The Haunting in Ponyville

by JasonTheHuman

First published

Lyra and Bon-Bon live in a haunted house

There's something strange and unnatural living in Bon-Bon's house.

Something other than Lyra.


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Milk. Cocoa powder. Butter. Water. Flour. And sugar.

Bon-Bon had been mixing batch after batch of the stuff for at least five hours now. By now, it didn’t even require any thought–once she got on a roll, she just kept going. Besides, with Nightmare Night coming up soon, she couldn’t afford to stop.

To be honest, the holiday wasn’t one of her favorites. To her, as a confectioner, this month meant plenty of orders and often very little sleep. And just when she thought it was over, some other pony would notice her cutie mark and ask for a batch of lemon drops, or caramels, or the ever-popular chocolate…

She tried not to think about how much of it would end up left in the woods for hours in front of that old statue.

No, Bon-Bon had never really been a fan of Nightmare Night. After the month-long preparations were over, doing any kind of dress-up was out of the question. Besides, it was just silly. Bon-Bon didn’t see the appeal.

The same couldn’t be said for Lyra. Every single year she would come up with some new ridiculous outfit and stuff her face with sweets. Nightmare Night was the only time when Lyra could be her usual crazy self and actually blend in.

At the moment, Lyra was out discussing her costume plans with Rarity at the boutique. Bon-Bon couldn’t remember what she said she was planning this year–Lyra had been babbling about all sorts of crazy ideas, and Bon-Bon couldn’t remember any of them. There were more important things to worry about. Some ponies had responsibilities.

Moving automatically, Bon-Bon turned and crossed the kitchen to the cupboard where she kept the sugar. There were dozens of bags still left; she ordered it in bulk. She took the package that she’d opened this morning, which was already halfway empty, and measured out a half cup. Then, taking the handle of the measuring cup carefully in her teeth, she went back to the counter where–

She let out a sigh.

The wooden spoon was now sticking out of the bowl, handle buried in the mix. The other end was dripping sticky batter onto the counter.

Setting the cup down next to the bowl, she called out, “If you wanted a taste, you could have just asked.”

Lyra didn’t even respond. There was only the sound of hooves trotting up the stairs down the hall.

She moved fast, that was for sure. Bon-Bon hadn’t even heard the front door open. And she hadn’t even seen Lyra come into the kitchen. Not so much as an irritatingly chipper “hello.”

As she leaned in to pick up the spoon, she noticed that the end of it was still dripping–Lyra hadn’t even licked it off. Not that the batter would even taste right without the sugar mixed in. Oh well. She took the spoon over to the sink, rinsed it off, and pulled a clean one out of the crock. She had learned to keep spares.

The floorboards upstairs were creaking now. A slow pacing down the upstairs hallway.

Bon-Bon ignored her, and went back to mixing the chocolate. She had perfected the technique over the years, getting just the right texture. It was this kind of attention that made ponies say her candy was the best in all of Equestria.

Then, there was that noise again. Louder this time. It was like Lyra was pacing back and forth. The hoofsteps were slow, measured.

Bon-Bon stared up at the ceiling for a moment, considering it. This wasn’t like Lyra at all. Then again, she did tend to get weird around this time of year. Well, stranger than usual, anyway.

For the moment, Bon-Bon wasn’t going to bother with it. She picked the spoon back up and went back to stirring. She had a production goal for the day to meet and she couldn’t be disturbed right now. Whatever Lyra was up to, it was nothing that concerned–

A loud crash shook the house.

Bon-Bon froze, gritting her teeth. She didn’t want to imagine how many hundreds of bits' worth of damage that had been. It sounded like Lyra had thrown a bookcase against the wall or something. It didn’t make any sense, but what else could have made a noise like that?

She tilted her head up towards the ceiling. “Is… is everything all right?”

Hesitantly, Bon-Bon set the spoon down next to the bowl and trotted over to the stairs. Everypony on the street must have heard that noise. Bon-Bon definitely didn’t want to deal with it right now, but if Lyra was going to destroy the house that they shared…

Bon-Bon took a deep breath. One hoof at a time, she climbed up the stairs.

Everything had gone quiet now. Still, she’d have to be careful. No need to rush in and upset her.

There were a few photographs hung over the stairs. A few shots of Lyra and Bon-Bon together, some of their families who lived out of town. One photo of Bon-Bon taken last Hearth’s Warming Eve, when they’d gone to Canterlot, was hanging slightly crooked, so she gently straightened it. Satisfied, she braced herself and headed upstairs.

The hallway was empty. Sunlight filtered in through the window at the far end. The curtains hung motionless in front of it.

Bon-Bon paused at the top of the stairs. “Lyra? Is something wrong?”

Still no response. She shook her head and trotted down the hall. The doors were all left open.

She peeked her head into the study. Whatever that noise had been, it didn’t seem like it had come from here. The shelves were upright. All the books were still on the shelves where they belonged. Of course. No matter how angry Lyra got, she’d never ruin her collection. She claimed they were rare. And, more importantly, none of Bon-Bon’s own novels or recipe books had been touched.

Bon-Bon turned around to check in her own bedroom on the other side of the hall. Her eyes quickly scanned the familiar setup. Her bed was still made and not a single object on the nightstand had been moved. Everything was neatly put away where it belonged.

The only other rooms up here were the bath and Lyra’s bedroom. Bon-Bon headed further down the hall. The floor creaked slightly under her own hoofsteps now, but nowhere near as loud as it had sounded from downstairs.

“Lyra, if something happened, you can talk to me,” she said.

But the bathroom was empty as well. Bon-Bon stared at it, then looked back out at the hallway. There wasn’t much of a chance Lyra could have gotten past her after she came up here. Then again, Lyra didn’t usually slip through the front door unnoticed, either.

