eventually relaxed and turned more akin to background music. Her gut relaxed itself, and only when the pain had reached its lowest form did she open her eyes again.

Moving was not an option. She had experienced pain like that before, when she’d broken her arm during her first year here. But never had she experienced pain like that coming from every inch of her body at the exact same second.

She didn’t have to move. She just had to call out for help. Somebody would come find her, wouldn’t they? It was a main road she was walking down after all, somebody would have to come down it at some point?

So she waited, laying perfectly still. Even when focusing all of her energy into not moving a single muscle, the pain still echoed through her body. It caused a sensation almost like an itch, making her want to scratch the tender areas of her body. Like when taking off a bandage that’s been on for a long time, the nicest feeling is being able to give a good scratch to the fresh skin. The fact she couldn’t move at all -never-mind scratch the itch- seemed to make this whole shitty situation a lot more shitty.

She waited for a sign of anybody approaching. Whether it was distant footsteps, the mumbling of a voice; anything at all to indicate a living person was in the nearby vicinity would have been music to her ears right now.

But no nobody came.

Then she realized she’d been out studying on a Sunday afternoon. It was dark out now, making it what, at least eight?

Nobody had gone past because everybody was already home. Nobody stayed out late in Canterlot on a school night. This was a good city with a routine, people were at home prepping for Monday morning. Whether that was to catch the school bus or drive to work, the last thing anybody at this time would be doing was walking the streets at night.

Minus the girls who attacked her.

It was ironic the reason nobody was coming to her aid was because everyone in this town lead a sheltered existence. Crimes in Canterlot were unheard of, and even when they were it was never anything more than a simple shoplifter or an illegal parking.

But Sunset had been attacked.

Not mugged, like she expected to be when they grabbed her. Attacked. Beaten to a pulp and then left for dead. Why? Had she done something to offend those girls? Who were they? Were they just doing it for their own sick amusement? Why had they stopped? Was this directed at her or was this a case of wrong place at the wrong time? If it was directed at her, what had she done?

All these questions and more flooded into Sunsets head as the reality of the situation began to settle in on her.

She had been attacked. She had never been attacked before; she’d never even been in a fight. Minus the time she became a raging she-demon and got blasted with the Elements of Harmony, and the time she became an angel and had to blast a different raging she-demon with the Elements of Harmony. They were never physical scraps though, even when Sunset was her old self she had never found herself driven to violence.

Opening her eyes again, her thoughts settled back on the nearby trash can. Help wasn’t coming, so she would have to help herself. The worst part was going to be standing up, she knew that. Most of her injuries were centered on her chest and stomach, her legs were okay. She just needed to get onto them.

She took a deep breath, wincing as her lungs expanded further than they were comfortable doing at this point. Holding the breath tightly in her lungs, she pushed on it and forced all of her energy into her arm.

A pain shot through her that was so bad, for a second it didn’t even register as pain. It registered as something, a feeling, not a tingle, more like a blank space. She got a sensation as though she a mannequin, she had the body, but she wasn’t real. And when that feeling died down into actual pain, only then did she gasp.

It was the first time she’d vocalized properly since her punch in the chest and whoa… did she regret not learning Princess Twilight’s breathing exercises. The breath she’d been holding in was forced out of her body, tearing apart her throat on the way up and exploding out her mouth.

“Ghhhggghh,” Sunset grunted through her teeth.

Relief came in the form of her fingers touching the cold rusted rim of the trash can. It didn’t have a lid on it, which meant she was going to have to be careful with her weight ratio.

Sunset quickly took another breath, reassuring herself the worst part was nearly over. She moved her other hand into position. Clenching her teeth against the pain, she placed it on the floor beside her and pushed.

She was able to lift herself barely a few inches off the ground. Her arms, her legs, hell, her entire body screamed in protest. Her stomach twisted and contorted, rebelling against her as though it was about to liquefy. The use of her body parts had caused the thumping in her head to return louder than ever. She scrunched up her face and tried to bare the pain.

