When foreign royalty abuses its authority to order off the menu, Pinkie takes desperate actions.
Foreign royalty is visiting Ponyville to meet with Princess Twilight Sparkle. One of them, a sociopath named Prince Glut, abuses Pinkie into fulfilling his wishes. If she doesn't comply, the whole political meeting may be called off, or worse, something could happen to the Cakes.
Desperate to please the prince for Twilight's success, she keeps her ordeal a secret. Now she must find what Prince Glut has requested.
The stitches in Pinkie’s stomach and chest caused every shaky breath to be torture. The wounds on her head and legs hardly compared to those in her mind. The ones that, even with her eyes closed, still haunted her and would be with her long after the physical wounds have scarred over.
A repetitive blip echoed in her sore ears. She breathed in through her nose and caught a waft of cinnamon, but it wasn’t all that she smelled. It was like cinnamon mixed with laundry detergent. She felt her stomach churn at the unnatural mix of appetizing smells and puke-inducing chemicals.
She fluttered her burning eyes. The blinding light on the ceiling flashed into view as she squinted and slowly took everything in. To three sides were sterile-green curtains, and to her left was a medical baggy and tube that was inserted into her front left leg.
She moaned as her body woke up to the pain. Then she heard a gasp.
“Hey, gals! She’s awake!”
The curtains in front of her whipped open, and she saw all her friends rushed into view. Seeing familiar faces, even if they were featureless blurs of color in her tear-soaked and heavy-lidded eyes, washed away much of the anxiety. She was with friends, and they were there for her. As each of her friends spoke, she struggled to aim her tired gaze in their direction.
“Oh, darling! When we heard the news, we rushed right over,” said Rarity. Her face was covered with the remnants of her night-time facial mask that she had hastily washed off, and curlers were still in her mane.
Rainbow Dash stomped the tiled floor. “I still can’t believe this happened to you! When I get my hoofs on that gutless coward, I’ll clobber him! I’ll shove my hoof so far up his--”
“Rein it in, sugarcube. Now’s not the time for that.” Applejack walked up closer and put a hoof up on the bed next to Pinkie’s head. “Pinkie, don’t you worry none about that brute. That murderer is behind bars. We’ve got ‘im, and we’re gonna make sure he pays for what he did.”
“Um…” Fluttershy pointed to a scented candle left on top of a blipping machine. “I don’t know if this will help, but I brought some cinnamon-scented candles to make you feel more comfortable.”
Pinkie’s friends were so close to her that she could feel their warm breath on her fur, but she didn’t care. It was proof that she was alive. That she was with her friends. She tried to get up to hug them, but her muscles protested and kept her bound to the bed. All she could do was move her eyes and open her mouth.
“Girls…” she whispered. Her tongue and mouth were like sandpaper. Some of her friends bent down to hug or nuzzle her, but she hissed at the searing pain the pressure sent through her muscles, so they all pulled back and restrained any further physical contact, except for Fluttershy who gently pet Pinkie’s mane.
Everything was going to be better now, or so she thought. Like a delayed firework, an explosion tore through the peace in her mind. Memories of the past few days rushed back. The threats. The lies. The blood.
Pinkie cried. She let out a mournful wail as her head rolled to one side. Her friends cooed and comforted her, telling her everything was alright.
But it wasn’t. She didn’t want them to know. Even if that no-good bully was punished, the truth would still be exposed. He wasn’t the murderer.
Applejack laid her head next to Pinkie’s. Snot and spit ran down Pinkie’s face and smeared in Applejack’s mane.
“Now, now, sugarcube. It’s over. You have nothing to fret about.”
She couldn’t keep it in. It gnawed her insides like she had swallowed a live parasprite. She had to tell them. She opened her mouth to speak, but the curtains burst open one more time, and Twilight rushed in. “Pinkie, you’re awake!”
Pinkie cringed. Of all the ponies she didn’t want to find out, it was her. She was the one who had everything to lose and nothing to gain from her confession. Should Twilight know what happened, everything she’d been working on for the past several months would go up in smoke.
Already, Twilight’s plans had been devastated by what Pinkie had done. Pinkie had tried to settle this on her own, had tried to keep Twilight out of it. She wanted to fight logic and give herself a reason to not tell Twilight what she had done. But she couldn’t stomach it.
“Twilight,” she said between sobs. “I have something to tell you.”
Applejack pulled her head back and stepped to the side to let Twilight get through.
“Closer,” whispered Pinkie.
Twilight inched closer and focused her ears on Pinkie.
Pinkie felt the bed fall out from under her as she made her confession. “I am the murderer.”
Twilight jumped back. “What!?”
Pinkie did her best to nod. “It’s true. I’m a-- a--” She choked on her confession and wailed again.
“Pinkie, you must be in shock; there is no way that--”
“It’s true! And Zecora! I-- I didn't mean to--”
“Hush, Pinkie!” Twilight breathed shallowly as her eyes darted about. She turned around and pushed her way through her friends.
Rarity leaned in closer. “What? What did she say? What about Zecora?”
Twilight ignored her and shoved her to the side before sticking her head out of the curtains. She looked all around, but nopony was in earshot. She closed the curtains and flared up her horn, and a clear-magenta bubble encapsulated them all.
“Listen, everypony,” said Twilight. “Whatever we discuss in this bubble stays between us. This is a secret that only I, the Princesses, and the guard are aware of. There wasn’t only one pony killed the other day. Zecora was also murdered.”
Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Applejack recoiled in horror.
“That’s awful!” said Fluttershy.
Rarity covered her mouth. “Who would do such a thing?”
Rainbow was bouncing off the walls. “It was that gryphon, wasn’t it? I’ll kill him!”
Pinkie squeezed her eyes shut. She didn’t want to see her friends’ faces when they learned the truth. Their fear. Their anger. Their rejection. She was about to spill her guts about how she had done the same to a helpless pony. She wanted to curl up and die.
“Settle down, everypony,” said Twilight. “Please, I want you all to be quiet for Pinkie.” She turned back to Pinkie. “Pinkie, please tell me everything.”
Pinkie bit her lip and looked about the room.
“Please, Pinkie. We’re your friends, and we want to help you.”
Her friends’ assurance renewed her confidence that they wouldn’t abandon her, but her fear still remained. How would they react? Telling them scared her; it would hurt--like pulling off a band-aid. She decided to treat it as such and get it over with as quickly as she could.
“It was the day the Gryphon King came to Ponyville…”
The crowd outside was bustling while Pinkie shook in excitement behind the register at Sugarcube Corner. She wanted to go out and meet the royal visitors, but she had to stay put. She was testing a new grapefruit pie recipe required special care, and boy, did it have a strong, bitter-sweet smell. She’d hate to smell it when it burns.
She had heard that the newly crowned Gryphon King was coming to establish stronger pony-gryphon relations. She wanted to go see him, but it’s not like the Cakes would let her go off to see Gilda, let alone visit a foreign country, or save the world whenever she wanted--she had a job to do!
The ding of the egg timer interrupted her thoughts. She flipped the oven off, snatched an oven mitt, and hummed a little tune as she pulled the pie out until she was interrupted again by the ding-a-ling of the front door.
Pinkie skipped out of the kitchen while still holding the oven mitt in her mouth. “Ewu. Wlllcu hu hugrcoo…” She stopped when she saw what her guests were. Gryphons! And not one, but two!
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! Pinkie spat out the oven mitt, put on a great big smile, and threw her hooves out. “Hello, and welcome to Sugarcube Corner!”
