"They're Not Touching You!"

by JMac

First published

Quizzical Greystone tells her first campfire ghost story.

Quiz's friends are telling ghost stories around a campfire. When it's Quiz's turn she surprises everypony. She tells a story of her own.

Can You Feel It?

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They’re Not Touching You!

(Quizzical Tries To Tell A Ghost Story)

“…and they never came back!”

“Good one, Dinky,” cheered Apple Bloom. The Cutie Mark Crusaders and some of their friends were having a sleepover at their club house, and they were taking turns telling ghost stories around a campfire.

“Yeah, not bad,” drawled Scootaloo, affecting a casual tone. “But I still have the scariest story.”

Scootaloo had always been the most competitive of the CMC, and she had grown increasingly so as she hung out with Rainbow Dash more and more. What rankled the others was that the story telling hadn’t begun as a competition. Scootaloo had made it a contest only after it was evident that she had told the scariest tale.

“You ain’t won until everypony’s had a turn, Scoot!”

“We all have had a… oh.” One filly had not told a story yet, their newest friend Quizzical Greystone.

Scootaloo could be forgiven for forgetting Quiz was there. Quiz never spoke unless she had something to say, and preferred to just watch and listen to her friends. She could sit so quiet and still that you might forget she was right there next to you. In the dim light of the campfire the little grey unicorn was almost invisible. That it was only “almost” invisible meant that Quiz was deliberately sitting where she caught enough light for her friends to find her.

“Thaths not fair, Apple Bloom,” said Twist. “Quiz doethn’t have to tell a thstory if she doethn’t want to.” Twist was just as irritated by Scootaloo’s bragging as Apple Bloom, but she would rather let Scoot win than put Quiz on the spot.

Quiz was a shy, bookish nerd, and so socially awkward that if the CMC hadn’t befriended her she would have no friends at all. While Quiz was content to sit and watch, the other fillies were constantly urging her to join in on whatever they were doing. Quiz was so grateful for their friendship that she often did join in, even though this rarely resulted in Quiz experiencing anything that could be called fun. Her friends kept trying, as they dearly wanted to have something in common with their new friend. Unfortunately, unless a pony shared one of Quiz’s most compelling interests – magic theory, mathematics, or geology – it was difficult to find common ground with Quiz.

Encouraging her was one thing, but pushing Quiz into the spot light was another. That was out of bounds. Quiz suffered from debilitating shyness. To be the center of attention terrified Quiz to the point of paralysis.

“You really don’t have to worry about it, Quiz,” said Sweetie Belle. “It’s Ok.”

“Well, I guess that means I…” began Scootaloo. She stopped suddenly, when Quiz cleared her throat.

“Actually…” Quiz paused to take a deep breath and square her shoulders. “I believe I am comfortable enough, here in the dark, that I might speak without triggering a panic attack. I wish to take my turn.”

“Yay, Quiz!” Apple Bloom was always ready to cheer Quiz on. Most of the others signaled their enthusiastic agreement.

“Fine,” grumbled Scootaloo. “But it has to be a good story, Quiz. No, ‘Attack of the Killer Polygons!’”

“I promise, Scootaloo, there will be no geometry, or math of any kind, in my story. And, before you ask, I promise to include no mention of rocks.”

"Well, alright then. Let’s hear what you got, Quiz.” Scootaloo wasn’t afraid of Quiz beating her, and she was as enthusiastic as the others to see Quiz give anything a try.

“I will confess, this story may not be a terrifying as those you all told,” began Quiz. “But it does have the advantage of being true. It did not happen to the friend of a friend, it happened to me. I can now guess what you are thinking, ‘If this happened to Quizzical then it must have occurred in some natural history museum, or a dusty old library, or perhaps in the basements at the Magic Academy.’ But, no. The events I shall tell you of happened in a haunted house.”

“Really?” gasped Dinky. She began to tremble.

Apple Bloom leaned over and whispered in her ear, “No, not really. This is a ghost story, she’s makin’ this up.”

If Quiz heard this she did not let it interrupt her. “The Bradlyberry mansion was an abandoned property on a plot of land our family had purchased. It had stood empty for generations, and it had a tragic history that I do not wish to speak of. I will say that it involved a large family with many foals, and a fire. From that you should be able to imagine why I do not want to talk about it.”

Everypony shivered. Some moved closer to the fire, though their shivering was not from the cold.

“At any rate, the building was probably not safe. Our parents forbid us from going near it. So, naturally, my little sister Delight insisted on exploring the mansion.”

This made Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom laugh. They were both ‘little sisters.’

“I had no interest in this, but I was unable to talk her out of the adventure. This surprised me, as she was not like me. Delight was afraid to be alone in the dark. There was no way I was going to let her enter the mansion alone, of course. Looking back, I suppose she knew this. It might just be possible that she took advantage of me.”

