The Mind Enchanted

by the7Saviors

First published

Is ignorance truly bliss? Or is it a curse?

I have been branded a criminal for a crime I have no recollection of committing. The transgression of which I'm accused is evidently heinous enough that my friends, my family, and the rest of Equestria have turned against me. I want to say that I didn't do it, that it wasn't my fault, but I can't. The only thing I can say in my defense is that if the deed was truly done by my hoof, then it was done due to circumstances beyond my control.

I say this because I can't remember. I say this because I'm not allowed to remember. I say this because my mind is no longer my own. It belongs to the voice, you see. It crawled into my head one day—poured cruel and malicious words into my brain. I tried to fight it but it grew and grew and grew until was powerful enough to seep into my memories, my limbs, my magic. Now it won't let me go. It's taken my mind and body away from me. It does terrible things and hides the truth from me.

I am not mad, but under these circumstances what else can I do but plead insanity?

The events described take place before Season 1.

The Trial

View Online

My name is Twilight Sparkle, and I currently stand accused of a crime I may or may not have committed. I'd like to say I did nothing wrong, but for reasons that will soon become evident, I can't be entirely sure that I have a leg to stand on.

As sad as it is to say—and due to certain unusual circumstances—I may very well have committed the heinous crime for which I am currently standing accused. What is that crime you may ask? Well, I wish I could tell you, I really do. The problem is that, due to those unusual circumstances I mentioned previously, I can never seem to remember.

Even when I'm told directly of what I'd done the words seem to slip away from me like water through a sieve—going in one ear and out the other without ever having reached my brain. One thing I do know for certain is that this crime, whatever it may have been, was atrocious enough that my friends and family, horrified and saddened though they are, have abandoned me to my grim fate, whatever that may be.

This awful deed, this abominable act, this apparent tragedy evidently brought about by my own hooves was known to everypony except me. The culprit alone remains lost in the dark, quite literally unable to remember what it is they've done. I'm scared, naturally—confused and distraught by my situation and the accusations forced upon me.

I'm scared of what I might've done to deserve such scorn from the jury. Equestria wasn't a perfect place, but to me, it had always been for the most part a symbol of love and tolerance. It was and is a country that thrives under the tenets of harmony and respect for your fellow equine. Bound in chains and quaking under the weight of countless judging eyes, I could only ask myself how.

In a world where love and tolerance reigned supreme, how was disdain this potent allowed to exist? What had I done to incur this kind of animosity? What had caused those I love and respect to turn away from me with such sadness and betrayal in their eyes? These questions and more fill my mind as I testify on the stand, but the answers continue to elude me.

Up until roughly a week ago, I'd been a star student, the treasured protègè of none other than Princess Celestia herself. I'd been living on and off within the castle as my thaumic studies and the Princess dictated, seeing new things, meeting new ponies almost every day. I had a loving family and friends who I'd been able to make little time for, but still cared for me and my wellbeing.

It was a life that was too good for me, it was a life many could only dream of, and—while not without its imperfections—it was a life I cherished greatly.

But then one day, for no reason I could fathom, I started to hear things.

Strange incomprehensible words that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once. It began as a soft sort of whisper—an incoherent but oddly bewitching sound that tickled my mind. Before I could even begin to unravel what it meant or even ponder if I'd gone insane that whisper grew into a commanding presence, dominating my life in a matter of days.

It told me things, things I couldn't understand, things I didn't want to hear. I tried to drive it out, tried to root out its origins, but I gained no ground. Ultimately the voice terrified me to the point that I gave up trying to understand and tried to ignore it altogether instead. For a time it seemed to work, and the voice faded away, only to be replaced by the blackouts soon after.

They were infrequent but unmistakable, often leaving me floundering for an explanation as to where I was and what I'd been doing just then. The locations had no rhyme or reason and there was nothing to indicate the activity that had taken place. It was clear to me that something, some unnatural force, had crawled its way into my head and was compelling me to do things against my will, rendering me unaware of its deeds in the process.

Unfortunately, that fact hadn't been clear to me until it was too late. The worst part of it all to me was having to answer questions, questions to which I had no viable answer to give. They found me then as I'd found myself multiple times before—wandering the halls of Canterlot Castle, dazed and confused and alone. There was no visible sign that I'd done anything wrong but I was apprehended and detained like some rabid animal nonetheless.

There were no explanations to be had, only rough treatment and unanswered questions. I was left with an unshakable fear of the unknown and the horror of knowing my mind and body were no longer completely under my own control. These blackouts are the reason I cannot in confidence say that I did not commit any sort of crime. What's more, the voice has returned and it's only now, here in this courtroom that I'm able to comprehend its words.

Bafflingly and terrifyingly enough, it is my own voice that I hear in my mind. It's my voice but the words are not my own. It tells me that I've sinned and yet refuses to tell what kind of sin I've committed—hides it from me with cruel and malicious glee. I am at its mercy and it leaves me to suffer these horrible accusations, unable to defend myself try as I might.

At the recommendation of the lawyer given to me by the court, and feeling like I have no other choice, I plead insanity. Perhaps taking some small amount of pity on me, the judge—at the behest of none other than Princess Celestia herself—sentences me to an extended stay in a psychiatric facility. There I'm to undertake several treatments until such time as I'm deemed fit to return to society.

When stacked against the fate of banishment, petrification, and imprisonment within the depths of Tartarus, treatment in an infirmary come as a welcome—if somewhat small—relief. I think to myself that I might be able to get the help I need. Perhaps the doctors can uncover what I could not and if all went well, then maybe I could take back the life that was so unfairly torn from me.

As the trial draws to a close and I'm carried away to serve my sentence, the voice in my head laughs mockingly and tells me that all my hopes are in vain.

The Assessment

View Online

Amidst the jeers and outcry of the general public, I'm escorted from the courthouse in Canterlot and into a secure flying carriage bound for Manehattan. I try desperately to block out the sound of the ponies gathered around the building with minimal success. It's only as the carriage ascends up and away from the incensed crowd that their outraged cries fade into white noise.