The silence was broken by the clock downstairs striking once for the half hour–three thirty, the middle of the afternoon. The chime seemed to echo through the house. She was wasting time that she should be working.

Only one room left. Bon-Bon went to the end of the hall. She noticed a draft coming from somewhere. She shivered. It was getting chilly. Probably just the fall weather. She’d taken care to close all of the windows this morning to keep the heat inside, though.

She approached the doorway to Lyra’s room. She stopped before walking in.

It looked like a hurricane had gone through. The covers on the bed were thrown aside in a heap on the floor. Sheets of music were scattered all over the place.

In other words, it was exactly as Lyra had left it this morning.

It seemed like the only thing Lyra took care of was her lyre. It rested in its stand on her dresser, lovingly polished to a shine.

“Lyra, are you in here?” Bon-Bon called. She was hardly surprised at the lack of a response.

There were clothes spilling out of the closet. Lyra seemed to own more than most ponies. Bon-Bon carefully stepped over it to search the room. Completely deserted. Just like the others.

All the furniture was all exactly where it was supposed to be. It had been that way in every single room. She was sure of it. So what had the crash been?

And where was Lyra, anyway? Those hoofsteps had stopped, too.

Bon-Bon sighed. She turned around to leave and came face-to-face with a pair of bright yellow eyes.


Bon-Bon nearly jumped out of her skin. “Lyra!” She took a moment to catch her breath. “What are you doing?”

“This is my room…” Lyra said, raising an eyebrow. “What were you doing in here? I thought you said you would be working all day.”

“I thought I heard…” Bon-Bon’s voice trailed off. “Where have you been, anyway?”

“I was over at Rarity’s. I thought I told you.”

“The whole time?” Bon-Bon said. “But you left at least two hours ago.”

“Yeah,” Lyra said. “It took a while to explain the costume I wanted to her. She said she’d never even heard of some of the items I was asking for. I told her that maybe Spike would know about–”

Bon-Bon raised a hoof to cut her off. “You just now got here? As in, within the last couple of minutes?”

Lyra nodded slowly. “That’s what I said…” She cocked her head to the side. “Are you feeling alright, Bon-Bon? You don’t look too good.”

Bon-Bon pushed past her. “Then what was that noise?” she muttered. She headed down the hall, checking every room again–the bathroom, the study, her own bedroom. All empty. Was there anything else she had missed?

She stopped for a moment. Of course. She walked inside and headed for her closet.

Lyra followed after her. “See, usually what happens when I do something like this costume and other ponies don’t understand me, that’s when you criticize me and say I’m being too–”

Bon-Bon shushed her. Lyra’s eyes widened as she realized that something was wrong.

“You said you’ve been gone this entire time, but I’ve been hearing hoofsteps. And… other things.”

“You’re sure?” Lyra said.

“And somepony was moving things around in the kitchen. There’s somepony else in the house.”

“Then…” Lyra slowly looked over at the closet.

They approached it together. They exchanged an uneasy glance. Then, taking a deep breath, Bon-Bon reached up and flung the door open.

They both jumped back at the same time.

Everything was silent for a while, then Lyra let out a breath. “Now that’s a letdown.”

There were a few dresses and some old aprons hanging inside. Some cardboard boxes were pushed against the back wall. Other than that, it was completely empty.

Bon-Bon turned around and started pacing back and forth. “I checked the entire second floor. There’s nowhere anypony could hide. But I know I heard somepony up here.”

“Maybe you’ve just been working too hard,” Lyra suggested. “You could be hearing things.”

“Did you look around outside? Did anything, I don’t know… fall?” Bon-Bon said. “The pegasi didn’t have another accident with the mail, did they?”

“Nope. I don’t think so, at least.” Lyra gave a smile. “Maybe you do just need a break. You’ve still got a few days to get your orders filled, right?”

Bon-Bon wasn’t satisfied yet. “I know what I heard. There’s somepony in the house. I know it.”

Lyra was silent for a moment, thinking. “Somepony… or something,” she said in a low voice. Her eyes widened. “Or somebody!

“This is serious, Lyra. Stop joking around.”

“I’m not! I’m just saying, we haven’t seen anybody, so maybe we’ve got a–”

“And maybe you’re a little bit too much into this Nightmare Night thing and you’ve heard one too many scary stories.”

Lyra frowned. “Hey, you never know. You’re the one who was hearing stuff, not me.”

“And whatever it was, it wasn’t a ghost, or whatever you think it is. You should know better than to believe in things like that.”

Bon-Bon pushed her way past before she could respond. Lyra made a face and followed her into the hallway.

“What if our house is built on one of their ancient burial grounds?” Lyra said suddenly. “I mean, they must’ve had those. Something like it. We should start digging.”

Bon-Bon spun around. “Lyra, for the last time! They're just as made-up as ghosts. And I distinctly heard hooves. You don't actually believe that we'd have not only have a ghost, but the ghost of one of your–”

Lyra's ears perked up. “Wait. Did you hear that?” She glanced behind her into Bon-Bon's room.

“Hear what?” Bon-Bon said.


They both fell silent. Bon-Bon looked around the hallway. She shook her head. “Lyra, there's nothing–”

The door to Lyra's room slammed closed. Then, one by one, the others followed. Bon-Bon was suddenly hit by a blast of cold air that rushed through her and nearly knocked her off her hooves with sheer force. The wind reached the stairwell, and down the line, the picture frames fell off the wall and shattered on the steps.

She and Lyra stood there for a moment without a word.

Lyra spat her mane out of her mouth. “Then what do you think that was?”