The bigger of the two gryphons turned his attention to Pinkie. He could barely squeeze his huge, bulging muscles through the front door; he looked as though he could rip a tree from the ground. Or maybe he was mostly fluff? The puffy brown feathers certainly made him more intimidating.
The other, smaller gryphon had no such fluff. The light shone off his greasy black feathers. And he was skinny. Alarmingly skinny. Like a snake with legs. Or Discord. He needed a few injections of confectionaries. Stat!
With his head held high as though it were tied to his tail, he eyed all of the condiments on the shelves behind Pinkie and passed his gaze over the few customers that had come in to escape the crowds. He looked at both with the same disgusted frown, like a bird had pooped in his salad. After he observed the store, he sauntered up to the front desk and let out a long sigh. The gold medals on his red sash rattled together, his polished, crooked claws scratched the wooden floor, and his cape spilled over his black, weedy body. Once in front of the counter, the head gryphon took a whiff before shuddering.
But Pinkie wouldn’t let his sour mood take hold of her. He must have just come from a long, tiring journey. She knew. She had once traveled to his homeland as well. “Hi there! Welcome to Sugarcube Corner. I’m Pinkie Pie. What’s your name, friend?”
The gryphon looked down at Pinkie from his long, straight beak. “I am Prince Glut of Gryphonstone, and you will refer to me as such.” He took another waft. “What is that smell?” he said. His voice made the hairs on the back of Pinkie’s neck curl more than usual.
“That, Prince Glut, is my newest treat I just invented: grapefruit pie!” Pinkie cut off two pieces of pie, plopped the slices on a plate, then shoved them into Prince Glut and his friend’s faces. “Go ahead, try it!”
Prince Glut recoiled at the invasion of his space and glared the slice. The other gryphon peered over the prince’s shoulder. Reluctantly, Glut took his plate using only the tips of his claws. At this sign of approval, the other snagged up his plate.
Sweat ran down Pinkie’s forehead as she hoofed over forks. She had just made the recipe, and now her first impression with these new guests relied on the recipe she may or may not have perfected. And these friends were very important poni-- gryphons. How well her impression with them went might even have a major influence on Twilight’s meeting and the future of pony-gryphon relationships.
Time slowed for Pinkie as she watched the prince break off a tiny sliver of the pie and put it in his mouth. He scrunched his face up as soon as the piece touched his tongue. He spat it back on the plate. “Are you trying to poison me?” he screamed.
Pinkie folded her ears back. “Oh no! Nononono! I’m sorry. I guess the pie didn’t come out right. I’ll let you have something else as a ‘welcome to Ponyville’ gift. You can choose anything! I want you to leave here with a smile.”
At this request, Prince Glut scratched his chin. “You’ll let me have anything?”
Pinkie nodded furiously. She couldn’t let her customer leave unsatisfied.
“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!”
Then a cruel smile spread upon Glut’s face. A cruel, hungry smile. “Well then, baker,” he said; the tone of his voice oozed into Pinkie’s ears. “I want you to bake me a pie.”
A pie? That’s easy! “I can do that! What kind of pie would you like?”
Prince Glut leaned in close to Pinkie. “Meat pie. A good one.”
Not quite sure she heard him right, Pinkie replayed the words he just said in her head. “I’m sorry, did you say--”
The Prince slammed his fork onto the counter, bending the tines on the end. “I don’t repeat myself. Do I, Grisly?” he snarled.
Pinkie flinched and looked back up at the bigger gryphon. “No, Your Highness,” he said in a low, grumbly voice. The giant leaned into Pinkie’s face. “His Highness said he wants meat pie. Do you understand?”
Grisly’s hair-curling and vomit-inducing breath pounded Pinkie in the face. Pinkie clenched her back legs together--it was the only thing she could do to keep herself from springing a leak. “I-- I understand. But we don’t sell meat.”
“Then go get meat from the grocer,” said Glut.
Pinkie shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think there is a place to buy meat in Ponyville. Or even in all of Equestria.”
“That’s your problem. Not mine.”
The clopping of hooves and crying came down the stairs. Mrs. Cake had a worried look on her face as she balanced an upset Pound Cake on her back. “Pinkie! I heard yelling. Is everything alright?”
Before Pinkie could speak, Glut turned to face Mrs. Cake. “I’m terribly sorry, madam, it was just a misunderstanding. We’ll be leaving now.”
“Are you sure? I’m sorry if we’ve troubled you.” Mrs. Cake bounced her attention between the foal on her back and the Prince. “Please, let me make it up to you and--”
“Oh, no problem, madam.” Glut pointed at Pinkie. “She’s promised to make it up to me.”
Mrs. Cake looked at Pinkie, who could do nothing more than smile, nod, and sweat. She turned her attention back to the foal. “Um, alright. If Pinkie has already helped you, then I guess everything’s okay. Just let me know if you need anything, Pinkie.” And with that said, Mrs. Cake rushed back up the stairs, cooing to her baby as she went.
Oh, darn it, Pinkie. Everything is not okay. Everything is NOT okay. Hey… maybe he’s joking. Maybe it’s a bit of gryphon humor. Yeah. That’s it.
She looked back at Prince Glut, who was glaring back at her from the corner of his eyes, a smile split across his beak. “I must say, what a lovely mother and child.”
Pinkie nodded. “Uh-huh. Yeah. And-- yeah, good one.” She forced a small laugh. “Meat pie. Good joke. Asking a plant eater like me to--”
“Oh, it was no joke.”
“I have enough money in my pockets to buy this bakery, demolish it, rebuild it, and demolish it again.” He pressed his sharp beak against Pinkie’s snout. “And if you don’t want those two to be kicked out onto the streets, then I suggest that you have a meat pie for me at eight tomorrow morning. Warm and freshly baked.”
Pinkie felt her eyes water over as the image of the Cakes and their twins were forced out into the streets with only the aprons and diapers on their bodies, Sugarcube Corner in a pile of rubble behind them. The twins would go hungry. What would happen to Mr. and Mrs. Cake?
What would happen to her? She’d have to leave Ponyville. Go back to the rock farm and leave her friends. No, she couldn’t do that. She didn’t want that.
Glut’s slimy voice pulled Pinkie from her delusions.
“If you don’t want anything bad to happen to them--” he tilted his plate and let the piece of pie slide off onto the countertop before smooshing it under the plate “--then I suggest you follow through on your promise.”
Prince Glut turned away and swaggered to the front door. “Let’s leave this place, Grisly. There’s nothing suitable for our palates here. Today.”
The plate fell from Grisly’s claw and clattered on the wooden floor. Without a word, he opened the door for Glut and followed him out, but not without slamming the door shut behind him.
More crying came from upstairs as Mrs. Cake rushed back down. “Pinkie! Are you sure you’re alright?! What was that noise?”
“Oooooh-- Oh-- uhh…” Pinkie looked back towards the sparse customers, who, as soon as they saw her look in their direction, snapped their heads back to the plates in front of them. She brought her hoof up and scratched the back of her head. “He-- Um-- Oh yeah.” She looked back up at Mrs. Cake. “That was one of the visiting gryphons. It’s alright, though. He was just really grumpy and tired after a long trip. That’s all.”
Mrs. Cake licked her lips and looked at the door then back to Pinkie. “That’s it?” She looked once more at the door and then to the customers, who all had their backs turned to her. “Well, if that’s the case then, there’s nothing we should be worried about.”
It took every ounce of Pinkie’s willpower to excuse herself to the little filly’s room without crying.
