• Published 28th Nov 2012
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SIX walk IN - KitsuneRisu



Twilight and Friends visit an old house to celebrate a birthday with deadly results.

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4 : And There on the Rising of the Full Moon

4 -And There on the Rising of the Full Moon


Rainbow Dash shot up with a start when she heard the crash. The sound of glass breaking came from somewhere beneath her, and that was never a good sound, no matter what the circumstance.

Especially when her friends had just been in a sort of semi, kind-of, something argument. But Dash never wanted to involve herself in such things, and she had been passing her time floating around the pitch-dark corridor that she had dragged Pinkie into earlier.

Alone with her thoughts.

Thoughts such as –

What's everypony's beef, anyway?

Why is Pinkie acting so weird?

Why's Twilight so extra egg-head today?

I'm hungry. I wonder if I could steal some of that cake?

– Thoughts of a Pegasus who danced on darkness and hovered gently on a river of night.

But she shot up when she heard the crash, twisting in mid-air into a posture of alertness, like a wolf catching scent of prey that strayed too close.

She had only come here because everyone else had retreated back to a room of their own. Perhaps it was best that she do the same; it seemed that everypony wanted to be alone for a while anyway.

Dash wasn't one for reflection, musing or internalization. But floating there in the bare silence and nothingness of the corridor, even she had to question if her actions contributed to the argument that arose.

Was it the best course of action to have dragged her friend, kicking and screaming, down a dark corridor, even if it was 'just a prank'? To put things into perspective, she and Pinkie were the ones who performed the majority of pranking in and about Ponyville, and they certainly had never reached this level of intensity before.

They had always known how to straddle the line, the line between a joke and something far more serious. Twilight definitely crossed that line sometime in the process, and Rainbow did nothing to stop it.

Perhaps it was because Twilight had seemed so sure about it. So convinced about this entire plan. But when Dash thought about it, even coming to this house in the first place was a bit odd… and to have this entire 'prank' idea constructed around it, it seemed like a shoddy excuse just to get them here. The idea was uncharacteristic of Twilight, the serious, studious, straight-laced pony with her face in a book… but yet, everypony trusted her merely on her ability to put a plan together.

Perhaps nothing more was required.

Sure, Dash wasn't one for reflection, musing or internalization, but she knew what her gut told her, and it was telling her that something about this whole situation didn't sit right at all.

And after considering this for more than five minutes straight, her mind had tired out and she was ready for action once again.

Thank goodness for the sound of the crash – the whistle that started the race.

She pushed everything else out of her mind. Now was the time to get pumped and do what she did best.

Fly.

But… something was missing. Something had turned off. When she came down the hallway, she knew there were lanterns set up in the balcony behind her, thanks to Applejack. But now, it was dark and dull again, and not a flicker of a lamp could be seen.

The end of the corridor was ahead. She knew where it was. She knew which direction it was. After all, there were only two directions to go down any given straight hallway.

Behind her was a window through which moonlight cascaded, struggling through dirt and grime but just bright enough to illuminate four yellow squares painted into a black canvas.

It was so dim that its shape and positions seemed to jump around in the darkness, a trick of the light, but yet, it was unmistakably the window. With its four eyes staring on behind her, there was only one other direction to go in order to get to the balcony.

Past bevelled wooden doors she flew; peeling Victorian wallpaper and a long carpet stringing along her, all hiding in the darkness.

For one entire minute, she flew.

After a minute of flying, the joke wasn't funny anymore.

The corridor was a simple one. It was a normal one.

The only difference between this corridor and any other was the predicament that Dash found herself in – this predicament that made her angry and frustrated.

Her first thought was that somepony was pranking her in return, which was what she might have come to expect, considering what had just happened. But once again, this prank crossed the line with time as the tipping point – as the seconds ticked by, it turned from bemusing to annoying to plainly aggravating.

She felt the still winds as she pushed into them. She felt herself brushing past fuzzy plants and end-tables that she didn't even remember passing by on the way in. She even lowered herself for a while to feel the carpet drag beneath her hooves as she soared toward the end of the hall.

And after that minute had passed, she stopped, frown on her face, and turned in her mid-air position to take stock of her bearings.