Bon-Bon's mouth opened, but nothing came out. She could still feel the unnatural chill even though everything had gone quiet. Finally, she managed to choke out, “I… I don’t…”

Slowly, a grin spread across Lyra’s face. She began bouncing up and down. “This is going to be the best Nightmare Night ever!”


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The trees in Ponyville were only just beginning to lose their leaves, the bright orange standing in contrast to the cloudy grey skies. Bon-Bon was out early, heading to the market for some extra ingredients. She yawned. The past night’s sleep–if you could call it that–had been uneventful, but she’d been on edge ever since yesterday afternoon.

She had spent the whole night tossing and turning in bed. If she ever managed to close her eyes, they would snap back open at the slightest noise. The wind against the window panes, the house creaking as it settled. Even Lyra’s snoring from down the hall.

And speaking of which, Lyra didn’t seem fazed at all. She’d grabbed her lyre this morning and headed out to the park to play, like any other day. Eventually Bon-Bon had left too. It was just a shopping trip, though, it wasn’t like she was just trying to avoid being home alone…

“Bon-Bon! Hey!”

She turned her head at the sound of her name. The glow from Colgate’s horn faded as she finished hanging a cobweb in the window of her dentist’s office, then she trotted over to meet Bon-Bon.

“What’s up?” Colgate said. She glanced back at her work. Paper bats and strings of lights were hung all over the front of the building. “Pretty cool, huh? What do you think?”

“It’s… nice,” Bon-Bon said, frowning. She noticed a few fake skeletons–just regular, anatomically correct ponies, instead of the disturbing creations Lyra insisted on using at their house. It still wasn’t much of an improvement. “Getting the Nightmare Night decorations out a little early, I see.”

“Yep! I mean, last year gave us a tough act to follow. Any idea if Princess Luna’s coming back this year?” Colgate said. “We’ve got to make this the best Nightmare Night ever.”

Bon-Bon twitched at the use of that phrase. “Oh, and… I’m sure it will be.”

“And I still need to get a costume ready, or else I'll just have to wear my work clothes like last time..." Colgate said, rubbing her chin. "You've probably been busy, too. I’m sure you’ll be sending a lot of business my way next month.”

“Huh? Oh. Of course.” Bon-Bon managed a weak smile.

“Hey, it’s just a joke! Lighten up,” Colgate said. “You sure you’re okay? You look exhausted.”

“It’s nothing. Really.”

“It doesn’t look like nothing.”

Bon-Bon hesitated. “You’ll think I’m crazy if I tell you…”

Colgate rolled her eyes. “Have you seen the ponies in this town? You’re about as sane as they get.” Then, almost as an afterthought, “This isn’t something that Lyra did again, is it?”

“No, not this time.” Bon-Bon took a deep breath, and then continued. “Yesterday, I was at home working and… There’s just been… unexplained noises, among other things. Lyra and I both experienced it.”

Colgate glanced back at her decorations. “You mean you’ve got a ghost.”

“I’m not saying it’s that,” Bon-Bon said. “Well… honestly, there’s not much else that makes sense, but... Lyra seems to think so, and for once she may be right.”

“Nah, I believe you,” Colgate said with a shrug.

Bon-Bon blinked at her. “What?”

“Look, I, uh… it’s not something many ponies around here talk about anymore. And… I thought you already knew.” Colgate’s voice had dropped low.

“Knew what?” Bon-Bon frowned.

“About your house.”

There was something about the way Colgate said it that Bon-Bon really didn't like. “It’s just like any other house in town, though, isn’t it? Of course, the kitchen is rather spacious, which is why I–”

Colgate shook her head. “No, it’s about what happened there. You mean you’ve never heard the stories?”

“Stories? What do you mean, ‘stories?’” Bon-Bon said, moving in closer.

“It’s not something ponies talk about very much anymore. Back when it happened, though, I doubt there was a single pony in Equestria who hadn’t heard about it,” Colgate said. “I’m surprised that you and Lyra never knew. Who sold you your house? Didn’t they tell you?”

“Come to think of it…” Bon-Bon said. She tilted her head, trying to remember the exact details. “I suppose we did buy it rather cheap. I always thought it was because the roof had a leak when they sold it to us.”

“Maybe that’s all they said it was. But the truth is, they had a lot of trouble finding ponies to buy that house,” Colgate said. “Ever since that night, ponies tend to avoid 41 Blackberry Lane.”

“Blueberry,” Bon-Bon said, raising an eyebrow.

Colgate stared at her for a moment, not comprehending. “Huh?”

“Our house is at 41 Blueberry Lane. Haven’t you ever been over to visit us before?”

“Oh…” Colgate kicked at some dry leaves awkwardly for a moment, then looked back up at her. “Really?”

“We’ve lived there for a few years now. We’ve never had anything like this happen.”

“Blueberry Lane. Huh,” Colgate said. “Yeah, Blackberry Lane is on the complete other end of town from you, then. I guess that would explain why you’ve never responded to any of my Hearth’s Warming cards.”

“So…” Bon-Bon stared at her.

“Yeah, I’ve never heard about any horrible things happening over on Blueberry Lane.” Colgate was back to her usual cheery self. “Pretty nice part of town, actually.”

“What about the other house?” Bon-Bon asked. “The one over on Blackberry?”

Colgate shuddered. “It’s better if you don’t know. I mean, what happened there? It was just awful.

“So… I guess the price was cheap because of the leaky roof.”

Colgate nodded. “Probably.”

“We did get it fixed, though.”

“That’s good.” Colgate glanced around. “Well, uh… I’d better get back to decorating. See you later, Bon-Bon.”

Colgate turned and headed back to her work. Bon-Bon continued in the other direction. That had just been uncomfortable. Perhaps it would be best not to tell anypony else what was going on. She hadn’t even wanted to let Colgate know, originally.

