• Published 31st Oct 2017
  • 3,130 Views, 116 Comments

Silent Ponyville 4 - SamRose

Octavia travels to Ponyville, seeking out her sister in the hopes of putting an end to her nightmares.

  • ...

Chapter 1

Octavia took the last drag of her cigarette, letting the smoke out slowly. She sat in a derelict bathroom, just needing the fix at the moment. She didn't want anyone seeing her smoking if she could help it, which was why she had holed up in the bathroom.

Not that she had seen anyone when she exited the train, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

With the cigarette finished she tossed it into a corner where it instantly blended in with the rest of filthy bathroom. The place reeked from filth and trash as it was, so she didn't feel bad adding on top of it. It seemed that no one had cleaned the bathroom in some time, and that wasn't about to change today.

The faucet let out a squeaky groan and shuddered for a moment before fresh water finally came from the tap. She cupped her hooves together and splashed her face with the refreshing liquid. She then grabbed the sides of the sink, taking in a deep breath before looking up at herself in the mirror.

“You've certainly seen better days, haven't you old girl?” She let out a sigh as she began to try and straighten some of her hair with her damp hoof. She knew she looked a mess, but she at least wanted to look somewhat presentable when she saw her sister. After all, she hadn't exactly written ahead to warn Pinkie that she was coming.

The original plan had been to write Pinkie and say she was coming to visit, but Octavia never did end up writing that letter. Pinkie had no idea she was coming to visit, and Octavia intended to keep it that way until she was on her doorstep.

Once she was finally satisfied with her hair, she decide it was time leave the rancid bathroom behind.

The brisk air of Ponyville washed over her the moment she stepped back outside. She was at the Ponyville train station, having finally arrived after her long trip from Manehatten. The wind rustled her bangs and she brushed them out of her face as she looked around.

The train station was currently deserted, not a single pony was waiting to board the train, and she had been the only one to get off. However, that wasn't even the strangest thing happening at the moment.

The entire town was being blanketed in a thick fog, making it impossible to see anything not within a short walking distance. Even the buildings across the street from the train station couldn't be seen.

A groan of frustration escaped Octavia's lips, realizing that navigating the town was going to be so much harder now. It had been a long time since she last visited Ponyville, and she could barely remember the way to Pinkie's house as it was. Navigating through a town she couldn't remember was going to be hard enough, but adding the layer of fog on top of that was going to be nigh impossible.

“I guess Ponyville doesn't pay its weather Pegasi enough to deal with this sort of thing.” Octavia muttered under her breath as she dropped her saddlebags to the ground. She had packed light for her trip, not expecting to need many supplies with Pinkie taking care of her.

In her saddlebag was a map of Ponyville, a red marker, a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, a picture of her sisters, and a letter she had received shortly before taking this trip.

The map was what she needed right now. Unfolding it, Ponyville's layout sprawled out before her, showing her every major location in the small town. Before she had left, she had circled Sugarcube Corner so she wouldn't get lost on her way to her sister's apartment.

Years ago Octavia and her sister had moved to Ponyville to get away from life at the rock farm, and all the bad memories it contained. Their parents had been surprisingly understanding, and had suggested the small town as a safe place to move to. They knew a recently married couple known as Mr and Mrs Cake who would welcome them in with open hooves.

And so when Pinkie and Octavia had arrived, it was the Cakes who had given them a place to stay, as well as some work on the side for extra bits. Octavia had only stayed in Ponyville for that first year, before moving to Manehatten to start her own life anew. It had been a few months since she'd last seen her hyperactive sister, but she had mentioned that she was still living with the Cakes, and that she had upgraded from baker to 'Party Pony Extraordinaire'.

Octavia had no idea what such a job entailed, but if Pinkie was happy then it couldn't be anything terrible.

With her destination known, she traced her hoof along the road back to the train station to see the route she needed to take.

“Oh, that's not so bad,” Octavia mused to herself with a smile. “I just need to find the first house in this fog and make a right, then follow the road. ” Getting to Pinkie's would be easier than she thought, even with the fog obscuring her way.

With that bit of good news she folded the map back up and put it into the saddlebag. She paused for a moment when she saw that in getting the map out, the letter she had brought along had somehow fallen out.

She just stared at it, hesitating to pick it up. She had already read it so many times, but she was still having difficulties believing it. That letter was the entire reason she had made an unannounced trip to Ponyville. If it wasn't a trick or a cruel joke, then she needed to come here and find out for certain. She needed the element of surprise on her hooves to find out the truth, so she had decided against writing Pinkie that she was coming.