As soon as she was set free from the register, Pinkie rushed over to the palace library. Even with the important guests and the increased guard presence, Pinkie was able to use her rights as an Element Bearer to gain access to the castle, especially when most others weren’t. That meant there was nopony there to ask her what she was looking for. Nopony to see the panic in her eyes. Nopony to hear the worry in her voice.
Pinkie hunted in the relocated Ponyville Library for a book on cooking meat. If she were to bring this up with Twilight, it could ruin everything she had worked for. She would question her. Pinkie would crack. She knew she would. How would Twilight react to the news? How would this affect the political meeting with the Gryphon King she had spent months preparing? Besides, it was just one pie. She’d give the Prince what he wanted and everything would be hunkey-dorey.
Pinkie couldn’t stand still as she read each title aloud as she looked.
“The Gryphon of Mount Crystal. No. Think Gryphon, Grow Rich. Nuh-uh. The Mare and the Gryphon. Not even close!”
“What is this that I spy? Could it be Pinkie Pie?”
Pinkie shrieked and jumped from the ladder. Her fluffy mane cushioned her head from the fall. On shaky legs, Pinkie pushed herself up from the hard crystal floor. Near the doorway was somepony looking at her. “Oh-wha? Zecora!? I- I’m looking for a book.”
“Well then, you have come to the right place. But why the worried look on your face?”
Pinkie chewed on her lip and rubbed her back fetlocks together. “I-- um-- well-- I’m looking for a book!”
When Pinkie failed to continue her answer, Zecora calmly continued to question her. “You have made that point clear, my dear, but why do you show fear, not cheer?”
“Well, um-- I met the prince!” Pinkie shoved a hoof in her mouth.
Zecora’s eyes widened. “Now I understand why you frown; it is hard to be near that clown. How did he twist your pink tail, to the point that makes you ail?”
Oh no. Keep your mouth shut, Pinkie!
“He didn’t like my cooking!”
Me and my big pie-hole.
Zecora closed her eyes and let out a slow breath as a serene smile. “I assure you, his opinion doesn’t matter. His tongue can’t tell the difference of dung from batter. You should ignore such a critic. His kind is most parasitic.”
Zecora’s wisdom washed over her mind and cleared the fog in Pinkie’s mind. Her anxiety melted away, but only for a moment.. Once again, Pinkie was grinding her teeth together and taking shallow, quickened breaths. That wasn’t the reason she was in such a fret. Prince Glut had threatened to do harm to Pinkie and the Cakes. If Pinkie wasn’t able to make a meat pie correctly, they would lose Sugarcube Corner! And not only that but-- but--
Pinkie took a long, deep breath and slowly let it out, then prepared herself for what she was about to do. “You know what? You’re absolutely right, Zecora. I shouldn’t let such a hosh-posh, snooty-patooty prince tell me how to feel. I believe in my cooking skills, and I know that others love my food. There may be the few who don’t like it, but you know what we bakers say: ‘Every donut comes with a hole.’”
Zecora scratched her chin for a moment, then chuckled. “That is one I’ve never heard; there is great wisdom in those words.”
“Eeyup. Well, he did get me thinking, and I wanted to learn more about what gryphons eat. So I came here looking for something to read about gryphon food. And so I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I can learn something new about cooking.’ So I’m looking for a book on how gryphons make their food.”
Zecora nodded. “While your reason may have been ill-conceived, your strive for improvement has me relieved. I will help you find the book. Now where shall we look?”
While the two of them browsed books on gryphon cuisine, Pinkie also learned a lot from Zecora. Twilight had chosen her to be her advisor. With her worldly experience and knowledge, she was the zebra for the job. Twilight had even given her her own room so Zecora wouldn’t have to walk to and from her hut everyday.
Hey, Twilight had to do something with all these rooms.
Zecora told Pinkie about what was happening in Gryphonstone. The country was heading towards reclaiming its former glory. It was long and complicated, but it meant that the gryphons were now looking to open up for trade and improve their economy. Pinkie was extraordinarily happy that her visit with Gilda possibly had made such a big impact for so many. She even almost forgot why she had come looking for books.
Once Pinkie found a book with the information she was looking for, she took it and several others (to hide any suspiciousness), thanked Zecora, and rushed home to quickly read up on what she needed to do and form a plan.
As much as she knew she was doing this for the right cause, she couldn’t help but feel guilty. Ponyville would shun her, disown her, be unhappy with her. It tore at her gut.
After the moon rose and basked Ponyville in its quiet glow, Pinkie pulled a little wagon with her to the Everfree Forest. Everything she thought she needed for her late-night hunt was in her little wagon: a book filled with diagrams on how gryphons butchered meat, a cooler full of ice to keep the meat fresh, a sharp knife, a towel, and a butterfly net.
There was so much to preparing meat that Pinkie didn’t know about, nor even wanted to know about. The name of the act alone--butchering--sent prickles down her spine. Never before had she heard such an unpleasant and violent-sounding word. The details that the book went into made her sick, and at one point, she even had to close the book and take a walk around town before she could continue. The pictures didn’t help. It eventually became too much for her, and she felt she had read enough and skipped straight to the cooking.
The cooking part wasn’t so bad. Only by comparison. She found plenty of meat-pie recipes, and they didn’t look too difficult. The only tough part was getting a main ingredient. She didn’t know what kind of meat she would use; but she would take full advantage of whatever first came her way.
As she walked down the path to the forest, the trees reached for the heavens and blotted out the stars. Shadows enveloped the path in front of her. The sparse beams of light that penetrated the thick canopy showed her the way deeper into the darkness. Little bits of light reflected off of what may have been collected moisture on the leaves and bushes, or the eyes of monsters.
Far in the distance echoed the ululations and howling of beasts. She hoped she wouldn’t run into them. If she didn’t go too deep into the wood, she wouldn’t run into those things, right? She ignored the voices in her head screaming at her to run away. This was only a one-time thing, though! She would be in, out, give the prince his meat pie, and the whole ordeal would be over. The Cakes wouldn’t lose their livelihood and their homes; and Pinkie got to stay in Ponyville.
With shaking knees, Pinkie Pie plodded into the yawning mouth of the Everfree Forest.
As much as she tried to sneak and stalk, it was for naught. She chased squirrels up trees, only to run into the trunk. She pounced at rabbits, only to get a mouthful of dirt. And with each strike, she’d instinctively tensed up to not hurt the creature; and it gave whatever little critter Pinkie had her eye on enough time to escape.
With each attempt, she grew more tired. With each failure, she grew more frustrated. With each passing moment, she grew more desperate.
The chattering of startled animals awoke all of the other potential prey, warning them of Pinkie’s presence. The element of surprise was no longer available to Pinkie.
Tears welled up in her eyes. Already she had been at this for hours. Thorns scratched her legs, bugs bit her tush, and sharp rocks jabbed the frogs of her hooves. She plopped down on her rump and wiped her cheeks dry. Was this it? She couldn’t even catch a single critter to save the Cakes.
She was a failure, and now the Cakes were going to be miserable because of her.
She snorted up the snot that leaked from her nose. Her limp mane hid the forest from her, but not her from the forest. She could still hear the critters chatter at her.
She didn’t care anymore. She picked herself up and plodded back towards her wagon. She was going home. To enjoy it for the last time. As she pushed through the overgrowth, the forest wildlife smelled her defeat and fell silent. The calm left Pinkie alone with her thoughts. She didn’t want to hear them. She wished for distraction. Anything!