A shadow passed overhead. Bon-Bon looked up to see Fluttershy, loaded down with bulging saddlebags.

“Good morning, Fluttershy!” she said.

Fluttershy turned around and hovered in midair. “Why, hello there, Bon–” Then she shrieked. “Bon-Bon? I-I mean…”

“Oh, it’s fine," Bon-Bon said with a friendly smile. “Just saying hello. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“N-no, of course not…” Fluttershy’s eyes darted around, searching for a way to escape. “I’m very busy, I n-need to help the squirrels and chipmunks get ready for winter… Um… Please don’t follow me!”

Bon-Bon stared in confusion as Fluttershy zoomed off, a few acorns falling out of her pack. She didn’t even seem to notice. Normally Fluttershy would be happy to stop and chat for a few minutes. She had known Bon-Bon for years.

Maybe she had just been in a hurry. Fall could be a busy time for a lot of ponies. Or maybe…

Bon-Bon stomped a hoof in frustration. “Lyra…” she muttered under her breath.

She continued through town, just thinking of all the things she would say to her roommate when she got back home. Whatever was going on in their house was nothing to brag about. Certainly not to Fluttershy. That poor pegasus had looked absolutely terrified…

There were only a few other ponies wandering around the market stalls. Bon-Bon made her purchases without stopping to chat with any of the vendors. A few bags of sugar, assorted fruits, flavor extracts. Was she running low on vanilla? She couldn’t remember, but it didn’t hurt to pick up some extra.

Her saddlebags filled up quickly. She would have to make a return trip if she planned on making caramel apples. Maybe she would get around to them this weekend.

Bon-Bon ran through a mental checklist. With what she had, she would at least be good for the rest of the day. If she had to make a return trip tomorrow, that certainly wouldn’t be a problem. She was still getting her work done even if she wasn’t in the house. It was nice to get out of the kitchen anyway. No, it wasn’t a problem at all.

“Hey, Bon-Bon!”

The loud, shrill voices made her cringe for a moment. She forced a smile and turned around. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo were staring up at her with wide grins on their faces.

“Hello, girls. Is there anything I can help you with?” she said.

“Is it true?” Scootaloo said, leaning forward.

“Is what true?” Bon-Bon said.

“That there’ve been strange noises in your house at night?” Scootaloo said.

Bon-Bon stared at the fillies in shock. “How do you know about–”

“Things movin’ around the room?” Apple Bloom inched towards her.

“Cold winds out of nowhere?” Sweetie Belle added, pushing her way past the others.

Bon-Bon shook her head. “Girls, I really don’t–”

“Maniacal laughter echoing from inside the walls?”

“A headless pony galloping through the hallways?”

“Your oven transformed into a flamin’ portal to Tartarus?”

“Girls!” Bon-Bon took a step back, her eyes wide with shock. “Where did you ever hear such things?”

“Well, um…” Sweetie Belle exchanged glances with her friends. “Lyra was telling us about what happened yesterday…”

Bon-Bon clicked her tongue. “I should have known Lyra would tell everypony about this. Listen, girls, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

“I’m not scared!” Scootaloo said. “I think it sounds cool!”

“Well, anyways, none of that is true,” Bon-Bon said. She took a deep breath in to calm down. “Now… run along, do whatever it is you fillies do. I’ve got some important errands to get done.”

The three of them all turned at the same time and trotted off. Before they were out of earshot, Bon-Bon heard Apple Bloom tell the others, “So we don’t have to worry about her candy turnin’ into swarms of bugs, right?”

Bon-Bon shook her head in disbelief. Fillies would believe anything, wouldn’t they? And her suspicions were confirmed. She’d have a few choice words for Lyra when she got home, that was for sure.

The shopping trip had been mostly unnecessary. Bon-Bon was aware of that. With all the orders she had, she would use the extra ingredients eventually, there was no doubt about that, but the cupboards were overstocked as it was.

She didn’t like to admit it to herself, but she had honestly just wanted a few minutes out of the house. Even after Lyra had left this morning, it still felt like there was somepony else there.

It was silly. She realized that. The house was coming into view now as she headed down the street, and it was a perfectly normal thatched-roof cottage like all the others. Haunted houses didn't look like that.

Maybe whatever happened yesterday was the last of it. And Colgate, and Fluttershy, and the fillies would all forget about this story underneath all the other spooky tales going around this month.

She would have a few choice words for Lyra. Going around spreading all those rumors. Who knew how many ponies Lyra must have talked to by now?

And, by the looks of things, she wasn’t finished. Twilight was standing in front of the house with her, and as Bon-Bon got closer, she could pick up the conversation.

“In every single case, it’s always been a combination of overactive imaginations and scientifically explainable phenomena.” Twilight had that oh-so-official tone of voice she used when giving a lecture. “I can assure you that any kind of ‘investigation’ would turn up just that.”

“Really, Twi? You always ruin the fun,” Lyra said, frowning. “Face it. There’s just some things that ponies can’t explain. And we might have something right here.” She pointed a hoof towards the front door.

Bon-Bon slowed down and hung her head as she approached, but Twilight instantly noticed her. “Ah! Now I know you don’t buy into any of this, Bon-Bon. All these stories about ghosts.” She smiled and rolled her eyes.

“Well, I…” Bon-Bon hesitated. “Twilight, you know that I usually hate to agree with Lyra, but–”

“She heard it even before I did!” Lyra cut in. “We both heard it.”

“I have to admit that what happened yesterday was very strange,” Bon-Bon said. “I’ve tried to explain it. Nothing makes sense.”

"What you need is a serious scientific investigation to prove that there is nothing going on in your house," Twilight said.

"What I need is to get all this work done before the end of the month," Bon-Bon said. "I appreciate the concern, Twilight, but I'd prefer to just let it go."