Acting as if the letter might bite her, Octavia carefully picked up the envelope and looked at it. In the corner, written in a practiced and beautiful cursive was the word 'Blinkie'. Octavia recognized the writing style, though it had been more than a few years since she'd last seen it.

Opening the envelope once again, she pulled out the letter contained within. For what had to be the hundredth time, she read the contents.

Under the rolling hills of the majestic city, lies a quiet little town.

A town where dreams can come true and ponies can live a happy, peaceful life.

The farm is so quiet, so lonely sometimes. Let's go somewhere else, and just get away for a bit.

So I'll be waiting for you there.

In that silent town of Ponyville.


She read the words again. Then again. She read it ten more times before she folded the letter and put it back in the envelope.

She couldn't deny the evidence presented in the letter. It was written perfectly in her sister's hoofwriting. Did that mean that Bellamena really was writing to her from somewhere in this town? That couldn't be the case. Octavia refused to believe it was true.

Bellamena was dead. She had been dead for a long time now.

Shoving the letter back into her bag, she clipped it shut and saddled herself up once more. Pinkie should know where the letter came from, and Pinkie should know how to deal with the relentless nightmares.

As the eldest of the Pie sisters, Octavia hated the idea of relying on her younger sister for help. Octavia was the one who was supposed to take care of her, not the other way around. But Octavia could swallow her pride long enough to realize that Pinkie was an adult, the same as her, and that she was the most suited for helping out in her time of need.

And the sooner she found her, the sooner this would all be over.

Crossing the street from the train station, the first building of Ponyville came into view. It was a decrepit old building, falling apart at the seams. The windows were boarded up, cracks ran along the surfaces, and any paint had long since peeled away.

“Odd,” Octavia murmured to herself as the building came into view, “I know its been a while, but I don't remember there being any derelict buildings like this in Ponyville...”

It had to have easily been over a decade since she had last visited the city, but this building looked like it had been sitting there for far longer than that. She certainly would've remembered seeing one in this condition near the train station at least.

Pushing the thoughts aside, she circled around the building and started making her way down the street. It very well could just be that the building had been abandoned the moment she left, and given the stories Pinkie had told her about Nightmare Moon and Discord attacking the town, it was possible it was just a leftover of their destruction.

A short ways down the road, she noticed that the second building wasn't fairing much better. It too was derelict, boarded up, and abandoned. A cold breeze blew by, sending a shiver down Octavia's back. She continued her pace, seeing a third building in the same condition.

Octavia slowed down a little as her ears twitched and swiveled on her head. Something didn't feel right. She was certain the map was accurate, but something felt wrong about the town.

There weren't any sounds beyond her hoofsteps and the occasional breeze. Even in a dense fog, she should be able to hear the sounds of normal city life in the distance. There should be the scuffing of hooves, the echo of voices, a sense of life.

She raised one of her front hooves to her other leg and gently scuffed it, feeling a slight nip of pain.

“Well, it feels real.” Octavia's brow furrowed as she murmured to herself, “But I've had nightmares that felt real too...” A shiver ran down her spine at the thought of being trapped inside one of her awful dreams again. She'd already had one awful dream about Ponyville, she didn't need a second within a few hours of each other.

“If it's another dream, I just have to power through it. If it's not...” Octavia stopped to consider what an abandoned, forgotten Ponyville could possibly mean if what she was seeing wasn't a dream. She immediately shook that thought from her head.

She had no reason to believe that anything was wrong with Ponyville. Other than that there was a strange weather pattern that wasn't being taken care of, and the distinct lack of sound from ponies living their day to day lives, of course.

“They've probably just holed themselves up in their houses until the fog passes,” Octavia did her best to convince herself. “I'll just make my way to Sugarcube Corner, and everything will be fine.”

She continued her way down the street, following the path the map had laid out for her. It was still quite a walk to Sugarcube Corner, but it was a fairly direct path. She tried to ignore the buildings she was passing, but was unable to ignore the boarded up windows and doors of each one.

It really was as if the entire town had been abandoned. It was now just a shell of its former self. An actual ghost town.

There was no way that was possible. If Ponyville had been abandoned she would have heard about it in the papers, or at the very least in a letter from her sister. And even if it had been abandoned, it wouldn't explain the condition all of the buildings were in.

Something was wrong here. Something was very wrong.

“I've never seen you before.” Octavia jumped out of her skin as a voice suddenly spoke up from the fog. She whirled to face the voice and saw a tall pale wall standing between two buildings. She looked up and saw a small filly sitting atop the wall, looking at her with a curious tilt to her head. “Since I've never seen you before, that must mean you're new in town, right?”

