• Published 7th Aug 2016
  • 6,217 Views, 302 Comments

Sunset Past the Horizon - Ponealone



Things happen when Anon-a-miss doesn't fess up. Good things and bad things, but mostly bad things.

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Chapter 9: Deadset

Snowflakes fell from the sky and onto the ground forming a deep layer of untouched puffy snow above the previous day's hail. What started as a routine after-school hangout turned into something out of a nightmare. With her best friend laying in a shallow grave, assumed dead, Applebloom was a petrified wreck. She and Scootaloo have been running to Sweetie Belle's house for the past ten minutes, though Applebloom could only manage a light jog with her dazed mental state. The icy stagnant air stung their lungs and the cold numbed their extremities. Giving in to her anxious knees, Applebloom tripped and face planted in the snow.

“Hurry up Applebloom! We might still be able to catch her if we hurry!”

Applebloom took her time lifting herself up with her shaky arms. Running around town looking for Sweetie Belle was pointless, she already knew where she was, but Scootaloo didn't and she never should. If Scootaloo ever found out what happened it would certainly be the end of their friendship.

Applebloom and Scootaloo stood before a white and purple house.

“You wanna ring the bell Applebloom?”

Applebloom stood motionless like a deer in headlights.

“Fine, I'll do it.” Scootaloo approached the door and rang.

“Coming!” Sang a voice from inside summarily followed by the door flinging open. Rarity stood in the frame.

“Hello girls! Are you looking for Sweetie Belle? I'm afraid she hasn't returned home yet.”

“Oh, okay.” Scootaloo said.

“It is absolutely frigid out today. You girls really ought to bundle up some more. Here, I've got something for you.” Rarity draped thick knitted scarves around each of the girls' necks.

“Aww, don't you two just look precious?” Rarity smiled.

“Wow, thanks Rarity.” Scootaloo said.

“Y-yeah thanks.” Applebloom pulled the scarf over her face.

“And give this one to Sweetie Belle when you find her.” She handed Applebloom a neatly folded pink woolen scarf.

“Bye bye now!” Rarity waved as the girls said their goodbyes and left.

Applebloom was glad she didn't have to look at Rarity any longer, but being handed a physical reminder of what she did worsened her trepidation. Her teeth began chattering despite the warm scarf covering her face, almost as if the scarf made her colder.

“Well, what now?” Scootaloo asked.

“I-I think we should split up and look.” Applebloom tightly squeezed Sweetie Belle's pink scarf in her hand.

“Sounds good, I'll go check school.” Scootaloo spared no time and dashed off.

Applebloom looked down at the scarf she clutched in her hands and was overcome with guilt. Rarity would be crushed if she knew what happened, but if Sweetie Belle really was dead, Rarity would be absolutely devastated. But, wait. Dead? After having some time to calm down, Applebloom realized that she hadn't checked Sweetie Belle's vitals rather, in her frenzied state she automatically assumed the worst and acted accordingly. Adrenaline doesn't always result in the best outcomes. This epiphany made her blood run cold. She'd buried her best friend alive, is this really how she acts in times of emergency? Applebloom began sprinting back to the tree house.

What have I done?

She'd arrived back at the scene of the crime haggard and gasping for air. She looked for the spot she'd buried Sweetie Belle, but what she saw shocked her to the core. The hole was empty and a single set of footprints lead away. A single strip of bloody duct tape sat in the hole next to some red-stained snow. After a moment's hesitation she followed the prints, but was interrupted by something buzzing in her pocket. She pulled out her phone and read the message sent by Applejack.

Sweetie Belle's hurt bad. I took her to the hospital. Do you know what happened?

Yes, she did know, but there was no way she was going to tell the truth. Applebloom wracked her brain for a story compatible with what she told Scootaloo and with what she was about to tell her sister.

Oh no! Shes hurt?? We were just playing hide and seek near the clubhouse. No wonder we couldn't find her.

