• Published 16th Oct 2012
  • 8,035 Views, 304 Comments

Alarm Clock - Meta Four

Ditzy Doo sees things nopony else can see: higher-dimensional spatial anomalies, fae creatures, and eldritch abominations. She solves problems that other ponies don’t even know exist. But now, she may have bitten off more than she can chew.

  • ...

On a Wing and a Flayer (Afternoon One)

Ditzy was halfway home from Fluttershy’s cottage when she noticed how high the sun was in the sky and remembered the difference in time flow between the sídhe and Equestria. She flew slightly higher so she could better see the clock tower.

“Twelve thirty-one already?! Omigosh I’m late I’m late I’m late I’m late ...”

Afternoon One: On a Wing and a Flayer

She raced as fast as she could over the rooftops, towards downtown. Upon finding the restaurant, Ditzy landed—with less grace than she thought possible—in the street just outside the patio. She pulled her face from the ground and shook the dirt away, then scanned the restaurant crowd. It only took a few seconds to find the mare Ditzy was supposed to be meeting. Even with her face hidden behind a menu, she was unmistakable: the healthy orange aura radiating from her hooves was a dead giveaway. Furthermore, she was the only patron at the restaurant who hadn’t turned to stare at Ditzy’s crash landing.

Rushing over to the table and taking the empty seat, Ditzy addressed her no-doubt-frustrated lunch date. “Carrot Top! I’m sorry I’m late I’m so so sorry I swear I didn’t mean to make you wait but this morning I got distracted and totally lost track of time—”

“What?” Carrot Top answered, setting the menu down and looking at Ditzy. “It’s twelve thirty-two. That’s—”

“Two whole minutes late!” Ditzy dropped her head to the table and crossed the cannons of both forelegs over her eyes. “I’m sorry!”

“Two minutes isn’t late, Ditzy.” She extended a hoof to pat Ditzy on the head. “It’s—”

“Worse than late?” Ditzy’s bottom lip wobbled precariously as she stared up at Carrot Top.

“Normal,” Carrot Top answered and resumed perusing the menu. “Perfectly normal.”

“Carrot Top, you wound me!” Ditzy closed her eyes, placed her hooves over her heart, and leaned backwards dramatically, stopping just short of falling over. “I’ve been called many things before, but normal is certainly not one of them!”

Carrot Top opened her mouth to reply, but closed it as the waiter approached. “Have the ladies come to a decision?” he asked.

“I’ll have what she’s having!” Ditzy announced.

“Oh, really ...” Carrot Top said, cocking an eyebrow at Ditzy. She then turned to the waiter and continued, “I’m feeling adventurous today. Where’s your carnivore menu?”

If the waiter was taken aback by this request, he did an excellent job at hiding it. “I beg your pardon?”

“You know, what do the dragons, griffins, and diamond dogs eat when they come here?”

“Eeeeeeeeewwwwww,” Ditzy said with an exaggerated sneer. “I’ve changed my mind.” She pointed a hoof in the waiter’s direction. “I’ll have what you’re having!”

The waiter snorted. Ditzy was surprised that his glare didn’t make both glasses of water on the table immediately freeze solid. “I’ll give you ladies a few more minutes to think about your order,” he said, his tone transforming the words into an implied threat. He turned and trotted away, his nose in the air.

As soon as the waiter was out of earshot, Carrot Top extended a hoof towards Ditzy; Ditzy bumped her own hoof against it. The two mares promptly collapsed into a fit of laughter.

“Aw yeah,” Ditzy said between gigglesnorts, “we’re making him work for that tip.”

“The look on his face!” Carrot Top exclaimed. “I think he was this close to kicking us out!” She chuckled a few more times before regaining her composure. “So, how has your day been, Ditzy? What happened this morning to make you fall short of your usual standards of punctuality?”

“Ooooooooohhhh ...” Sharing too much information about the morning’s activities could be dangerous. Ditzy considered what answer would derail this conversation most quickly. “It’s just been a strange day altogether. For example, when I woke up this morning, KTRT was replaying yesterday’s radio broadcast!”

“What? I was listening to them this morning and I didn’t notice anything unusual.”

“I swear it happened. Yesterday, at six-thirty, they played ... that song by that one-hit-wonder ska band. You know the one. Then Vinyl Scratch called Two Tone a hipster, and Two Tone accused Vinyl of being a vampire. This morning: same time, same station, same thing.”

“Yes ...” Carrot top tapped her chin with her hoof. “Now that you mention it, I do remember hearing that. Yesterday. The closest that happened this morning was when they played ‘Take the Neigh Train’. And then Two Tone called Vinyl a ‘breakbeat beatnik’ and no one in the studio could tell if that was supposed to be an insult or a compliment.”

“So ... you heard a perfectly normal broadcast?”


Great! That means there must be some problem with my radio! Which means I’ll have to take it to Alternating Current to get it fixed, which is gonna cost money ...” Ditzy dropped her head onto the table. “Argle bargle!”

“Really, Ditzy? I’ll admit I don’t know much about how radios work, but this can’t be that hard to fix.”

Ditzy groaned into the tablecloth.

Carrot Top placed a hoof on Ditzy’s shoulder. “Shouldn’t cost more than a hoofful of bits,” she added.

Carrot Top was right, of course. This was, by any reckoning, a minor inconvenience. Ditzy would have liked to claim that these early throes of a tizzy fit were an attempt at humor, but she truly was getting bent out of shape, far more than the situation warranted.

