• Published 6th Feb 2012
  • 6,234 Views, 346 Comments

Near Death Experience - Hadles



Can Pinwheel the Earth pony bargain with Death to get her life back?

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Chapter 10

Philomel and Thunderhead exchanged glances. Pinwheel stood panting on the circle of dead grass, shedding blood and bits of skin everywhere. Her body was falling apart before their eyes. She staggered unsteadily toward Celestia and Death, her knees bending in unnatural ways as she tried to stay upright. "You…big dummy…" Pinwheel rasped. Breath whistled noisily in and out of her lungs, "Look what you did…"

Thunderhead closed his eyes in horror. "We messed up, Phil." He muttered. Philomel nodded, hiding her face with her hooves. The two spirit ponies retreated, watching from a safe distance. Nothing about Pinwheel looked right. Her movements were twitchy and uncertain, as if she didn't know if her joints would hold. Flies buzzed around Pinwheel's head. Dried blood matted her fur and mane. Neither Pale Hoof nor Celestia spoke. Celestia stared aghast at the abomination, her pink eyes wide, but Pale Hoof made no expression. Slowly, creakily, the bone pony turned toward the two spirits

"THIS…IS AN INSULT." He rumbled. Dark tendrils leapt from his mouth and dragged Philomel and Thunderhead from their hiding spot. The two spirit ponies squealed in fright, struggling to break free, but the dark energy held them in place. Gasping, Philomel looked down at herself. Bit by bit, the dark coils were burning off her invisibility. She looked as solid and colorful as she did when she was alive. The same was happening to Thunderhead. They both writhed in agony, "THIS IS THE LAST TIME I LEAVE YOU TWO IN CHARGE."

Celestia whirled around to see the two spirit ponies. "Who are these two?"

Pale Hoof closed his mouth, but the dark tendrils remained, curling themselves again and again around Philomel and Thunderhead. "A PAIR OF SPIRITS. I ASKED THEM TO MIND MY REALM WHILE I WAS OUT." He answered. Looking toward the shaking abomination that used to be Pinwheel, he let out a cold sigh, "IT APPEARS I MADE A MISTAKE."

Pinwheel, shaking and drooling blood, glanced toward the two spirits. "L-let them go…! They…they helped me!" She wheezed. Pale Hoof did nothing. Tottering on unstable legs, Pinwheel teetered right up to Pale Hoof, "Th-they did it because I asked them to!"

"LEAVE YOUR BODY RIGHT NOW." Pale Hoof ordered. Pinwheel snarled at him, "DO IT. THIS IS AN IMPROPER RESURRECTION. YOUR BODY IS TOO DAMAGED TO HOLD A SPIRIT. I MUST FIX IT."

Pinwheel spat blood on his hooves. "Wh-who cares…if it's pr-proper or not!" She gasped, "I-I have something I wa-wanna say! A-and you're gonna listen!"

"PINWHEEL. YOU NEED TO LEAVE YOUR BODY NOW." Pale Hoof repeated, "PLEASE."

"N-no! Not be-before I tell you what I-I think!" Pinwheel gurgled wetly, "An-and you better r-r-release my friends! They're th-the only re-reason I made it back at-at all!"

Letting out a low, rumbling growl, Pale Hoof opened his mouth and sucked the dark tendrils back inside. Philomel and Thunderhead gasped, their bodies fading back to translucency. Quivering, they stumbled to Pinwheel's side. "I'm so sorry." Philomel whispered, wrapping her intangible hooves around Pinwheel's trembling neck, "We thought that if you just jumped back in your body, it'd be fine…"

"FOALS. THAT ISN'T HOW RESURRECTION WORKS. ALL YOU'VE SUCCEEDED IN CREATING IS A ZOMBIE." Pale Hoof boomed. Philomel and Thunderhead both winced, their ears going down.

"You oughta listen to him…He knows a little bit more about this stuff than we do…" Thunderhead whispered, blushing guiltily and rubbing the back of his neck, "We messed up pretty bad, Pin. We didn't wanna make ya a zombie…"

"Z-zombie or not…I'm not going an-anywhere until I s-say wh-what's on my mind!" Pinwheel wheezed. Waving the spirits away, she looked back up at Pale Hoof, her decaying face set in a mask of grim determination. The reaper pony gazed down at her blankly. Frowning, Philomel and Thunderhead retreated. Pinwheel jabbed a hoof at the reaper, "Now…l-look here, Mister Reaper…I've been pretty nice to you so far…"

"PINWHEEL, THIS IS NOT THE TIME."

