• Published 13th Aug 2016
  • 6,272 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.

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Chapter Four: "Get Well Soon"

“When do you change your bandages?”

“Every morning.”

“When do you take your painkillers?”

“One with every meal.”

“And lastly,” Redheart said, folding her arms. “How are you going to take it?”

Sunset stifled a laugh. “Easy. I’ll take it easy.”

“Good girl.”

It was the morning of Sunset’s release and she felt the best she had in days. At this point most of her bruises had begun fading from harsh purple to a much blander greenish yellow, and the pain she got from them was nothing more than a nuisance now. Her cracked rib still hurt when she breathed in certain positions, but her chest bandage created an illusion of immobility that discouraged her getting in such positions. Provided she didn’t run any marathons, she could deal with it. Her only other noticeable pain at this point was her stomach and eye, both of which still hurt when she tensed up.

Apparently she’d been lucky to get away with no internal bleeding, which she was thankful for. But her insides had still been pretty messed up during the attack, hence the painkillers.

“You know, you’re lookin pretty badass with that eye.” Redheart smirked.

Sunset had come to terms with the fact she was going to be living with a black eye for a while. She wasn’t complaining, the area around it was a bit tender but it was no pain she couldn’t deal with. Her main issue came from the fact that, well… it was a black eye. You could hide cracked ribs, but there was no hiding Sunset’s massive shiner. She’d be getting funny looks in the streets for a few days.

“That’s the angle I’m going for,” Sunset laughed.

“I can tell, leather jacket and all. Look like you're about to set up the Avengers,” Redheart sneered to Sunset’s clothes.

She openly laughed at Redhearts remark.

Sunset was back in her civilian clothes for the first time since her admission. Although they had been cleaned since she last wore them she could still spy some stained redness. Her shirt was bright purple, so it wasn’t exactly obvious, but still. Sunset would have to get it professionally washed later, it was her favorite shirt.

Earlier this morning she’d undergone a physio appointment to check she was capable of going home. It had been pretty standard stuff, walking, stretching, arm exercises, etc. At first she’d proven a little difficult with walking (purely because she’d spent the previous two days in bed) but had gotten the hang of things pretty quickly.

Now her stuff was packed and she was ready to leave.

“Sunset, before I go get your friends…” Redheart began.

The nurse inched closer to her and lowered her voice.

“I want you to know that everything I said still applies for after you leave. Readjusting to life after something like that happens to you… it’s not as easy as it sounds. If you ever need somebody to talk to, the clinic doors are always open.”

Sunset smiled at her. “Thank you, Nurse Redheart. I appreciate it, really.”

Redheart smiled in response and stepped back. “Right, best check you have everything, I’ll be back in a tick.”

With that Redheart left Sunset alone with her belongings. She only had one bag with her, and it was mostly full of things the girls had brought her the previous night. Sunset regrettably hadn’t gotten chance to start Rainbow’s Daring Do book… after her outburst she hadn’t really been in the mood for it.

Sunset leaned back against the bed and looked around.

Hospital hadn’t been nearly as bad as she thought it was going to be. Nurse Redheart definitely seemed to be on the same wavelength as her, which helped a lot. And she had to admit, although she felt guilty being waited on hand and foot she had found the opportunity to relax quite pleasant. It was a nice break from her usual routine of doing everything for herself. Take away the cracked ribs, black eye and the pain from her stomach and it’d have almost been a holiday.

Bearing all that in mind, Sunset couldn’t wait to get home. She’d been confined to her bed the past three days and had gotten more than a little restless. The thought of being able to sprawl out on her own bed with a glass of whiskey, chocolate cake and Netflix had been the thought that kept her going.

Then an ugly prospect came into mind.

When she got home she wouldn’t be able to kick back and relax straight away, she still had to sort out stuff with CHS. Though it’d be too late to call them by the time she got home… she could leave it until tomorrow right? She’d call up, explain the situation to Celestia or Luna and then request the rest of the week off. It pained her to be so willing to take time of school, but realistically she knew she needed time to let herself heal. She’d just have to work extra extra hard when she went back to catch up what she’d missed...

