• Published 23rd Oct 2012
  • 16,740 Views, 834 Comments

Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift - JawJoe

Twilight Sparkle: librarian by day, monster hunter by night, and irredeemable cynic all throughout. Vampires? Simple. Zombies? Easy. Pretending not to see them every night? Now that is a challenge...

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Cardiac Arrest

Twilight Sparkle: Night Shift
Chapter 1:
Cardiac Arrest

Ah, the thrill of the hunt. Surveying your unsuspecting prey, figuring out their every habit, their every move down to the smallest little twitch. You feel as though you were in their place, your heart beating in perfect unison with theirs.

I wasn't always like this. No more than a few years ago, I was leading the quiet life of a small town librarian, content with spending my days reading books and “hanging out” with my friends. But today isn't “a few years ago,” is it? Well, let's just say that a lot has changed since my brother's wedding.

Now I long for the time when you become one with the beast. When the moment is right, when they least suspect it, you leap out from the shadows. You no longer think, you no longer plan; your body acts on its own, and soon, the evil is no more. It's far more ecstatic than any choose your own adventure book I've read in my previous life.

It's a shame I didn't get any of it that night.

Still, this task was as important as any other, mundane as it may have become over time. A mass of bodies waved and curled around me as ponies stepped back and forth, jerking and twitching in harmony with what they considered music. Their exotic definition of dance did, I admit, always strike me as nothing short of awe-inspiring, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

The deafening beats and rapidly flashing lights turned the night club into a unique modern labyrinth. It could have been the perfect place to hide for something like her; amidst the near-on a hundred bodies crammed into such a confined space, it would have been practically impossible to track a single one. Between every flash of neon light, she had ample opportunities to disappear into the brightly lit darkness of the club, popping up and reappearing wherever she chose before fading again. Yet even this would-be game of hide and seek—my last hope for any kind of entertainment that night—was taken away shortly upon entering.

For there she was, standing in plain sight, tending to the equipment that blasted the awful tunes as she whipped her neon-blue mane around: Vinyl Scratch. The vampire DJ's crimes against music I could ignore. Her greater sins, however, I could no longer tolerate. It would have been, shall we say, troublesome to drive an enchanted bolt through her head from the entrance, however. Even I could not predict whether a pony would decide to stick up their delirious head and become a gruesome addition to the disco's decoration had I taken the shot.

Loathe as I might the way they wasted their perfectly good nights, I reminded myself that everything I do was, in the end, for them. Their safety, however hard, must always be guaranteed. Failure in that regard would have destroyed the very point of my visit to great Canterlot.

For the time being, I would keep my crossbow concealed in my bag.

Unwilling to wade through the unrelenting tide that was the dance floor, I made my way around it. Stepping over whatever bile coated the floor of the bar—trampled around by the comings and goings of its visitors until it virtually filmed the discoloured tiles—I closed in on my prey. So many times I had taken this exact same route, and yet still she never saw me coming. Convenient, of course, but at that point I almost wished that she would open her eyes and realise what was about to happen. Had she ever simply dropped what she was doing—loose pun entirely unintentional—and jumped into the shifting sea of bodies right in front of her, the resulting chase would at least have given me that much-needed rush.

She didn't see me, though. Again, I walked right up behind her without receiving so much as a quick peek in my direction. She bobbed her head violently to the beats, her hair and tail whipping back and forth as her body followed the infernal rhythm, lost in her art of destroying art. It seemed a miracle that her trusty sunglasses didn't go flying off across the place with every bang of her head.

I looked around one last time. Dancing and drinking all around; nopony paid any attention to the disc jockey providing them with their peculiar kind of entertainment. So long as their music kept playing, their drug-fuelled haze remained. The world itself could have ended that instant for all they cared.

That was the part when I instinctively slowed down, reaching for my saddlebag carefully, so as not to make a sound as I took out my tools. Although in that specific situation I could barely even hear myself think, this subconscious safety mechanism had saved my life more times than I cared to count, and I wasn't going to abandon it for this pathetic excuse of a job.

Her workstation lit up with purplish light, and Vinyl Scratch finally realised. In that same instant, her mouth was already stuffed with a pretty faceful of garlic. The music played on without its master, and soon we were gone. The white blink of light that accompanied the teleportation went entirely unnoticed among the erratic flashing that filled the club.