And then she heard running water. A stream was nearby. Thinking of water made her realize just how thirsty she was. With what energy she had left, she pushed through the foliage until she came upon the small stream. She laid on her belly and stuck her snout in the water. She didn’t care if her mane got wet. Large gulps of water soothed her and drowned the poisonous thoughts in her mind, if only for a moment. She pulled her head back and gasped for air.
Oh, I needed that.
As she leaned forward once again, she saw fish. Lots of them.
Fish are a kind of meat! Yeah! It’s not over. I still have a chance.
She grabbed her butterfly net and studied the water carefully. Hope reinvigorated her muscles. She stood poised on the bank. She was ready to strike.
She appraised each fish as they passed her gaze. They weren’t that big, and it might take a few to fill up a pie. But Pinkie didn’t care as long as she got them.
One of the closer fish turned its back to her. She struck the water with the net. As soon as the net touched the water, all of the fish darted away in every direction. She’d forgotten about the water resistance. It slowed her net down as she struck and left her empty-hooved. But she wouldn’t let that discourage her! She scanned the water until she found another target. This time she tried to use a slower approach: ease the net into the water, then pull it with all her might towards the fish. She managed to pin the fish between the rim of the net and a rock. In her excitement, she pulled the net back and it got away. She was getting closer. It was only a matter of time now!
Then she hit the jackpot. In a narrow crook next to her was a fish. A large fish. A fish large enough to fill up a pie. It was blocked on three sides by rocks and had no way out. It had cornered itself. This was too good for Pinkie to pass up. Capture this fish, and her troubles were as good as over.
She lowered the net into the water and inched it toward the fish. As soon as the fish sensed danger, it flailed about and swam about in its little nook until it charged right into the net. Before it could get out, she pushed the top of the net against a rock. The fish was trapped.
I did it. I DID IT!
With a quick mental slap, she restrained herself from celebrating. The fish was still in the water. She pulled up on handle, making sure that she pulled it at the right angle so the fish couldn’t slip out. And boy, was it a heavy one.
It squirmed and wiggled in the net, but it couldn’t jump out. The handle bent underneath the weight of the fish and flexed under the fish’s struggles. Pinkie pulled the fish closer to her, but then there was a snap.
Never meant as a tool for catching fish, the butterfly net wasn’t strong enough to hold a several pound fish and broke in half. The fish fell right on the bank of the stream.
“No!” Pinkie lunged at the fish and grabbed it in her front hooves. It slipped through her grasp and splashed back into the water.
“No…” whispered Pinkie. Tears ran down her cheeks. She pounded the ground with a hoof. “No, no, no, no, no-ho-ho-hooooo.”
She fell onto her side and cried. Her tears streamed down her cheeks and onto the damp soil beneath her.
Defeated, Pinkie pulled her wagon out of the forest. It was still dark, but not for long. She wanted to get home before the Cakes woke up, which was early since they had to have goods ready for the ponies who came to Sugarcube Corner for breakfast.
With all the hunting and stalking she had done, she came out from an entirely different part of the forest than she had entered. She just had to find a familiar landmark, and she’d be able to make her way home. And she found one in front of her--Fluttershy’s home.
Too tired to take a roundabout route, she walked through Fluttershy’s yard toward Ponyville. She had only enough energy to lift her head to see a few feet in front of her. Pinkie sighed as she took a few steps to the left to walk around the chicken coop.
What was she going to tell the prince when he came for his pie? She couldn’t catch a single animal. No squirrel, no rabbit, no fish, no bird, no chicken.
Pinkie turned and looked at the chicken coop. Many chickens slept inside. They had no way out except for the tiny door. They were trapped. And even if they got out, there was still the fence around the coop that prevented them from running too far.
This would be easy. Too easy. They were just waiting to be plucked.
Pinkie couldn’t take her eyes off the coop. What she needed was inside. All she had to do was reach out and take it. If she didn’t, all the stress, pain, and heartache she had suffered would have been for nothing. She felt her chest tighten and her heart race.
Then her stomach dropped like a slab of concrete. What about Fluttershy?
How would Fluttershy feel if one of her chickens had gone missing? She would be devastated. She treated and loved every animal as if they were her children. Pinkie couldn’t do this to her. They were friends. Friends didn’t steal from each other.
But she has so many, Pinkie thought. Would it really make a difference if just ONE chicken went missing? It wouldn’t be the first time. She built the fence to keep out foxes, but… fences aren’t perfect. There’s always a way around them.
Pinkie shook her head. “No, I can’t do that.”
Fluttershy understands that animals eat other animals to survive. She’s used to this by now. And she has more chickens every year. Chickens lay eggs. The eggs hatch into more chickens. Fluttershy can easily replace the chicken. She already has more than enough.
“But she’ll be… she’ll…”
You’re trying to keep the Cakes from becoming homeless, right? All you need is to take a chicken. Fluttershy is your friend, and she’d understand. You’re putting the lives of FOUR PONIES in jeopardy just for a SINGLE CHICKEN?
“It’s not like that…”
You only need one. Take the chicken.
Take the chicken.
Pinkie breathed through her mouth. Her chest heaved. Her hooves shook as she unhitched her wagon and grabbed the towel. In a dream-like haze, Pinkie watched as the gate opened in front of her, and the hen house came closer.
Once in front of the hen house, she looked inside. She could see the chickens in the dark, each one on a little nest, including one right next to the door.
Pinkie took a deep breath and readied her towel. She imagined what she would do in her head.
Before any more thoughts could cloud her mind, she sprang. She threw the towel over the chicken, grabbed the edges and pulled them together into a makeshift sack, and ran out of the pen. By the time she hitched herself to the wagon, the hen house was abuzz with the screeching of startled chickens. Pinkie ran as fast as she could with the struggling chicken-filled towel dangling from her mouth. She didn’t stop until she was back in the Everfree Forest and all she could hear was the clucking chicken in her grasp and the squeaking of her wagon wheels.
With her hoof pinning down the corners of the towel, Pinkie watched the ensnared bird struggle. The chicken squawked and clucked while flapping about and pushing against the towel. She had completely forgotten this was a step she needed to take.
She had to kill.
How could she have been so stupid? This was something she had to do, but why had it escaped her until now? She hadn’t planned for this. Could it be that she had unconsciously pushed it out of her mind? The moment had come, and she wasn’t prepared.
But she had to do it. For the Cakes. For the future of gryphon-equine relations. For Twilight.
With her left hoof, she gently felt about the towel. The chicken froze. She could see the chicken breathing under the towel. She ran her hoof around the sides of the chicken until she found its head. She placed the hard part of her hoof on it and applied pressure to keep it from moving.
“I’m so sorry.”
She pushed with all her might until she heard a sickening crack. Blood soaked into the white towel as the chicken spasmed underneath. As the seconds dragged on, the kicks and jerks became weaker and less frequent. A full two minutes later, the chicken laid still.
Pinkie hurled on herself when she removed the towel and exposed herself to the gore within. The smell of the puke and chicken brains did not mix well, and Pinkie felt her stomach squirm. She couldn’t stand it, nor could she prepare food with dirty hooves. She took her kill with her and washed it off in the stream from earlier. The stream would be great not only to wash the meat, but also any blood that spilled on her fur.
Plucking took up too much time. Pinkie skipped this step to make the most of the limited time she had.
The next step was worse than anything she could have ever imagined. Pinkie had to take her knife and gut the chicken by cutting open the underside near its “vent,” then pulling out all of the organs. She ran into more problems.
The first was her knife. She had brought a baker’s knife. Unlike a butcher’s knife, her knife had a square end. Without the pointy end of a butcher’s knife, it was much harder for her penetrate the chicken’s flesh. She had to push and shove until the flesh gave way and the knife sank through and jutted out the other side. The knife was also ridged for handing bread, not smooth to handle flesh, and made cutting laborious. She hacked and pushed until she had a big enough opening to pull out the guts.