Bon-Bon waved goodbye to Twilight and followed Lyra inside. It had already been chilly out, but stepping into the house was like entering an icebox. She shivered.

“Lyra, would you mind starting a fire?” Bon-Bon asked.

“Already on it.” Lyra set a few logs into the fireplace and pointed her horn down to create a small spark of flame.

Bon-Bon let out a sigh and continued into the kitchen. She set her shopping bags down on the counter, then stopped to rest for a moment. It had to be nearly freezing in here. She could almost see her breath condensing in the air.

She headed back into the living room to stand by the fire until the house warmed up. Lyra was slouched on the sofa, idly plucking the strings of her lyre as it floated by her side.

“So what exactly have you been telling everypony?” Bon-Bon said.

“Huh? About what?” Lyra cocked her head. “Oh, you mean about the ghost! Yeah, I… I guess I might’ve said a few things.”

“About headless ponies and my candy turning into flies?” Bon-Bon said, her eyes narrowing.

Lyra shook her head. “I didn’t say anything about the Headless Horse.”

“You just lied to a very impressionable group of fillies, then?”

“Oh, man, can you imagine how awesome it would be if we actually did see the Headless Horse, though?” Lyra said, her eyes lighting up. “I loved that story when I was their age. So cool!”

“It’s not cool. It’s disturbing,” Bon-Bon said. “I’d like to get through this month without any complications.”

She turned and headed back into the kitchen. With any luck, yesterday’s chaos would all be –

Bon-Bon stopped dead in her tracks as soon as she entered the room. For a moment, she was speechless, then she finally managed to choke some words out. “Lyra... did you do this?”

She heard Lyra slide off the couch onto the floor, then slowly plod over to her side. “Do what? I only just got home, I was in the living room the whole…” Then Lyra noticed it too. “Whoa!”

Every cabinet, drawer, and shelf in the kitchen was open–and completely bare. But the objects weren’t gone. They were stacked, floor to ceiling, in precariously leaning piles scattered all over the room. Every mixing bowl, every spice jar and bag of ingredients. Even the silverware was placed on top.

Lyra shook her head. “You really think I could put together something like this? I wish.

"Your magic. Maybe you didn't realize it."

Lyra shook her head. "Nah, I'd notice if I did something like this."

Bon-Bon was trying hard to keep her head. She put a hoof to her forehead. “Just… help me get this all put away. I can’t reach all the way up there.”

“What? But he must’ve worked so hard on this…” Lyra stared up at the towers, frowning.


“You’re right, it could be a girl ghost…” Lyra sighed. She looked around. “Where’s the camera? Can you at least get my picture next to this stuff?”

Bon-Bon groaned. “I'm trying to use my kitchen. And I can't use it if everything's...” She gestured with her hoof at the chaos.

“Just one picture? Please?

Bon-Bon sighed. “Fine.”

What had Twilight said? “Scientifically explainable phenomena”? Bon-Bon could have laughed if she wasn't so shaken right now.

It would be a miracle if she made it through the month.


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The clock struck four, waking Bon-Bon up. How had she ended up on the couch? She didn’t even remember falling asleep.

She blinked a few times, looking around the living room. A small fire crackled in the fireplace. She had just been so tired lately, and she’d come out here to sit and warm herself, and thought maybe it wouldn’t hurt to shut her eyes and relax for a bit…

It was already starting to get cold again. Bon-Bon dragged herself off the couch and went over to poke the fire. The front door creaked open.

“I’m back!” Lyra’s voice was cheerful. She trotted into the room with an envelope hovering at her side.

Bon-Bon set the poker back next to the fireplace. “You left?” she said, yawning.

“Yeah. I wanted to get those pictures from yesterday developed.” The envelope moved in front of her face and the seal tore off. A few photos floated out and she flipped through them. “Yeah, these look fantastic…”

It took Bon-Bon a moment to remember. The pictures. Of course. Lyra had stood proudly in the middle of their destroyed kitchen and smiled for her photo to be taken. She thought this whole thing was a game. That these things were all just parlor tricks for their amusement.

Well, it wasn’t as if anything truly harmful had happened yet. Unless, of course, you counted the damage to Bon-Bon’s business. It had taken the better part of the day to get everything sorted back into place, which would explain why she was so exhausted today. The middle of the afternoon and she was still catching up on yesterday’s quota.

Lyra just stood there examining the pictures, her brow furrowed in concentration. She flipped to the next one in the stack and stared at it for a few moments. Then, she gasped.

“What? No way…” she said, her voice nearly a whisper. “I can’t believe this!”

Bon-Bon was almost afraid to ask. “What? What’s wrong?”

“This picture. Come over here. Look at it. Notice anything?”

Trotting over to Lyra’s side, Bon-Bon studied the photograph floating in front of her face. Lyra was standing next to twenty bags of sugar piled twice her own height, grinning like a tourist in front of the Applewood sign in Los Pegasus. Bon-Bon didn't particularly like being reminded of why she had wasted half a day.

Squinting, Bon-Bon looked closer. She leaned in until it was just inches from her face, scanning the background. Then, she sighed. “I give up. What am I supposed to see?”

“Nothing,” Lyra said.

Bon-Bon stared at her. “What do you mean, ‘nothing’?”

“You’d think we would get, I don’t know, orbs, or something,” Lyra said, rolling her eyes. “There’s nothing here. I was really hoping there would be some kind of shadowy figure standing behind me, but they’re all like this. I can’t believe it.”

That’s what you’re disappointed in? That you didn’t get something on film?”

“Well, duh,” Lyra said, rolling her eyes. “I’d just like to know what he looks like. Or she. We don’t even know that yet!”

“It’s a ghost. It isn’t either one.”