My tools lay neatly ordered on the blueish carpet: knives of varying sizes, a bonesaw, a butcher's cleaver, a pulpy mass of half-mashed garlic, a small lump of silver, my crossbow, and five silver-tipped bolts. My worn saddlebag, having fulfilled its duty, was put aside, leaned against a wall.

A gentle slap on her cheek stirred her up from her bulb-induced coma. Her eyes opened lazily and slowly focused on me. In an instant, she jumped up, only to have the straps that bound her hooves jerk her back to the table she had been lying on. I leaned in above her, looking her closely in the eye as she struggled hopelessly to break free. When she realised that she would never tear the bindings, she quickly stretched her neck as far as she could, sinking her fangs into the strap of her upper right hoof.

I watched curiously as she tried to gnaw her way out of trouble like a caged animal, and I made a quick mental note of how fittingly desperate an attempt it was. The moment her tongue touched the thick thread of silvery fabric inside, however, she was forced to abandon her pursuit of freedom. Accepting her fate, she lay back down on her back, looking me spitefully in the eye. I had, for the time being, tamed the beast.

“Oh, Scratch,” I said. “I thought I'd never see you again.”

“Well, you know how things are,” she responded, her raspy voice interrupted only by the intermittent coughs of garlicesque odour. “Some ponies just can't take separation.”

“Tell me about it. For instance, I know this white unicorn with this strange neon-blue mane. I tell her, every single time, that I'll kill her when next we meet, but she just keeps calling me back. She just can't seem to get enough. She's such a rough girl.” I leaned closer to whisper in her ear. “Between you and me, I think she likes me.”

“I know!” Vinyl gave me a badly faked smile. “That's totally like this lavender unicorn I know. To be frank, she gives me the creeps. I mean, I've heard she gets around at night, you know what I mean? And I'm like, get off me, you creep, and she's like, no, I want to see you, it's crazy. She's even actually nailed some of my friends. But not me, I say. Not me.”

“Really?” I asked. “Does she keep going back to your friends too?”

“I don't know. Like I care.”

“Has she ever told you why she finds you so special?”

“She has a gigantic stick in her ass for me, that's why. She must have problems with my mane, or something, I don't know.”

“Oh, come on.”

I chuckled heartily as her shades floated up from her head in purple light, landing shortly on a stool by the wall.

“I think it's your beautiful eyes,” I said. “They're simply captivating. Why do you have to wear that horrid pair of glasses all the time? Are you hiding something?”

“Funny thing about that, actually,” she replied, wearing a cheeky grin. “You see, I have this weird thing, you know. If my eyes are subjected to excess light, they kind of burn out. It's like they open a portal to the elemental plane of fire right inside my eyesockets, it's really unpleasant. Allergies, right? Heh, heh—”

Her girlish giggle was cut short by my holding spell. Spectral bindings surrounded her head, and as I began to pull on the ends of the ethereal thread, pressure steadily mounted upon her skull. First, she gave but a small whimper. Soon enough, though, loud groans seeped from behind her clenched teeth. She thrashed about, the table she'd been strapped to jumping up and down with her. In an instant, the binding faded, a purplish mist quickly dispersing around her head.

She gasped for air, shaking her head clear of the pain. “You know I love that. Do it again. Please.”

Her wish was my command. She groaned some more. Then I gave a questioning look, raising an eyebrow.

“Nice place you've got here, by the way,” she said. “I suppose the owners were overjoyed to give you the keys? Just in case you need a place to bring justice upon unholy hellspawn?”

“They're not home right now.”

“Well I'll eat rotten horse apples, I thought they were. Still, I keep imagining what face they'll make when they walk in on us.” She lifted her head what little she could, looking over her bound body before turning her gaze toward me again. “I mean, I'm sure this isn't what they bought their dining table for.”

“Oh, don't worry,” I said. “They're on vacation. They even brought the kids. A family trip, if you will. They were already past Manehattan this morning, and I know for a fact they won't be coming home for about two more weeks. So don't fret. We're completely alone tonight. No distractions.”