And on that note Sunsets need for Netflix and alchol grew exponentially.

Her thought train was derailed as movement from across the ward caught her attention. It was the girl from yesterday again. She wasn’t in a much better state than when Sunset first saw her. She’d stopped crying though, which was something. But the way she held herself was a sad sight. Unlike her, the girl hadn’t been confined to her bed, so she’d spied her walking around occasionally. She walked with her head down and her dressing gown wrapped tightly around herself, almost like she was in a rainstorm. Sunset had taken note to the fact she hadn’t had any visitors, or spoken to anybody who didn’t work there.

Right now the girl had just returned from somewhere (probably the restroom) and was sat on the side of her bed, staring into space.

Sunset gave a sigh. She didn’t know what the girl was going through, but she had her sympathy. She almost felt guilty that she couldn’t help. Sunset had considered it, but the thought of approaching the girl to ask how she was doing could seem rude. It’s not like what was going on in her life was any of Sunset’s business anyway. But nonetheless, she couldn’t help but feel sad that she was powerless to help the stranger.

Then an idea struck. Sunset’s eyes lit up.

Moving quickly so not to get caught by Redheart, Sunset sprung into action. She turned around and propped open the bag of her belongings. Inside was Rarity’s (untouched) IPod, an Eggsalad sandwhich, some Blackcurrent juice and Rainbow Dash’s book. She snatched up the food items and made her way over to the girl’s bed.

As she got closer, the girl’s finer details began to take shape. She was about Sunset’s age, but something was making her look a lot older. Her shoulder length hair was in a mess, her skin had paled and bags had formed under her bloodshot eyes. The girl’s nose had reddened on its tip, presumably from blowing it too hard. It shocked Sunset to see the girl in such a state. She wouldn’t admit to it, but it also made her feel a bit lucky.

“Excuse me?” Sunset gently, a few feet from her.

The girl jumped at her arrival and her head snapped up, locking eyes with her. The girl’s face was one of fear, causing Sunset to back up slightly.

Sunset offered a weak smile and continued.

“Er, hey. I’m getting out today, I have some stuff left over and wondered if you’d like it? It’s er, just going to go in the trash otherwise.”

The girl kept her eyes locked on Sunset, before slowing looking down to the food that Sunset was offering.

After a moment she replied a quiet, “Yes. J-just the juice, please.”

Sunset smiled, happy with her answer. She placed the juice bottle down on beside her and turned away.

“Thank you,” A small voice came from behind her.

Sunset turned and saw the girl staring back at her with a smile on her face. It was a small smile, but a genuine one. Sunset’s heart fuzzed over, and she returned the girls gesture.

“Odd… she looks familiar,” A background voice said to her.

But Sunset didn’t have time to further the thought, as she was met back at her bed by Nurse Redheart, Rarity and an overly excited Pinkie Pie.

Rarity was Sunset’s ride back to her apartment. She and Applejack were the only two of their friends who had driving licenses, albeit it they had them mostly because of their families. Applejack used the Apple’s pickup truck around the farm, and Rarity had gotten a Mercedes off her parents for her 18th which she used for dropping off orders.

But… Sunset had no idea why Pinkie had tagged along with her.

Actually, scratch that, she had a pretty good idea…


The drive home was not a short one. There was a light trickle of rain as grey clouds covered the sky. The rain alone could be dealt with, if not for the wind, which turned the cold spray into a shower of needles. After a short goodbye with Nurse Redheart, Pinkie and Rarity had quickly ushered Sunset into the back of the merc and taken off. On the way to the car despite Sunset’s insistence's she could walk unaided, she had proven not to be terribly fast and held them all up in the rain. She ended up using Pinkie for support while Rarity brought the car round, much to her own embarrassment.

Although the short walk from the hospital to the car hadn’t been a pleasant one, Sunset was happy to be outside. Her first day in she’d spent off her head on painkillers, the second day had really dragged, and this morning she’d been itching to leave. With the dropping temperature she was secretly hoping snow would be there to greet her as she left. But alas there was no snow, just another grey, weary day.