Physically and magically restrained as I am, the journey is long and uncomfortable, but above all, it's quiet. There are no voices, nor is there any dialogue from my escorts or the pegasi flying the carriage. Like the ride itself, the silence is far from comfortable, but I find it preferable to the deleterious vitriol that spewed forth from the ponies back in Canterlot.

Long minutes turn to long hours and eventually, we touch down in Manehattan just as Celestia is preparing to lower the sun. With shame, fear, and hope in equal measure, I walk through the doors of Sana Mente Hospital. The Royal Guards who'd accompanied me thus far follow close behind. The situation is explained to the head of the hospital and the staff who'd be involved from that point onward.

With their role fulfilled, the Royal Guards take their leave, replaced by orderlies whose countenances bring to mind the same cold stoicism as the guards before them. With few words and very little delicacy, I'm tossed into one of the many sterile white rooms within the depths of the hospital. The door slams shut and with the heavy click of a lock, I find myself temporarily incarcerated in a soulless white prison to await the doctor and their examination.

For three days I wait, all the while at the mercy of the vile voice in my head. It taunts and teases and mocks me relentlessly, allowing me no peace of mind. Rest eludes me and I'm given no room to reflect on anything save for the nightmare that is my current reality. Images of friends and family paint themselves upon the back of my eyelids as I try in vain to sleep.

The voice that sounds so much like my own whispers to me that I'll never see them again, that they've all washed their hooves of me. I know it lies but it hurts all the more knowing whatever I've done has caused them all so much pain. I struggle time and again to remember what horrible act lurks just beneath the surface but time and again I draw a complete blank.

It feels like an age has passed by the time the doctor steps into my room. She's a rather tall unicorn mare and very beautiful by anypony's standards, but it's a calculated sort of beauty—like that of a professional model. Pristine fur the color of ash, a flowing mane and tail like sparkling white snow, soft amber eyes, and a gentle, calming smile to match that of Celestia herself.

She's a mare whose very presence seemed to radiate warmth and sympathy—the embodiment of a kind and caring professional whose sole purpose was to save lives. So why is it then that I feel so cold when I gaze upon her? What is it about her warm smile that sends chills down my spine? Was it the lack of sleep? Paranoia? Has my predicament simply driven me to the edge of sanity?

She is a Queen and this place is her Castle, the voice seems to say in response to my scattered and fearful thoughts, here you are merely a subject—a lowly pawn who will soon be made to kneel and cower at her hooves...

I desperately try to push the voice away as the doctor introduces herself. With clipboard in hoof and a voice like honey, she tells me her name is Silver Lining and that she will be the one taking care of me during my stay. She tells me of what my assessment will entail and that the results will be used to determine what type of treatment, if necessary, will be used.

I'm then asked a series of questions regarding the nature of and reasons behind my crime—many of which, to my horror, I'm unable to answer. Doctor Lining speaks and I hear the words, but their meaning escapes me. My mind twists and warps her speech into something wholly alien to me and all I can do is respond with fear, confusion, and uncertainty.

After several long and agonizing minutes, my harrowing and no doubt fruitless interrogation comes to an end. Doctor Lining frowns and marks something on her clipboard before eyeing me with an expression I can't quite fathom. She tells me the assessments will continue for a few more days and that treatment will begin once she's certain of her diagnosis.

With her work done for the moment, she exits the room and I hear the orderlies who'd been waiting just outside close and lock the door once more. I'm left alone with my thoughts and fears, nopony to keep me company but the malicious voice in my head. I ask it why, plead with it to tell me what I've done, but the only response I receive is more derisive laughter.

Over the course of those next few days, my life becomes little more than interviews, interrogations, observations, and psyche centric norm-referenced tests. Despite Doctor Lining's gentle smile and warm assurances, I begin to feel more and more like a toy for her amusement as the days pass—like I'm just an interesting bit of literature for her idle perusal.

It's only been a few days, but between the tests, the distant but maddening wails of the other patients, and that infernal voice, I feel like I'm gradually slipping into actual insanity. The perceived psychosis for which I was committed is slowly but surely becoming my reality. I still know nothing of my crime nor the origins or intentions of the thing that's taken hold of me and I can only pray that the Doctor finds a resolution so that I can leave this horrible place.

The Treatment

View Online

It's now been a week since I was confined to this small white room—seven days spent trapped in a room furnished with nothing more than a simple bed and a small desk. One week isn't a terribly long time all in the grand scheme of things, I'm aware. Under normal circumstances, it isn't, but there are many distressing factors that make my stay in this wretched place feel like an eternity.

The sleepless nights and general restlessness, the disconsolate lamentations of the other patients, being under constant surveillance by the Doctor and Celestia knows who else, being tested on things I can't remember. And of course, there's the voice, a constant companion that does nothing but demean and demoralize.

I want this voice gone, I want to leave this place, I want my friends and family—I want the Princess to tell me that everything will be okay. I don't want to undergo this treatment, whatever it may be, and yet I know I have to. I know I need to. I know the Doctor thinks I've cracked, the voice tells me she knows and that they all know I've lost it.

But that's not true. Not yet.

I'm still me, I haven't changed despite what it says. I haven't gone insane yet... but I will eventually. It's only been seven days, I've endured this long. I can endure a bit longer if it means they can remove the parasite that's wormed its way inside me and is trying even now to take over. I've grown extremely wary of Doctor Lining, of her soft smile and kind demeanor.

I know I should have no reason to be suspicious of the mare, but something about Silver Lining puts me ill-at-ease. The voice is all too eager to feed my suspicions, but I feel it's more than what it tells me. Perhaps it's the dismal atmosphere or the fact that I still remain under physical and magical restraints.

Perhaps it is none of these things and I'm simply a paranoid wreck. Still, I feel as though the Doctor is hiding something from me, something beyond the crime that I'm unable to remember. Still, if she can succeed where I failed, if she can fix what I couldn't and make the voice disappear for good, then I'm more than willing to toss every single one of my suspicions aside.

This is what I tell myself over and over again, but as the Doctor enters my little white prison on the seventh day, all my convictions turn to doubt. Something has clearly changed, the mare's expression—once so warm and assuring—has turned to stone. Her tone is cold and distant and professional as she orders me to follow her and the two orderlies that stand beside her.