But that’s when the second problem hit her--the smell.
Putrid gas from ruptured organs rushed out of the body and smacked Pinkie in the nose. She turn her face towards the stream and vomited. She would never get used to the smell.
She continued hacking away, breaking bones, and peeling skin. Each squish and hack and slash seeped into her ear and dripped down into her stomach. Every few seconds, she would stop to dry heave and occasionally puke.
She continued this gruesome preparation for the next hour, skipping steps as she worked until she was just hacking meat from the bones, peeling off the skin and feathers, and tossing the chunks of meat into baggies and into the cooler. As soon as she had enough to fill a pie tin, she cleaned off her knife, chucked the bloody towel into the stream, and left the body to rot.
After getting what she came for, she rushed home. She didn’t have any time to lose.
She had less than an hour before Mr. Cake woke up at five. She scrambled up some premade pie dough, threw the pie together while the oven preheated, and then shoved it in the oven once it was done and set the timer.
She did it. She would have the pie done before Mr. Cake came down the stairs. All she would have to do would be take it out, keep it in the cooler to keep it warm, and give it to Prince Glut when he came. Then everything would be back to normal.
She wiped the sweat off her forehead and collapsed to one side. She started to drift off while taking long, relaxed breaths.
It’s over. You’ve done it, girl.
Then it hit her again. The smell.
While nowhere near as gut-wrenching, the smell of cooking meat still offended her nose. And what if Mr. or Mrs. Cake smelled it? They would get suspicious! What would she say? How could she hide this pie? If they kept asking her about it, she’d crumble and tell them. She knew she would. She had to do something and fast!
Then she remembered--grapefruit pies! Their smell would overpower that of the chicken’s. After pushing herself up, she put together two grapefruit pies, sprinkled them with extra cinnamon for the extra smell, and shoved them into the oven with the chicken pie.
“Woo-hoo,” she whispered and lifted her shaky forelegs up above her head before falling onto her back. She shut her eyes and fell asleep.
“Pinkie? Pinkie? What are you doing here?”
Pinkie moaned and squeezed her eyes shut. She felt as if she had galloped through the Running of the Leaves, not once but five times. She rubbed the sleepiness out of her eyes. It took for a few seconds for her vision to come into focus.
Above her stood Mr. Cake, still in his spotted pajamas. The light was on, but it was still dark outside. The underside of the clouds on the horizon were burned magenta. She looked back at Mr. Cake.
“Morning, Mr. Cake,” she said with a yawn.
“Yes, good morning, Pinkie.” Mr. Cake extended a hoof for Pinkie to latch onto. He pulled her up, and she wobbled in place. “What are you doing in the kitchen this early in the morning? Have you been cooking all night?”
Pinkie scrunched her face. “Huh? What do you mean?”
“Well--” Mr. Cake pointed to the counters of the kitchen “--everything’s an absolute mess. What have you been up to?”
She looked at where he pointed and gasped. The kitchen was an absolute mess. Flour was sprinkled everywhere, sticky globs of dough were splattered all over the counters and even on the ceiling, dirty utensils were cluttered in the sink, and her cooler was tipped over in a puddle of melted ice.
Oh goodness! How had she even made such a mess? Everything last night was a blur. There was something about books, Zecora, then she went to the Everfree Forest to…
Oh no, that wasn’t a dream.
Mr. Cake walked over to the oven and pulled on the handle. “And what is that smell? What are you cooking in here?”
Pinkie gasped, rushed to the oven, shoved herself between him and the oven. “Nothing! I- um- uhhh.”
Mr. Cake flinched and slowly put down his hoof. He leaned down to Pinkie’s level and looked her in the eyes. “Pinkie, are you alright? You don’t seem like yourself.”
Pressure built within Pinkie as Mr. Cake’s interrogation continued to bore into her. She had to say something. Anything. Just get him away from the oven for a few seconds.
“I-- um-- Did Mrs. Cake tell you about the gryphons yesterday?”
Mr. Cake pulled his face back a bit. “Yes, she mentioned that there was some commotion, but we didn’t get to ask you about what happened.”
The gears in Pinkie’s head went into overdrive. “Well, he didn’t like the grapefruit pie I baked him, so he asked for another pie, and I said yes! So I spent all night trying to make the perfect pie!”
Pinkie stopped and thought about what she said. Well, that is technically what I did.
Mr. Cake turned away from Pinkie and examined the mess again. “And then you made this mess?”
Pinkie scratched her cheek and chuckled. “Heh, yeah. Last night was… crazy.”
When he turned back to Pinkie, he had a relieved smile on his face. “Well, I’m glad you’re really trying your best to please the visitors, but don’t drive yourself crazy. It’s not anything worth getting so bent out of shape.”
Pinkie swallowed and looked away. The egg timer behind her dinged. “Hehe, yeah, sure. So… why don’t you get a cup of coffee while I clean up this mess?”
At the suggestion, Mr. Cake sighed and went to get the coffee grounds out of the cabinet on the opposite side of the kitchen. “Alright, Pinkie. Just be sure to wash up and take a nap afterwards. We’re going to need you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for today.”
As soon as Mr. Cake turned his back, Pinkie grabbed the cooler, dumped out the excess water, grabbed a pan holder, opened the oven, and dropped the meat pie into the cooler, as well as two plates and some silverware. She slammed the lid on it and ran upstairs. “Will do, Mr. Cake! Just need to put this in my room!”
“Pinkie Pie, sometimes you let your emotions drive you crazy,” mumbled Mr. Cake as he pulled the tin of coffee out of the cabinet. He sniffed the air and shuddered. “Ech. I still think grapefruit pies is a bad idea.”
Much to Pinkie’s surprise, the Cakes bought her spur-of-the-moment tale. Even she was beginning to believe it herself. Good thing they never did question how, after a whole night of baking, Pinkie only had three pies to show for it.
The more she tried to remember last night, the more it seemed like a bad dream. She gave the countertops, the oven, and the ceiling a quick scrub down before jumping in the bath with Gummy and finally curling up in bed. The bath washed away the pain in her muscles, and the rest she so needed untangled the mental knots clogging up her brain. After an hour-and-a-half nap, she jumped out of bed just in time to catch the morning rush.
She felt fantastic. As if nothing was wrong in the world and all of her problems had been solved. Her fears of losing the Cakes and costing them their livelihood and home were a thing of the past. It didn’t take much for her to smile and give every customer their much-deserved enthusiastic service. The time flew by as Pinkie worked her heart out. She didn’t even bother to look at the clock to see what time it was. She wanted this to go on forever. A smile on everypony’s faces and a yummy in every tummy.
Then the door opened, and two gryphons sauntered in. That was when time froze.
Prince Glut, calm as ever, stopped just inside of the door, completely enveloped in his brute’s shadow, Grisly. He turned his head from left to right, silently judging every pony and pastry, until he saw Pinkie. He locked eyes with Pinkie and strutted toward her. His beak broke in two with a jagged smile.
“Good morning, baker,” he said.
She wouldn’t let him bring her down. She had done what he asked, and he couldn’t break his promise. Keeping the smile on her face, she greeted the pair. “Why, good morning to you, Prince Glut. Good morning, Grisly.”
Grisly stayed silent. The couple at a nearby table leaned away from the gryphons and tried not to look at them. Pinkie couldn’t blame them.