The hospital was located on the outer rim of Canterlot, whereas Sunset lived in the heart of the city. This wasn’t the first time Sunset had stayed overnight at the Canterlot Infirmary, but she did hope it’d be her last. During her first year in this world she was still getting the hang of things, and a misunderstanding with a traffic light had resulted in her getting her arm broken. Of course back then she enjoyed having everybody run around for her, so staying in hospital then had been a very different experience. It was probably the guilt of that which made her so uneasy about them now.

To get to Sunset’s house it was about a twenty minute drive, more than enough time for her to get lost in the sight from her window.

In the four years she’d spent in this world she’d gotten so used to these streets. She knew Canterlot like the back of her hand. But yet now, it felt so alien to her.

For the first time in many years, Sunset felt something she thought she’d made peace with. She missed Equestria. Ponies were pacifist by nature, and they lived in a society structured around friendship and trust. True, there was more than enough danger in that land, but it was never danger that prevailed. Bad times would come, but no matter what the hardship the light would always return. That was, sadly, where the two worlds differed.

Equestria and this world had different cores. Equestria was driven by friendship, this world by greed. If somepony was to fall from grace in Equestria it was their friends that would help them back up, even if it was at their own expense. In this world a fall from grace just meant a scramble to be replaced, with the fallen person getting crushed underfoot.

Even before coming to this world Sunset had lived a very sheltered life. She was born into a rich family, attended the most prestigious school in the land and had studied under the guidance of the Princess herself. Then when she came through the portal she arrived in Canterlot, a city with some of the lowest crime rates in the state. Of course Sunset had seen some of the atrocities of this world on the television; serial killers, police brutality, hate groups, muggings, but they’d all felt so far away to her.

Now they felt just on the other side of that window.

It had never occurred to her that Canterlot wasn’t a safe haven. All these years she’d walk around without a care in the world. She would smile at strangers as she passed them in the street. She would walk to the supermarket alone at night. She would give money to beggars. She’d been doing this, and never had a thought been spared about her own safety. There had been no reason to, everything she heard about on the television just sounded like exactly that, something you heard on the television. But now she knew that Canterlot was exactly the same as every place she’d seen on the television.

There was nothing protecting it from the muggers, bank robbers, murders, dealers or molesters. There was no magical wall that kept Canterlot pure. Somewhere in the back of her mind Sunset had made the rule that because it didn’t happen, it couldn’t happen. But she was wrong. Anything could happen... Canterlot had just somehow avoided it for this long.

As they passed the library that had been the source of this mess, Sunset realized something.

Something had changed inside her. She didn’t look at these streets and feel home anymore. She felt afraid. Going through these streets in this car felt like she was in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean. This car was all that there was protecting her from the horrors of the world. All of it, the murderers, the muggers, the gangbangers, they were all out there. Sunset had just been lucky enough not to find them.

This world… didn’t feel safe anymore. Sunset had lost something in that alleyway, something more than just a scarf. She’d lost something inside of her. She didn’t know what it was, but she could feel its absence. It was the same feeling she got when thinking about the sirens.

“Sunset?” Rarity’s voice asked quietly from the front.

Apparently during her daydream Sunset’s anxieties had leaked out. Through her rear-view mirror, Rarity had noticed the look she gave the outside world.

“Yeah?”

“You okay back there?”

Sunset gave her a weak smile. “Yeah. Course.”

Rarity hadn’t pushed, and the short drive back to Sunset’s apartment was taken in silence. The rain had slowed to a light drizzle by the time Rarity had parked, which meant there was no rush to hurry Sunset. But that didn’t stop Pinkie from trying though.

It was pretty obvious to Sunset what was awaiting her when she got to her flat, but she decided to play along and act none the wiser. She loved the expressions Pinkie Pie managed to produce while keeping a secret.

Sunset buzzed them in, and again (much to her embarrassment), had required assistance getting up the three flights of stairs. The first she had managed easily enough; it’s when her arms began to give away during the second lot that Pinkie and Rarity intervened. They did so without Sunset’s permission, but the bacon-haired girl had elected to just silently accept their help. She understood it would be a while before she had her dignity back, so there was no point fighting it.