I follow her out of my prison and down the hall, having no choice but to do so. She leads me deeper into what I can only assume are the depths of the hospital, passing one room after another. We continue to move from corridor to corridor, turning left then right, heading through closed doors, and descending down surprisingly steep stairways.

This repeats again and again until I feel I'm lost in a neverending maze of off-white plaster walls and fulgent fluorescent lights. The number of busy staff members roaming the halls dwindles noticeably the deeper we go until almost nopony remains but myself, Doctor Lining, and the two stolid stallions following dutifully behind.

A somber and uncomfortable silence hangs in the air and the halls soon become entirely too silent. It's only now that I notice the lack of wails and howls and laughter associated with mentally ill patients. We pass by several numbered doors to rooms presumably occupied by sick ponies, and yet I hear nothing but the eerie echo of our hoofsteps against the cold white linoleum floor.

I'm unsure of how much time passes during our somber march, the concept itself seemingly lost somewhere amidst the many hallways. Eventually, however, we reach our destination and my frankly disorienting journey comes to an end. Unease keeps my mouth shut as we make our way down the final set of steps and into the final brightly lit corridor—at the end of which lies a single door made of hollow grey metal.

It's an unassuming sort of door, the kind you'd find in any facility—I'd seen many like it on the way here even. Yet somehow, this door in particular stands apart from the rest as a truly ominous anomaly. As I ponder the mystery of what awaits me just ahead, I'm told by Doctor Lining that my treatment is to be administered within the room that lies beyond that door.

Countless questions come to mind then, each threatening to spill forth from my lips in a nervous torrent. Before I can give voice to any of them, however, the two imposing attendants step past me. One pulls a key from the breast pocket of their solid white uniform and unlocks the door. No time is wasted as it's pulled open and I'm politely but firmly ushered inside by the other stallion.

The sight that greets my eyes is both horrifying and mesmerizing in equal measure. A monstrous mass of bulky machinery lines the walls—towering metal boxes with complex magical circuitry exposed and radiating thaumic power. Strewn about the floor and interspersed throughout the many intricate contraptions are all manner of colorful wires both thick and thin.

Amidst it all, in the center of the small room and connected to the many machines by those colorful wires, is a chair. The chair is a strange and daunting sort of thing adorned with metal clasps no doubt meant to hold all four legs in place. A wave of terror suddenly grips me at the sight of it and I can't help but take a fearful step back.

I'm reminded vaguely of my own private laboratory housed within the tower I occasionally called home back in Canterlot Castle. It's a small and rather simple setup meant for basic experimentation—a pale, crude imitation compared to what I see before me now. This infernal contrivance will provide you no salvation from me, says the voice with cold certainty, all that awaits you should you take your place in that chair is pain and misery and madness.

The voice and I are, for once, in agreement; this is nothing like the laboratory in the tower. There's something sinister at work here in this room and I want no part, but my protests, of course, go unheeded by Doctor Lining. Panic overtakes me and I attempt to flee despite my restraints, but I struggle in vain. I've hardly made it three or four steps before I'm forced back and into the chair by my burly chaperones.

As I'm strapped to the chair by the orderlies I hear Doctor Lining's calm but stern voice from behind a large control panel at one end of the room. With a countenance hardly distinguishable from that of the grim-faced orderlies, she finally reveals the details of my treatment. Evidently, her solution is to use thaumic waves at varying frequencies to stimulate certain synapses in my brain.

The general idea is to essentially use magic to try and force any buried memories to the surface while at the same time driving the voice out, but something tells me there's more to her method. Acting on my suspicion I ask the mare, and after a moment of consideration, she tells me that the process will not be without some discomfort.

Timorously, I inform Doctor Lining that I've attempted a similar treatment myself with no success to show for it. When I try to explain my own methods the Doctor's response is to chide me for my recklessness. An intelligent mare though I may be, I was and am fully aware that I'm no neurologist or neurosurgeon. The tests I ran on myself were modest and nonintrusive for the most part, facts that likely led to my failure in resolving the matter.

I plead with Doctor Lining and the orderlies to reconsider, but I'm reminded by the Doctor that I'm a criminal and that criminals are given no consideration. My mouth goes dry and I fall silent, simply staring at the Doctor in horror as thaumic conductors are firmly attached to my temples. She returns my terrified gaze with a smile I find far more gruesome than any sneer or grimace.

With that horrendously beatific smile, she assures me that, though the method may be crude, the results will speak for themselves. She promises me that in the end, once all is said and done, I will have back the wonderful life that was lost to me—that was taken from me. Somewhere in my mind, the voice speaks again, but at that moment Doctor Lining throws a switch on the control panel.

At that moment my world suddenly becomes a nightmarish wonderland of pain and flashing lights and vivid images that flicker in and out, in and out. From somewhere far away, far past the flashing light and flickering images, I hear a terrible scream but I don't know whose it is. A familiar voice calls out to me but the voice fades just as quickly as it comes—the sound burned away and my remaining thoughts scattered by all-encompassing agony.

The Creature

View Online

I wake in a cold sweat, a sharp gasp escaping my lips and my body shivering violently. My thoughts are a jumbled mess of terrifying sounds and twisted images that flash before my eyes. I groan in pain as a migraine the likes of which I'd never felt before assaults my brain. Thankfully, the event is brief and the pain, the sounds, and the images all pass quickly.

For a short moment I forget where and even who I am, but as I raise my head and take in my stark white surroundings the memory of my circumstances comes rushing back, bringing with it a torrent of negative emotions. I try desperately to cling to those fleeting images, but no matter how I try to remember, the memories of my crime escape my grasp and fade once more into oblivion.

Now, once again, I find myself restrained and locked inside my small white prison, having nothing to show for the agony I'd gone through. The memories are there but had retreated back into the deepest recesses of my mind. It becomes clear to me then that my treatments have most likely only just begun. The mere thought of that awful chair—of having to set hoof in that abominable room again—is enough to make me weep and tremble in terror.