“Oh, well, that's a relief.” She rolled her eyes. “Are you also going to raid their fridge, or is that my job? 'Cause I'll have you know that I'm on a very strict diet right n—”

The collision of my hoof and her stomach cut her witty commentary short.

“Come on! We've agreed, I'm a good girl now! Why in the name of Celestia are you doing this? Is this fun to you?”

I gave a piercing look. As much as I enjoyed hunting, no, this wasn't fun to me. Vinyl returned my gaze, accompanied by a snarl, exposing her bare fangs.

“You know, Scratch,” I said, shaking my head. “You've done this four times. That nonchalant look, that who-me? face. This is exactly it. I keep having to come back to you because you never learn.”

“I haven't done squat. I've been behaving. I don't know what you think I did, but I can assure you, it wasn't me.”

“Is that so?”

“Would I lie to you, Twilight?”

“You're making me do this, I hope you know that.”

“Like I asked you to come and tie me down. Like I wanted you to stuff garlic into my mouth. I'm not making you do sh—”

The lump of silver I had prepared flew swiftly into her mouth, silencing her tirade. I watched her struggle, trying to open her tightly shut lips; all in vain, of course, for the spell I cast held them firmly in place. I didn't know, at first, whether this would work; I'd been meaning to try it, but I could never get myself to do it. I kept thinking it would be too cruel, especially for somepony like her. She had crossed the line, however, and now I was determined to see this through.

Her first muffled moans quickly escalated into full-blown screams coming from her closed mouth. Her stomach and throat began convulsing at an increasing rate, rejecting the burning metal. Her entire body throbbed as she shook her head about, unable to tear her own lips open. The table shook and rocked along with her violent battle for her own body.

Her eyes, opened wide, begged me for release. I watched silently as her expression morphed from one grotesque form to the next as the pain mounted. When she wasn't looking at me, she banged her head against the table itself repeatedly, on and on, trying desperately to create another, lesser pain for her mind to focus on.

In the instant following the release of my magical grip, the lump of silver was sent flying across the room as she liberated her mouth of the horrible metal. She turned her head away from me, closing her eyes and sobbing quietly.

“I'm sorry I have to do this,” I whispered. “But you're leaving me no other option. It would be much easier if you began cooperating.”

Vinyl turned her head around slowly and without even lifting it; she just dragged her skin and hair along the wood as her neck rotated. Beneath the wild neon jungle that was her undone hair, I could see contempt incarnate. That disgusted hate upon her face spoke for her without having to say a word. The expression was seemingly frozen onto her face, completely unmoving as if it had been carved in stone.

I shut my eyes, sighing. The lump of silver which she had spat out floated up in the air again, and began making a leisurely flight toward her mouth once more.

“Dear stars, don't do it, please!” she cried out uncontrollably when she saw the descending silver. “I don't know! I honestly don't know! I swear I don't know what I did!”

Her pitiful begging made me open my eyes again and look into hers. There was no sign of the hate they so recently held. All I could see was an expression of pure fear. Disturbing as it was, seeing her shake her head in terror was oddly relieving. The lump of shining metal fell onto the table with a loud clatter, bouncing a few times right next to her eyes.

“You've been feeding on the lowlifes that frequent your club, haven't you, Scratch?”

“Yes!” she yelled, her eyes still fixed in terror on the lump of silver. “Yes I have been. You said they were fair game.”

“They are. Your club is also the number one putrid cesspool of Canterlot.”

“I-I know,” she stuttered, her charred tongue involuntarily flipping about in her mouth between words. “I know it is. Why? W-with the stuff they're on, it's, it's not like they even notice.”

“This isn't just about them, though. You see, we both know they're not the only ones whose blood you suck.”

“Yes! I mean no. No, they're not the only ones, no.” Her gaze shifted rapidly back and forth between me and the silver. “B-but I take all the precautions. All of them. They, they never know. They never know, I do it right, I swear.”

“You still don't get it, do you?”

“No, I can't say I do, Twilight.”

“Let me spell this out for you. Being the freak of nature that you are, you can drink blood all you want with no consequences. You can hardly have too much, and you can't get sick either. Correct?”


“Well, the thing is, your victims can get sick. And they do. You, Vinyl Scratch, are a disease carrier. A walking cesspit filled to the brim with all sorts of horrible pathogens.” I shook my head. “Now, of course, these things get around naturally in your club. If you're careful, nopony there will ever connect you to their illness, whatever it might be.”