Octavia's eyes widened as her jaw hung. Sitting on top of the wall was the spitting image of her long-gone sister.

“B-Bellamena?” Octavia said barely above a whisper, unable to believe what she was seeing.

“Bellamena?” The filly's face furrowed in confusion, “Whose Bellamena?”

Octavia blinked, not comprehending the young girl's words at first. She quickly shook her head, rubbed her eyes, and looked back up.

The filly sitting atop of the wall wasn't actually Bellamena, but in the fog she had mistaken her likeness. The filly atop the wall had light ashen gray hair, a dark gray coat, and emerald green eyes. Her mane was cut in a similar fashion to Bellamena's, and if the lighting was worse, she could pass as the deceased girl's double.

“I'm... I'm sorry, for a moment I mistook you for someone else.” Octavia shook her head, still clearing her thoughts. Looking back up at the filly she put a smile on her face, “I'm glad to see another pony though. This fog was starting to make me feel like I was alone in this town.”

“You are alone in town silly.” The filly giggled, “None of the other adults are here to play. It's just you and me.”

Octavia frowned. “Well... You're out in this fog, that means I'm not alone.” She tilted her head, “Where is everypony else? You're the first pony I've seen since I got into town.”

“I dunno. They probably locked themselves in their houses or something. Adults are boring that way and don't know how to have fun.” The filly shrugged, kicking her hooves against the wall as she sat. “I've got the town to myself, the whole place is my playground!” She stood up from her spot on the wall and began walking along its length.

“That's dangerous though, what if you got hurt? No one would be able to help you.” Octavia walked alongside the filly, making sure she didn't fall off the wall.

“I'll be fine, I've always been a tough filly.” The foal boasted, lifting her head up with a smile.

“...What's your name?” Octavia asked curiously. The filly let out an annoyed sigh at the question.

“My name is Droning Elegy. But everyone just calls me Ellie.” Ellie glared down at the adult pestering her, “What's yours then?”

“...Octavia.” The adult blinked still registering the filly's name. “That is... Quite the unusual name your parents gave you.”

“Don't remind me.” Ellie huffed as she came to a stop near the end of the wall. She turned to face Octavia, a bright smile suddenly on her face, “I just had a great idea though! Let's play a game!”

“A game?” Octavia shook her head, “No, I'm sorry, there is someone I'm in a hurry to find. With the fog being this bad, I'd rather get there as soon as possible.”

“See, this is why adults are no fun.” Scoffed the little filly. “Come on, let's play Hide and Seek! I'll hide, and you seek! It's fun, you'll see! Go ahead and start counting, I'll find a great hiding place!” Ellie then leapt from the wall and disappeared from sight.

“Ah, wait-!” Octavia tried to call out to her, but the filly was long gone. She stood there staring at the empty spot the filly had been standing, before letting out a sigh. “She'll realize I'm not coming eventually, I'm sure. Sorry Ellie.”

The filly would be alright, Octavia convinced herself of that. The filly seemed to know the town, and she had said herself that she was tough. Besides, the town was just covered in a thick fog. It wasn't as if some horrible monster was rampaging through the city.

Having met the filly did make Octavia feel better about the 'desolation aesthetic' the town currently seemed to have though. It was still bizarre that all of the buildings she passed were boarded up and run down, but she convinced herself it was just a bad part of town now.

After all, if a little filly could get around fine, there was nothing for her to be afraid.

Her hoofsteps echoed through the town with each step as she made progress. She guessed that she had to be at least halfway to Sugarcube Corner by now with how much distance she had traveled. At this pace it'd only be another few minutes before she was at her sister's front door.

That was, until her path was suddenly obstructed.

A large wall had been erected in the middle of the street, patched together with corrugated metal sheets against a chain link fence. Most of the metal looked old and rusted with age, several sheets of faded newspaper looked like they had been attached to the fence as well, but were no longer eligible.

Word articulation failed her. Why had a large fence been built in the middle of the road like this? Was there something on the other side that was being blocked off? Even then, a wall this large was incredibly unnecessary. A simple road block would've sufficed. On top of that, it was built into the sides of the buildings alongside the road, with no means of getting through or going around.

It was a pony-made dead end for no apparent reason.

“Well that's... Irritating.” She clicked her teeth at the roadblock. This put a big delay on her estimated arrival time as now she had to figure out a way around the wall. She reached into her saddlebag and pulled out the map and marker, and quickly drew a line on the map where the wall blocked her path. Next, she followed the roads looking for the next most direct path to Sugarcube Corner.

“Okay, I just need to head back, make a couple of rights at the intersections, and I'll be back on course.” With the new directions memorized she put the map away and started backtracking her steps. The nearest intersection was just a short ways past the wall Ellie had been on so she didn't expect to get lost.