Glut raised a talon and inspected his claws.“I’m here to pick up my pie.”
“Righty-O. I’ve got it all ready for you!” She leaned in and whispered, “Meet me in the back.”
Pinkie Pie excused herself to run up to her room and retrieve the pie. She took the cooler through the kitchen and presented it to the gryphons. When she opened the cooler, the pent-up scent of the warm contents wafted out and into their faces. While the scent made Pinkie gag, the Prince and Grisly licked their beaks.
Pinkie reached in, grabbed a knife, and cut the pie, giving a plate with a slice to each of them. “Here you are! One meat pie, just like you wanted.”
Glut whiffed the slice and smiled. He extended an open claw and held it there. It took a moment for Pinkie to realize what he was asking for and put a fork in his claw. Grisly made no such request and took a big bite out of his slice.
Using his fork, Glut cut off a sliver of the pie, stuck it with his fork, and held it up to his face. He inspected it and looked at it from every angle before smelling it again. When he saw or smelled nothing wrong with it, he shoved the chunk of white meat in his mouth and chewed.
Pinkie had to look away. She had seen where the meat came from, and even if she didn’t, knowing full well what the gryphons were ingesting--the muscle tissue of a once living thing--was more than she could stomach.
Even so, she only kept her glances away short to not be rude. Grisly devoured his slice and was reaching in for seconds. The Prince, however, hadn’t even finished his first bite. He chewed slowly and rolled it around into every corner of his mouth. Finally, he let out an audible swallow and stared back at Pinkie. He wasn’t smiling.
“What meat did you use?”
Pinkie felt a shiver down her spine. “What? I used meat, just like you asked.”
“I don’t repeat myself.”
“What meat did you use?” grumbled Grisly. Bits of meat fell from his beak and onto his chest.
Pinkie jumped back. “Chicken! I used chicken! It was all I could get!”
The Prince lowered his face and glared at Pinkie with a snarl. “Chicken…” He hurled the plate at the wall, and it shattered into pieces. “Chicken is the food of commoners! For gryphons who don’t have the gold to pay for a real meal. You dare insult me by giving me commoner food!?”
Pinkie shrunk back into herself. Her mane sank to the ground. “But you said you wanted a meat pie, right? Didn’t it taste--”
“How it tastes is not what’s important!” Glut smacked the cooler aside and stomped up to Pinkie. “Go get me a grapefruit,” he growled.
Pinkie couldn’t stop shivering. “I’m sorry, what did--”
“I DON’T REPEAT MYSELF!”
That last holler didn’t help her. She looked around, everywhere she could to not look Glut in the eyes, until her eyes caught a glimpse of Grisly. He was slurping the last of the pie out of the tin when he saw Pinkie looking at him. He crushed the tin in his claw, dropped it, then snatched up Pinkie by the scruff of her neck with his monstrous claws. He pulled her up to his face. His foul breath blew through Pinkie’s fur and soaked into her skin. “The prince said, ‘Go get me a grapefruit.’”
Grisly dropped Pinkie and she bounced off the ground. She scrambled back up onto her feet and ran into the kitchen. Mr. and Mrs. Cake were still out front; was it possible they hadn’t heard what was going on? She prayed that there was an escape, a friend, something to pull her away. But she couldn’t leave. She was absolutely terrified of what would happen if she didn’t fulfill his request. The sooner she made him happy, the sooner he’d leave her alone. She grabbed a grapefruit from the refrigerator and ran back outside to the prince.
She held out the grapefruit. “Here you go!”
Glut snorted. “It’s ‘Here you are, YOUR HIGHNESS.’”
Pinkie squeaked in fright. “Hereyouare,YourHighness,” she blurted out.
“Better.” Glut plucked the grapefruit from Pinkie’s hooves and held it up to inspect it. “If memory serves me correctly…” He scratched his chin and hummed. “This grapefruit is, what, about the size of a pony chick’s head?”
Pony chick? Pony chick? …! He means ‘foal!”
“No!” screamed Pinkie. “Not the twins!”
Glut opened his eyes wide and smiled. “Oh, so there are two of them.”
Pinkie shoved her hooves in her mouth. Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no!
“You see, baker--” Glut raised his other claw and ran a single talon over the grapefruit. “--we had a promise.”
Pinkie pulled her hooves out of her mouth. “Yes, and I--”
“I DON’T LIKE TO BE DISTURBED!” Glut flared his wings and shoved Pinkie. She fell back on her rump and sank to her belly.
“Now, as I was saying. We had a promise that you would give me a good pie, not a mediocre one. So, you still haven’t kept your end of the promise. But I guess that’s my fault.” He held the grapefruit above his shoulder. Grisly took it. “This time, I’ll be more specific. Maybe you won’t screw up.”
Pinkie could do nothing more but nod. Her eyes burned and filled with tears.
Glut continued, “There’s been a meat I’ve always wanted to try. I’ve heard it’s one of the sweetest, most delectable treats in the world. So scrumptious that it’ll make your toes curl. I want you to get me this meat and make it into a pie. You understand?”
Pinkie nodded; her chin hit the dirt.
Glut stood over Pinkie and pushed his face close to hers. “I don’t hear you.”
“Yes, I understand,” said Pinkie.
“You didn’t answer correctly.”
Pinkie couldn’t stop shaking. “Yes, I understand, Your Highness.”
“Do you promise?”
“Yes, I promise, Your Highness!”
“Good,” he said as he took a step back. “ I am a prince who gets what he wants. Any being that angers me--be it gryphon, pony, or otherwise--gets punished. What I want you, baker, to do, is make me a pie, and I want the main ingredient to be pony meat.”
Pinkie froze. Her insides turned to ice as the words echoed in her ears. She looked up at Glut and opened her mouth to speak, but Glut interrupted her.
“Uh-uh-uh! You can’t say no, now. We made a deal, remember? You promised. Hoping you would fly, stabbing your eyes, and all that other nonsense.” He stepped aside to give Pinkie a clear view of Grisly. “You will keep your promise, or…”
Grisly crushed the grapefruit in his claw and dropped the remains on Pinkie’s head.
She lost control of her bladder. “You wouldn’t,” she whimpered.
“Oh, I would and I could,” he said with a sneer. “I get what I want, one way or another. And if you were to try to tell anyone, who would believe you? You are a lowly baker, and I am an honorable prince. Don’t forget your place, and don’t forget your promise. You have until eight tomorrow morning.” He turned around and walked away. “Do not disappoint me. I don’t like to be disappointed. Grisly, let’s go.”
Grisly followed the prince around the corner of the shop.
Pinkie cried. She cried softly, and then she cried loudly. She got up from the puddle she had left in the dirt and ran through the kitchen. Through the lobby and up the stairs to her room. She slammed the door and jumped into bed, bawling into a pillow.
The pillow muffled Pinkie’s cries. Her cries muffled the knocks and voices at her bedroom door.
She wanted them to go away. They couldn’t help; if she told them why she was upset, word would spread, and Twilight’s political meeting would be ruined. It would be Pinkie’s fault.
She couldn’t do that to her friend, but at the same time, she had stolen from another. She had butchered one of Fluttershy’s pets, and it was all for nothing. Pinkie just wanted to die.
“Eat me!” she’d shout to Glut. “You want pony meat? Then eat me. I don’t want to live anymore.”
He would still reject it. He’d find fault with Pinkie’s flesh and still take away Sugarcube Corner.
“Pinkie Pie!” said Mr. Cake on the other side of the door. “Are you okay? What happened to you?”
“Pinkie, sweety,” said Mrs. Cake. “Please let us in. We’d like to talk to you.”