She felt a mild panic as the rim of the trash can began to tremble under her weight. She could feel the other side of it lift off the ground and prayed it wasn’t about to come crashing down on top of her.

But success, Sunset lifted herself from the ground and was able to drag a knee up beneath her. Turns out her legs weren’t in as good as shape as she thought, but she was stable. She was able to take her weight off the rim of the garbage can, lowering it to the ground. She gasped her next breath, ignoring the horrid sensation coming from her throat and focusing instead on the stretching feeling she felt as she breathed. It wasn’t an unpleasant sensation –provided she didn’t push on it- but it was a sensation she could definitely feel.

She blinked a few times. She tried again to reassure herself that despite the pain she still felt in her head and chest, the worst was now over. Her grip on the garbage can had loosened but she still cling to it, as if anything the cold sensation of it on her fingers was helping distract her.

Sunset looked up. She could see the entrance to the alleyway. Hell, she was almost stood in it. The girls that grabbed her only dragged her barely a meter in, if that. Whoever they were they didn’t seem very bothered about getting seen. Or maybe they had also just noticed how empty it was around here on a Sunday evening.

Taking enough breaths, Sunset regained her composure as best she could. She released her grip on the bin, and used the sleeve of her jacket to wipe her mouth. To her disgust, a trail of her own blood stained spit came away with it. Still needing her other hand to support her, she did all she could to get rid of it and wiped it on her already oil-stained skirt. If Rarity saw the state of her right now she’d likely drag Sunset into an alleyway of her own and give her a beating far worse.

The thought gave Sunset a small smile. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and stood.

As she first began to rise she had a little wobble, and quickly took the rim of the trash can again. Using it as her ballast, she continued her ascent. Her stomach had almost become a second heartbeat, with a wave of pain flowing through her with every pulse. She gritted her teeth and pulled herself up.

Suddenly she felt the rim of the trash can slip from her grasp. She’d pulled it too hard, and it crashed to the floor beside her in an over the top display. The sound waves were a shock to her system and she stumbled back, flinching at the noise. The acoustics in the alleyway turned what would have been a small crash into a thunderous bang, almost like a strike of lighting.

But, she was okay. She’d made it to her feet, and the worst was over. She took a sigh of relief, and placed her hand over her tummy. She knew even as a foal that rubbing her tummy did nothing to ease pain, but the feeling of the fabric of her shirt rub against the tenderness of her pained spots was her version of scratching that itch from earlier.

The stench from the fallen garbage now began to seep towards her. She screwed up her nose. Rotten meat, gone-off cheese and… oh Celestia, what was that? Sunset spied the garbage on the floor, among which was a half-eaten taco and… an open dirty diaper?

It was time to leave.

Sunset had spent more than enough time in this alleyway. Home. She needed to get home.

She looked back towards the entrance and began to wobbly trudge towards it. Her legs ached. She wasn’t sure why considering they never touched her legs, but none the less it felt like she’d ran a marathon. She secured both her hands around her tummy, as though she was holding it from falling out. And with the pain she kept feeling from it, that didn’t seem like something unlikely to happen. As she got closer to rejoining the main street, the light from the streetlamps got harsher. Her eyes had adjusted to the darkness, causing her to wince as she traveled further into the light.

Reaching the street, she poked her head out. There was nobody around. All was dead. A light fog had set in, causing the whole world around her to become eliminated in an orange glow. If she had seen this sight an hour ago she’d had loved it, but right now she couldn’t care less about the aesthetic of the street. With one more glance around to make sure she was truly alone, Sunset ventured out back onto the street.

Her walking was slow. Each step was a limp, Sunsets only guess was at some point she must have been kicked at or landed on her own foot, because she was getting a lot of pain from walking. And with the pain in her stomach still not letting up, each step was becoming an accomplishment. She kept her head down, watching her own feet as took step after step. The pain she was going through now was a lot more stable than when she was on the floor, provided she didn’t move her upper torso that much, she could control it well enough.