“I'm careful. I'm careful!”

“But you're not. I've told you, I've told you this every single time. Yet you refuse to listen.”

“I listen. I do everything by the book. Why do you think I don't?”

“Tell me, have you ever heard of Octavia Melody?”

I could practically see her stolen blood freeze in her veins.

“I have,” she said.

It was coming back to her.

“I've told you. When you decide to feed on anypony, anypony at all, who isn't a regular at your club, you don't rush. You take your time and you prepare. You make sure you won't be seen, and you make sure they won't remember. And before you even think about getting anywhere near them, you do what, Scratch?”

“I wash my teeth.”

“You wash your teeth,” I repeated after her. “You didn't wash your teeth, did you?”


“And now Octavia, one of the most famous musicians in all of Equestria, is hospitalised with Celestia knows what mixture of illnesses. Not to mention the peculiar marks on her neck. Two little holes right above her artery. I wonder if anypony's going to find that strange.”

Vinyl turned her head to the other side again.

“I screwed up, didn't I?” she whispered.

“That's putting it mildly, Scratch. You've made one hell of a mess. One mess that we will have to clean up, instead of you.”

“I couldn't help myself!” she screamed out, turning back to me. “I couldn't take it anymore!”

“Take what? Free reign over a busy club? That's far more room than any other of your kind has ever been allowed. We are being extremely generous here.”

“No, it's not the club, it's... it's them.”

“What are you talking about?”

“They have... bad blood. I needed good blood. Fresh blood, proper blood!”

“If you want us to allow you to feed on nobles, forget it.”

“No, you don't get it! I'm used to the blood of club-goers. Not exactly five stars, right, but it's better than starving, you know? But this blood I've been tasting, it's plain bad. Vile. And anypony could have it. You don't know until you bite. Sick or healthy, on drugs or not, whatever their diet, it doesn't matter. There's so much bad blood. It made me sick. I was desperate.”

“And I think you're making this up to avoid responsibility.”

“No!” She twitched about. “I swear I'm not. It's true. This Octavia mare. She just returned from a tour, yeah? And the way she flaunted her neck with that bowtie....”

“Pray tell, then, if anypony can have bad blood, what made you think she wouldn't?”

“I don't know,” she pleaded. “Instinct, maybe. I just thought, maybe if Canterlot has bad blood, maybe she doesn't since she travels so much.”

“There is no such thing as bad blood!” I snapped.

“There is!” she yelled back. “Please! You have to believe me. I can't explain it to you, but it's true. There's so much bad blood. And I couldn't take it anymore. I got sloppy, yes, but please, you have to understand!”

“You know,” I said, shaking my head and lifting the cleaver I had prepared into the air. “Luna actually wanted to send somepony else tonight. But I volunteered, again, because I've dealt with you. Because I know you. That's the only reason you're still alive.”

The moment she saw the cleaver floating behind me, she started tearing at her bindings again. Try as she might, however, she couldn't break free.

“Please,” she pleaded as she struggled. “Don't do it. I'm telling the truth.” Her voice steadily grew in volume as the blade inched closer and closer above. “I'm telling the truth. I'm telling the truth. I'm telling the truth!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.

“I didn't want it to end this way, Scratch. You're not a bad pony. But if I let you go again, you might just end up killing somepony. We can't allow that to happen.”

I carefully pulled her head back with another binding spell, stretching her neck. I could see her gulp in fear. How strange, I thought. And here I was thinking that her body no longer produces saliva. In hindsight, it was most likely but an automatic reaction to stress, carried over from her days among the living. Old habits, like vampires, die hard.

“No, wait!”

“Oh, Scratch.” I rolled my eyes. “Don't be such a baby. You've had this coming.”

Wow. Even I didn't know I could be that cruel.

And so it was that a layer of cold steel came to separate Vinyl's head from the rest of her.

The head rolled off the table, landing on the carpet with a small thud. So fascinating, the body of a vampire; even in their death—real death—they strive to retain the precious substance which had kept them in their cursed existence. Blood instantly coagulated on the stub of her neck, as well as the bottom of her head; not a single drop was spilled, not one. Lucky for me. Clean-up would be much less complicated than I had imagined.