Celestia’s sake, she thought, scrunching her eyes shut, it’s not like I’ve ever cared this much about the radio before, so why is this upsetting me so much? I’m being so stupid! Stupid stupid stupid stupid! Why am I … Gaaaugh what the flying feather is wrong with me?! Why can’t I stop freaking out about this?! Am I not firing on all cylinders?! Is my brain chemistry fouled up?!

Ditzy’s eyes flew open. Wait, brain chemistry?! Yes, that’s it! That’s exactly … Uh oh, Carrot Top’s looking at me funny.

“Ditzy, are you okay?” Carrot Top’s eyes were wide, and her hoof was was still on Ditzy’s shoulder. “You kinda spaced out for a bit there.”

“I was just … thinking about what you said. You’re right! And I know what I need to do.”

Clearly, Ditzy thought, a visit to Xanthorgh The Flayer is in order. As soon as possible.

“Clearly,” Ditzy said, “a visit to The Muffin Emporium is in order. Immediately after lunch. My treat.”

“Honestly, I’m impressed this place is still in business,” Carrot Top said as she and Ditzy approached The Muffin Emporium. “Two bakeries in a town of Ponyville’s size?”

Ditzy answered, “Niches, Carrot Top, niches.” The bakers at Sugarcube Corner are the undisputed masters of sweet baked goods, Ditzy thought, and I respect them for that. But for the muffin connoisseurs seeking subtler flavors, Drury Lane at the Emporium is simply the best there is.

Uh oh, Carrot Top is looking at me funny—how much of that did I remember to say out loud? Oh well, too late to elaborate.

“Wait,” Ditzy said, stopping and flaring a wing to bar Carrot Top’s path. “Somedays, it’s a good day to die. Today, it’s a good day to stop and smell the muffins.”

“Can’t we smell them better inside?


The two of them stood there, at the very corner of The Muffin Emporium’s façade, their back hooves within reach of the alley between the Emporium and the neighboring clock store. The alley was quite narrow—too narrow to accommodate anypony larger than a foal ... at least not in three-dimensional space.

In seventh-dimensional space, however, there was enough room between the two shops for even Xanthorgh The Flayer’s fat abdomen. And when the two ponies paused at his threshold, with their backs exposed to him, that was Xanthorgh’s cue to get to work.

Out of the corner of her eye, Ditzy could see two of Xanthorgh’s jointed appendages probing into Carrot Top’s brain. A tickling sensation at the back of her head informed Ditzy that the same was happening to her own brain.

“Do you smell ...” Carrot top sniffed. “... hay bacon?”

“No, I smell basil,” Ditzy answered. “Mmmmmmmmm ...”

“Wow, you’re really onto something, Ditzy. I have no idea why, but this is incredibly relaxing.”

“Yeah. Muffins are just that awesome.”

Xanthorgh’s appendages, with at least one sharviika impaled on every claw, retracted from Carrot Top’s head. “I hadn’t even realized how stressed I was about tomorrow night,” she said. “But now, I can just tell everything is going to turn out fine ...”

“Tomorrow night?” Ditzy could feel her beta-endorphin levels normalizing with every sharviika that was plucked from her hypothalamus. She didn’t care about that radio anymore. It could start playing acid polka backwards for all she cared. She felt good. “You mean that opera you and Written Script are going to see?”

“Yeah ... But the foalsitter for Dinky cancelled earlier today ... I wasn’t sure who we could ask to fill in on such short notice ...”

“You don’t know who to ask to foalsit for Dinky?” Ditzy wished she were wearing sunglasses, so she could stare over them so as to properly convey her incredulity. “Seriously, Carrot Top?”

“Well, you’ve already done it so much. We didn’t want to impose ...”

“Seriously. Carrot Top. Seriously.”

“You’re offering to foalsit?”

“I’d love to! Seriously!”

The back of Ditzy’s head was no longer tickling. Clearly Xanthorgh couldn’t find any more brain parasites to remove.

“Alright!” Ditzy chirped as she trotted forward. “That’s enough anticipation. It’s muffin time!”

At the threshold of the Emporium, Ditzy glanced over her shoulder, back towards the alley. Xanthorgh was chewing on the flayed corpses of sharviikas with all six of his mouths. He paused to wave at Ditzy. She winked in response, then entered the bakery.

Ditzy froze at the sight of the bounty within. “By Celestia ...”

At her side, Carrot Top could only muster a “Huh.”

“Are those ...”

“Yesirree,” Drury Lane answered. “Spinach-basil-and-hay-bacon muffins! Just finished baking a batch. You ladies interested?”

Ditzy’s eyes were roughly the size of dinner plates. “Am I ever!”

When Ditzy returned home, she found a plant on the apartment complex’s front stoop. It was housed in an ornate pot, carved from white wood. Next to the pot was a scroll of silk-smooth parchment covered in gorgeous, extravagantly illuminated calligraphy. It was written entirely in Faelic. Ditzy couldn’t read a word of it—her memory of the fia alphabet was even worse than her recall of Early Modern Equine.

She carried both up to her apartment. The parchment, she placed on her refrigerator door with a magnet. The plant, she placed on her kitchen windowsill, where it could receive plenty of moonlight.

Before climbing into bed, Ditzy glanced at her alarm clock, wondering if there really was something wrong with it. Perhaps if she ignored the problem, it would just go away.

Author's Note:

I heavily edited this chapter since originally publishing it. The edited version went live on 2 February 2015.

For historical purposes, I've preserved the original version on Gdocs, here.