Another breeze snaked its way around her, causing her body to instinctively shiver. Gritting her teeth against the pain caused by her automatic reaction, she went to tug at her scarf again, only to realize it wasn’t there. She stopped.

It must have been torn from her during her attack. It was probably still on the floor back in the alleyway somewhere. Sunset briefly considered going back for it, but then remembered that really… it was just a scarf. She wasn’t too far away from her apartment, she could deal with the cold until then. And Rarity would probably be more than happy to make her another one, realistically right now, she needed her priorities straight. She gave a sympathetic sigh and continued walking.

As she went, her eyes remained firming on the ground. She didn’t feel like looking around, she just wanted to get home. But the way she held her stomach was for more than just the sake of stopping it from hurting. She felt vulnerable. And rightly so, she was. She had no way of defending herself right now if her attackers were to return. She couldn’t run, or even call out for help. She would be completely at theirs, or anybody else’s, mercy. Closing her eyes, she gave a sigh and quickened her pace.

Man, she wished she hadn’t thought of that.

As she passed under each street lamp she watched as her shadow grew and shrank with her. It was strangely hypnotic. As she’d approach a lamp her shadow would start as a part of the darkness that filled the void behind her, but then as she got closer it would take form, filling in her footsteps. Then as she went under the light it’d reach its most human and be a direct dark image of her, facing downwards instead of up. When she was stood directly under the light, if it was side-on and she was stood on water, not concrete, it’d look like a perfectly mirror split. Then as Sunset would walk away, finally the shadow would overtake her, until eventually going full circle and re-joining the void of darkness out of the street lamps range.

This pattern continued as she made her way further down the street. She found herself getting lost in it. There was no background noise, no cars driving past or members of the public to distract her. Just her own shadow, growing and shrinking as she took step after step. Her footsteps were the only soundtrack to this hypnotic view, which further added to the rhythm.

It wasn’t much, but it was enough to distract her from the pain. It was something to focus on, something other than the blisters under her feet. Or the tightness she felt when she breathed. Or the pounding in her head. Or the waves of pain from her stomach. Or the fact that she couldn’t see what was behind her.

Breaking out of her trance, Sunset quickly glanced over her shoulder.

There was nothing there. Sunset silently cursed herself for getting scared like that. She returned to watching the pattern of her shadow below her, only to notice it had gone. She stopped again.

She’d reached the end of the street. There was a crossroads in front of her, taking her onto the next street. Another block down and she’d be at Sugar Cube Corner, which she could almost make out the outline of in the distance. Which meant…

Sunset frowned and looked to her left. She was outside her apartment block.

“…huh."

She was confused, but not complaining.

Turning to her left, she made her way over to the steps that lead up to main entrance. It was a small apartment block, only maybe ten or fifteen rooms in the whole building, all on top of each other. And she was… on the third floor.

Sunset swallowed again and mentally prepared herself. With her “just do it” attitude, she began to climb the steps. She placed her hand on the rail for support, which definitely helped take some of the weight of her feet. Each step she took was crooked, with one foot joining the other on the same step rather than one at a time. She held the breath in her lungs again, using it as a rock to push off of.

She reached the top of the steps and approached the main door. There was a buzzer in the wall labelled “Concierge”, with just above it a slot for inserting your apartment key.

Sunset closed her eyes and gave another sigh. She definitely had her key when she left the library, but had no idea if it was still on her. Mentally crossing her fingers, she patted herself down. A wave of relief hit her as she felt a small rectangular bit of plastic in her top pocket. She took her key out, and pushed the bit of plastic up against the slot. The was a second of waiting, then a red light turned green, there was a buzz, and the door before her gently swung open.