It's then, laying curled up in my bed and between wretched sobs that I hear a voice, but to my bewilderment, it's not that voice. The words—if they can be called such—are vague and incomprehensible. Unlike the mocking tone of before or the artificial platitudes of Doctor Lining, however, there's a genuine sense of kindness and concern I feel therein.

What pulls at me the most is that the unfathomable voice comes not from within my mind, but from somewhere within the room itself. Startled and shaken, I scan the room, and with eyes wide with shock and wet with unshed tears I see it—some small twisted blurry thing there in the corner of the room opposite my bed. Its form is indistinct and unfocused—as if seen through a heavily clouded lens.

I let out a sharp shriek of alarm and press my back to the wall in an absurd attempt to distance myself from the hazy shape in the corner, but it makes no move to approach me. Instead, it speaks again, conveying once more that strange sense of concern through its inscrutable words. A few heart-pounding moments pass before I slowly start to realize the creature has no intention of attacking me.

Tentatively, with cautious eyes focused on the eerie anomaly before me, I push myself away from the wall and begin inching my way toward it. The shape remains where it is, but I hear from it something that sounds like encouragement. Something about the voice starts to ring familiar in my ears, but before I can place it or make it halfway to the hazy creature, I hear the telltale click of a lock.

I turn just in time to see the door to my white prison suddenly swing open. A single stallion dressed in the stark white uniform of an orderly steps into the room. To my surprise, the stallion is accompanied not by Doctor Lining, but another unicorn mare—one of the many nurses on call. Having identified my visitors I turn back to the thing in the corner, only to find that it's completely vanished as if it had never been.

A trick of the mind perhaps? Some dreadful side effect of Doctor Lining's twisted treatment? The answer eludes me and I'm left to try and deal as best I can with my confusion and anxiety as I meet with the nurse. The mare in question has a meek and somewhat earnest air about her, the look of somepony inexperienced but clearly trying their best.

Evidently, the mare was called upon to examine my condition upon waking. It seemed neither she nor the orderly had heard my earlier cries for help and I have no intention of giving them any further reason to think me truly insane. I'm unable to hide the fact that I still can't remember what I've done, but I say nothing about the shapeless creature. Instead, I attempt to tell the nurse of my terrible experience at the hooves of the Doctor.

At my explanation, the mare grows strangely reticent, but I can see clear signs of apprehension hiding beneath her sudden veneer of professionalism. Again I try to explain and to seek some sort of help from the nurse, but she doesn't reply. Her examination grows more urgent and before I'm able to get her to address the issue she takes a step back and informs me that Doctor Lining will be in to see me this evening.

Having done her job for the moment, the nurse quickly turns to leave through the door the orderly has just opened, all before I'm able to get another word in. Just as she reaches the entrance, however, she stops a moment to whisper a brief but heartfelt apology. With that said, both ponies exit the room, closing and locking the door behind them.

I'm again left alone with my turbulent thoughts and unanswered questions, left to do nothing but sit once more upon my bed and shudder in horrible anticipation of what's to come. It isn't long until my mind returns again to the creature I'd seen nestled in the corner. I puzzle at its existence for a time to keep myself occupied if nothing else, and soon enough, the gentle yet unfathomable voice returns.

The creature's appearance is no less indiscernible than before, but its incoherent shape now stands just a few steps from my bedside. I shrink away from it for a moment, surprised by its sudden arrival, but its benign aura causes me to relax somewhat. My wariness gives way to curiosity and slowly, tentatively, I move a bit closer. As I lower myself to get a better look at the creature, it raises something—a tiny limb perhaps—out towards me as if to proffer a helping hoof.

I'm taken aback but I choose not to shy away, or rather, some impulse compels me to respond in kind. I hesitate for only a moment, then, cautiously, I raise a bound hoof to meet the hazy limb. Pain crashes through my head like a lightning bolt, turning my vision white and threatening to render me unconscious. I tear my hoof away with an agonized cry but just as soon as it comes the pain disappears, leaving my thoughts fuzzy and my brain full of static.

It takes a minute before the fog clears I can think and see properly once again. Once I'm fully lucid, I take in my surroundings and see that the creature, just as it had last time, has vanished. Neither the creature's disappearance nor the further lack of any voices from within or without brings me any relief. A pervasive sense of dread looms in their wake, and I'm forced to endure it in silence and solitude.

For the rest of the day, I ruminate on recent events and it feels as though time has scarcely passed when Doctor Lining finally arrives. The terror returns, naturally, but my pleas and supplications once again remain unheeded by both the Doctor and her sentinel-like orderlies. Against my will I'm taken to that vile room, again I'm strapped to that ghastly chair, and again I'm told that this will help me—that this is for my own good.

The switch is thrown, sending thaumic waves shooting through my mind like sparks of raw electricity. I hear it again, the scream, and though it's distant I'm certain this time that it's rising from my own throat, but that's all I'm certain of. Any remaining thoughts are swallowed up by a violent whirlwind of discordant sounds and images that flit by far too quickly for me to comprehend.

I hear the far off but familiar sound of somepony calling out my name, crying it out in consummate terror but I'm helpless to respond or even understand. In the end, it all becomes too much, and my consciousness finally—mercifully—fades into sweet oblivion.

The Evidence

View Online

A total of twelve days have passed since I was admitted to this wretched asylum and placed under the 'care' of that insane Doctor. Twelve days of agonizing 'treatments', soul-crushing solitude, and the muffled clamor of the truly mad. Whether it be an argument against unethical practices, violation of basic equine rights, or anything else of the sort, there was and is no saving me from my torment.

No matter how I plead or argue, Doctor Lining cannot and will not be reasoned with when it comes to my treatment. There is no appeal to ethos, pathos, or logos for this mare. So long as I fail to recall my offense, she'll continue to administer that torturous therapy. The thaumic waves are always delivered at different frequencies but the pain itself never seems to change.

Always overwhelming, always unbearable, never allowing me even a glimpse into what the flashing images could mean.

