• Published 13th Feb 2019
  • 2,355 Views, 24 Comments

There is Something Wrong in Ponyville - TooShyShy

Something very strange is happening in Ponyville and only Spike seems to notice.

  • ...

Tape #2


“I've been keeping track.”

Spike lets the words settle. He holds the tape recorder closer to his mouth and speaks slower, his tone more deliberate.

“Of the ponies I mean. I've been keeping track of the ponies. Because if Applejack is gone...”

He swallows the rest of his sentence. It doesn't get any easier. Thinking about it, saying it out loud. Spike sees Applejack's smiling face in his mind and he almost breaks down. But he has to finish the tape.

“Its been two days. I'm sorry.”

Spike grips the tape recorder harder. He doesn't know who he's apologizing to.

“I was putting some things together. Counting.”

The tape recorder has become such a big part of his life. A friend. If Spike listens closely, he can almost hear its nonexistent heartbeat. It feels alive in his claws.

“I've been hearing things outside. Mostly when I'm in bed. Shouting. Ponies galloping around. Laughing. I look outside and can't see anything.”

He takes a very deep breath. Holds it for a little longer than he intended. Slowly lets it out. Loosens his grip on the tape recorder. Spike hasn't slept.

“I think I heard something hit one of the outside walls. It sounded like a body.”

He casts his mind back, trying to find the time frame. But time is meaningless. That's why Spike can't sleep. The afternoons, the mornings, the evenings. They all bleed into each other.

“I don't want to go outside. Twilight hasn't asked me to run any errands.”

Spike runs his claw down the side of the tape recorder.

“She hasn't asked me for much of anything. She wanders around the house and barely notices me.”

Spike moves on quickly. He can't stand Twilight's smile, her casual greetings, the normalcy of her actions. He's watched her. He's seen how she acts when she doesn't know Spike is there. Wandering around, going about her day like nothing is wrong.

"So I've been trying to figure out whose missing. I made a list of all the ponies I know. I think I'm going to go outside. I'm going to see if I can find them.”

Spike is testing the words. He notices how his stomach churns at the thought, how he unintentionally flexes his claws. Spike remembers the sounds. That awful thud of something solid hitting the wall right underneath his bedroom window.

“Tomorrow. I'll do it tomorrow. Or whenever. I don't know. I've stopped looking at the clocks.”



“Twilight talked to me today. Or to herself. I don't know which is which anymore. She just talks sometimes.”

She sounds normal. She looks normal. It hurts to look at her. Spike's voice cracks when he says her name.

“She's been researching something. I tried to listen. I really did. And I did catch some things, but...”

There are books stacked on his bedroom shelf. New books. Spike hasn't read them yet. He keeps staring at them.

“I went outside today. Finally. I told Twilight where I was going. I think she heard me. She had her muzzle in a book.”

Spike misses the sun on his face. Misses the heat. It's so cold now. Freezing almost. Spike can feel it indoors, like it's creeping through the cracks. There's a fireplace in his bedroom. No wood on the woodpile.

“The streets were nearly empty. The ponies walking around didn't look right.”

Their eyes. Blank. Hollow. Their movements deliberate. Spike passed Time Turner on the street. Time Turner had something in his mouth. Spike's not sure what it was. He tried not to look at it.

“I made a note of everypony I saw. All of them. I'm trying to keep track.”

The list is on his bed. Every single pony in Ponyville he remembers by name. Spike has consulted it three or four times.

“The marketplace was quiet. But I saw ponies there. Just milling around. Some of them were lying on their backs. Staring at the moon. A lot of the stalls had been destroyed.”

He remembers the carnage, if he could even call it that. The smashed remains of market stalls. Bits of fruit and glass scattered like entrails. And ponies wandering around, carefully avoiding the mess. Not speaking to one another. Just wandering through the mostly destroyed marketplace, pieces of fruit tangled into their manes and tails.

“One of the mares was bleeding. She had blood all over her forehead. I tried to get her attention, ask her if she needed help. She ignored me. I think it was Daisy?”

He lets himself fall into the topic. Daisy. One of the ponies who sold flowers. They'd talked once or twice. Spike tries to hold onto their mundane conversations, to create an intricate persona in his head. But it's not there. He only remembers her name, her smile, the scent of petunias. Daisy.

“She was just walking. Walking around in circles. And her head.... She must have hit it on something. She was bleeding so badly and I couldn't...she wouldn't let me help her and I didn't know what to do.”

Spike's voice cracks. It's not my fault. The words pound in his head. It's not my fault. It's not my fault. It's NOT... He tries again. Tries to remember those mundane conversations with Daisy. What they talked about, what she said, if she laughed, if she cried. But all he can see is that single image of Daisy. Walking in circles, blood pouring from her head wound and pooling at the tip of her muzzle.

“I could have dragged her to the hospital. I could have...something. Anything. But...”

He swallows hard. Spike passed the hospital on his way home. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the busted windows and overturned wheelchairs littering the outside. There might have been bloodstains on the outside walls. He didn't look.

“I'm sorry.”



“I heard screaming last... I heard screaming.”

Spike is learning. Learning how useless it is to differentiate between night and day. Sometimes he sleeps. Sometimes he's awake. It's all the same to him.

“It started up while I was in bed. I wanted to look out the window, but I didn't. I just stayed in bed and listened for a while. It stopped after about ten minutes.”

A knot of guilt tightens in Spike's chest. He's never heard screaming like that before. A warped noise that seemed to indicate some emotion Spike wasn't familiar with. A completely alien type of agony or grief that he isn't equipped to dissect.

“I found a book about the paranormal. Ghosts and anomalies and things like that.”

Old Flame's Guide to the Hidden World. An old book. Older than the library. Maybe older than Ponyville.

“I know Twilight doesn't believe in that stuff. But she doesn't know everything.”

The last part comes out more aggressive than Spike intended. His voice quivers with resentment he doesn't actually feel. Spike is frustrated. He's been that way for a while, but now it's starting to bubble inside of him.

“I'm on the first chapter. I don't know what I'm looking for.”

He picks up the book from his nightstand. Spike flips to where he left off, the ancient pages rustling loudly. He recites from the paragraph in front of him.

A lone spirit may take any form. They can appear as grim specters, ghastly images of their own demise, or even creatures from our own nightmares. But the feeling of dread such spirits invoke is unmistakable.”

Spike closes the book.

“I have no idea if I'm going to find anything. Probably not.”

He's wasting time and he knows it. Spike doesn't want to go outside again. He doesn't want to search the basement for more tapes. Spike wants to avoid Twilight Sparkle altogether.

“I was thinking of visiting the Apple Family farm to see... I mean, the whole thing can't be gone, right? It has to still be there.”

He tries to sound confident, hopeful. But he remembers the blank looks on his friends' faces when he mentioned Applejack. No recognition. It was as if she'd never existed. As if Spike was misremembering the last several years of his life.

“It's weird.”

Spike stretches out his claws. He likes the feel of them. The sharpness. He needs to trim them soon, but a part of Spike wants to keep them like that.

“Twilight says I'm about the size of a young adult. But my mind is a little younger than that. I don't know how I should feel about that. What am I? I feel like a dragon on the outside, but the inside is kind of...different? I don't know.”

They've been over this. He's been over this. The uncertainty around his identity. But it's coming back to Spike, like a flame that never quite goes out. That one spark that sets the entire forest ablaze.

“Rarity doesn't look at me any differently. I think she still sees that tiny dragon. So do I.”

Spike stops. He doesn't want this on the tape. This isn't about him. He has nothing to gain from this inward focus, this pondering about his identity. Spike has been over this a dozen times before. But it doesn't get easier with every tired rehash.

“There's something going on in my head. Something with time. It started even before I stopped looking at the clocks. I'd forget the time. It would always be an hour or two off in my head, not that it mattered. It stopped after I started sleeping with my curtains closed.”

The moonlight peeks through the curtains. A minuscule sliver of silvery light. Spike contemplates sewing up the tiny gap.

“I wonder what's going on in Canterlot.”

Spike lets the thought sit in his head.

“I'm thinking of leaving. Leaving Ponyville. I need to know if....I need to see...”

An image flashes across his head. Mangled bodies. Blood. The remains of the city. A disaster the likes of which Equestria has never seen. And Spike sitting there on his bed, tape recorder in his claws. Oblivious. It seems like such a blessed way to live. Just sitting there, ignorant yet strangely content. But it's not the way Twilight Sparkle—the old one, the one who actually pays attention to him—would want him to live.

“I'll need some supplies. Food. Water. Books. I don't know how long I'll be gone.”

Spike talks as if he's making plans, but he's not. He tries to imagine himself leaving. It's not simply about Twilight anymore. It's about the noises. The dread. The things he saw in the marketplace. This list of potentially missing ponies yet to be finished. Spike doesn't like the finality of just packing up and fleeing. He wants the familiarity more than he wants answers.

“I have to think about it. Tomorrow. I'll probably know by then. I can't just... I'll have to ask Twilight if she'll come with me.”

He knows the answer, but he has to try.

“Even if she doesn't, I still have to go. For my own sake. I need to know what's happening out there. I need to know it's not as bad as I think.”



“I started packing.”

The lack of preamble makes Spike pause. It's his own voice, his own words. But he's still aggressively critical.

This is Spike's third time trying to start. He missed the Record button on his first try. Tried it again. Claw slipped. Got it on his third try. His claws were shaking too badly for him to get a good grip. The tape recorder almost slipped out of Spike's grasp. He almost wishes it had.

“I heard knocking. It was outside my window. I didn't open the curtains. I couldn't.”

He pictures his window. He imagines the glass shattering, exploding inward with the force of a single blow. It's just glass. Fragile. Useless.

“I'm on the second floor, so it must have been a pegasus. I tried to ignore it. The knocking. But it got louder and louder and I started to wonder....”

He pauses.

“I wondered if they were like me. If they realized something was happening and wanted to get inside. I felt sorry for them. Maybe they were an ally, somepony who could help.”

Spike has been in his room for a little too long. He's beginning to miss his friends and everything that made Ponyville so wonderful and lively. Still no word from the mailpony. Nothing about Applejack.

“Then I heard something else. The knocking stopped and there was this... I don't know. A little thudding noise? I didn't know what it was at first. It sounded wrong. Not like something being thrown against a wall.”

There is an old suitcase in one corner of the room. Spike hasn't had time to put much in it. It's mostly an umbrella and a few snacks from the kitchen. But he feels prepared.

“I think the pony outside was banging their head against the wall. I don't know how I got back to sleep. But I pulled the blankets over my head and dozed off. When I woke up, it had stopped.”

He hasn't looked outside. Not yet. That overwhelming feeling of safety, the belief that he is living in an impenetrable fortress of wood. But Spike remembers the knocking, the soft thuds of that pony beating their head against the outside wall. Spike is losing his naive belief in absolute safety.

“I might leave tomorrow. I need to sleep. I've been trying to, but I can't tell how long I'm actually out. I don't want to look at the clocks. The moon is always there. I never feel rested anymore.”

Spike's eyes glaze over for a brief second. He wants his bed. He wants sleep. He wants silence. But it's always so loud in Spike's head. Even when he's asleep, he can hear things.

He rubs the side of his head. Refocuses. Comes back. Clutches the tape recorder a little tighter.

“I can't tell what day it is. It could be the same day. It feels like one long day. Maybe the party was ten hours ago. I don't know anymore. It's so hard to sleep.”

He stops. Listens.

“Can you hear that?”

Spike moves closer to the window. He reaches forward, his claw gently brushing the closed curtains. Pearl-white and thin. They used to move in the wind, even when the window was shut tight. But there's no wind anymore.

“Ponies talking.”

He moves the tape recorder closer. It's faint. There are ponies talking right underneath his window. But Spike can't look. He can't hear what they're saying.

The first impact surprises him. Spike jumps back, reeling from the sheer force of it. The meaty thud of something hitting the outside wall. Something large. Pony-sized. Spike's heart sinks, his stomach heaving with terror.

Another impact. Even harder this time, like something—or somepony—being swung. The tape picks up all of it. Every thud, muffled and indistinct.

“I don't know what's going on.”

His claw prods the gap between the curtains.

“I want to know. I have to see...”

The curiosity burns in Spike's chest. It feels like someone driving a spike down his throat and through his heart. It sickens him. Almost makes him gag. Not the noises. The noises are something else, something almost removed from what Spike is feeling. This curiosity. This desire to know, stronger than any horror Spike has ever felt. And the guilt swirling in his stomach as he dares to consider indulging.

The thudding stops. The voices stop. The thoughts in Spike's head stop.

Spike withdraws his claw from the curtains. He doesn't know what he's feeling. The relief and regret almost feel false. They feel like placeholders for whatever battle is going on in Spike's head. But the choice has been taken away from him. He doesn't need to think about it anymore.

“I'm going to keep packing. Just in case.”



“You know by now. You know everything.”

The words strike a nerve, but Spike goes on. He's tired of sugarcoating, of holding back. Spike has been feeling bolder. He needs it to be archived, to be known.

“The mailpony. The moon. I'm tired of repeating myself.”

He means to sound abrasive, but he's actually tired and frustrated. Spike has been awake. Suspended in this false calmness, running on some kind of slow-acting adrenaline. Spike doesn't know what to call it, if it even has a name. Twilight would know.

“But I have books. I've been reading up on curses and dark magic.”

Useless fields of study for a dragon. Spike would laugh, but there's nothing funny about this.

“Nothing so far. Most of it is speculative. Theories and stuff.”

Spike is lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling. He used to trust his instincts, used to trust the sky above, used to trust Twilight. Who does he trust now? The tapes? No, not even the tapes. Tapes can break.

“Of course the real dark magic books wouldn't be at the library. They're in Canterlot, behind a dozen locked doors.”

The Canterlot Archives. Largest collection of books in Equestria. He's been there once, maybe twice. Thousands of shelves, maybe millions. Books from before the birth of Equestria. Old tomes filled with spells to destroy, to create, to entice.

“I could go there. It wouldn't be too hard.”

The Canterlot Archives aren't particularly well-guarded. It's the stigma and potential punishment that keeps ponies away.

“Its been quiet.”

Spike pauses. Thinks about how he's been able to sleep. He's more well-rested, a bit more alert. His dreams are less frightening. Spike's suitcase is almost fully packed. Enough for a short journey. He has a map. A brand new up-to-date one he bought a few months ago.

“I keep thinking someone is standing right beneath my window. But I never look. I don't think there's anypony there.”

Paranoia. Or maybe a manifestation of his reluctance. But it's not real. There are parts of this that Spike can confirm, parts he can touch and see. But this isn't one of them.

“I could go right now. I want to.”

He shoves Twilight to the back of his mind. His Twilight. Kindhearted, intelligent. She's become a husk lately, wandering around the house. Pulling books off the shelves. Not looking at Spike when he speaks to her.

“Twilight won't notice. I think she's forgotten I exist. I made dinner for her last night and she didn't even notice.”

He hasn't been outside in a while. Spike has been eating in moderation, holding back on his portions. He wants to leave the kitchen fully-stocked. Will Twilight eat while he's gone? There have been times—before all this—that she didn't. She needed to be reminded that she was merely a pony and not some kind of deity capable of going years without food.

“I'll sleep first.”



“It's still so quiet outside.”

Spike leans his head against the wall. His suitcase is fully packed. He's had to leave some things behind. He could grab another suitcase, perhaps one of those rucksacks. But as impractical as it is, Spike wants the suitcase. He can pretend he's just going on a trip.

“I feel safer when it's quiet. Maybe I shouldn't.”

He pauses, searching for what he wants to say.

“I want to get those tapes from the basement. I want to take them with me.”

Spike tries to present the concept flatly, like he's made peace with the inevitability of it. But there is uncertainty in his voice. Spike fears the darkness, the unexplored corners, the descending steps. This fear used to be outside, it used to be vast and uncontained. But now it lives inside the walls, inside the basement, inside Spike's chest.

“We put a lot of stuff down there after the renovation. I haven't really looked at any of it.”

He's seen the boxes. Some of his old toys and books, his name clumsily scrawled on each box. There is a gap in Spike's growth, an eternity between one stage and the next. He doesn't remember being small. He doesn't remember writing his name on those boxes. It feels like something he dreamed.

“Twilight helped me carry them down to the basement. I told her I didn't need them anymore. I'm surprised she believed me.”

He intends the last sentence to be light, almost teasing. But it comes off as unexpectedly bitter. Spike wishes he didn't have the increased firepower. He wants his small body back, he wants his tiny claws. Spike wants to cling to Twilight's back like he used to, without fear of hurting her with his claws.

“I miss not having to bend down to hug her. I can carry her now. Well, I can almost carry her. I tried it as a joke once. She thought it was funny.”

Spike looks at his claws. He still hasn't trimmed them. He thought he could handle them, that nothing would change. But there are marks on the walls from his clumsiness and he's shredded more than his fair share of bedsheets. Spike has learned to be careful, to read without putting Twilight's precious books in danger. He has adapted. It scares Spike. He doesn't like to think about how easily he adjusted to this new body. But it's not as if it happened suddenly, as if he didn't have years to prepare.

“I should do something about my claws before I go. They're too long.”

He doesn't remember where the claw trimmers are. The ones he got for his birthday last year. Spike remembers peeling back the packaging, the ripping sound as he tore away the wrapping paper. Tore it away with his claws, letting the ribbons of Rainbow Dash's effort fall to the floor in a useless pile. He saw her staring at him out of the corner of his eye. She was admiring his claws, her mouth slightly open as she watched him shred the wrapping paper with very little effort. It made Spike uncomfortable.

“I wrote a note for Twilight. “Visiting friends in Canterlot for a while. Don't forget to eat! Love, Spike. P.S. Take care of yourself”.

He recites it flatly. His bedroom floor is littered with his previous efforts. Crumpled pieces of paper containing confusing or frantic sentiments. Most are unfinished, some Spike actually took to completion before discarding.

“I don't like how it turned out, but it's the best I could do.”

It's not the best he can do and he's well aware of it. But he doesn't want to try again. Spike can't bring himself to grab another piece of paper, to scrawl another inaccurate or stunted message. It's never going to be the truth. It's never going to make Spike feel better.

“I guess I could leave right now if I wanted to.”

Spike imagines sneaking away under the unrelenting cover of darkness. Escaping Ponyville with only a suitcase full of his most valuable possessions and a map. Spike could do it. He could do almost anything at this point. It's a strange contradiction in emotions: bravery vs. the horror of the unknown. He thinks of freedom and bravery wins, then he thinks of the sounds outside—the sounds that stopped so long again, but echo in his head—and fear reclaims the dominant role.

“I'm going to do it. I'm going to leave.”

He says it out loud as a confirmation. Spike wants to see how confident he sounds, how much he means those words. The words come out shaky, but there's some confidence in them.

“Tomorrow. I'll go down to the basement. I'll get those extra tapes. I'll even grab one of the rucksacks me and Twilight never use. I'll get out of here.”

It's not the leaving that hurts him. It's leaving alone, of being on his own. Its been so long since Spike was alone. There's always been someone. Twilight, his friends, even the princesses. But for the first time in his life, it's just Spike. Spike, who knows nothing, who is partially ruled by fear, who still isn't old enough for any of this.

He repeats it again. Gets himself used to how the words feel on his tongue, how they sound.

“I'll get out of here.”



“I shouldn't have done it.”

Spike is breathing rather heavily. His claws shake, his eyes darting back and forth. He sees nothing, but of course there's nothing to be seen. It's Spike's bedroom. Its always been his bedroom.

“I opened the curtains. Why did I do that? Why did I open the curtains? Oh sweet Celestia.”

He shuts his eyes. The curtains are closed now. He's safe now. Except Spike isn't safe. He remembers that flimsy glass, those doors with far too few locks. Locks aren't really needed in Ponyville. A laughable precaution, or so Spike and Twilight were told.

“I wanted to see if there was anyone there. I thought I heard the knocking again. Faint this time. I wanted to see their face. Wanted to see if they needed my help.”

Spike is scratching at his shoulder. He feels his claws dig in, pain spiking from the penetration point. But there's no blood. Not yet.

“I opened the curtains to look. I shouldn't have. Oh sweet Celestia, why did I think that was a good idea? What's wrong with me?”

Spike knows why he did it. That desire to see another face, to find a friend, to feel as if he wasn't alone. That was why he opened the curtains. But in hindsight, the whole thing feels foolish, like the naive act of a child.

“There was a pony hovering right outside my window. A pegasus. She was knocking on the wall next to it. At least I think she was. I wasn't paying much attention to her hoof. She was...”

His voice dies. He stares at the closed curtains, his eyes somewhat glassy. The image is right there. Imprinted in front of him, like a figure caught in a camera flash.

“Her eyes. She was staring straight ahead. Just staring. I'm not sure if she even saw me. She just stared. Stared and knocked.”

He wants it to end there. Spike wants that to be the final sentence of this bizarre story. But there's more. There's always going to be more, he realizes. Until this ends, there will always be more to the story. More empty space to fill on every tape.

“We looked at each other for about two minutes. I was wondering if I should open the window and say something to her. If I should try to snap her out of it and ask if she needed my help. But I never got the chance.”

Spike is scratching harder now. The spikes of pain have become more frequent as he buries his claws in his shoulder.

“Suddenly she looked right at me. Really looked at me. I could tell she realized I was there. She saw me. I was so happy. I was about to open the window. I thought maybe she had something to say to me.”

Spike clutches at his own shoulder. Dragons are incredibly tough. Or at least they're meant to be. But Spike is still so small—even by dragon standards—and so weak. He smells the blood from his injured shoulder. Dark stains where he scratched too hard.

“She looked right at me for a few seconds. Then she slammed her head into the window. Just...slammed her head into it. It was so sudden that I jumped back. She pulled her head back and I could tell she was bleeding. She hadn't broken the glass or anything. She stared at me and her eyes were unfocused again.”

Spike is breathing more heavily. He wants to take care of his shoulder. But first he has to finish this part of the tape. Spike has been worried lately. Worried about forgetting, of ending up like that glassy-eyed pegasus outside his window.

“I closed the curtains. I think she went away. I didn't hear her leave, but I also didn't hear anything else. Its been a while. I don't hear anything outside.”

He listens again. Nothing.

“I have to get out of here. I know I've been saying that, but... That pony's eyes. The way she looked at me.”

He checks the curtains again. Makes sure they're still closed, save for that minuscule sliver.

“It was like the way Twilight looks at me now, but even worse. Is that the second stage of this? Is Twilight going to...? Oh sweet Celestia.”

He feels like he's said “Sweet Celestia” too much, but Spike can't help himself. He worries, wondering if even Princess Celestia could save him from this. He doesn't think she can. He wants to hope, but he doesn't feel like the princesses even exist anymore. They feel more like a concept or an idea.

Spike imagines fending off Twilight, fending off the princesses. Fighting his friends. Fighting them with those claws. Those claws that were made to slash, maim, and kill. Spike knows he'd do it. If he had to, if there was no other choice. And that scares him more than what he's seen so far.

“The basement. I'm going to the basement.”



“I went down to the basement.”

The casual tone catches Spike off guard. He isn't used to sounding so calm. But it's really the only way he can get the words out. If he panics, he might shut off the tape entirely. Spike might smash the tape recorder to bits just to avoid having to talk about it.

“Twilight was in her bedroom. Sleeping. I think. I'm not sure she sleeps nowadays.”

He's feeling less rested himself, but that's alright. Spike just needs to be alert. Not even mostly alert. Somewhat alert. Aware of his surroundings.

“I grabbed a flashlight from the kitchen. I forgot there was one in there.”

Spike didn't actually forget. He's known about it for a long time. That spare flashlight stashed in one of the cabinets under the sink. Spike held his breath as he clutched it in his claw, praying it wouldn't work. But of course it flickered to life almost immediately, dashing his hopes and dreams.

“The steps didn't creak.”

He wished they had. Spike wanted to be caught. He never liked the basement. Likes it even less now.

“It was so dark down there. Even with the light, I kept bumping into things. There were boxes everywhere. My name was on a few of them.”

There were less than he remembered. Less boxes with his name on them. Spike wonders how many of his old toys found their way to the basement and how many were tossed out. He wonders if he'll ever see them again.

“I found the tapes immediately. A little box in the corner. I was scared. I thought maybe Twilight had taken them or something. But they were all there. I found the rucksack too. It was stuffed in one of Twilight's boxes.”

He's proud of himself. Proud of how he faced his fear. How he stuffed those tapes into the rucksack. It all feels more important than it really is.

“I found something else. It was in a corner.”

Spike isn't smiling anymore. Very suddenly, he's arrived at that part of his recollection. He thought he could hold it back. But it pours out of him like blood gushing from an ax wound.

“A dead bird. At least I think it was dead. I hope. I thought it was sleeping. I thought it would fly away when I shone my flashlight on it. But it stood there, so I got closer. And it was dead. Mutilated. It looked like it had been...”

He sucks in a shaky breath.

Eaten. By something large. A pony? I think it was a pony. Somepony ate a bird, or at least they ate half of it. I don't know how it got in the basement.”

Spike speaks with conviction he doesn't feel. There is one obvious way that dead half-eaten bird could have ended up in the basement. But he leaves it unsaid. It doesn't need to be spoken aloud. It came through in Spike's voice.

“That's basically all I saw. Everything.”

Spike knows he's going to miss the basement. He's going to miss the library, miss Twilight, miss Ponyville. Of course he could always come back, but a part of Spike believes in the finality of his journey. He doesn't picture himself returning to this place. And even if he does, it won't be the town he once knew. It hasn't earned the right to be.

“I'm going to sleep. I need some rest before I go. I feel so prepared. I feel like I'm really doing this.”

He sounds more excited than he means to. Spike wants to be sad about leaving his home. But all he feels is an odd and contradictory sort of elation.

“I have everything I need. Nothing can stop me.”



“They were waiting.”

Spike inhales deeply, his breath shaking. He feels like he should start at the beginning. But there is no beginning. It's all moving too quickly for him to find a good starting point. His mind has settled down a little, but not enough.

Spike's bedroom feels hauntingly familiar, like an old friend. He hasn't been gone very long.

“I had everything. I checked and double-checked my stuff. I wasn't worried about Twilight catching me. She was doing something in her room. I didn't see her before I left.”

Hours ago, that would have hurt. Not being able to say goodbye to Twilight. It didn't stop him, but it definitely would have hurt. At least Spike left the note. A useless piece of paper, but at least it was something. A memory he could save.

“I left the library. Of course it was dark. I had a flashlight. A flashlight and two lanterns. I scoured the whole house before I left. Found everything useful.”

The rucksack felt so heavy. But not heavy enough. Spike feels like he should have had something more, that there should have been a little more strain on his shoulders.

“There was no one outside. I actually opened the curtains and checked before I left. Everything was silent and empty. I saw a few shapes, but they were just darting behind the cottages. No one knew I was there.”

It's an odd thought. The idea that nopony noticed Spike slinking out of his house, that nopony saw the dragon loaded down with a slightly less massive rucksack. He was invisible.

“I memorized the route. There are a few roads leading out of Ponyville. I took the long way because it has the least hoof traffic.”

It took him a whole two hours to fully memorize that route. It wasn't particularly difficult, but he needed to get it right. Spike knew he couldn't be pausing every few minutes to check the map.

“I wasn't followed. I checked a dozen times to make sure.”