A familiar sight went a long way for the condition Sunset was in. This was the first place that Sunset moved into in this world (once she'd stopped staying in the schools library) and she’d been here ever since. True the actual “block” bit of the apartment block wasn’t the most appealing… exposed brick walls, bare piping and rusted over glass windows, but it was something that Sunset had gotten used to. Sealing the door behind her felt like sealing a leak in a dam of anxiety, and hearing that lock click into place was more satisfying she could have heard right now. She lost the feeling of vulnerability she had and it was replaced with a sense of security. Not a big one, but it was enough.

She turned towards the metal staircase. Three floors.

She could do this.

The metal railing was cold to the touch, but luckily the staircase was narrow enough for Sunset to be able to put both hands on the railings of either side. Her first step was easy enough. She didn’t have her hands on her stomach to give that extra bit of support she needed, but she was okay. As she lifted each leg however, that’s when she began to become not okay. Her gut started twisting again, it was pain similar to what she’d feel doing sit ups only a lot, lot worse. Her stomach rumbled in protest, though that was also probably because she was hungry.

With the first set of steps done, she did the short walk across the landing and onto the next set. She clenched her eyes shut as the pain in her stomach began to worsen. She briefly tried lifting herself entirely by her arms, hoping to be able to just bypass the stairs completely and swing her legs over them. But the burning sensation in her biceps told her that was not a good idea. So she carried on, step after step, with the pain in her waistline getting worse and worse. Due to the sudden increase of body movement, blood had begun circulating her body faster, which had caused the dull pained beats in her head to return. There was a grandfather clock in her head and every second was an hour. The louder it got the more painful it got, and at this rate Sunset was wincing in sync with every heartbeat.

This place needs an elevator,” she mumbled to herself.

One more set to go. Sunset gritted her teeth, sucked in another deep breath and started to climb the last few steps. The thumping in her head was almost unbearable now, only the knowledge that covering her ears would not help silence it stopped her from doing so. Her stomach screamed out in protest as she tensed it again and again, lifting her leg to the next step. Even her arms at this point had begun to burn.

As tears began to well up, Sunset finally took the last step and reached her landing. She had been happy many a time to see her front door, but none more so than right now. Her limps hurt more now than before, each step making them worse and worse. She had blisters on her blisters. She hobbled to her front door, key still in hand and after a few shaky misses, managed to get the key into its slot.

Ku-lunk

Her door swung open. Leaning against the door frame to support herself, she stepped in. Another feeling of relief washed over her. It was the smell. It wasn’t particularly nice, or of anything one thing in particular. But it smelt like home. It smelt of safety and comfort. It smelt of her shower and her bed. It smelt of her books and coffee mug. It smelt of alcohol and Netflix. Celestia, what she wouldn’t give for all of those things right now. Especially the alcohol part.

Swallowing again, Sunset pushed herself off the door frame and stepped inside properly. She turned, closing the door behind her and lifted the handle up, clicking the lock into place. Then after a moment’s hesitation, she put the chain lock on.

She’d never used it before, but she needed it right now.

Dropping the keys onto the bookshelf in her hallway, Sunset stepped back. The thumping rhythm in her head was still there, and her feet were screaming in protest for her to get off them. Every step she took her stomach rebelled and tried to tear itself out of her. She sighed, and got another unpleasant taste in her throat.

Water.

That was what she wanted right now. Before she did anything, she wanted a glass of water. She turned around, the kitchen was the first exit from the hallway, also making it the easiest option as well. She trudged forward towards it, wincing with every step. She took another deep breath –as deep a breath as she could take- and relished the smell of her apartment. It was yet another small distraction that she was trying to focus on, anything to take her away from her pain.

Reaching the sink, Sunset took a whiskey glass off the draining board and filled it up. The sound of the water splashing into the glass was like music to her ears. She licked her lips. The blood had dried since her attack and crusted over. Filling it to a good height, she turned the tap off and lifted the glass up.

It never reached her lips.

Instead it smashed down onto the kitchen floor, with an unconscious Sunset following immediately behind it.