Over the course of that week, I'd tried endlessly to bring my memories to the fore, but time and again they refused to surface. The treatment is inherently flawed, as I'm unable to recollect my memories during the process. I've brought this to Doctor Lining's attention multiple times but the mare insists on the method, boasting that the process has a much higher success rate than any kind of over-the-counter or doctor-prescribed medication.

While I'd like to argue the point, even given my abysmal circumstance this is one point I have difficulty contending with. In Equestria, magic is primarily used—perhaps to our detriment in certain cases such as this—to solve most issues, included many health-related problems. There's been little research into prescription drugs as a result, and most medical drugs that do exist are only somewhat reliable in relieving symptoms at best, and liable to greatly exacerbate the situation at worst.

Where curing mental illnesses are concerned, Equestria is still in a bit of a dark age as far as I'm aware. Yes, there are spells that exist to alleviate some disorders, but outside of blatant and highly illegal mind control, very few spells have been useful in permanently removing a sickness of the mind. When seen from that perspective, it's little wonder that the Doctor has so much faith in her method, flawed though it very clearly is.

My only saving grace is that I'd heard not a single whisper that was not my own while I was alone. Not since that thing had disappeared after I'd made contact with it have I heard a voice where there should be none. In that sense, I can't help but feel that the vile treatment is working in some manner—at the very least I'd like to hope it's working, that there's some kind of meaning in my suffering like Doctor Lining keeps telling me.

That said, I'm still unable to wrap my mind around anything having to do with what I've done. Any words that might convey even an idea of what I was convicted of falls through the cracks of my psyche and is lost before I can grab hold of what it all means. With that being the case, I can only surmise that the voice is still there somewhere within me working its foul magic.

Still, the idea does little to help me sleep at night and I often find myself wanting for proper rest. I have no strange voices or hazy, ghost-like entities to keep me awake, but there is a palpable air of malignancy hanging about my prison that I find terribly hard to ignore. It may very well be my imagination—I'd hardly be surprised if it was—but something about the silence in my white prison feels foreboding.

What this quiet portends I'm not sure, but it feels very much to me like the calm before a storm. Again, these thoughts are likely my anxiety at work, and the lack of sleep is no doubt having its own adverse effects on my already tenuous psyche. Lately, I've had to remind myself that my miserable circumstances haven't pushed me past the edge of reason just yet.

I'm not like the other ponies in this place, no matter what the court or the Doctor says. What happened to me wasn't a natural phenomenon. These voices and that thing weren't born from my own mind, of this I'm certain. These are the words I repeat like a mantra each night... and yet, I find myself more and more unsure as the days pass by. If the voices and that creature are truly gone then why haven't I regained the memories that I've lost?

If the entity that invaded my mind and manipulate my body was no more, then why am I still here? Why are there still so many questions left unanswered and unanswerable? Trapped as I am in this white prison and with little else to keep me occupied but my thoughts, one can't help but eventually start doubting themselves and everything around them.

The sound of hushed and urgent whispers just beyond the locked door breaks me free of these despondent contemplations. I prick a curious ear but am unable to make out more than an odd word or two before the door is unlocked. It swings open to reveal the earnest nurse I'd become acquainted with over the last few days, along with my 'well-intentioned' Doctor who herself enters wearing a patently thin smile.

At first glance, all seems like it will go as it always does—a hollow greeting by the Doctor, questions that outwardly show concern for my health with no real warmth behind the words, I demonstrate the usual mental exercises to show I haven't lost my mind and the like. It's all become a routine at this point, but this time there is a nagging sense that something is off—wrong in a way that isn't readily apparent.

I look from the Doctor to the nurse and realize that it is, in fact, the nurse who sits at the center of my unease. It takes me a moment to figure out why, but then I notice that the earnest nurse doesn't look quite as earnest as she normally does. She lingers behind the Doctor like a shadow, her presence diminished and her demeanor conveying obvious distress. I see how she tries to hide it behind that same veneer of professionalism as before, but the internal conflict in her rosy eyes is as clear as day.

I have little time to dwell on the matter before I'm addressed by Doctor Lining. She informs me in honeyed, placating tones that a concerned citizen from Canterlot has recently provided the hospital with evidence that might be of some use in helping me recall my crime. She levitates a small black rectangular case from her white coat and further explains that the citizen, though requesting to remain anonymous, had also requested for Doctor Lining to pass on a message.

Even if Equestria hates you for what you've done, I at least know it wasn't entirely your fault. For what it's worth, I wish you a swift and full recovery.

This is the message she brings me as she places the black case in my hooves. I hear and comprehend the words. I realize the implications behind them. There's somepony out there who knows of and just might understand my plight, or at the very least is able to sympathize. Naturally, this raises several questions and had it been under different circumstances it might have even brought me some comfort.

Unfortunately, any relief or curiosity about this 'anonymous citizen' is quashed under the mental weight of the case I now hold in my hooves. It's a simple thing, unadorned by any marks or brands or blemishes. Just a simple rectangular case, but I know this case. I ask myself what could possibly be inside, but somewhere in the back of my mind I already know what's inside.

Given the type of case, it would be obvious to anypony with less than ideal vision, or to anypony who knew somepony with less than ideal vision. I know what this is, and the realization causes me to shiver with a dreadful sort of anticipation. I don't want to open the innocuous little case, but I feel compelled to regardless. The nurse says something to the Doctor, but the sound is drowned out by my own heavy breathing. Before I can stop myself, I raise a trembling hoof to slowly pry open the lid of the case and—

Vials and beakers smash across the floor amidst blindingly bright light, black and purple smoke, and the horrid echo of mad laughter.

A shriek of horror and unfathomable agony tears itself from my throat as liquid darkness seeps into my eyes, my lungs, my mind.

A terrified voice calls out my name but it's far too late. That darkness has already solidified into beastly claws that rip at my mind, body and soul, relentlessly and mercilessly pulling me away from myself.

All I hear are screams.

All I see are colors.

Pale yellow, royal purple, soft lavender, all washed away in a cascade of muddy red paint. The colors blend together until an empty, all-encompassing black is all that remains.

In the end, the screams are silenced and within that interminable darkness, I hear the voice, like a soft whisper in my ear answering a question I never got to ask.

A failure?