Well y'all should be more careful. She's lucky I tripped on her while looking for the snow shovel. I reckon you should ask Big Mac for a ride over to the hospital and bring Scootaloo.

I gotta go, sugar-cube. Sweetie Belle's mom is here.

Applejack put her phone away and adjusted her Stetson.

Rarity came running into the hospital lobby alongside a woman with a purple beehive hairdo and large gold earrings. “My baby! Where is she?” The woman shrieked.

“She's still in the operating room ma'am.” Applejack answered.

Sweetie Belle's mother ran up to the reception desk and unloaded her questions at an annoyed receptionist.

“Oh Applejack! Thank you so much for helping my sister. Have you found out anything from Applebloom?” Rarity said.

“Apparently, they were just playin' hide and go seek, but that don't explain how Sweetie Belle buried herself in the snow so perfectly with that head injury. Hmm…” She rubbed her chin.

“To think something awful like this could happen to your loved ones at any time… It's absolutely terrifying. If… No. When! Sweetie Belle recovers I won't take her for granted ever again!” Tears streamed down Rarity's face.

“Hang in there Rare. I'm here for you.” Applejack put her hand on Rarity's shoulder.

“Oh Applejaaack!” Rarity sobbed into Applejack's shoulder. Applejack comfortingly stroked her back.

Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash came rushing into the lobby.

“Hey guys, we came as soon as we got your text,” Rainbow Dash said.

Pinkie brushed her straight hair out of her face and frowned at the sight of Rarity's grieving. She tried to think of something reassuring to say, but instead crossed her arms and stared at the floor.

Sweetie Belle's mother approached the group and collapsed onto a chair.

Rarity let go of Applejack and gathered herself. “Mother? How is she?”

Before her mother could respond, a man in a white coat with a crazed look in his eyes approached the group.

“Salutations, I am Doctor Discord.” Everybody was focused on him.

“How is she? How is my daughter?”

The man took a deep breath and spoke somberly, “I must inform you that Sweetie Belle is dead-” he paused, faces turned white, “-set on a speedy recovery!” He waved his arms and did a little dance.

“Oh…” Sweetie Belle's mother exhaled.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Rainbow shouted at the doctor while reaching for his collar, Pinkie muffled and restrained her.

“No Rainbow! Don't!” Pinkie held Dash in a headlock.

Doctor Discord pretended not to notice. “So, from her injuries it appears that she had fallen and hit her head. Poor little thing… Thankfully, Sweetie Belle's external injuries weren't particularly serious. Only six stitches on her head, some bruising on her arms and legs, and she was just the teensiest bit too cold. Her internals however, well… put simply… we dunno. Brain scans didn't show anything wrong in her noggin, but cases like this are a mixed bag. But, if you want my professional opinion, she's going to be just fine, though she may be a tad bit confused when she wakes up, might even have a bit of amnesia.”

The doctor continued, “Nonetheless, it never ceases to amaze me how durable children are. Still, she's going to be needing to stay the night so we can keep an eye on her, just in case.”

The doctor pensively held his forehead and gripped his clipboard to his chest. “Sheesh, we've been having far too many head trauma cases lately. To think the administration laughed when I said we should order protective helmets and ballistic vests for the whole city!”

He raised his hands near his mouth and shouted down the hall. “Well who's laughing now?! Ha! Ha! Ha! Haaaa! Nooooot meeeee!”

“Um, Doctor Discord? Where is my daughter? I would like to see my daughter.” Sweetie Belle's mother requested.

“Oh, she's being moved from the operating room to a bed as we speak. One of our nurses should be letting you in soon.”

“Thank you Doctor. One more thing, erm, how much is all this going to cost?” The woman shifted nervously in her seat.

“We will go over that later when Sweetie Belle is discharged.” Doctor Discord answered.

Pinkie finally lost control of Rainbow Dash and she lunged at the Doctor grunting. “Graaah!”

Doctor Discord checked his watch. “Well, looks like I'm needed elsewhere. Ta ta.” He stepped around the corner and vanished, much to Rainbow's confusion.