As they reached Sunset’s flat, Rarity produced a key and let them all in. Sunset braced herself.

“SURPRIIIIIIISE!” A choir of voices rang out.


“So Trixie still thinks you’re the Twilight from this world?” Sunset asked.

Twilight nodded and blushed. “We er… tried to explain it to her but…”

“She wasn’t having any of it!” Rainbow laughed.

“Yes, it appears Miss Lulamoon is rather in denial about the whole situation… Of course, if you ask me it’s because she’s just jealous we have real magic and she doesn’t,” Rarity added in.

“What do you mean she doesn’t?” Pinkie frowned. “You saw that card trick she did right?”

The group laughed and Sunset rolled her eyes at Pinkie’s comment.

Now this was what she missed. For the first time in what felt like ages, she was back living the good life. Her friends had quickly ushered her in and lay her out on the couch, then they’d all settle down into their own places littered about her living room. Rainbow and Fluttershy on the floor and Twilight and Rarity on the other couch with Applejack leaning against it. Pinkie Pie just sort of… floated around. Sunset tried insisting she didn’t need the whole couch to herself but any attempt to get up simply made the others fuss over her more.

And they'd done her flat up pretty nicely, she had to admit. They’d turned the lights down, got a small disco light set up in the corner, and brought in Sunset’s radio from the kitchen to get the music playing. Various colors of balloons littered the apartment, some bobbing along the ceiling while others got kicked across the floor. There was even an occasional streamer hung in a door frame. But what topped it all off was a giant “Get Well Soon” banner hung in Sunset’s hallway.

“Oh girls, you won’t believe what happened today in gym,” Fluttershy perked up.

Rainbow burst out laughing. “Aw heck, this is a good one. Go ahead Fluttershy!”

Fluttershy recoiled a bit at the sudden attention. “Actually er… why don’t you tell it Rainbow Dash? You’re so much better at stories than me.”

Rainbow nodded to this and laughed again. “Okay okay, so you know Bon-Bon? Well this time she…”

Sunset wasn’t a fool, she’d picked up on what they were doing. Since she’d sat down not once had anybody asked her about being in the hospital. She was grateful for it, don’t get her wrong. Right now she just wanted to focus on being back home and enjoying her friends. But the fact they hadn’t mentioned it at all… It wasn’t a coincidence.

They’d planned it. They’d obviously deliberated said to each other before she came in, “make sure you don’t mention the hospital to her”. Sunset didn’t know how to feel about that. On the one hand it showed that her friends were caring enough that they didn’t want to trigger her into thinking about something she was obviously upset about. But on the other one, she also wanted her friends to be themselves around her. She didn’t want them walking on eggshells trying not to depress her.

And it’s not like this was the usual attitude of her friends. She loved them all, but they weren’t nearly as aware of their own actions as Sunset was. For weeks after the Fall Formal she was the butt of many off-handed comments about her transformation. Not that she blamed them for that, she deserved to be punished for what she did. And they never spoke anything bad about her when bringing it up, it was usually relevant to the conversation in some way. But nonetheless that, just like this, was a topic she was sensitive about. So why was the situation different now?

Maybe her friends had just learned since then? Maybe as they were teaching her about friendship, they took something away from it themselves?

Sunset thought that was the most likely option. Her friends always had good intentions, even if the way they went about it was sometimes misguided. She definitely didn’t want them having to walk on eggshells around her though, so she’d have to take the first step here.

“…Just like that! Right in front of the whole class!”

The group all burst out laughing, to which Sunset instinctively joined in on. As they quieted down, she spoke up.

“So the doctors say I should be able to walk again fine by next week.”

That did it.

The mood suddenly dropped, and Sunset swore she saw Rainbow turn to Rarity out of the corner of her eye.

“How wonderful dear!” Rarity smiled sweetly. “Any plans for what you want to do when you’re healed?”

“I say we paint the town red!” Rainbow cheered.

“With blood!?” Pinkie asked giddily.