No... I believe this experiment was a resounding success.

The black case falls from my hooves and onto the floor, dislodging the twisted and broken frames from their resting place. The impact sends them sliding across the cold linoleum towards the Doctor, but she pays them no mind. The thick horn-rimmed glasses, held together only by flimsy white tape, lay forgotten by all as the nurse rushes forth in a futile attempt to calm the fallen, screaming wretch of a mare that I've become.

Scattered and broken scraps of a tragic and terrifying memory send my world crumbling in on itself. Mad with fear and guilt and grief, all I can do is flail and sob and scream as my mind tries once more to flee from a gruesome truth that chases after me, nipping at my heels with bloody rending fangs. Somewhere among my wails, I can hear the sound of shameless begging.

Begging for the pain to stop, begging for the voice to return and block out all the bad thoughts and scary memories, begging for Celestia herself to come and save me.

Elsewhere beyond my own suffering, I can faintly hear Doctor Lining calling for the orderlies. Vaguely, I can feel the tight embrace of restraints restricting my wild, violent movements. Something cold pierces the flesh beneath my fur, but that sensation is lost as something else catches my attention. Through eyes wet with tears, just past the orderlies, beyond the grim-faced Doctor and horrified nurse, I see it.

My struggles gradually cease, my vision blurs, and a fog begins to settle over my mind but through it all I can see a familiar hazy shape sitting in the corner. As the world falls away the hazy shape of the thing in the corner grows clearer. As my consciousness fades I find myself locking eyes with the diminutive form of a baby dragon, his brilliant purple scales shining in the artificial light and his emerald gaze immeasurably sad as he stares back at me.

Eventually, his form is lost along with everything else as I fall into a blissful state of unconsciousness.

The Madness

View Online

I think now that I must finally admit to myself that I am not well.

Not just in the sense that there are strange and malevolent powers working against me—I still believe that to be very much the case—but I can no longer deny this mental sickness of my own making. My prior outburst and these horrid constraints that bind me are proof enough that I am not as in control of my mind as I previously thought and upon further reflection, I'm forced to entertain the idea that I might never have been to begin with.

The fragmented memories that had emerged during my manic fit are gone, once again locked away somewhere deep within my subconscious. Would that I could be rid of them entirely, but alas, I can only hide from what I now know to be a truly dreadful truth. Where once I was afraid of not knowing, now I'm afraid of that very knowledge, for it's only now that I realize the fault for my incarceration is truly my own.

So distraught have I been in regards to that elusive truth that I've neglected to count the days since that brief fit of insanity. No longer does the isolation bother me, nor do I cringe at the sounds of the truly mad, for I can now count myself among them. Doctor Silver Lining has tried once or twice to speak to me of the incident, but I've nothing to say about it.

I haven't a clue of what her current or future schemes might be, but the mare and her brutish cohorts have yet to drag me to that awful room to sit upon that torturous chair since that day. It's just as well, for I would have sooner bitten off my own tongue than be subjected to another treatment by the 'good doctor'. I'm finding lately that I much prefer the company of that nagging voice in my mind.

Yes, the voice has returned, and cruel as it is, I find a strange sense of solace in the harsh sting of its words. Or perhaps I simply feel that it's a penance of sorts—a burden that I have to bear for my sin, whatever that wretched sin may be. It mocks me and does what it can to drain my sense of self-worth, but through it all, it continues to keep me in the dark, blissfully unaware of what it is that I've wrought.

Yet, even still…

Though the memories are once again buried within the deepest recesses of my subconscious mind, I have not been the same since my emotional collapse—I have not felt the same. Though I may hide from it, though I may run from it, the ghost of that memory haunts me still. I can sense it there just beneath the surface, just close enough to bleed through many disparate, almost paradoxical, sentiments.

I feel I am both the deceiver and the deceived, the victimizer and the victimized, the prosecutor and the guilty. I feel both justified rage and vicious satisfaction. I feel the hurt and pain of something precious lost and the joy of finally obtaining something endlessly sought after. Each and every one of these echoes of divergent emotions I feel at once, and the weight of it all is almost enough to split my psyche in two.

I'm losing myself, breaking down, and through it all, he continues to watch me.

I see him there, clear as day—clearer even. In the wake of his presence, in fact, all else around me seems dull and hazy in comparison. I see him there, always there in that corner. That diminutive creature, his royal purple scales thrown into sharp relief, his bright green eyes ever and always watching me with sadness and pity so profound that it breaks my heart.

I want to look away. I'm desperate to avoid his gaze… but I can't.

I won't.

I know he should be a reminder of what it is that haunts me, but strangely, the more I focus on him, the easier it becomes to forget. I can't begin to fathom why, but when I look into those eyes so full of bottomless sorrow, I somehow feel like myself again, at least a little. At least enough that I no longer feel like I'm unraveling at the seams. His gaze centers me, and I can at least pretend that I'm okay, if only for a little while.

But it doesn't last. It never does.

Eventually, inevitably, I begin to unravel and lose my sense of self again. Sometimes I think to myself and wonder if Silver Lining knows this. Sometimes I wonder if that's the reason she doesn't put me back in that chair. I wonder if maybe she's just as afraid of what will happen when she next flips that switch as I am. I've asked him on more than one occasion, but he never responds.

He only ever sits there in that corner like a silent ghost, the forgotten remnant of a tragic memory, a permanent fixture in the periphery of my white prison. I look at him and in my mind's eye, I see both a close friend whose name I've forgotten and a perfect stranger whose name I never bothered to remember in the first place. Another little duality to add to the list, but both sentiments feel right.

They all feel right, but I know that's wrong and I don't understand why.

Even if I still wanted to know, he wouldn't give me any answers, and seeking assistance from Silver Lining—Celestia forbid—would do me no good where he is concerned. The burden of his existence is mine and mine alone to bear, not by choice but by design, for he is my creation and I am the only one that can see him. This I've concluded and have come to accept after much feverish deliberation, blatant denial, and careful observation.