She did a double take and scanned the hall, but the doctor was nowhere to be found. Cursing under her breath she rejoined everyone back around the corner.

“Rainbow Dash! Now is not the time to be tryin' ta start a fight!” Applejack yelled.

“But, Applejack! Did you hear what he said?”

“Yes. Yes I did, and surely we will be filing a formal complaint about it. Like an adult.” Applejack furled her brow and gave Dash a disapproving look.

“Well…” Rainbow trailed off as she saw some familiar faces enter the lobby. “Hey guys! Over here!” She waved over Big Mac, Applebloom, and Scootaloo.

Big Mac seemed stoic as usual while both the girls were shaking. Scootaloo looked to be holding back tears with limited success on account of her moist red eyes and tear stained hands. Applebloom on the other hand looked extremely worried and she wouldn't look anyone in the eye.

“H-how is she?” Scootaloo asked, her voice sounding strained.

“Sweetie Belle is going to be just fine. The doctors just finished treating her,” Applejack answered.

Without missing a beat, a nurse appeared from behind a door. “Sweetie Belle can take visitors now,” the nurse announced.

Applebloom, Big Mac, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and her mother all approached the door.

The nurse's eyes widened when she saw the large group approach. Thankfully, Sweetie Belle had her own room otherwise these visitors would need to come in two at a time so as not to bother the other patients.

“Right this way.” The nurse guided everyone to Sweetie Belle's room.

The nurse stopped before an anonymous white door in a long hallway. “Remember to be quiet. She's sleeping,” she said.

Everyone silently nodded.

Rarity and her mother entered first, followed by everyone else. The worried mother scurried up to the bedside, she was relieved to see Sweetie Belle steadily breathing safe and sound. Her attention shifted to the bandage on the girl's head, a tiny spot of red dotted the center of the gauze.

“Oh my baby…” She held her hands to her mouth to silence her cry and collapsed onto a chair Rarity moved from the wall to the bedside.

Rarity comforted her mother while fighting back tears and failing. Rarity and her mother held each other tightly and cried openly.

Scootaloo approached the bed from the other side. The difference between hearing about something bad happening to her friend and actually seeing it in person were like night and day. Her knees grew weak and gave away hitting the tiled linoleum floor. Looking straight ahead eye level with her unconscious friend, tears streamed down her face.

Rainbow Dash rested a hand on the shocked girl's shoulder.

Pinkie leaned against the doorway brooding and aloof in demeanor. Her long straight bangs curtained off the harrowing scene, but the cries still reached her ears. Cupcakes and balloons can't fix this one, what was she even doing here? Her tears fell silently.

Applebloom stood at the back of the room facing the foot of the bed. She approached and placed the scarf that Rarity made for Sweetie Belle on the foot of the bed. She eyed Sweetie Belle cautiously, like she could spring back from the dead at any moment in seek of vengeance. As much as that thought disturbed her, what disturbed her more was everyone's grief stricken faces. The guilt ravaged her stomach, waves of nausea washed over her.

Applebloom felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up to Big Mac's reassuring face. She felt arms wrap around her and Applejack's comforting whisper in her ear.

“It'll be alright, I know you girls were jus' playing. It's not your fault sugar-cube.”

Not your fault.

Her insides twisted and turned into ice hearing those words. Her guilt was like poison in her veins making her shake and sweat.

“There there lil' sis, keep calm. I gotcha.” Applejack whispered.

It was too much, she didn't deserve her sister's kindness, she couldn't listen to Rarity's grief, she needed to escape. Applebloom jerked away from her sister and darted out the room, nearly tripping on Pinkie in the doorway.

“Hey!” Applejack called out extending an arm towards her fleeing sister. She and Big Mac went after the girl.

They spotted Applebloom running down the hallway back to the entrance lobby. Moving at a brisk pace, Applejack and Big Macintosh caught up to the distressed girl hunched over a trashcan retching.