Gazing down upon her were four square eyes of yellow.

Rainbow rolled her own.

"Alright, ha ha. You got me," she said sarcastically, touching down on the floor. "Very funny, Twilight."

Once again her gut started to speak. It told her that no matter what, once the joke was over, her friends would all appear from their hiding spaces to laugh and hug and turn the lights back up.

They wouldn't prolong the darkness. They wouldn't prolong the silence.

Silence?

"Hello?" Rainbow Dash asked, again, a few times in quick succession. "Hello. Hello? Hello!"

She asked this question, not to get a reply, not to look for anything hiding in the dark, not for the sake of asking.

She was testing the silence.

Even in a place such as a corridor of a house, there is always… something.

May it be the calling of crickets from outside, or the rustling of leaves against a window pane, pushed by the soft winds.

May it be the hum of electricity or the rattling of old pipes.

May it even be the echo of one's own voice.

But there came not a single noise. Her calls of 'hello' vanished, swallowed up by the black, stolen by the hallway. It was slightly like the main room, when they all had first entered the house. It was like how they hadn't noticed the noise until they realised there was a noise that was being made.

But here in the darkness, there was nothing – absolutely nothing – to make any sound whatsoever.

Her own voice rattled hollow, as if she were speaking inside her own head. She might as well have not said anything at all.

Even the wheezing of breath as it rushed forceful with annoyance from her nose harboured no sound at all. The only way she knew it was there was the feeling of her lungs as they emptied, and the slight rush of wind that blew past her chest.

It was as if she stood in the middle of a drain, where all light, sound, and even smell were taken and poured away into places beyond.

She could open her eyes, but it made no difference. All closing her eyes did was banish the four window panes which would otherwise stare back.

She could take in deep breaths but none of the smells she associated with life were there.

And she certainly could not hear anything. The last thing she heard was the glass.

Being one who attuned herself with nature, the outdoors, and the spirit of freedom, flying at night was just a different experience than flying during the day. It was never, to Dash, a lack of stimulus.

The night had always proven to hold just as much as the day did. There was a beautiful cascade of sensations in all forms, a pleasant tonal melody compared to the striking orchestra of its brighter counterpart.

But this… this was not night.

This was the lack of night. A place one more step removed from night.

And she felt cold.

It seemed the only sense still left was her ability to feel – to detect and experience on a physical level.

Her skin crawled with bumps as she came to this realisation, and she no longer knew if she should remain angry or start to be concerned.

She lived in a world rife with magic, and occurrences such as these, although nefarious, were possible. The best thing to do was follow one of her own philosophies – to keep calm, and fly true.

All it meant was that in all cases, she had to be in control. To be calm is to be in control. To be in control is to be able to fly straight and true. And more than ever, that was what was needed in this situation.

She ran a hoof over her face and other legs, just to make sure they were still there.

"Okay," she said to herself. Or was that a thought?

The beating of her wings, the familiar pressure of air as she took off the ground, and the weightlessness of flight… so far, all felt as intended. In fact, it was hard to ignore it – without anything else to focus on, her brain picked up on every tiny movement and every new sensation in a pronounced way.

It was like those sensory deprivation tanks at the spa that Rarity had attempted to describe to her once. Invited her to try it out, even. No thanks, Rainbow said. It didn't sound like a fun experience. If that was anything like this, her judgement was correct.

It wasn't fun at all. In fact, the hairs on her neck began to prick up as a shot of static flew through the air, passed through her body, and headed far away. It was disquieting, discomforting, and disillusioning.

And Rarity did this for relaxation?

Whatever.

She kept her eye on the window, once again re-aligning herself such that the four square eyes were directly behind her.

Perfect.

Again she flew, slowly at first, taking glances over her shoulder. The further she got, the smaller the window shrank, as was expected.

And then she picked up the pace, tunnelling through the murk, swimming in the gloom, pressing forth like a hoof through jelly, the black leaving a wake behind her that swirled with her rainbow streak that was eventually overpowered and swallowed by the darkness.

She turned again, to check how far she had gone.