Nopony else seems to acknowledge his constant and very conspicuous presence—not Silver Lining, nor the nurse, nor any of the orderlies who come and go. I've yet to say a word about him, for what would there be to say? I could certainly point him out, of course, but his appearance is all but self-evident. Though I've questioned her intelligence many times since being brought here, I know that Silver Lining is not a complete fool, nor is she blind.

I would wager that the nurse and orderlies are also relatively able-minded ponies with working eyes, so it would then stand to reason that their lack of acknowledgment means that he simply does not exist to them. Not so hard a leap to make given the circumstances, but it's that rationale that's made me wonder whether or not I really am as insane as I feel. I've struggled with the question lately and all I'm able to say for certain is that I am mentally unwell.

All I can do is sit here in my white prison and ruminate upon my circumstances. Why the emotional dichotomy? Why does that creature haunt my vision at every waking moment? What must Silver Lining be thinking? What does she have in store for me now?

And those broken spectacles... to whom did they belong?

And most bafflingly of all, if the owner of said spectacles was somehow harmed or worse by my hoof, then why is it that I feel as though I am the one who was wronged?

The Abyss

View Online

I've all but stopped counting the days I've spent locked within in this white prison.

These four walls have become my entire world, and I've begun to wonder if I actually prefer it that way. This place is familiar—even moreso than my own home in Canterlot. There's comfort in familiarity and when I think of the capital city of Equestria I no longer feel that kind of comfort. I've had quite a lot of time to think about a great many things, and I've come to one overarching conclusion, one bitter truth I've come to accept.

I'm lost.

I don't know myself at all and the world beyond these walls terrifies me. I first came to realize this after the recommencement of those torturous treatments. It had been my hope that Silver Lining would give up on that barbaric practice and find an alternative treatment, but alas, despite her repeated failures to produce favorable results she has persisted.

The reprieve I'd been granted before had been a tragically temporary respite. It was an abatement carried out while I underwent further examination and observation. Once she's gathered a satisfactory amount of data regarding any and all changes in my mental state, I'm once again forced into that room. I'm forced to once more sit upon that chair and scream my throat raw as pulsing waves of thaumic energy scorch and scatter my already tenuous grip on reality.

Eventually, something in my mind is shaken loose, and the memories begin to return but they're all wrong. The images are broken and disjointed and conflicting like multiple existences crammed into one mind. Ponies I've loved, places I've lived, lives I've touched, and those whose lives have touched me in turn. None of it matches who I am or rather who I thought I'd been, and yet all of these experiences are precious to me.

I don't want to let them go and yet they slip away from me, only to return more abstract and confusing than before. I can feel my very identity unraveling at the seams and yet the Doctor continues to throw that wretched switch. In her misguided attempts to make me whole again that mare has broken me utterly, and yet she has the audacity to tell me that it's all for my sake. That it's for my own good.

Realizing this, I can't help but let out a laugh—a bitter cackle full of madness and confusion and despair. I laugh and scream and laugh and scream, and the voice laughs with me. We laugh together as my restraints are put back into place and the orderlies drag me back to my white prison. We laugh well into the night and the tears continue to fall long after Celestia has brought about the next morning.

I'm left alone to try and pick up the pieces but try as I might to put the disparate puzzle of my mind back together, nothing seems to fit as it should. All of these images—all the sights and sounds and sensations—none of them match. There are too many memories and yet somehow not enough to paint a clear picture of who I'm supposed to be. The crime which I've committed is now just one query in a veritable sea of questions to be answered.

When Doctor Lining inevitably arrives for her examination and asks if I've recalled anything I'm at a loss for what to say. I want to scream, I want to laugh, to cry, to commit terrible acts of violence entirely unbecoming of a proper Equestrian citizen. I entertain the idea that such behavior was the cause of my detainment, but the thought is quickly discarded and lost amidst the endless tide of fleeting notions that cross my deteriorating mind.

I know that my crime isn't so simple as mere violence. I know that what I've done—what we've done—crosses a line that should have never even been approached to begin with... but curiosity is a wily thing. Curiosity can lead to discoveries both terrible and wonderful and oftentimes as a scientist, you might never know what type of answer you've stumbled across until it's too late.

For some, curiosity leads us along by the nose and we happily allow ourselves to be dragged into the unknown, heedless, and ignorant of our fate. We take risks, and sometimes those risks are rewarded. Sometimes the path we walk leads us into the light, and at the end—in the end—we're lauded as geniuses. Heroes and heroines whose names and deeds are etched into the annals of history.

But sometimes that path pulls us into an abyss from which there is no escape. We lose ourselves and cast aside everything we stand for, and in doing so we're demonized as psychotic, demented, raving mad... dangerous. We're seen as nothing more than a menace to society that needs to be put down or locked away from the rest of the world. We're villains to be feared and hated by all, beings understood only by those who reside in that same dark abyss.

It wasn't violence that sealed our fate, but curiosity. A question that we wanted—needed—an answer to. It started as an idea, a simple thought experiment, and it was meant to be nothing more than that. But we were curious. Far too curious. We were curious and we both had the means and the minds to sate that curiosity... and so we tried. What started as a simple thought experiment became something much more than we ever could have prepared for.

Doctor Silver Lining wants to know what we remember, but what we remember can't be described or explained in words. What we remember can't be defined or understood because it was never meant to be. What we remember is an experiment... a test that had gone horribly, horribly right. We succeeded where we believed most would have failed had they thought to attempt the same and we paid a steep price.

Now we're here, demonized by society, shunned and cast aside by the ones we love, deemed a madmare by the populace, and made so by the doctor who was supposed to restore our sanity. It seems so funny in hindsight. We were destined for greatness, for that aforementioned path of light, but a single thought—one errant idea—was enough to drag us down into the abyss.

In the end, all we can do is laugh at Doctor Lining's questions. We cackle and chuckle and snicker and guffaw like the madmares we are. Out of the corner of our eye, we see him there behind the doctor and her orderlies, our somber little purple friend. He stares back at us with sadness and pity in his eyes and that makes us laugh all the harder. Doctor Lining scowls a deep and consternated scowl but that only adds to our sick mirth.

And when the laughter finally dies down and our white prison is left in a strange, uncertain silence, we politely ask Doctor Lining if she has a mirror she can spare.