“Go away. Just leave me to die!” shouted Pinkie. She regretted it immediately. That only made things worse; and it made her feel worse. She sunk her face back into the snot-and-tear-stained pillow and wailed.
Mr. and Mrs. Cake remained outside her door. They whispered to each other.
“What do you think happened to her?” said Mr. Cake.
“I don’t know, hun. I’m scared for her. She’s never been like this before.”
“What can we do?”
“Maybe she’ll talk to her friends,” said Mrs. Cake. “You go get Rarity. I’ll go see if I can find Fluttershy. Maybe they can comfort her.”
Pinkie pushed off of her bed. A hoof got entangled in her bedspread, and she tumbled onto the floor.
“Pinkie! What’s going on in there?” shouted Mr. Cake. He grabbed the door handle and pulled, but it rattled against the lock, so he pounded on the door.
“Pinkie!” cried Mrs. Cake. “Are you alright in there? Are you hurt? Speak to me!”
The door opened in front of them. Pinkie ran through, shoved them aside, ran down the stairs, and out the front door.
She ran until her muscles ached. Until she didn’t know where she was. Until she couldn’t see straight.
The surrounding trees closed in on her. The branches with their craggy fingers reached out and pulled her mane. Bushes snared her ankles, and thorns scratched her skin.
“Liar,” whispered the trees.
“No!” She cried.
“Failure,” whispered the bushes.
“Leave me alone!”
“Murderer,” whispered the wind.
“I’m not! Please, leave me alone!”
A root jerked up from the ground and tripped her. She fell on her shoulder and her head bounced off the ground. She fought to keep her eyes open, but she couldn’t.
Everything went black.
When Pinkie woke up, her head ached. She brought up her hooves and rubbed her face. One side of her head was damp; she rolled onto her belly and rubbed the mucky hair. The stickiness was all over her hoof. She inspected her hoof, and what she saw made her sick.
The side of her head was matted with blood. She pushed herself on her hooves. Her legs wobbled, and she fought to keep her balance. Slowly, her vision cleared, but her mind was still foggy.
She wanted to go home. But where was home? She tried to walk, but fumbled on the first step. Instead of exploring, she leaned against the nearest tree.
She couldn’t remember how she had gotten here; but why she had come here was engraved in her skull.
All around her, she saw trees reaching up for the sky. Above them were clouds with the slightest tinges of purple of the setting sun. To the west, there was the dying light of the day. Perhaps her last full day in Ponyville.
She drooped her head as she tried to think. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know what she was going to do. She didn’t know how much time she had left. All she knew was she had to make a pony into a pie, or ruin the lives of those she cherished the most. She would rather die than do either.
She hit her head against the tree. She hit harder. And harder. Kill me.
She slammed her head once more against the tree. “Just kill me!” she wailed and fell to the ground.
Curled up in the fetal position, all she could do was cry. If she was dead, she wouldn’t feel pain. She wouldn’t see the horror on her friends’ faces when they learned about her wrong-doings. She wouldn’t have to see Sugarcube Corner be demolished or the twins go hungry. Or worse.
These poisonous thoughts of death rotted her mind. She couldn’t think of anything else. But if she was dead, her friends would still have to deal with her passing. They might not learn about her betrayal, but she still would have ruined their lives. How would they mourn her passing? How would they be at her funeral? Would they bury her in the earth the traditional earth pony way in the Ponyville cemetery? How would--
Pinkie opened her eyes wide. Hey, wait a minute!
Hope filled her veins. There was a fourth option. She didn’t have to kill again, fail the Cakes or Twilight, nor did she have to kill herself. This idea--this sick, twisted, revolting idea--lifted a weight of Pinkie’s shoulders and gave her the strength to pick herself back up.
I don’t have to kill. I just need the body of a pony. A body a pony is no longer using!
With her renewed vigor, she pushed herself back up on her legs. Judging by the tall, organized trees, she could tell she wasn’t in the Everfree, but one of the other safer forests that dotted around Ponyville. If she was to guess, she was to the west of Ponyville.
Using the setting sun as her guide, she found her way back to Ponyville--covered in the darkness of night.
She was right. As the trees cleared, she could see Ponyville in the distance. She had come out of the wood behind Cheerilee’s schoolhouse.
Darkness had blanketed Ponyville by the time she arrived. Unlike the night before, the stars were obscured behind a layer of clouds. Under the shadow of the clouds, she should be able to get what she needed and do what she needed to do without running into a single pony.
She slipped into Ponyville.
Using bushes, barrels, and buildings as cover, Pinkie snuck to Sugarcube Corner.
It was easy enough to sneak onto Sweet Apple Acres and get a shovel, but Ponyville was another matter.
Her outburst had caused the whole town to panic, and ponies were out looking for her. Every other street had a guard or a friend on them. The pitch-black night was illuminated by their lanterns as they walked and flew through Ponyville.
Still, she managed to make it home without being caught.
The lights were on in Sugarcube Corner. The Cakes must have still been up. No doubt worried sick about her.
Why did this have to be so hard?
She slunk around the back and peered in through the kitchen window. Nopony was in. She left the shovel on the ground next to the door, crept in, and switched off the light. Under the cover of darkness, she grabbed the cooler from before.
As she filled it with ice from the refrigerator, she heard voices coming from upstairs. It was Mrs. Cake crying. Her sobs echoed down the stairs and into Pinkie’s heart. Tears welled up in her eyes.
She mustn’t dilly-dally. But still, she couldn’t help but inch towards the door and listen.
“Why? What could have caused her to run off like that? We love her, and she knows that. Why wouldn’t she let us in?”
Pinkie wiped away her tears and sniffed. She wanted to run to Mrs. Cake. Give her a big hug and make her stop crying.
“Mrs. Cake, I’m sure she’s alright.”
Pinkie froze. That voice.
“How could she possibly be alright, Fluttershy? You weren’t there, you didn’t see the look on her face. You didn’t hear her crying.”
“You’re right,” said Fluttershy calmly. “I wasn’t there, but Pinkie is a tough girl. I’m sure she just needs a bit of alone time. When she is ready, she’ll come back home to us.”
Pinkie took a step backwards. No.
“How can you say that? She’s out there alone. She needs us.”
“If we were to force her to tell us what’s wrong, she’d resist. Even if she knows we’re trying to help her, she will still feel that we are trying to pry into her when she’s at her most vulnerable. If we truly want to help her recover, we need to wait for her to be ready to open up to us.”
Pinkie shook with frustration. She couldn’t stand to listen to them any more. Too quickly, she spun around to leave. A hoof kicked the cooler and it tipped over. Ice spilled out all over the floor. She flinched.
“Who’s that?! Pinkie Pie, is that you?” The clopping of Mrs. Cake’s hooves echoed upstairs.
Pinkie scooped up as much ice as she could. As the clops reached the steps, she abandoned the rest of the ice, threw a knife into the cooler, put it on her back, and ran outside. She didn’t bother to shut the door.
With the cooler on her back and the shovel in her mouth, she ran into the nearest darkened alleyway. Behind her, she could hear Mrs. Cake crying out her name.
The clouds above veiled the moon from the ground below. The only light in the night where the lanterns moving through the streets of Ponyville. They were barely visible this far out of town.
Separated from the rest of town, the Ponyville Cemetery was located on a low, flat plain to the North. There was no iron fence to keep ponies out. It was always open to those who wished to visit loved ones passed.