“Errr….” Rainbows face dropped. “No Pinkie Pie it’s an expression… it means…w-why did you think I meant with blood?”

Pinkie simply smiled sweetly and shrugged, “I dunno.”

Rainbow continued staring at her blankly.

“I think we should all do something together.” Twilight suggested. “Maybe like go to the zoo or something?”

“Ooooh I love the zoo!” Fluttershy smiled.

“Ah dunno, the zoo’s a lotta dough to just look at some animals...” Applejack said.

“Well erm… Oh! How about we all go see a show? The Producers is coming to Canterlot this week. It’d be less expensive if we got a family ticket,” Rarity suggested.

“Ooooh I love The Producers! Can we do that?” Twilight quickly beamed.

“I like the sound of that,” Sunset said. “I haven’t seen a lot of musicals.”

Rarity waved her off. “Oh Sunset dear you’d love it. What about you girls?”

“If you girls are gonna go then count me in!”

“I’d quite like to go,” Fluttershy gave a small smile.

“Ehhh I dunno,” Rainbow said, examining her nails. “Musicals aren’t really my thing.”

“Tartar sauce! You loved Chicago!” Applejack pointed a finger at her.

“Rainbow dear, you’re the biggest musical fan out of all of us,” Rarity laughed.

Rainbow frowned. “That’s not true!”

“Then explain Chicago.”

“What? I like that one song from it.”

“The Book of Mormon?”

“It’s controversial! Of course I like it.”

“Les Mis?”

“Helena Botham-Carter. Nuff said.”

“Rocky Horror?”

“It’s Tim Curry in his element! I like him, not the singing.”

“Joseph and the Amazing Technobable Dreamcoat?”

“You mean Technicolour?”

“HA!”

“That doesn’t prove anything! I just know the name, no big deal.”

“Little Shop of Horrors?”

“I like... the plant.”

“You like the plant?”

Rainbow blushed, “Yes.”

Rarity laughed and shook her head. “Well I think that settles it! We break up from CHS at the end of next week, I’ll look for some dates for it then. You okay with that Sunset?”

Sunset smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I’m game.”

Just as she had suspected. The second she’d brought up being in the hospital they changed subject.

Sunset wasn’t complaining. She was more… making an observation. It was strange her friends ever went behind her back like this. They had a good reason, she’d give them that. But still… It was a behavior she hadn’t seen from them before.

But they were doing the right thing, trying to keep her occupied. Weren’t they?

Of course they were! She shouldn’t be mad at them for it.

But…

Sunset wanted to hang around with her friends. Normally. She wanted normal right now. She craved it. She didn’t want them having to watch what they said in fear of triggering her. She didn’t want to be the one stopping them from saying how they were really feeling. She didn’t want to be the one making them stay quiet. That’s what the old Sunset would do, and she wasn’t like that anymore…

So why did she get a horrible feeling in her stomach when Rarity changed subjects?

Sunset couldn’t help but feel, although she was back with her friends, she wasn’t back with her friends. She was being taken care of by them.


“You sure you don’t need somebody to stay over, keep an eye on you?” Rarity asked.

Sunset gave a simple shrug and smiled. “Nah I’m fine, I’m gonna go straight to bed.”

Rarity nodded and exited through the front door. Turning back, she said, “Well if anything comes up, be sure to let one of us know.”

Sunset nodded and took the door by its handle. “I will do, night Rarity. Drive safe.”

“I will do, goodnight dear.”

Sunset pushed the door closed.

She turned back and looked up at her “Get Well Soon” banner. She gave a smirk. It was sweet of them, she had to admit. Sunset knew Pinkie Pie used any event in their lives as a reason to throw a party, but none the less she felt flattered that they had all cared about her this much.

She gave a happy chuckle and shook her head.

“If they cared about me that much they could have at least helped me take it down,” she thought.

The girls had done a pretty good job cleaning up after themselves. They’d put all the paper plates into trash, taken down the balloons and cleaned up Pinkie’s confetti. Everything besides the banner, which Sunset can only assume they’d forgotten about.