“Of course it is,” Lyra said. She gave a sly smile. “You know, I’m starting to think you’re just scared.”

“I am not! This entire situation is more of a nuisance than anything else.”

They were interrupted by three loud knocks. Bon-Bon’s head jerked towards the direction of the sound.

“What was that?” Bon-Bon said.

“Somebody’s at the door. That’s all,” Lyra said. She laughed. “You really are getting way too jumpy.”

Bon-Bon glared at her, then headed for the front door. The knocking came again, louder, faster.

“Coming!” she called.

As she approached the door, she heard the pounding again. The door shook in its frame. She slowed her pace, watching it, keeping her distance in case it happened again.

She waiting a few seconds, but it didn't move. She took a deep breath, then reached for the door and opened it.

A flash of white light blinded her. When her eyes finally adjusted, she realized it was a camera. A pony was standing on the front porch, her eyes partially covered by her wavy orange mane. Judging by the “PRESS” tag stuck in the brim of her fedora, Bon-Bon realized that this was worse than any ghost.

“Good afternoon!” the pony said with a nod. “You must be Lyra.”

“Actually...” Bon-Bon glanced behind her into the house. “Lyra’s my roommate. Can we help you with something?” She tried to smile, as if she didn’t have the slightest idea why this pony was here.

“Ah! Then you would be Bon-Bon. The candy maker, right? Is your name one word or two? Is there a hyphen in there?”

“Two words, with the hyphen.” Bon-Bon frowned as she watched the pony scribble something onto a notepad. “You've... heard of us?”

“Mmhmm,” the pony said, a quill clenched between her teeth. She took it out. “Can I come in?”

“Come in?” Bon-Bon said. “I don’t know what you’re–”

“The name’s Film Reel. I write for the Ponyville Express. I got wind of a genuine haunted house in town and I thought it’d make a great feature for our next issue. So, what do you say? Mind if I take a look around? Take some pictures? Ask a few questions?” She inched forward.

“Um, you’re talking way too fast, and we’re actually pretty busy, so maybe you should–”

“Bon-Bon, who is it?” Lyra called. She trotted down the hallway, then noticed Film Reel standing there. “Who’s that?”

“This is Film Reel, from the… Ponyville Express, was it?” Bon-Bon looked at the reporter, who nodded. “It must be tough. You’ve been struggling against the local elementary school’s paper recently, haven’t you?”

The reporter’s eye twitched. “That’s… old news, of course. I can assure you we’re back on our hooves now as Ponyville’s most trusted news source!”

Lyra was bouncing. “We could get our names in the paper!”

“That’s what I’m afraid of…” Bon-Bon muttered under her breath.

“Please, come right on in. What do you want to know about?” Lyra stepped aside to let Film Reel into the hallway.

“I thought I’d start by interviewing you both, and then we'll take a look around the house. Even see if we can catch your ghost in the act, if we're lucky.”

Bon-Bon ran ahead and pushed Lyra back towards the door and away from the reporter. “What are you doing?” she hissed. “I didn’t agree to this!”

“Aww, come on,” Lyra said. “It’ll be fun. I bet everybody in town is curious about what’s been going on here.”

“Exactly!” Film Reel said, pushing herself in between them. “We’ve been getting all kinds of leads about the infamous Ponyville spookhouse. This is the place, huh?” She took a look around the hallway. “Expected more spiders, to be honest.”

Bon-Bon groaned at the term “spookhouse,” but composed herself. “If you want to talk to her–” she thrusted a hoof in Lyra’s direction “–then go right ahead. I have work to get done.” She didn’t wait for a response before turning away and trudging off to the kitchen.

“Uh, sorry about that,” Lyra said. “Bon-Bon’s not exactly very enthusiastic about this whole thing. But don’t worry. I’ll tell you everything you want to know!”

Bon-Bon held her breath. Everything would be fine. Lyra would talk to that… paparazzi… and then she’d be on her way. What could go wrong? At least there was only one of them. It was hard to be optimistic about the story getting out to the whole town. Not to mention all those lies that Lyra had already been spreading. And now she might just be telling the reporter the same things, and that would be the story that went out to everypony in Ponyville...

So we don’t have to worry about her candy turnin’ into swarms of bugs, right?

Bon-Bon stiffened as she remembered. “No…” She dashed out of the kitchen and found Lyra and Film Reel sitting in the living room.

“Changed your mind, then, eh?” Film Reel said, grinning. She had taken a seat on the couch and settled in as if she owned the place.

“I just want to make sure that Lyra doesn’t get carried away,” Bon-Bon said, shooting her roommate a glare. “That’s all.”

“Alright then. Always better to have more sources. How about we get those interviews started?”

Film Reel got out her yellow-paged notebook again. Bon-Bon could just barely see it over her shoulder. The writing was chicken scratch, completely illegible. Bon-Bon shook her head and walked around to stand in between Lyra and the reporter, but refused to sit down. Film Reel studied Lyra with some interest, the way she was slouching in her usual position in an old chair across from her. “So what exactly is the relationship between you two?”

“Roommates,” Bon-Bon answered quickly.

“Best friends,” Lyra said.

“We both moved to Ponyville at about the same time, and neither of us could afford a house on our own. We met each other and decided to split the payments,” Bon-Bon said.

Film Reel leaned forward intently, scribbled on the page for a few moments, then looked up. “So let’s get down to brass tacks here...”

Bon-Bon took a deep breath and resigned herself to the situation. “Sure. Go ahead.”

“Do you believe that there’s a demon living in your home?”

Bon-Bon drew back in shock. “What?