When the wall came into view she slowed down to check if Ellie had returned or if she could hear the filly. Silence was all she heard, so she continued on. It seemed the filly had taken the chance to play Hide and Seek seriously and was likely holed up somewhere for now.

“At least she'll be safe there until she gets bored.” Octavia convinced herself. The intersection was just ahead, and right now she needed to focus on getting through the empty town.

The echo of her hoofsteps was digging under her skin again, reminding her of how alone she was in the empty town. She reminded herself that once she was at Sugarcube Corner with her sister she could put all this weirdness behind her and get on with why she had come here in the first place.

The intersection came into sight, but a strange smell hit her nose. Her nose crinkled at the smell, recognizing it but having a hard time placing it. It was something fresh, but it had been a while since she'd smelled it. She looked at the ground, towards the source of the smell, and her eyes widened.

There was blood on the ground. Fresh blood.

It looked as if somepony had been dragged across the road, in the direction that she was planning to go. The blood trail stopped after a few feet, as if the bleeding pony had been picked up at that point and carried away.

Suddenly, the sound of metal scraping against the ground struck her ears and her head snapped to the direction it was coming from. In the foggy distance she could see a pony-shaped creature walking away, each hoofstep scraping against the ground as it walked.

She only saw the figure for a second before it faded into the fog. A few seconds after that, even the sounds of scraping vanished.

Octavia stepped back in fear. The blood hadn't been there when she walked down this road. This had just happened. And whatever pony had walked away into the fog was likely the cause.

And it was headed in the direction she needed to go.

The correct answer was to leave town and come back when the fog had cleared. Something dangerous was clearly happening here and she had wandered into the middle of it unaware. Once this had all cleared up she would come back when it was safe.

Octavia was about to start running, when an image of the little filly she had just met minutes ago appeared in her mind.

What if this blood was hers? If she abandoned her now there was no way she'd be able to survive. If some monster had attacked her and dragged her off, there might still be a chance to save her. She couldn't abandon a filly in need. What if that filly had been one of her sisters?

Pinkie was still in town too. If she ran now, her sister would be at the mercy of whatever was going on. On top of that, if Bellamena really was somewhere in this town, she was in danger as well. She couldn't abandon the filly or her sisters.

Octavia swallowed the fear that had built in her throat. The blood was pointing in the direction the figure had walked off in, and she had to follow it.

The first step was the hardest, but once she was moving, she was following after the figure. Her nerves were on edge and her body was on high alert. She didn't know what to expect, and as far as she knew, anything could jump out of the woodwork.

Another breeze blew through the street, an ominous chill blowing against her fur. She wasn't sure, but it felt like the temperature was starting to fall dramatically. It was fall, but the wind was starting to make it feel like winter.

Octavia came to a stop at the next intersection and stared at the ground. Another streak of blood marked the ground, turning right at the intersection. It was the direction she had planned to go in her mind, as if the figure knew the direction she was heading and was going there first.

The idea made Octavia shudder. It was also possible that Octavia was being led into some kind of trap, but she had no way to know for sure. She didn't even know if the filly was actually hurt either, but if there was a chance to save her she had to try.

With another gulp to suppress her fears, she turned down the road the blood pointed to and made her way down it. This street was considerably smaller than the one she had been walking down. There was really only enough room for two ponies to walk by each other with a bit of breathing room. It felt cramped and claustrophobic. In the thick fog, it was an awful street.

The smell of blood hit her nose and she slowed her pace. On the ground there was a new trail, one that abruptly turned into a chest-high chain linked fence. There was a gate opened slightly ajar leading into a cramped plaza on the side of the road. In the plaza she could make out piles of garbage sitting next to the walls, several scraps of discarded rusty metal, and a large pool of blood in the middle.

Octavia placed her hoof against the gate, it loudly screeching in protest as she pushed it open. She winced at the sound, hoping it didn't draw unwanted attention. After a few seconds of silence, she entered the plaza and first examined the large pool of blood in the middle.

Much to Octavia's confusion, the way the blood was pooled implied that something had died in that spot and then been dragged out into the streets. The blood looked old, like it had been sitting there for some time, and there was only enough leftover to stain the ground red.

“I don't get it...” She murmured to herself, “The trails leading here were fresh... So shouldn't this be fresh too?” She was glad that it wasn't, but something wasn't adding up.

She then looked up from the pile of blood to the trash scattered about. She was looking for a possible hint or clue as to what happened here, anything that might explain the contradiction. Her eyes caught a glimpse of blue amongst the otherwise black and brown bags of trash that seemed out of place.