Ahh well, she didn’t mind keeping it. For the memories. When she was feeling more up to it she’d take it down herself, maybe fold it up and put it under her bed or in the closet or something. Something nice to remind her how much her friends care.

But on second thought… Sunset didn’t particularly fancy having any keepsakes to remind her of this stage in her life.

She hobbled into the kitchen. She found she was a lot better walking around in her flat than she was outside. She had more surfaces to lean on and knew her way around. And while she could walk unaided fine, it was slow and with a limp, so she found it much easier to use support. As she entered the kitchen, she pushed herself up off the door frame and let her elbows lean on the counter. She spied something up ahead.

“Oh, girls,” Sunset cursed under her breath.

She still had to do the dishes that needed cleaning from before her accident, the dishes that now sat sparkly clean on the washer board. How… nice of them to do that for her. They went out of their way to make sure Sunset wasn’t inconvenienced in any way. She could have probably managed it herself, given that there wasn’t anything wrong with her arms. But still, a nice gesture from people who cared about her.

Sunset gritted her teeth, forced a smile and turned away from them. She exited the kitchen, clicking the light off.

She wanted her bed. She’d save whatever misgivings she had about the way her friends had started treating her for the morning. Even her Netflix, whiskey and chocolate cake fantasy would have to wait for another night; right now she wanted sleep.

Crossing into the living room, Sunset lent against the door frame as her hand touched the light switch. She glanced around the room. Something didn’t feel right. The room felt a lot emptier than it usually was. Probably because she’d just gone from having seven lively people in there ten minutes ago to it being empty, but still. It felt wrong.

She did her best to move across the room, careful not to disturb the peace as she made her way around the foot rest and coffee table. She looked out the window and onto the Canterlot night life.

Nothing. No cars or pedestrians. Just the orange glow of the streetlamps.

The orange glow.

Only now did Sunset notice the heavy silence that hung over the air.

It was almost deafening. There was not a noise to be heard. No cars outside, no clanging of her plumbing, not her neighbors moving about, nothing. Just a dead silence. Sunset felt very aware of her own presence, as though she was the only living entity in an eternity of nothingness. It made her uneasy.

She coughed. She’d tell herself it was due to a frog in her throat, but really it was an attempt to break the uncomfortable stillness.

The cough sounded and died. No echo. No response. Just more of nothing.

Sunset spied around the room uneasily. She didn’t know what it was making her uncomfortable, but she figured it was due to just having her friends round. I mean, she’d gone from listening to music with her six closest friends to a dead silence, of course it felt odd. Yeah, that was it. Sunset tugged at her curtains, pulling them shut. She then crossed back to the light switch and flicked it off, exiting the room.

Sunset then completed this action in the kitchen and bathroom, before finally ending back up in the hallway. She secured the lock on the front door, and then popped the chain into place as well. She’d start using that more often, that was for sure.

She then turned to her left and popped the corridor light off.

The flat was plunged into darkness.

Sunset turned around, unable to see. Even in her state she could make it back to her room easily enough in the pitch black, she’d done it a thousand times before. It was movement memory, after all. Sunset started to limp her way down the hallway.

It was now the sound of silence hit her at its worse.

The lack of light was disorientating her. She’d lost two of her senses entirely. She couldn’t see or hear a thing. She leaned against the wall for support and started shuffling along the floor. The wall acted as her only anchor, almost like she was out at sea clinging to a piece of wood.

Sunset didn’t like this. She was getting a bit creeped out, to be honest. She couldn’t help but feel extremely vulnerable in her situation right now.

She was moving slower than usual, which meant her usual movement memory reflex couldn’t help determine where she was in the corridor. She should be near the framed picture of herself and her friends by now shouldn’t she?

She couldn’t feel it.

Maybe if she just stretched her hand out a little further she could feel it?

Nothing.

Sunset stopped and frowned. Her heart rate began to pick up.

Maybe it was a bit further back?

Sunset stepped back, tracing her hand along the wall. Nothing. Sunset swallowed, confused.