“Maybe that was a little too forward. We’ll get back to that later,” Film Reel said. She flipped through her notebook again, biting her lip. “Ah. Here. So according to one of my other sources, you’ve been getting messages scratched on the walls telling you to... ‘leave this place now.’ Can I see where those are? Get a few pictures? Something like that on the front page would really catch ponies' eyes.”

“No," Bon-Bon said. "I mean, we’ve never seen anything like that.”

Film Reel frowned. “So, no, I can’t get the pictures?”

“No, there’s nothing to take pictures of!

“Mmhmm…” She took a couple more notes, then looked up again. “And the voices?”

“What voices?” Bon-Bon’s eyes narrowed.

“He's never talked to us,” Lyra said. “I've tried to start conversations a few times, though.”

Film Reel looked down at her notes and tapped it with one hoof. “Well, says here that you heard at least six distinct voices coming from the basement…”

“We don’t even have a basement,” Bon-Bon said. “Where are you getting this information, anyways?”

“They wanted their names off the record. Journalistic confidentiality. You understand.”

Bon-Bon turned to Lyra. “Just how many ponies did you talk to yesterday?”

“Well, uh..." Lyra stared at the floor, trying to think. "Well, there were just a couple, but they might've talked to others...”

“Listen... Film Reel, was it?” Bon-Bon said. “I'd really like to make things clear for everypony. We've had some strange occurences, I won't deny that, but there are already far too many rumors going around that simply aren't true.”

Film Reel had turned her attention to the photos spread out on the coffee table in front of her. “What're those?”

“Oh, that happened yesterday!” Lyra said, leaning forward. “He did all that in less than two minutes. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure that's impressive even for a ghost.”

“Two minutes, you say...” Film Reel muttered without looking up, too busy examining the photos.

“That's probably the most bizarre event we've actually experienced,” Bon-Bon said. “It's only happened once, though. Other than that we haven't had much past some strange noises. Really nothing much.”

“So... no voices or messages,” Film Reel muttered. She flipped aimlessly through her notes. “So have either of you ever seen this ghost? What does it look like?”

“We've never seen anything,” Bon-Bon said.

Film Reel put her notebook away and stretched her front legs. “Well, we’d better keep moving if I want to get this story done before press time. I think I'll get those pictures now."

She stood up and headed directly for the stairs. Bon-Bon hurried to catch up with her. There was no way she was going to let this pony wander around their home without keeping a close eye on her. She'd prefer if Film Reel didn't wander around the house at all.

“Wait just a moment!” Bon-Bon tried to keep the frustration out of her voice.

“Hey, nearly forgot to ask,” Film Reel said, turning around. "Where would be the best place to get some shots?”

“Bon-Bon heard him walking around upstairs the first time,” Lyra said.

“Perfect!” Film Reel trotted up the stairs, already scanning the area through the eyepiece of her camera.

The upstairs hallway was lit up by a series of flashes as soon as Bon-Bon reached the top of the stairway. She blinked. Film Reel ducked into the study, the camera clicked a few more times, then she was already finished and heading to the next room. Bon-Bon moved in front of the doorway of her bedroom and leaned against it. Lyra was following close behind the reporter, watching her with fascination.

“Excuse me, but is it really necessary that you get pictures of our bathroom?” Bon-Bon asked.

Film Reel didn't look up from the eyepiece of her camera. “You never know, you know? We're right between big stories, really. Cider season's last week and the usual Nightmare Night stories won't be till the end of the month. This could be front page material, right here.” She crossed the hall to Lyra's bedroom. “Whoa, this is a mess. Was this your ghost?”

“Nope. It's my creative environment,” Lyra said. “Rarity's got one just like it. It's inspirational for us artists.”

“Right, right, you're a musician, aren't you?”

“You might call it that,” Bon-Bon muttered.

She closed her bedroom door before Film Reel could get to it. “Just a little privacy, please,” she said. She hoped the reporter knew the meaning of that word.

Film Reel shot her a look, but moved on and was nearly to the stairs when she stopped. “You know, I think I've got it figured out.”

“Have what figured out?” Bon-Bon said.

“This is all a hoax, isn't it?" Film Reel said with a sly grin. "Pretty genius, actually, coming up with something like this to promote your candy business.”

“You're saying you think I'm lying?”

“We'll keep this off the record,” the reporter said. “You sell your candy, we sell more papers, everypony wins.”

Bon-Bon's eyes widened. “I'd never...”

“Nah,” Lyra said. “Bon-Bon's pretty boring. She'd never be able to come up with something like this.”


“No offense.” Lyra shrugged.

“Either way, we've still got some fantastic news value here," Film Reel said. “I haven't been this excited about a scoop since Mare Do Well.”

Bon-Bon shook her head. Pure sensationalism. Ponyville's journalism was in a sorry state. No wonder they were struggling against the Foal Free Press. The local school newspaper, of all things!

On the way downstairs, Film Reel took notice of the light patches on the wallpaper. A scattered assortment of rectangles and ovals could be seen where the paper was discolored.

“What happened here?” she asked. She snapped a few more photos of the empty wall.

“That happened two days ago,” Lyra said. “This big wind came and nearly knocked us over.” She gestured with her hoof, showing how it had moved. “We had a bunch of pictures hung up, but they all fell off and broke.”

“Fascinating…” Film Reel said.

“It’s going to be expensive to replace all of those frames. The glass in every single one just shattered,” Bon-Bon said.

Putting away her camera, Film Reel continued down the stairs. “So, would you say that whatever you've got here is trying to threaten you?”

Threaten them? That was an unpleasant thought. It had been nagging at the back of Bon-Bon’s mind for a while, but she never wanted to say it out loud.

Lyra cut in before she could think of any response. “Nah. The way I see it, whoever it is just wants to have some fun and let us know he’s here.”

They continued single-file into the downstairs hall. Film Reel paused to take another photo of the clock on the wall.