Applejack took a moment to catch her breath. She planned on scolding the girl for running off, but seeing her little sister in such a sorry state left her at a loss for words. “Oh Applebloom…”

“Eeeup…” Big Mac agreed.

Applebloom peeked up from the defiled can with pale skin and a string of bile hanging from her chin. “I'm sorry, it's just—” she coughed and hacked into the bin.

“What's wrong sugar-cube?” Applejack lowered herself to be eye level with her little sister and wiped her face clean with a handkerchief. “Do you have anything you wanna tell us?” Applejack watched Applebloom's pupils contract.

Applebloom had trouble speaking. “I… I… I'm just really… worried about Sweetie Belle. I-It was um… too much for me to handle… seeing her like that.”

Applejack spoke with unwavering compassion. “We completely understand how hard this is for you Applebloom,” Applejack narrowed her eyes, “but if you know something about this incident, please. Tell us.”

“Eeeup.”

Applebloom opened her mouth like she was about to say something, but instead turned back to the trashcan to cough and spit.

“So, how about we call it a day then?” Applejack stood back up and extended a hand to her sister.

Without saying a word, Applebloom tentatively took her hand. Hearing footsteps from behind she turned around to see everyone except for Sweetie Belle's immediate family exit the hallway into the lobby.

Rainbow spoke up, “Rarity and her mom are going to stay a bit longer. The rest of us are heading home now.”

“Alright. Us too, it's been a long day. Rest easy everyone.” Applejack said before leaving with Applebloom and Big Mac in tow.

Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Scootaloo headed for the exit when Rainbow Dash had something to say.

“Hey, you guys go ahead. I'll catch up, there's something I gotta do before I leave.” Rainbow Dash paced off before anyone had a chance to protest.

Rainbow stopped before an elevator and pressed the call button. It's been a week since Rainbow had last visited her friend in the hospital. Since she was here already there's no sense in wasting a trip.

A ding was heard and the metal doors slid apart revealing a white feathery haired girl in the elevator.

“Hey! Gilda!” Rainbow exclaimed in surprise.

“Well, I'll be damned. If it isn't Rainbow Dash. If you're here to visit ya just missed yer chance. I'm on my way home right now.” Gilda grinned.

“Wow really? It's awesome that you're all better now!”

Gilda hobbled out of the elevator steadying herself on the wall. “Well, I wouldn't say all better. That sonofabitch hit me so hard I forgot how to walk. Spent weeks in therapy practicing after I woke up, and I'm still not one hundred percent back.” She staggered precariously away from the wall and looked like she was going to fall.

“Whoa!” Rainbow caught her and held her steady.

“Hey! Let go of me! I don't need yer help! I got this.” Gilda snarled.

“Oh my bad.”

Gilda is such an independent girl that she hates it when people do favors for her. Actually needing help is going to be a difficult adjustment for her, Rainbow held a look of sympathy upon realizing this.

“Ya know Dash, you were the only one who came to visit me. Nobody else from school came even though they did that '1 like = 1 prayer' horseshit online. So, uh thanks Dash.”

“Aww, don't mention it.” Rainbow smiled.

“Hey! D-don't think I'm going soft or anything!” Gilda scowled.

“I'm not! I'm not!”

“Good.”

“So what are you going to do now that you're out?” Rainbow asked.

“I'm gonna finish my fight.”

Rainbow's eyes shot wide open. “Whoa! Whoa! What? You sure about that?”

“What? Don't think I can handle it?”

“It's not that it's jus—”

“It's just what? It's just fair that I get knocked stupid while the she demon and her boy toy get off scot-free?”

“Gilda, they got expelled. Isn't that enough?”

“No Dash that isn't enough! I'm not satisfied until I knock em both out like they did to me and the least you can do is stay out of my way.” She shoved Rainbow to the side and staggered off.

Pinkie peered around the corner. “Um Dashie? Wowie… was that Gilda? Oh, I mean we're waiting for you.”

Rainbow Dash watched Gilda's back disappear out the front door and around the corner. “Lets go home.”

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