• Published 22nd Nov 2012
  • 1,057 Views, 29 Comments

When it all Falls Apart - Rysonn



Strike up the band, now, and find what you were always missing.

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Anywhere but Here - Chapter 3

The clouds were closer now, and the rosy dimple on the horizon had blossomed into a dim-lit, cool morning. Everything around her had tinted a gray-blue with the little sunlight that broke through the buildings. Leaves of every colour had spilled throughout the streets, and sidewalks, and lawns. The city had thinned down into little suburbs, and even those were beginning to trickle down to small bus stops, and little shops, and inns, and cafés. And homes. Those were the ones that looked the grayest in the morning, but it wasn't the blooming sunlight that made them that way, only her own eyes.

All of it seemed so impossible now. It didn't bother her much, even the rational side of her mind let out a chuckle or two over the whole thing. Not that the rational side of her mind held much control over her any longer. She was fighting a losing battle, and her mind decided to assemble a list for her--a little reality-check, she supposed.

"Pros..?"

...

She'd have to come back to that one. Maybe she'd think of something later.

"Cons..? Cold, penniless, homel-"

"Hello there, Miss. You lost?"

Scootaloo didn't answer right away. It wasn't because she didn't want to. It wasn't because he was a complete stranger. It wasn't because he scared her, or because she was shy, or because she was stubborn. It wasn't any of that. She simply didn't have an answer for him. It was a good question. Was she lost? She didn't know for certain.

'No', she decided, and shook her head. She might not have a place to stay, or a destination, or a sack of food, or bits, or old faded pictures, but she had a direction, and that was enough.

"You sure? You aren't local. You come from further inside. Your eyes give you away. You come from the industrial side, don't you?"

She nodded and stepped closer to him. He had a presence to him. Almost like they had met before, but she just couldn't remember. It felt almost as though he knew her just as well as she did without even a name to go by.

His coat was a dull, worn sepia, and he had eyes that were soft, but dark and tired, and in them she could see into a time long ago in a place that she knew he remembered well--a place that she knew he'd never forget. His frame was strong, but aged. Half of his horn stuck out through a hole in the top of a sheep's wool hunting hat, on the center of which a rank insignia had been sewn, and he wore a heavy jacket of rough leather with a Fatigue pattern swirling through the cloth. Both looked as though they had been put through a time-test without mercy and had held together through the worst of it. He stood on his wooden deck with his forehooves up on the hoofrail.

"You came from that way, but you're not heading back that way, are you." It wasn't a question.

He never quite looked at her. His gaze was still, looking past the buildings, and the shallow clouds, and the half-dead hedges, and the rotted, weathered, shrunken fence posts, past the streets and the city and the world itself, looking into the spaces that lie beyond all those things. Then, he closed his eyes.

"You'll need a ticket then, won't you." Another question that wasn't a question.

Scootaloo didn't say anything as he began to walk towards her. He smiled once at her, a small smile, a weak, frail, hazardous smile, but a true smile. He pulled a small slip from the pocket of his coat. It was faded manila paper with what used to be type on one side, but time had faded the letters into just a dirty black mosaic.

All it brought her was confusion. She wanted to just dismiss him as a crazy old fool that spent too much of his life watching his friends shot down at his side, but something told her that wasn't the case. He tucked the ticket into the pocket of her small black coat.

"Do not. Lose. That ticket." Though his eyes looked into hers, she could see that those eyes still didn't focus, always looking past her into some greater place. It was the same sort of look she saw in her father's eyes.

She nodded.

"Good..."

He backed away from her, before turning and stepping up onto the old wooden porch and letting the narrow front door of his home fall open.

"Wait! Sir! ...What's your name?"

He looked back once and smiled at her, then closed the door behind him.

At first, Scootaloo just stared.

"...Who..."

For the first time since she had spoken with him, she really looked at the house. The once-white wooden deck didn't look like it would support her own weight, let alone the strange man's. The paint on the deck and the home had chipped and fallen away, except in some rare places where faded paint clung to the walls and floorboards. The roof had fallen in at some points, and the shingles hadn't been changed in decades. The door was swollen and the hinges were rusted. The door to the garage had broken away from the top of the frame and hung on just by the bottom. One of the garage walls had caved in.

No one had lived here in years.

Carefully, Scootaloo made her way up the steps and tested the porch with her hoof. Surprisingly enough, it did hold. She made her way inch by inch over to the front door, and after knocking on it three times, it swung open on its own, the rust in the hinges cracking and breaking away with the motion.

"...Hello..?"

Dirty daylight fought in through the dust-caked windows. Drywall had broken away from the walls and ceiling and lay crumbled on the floor. She took a step inside. The house seemed so... lonely. There were countless of abandoned warehouses and shops and flats in the city but this house seemed so... wrong. No one left a house like this. All the furnishings were gone, but there were two photo albums open on the floor, and pictures hung on the walls, and an open closet in the corner was filled with dresses small enough only to fit a filly much younger than herself. These weren't the the things you left behind.

The first photo album she saw was opened to a page somewhere toward the middle. A young Pegasus filly, very young, with a cerulean coat and a wild rainbow mane stood beside a mare that was probably her mother. The mother's mane was the same beautiful assortment of colour that the foal's was, but it was brushed and hung down long.

There. There he was.

Flipping through, she saw a picture here and there of the father, a stallion with dark eyes and a mane just as wild as the filly's was. He looked even younger than the mother, and in the pictures of him genuinely smiling, he looked like little more than a foal himself. His face was soft here, but she had seen it. His eyes had been filled with something else. Something that wasn't there in the photographs.

Then, there was another one. Younger than he was, but it was another stallion, or colt, rather. He was taller than the mother, with a deeper blue coat and a richer, darker spread of colours, but not by much. He was only in the first and last photos, and he was never in the pictures with him. It seemed wrong.

She walked down the short hallway. The glass in the large bathroom mirror had been broken out and lay in shards on the floor. Walking further, she found a small mattress on the floor in what must have been the bedroom, with blankets scattered nearby. There was a small, clean, nearly empty room at the end of the hall. All that was in it was a wooden desk, on top of which sat a small box filled with jewelry and a stack of two letters.

The first letter was crisp and fine aside from the two fold creases which perfectly trisected the paper, and it's edges were a deep, pure black. Though she couldn't explain it even to herself, her mind wouldn't allow her read the letter, only the last two words: Semper Fidelis. The other was a crinkled piece of torn paper that had been faded to illegibility in most areas, and had been written in sloppy cursive that hardly qualified as writing at all. The only bits she could read throughout the whole paper were he was, wanted you to be, and so sorry. All that was left was a signature at the bottom, Cpl. Hoov, (the rest of the name had been lost in a blot of ink) other than one word at the very bottom.

Semper.

Though it didn't really mean a thing in her mind, a cold chill ran through her. Part of her was scared, but most of her knew better. She had seen his eyes.

Suddenly, everything else was gone. The rest of the room faded away. The bedroom was gone, the bathroom was gone, the hallway was gone. It was all gone, but a swollen door with rusty metal hinges, and one word, plastered into the walls of her memory.

Semper.

Then, it was all gone. When the bright whiteness in her eyes had faded, she found herself laying in the dust just before the street. Around her she could see all the lots she had before; all the bus stops were there, all the shops, all the inns, all the cafés. All the homes. All but one. For, once she'd managed to drag her tired body off the ground and out of the dust, she found that the lot behind her was empty. The swollen wood door was gone, along with the rotting wood fences, and the chipped and faded paint. It was all gone.

-----

'...She saw it too...'