Walking over to the color, she noticed that it was part of a clasp that was attached to a worn out and torn apart saddlebag. When she got close enough, her eyes widened in shock as she recognized the clasp.

It was a blue balloon, in the same shape as her sister's cutiemark.

The bag now had her full attention as she grabbed it and pulled it close. The saddlebag had several bite marks on it and the material had been shredded. Several splotches of blood discolored the outside of the bag, as if the pony it belonged to had bled on it.

Octavia's heart sank at the implication. Had Pinkie been the pony attacked in this plaza? Was she okay? Was she injured? Was she...

Octavia shook her head, refusing to believe something even worse had happened to Pinkie. She had to be alright. Pinkie was one of the defenders of Equestria! She stared monsters in the face and blasted them into oblivion. It was possible she'd been hurt, but there was no way something had taken her life.

Just then, a sound sprung to life inside of Pinkie's saddle bag. A sharp, hissing, static ringing sound was emanating from within. She blinked in confusion, as she had expected the bag to be empty. She quickly opened the destroyed saddlebag and pulled out whatever was making the noise.

“What's this?” She asked confused. It was a small, rectangular device with a dial and an antenna sticking out of it. There was clearly a speaker port though, and it was ringing with a noisy static, as if something was interfering in it playing a song. Octavia had never seen a speaker so small before, and in her mind she imagined it to be like a miniature Phonograph.

She turned the knob, trying to turn the device off. The noise grew quieter or louder depending on how she turned the dial, but it refused to shut off.

“I guess this thing is broken...” Octavia furrowed her brow at it. It must have been destroyed when the bag got torn apart with it inside. She didn't know what it was, but it had been in Pinkie's bag so she thought it might be important.

Metal scraped against the ground as the chain link fence rattled. Octavia jumped in her skin, whirling around to face the gate of the plaza. Pressing against the gate door was a pony like figure, but not like any pony she had ever seen.

White, ashen skin was what she noticed first. It had no ears on its head and a cloth wrapped around its eyes. There was a large wound on its head, splitting its head open. A crisscross of stitches were attempting to keep the wound closed, but couldn't prevent the wound from gaping. Stitches also covered its mouth, sealing it shut, as well as held together an open wound on its chest. A brown bile was dripping from its gaping wounds, mouth, and even from under the cloth around its eyes.

Its head twitched constantly, giving it an unnatural shake as it looked straight at her. The figure began walking closer, the sound of metal scraping the concrete ground as it did. Its hind left leg was wrapped in a slab of rusted metal like a cast. Its mouth opened, letting out a gurgling hiss of a moan, the stitches stretching from the exertion.

“S-Stay back!” Octavia cried, backing up against the wall. The thing drew closer, each step causing the metal cast to scrape along the ground. She had no idea what it wanted with her, but she wanted nothing to do with it.

The figure came to a stop in the middle of the plaza, just a few short feet away from Octavia. Its head stopped twitching and raised up, its mouth opening wide as a gurgled screech rang out. A spray of brown bile spewed out from the creature's mouth.

Octavia just barely dived out of the way, her hooves flailing wildly to get her out of harm's way. Her hooves hit the ground askew, causing them to slip out from under her and making her body hitting the ground with a hard thud. Her head was ringing from the sudden impact, but she had enough of her senses to roll back onto her hooves. She looked at where the bile had landed, and her eyes went wide.

The trash bags were melting, hissing loudly from direct contact. Even the concrete it touched was loudly hissing, small stacks of steam rising from the spots.

The creature's bile was highly acidic.

The creature closed its mouth and its head hung limp for a moment, before it started twitching again. Its hooves began to move, and the scraping sound of metal returned, as the creature once more aimed itself at Octavia.

She wasn't going to sit around long enough for it to spew more of its acid at her. She shoved Pinkie's broken device into her saddlebag and rushed forth in desperation. She slammed her body against the figure, causing it to shriek and stumble in confusion, and in that moment she dashed through the open gate.

As she raced away, the sound of the ringing device in her bag finally fell silent. She ran to the end of the road and slowed to a walk, before stopping and taking in several deep breathes.

“What in the name of Celestia was that?” Octavia asked herself, turning to look in the direction she had come from. She had no reason to believe the creature wouldn't come after her, but with that heavy metal cast on its leg it wouldn't catch up anytime soon.

“It really wasn't my imagination. Something awful has happened to Ponyville.” She sat for a moment as she put a hoof to her head in realization. There were monsters hiding in the fog. Strange pony-looking monsters that spewed acid. That had to be the reason she hadn't met anyone but the filly. If the citizens hadn't evacuated they'd logically be holed up in their homes.