"What?" she yelled, dropping her shoulders to an upright position as she fell roughly to the ground. "Come on!"

As clear as it was before, no more than a meter in behind her, was the window, still staring, still watching.

Rainbow was furious now, and if her face could be seen it would have been easy to tell.

Her haunches bobbed up and down with her breath, her tense muscles pulling her legs straight and curled over and over.

Her spirits deflated.

This time she flew backwards, something that not many Pegasi could do, but she performed it with ease, testament to her practice.

It was all in the positioning of the body and how you beat your wings just there and like that. Pushing yourself backwards in flight was no problem at all.

Again, the window started to shrink, moving further away. But in this atmosphere, with no other points of reference, it looked like a drawing that was simply dwindling in size. It was just an image against a backdrop. It didn't feel like distance meant anything to the window.

But still, Dash moved; it was the one last thing she had confidence in. She knew she was moving because she felt she was moving, and no matter how many times she was being dragged back to the start, she would try again and again until either her or the magic gave up.

Certainly, there was none more stubborn and strong than Dash herself.

Even this foul magic had no contest against the pure determination of the Rainbow!

The window continued to diminish, and for the first few moments, Dash was even unwilling to blink, for the fear that blinking would cause the window to start to chase her again during the milliseconds that her eyes were shut.

"Alright, you stay there," Rainbow commanded, and it obeyed.

The Pegasus smiled. She smirked, happily. She rewarded herself with a small feeling of accomplishment.

"And don't come back!" she yelled, with commitment, hoping that she actually did something there.

And the window obliged.

But Rainbow's jaw opened, slightly, out of shock more than anything, as the four panes of the window blinked out, as if someone turned off the moon. It vanished completely, the last trace of light, no matter how useless it was, disappearing from the hall.

"H… hey, come on," Rainbow said, suddenly changing her mind. "Come on! I didn't mean…"

Her mind raced on a surge of panic. It wasn't as if the window actually did anything to help her predicament, but it was the one last solid thing around her. It was the one last point she could focus on, and the one last lifeline in an empty well.

And now, through her own machinations, it had gone.

"Come… come back?" she asked, nicely.

It didn't.

"Oh boy," she muttered, settling down again. The carpet felt real beneath her hooves. At least that was still there.

Alright. Keep calm. Just try to keep calm. Just try to stay focused. The hall is still here. The hall is still around. That means you can follow it out. It'll just take you a little longer, that's all.

She felt the floor under her, and sidled towards one of the walls. It was there. A papered wall, rough to the touch, wrapped up as a gift for her.

And all she would have to do is keep to that wall and make her way down slowly.

There. No problem.

None.

Right?

Somehow she didn't feel like walking. Or flying. Or moving. Not anymore.

She felt an urge to curl up, to lie down and go to sleep, and maybe when she woke up she'd be out of this and everything would be alright.

Should she?

Flying didn't get her anywhere previously. Maybe it'd be better if she stayed still and had somepony find her. Somepony who could get her out of this hallway.

Rainbow dropped to a knee wearily. It was slow, deliberate, like someone testing the waters with a hoof before jumping into the ocean.

It felt welcoming. It felt peaceful.

It felt….

She felt….

She jolted forward suddenly, her heart picking up pace and thundering in her chest as she caved over her bent knee and rolled against the wall. She felt the wallpaper scrape against her side as she tumbled to the ground, but she didn't wait to recover before scrabbling like an insect as far as those tiny bursts would allow her.

As her brain started to regain control over all the limbs that weren't working in unison, she finally found the coordination necessary to get back up to her hooves.

She froze in place, trying to picture what had just touched her down her back.

It had come from nowhere, without warning, without alert. It caused alarm, but perhaps that was simply due to the startling nature of it all. After all, Dash didn't like being touched in general, but these circumstances just elevated her reactions to something that might have been just a little exaggerated.

But she tried to remember what it felt like. Maybe then she could rationalize about what it was.

Instantly, a variety of things popped into her head as she tried to compare the sensation with other things that would bear the same feelings.

She ran through all the things that it reminded her of. It wasn't warm. It felt chilling. It felt like the legs of insects, or the prod of a pony. It felt like vines or leaves or wings of a bat. It felt like the trail of a slug or the tongue of a dog.

It felt like a draping. Like a piece of cloth, or perhaps a bushel of hair had been drawn down her spine. It felt like a breath, like a gust, but one that took solid form. It was something that could move around with great ease, had a cotton-like texture to it, but was too, prickly and cold.

It felt like nothing that she could think of clearly, the individual sensations contradicting each other. Nothing she knew felt like that. Nothing should feel like that.

It was the end of that thought when it came again, engulfing her rear leg like a shackle, clamping down on her and running itself over her skin.

She screamed inwardly, the shock still coming, albeit less now; muffled whines through closed lips repeating over and over like the pitiful calls of an abandoned puppy, as she surged forward again, throwing herself down the hallway. She shook her leg to get it free, and there was no resistance at all; she was simply loose of whatever it was, and no attempts to harm her were made.

But now she wouldn't stop. Breathing hard to keep her heart in check, she kept moving forward, keeping to the wall, trying to reach the end.

But the thing kept coming, and every stroke, every clutch, every grasping of the thing caused Rainbow Dash to shudder, shake, clench her eyes in disgust and fear, and cry into her own throat. Each time it came she stumbled a little further, and more and more did she walk on unsteady ground, as if the walls themselves were warping around her.

It came to the point where she was pulling herself, one leg at a time, through a place with no end, her teeth clamped down hard on her lower lip to help her keep focused on that one mantra. Keep calm, and fly true.

Just move with conviction.

She bit hard, the pain helping her to keep the phantoms at bay.

They weren't hurting her, right?

They just wanted to touch.

There was no problem. No problem.

No problem.

Just keep walking.

Fly true.

Her jaw clenched suddenly, a little too hard, and a small trickle of blood began to seep into her mouth.

But even then, she refused to release her lip from her teeth's grasp.

She had bitten down in shock, in the shock of having had walked into something else, another of the thing's friends, a small, feathery tendril with hairs that squirmed and moved and bristled, which had done well to place itself in her path, and it stroked there upon her cheek, leaving a mental stinging and itching upon her face.

These things hung from the ceiling, like an infestation of tails, like the hairy backs of moths, like the woolly brush of a poisonous fern. But yet, they were not. They were something else altogether, alive but not alive, aware but not aware.

With her rear legs constantly pulling away from the slimy flat ribbons that clutched at them, all she had left were her front ones to propel her onward, and her wings swung forward to shield her face from the tendrils hanging down from above.

She was shuddering over her breath now, she didn't even notice that she was quaking uncontrollably, and each step was placed with such lack of confidence that she might have tripped even though the ground was perfectly level. Her wings convulsed and shook as the thin strands that hung down crawled over them.

They didn't appreciate merely being pushed aside. They hung on for the ride, like burrs stuck to the fur of a rabbit, grabbing onto Rainbow's wings with tiny little hooks and needles that swivelled and moved and let them crawl.

They nestled in between the cracks of her feathers, burrowing down and clambering on her back. They writhed over her mane, upon her face, and over her shoulder flanks. And all the while, still, those cold ribbons kept swallowing at her from behind, as if it were trying to wrap her up in a frigid, mucous cocoon.

Once in a while she reached up to beat the things out of her eyes and nose and mouth, when she felt that they had crawled down a bit too far. But it seems the only time they would leave is when Rainbow had walked far enough that they no longer could reach.

And then they would return home, shrinking back into the ceiling, where they belonged.

But she, she was stuck here, in a pit, molested and touched. Touched to the ends of her senses in a place where touch was all she had.

Rainbow began to feel ill.

With every step, with every crawl forward, a welling of sickness began to creep from her belly. With each thought of the things in the dark and what they might be, she had to struggle to keep back her gagging, and with her mouth now coated with the sharp tang of her bleeding lip did she find her stomach squeezing more and more.

But still she pushed forward, as if that act of walking forth was all she knew, as if it were all she could do. As much as this experience rested in the shallows of her heart, she dared not to think of what might happen if she stopped.

She dared not be engulfed by the things that touched.

She dared not to let them have their way.