This provoked more laughter from the ‘little sisters.’

“At any rate, as soon as we entered the mansion the smell of smoke was evident, even though the fire had occured many, many years before. I found this a bit disturbing, and also somehow sad. But it did not seem to bother Delight, once she had become used to the scent.

“What did bother her was how surprisingly dull it was. For an abandoned mansion, rumored to be haunted, the Bradlyberry ruin was quite boring. All the Bradlyberry possessions had long since been taken away, and there was little to see but the building’s bare walls.

“Delight skipped to the end of the main hall, and then suddenly turned to me. ‘Sis, do you remember the I’m-Not-Touching-You game?’ she asked.”

“What’s that?” asked Dinky. She was an only child.

“The object is to place your hooves as close to another pony without touching them, while loudly declaring ‘I am not touching you!’ It follows the dubious logic that, as you are not touching the other pony, they cannot complain about you to their parents. I sometimes called it the ‘Torment-Your-Older-Sister’ game.”

Everypony laughed this time.

“I told Delight that I knew the game well, as she would still play it, particularly when we shared the back seat of the family carriage. Then Delight asked, ‘What if little foal ghosts liked that game, too? How would you know if they were playing?’”

Quiz paused, to let the idea of invisible specters, not quite touching you, sink in. “You have not met my sister, but I assure it is very like her to ask such a question. She is wonderfully thoughtful, but her wonderful thoughts seem to come from a random place no other pony knows of. She once asked ‘What can you say about chocolate covered storm drain covers?’ Even she cannot say where that idea came from. And there in the Bradlyberry Mansion, Delight’s imagination was captured by the notion that playful little invisible things might be hovering all about her, not touching her.

“I have always done my best to answer my sister’s questions, however ridiculous they may be. I remember telling her that I supposed the only way to catch them playing with her would be to trick them into losing the game. She would have to make them touch her.

“No sooner had I said this than Delight suddenly jumped to the side. Immediately, she gasped, ‘Oh, something touched me!’ I would have dismissed this as just Delight’s imagination, except that something seemed to answer her. We both heard something giggle.”

Several of the ponies listening sat up at this.

“I was sure that Delight had not made the noise, and I certainly had not done it. I do not giggle.”

“No kidding, Quiz,” said Scootaloo. The other fillies hushed her.

“Delight then asked, ‘Do you think they might be ticklish?’ She waved a hoof about in the thin air, and exclaimed, ‘Kitchicoo!’ She was answered by more giggles.

“Well, this simply would not do at all. It did not matter if the giggling came from ghosts or from the wind and the odd sounds of an old house. Be they real or imaginary, once Delight began to play with her little ghost friends she would not want to stop. So I told her, ‘Delight, we must go home now, before our parent’s wonder where we are. If they come looking for us we will be caught here.’

“Delight reacted just as I expected, she pouted and begged for more time. I had to resort to what she calls my ‘I-am-the-big-sister-and-I-am-no-fun’ voice. ‘It is time to go home.’ This made Delight unhappy, but that did not last. My sister is never unhappy for very long. Just before we exited the mansion she turned and called brightly to the empty building, ‘Hey, would you guys like to come home with me?’”

There was a collective gasp from all of the fillies around the campfire, and Apple Bloom even exclaimed “Uh, oh.”

“Oh, yes. And I told Delight that I thought she was being very silly, though not in the way you are thinking. Delight stubbornly insisted that the ghosts of the Bradlyberry foals were following us home, as if they were our neighbor’s children being invited for a sleepover. She even pointed out that, ‘If they follow you home, you have to keep them.’ It seemed harmless enough. At the time my only problem was the nagging idea that the invisible foals might be floating next to my face, not quite touching me. It did not help that every time Delight thought she could surprise me she would cry, ‘They are not touching you!’ This game went on for almost a week.”

“They were haunting you?” asked Dinky.

“No, I do not think so. At least, if they were they only haunted me when Delight used them to tease me. Most of the time they were in Delight’s bedroom. She seemed to be playing by herself, but sometimes her toys appeared to move on their own. As I said, this went on for a week. At the end of the week we found Delight in her room, crying. When we asked what was the matter, she whimpered, ‘My friends have all left!’ Apparently, none of her toys would move anymore. Mother indulgently explained that they little ghosts would be fine, they merely had to go home to haunt their mansion. This seemed to satisfy Delight. As I said, she is never unhappy for very long. Of course as soon as Delight stopped crying and cheered up Mother promptly grounded us both for going to the mansion.

“Later, Delight took me aside to share her own theory. ‘I don’t think they went back to that dreary old place at all,’ she told me. ‘I think I set them free from having to haunt it. And now I think the little ghosts have the whole world to explore! They could be anywhere, playing the not touching game with any pony!’ The notion made her happy, so I did not contradict her. Besides, I could think of no good argument against her being right.”