That likely meant that Pinkie was fighting the creatures as well. As a defender of Equestria this was the sort of thing she handled with her friends.

But that meant her sister was in danger. Pinkie could be seriously hurt, or worse. And if Bellamena really was somewhere in this town...

Octavia took a deep breath and gently slapped her hooves against her cheeks. She needed to calm down and focus. It was also possible that Pinkie wasn't in danger. Either way, Octavia couldn't leave until she knew for certain what was going on. Whether she needed to help Pinkie, Bellamena, or Ellie, there was currently only one way to help anyone.

She had to get to Sugarcube Corner as quickly as possible.

The narrow road she was on emptied out onto one of Ponyville's main streets, and following it would lead her to the corner where Sugarcube Corner sat.

She stuck her head out from end of the street and looked around, though in the thick fog it was a futile gesture as she couldn't see further than five feet. She was going to have to at least cross the street, as her destination was on the corner of that side of the road.

If she wanted to find out what happened to her sister, and the town, she was going to have to take the risk of walking out in the open fog. There was no telling if there would be more acid spitting monsters or if she'd wander into something more dangerous. And the longer she waited, the more likely that something would find her anyway.

Octavia darted across the street as quickly as she could, hugging the dilapidated building once she had crossed. Nothing seemed to have noticed her, so she made her way down the street at a brisk pace. As long as she kept her pace up, she'd make it to her destination in no time.

That was, until her bag began to make that horrendous static ringing noise again. Octavia froze in place and turned to stare at her saddlebag, glaring at the noisy device inside. If she was going to avoid those creatures in the fog, she needed to be stealthy, and that wasn't going to happen with that thing making such a racket. Even if it was something that belonged to her sister, she was considering tossing it away.

The sound of metal scrapping against the floor broke her thoughts though, her head snapping to the road in front of her. Silhouetted in the fog was another pony-shaped figure, the same as she had seen before. Its head was twitching sporadically, and it was making its way towards her.

Octavia took a step back, her heart hammering against her chest as she watched it drawing closer. It had to be drawn by the ringing from her bag, that was the only explanation, right? The road was wide enough for her to avoid the monster, but if the miniature phonograph was drawing attention from the monsters, it was more trouble than it was worth.

“Sorry Pinkie...” Octavia muttered quietly as she pulled the device out. It had probably been something important to her, but as long as it was making noise it was only causing trouble. The twitching creature was drawing closer, and she could already see it clearly now.

With a grunt of effort, she tossed the miniature phonograph in the creature's direction. It wizzed by its head, before hitting the ground and skidding to a stop. The device continued to loudly ring behind the acidic monster, but it didn't even so much as twitch in the phonographs direction.

“W-What?” Octavia said in stunned disbelief. The creature was still drawing closer to her, the noise of the phonograph hadn't even distracted it.

Its head lifted up as it loudly gurgled, before spewing its acidic bile straight at her. Octavia was able to regain her senses at the last second, jumping out of the way in time as the vile mixture splashed at the ground where she had been standing. The hissing sound of melting road reminded her of what would happen to her if any of that touched her.

“You... You vile, filthy Spitter!” Octavia yelled in anger, rushing forward and slamming against the Spitter. It jostled in place, letting out a gurgled groan of confusion as Octavia took the opportunity to run past it. As she ran, she made sure to swipe up the phonograph that laid on the road and put as much distance between her and the Spitter as she could.

The moment the Spitter disappeared back into the fog, the hissing ring of the phonograph quieted down. Octavia didn't stop running until she was certain she had put a good distance between her and the Spitter. She took several, panting breathes as she looked behind her, making sure it really was gone. Once she was certain, she looked down at the phonograph in her hoof, noting how silent it was now.

“You...” She murmured, her eyebrows furrowing in confusion. “You warn me about the monsters... Don't you?” It had sprung to life both times one of those creatures had come close to her, and then immediately went silent once she had gotten away from them. That had to mean that it wasn't actually broken at all, it was working as intended.

This wasn't something she could throw away.

“I'm sorry for doubting you Pinkie...” Octavia murmured solemnly as she tucked the device back into her saddle bag. Though that left a bigger question in her mind, one that was starting to haunt her the more time passed.

What had happened to her sister?

With worry in her heart, she raced off down the street, needing to get to Sugarcube Corner as quickly as possible.

O   O

The roof was caving in, the walls were crumbling apart, the windows were boarded up, and it looked like no one had been inside in years, but Sugarcube Corner still looked much the same as how she remembered it. She hadn't lived there for very long, but there was no forgetting living in a place that looked like a giant gingerbread house.