And now, as she treaded on, were there creatures underneath her, scurrying over her chest and between her legs. Creatures that, as she flung them off with a shake or a shudder, vanished as if they were never there at all.

There were things that caressed and things that prodded, things that poked and things that embraced.

There were things that pulled on her skin like suckers, and cold wet things that rolled around like a ball of flesh.

There were things that slithered across on thousands of folds, and things that scratched with metal tangs.

All real but none truly there.

Fly true.

In the end, at the cusp of her sight, in the edge of her shaking vibrated a light. Her lip now covered with countless teeth marks and open wounds, sores and gashes bleeding a font of life, stayed quivering as she played with it in her mouth, just to let the pain remind her that she was still alive.

But, the light!

The light that grew larger as she stepped, pace by pace.

The light that seemed to chase the darkness away, and cause the creatures to retreat.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

She had been walking for… who knows how long it had been? She couldn't keep count. But she had made it. It was the light.

Familiar now were the long wooden pillars that prevented one from toppling over the edge. Familiar now was the curving floor of the balcony. The light even cast itself on the walls and doors as the hallway itself was illuminated.

Each step brought the light in more and more, and more and more into Rainbow's heart did the light shine.

She was a mess, with mane frayed and standing on end, and skin sore and red from countless slaps of her hoof, and rubbing against the walls in an effort to remove the parasites from her flesh. Her eyes were mere pinpricks, but the light…

It warmed and healed.

And she was nearly there.

And she wanted to cry.

She wanted to say no.

She wanted to yell out as the final slithery shadow wrapped itself around her ankle once again.

She wanted to protest as it pulled her back, the first violent action it had made since her ordeal began.

She wanted to kick it off as it dragged her, in a silent scream, tears of terror and pain falling from her eyes now like so many raindrops in a monsoon.

She wanted to be able to do more than just scrabble at the floor, her wings useless to fight against the pulling as much she tried.

The carpet bunched up under her as she hung on for hope.

And soon she was back again, her captor releasing her, lying on her back underneath the four square eyes of the window, that laughed and laughed and laughed at her, and told her –

Run.

Run, little pony, freedom is beyond, but do not linger, for all that awaits you here in stillness are the creatures of the night.

And so did Rainbow Dash run.

And then walk.

And then crawl.

And then remain still.

Fluttershy looked down upon her convulsing body scrabbling for freedom, pressed up against those wooden bars of the balcony.

The gentle, kind Pegasus nodded with understanding, watching as Rainbow pushed her face against the floor, frozen in a kind of torture that existed only behind her dead eyes.

"There there," Fluttershy said, placing a hoof gently upon Rainbow's shoulder.

Rainbow shrieked suddenly, through a drawing of a breath, her wings bending into unimaginable postures and a choking coming up from within.

From the edges of her bleeding mouth came a white bubbling, a thick, coarse foam gushing forth from her nose and throat, splattering onto the floor and coursing down her face.

"Oh, don't worry," Fluttershy continued, kneeling in front of the decayed frame of the rainbow. "I can save you. Look."

She thrust forward a wing, a wing stained with scratches, a wing which clasped tightly the eye of Saint Jude.

"Now, just relax. It'll all be over soon. It'll all be over."

–––

Fluttershy nodded, stood up and turned around again, and heard exactly what she needed to hear.

"Yes. Two more," she replied.

She stepped toward the staircase.

"Be… behind me?" she asked, turning suddenly.

And as she faced the corpse of Rainbow Dash did the voice fall to silence, but thanks to the glow of the doorway behind did she see a third figure that walked half in and half out of the shadows.

From the chest up was she obscured, but it was definitely something in a pony form, or pony shape, which stood on the edge of the other set of stairs.

But it bolted down, again, running off as Fluttershy caught wind, cantering to the lower level and fading.

A door slammed.

"Applejack," Fluttershy said, nodding. "I knew something happened when you didn't follow me. No matter. It is for the best."

She stepped over Rainbow, walking with conviction to the stairs, eyes grasping the door at the bottom, the one that led to the study.

"Don't worry," she proclaimed, "I'm coming."

End : 4