I observed the wound with scientific curiosity. A clean cut; the cleaver shot straight through the flesh and bone. The table which I borrowed was, in turn, completely undamaged. I'd become quite good with blades these past few years, and it showed; I cut through her neck like butter, stopping the cleaver right before it hit the wood. By all definition, my work was perfect.

Beautiful as the cut may have been, I would not admire it for long. Vinyl's head flew up in a purple glow to face me. Alas, poor Vinyl Scratch, I knew her well.

That's exactly the reason she didn't end up as a pile of ash.

“...seeing her skin close up as I hoisted the head back onto the stub was amazing. I had read about it in your books, but they could never have prepared me for seeing it with my own eyes. Her flesh sealed in an instant, just like that. Then she got up like nothing had happened, and walked away by herself. Such wonder, a vampire's regeneration.

I cannot put into words how eye-opening this has been for me. I can't thank you enough for allowing me to take up this job.

She knows this was her last chance; Vinyl Scratch is a ghost now. Only in the metaphorical sense, naturally. She won't cause any more trouble, I'm certain of that. Her desperate claims of “bad blood” might be worth investigating, although I highly doubt anything would come of it. Knowing her, she was only trying to lie her way out of trouble, like she had done multiple times in the past. Rest assured, should we ever hear of her again, I will put her down myself.

Your faithful assistant, Twilight Sparkle.”

I rolled the letter up carefully, binding it with an enchanted deep-blue ribbon of the Night Princess.

“Spike,” I called out.

No response.

“Spike!” I called out again.

Soon I could hear tiny feet banging against wooden stairs. In a moment, Spike slammed the bedroom door open, panting and wheezing.

“What is it?”

“Would you send a letter for me?”

The letter floated over to him. He snatched it from the air, and within a second, a small puff of green flames sent it on its way to Princess Luna.

“That's it?” He gave a disgruntled stare. “You woke me up at five in the morning for a friendship report? I thought you set something on fire, or something.”

I chuckled. “No. Just a plain, old, ordinary friendship report.”

A pause.

“What?” I asked. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Really, Twilight? Again?”

“What do you mean, again?”

“You know, I understand you love reading, but really? Studying all night so many times? That's not going to be good for you.”

“Oh, Spike.” I waved a hoof in dismissal. “You worry too much. I sleep enough.”

“I don't think you do, actually. I mean, look at yourself. You look horrible.”


“No, I mean, right now. Your eyes look like they're about to pop.”

“Well,” I began, my voice growing in strength with every word that followed. “If you didn't spend half your days asleep, Spike, you wouldn't look your best either! I work my flank off every day, every night, and then you come and insult my looks! I mean—”

I stopped mid-sentence, only realising what I was doing when I saw Spike inch towards the door with a genuinely scared expression on his face.

“Gosh, Spike, I'm so sorry,” I said, shaking my head. “I guess the lack of sleep really is getting to me.”

“I can see that,” he said quietly, careful not to upset the insomniac beast inside me again.

“Look.” The curtains of the bedroom window behind me were pulled together by a gentle tug of magic, blocking the light of the dawning Sun. “How about I put everything on hold and just go to sleep right now?”

“Weren't we going to re-rearrange the bottom floor books today?”

“We were. We aren't any more. Today's a day off now.”

“What?” he asked in disbelief. “Really?”

“Really,” I said with a smile.

“Well, in that case...” He rubbed his tiny chin, sporting a plotting grin. “I heard Rarity's working on some dresses today. I'm sure she could use the help.”

“I give you a day off, and you spend it playing assistant to somepony else?”

“Oh, I don't mind. It's Rarity we're talking about, remember?”

“Right.” I rolled my eyes. “Well, it sounds like you've got somewhere to be, then. Don't let me stop you.”

“And you get a good night's sleep, okay?” He paused for a moment. “Well, a good morning's sleep, I guess.”

“I sure will. Have fun at Rarity's.”

“Oh, I sure will.”

With that, he ran off, giggling with every step and shutting the door behind himself.

Hmm, Rarity, I pondered. She seems so strange lately. Jumpy, even. I wonder what's keeping her up at night....