She took off walking slowly again, groping the wall. She should have definitely touched her picture by now, shouldn’t she? What if she’d missed it and had walked too far down the corridor? Then she’d have passed her room and would be near the bathroom. But then she’d be able to feel-

Sunset felt the wooden frame of the picture.

She let out a sigh of relief.

She pushed herself off the wall and took a step to the left.

It was now her feeling of disorientation hit its peak. She couldn’t see or hear, and now she’d lost the sense of touch as well. The unease she’d previously being feeling turned into panic.

Darkness enveloped her like water rushing in around her. The water threw her around like a rag doll. She went from side to side, to upside down, like she was spinning through space. She could suddenly feel herself being looked from a hundred different angles. She felt vulnerable, as though in her flailing about she was powerless to protect herself.

Her hands collided with her bedroom door. Sunset pushed out a jagged breath of relief, and she quickly pulled open the door and ushered herself in.

She quickly pulled the door behind her shut. She lent against it for a second, regaining her composure.

She’d accidentally left her lampshade on when she came in here earlier, but for once Sunset was pleased by her carelessness. The room was dimly light in a reddish tinge, making it look unusually romantic for the current situation.

“I need to stop scaring myself,” she thought as a shiver went down her back.

Sunset stepped away from the door and approached her bed.

She stripped off her leather jacket and hung it to rest on the back of her door. She then wiggled out of her skirt and let it fall to the floor. She stepped out of it and dropped down on her bed; she could just move it in the morning after all. She clicked the lamp off, tugged off her socks, pulled back the blanket and let herself rest.

Her bed was cold. As expected, really. It had been what, three days since it was last used? Sunset relaxed her head back into her pillow, and pulled the rest of the blanket over her. It was cold too. But a refreshing cold, you know? Not a cold cold, but a comforting cold. Like the cold you get in your mouth after brushing your teeth. Or the cold of a nice breeze. It was a happy cold.

Sunset breathed in as deep as her bandage would allow. She held the breath for a second, then released it.

Coming home was not what she had thought it was going to be.

She expected to get home and just be able to slide back into her normal life. And for a short time she did. While her friends were round she’d got lost in their conversations, laughed, and had a great time. She’d gotten so engrossed in one conversation she’d even got that little bit of sweat you get when you’re really enthusiastic about what you’re talking about.

But now everyone had gone home, it was a different story.

She felt back to how she did in hospital. Not in pain, to say. Just… different. When she was at hospital, she was perfectly aware that she wasn’t at home. She felt on edge, she was out of her comfort zone at a time when she really needed her comfort zone. She’d been looking forward to coming home because she expected that feeling to end when she got back.

But… it hadn’t. Despite the reassurance that she was back in her comfort zone, Sunset felt the same way now as she did back in the hospital. Only now there wasn’t Redheart to come rushing to her side at a moment’s notice.

Now she was alone. Alone in… her big empty flat.

Sunset suppressed a shiver and buried herself deeper under her covers. Her eyes had gotten used to the darkness now, she could make out the door opposite her bed.

Sunset never usually slept with her door closed. She was usually a very relaxed person at home, the only door she ever really closed was her bathroom door. So why had she closed her bedroom door this time?

Because of the anxiety she’d felt in the corridor. It was nothing, Sunset knew. She was just scaring herself. It was an embarrassing topic but… Sunset had never been super okay with the dark in the first place. Whenever she turned the light off in the hallway she’d always do a quick little run to her bedroom to make sure the monsters didn’t get her. Not that she actually believed there were monsters, or anything else for that matter, in her flat.

But… now… it was different. She was being stupid. She knew she was suffering from some level of post-traumatic stress disorder. She knew she wasn’t thinking straight. But now… it wasn’t the monsters she was scared of seeing in the dark. It was them.

Not that she was expecting The Dazzlings to rock up in her flat, that would be silly. But the feeling of vulnerability they made her feel after her attack, the same feeling she felt in the hospital… it was the same feeling she had now. Sunset shivered.

She found herself unable to draw her eyes away from her bedroom door. She tried shutting them, only to have them open themselves a few minutes later without her acknowledge. There was just a voice in the back of her head telling her something wasn’t right. She had expected to get into bed and fall straight to sleep, but instead she felt more awake now than she had ever been.