“Tho, what do you think happened to them, Quiz?” asked Twist.

“Well, even if the ghosts did return to the mansion, they could not remain there. The building has been razed, the site is now a quarry.” Quiz’s voice took on a slightly dreamy quality. “There are excellent slate beds on that land. Thin, well defined layers, with very few fractures. My family is able to cut it and remove it in huge slabs…”

“Quiz!” snapped Scootaloo. “You promised, no rocks!”

The others covered their mouths and tried not to laugh.

“Oh, dear, I do apologize, Scootaloo. But, back to the story, I do believe my little sister is correct. The ghosts of the Bradlyberry foals are now free to go wherever they desire and to play with any pony they want. They could be anywhere in Equestria. They could be here right now. I am sure none of you would find it difficult to imagine them, hovering beside you, not touching you. If they like you and find you amusing, they might even follow you home. That is one thing I know for certain Delight was correct about. If they follow you home you have to keep them.”

With that, Quiz sat back to indicate that her story was done.

After a moment several fillies began to clap their hooves.

“Way to go, Quiz!” cried Apple Bloom.

There would have been high hooves and slaps on the back, except all the fillies knew that Quiz hated to be touched.

Sweetie Belle leaned over and whispered, “I’m so glad you told a story tonight, Quiz. I’m very proud of you.”

“Thank you all, I find your praise quite extraordinary, and I shall have to make a note of this.” With a pop, Quiz’s notebook was hovering in front of her, with her quill automatically scribbling away.

“Yeah, not bad. Pretty impressive for a first timer,” said Scootaloo. “It was really good to have you join in, Quiz. But that wasn’t very scary.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, I got one thing to say to you,” snapped Apple Bloom. She held her fore hooves a fraction of an inch from the sides of Scootaloo’s face. “I’m not touching you!”

“Quit it! Come on, quit it!” cried Scootaloo. She waved around her head, as if she were driving off a cloud of mosquitos. “Ugh! I can feel them. I can feel them not touching me!”

“That doesn’t make sense, Scootaloo,” pointed out Apple Bloom.

“I don’t care! You can’t look me in eye and tell me you don’t know what I mean.”

Apple Bloom nodded. “Ok, I’ll admit it. I can feel them not touching me, too.”

“If you have trouble forgetting about the ghosts and their game,” began Quiz. “I have found it helps to do quadratic equations.”

“And now you sneak in the math, Quiz,” grumbled Scootaloo. “Geometry won’t help me, you know.”

“It is algebra, Scootaloo.”

“Whatever! Anyway, my story was the scariest, so I win.”

“Are you thure of that, Scoot?” said Twist, not quite reaching for Scootaloo’s face.

“Don’t you dare say it!!!”

“Actually, I agree with Scootaloo completely,” said Quiz. “Her story was the scariest, and therefore she is the winner.”

“Well, thanks, Quiz…”

“I merely told the story you will all remember the longest.”

“Um… well, thank you, Quiz. I think.”

Sweetie Belle was sitting nearest to Quiz, and even she could not see clearly by the dim fire light. But it seemed to her that she saw on Quiz’s face an expression she had never seen before. Is it my imagination or does Quiz look self-satisfied?, she thought. Maybe even smug? No, it couldn’t be…


Later that night, Sweetie Belle whispered to the filly whose sleeping bag was closest to hers, “Quiz? Are you still awake?”

“No, Sweetie Belle, I am deeply asleep, and I can neither hear nor answer you.”

Sweetie Belle laughed softly, trying not to disturb her sleeping friends. “Good one, Quiz. Your sense of humor is coming along nicely. I just need to ask… oh, I don’t know…”

“Are you having trouble putting my story out of your thoughts?”

“Yeah, kinda.”

“Well, let us try this. If A squared plus B over two equals…”

“Oh, stop it, Quiz. Just tell me… was any of it true?”

“Of my story? Well, all that was stated was true, but nothing that was implied was.”

“What does that mean?”

“Yes, my sister and I did sneak into the Bradlyberry mansion, where were heard some odd noises. And yes, little Delight did play with her imaginary friends for a week after that. But they were imaginary. She used her own unicorn magic to move her toys while she played make-believe. The ghosts of little foals are not hovering around your head, playing at not touching you.”

“Are you sure?”

There was a long pause.

“Quiz? Are you sure?”

Quiz sighed. “It is the most likely explanation. It is the best interpretation of the facts. But am I completely sure? No.”


“I am sorry, Sweetie Belle. I should have just lied and just said ‘Yes,’ I suspect.”

“Arrgh!” groaned Scootaloo. She rolled over and buried her face in her pillow, with her legs crossed over her head. “Will you guys just shut up?!”

The five other fillies called out in unison, “They’re not touching you, Scootaloo!”



Outside the clubhouse, near the dying campfire, something giggled.