“This is where Pinkie lives... Though it doesn't look like she's been around recently.” Octavia furrowed her brow in worry. It was possible that Pinkie and the cakes had boarded up the place and holed up inside, though there were no boards blocking the door.

Stepping up to the door she looked around her, looking for anything that might be moving. With the coast clear she raised her hoof and knocked on the door.

She paused a moment for a reaction, but only the silence returned. She knocked again and waited, but nothing stirred. No one was coming to answer the door, which meant one of two things. No one was home to answer, or no one wanted to risk opening the door.

Octavia put her hoof to the knob and tried opening it, expecting it to be locked. She was surprised then, when the door quietly creaked open, free for anyone to enter.

“Guess that debunks the 'holing up' theory...” She murmured to herself as she stepped inside. The inside of Sugarcube Corner was extremely dark, the boarded up windows only offering a shaft of light with the door offering the most of it.

“Hello?” Octavia called out into the derelict building, hoping that somepony was around. “Pinkie? Are you here?” She waited, but no response came. Either Pinkie didn't hear her, or no one was here.

A shiver of anxiety ran down her spine, realizing that she was still alone.

“Well, maybe there's some clues around...” Octavia muttered to herself. She reached into her saddlebag and pulled out her lighter, bringing the flame to life. The flame didn't penetrate the darkness far, mostly only illuminating anything directly near her. She could see a layer of dust had formed on the floor from disuse, another sign that no one had been there in a long time.

The first place she checked was the front counter of the store, looking to see if maybe a note or a newspaper had been left behind. To her surprise, on top of the counter was a lantern, conveniently placed for her needs. Unlike everything else in this place it was still in fairly good condition, there was even a knob for lighting it. Wondering if it still worked, she reached up and turned the dial on the lantern.

A satisfying yellow flame sprung up in the center, illuminating most of the room in an instant.

“A stroke of good luck.” Octavia mused, putting her lighter away. She grabbed the handle of the lantern in her teeth and turned around to take a better look at the store now that it wasn't cast in darkness.

Other than the dust that coated everything, Sugarcube Corner looked almost exactly as it had when she had left it all those years ago. The tables were still in the positions she remembered, the barren shelves would normally have been displaying the impressive baked and candied goods on sale, and even the old shabby rugs still lay on top of the wooden floor. If it was cleaned up a little and the exterior fixed, it looked like it could open for business tomorrow.

“Strange... It looks like the place was just abandoned...” Octavia noted, looking around at everything. “'Just how long have the monsters been around town? The ponies here obviously didn't just evacuate, they tried to wait out the storm...”

The last actual letter from Pinkie she had received had been a month ago. It was possible that the town had been like this for a month, but certainly she would have heard about it in the newspapers or something. The ponies would've contacted the outside world for help, called upon the Princess, the Royal Army, anything to deal with this if the Elements of Harmony couldn't handle it.

Unless... The ponies couldn't contact the outside world... And the only reason they couldn't have would be if they were...

“Stop it Octavia.” She quietly cursed herself. “You have no reason to believe anything has happened to anypony, you're only scaring yourself.” It wasn't a sound argument, but it didn't need to be. She was simply trying to keep herself calm. She didn't want to believe that anything had happened to her younger sister, not unless she had more solid proof.

She'd already lost one sister, she didn't want to lose another.

Turning her lantern, she spotted the stairs behind the counter. Old, familiar stairs that led to the upstairs bedrooms of the house. Each step creaked under her hooves, but she quickly made her way up. The first thing Octavia noticed in the hallway was that the doors were boarded up from the outside, as if they were trying to keep something locked inside of the rooms. She stopped outside of Mr. and Mrs. Cake's room, or at least where it had been when she was a child, and stared at it with worry.

What possible reason could there be to bar entry from the outside? Had something happened to the cakes? Had they...

Octavia gently shook her head, ridding herself of her thoughts. She took a deep breath and calmed her nerves. She was here for a reason, to find out what happened to Pinkie, or anypony for that matter, and she needed to check Pinkie's room.

Down the hallway was one last door, the very door she needed, and to her fortune it wasn't boarded up like the others. When they were fillies, the two of them had shared this room until Octavia moved out on her own. Pinkie mentioned that she had never moved out, so that door had to still lead to her room.

The door opened with a loud creak, revealing the stairwell that led up to the loft. The stairs were just as creaky and noisy as the downstairs ones, but she soon arrived at the floor's landing. Plenty of light filtered into the room, the windows not being boarded up and blocking the light like the downstairs ones. Octavia turned off the lantern and put it away in her saddlebag, before properly taking a look around.