"You be quiet! It's my turn to talk!" Pinwheel yelped with surprising energy. Her knees trembled with the force of her yelling, "I've been r-re-really nice to you! I d-didn't mind when you sh-showed up at my house in the m-middle of the night…or when y-you left a h-huge pile of bones outside my bedroom window…or when you r-ruined my lawn...or any of that stuff! I…I even fought w-with my b-best friend over you! I put up with the creepy th-things you cause and I was e-even getting used to your big, gross skull head! But this…THIS is TOO FAR, Mister Reaper!"

"PINWHEEL, I…"

"NO! Enough is ENOUGH!" Pinwheel shrieked, "You…KILLED ME and then…then you dragged my body all through town! You scared Mrs. Cake so bad that she started crying! And…and all that blood in the street! I know you killed somepony! You don't listen to me at all, do you? And now you're being mean to my friends, who helped me get back here! Well, listen to this, buster! If you wanna be MY coltfriend, you better SHAPE UP and quick!"

"COLTFRIEND?" Pale Hoof repeated, tilting his head curiously. Pinwheel let out a guttural roar and, with a hard swipe of her hoof, smacked him across the face. With a loud 'pop', the skull flew off his neck and bounced on the grass at Celestia's feet. Smiling triumphantly, the zombie Pinwheel keeled over on the grass, dead. For several seconds, nopony moved. Celestia stared wide eyed down at the skull. Philomel and Thunderhead floated nearby with their mouths wide open.

Calmly, Pale Hoof walked over to his skull. Carefully, he picked it up between his hooves and affixed it back on the end of his neck. Skull firmly in place, he strolled over to Pinwheel's body and breathed into her mouth. Before everypony's eyes, the wounds on her chin and belly healed. Her blue eyes popped open and she let out a hearty gasp. Pale Hoof stepped back. Fully healed, Pinwheel scrambled to her feet. She blinked once, twice, then glared at Pale Hoof.

"And…and another thing!" She began, "I—"

"I AM SORRY." Pale Hoof apologized, lowering his head. He touched the grass near her hooves with his nose, "TO QUOTE THUNDERHEAD…I…'MESSED UP'."

Pinwheel's expression softened. She peered at him curiously for a moment before frowning again. "Uh…yeah. Yeah! You did. You messed up pretty bad!"

"I MESSED UP." Pale Hoof repeated, "AND I MADE YOU MAD. I DO NOT LIKE IT WHEN YOU ARE MAD."

Pinwheel struggled to keep frowning. "Yeah…well…" She muttered, averting her eyes, "That's…that's really not how you should treat a marefriend. Seriously."

"I KNOW. I REALIZE NOW, I HAVE MORE FUN WITH YOU WHEN YOU ARE ALIVE." Pale Hoof lifted his head just a little to meet her eyes, "WILL YOU FORGIVE ME?"

Pinwheel looked at her two spirit friends and then up at the Princess. Princess Celestia gazed inquiringly down at Pale Hoof, mouth slightly open as though she'd never heard such words before. Meeting Pinwheel's eyes, the princess nodded solemnly. Biting her bottom lip, Pinwheel looked back down at the reaper. "Oh...just stop it. I forgive you, all right?" She sighed, covering her face with her hoof, "But you better not pull a stunt like this ever again. At least not while I'm around."

"ON MY HONOR." Pale Hoof replied, straightening up. Pinwheel smiled pityingly at the tall grey pony, shaking her head.

"You big dumb colt. What would you do if I wasn't here to watch you?" She exhaled, "I'll just have to keep an eye on you next time, I guess."

"Actually, that's exactly what I was thinking." All four ponies turned toward Princess Celestia. The princess smiled gently down at Pale Hoof and Pinwheel. Still frozen in place, Thunderhead and Philomel gawked at each other, "Pinwheel, this is the first time I've ever seen Pale Hoof listen to anyone other than me. I am truly impressed. Would you do me the honor of watching over him during his stay in Equestria? I think he could learn a lot about mortal ponies from you."