Pinkie, with her back to Ponyville, walked along the tombstones. Some of them were the standard slab of concrete, upright with a rounded top. Others were like plaques that came up to her knee. A few from the more wealthy families had carvings. Tall spires that pointed to the heavens above. On all of the stones, the names, dates, and cutie marks of the ponies below were engraved. Some even had loving send-offs chiseled in by the ones they left behind.
If she had been there for other reasons, she would have taken the time to read the stones, even admire the detailed carvings of the cutie marks. But she avoided them. She didn’t want to know their names. She didn’t want to see them as equine. She came with the intent of defiling one of the graves, and she’d sleep better not knowing whom she disturbed.
With her eyes focused on the ground, she passed each grave. The ones completely covered with grass she passed without a second glance. She went through several rows before she came upon one where the dirt was exposed. Only a few fresh blades of grass grew on the dirt.
So must have been the body below.
She looked at the date listed on the tombstone. She deemed it recent enough. Turning her back to the tombstone so she wouldn’t risk learning the pony’s name or cutie mark, she placed her cooler to the side and started digging.
The dirt was soft and loose. Within a few minutes, she already found herself about a foot deep. She had no idea how much farther she had to dig. The deeper she went, the more time elapsed. The more time elapsed, the greater the risk of a pony spotting her became. The greater the risk became, the more Pinkie stressed. She didn’t know what she would do if she got caught, and she didn’t want to think about it.
After digging until the hole was shoulder high, the head of the shovel hit something with a wooden thump. She found the coffin. Using her hoof, she wiped away the loose dirt until she found an edge of the light-brown casket. She jammed the shovel between the lid and the bottom of the coffin and pushed down on the handle. The wood creaked as the nails holding the lid in place were pried out of their holes. The smell of death bled out of the gap.
The shovel tip slipped out of the wedge, and Pinkie fell on the shovel and rolled onto the coffin. She moaned as the curved edges of shovel dug into her sides. She pushed herself up and picked up the shovel again. She jammed the shovel underneath the lid again, and this time she found more purchase. With all her weight, she gave a mighty push, and the lid popped off. A whoosh of trapped gas escaped through the large opening and blew into Pinkie’s face. She gagged and plopped her torso onto the grass outside of the hole, where she hacked and heaved. She took a deep breath of fresh air before submerging back into the grave. She lifted the hexagonal lid and leaned it against the side of the whole.
Inside the coffin was the body of an earth pony stallion. His body was surrounded by pictures of his loved ones, a pocket watch that must have been a special personal belonging, and a horseshoe. The top of his head was pointing east, as all earth ponies lie in their final rest. They go to the great fields of Elysium by rising with the morning sun. His body was laid in the fetal position, just as he had been shortly after he was born. His eyes were closed, as if he were sleeping. The color of his fur was a pale yellow. His mane was a pale brown. Both paler than when he had been alive. With the life that left his body, so did his color, his magic...
Pinkie looked down at the stallion’s flank.
... so did his cutie mark.
Never before had Pinkie seen a dead body. She wished she would never see one ever again.
At least she was one step closer. She didn’t need the whole body, just enough meat to fill a pie tin. A slab from his flank would do.
As she tried to climb out to get her knife, the dirt gave way under her hoof, and she slipped backwards. Her back hoof hit the body, and she flinched. Frantically, she dug her way out of the pit. When she got out, she turned back and looked down into the grave.
The body had moved, but only slightly. Not his limbs or head, but as a whole.
His body felt so stiff.
She breathed heavily through her dry mouth. Shivers ran down her body. She felt unclean. Repulsed. Contaminated. No bath would ever make her clean again. Now wasn’t the time to be concerned with that. She had already lost her purity. She’d mourn it when she had the time. Right now, she had to get what she came for and--
“Hey! Hey, you!”
Pinkie jumped and snapped her head toward the voice.
Outside the cemetery was a pony holding a lantern, and she was running toward her.
Oh no. Pinkie snatched up her cooler and ran. The pony behind her gave chase.
“Wait! Wait up!”
No! Leave me alone! Go away. GO AWAY!
Pinkie galloped through the cemetery and weaved between tombstones, but she couldn’t lose the pony behind her. Once she made it out of the cemetery, she made a beeline for the nearby forest. Under the darkness of the starless night and the blanket of trees, she’d be able to escape.
She ran as fast as her shaking legs would let her. The trees grew above her, like pillars of black against a grey sky. The shadows engulfed her as she passed the first of them. She made it.
A cragged root was in her way, and she jumped to avoid it. The cooler on her back fell off, and she froze in her tracks. Her heart stopped as the pony’s lantern grew closer and washed away the darkness concealing her. She couldn’t leave the cooler. They could trace it and the knife inside back to Sugarcube Corner. Back to her. They’d know she was the one that dug up the grave. Everything she done would have been exposed.
She jumped on the cooler and snatched it up. She turned to run until--
“Pinkie!? Pinkie! It’s you! Please, wait up!”
She’d been found out. All the fight in her disappeared. She lacked the energy to stand and plopped down in defeat. The cooler tipped over and the lid popped off, spilling ice on the ground.
She watched the shadows ahead of her retreat as the pony and her lantern came up from behind.
“Pinkie! There you are!”
She buried her face in the dirt. She wanted to hide. Be swallowed up by the earth and never be seen again.
The clopping came closer. When the mare was only a few feet from her, she stopped.
“Pinkie? What are you doing out here? Everypony’s worried sick about you.”
Pinkie cried into the dirt.
“Come on. Let’s go home. The Cakes miss you terribly. Your friends spent the whole day looking for you. Twilight even sent out half her guard to look for you.”
The words penetrated Pinkie’s defenses. She doubled down and curled up tighter in her grave.
Pinkie felt the mare touch her shoulder. Electricity shocked her spine. “Pinkie, please. Come with me back to--”
“Don’t touch me!”
She jumped off the ground and smacked the hoof away. The mare’s face was clearly visible in the lantern’s light. She’d recognize that mint-green coat and those golden eyes anywhere. It was Lyra. She stared at her wide-eyed and took a few steps back from Pinkie.
Pinkie shivered. “Lyra…”
Lyra nodded. “Yes, Pinkie. It’s me. Please let me -- Pinkie! Your head! You’re bleeding! Come on, let’s get you home and cleaned up.”
Her eyes. Pinkie couldn’t stand them. She focused on a spot on the ground and didn’t look at her. Lyra stepped forward and reached out to touch Pinkie’s shoulder.
“Don’t touch me,” Pinkie growled. After that, she didn’t say anything. She didn’t move. All she did was ignore every plea Lyra made until she shut up.
The two of them stood there in silence. Their stand-off was only disturbed by the occasional attempt of Lyra getting closer to her. Each time, Pinkie flinched back, as if she was ready to flee, and Lyra would quickly back off. They stayed this way for a half an hour.
Hatred welled up in Pinkie’s stomach. Why? Why did Lyra have to find me? How dare she look for me. I was close. So close to solving all my problems. Then she comes by and ruins everything. She had to fumble along into the cemetery. Who checks a cemetery for a missing pony? Pinkie gnashed her teeth. What in Tartarus is she doing out anyway? She said that Twilight sent out half the guard to look for me. That’s more than enough to look for a missing pony. Why did she decide to go out and look for me too?
Pinkie looked up from the corner of her eyes. If she wants to help so badly…
Pinkie licked her dry lips. “Lyra,” she said quietly.
Lyra leaned forward.
“There… there is something I need to show you.” Pinkie got up, took a few steps into the woods, then looked over her shoulder. “It’s over here.”
Lyra picked up her lantern and followed Pinkie into the darkness.