Deflated balloons, fallen streamers, and confetti paper littered the floor. Pinkie's bed was a disheveled mess with pillows and blankets on the floor beside it, a sofa and dresser were visible next to the bed, chips and holes were in the walls, and several broken pieces of furniture rested around the room.

It hadn't changed much from when they were fillies, though anything still useable had been upgraded to be suitable for adult ponies.

“Leave it to my sister to leave a mess.” Octavia mirthlessly chuckled. It was Obvious Pinkie wasn't here, but there was something more to it than that. As she stepped into the room, she couldn't help but notice that the layer of dust that had been present all over the interior of Sugarcube Corner was missing from Pinkie's room. At most it looked like Pinkie hadn't been around for a few days, not months or years like downstairs. Outside of the mess, it looked like she could return at any moment.

Octavia shifted through the mess, looking around the room for a clue, any clue that would tell her where her sister went. She hoped she wouldn't have to dig through the trash and broken furniture to find any hints, but she was willing to do so if she had to.

The light in the room glinted off of something, and her eyes turned to look at the table beside Pinkie's bed. Stepping closer to it, the objects in question became clear. There was an ornate silver key on the table, laying on top of a piece of paper that looked like a note. With hope in her heart Octavia picked up the piece of paper first, quickly reading the note in the hope of finding a clue.

“I really enjoyed our last few sessions together, you make things so much easier for me to bear. I know you've heard me say it again and again, but you make the stress in my life just melt away. Things have been so incredibly stressful for me as of late though, I really could use your services again.

So, since I just earned my annual bonus from my job, I was thinking we could spend time together. And, since I've got so much extra, I was kind of hoping we could spend some extra time together. Maybe we could even finally do that thing I've always wanted to do with you. I never had the money for it before, but I do now!

I'll wait for you in our usual spot at the park. I included the key so you can come inside right away! I'll see you soon!”

The note was... Not, what Octavia had been expecting. At first it made her think of an obsessive creep that was bugging her sister, but then it spoke of them having met up multiple times before, and for a fee. It seemed as if Pinkie wouldn't meet up with this person unless they had the money to 'pay' for her services.

...Octavia didn't want to think what that could mean. It certainly didn't sound like the kind of thing the Pinkie she knew would do. It sounded more like a back alley deal for 'services' that would happen in Manehatten rather than in a wholesome little town like Ponyville.

In fact, it was entirely possible this letter wasn't even addressed to Pinkie at all! There was no name listed for the sender or the receiver, but the letter and the key mentioned in it were in Pinkie's room, so it was safe to assume she had been the one meant to receive it.

Either way, it was the first clue she had about ponies still being in the town. It was likely the note had been written before the monsters arrived, but since Pinkie wasn't here, it was her only clue as to her current whereabouts.

Pulling out her map of the town, she uncapped her marker and circled the area of it labeled 'Ponyville Park'. She followed the roads from Sugarcube Corner looking for the fastest route between them, taking a moment to memorize the path. With a new plan of action, she folded up the map and put it away.

As she finished tucking the map safely into her bag, the phonograph began to ring, causing Octavia to jump in surprise. Her head snapped up, looking back and forth in the room at what was causing the sound. Had one of the Spitters entered Sugarcube Corner and was waiting for her downstairs? Or was it something else-

Her pupils shrunk as her eyes locked onto a metal mask staring at her from outside the window. An eyeless metal mask staring at her, from a third story window with no balcony.

Blood smeared the muzzle of the mask, while bolts were roughly buried just above its eyes that kept the mask in place. Several painful looking scars stuck out from under the metal plating, a stark contrast to its furless white skin, and its long neck was covered in barbed wire. All Octavia could see was the head and neck peering at her through the window, and it was staring right at her. Its head ever so slightly tilted in curiosity.

She fall back, scrambling against the floor until her back hit the bed, her heart pounding against her chest as she stared at the creature. The phonograph's ring warned her that this monster was dangerous, that she shouldn't get near it. Even with a wall and window separating them, it was a threat to her.

Then, just as quickly as it had shown up, it turned and left the window. After a few seconds, the ringing of her phonograph died off, returning silence to the room. Octavia's breathing was still panicked, her heart thudding against her chest.

“What... What was that?” Octavia stammered out, still processing just what she had seen. It was different from a Spitter, it was tall enough to look into a third story window, and it had noticed she was there. It knew where she was.

Octavia had felt safe within the confines of Sugarcube Corner, but now that feeling of safety was gone.

There was nowhere in this town that was safe from the monsters outside.

Author's Note:

Audio Reading Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8Vz5LsdAYs&feature=youtu.be