It was the silence, Sunset decided. It was getting to her, it had gotten so loud she found herself hearing noises that weren’t there. Almost like she was forcing her ears to hear something. She tried convincing herself that she had heard a noise from her living room. When in reality, it was just a stray bloody vessel that had caused a slightly above average vibration in her ear.

Sunset knew she wasn’t falling asleep. She was waiting. Waiting for something to happen. Like in a horror movie, when you know the jump scare is coming. The jumpscare was coming. It was too quiet. It shouldn’t be this quiet. Something was wrong. Something had to be happening.

Sunset flinched.

A black shape in the corner just moved. Sunset was sure. She’d caught it out of the corner of her eye. Her eyes scanned the area.

Nothing in the room had moved. And there was nothing in her room that could move. Trick of the light then? Her eyes were just playing tricks on her, surely.

Cr-rreak

Sunset pushed herself up in bed in alarm. Okay, that one was definitely real. Her heart rate picked up. It had sounded like creaking. Like somebody stepping on the floorboards. The floorboards outside her room.

Sunset froze.

There was somebody outside her room.

She waited, completely still. The silence was loud. She listened as hard as she could, waiting to hear it again, or a voice, or for them to touch the doorknob. She had a bat under her bed specifically for intruders, but she wasn’t about to alert them to her position. Any movement while it was this quiet would let them know she was inside.

She got her hand in position ready. At a moment’s notice she was ready to dive off her bed and grab the bat.

But that moment never came.

Ten full minutes must have passed before Sunset finally convinced herself she’d just been hearing things. And those were ten long minutes. Ten long minutes of having her heart in her mouth. Ten long minutes of feeling adrenaline pumping around her body. Ten long minutes of being absolutely terrified.

Sunset put her arm down and swallowed. She had just been hearing things. She was expecting something to happen, so she made herself think something was happening.

But something wasn’t going to happen, because she was perfectly safe in her own bed. Her door was locked, both with a key and chain, and you couldn’t even get into the building without a keycard. The only way somebody would be able to get into her flat now would be if they were already inside.

Sunset winced. She really wished she hadn’t thought of that.

She sighed and rubbed her face. Scratching her eyes a few times, she observed the many galaxies and star systems that appeared around her. As they begin to fade, she was left with just the sight of her ceiling fan. It had already felt like she’d been in bed for hours.

She had hoped getting home would stop her feeling this way. She just…. She felt afraid. All the time. Sure, she’d be able to use logic to help push the thoughts to the back of her mind. If she was sat in a locked flat that only she had the keys for, AND the chain lock was on, she was pretty damn safe. She knew this. It was the same case when she was in the hospital.

But… the issue was she felt the need to remind herself of these facts. Her default setting was being afraid, and after three days of constantly being on edge, it was starting to get to her.

Sunset took a deep breath and sat up. She winced a little against the pain from her stomach. Holding onto her blanket for support, Sunset dangled her right half off the cot. Her hand snaked its way beneath the bed. It rooted around for a moment, before latching onto something. Even in the pitch black, Sunset could make out the shape of the large baseball bat as she pulled it out. Passing it to her other hand, she took a hold of the wooden handle. It was cold and smooth. She bounced it up and down a bit, getting a feel of it. She’d never had to use it for its intended purpose before, she’d always just had it as more of a cautionary.

She stood it next to her bedside and leaned it down against her pillow. Sunset shuffled over in bed and then lay back down. She relaxed her head back into the pillow and closed her eyes. Her hand inched forward, gently touching the end of her finger tips to the handle of the bat.

There. Now if anything was going to get her, she was prepared.

It was a very long time before sleep finally over took her that night. And it didn’t come without dreams.

Author's Note:

This chapter is dedicated to Gene Wilder, star of The Producers, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Young Frankenstein. He passed away last Sunday at the age of 83 due to complications with Alzheimer’s disease.

I don’t know if you got everything you ever wanted in life Gene, but you deserved a happy ever after more than any of us :heart: