• Published 22nd Sep 2023
  • 1,063 Views, 76 Comments

Doubt Itself - Casketbase77

They're supposed to be inspiring, Sunset's stories of ponies with familiar names and faces. But to Cozy Glow, her other self is a warning she's grimly taken to heart. Too bad about the whispers still in her head. And the urges.

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Countdown to Meltdown

Cozy Glow's dream journal scared her.

She finished her entry for the previous night, then set down her gel pen and exhaled. If anyone read this most recent scrawl (or the dozens of other dreams she’d documented over the years), Cozy would have nothing to say in her defense.

“I’m taking meds for it,” wouldn't help her case. If anything, it'd be a terrible admission that her thoughts were still this bad under treatment.

Cozy shivered. Despite the heat of the late August morning, despite the tightness of her footie pajamas, she could still feel icy tingles in her fingers and toes. Cozy knew what these tingles were, of course: Phantom remnants of her dream, still juiced up by the adrenaline high that had shocked her awake. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t actually wrapped her hands around Sunset Shimmer’s throat. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t actually squeezed and squeezed and squeezed so much that she’d jolted upright in bed, delirious and gasping.

What mattered was she had enjoyed it. Just like all the other dreams she had when she was hurting people. Usually it was just random faceless targets, though. Not her only friend.

Cozy wrapped her arms around her flat, heaving chest while she rocked back and forth in her bedroom's desk chair. Back and forth, back and forth. She kept rocking until the icy tingles were gone, melted by the hot pit in her stomach that Cozy understood to be guilt.

Her dream journal was running out of pages.

If Cozy Glow’s luck continued to fail her, she’d have enough bad nights to fill the book up before the end of the month. What would she do then? Buy another so she could fill that one up too? Keep going until she had so many piled in her room she couldn’t keep them all hidden from the world anymore?

Compelled by loneliness, Cozy plucked a stuffed animal up off her bed and shut her eyes. She pretended the plush goat was alive, holding it tight and trying her best to wring some companionship out of the empty toy. Then, when her fingers began to hurt, she looked down and saw her thumbs gouging into its button eyes.

“I strongly advise against getting any family pets,” Cozy’s therapist had urged after the first session with her parents. “Under no circumstances should any animals be left alone with her.”

Cozy Glow bit her lip, tears blurring her vision.

“This is probably obvious, but the same caution extends to babies. It’s a relief to hear that she doesn’t have any siblings.”

The 7:00 AM alarm sounded on Cozy Glow’s phone, prompting her to drop the goat, slam the dream journal shut, and push her chair back. The self-shaming session would have to be done for the morning; she had twenty minutes til her school bus arrived.

After locking away the dream journal and all its damning indictments in her desk drawer, Cozy made her bed. Then trudged towards the bathroom, yanking curlers from her hair with every step.

She‘d been up for awhile but still hadn’t peed. Documenting her nightmare had been more important. No big deal; Cozy was training her bladder to be stronger anyway. She'd once read that sociopaths had a high risk of becoming chronic bedwetters later in life, and her terrible self-esteem didn’t need something like that compounding everything else. Cozy sat, relieved herself, then left the bathroom as quickly as possible. The toilet faced the mirror, and Cozy didn’t like looking at her reflection any longer than she had to. Soft, babyfaced features weren't comely for an unclean soul. Even after 14 white-knuckled years of life, the cognitive dissonance still upset her.

Cozy dressed, pulling a blouse over her head and feeling it catch on a stray curler she’d missed earlier. Cozy Glow was new to curling her hair, having worn it in a bun all her life. Right up until last week. She’d only begun trying the Shirley Temple look after… after...

Cozy glanced at her clock, saw she had time, and sat down on the edge of her bed. She pulled out her phone and scrolled past a dozen screenshots of recently revisited WebMD Psychology articles. Thereafter her thumb settled on a unique picture in her camera roll. A photo of a photo, one that Sunset Shimmer showed her in the apparently magical “Friendship Journal.”

Specifically, a picture of the pegasus who shared Cozy's name.

Cozy Glow had spent more time staring at the image of her horsey counterpart than she liked to admit. This other Cozy was adorable, even more undeservedly than she herself was. Same fake smile. Same hollow eyes. Their only difference (other than their species, obviously) was the way they wore their hair. Up until last week, anyway. Cozy Glow extracted the last curler and ran her fingers through her locks. As the tresses settled, so did her nerves.

Cozy knew it was childish, mimicking her counterpart in an attempt to redeem that part of their identity. Still, the need to change one’s hairstyle was fairly innocuous compared to many more long-running and violent urges she dealt with daily. Really, it was nice to finally have a compulsion she could give into without feeling worried or guilty about it. She’d even slept fairly well the first night she‘d gone to bed wearing curlers. Instead of another murder dream, she’d had a repeat from awhile back where a rainbow-colored beam arced from the sky and washed over her, slowly turning her body to stone. Cozy’d jolted awake in terror of course, but at least it was her being victimized for once, not some innocent placeholder person. She vastly preferred traditional nightmares to the sick fantasies she usually had.

With some finality, she pulled on her favorite skirt, sliding her phone into its inseam pocket and hearing the rattle of her lithium tablet bottle already in there. Impulse told her to pop a pair of pills into her mouth immediately, but she first needed breakfast to ensure they’d dissolve properly. A few extra minutes of being sick in the head was fair trade for not being sick to her stomach, right?

Depends on what level of sick.

Cozy Glow flinched. The auditory hallucinations were starting to come back. She headed downstairs, knowing the sooner she could medicate, the better.

“Oh for Faust’s sake!” Cozy Glow shouted at the open the cereal pantry. “That's what I get for putting an empty box back on the shelf. Now I can have a big bowl of disappointment for breakfast!”

No one was around to hear her zealous griping, of course. Both parents were at work, as usual. Still, yelling meant filling the room with real noise. Hopefully enough to smother any fake noise her traitorous brain might conjure again.

“Bagel,” Cozy decided, tossing the empty cereal box in the trash and rooting around in the bread drawer. “Bagel, bagel, bagel, bagel…” her chanting had a tenor fit for a padded cell.

“Bagel!” she exalted, holding up her prize.

Cozy Glow glanced at her phone again, confirming she had four minutes til the bus was due. Plenty of time to heat her food and eat it. She fired up the toaster and used her momentary break to retrieve the cereal box from the trash. “This actually goes in the recycling bin,” Cozy Glow declared aloud to no one. “I’m a good, responsible girl. I don’t throw away cardboard. No siree.” She was honestly just talking to talk at this point.

Cozy Glow laid the cereal box in the proper receptacle before pulling on her penny loafers and backpack. Still waiting on the toaster, she slid open the silverware drawer to extract a bread knife.

Bad move.

As her fingers wrapped around a knife’s handle, Cozy’s heart rate shot up and a piercing, high-pitched ringing stabbed her ears.

A weapon.

In her grasp.

While she was unsupervised.

Cozy Glow yelped and dropped the knife onto the linoleum, She felt dizzy from the headrush, panicked from the adrenaline kick, nauseous from her flare of sadistic excitement.

Sloppy. Careless. Damaged goods. Always underestimating its own triggers.

Cozy Glow clasped her hands over her ears and shut her eyes.

“Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. Oh how I wish he’d go away.”

Her favorite nursery rhyme was her trump card. Her ace of hearts. Before she got pills to silence the spectral taunting, Cozy had relied on chanting as a sort of verbal panacea. Reciting esoteric lyrics didn’t have any power outside of her imagination of course, but then again neither did her demons. Cozy had been encouraged by her therapist to use the rhyme whenever she felt herself beset on all sides.

“Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t-“ Her bagel popped up, causing Cozy to exhale loudly and drop her arms back to her sides. The ringing in her ears wasn’t completely gone, but it had at least quieted. She was retrieving her food from the toaster when she saw, foggy through the kitchen window, her school bus approaching from down the street.

Cozy nearly cussed, but instead stuffed her mouth with dry, cream cheese-less pieces of bagel. She nearly choked from lack of chewing, bursting out the door and reaching the curb the same time the bus did with her phone in her fist and her pill bottle in her pocket bouncing the whole way. Cozy Glow swallowed the last of her sorry breakfast and smiled sweetly at the driver while she boarded. He responded with an indifferent grunt and closed the doors behind her. Secure seated with fellow students in front and behind, Cozy dropped her backpack and took stock of herself.

There was a knot behind her sternum. No doubt a chunk of bagel she hadn’t chewed properly. It ached, but a quick swig from a school drinking fountain would remedy that. Cozy could suffer in silence for the half hour it'd take to arrive. What she could not keep waiting on was taking her meds. Two pills would be enough. She was small for her age, after all.

Her surreptitious hand slipped into her skirt pocket. Cozy's eyes bulged when it found nothing but lint.

She frantically turned the pocket inside out. Empty. Cozy tossed her backpack aside, scrabbling her hands on the dirty bus seat. When the search turned up nothing, she sat rigidly with her spine flush against the backrest, gaze empty and head pounding.

In her ailing mind’s eye, Cozy Glow saw the orange of her precious pill bottle lying stark against the green of her front lawn. All while the bus carried its recipient further and further away by the second.

Cozy Glow’s breathing was getting fast and shallow. Some silver-haired girl across the aisle eyed her with concern, and Cozy wanted nothing more than to sink a hatchet between those pitying, bespectacled purple eyes. Naturally appalled by her own thoughts, Cozy Glow dug five trimmed fingernails into her thigh and mewled helplessly.

This was bad. Very bad.

Cozetta Glasgow, certified underage violent schizophrenic, was on her way and off her meds.

Author's Note:

Shoutout to Unnamed Girl #1, an EqG backgrounder who inspired my design for EqG Cozy.

In the prequel fic, Cozy's hair was in a bun to match the only art assets available. But in this one, she finally has her canon hairstyle! Hopefully it won't lead to a symbolic late chapter payoff.