The possibility only hit him a few minutes or so into his escape. The concept of somepony trailing his every move. Maybe the pegasus from before, the one who seemed so intent on getting into his bedroom. Or Twilight herself, curious about what Spike was doing.

“It was slow. I had to stop a few times. I got hungry, but I couldn't eat any of my food. I had to wait. I had to be safe.”

That was what this whole thing was about: being safe. Did he ever really think about what that word meant? Had it always sounded so hollow in his head, so distant?

“I saw two Earth ponies. They were fighting over something. I didn't see what it was. I kept my head down and kept walking. But I saw their eyes. They were wide. Wide and glazed. They looked sort of like the moon.”

The description makes Spike pause. He turns to look out the window. He's pulled back the curtains again. He's watching the moon's solitary vigil over Ponyville. Spike feels tears in his eyes for the second time that day.

“There was a pegasus lying on the ground. I was scared at first, but I noticed he wasn't moving. Not dead, just not moving. I was able to walk around him and he didn't stir. His eyes were all wide and glassy. He was lying on his back and staring at the moon.”

Spike wishes he had names. Better descriptions. Anything to give these ponies a voice. But all he has are those eyes, forever burned into his mind.

“I didn't see anymore ponies. I was lucky. I didn't really think about what I'd do if I saw more than one.”

It sounds more and more reckless as he talks about it. Spike never knew what he was doing. He was running on fear and panic, his brain looping the same urgent message: You need to get out.

“I finally made it to where I needed to be. I was close to the outskirts. I could see exactly where I needed to go. The road leading out of Ponyville.”

Spike's heartbeat quickens, like he's experiencing it all over again.

“I'm not sure how I didn't see them at first. I was too excited. All I could see was the path. But of course there was more. There always has to be.”

He can't quite put it into words. The feelings that rushed through his head, the way his body reacted. Spike hardly remembers any of it. He just remembers coming to a halt, the smile leaving his face before it was even fully formed.

“There were a dozen or so of them. At first I thought they were milling around and I could go past them. I thought they were like all the other ponies I'd seen. I thought they wouldn't see me.”

Spike swallows hard.

“Rainbow Dash was with them. I think I saw Mr. and Mrs. Cake too. They all had weapons. Makeshift clubs and things like that. They were standing right there. Guarding the only way out of Ponyville. Making sure no one could leave.”

He doesn't want to think about the other faces he saw in the crowd. The ponies he knew, ponies he'd cared about. Lined up like some mockery of the Royal Guard, wielding their makeshift weapons. Standing feet away from a collection of bodies—not many, but enough—littered across the ground.

“They didn't see me. I was able to hide before any of them caught sight of me. Not that it mattered.”

Spike flexes his claws. He knows exactly what he could have done. He could have gotten past them. Could have torn through them in a rush of claws. But Spike couldn't do that. Those were his friends, practically his family. And Spike was outnumbered. He'd seen the crazed looks in their eyes. He knew they wouldn't hold back.

“They're guarding the way out. I could try to fight, but I'd die. Or they'd die. I don't want either of those things.”

He flexes his claws again.

“There are other ways out of Ponyville, but they're probably guarded too. I don't really want to find out.”

Spike doesn't care if he sounds like a coward, if a voice at the back of his head is screaming for him to try again. He's sick of this. Sick of all this fear and ignorance. Sick of feeling helpless in his bedroom, helpless out there, helpless inside his own brain.

“There are other options. There have to be.”

Spike turns to stare directly at the moon. He no longer fears its light. Spike despises it. Despises the way it hangs there, refusing to take responsibility for what its done. What its done to all of them. Spike remembers the crazed expression on Rainbow Dash's face, that animalistic resentment.

“I'm going to do some more research. Find out absolutely everything I can. About Ponyville, about the moon, about whether or not anything like this has happened before. I'm not leaving this here. I can't.”

A part of Spike believes he can fix all this. That if he just works hard enough, everything will return to normal. But then he remembers those dead bodies and suddenly he isn't too sure.

“If you ever hear this Twilight, please don't worry about me. I hope I saved you. I hope I saved all of you.”