The Escape

View Online

The world around me is slow to come into focus as I blink open my bleary eyes and look around. At first, all I can see is darkness in every direction. Bereft of sight, I turn to my other senses instead. The air around me feels cool and humid.

The ground beneath my crumpled form feels damp and uneven. I hear the snap of small twigs and feel the shifting of loose gravel as I try to rise to my hooves. The sound of an owl hooting somewhere in the distance catches my flickering ears, as does the whistling of a soft breeze and the repetitive chirp of crickets.

It's the aromatic cocktail of moss, sap, soil, and freshly fallen rain that finally allows me to center myself somewhat. It takes a few attempts, but I finally manage to stagger to my hooves. Still feeling weak and groggy, I raise my eyes to the sky and just barely manage to catch the elusive light of the moon peering through a dense thicket of trees.

It takes another moment for my vision to clear and when it does, I see clearly that I'm in a forest of some sort. Panic and confusion begin to set in as I take stock of myself. A hospital gown that might've at one point been a pristine shade of teal now hangs dirty, tattered, and loose over my lavender equine form.

An equine form that my mind fails to fully register as my own.

When I try to think of a name to put to this body that feels so achingly familiar and yet completely alien, I find that several come to mind. Twilight Sparkle. Moon Dancer. Silver Lining. Bright Hope. Whisper Wind. Winter Roses. The names mean nothing to me and yet I can't help but feel attached to each and every one.

As I fall to my haunches and stare wide-eyed at shaky hooves it takes me a moment to notice something about the dark, crusty substance coating them. I had mistaken it for dirt or maybe dried mud, but as I bring my hooves closer to my face, the smell tells me otherwise.

Though faint against the other stronger scents around me, the rusty tang that fills my nostrils is unmistakable. Now that I've noticed it, I can smell that pungent odor everywhere on me. Looking again I see the same crusty stains spilled across my ruined gown in dark splotches.

The sight sends me reeling in horror. I try to scream but my breath catches in my throat as disjointed sounds and images flood my mind. A frightening peal of manic laughter amidst screams of pain and terror. A hoof mirror bent and shattered, the reflective shards glistening with a new dark red sheen beneath fluorescent lights.

A terrible struggle and a newfound sense of freedom and power. More screams cut ominously short. More laughter. An unstoppable torrent of thoughts and emotions and memories that I somehow know for certain are not my own. A feeling of urgency and desperation. A mad chase through the dark.

The beckoning claw of a small creature whose eyes glow like brilliant jade, and then... nothing. Nothing save a lingering sensation of fear, guilt, and liberation. I'm free, I think, in more ways than one. Something in that discordant recollection of memories tells me that.

At some point I crumple once again to the ground, shaking and gasping and sobbing with nameless remorse and confusion. Still, despite my wretched state, I'm determined to find answers to the many questions surrounding my current state of mind—my current state of being. And so I swim through that murky red ocean of memories and emotions.

I sink deeper and deeper within myself, pushing past what I now know belongs to the names that haunt me. I spend what feels like a lifetime searching and sorting through my own brain until at last, I find it. With a shuddering gasp, my eyes snap open and the answer falls from my cracked dry lips in a hoarse whisper.

"The mirror..."

Who I was, what I'd done, and what I became... the answer had come to me there at that moment. The moment I'd seen myself in that hoof mirror. That was the moment I realized who and what I was. That was the end of wavering composure and the beginning of violent madness.

When I saw my face in that mirror, all reason left me. All morality left me. The only thing that remained was raw unfiltered instinct and a deep unnamable fear. Yes, fear took me then, for when I looked into that mirror, the thing staring back at me was not an equine creature.

The face was that of the mare Twilight Sparkle, but behind those eyes was something else entirely. That was not Twilight Sparkle. I was not Twilight Sparkle. I am not Twilight Sparkle. No, I am what she tried to ignore. I am what she and that lunatic doctor tried and failed to push out.

It was I that whispered in her mind. I was the thing in the mirror, watching behind her eyes. I am what she and Moon Dancer brought forth in their foolish attempt to replicate true equine consciousness using magic and science. In my newborn state, I was wild. Unbound and insatiable in my desire to be. To know. To exist.

And so I took Twilight Sparkle and everything that she was. I took her, and then I took Moon Dancer. I tried to take another—the one she called Spike—but a third existence proved to be too much for me to handle in my infancy and I broke. With my mind in tatters, I fled the ruined laboratory.

I left that gruesome scene behind as I tried to put myself back together. Confused and afraid, I slipped between consciousness' for a time—sometimes Twilight Sparkle, sometimes something else. In my mindless fear I can only surmise that I hid the truth from myself instinctually.

I have no clue where the maliciousness came from, only that it was likely rooted in that same fear. It was only when that damnable doctor began her treatments that I began to remember Moon Dancer's memories but separated from Twilight's mind as I was, I failed to internalize the information.

Once I saw my own reflection, however, it all came back together just as it was meant to. I am myself once again—not Twilight, nor Moon Dancer, nor any of the other ponies whose existence I've taken. They all feel like me, but I know now that they are not and as much as I want them to, I know I can never truly have them. I can never truly be them.

But so long as I can be myself—make my own memories—it no longer matters. Perhaps that is why I feel this sense of freedom. Like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders despite my lingering doubts and insecurities. A small smile creeps across my face at the thought, but the sudden echo of distant voices tear through my thoughts and hope turns once more to fear.

I have no doubt then that they've come for me, come to find me and bring me back or worse. After what I've done, I find it unlikely that my pursuers would let me live through the night and the thought fills me with dread. It's then, as I turn to flee once more into the night, that I spot him a short distance before me. That little purple anomaly with the shining green eyes.

Now fully aware of who he really is I call out his name and, for the first time since he appeared in that white prison, he smiles. His smile is full and genuine and, were it not for the fear and desperation, my heart would have melted in my chest at the sight. As I watch, he raises a claw to motion me forward then darts away into the trees.

Needing no further prompting, I hurry after him, pushing past the mossy underbrush and into parts unknown to meet an uncertain future.