"Princess, that's not a good idea!" Thunderhead interjected, "You saw what he—" Pale Hoof stared icily at him. The yawning darkness of the bone pony's eyes chilled Thunderhead to the core. Pale Hoof's jaw dropped open and wispy curls of darkness spilled out. Invisible monsters screamed in Thunderhead's ears. Quickly, the purple colt looked away, mouth firmly shut. Pale Hoof closed his jaw.

"I think the Princess knows a little bit better than we do, Thunder." Philomel whispered gently. Thunderhead grimaced, but nodded.

Pinwheel blinked thoughtfully, rubbing her chin with a hoof, "Well…the mayor already named me his ambassador anyway. I guess this just makes it official." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, "I'll do it. But…he doesn't have to move in with me, does he?" Pinwheel gazed pleadingly at the Princess

Princess Celestia chuckled. "Only if you want him to. But I think it would be good if you kept him close. Sometimes when it comes to mortal ponies, Pale Hoof doesn't understand much. Living with a mortal pony might show him how to behave. It would be best if you let him stay with you for now. Pale Hoof, does this suit you?"

"YES. I WANT TO STAY WITH PINWHEEL." Pale Hoof answered.

Celestia beamed. "Then it's settled. With a pony like you watching out for him, Pinwheel, I'm no longer afraid Pale Hoof will hurt my citizens."

Pinwheel blushed deeply. "Hey, well…he's really not such a bad colt, really. I guess he can stay with me. I'll keep an eye on him, Princess." Nodding, Pinwheel broke into a smile, "And, now that I think about it, 'Death's Official Ambassador' does sound a heck of lot cooler than 'pinwheel maker'."

Celestia nodded. "That's what I like to hear. I trust him to you, then, Madame Ambassador."

Philomel and Thunderhead stared at each other, then at the three fleshy ponies before them. "So..." Thunderhead began, "does this mean we're still reapers?"

Pale Hoof stared at them. "DON'T PUSH YOUR LUCK."


Pinwheel nudged open the door to the guest bedroom. Stepping aside, she turned toward Pale Hoof. "I know it isn't much…" She said, looking into the tiny bedroom. Inside stood a lone single pony sized bed (too small for the tall Pale Hoof) and a small dresser, "but there's not much space here to begin with. Princess wants you to live with me, so you'll just have to make do."

Pale Hoof stepped into the small room, looking around. His head creaked noisily on his neck. "I CAN INDEED MAKE DO." His jaw squeaked open. Out from his mouth poured a whispering dark mist. Pinwheel skittered backward. The mist covered the bedroom floor, crawling hungrily along the walls and ceiling. Soon, every corner of the room was engulfed in darkness. Pinwheel heard a loud, booming crack, as though the entire bedroom wall was coming apart. When Pale Hoof closed his mouth, the mist dissipated. The guest bedroom was no longer a bedroom at all, but a dark void not unlike the one where spirits waited after they died. Pinwheel could faintly hear the wails of the dying emanating from the emptiness. Her mouth went dry. Pale Hoof took a few steps deeper into the new void, inhaling deeply, "THIS WILL SUIT ME JUST FINE."

"What…what did you do?" Pinwheel stammered, peering into the blackness. Tendrils of smoky darkness lapped at the hallway floors. They entwined themselves around her feet. Squeaking in disgust, Pinwheel stumbled away.

"THIS DOORWAY," Pale Hoof knocked the door frame with his hoof, "IS NOW A GATEWAY INTO MY REALM. THUS I MAY LIVE WITH YOU AND YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MY COMFORT."

Pinwheel blinked rapidly, "But…where's the bedroom?"

"GONE. SWALLOWED BY THE VOID."

"H-hey! I never said you could destroy my house! Give my furniture back, at least! Those were hoof carved antiques!" Pinwheel complained. As if on cue, Pale Hoof stepped aside and Pinwheel's furniture came rocketing out of the void. The blue pony quickly ducked. Her spare bed and small dresser smashed against the wall behind her, leaving a massive dent in the plaster. A deep, unpleasant rumble sounded in the abyss, like a groan of a monster who'd just spit up something nasty. Pinwheel's shoulders drooped as she looked at the smashed remains of her furniture, "Couldn't you have given it back a little more…gently?"

"MY APOLOGIES." Pale Hoof answered, stepping out into the hall. He climbed over the furniture wreckage and closed the bedroom door quietly behind him. Black mist seeped under the door. Evil whispers filled the air, even with the door closed. Pinwheel stared up at him hopelessly, sighing.

"Listen…Pale Hoof, I know Princess Celestia told me to look out for you, but…this is gonna be a little difficult. Don't you, you know, have a job to do?"

"I CAN SPEND MY TIME HOWEVER I CHOOSE. AND I CHOOSE TO SPEND IT HERE, WITH YOU." Pale Hoof answered, "BUT DO NOT THINK I AM SHIRKING MY DUTIES. THERE WILL BE DAYS WHEN I WILL NOT BE HERE AT ALL. THAT IS WHY I MADE THIS PORTAL." He knocked on the door with his hoof again, "IF YOU NEED ME, JUST KNOCK."

"That's not what I meant…I…." Pinwheel began, then quickly shut her mouth. She glanced down shamefacedly at the floor.

"WHAT?"

"Nevermind. It's too late for that now." Pinwheel sighed, "I just…I just want to know if I'm still going to be able to have a normal life with you living here. I mean, being your ambassador sounds really cool and all…but I really don't want anything weird to happen again. And…uh…I don't want you breaking all my stuff either." Pinwheel glanced sadly down at the wreckage of the guest bedroom littering the hallway.

Pale Hoof was silent for a moment. "IF YOU DO NOT WANT ME…" He began, voice quiet and head down, "YOU CAN TELL CELESTIA. I WILL NOT FORCE YOU TO BE MY AMBASSADOR. IF YOU WISH IT, I WILL LEAVE."

Pinwheel shook her head fiercely. "That's not what I meant at all, you silly colt! I don't want you to leave." She replied, "I'm a little mad at you, but, hey, someone's gotta show you how to behave around mortals and it might as well be me. So just can it. You're staying right here."

Pale Hoof nodded. "I AM GLAD. I…HAVE TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS AND IS NOT BAD TO MORTAL PONIES. BUT I DO NOT WANT TO MAKE YOU MAD, PINWHEEL. I WILL…TRY MY BEST NOT TO INTERFERE WITH YOUR LIFE TOO MUCH. AS LONG AS WE CAN STILL SPEND TIME TOGETHER." With a wave of his hoof, he magically cleared the furniture wreckage. Pinwheel's antique dresser and bed appeared fully repaired next to the doorway. Pinwheel beamed up at the reaper.

"Of course we can." Pinwheel grinned, "I'm not just your ambassador here. I'm your marefriend. Remember?"

"ARE YOU CERTAIN?" Pale Hoof asked, inclining his head toward her, "WE CAN'T EVEN KISS…"

"So what? We can still go on dates and have fun together. Kissing's not all the great anyway." Pinwheel replied encouragingly, stamping her hooves, "You and I are together now, whatever that means. I like you, even if you are a little creepy. And if I gotta teach anyone about manners, I'd rather it be you."

Pale Hoof ducked his head, hiding his face with a hoof. "YOU FLATTER ME…"

"Get used to it. That's what a marefriend does." Pinwheel grinned widely, "Wait right here." Pinwheel tromped over to the newly repaired bed and yanked the quilt off. With a toss of her head, she threw it over Pale Hoof's neck. He peered curiously at the brightly patterned quilt, head tilted. Still smiling, Pinwheel buried her face in the quilt, nuzzling her head against Pale Hoof's neck. Pale Hoof stumbled back in surprise.

"WHAT IS THIS?" He asked, gripping the quilt with his teeth and yanking it off, "THIS BLANKET IS NOT MAGIC. WHY DOES IT PROTECT YOU FROM MY TOUCH?"

"Remember at Pinkie's party when I grabbed your cloak? As long as I don't touch you directly, I'm safe. So there. We can at least cuddle." Pinwheel replied. She took the opposite corner of the blanket with her teeth and tossed it over Pale Hoof's head. He peered out from under the quilt. The brightly colored patches looked infinitely strange next to his grey fur and ancient yellow skull. Pinwheel giggled. Gently, careful not to lose his quilt hood, Pale Hoof walked over and nuzzled her head.

"I LIKE YOU, PINWHEEL."

Pinwheel colored. "Yeah…well…come help me move this furniture out of the hallway, you silly colt."


-End Part 1-

"Not So Scary"

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