“How long has it been like that?” she said, nodding in its direction.

“Been like…?” Bon-Bon pushed past her to it to take a closer look.She hadn't noticed it from upstairs, but the ticking had stopped. There was a small hairline crack making a crooked line from the twelve to the six. “Just today,” she said quietly.

Film Reel looked over the room one last time. “So that's it, eh? Well, I was kind of hoping something really bizarre would happen before I left. Ah, well.”

“You're leaving?” Bon-Bon said. “Finally! I mean... I'll show you to the door.”

Lyra hurried to catch up with them as they headed for the front hallway. “Wait, so you're sure this'll be on the front page? Like, of the newspaper?”

“You kidding? Front page features are my specialty,” Film Reel said with a grin.

“And that's just wonderful,” Bon-Bon said. “You should go get to work on that, then, shouldn't you? We'll be waiting to read it!”

Without another word, Bon-Bon nearly pushed the reporter out the door onto the street. She closed the door behind herself and leaned against it, letting out a sigh of relief. “I hope we never have to go through anything like that again.”

“Why not? She seemed nice,” Lyra said. She jumped in the air, grinning. “And now we'll be famous! I was even thinking: What if we open up on Nightmare Night? We could charge everybody, say, five bits to come in. I mean, Sweet Apple Acres has that haunted hayride thing every year, but we've got a real–”

Bon-Bon put up a hoof to silence her. “All I want is to survive the month without any more annoyances.”

Without another word, Bon-Bon left and trudged back to the kitchen. Good luck having a quiet month now that everypony in town will know about whatever this thing was. Never mind the month, actually. Would it be too much for just the rest of the evening to be quiet? She stepped into the empty room and glanced around as if their unseen houseguest was somewhere in hiding.

“Don't get any ideas,” she muttered.


View Online

The sweet smell of caramel was already starting to waft through the house. There was a full bushel of apples waiting, fresh from Sweet Apple Acres. Bon-Bon had picked them up earlier today, making a trade-off—Applejack’s candy order for the bushel, at a slightly reduced price.

Caramel apples were a nice change of pace. They were fairly easy to manage. The most difficult part would be making the caramel itself—most ponies didn’t appreciate the difficulty of having just the right mixture of sugar and water, giving it that smooth texture, and letting it heat for just the right amount of time, not to mention avoiding making a mess or getting any nasty burns throughout the whole process. Bon-Bon never forgot when she was a filly, only starting to learn how to make candy. That patch of hair that got covered in hot caramel had taken weeks to grow back. Looking back now, she could laugh, but it had been humiliating at the time.

Bon-Bon crouched down to check the cabinet. She would need a pot to mix the caramel, trays to set them out on after dipping… Where were those wooden sticks she had bought earlier for the apples? She began to dig through the cabinet when she heard something rattling around above her. She slowly lifted her head.

One of the handles in the knife block had started to shake its way out. The blade began sliding out with a metallic scraping sound.

She watched in stunned silence as the full six inches of the blade were revealed. It glinted in the light. Slowly, the knife turned itself around in the air. The tip of the blade directed itself towards her. It moved forwards.

Bon-Bon screamed and dropped to the ground, hooves over her head.

“Whoa, careful there,” Lyra said.

Bon-Bon opened her eyes and looked up. The knife crossed the room and settled down on the kitchen table. Lyra’s horn glowed again as she lifted up a large, perfectly round pumpkin off the floor and it landed with a thud in front of her.

“Warn me before you do something like that!” Bon-Bon gasped.

“Something like what?” Lyra was too distracted by the pumpkin. She circled around it, stopping and squinting occasionally, taking it in from all angles. Raising the knife, she paused, and turned around. “It’s fine with you if I use the table, right?”

“Ugh… fine,” Bon-Bon said. Lyra was about to stab into the top of the pumpkin, but Bon-Bon quickly added, “Put down some newspaper or something before you make a mess!”

“Oh, right. Sorry,” Lyra said. The knife floated back down to the table, and she trotted out of the room.

Bon-Bon picked the pot up off the floor and set it in the sink. As she ran the water, she took an uneasy glance at the knife block, with five wooden handles still jutting out. It didn’t move. She shook her head and shut the water off.

Lyra might be reckless, delusional, and completely ignorant of the danger they were in, but it would be nice to have somepony else in the kitchen for a while.

Most mornings, Lyra was still going out to the park to practice her music, like she always did. The house would be completely empty and quiet. Bon-Bon would feel utterly alone, cut off from the rest of the world, trapped in a strange place, outside of the regular flow of time, where the minutes dragged into hours.

She really was going crazy if she let herself have such melodramatic thoughts.

The past few days, she’d felt a combination of irritation, anxiety, and—well, yes, a little bit of fear, perhaps—and it just left her feeling drained, and things only seemed to get worse. The fire in the living room barely seemed to keep away this unnatural cold anymore.

Lyra burst into the kitchen. “Bon-Bon! You need to see this!”

The moment Bon-Bon turned her head, a newspaper was thrust into her face. She brushed it away with one hoof. “What? What is it?”

As soon as she saw it, the grainy photograph on the front page was instantly recognizable. She could hardly believe what she was seeing.

“That reporter actually put our upstairs bathroom onto the front page of the paper?” she said. “What in the name of…”

“No, look closer,” Lyra insisted. The paper floated closer to Bon-Bon’s face again.

That was when Bon-Bon saw what had Lyra so excited. There was a hazy, light-colored smudge that she had initially taken for glare on the lens, but on closer inspection, it began to look like a figure. The proportions were distorted, but the more you looked at it, the harder it was to deny. There was the head, thrown back, it was reared up on its back legs, the front hooves were extended…

Bon-Bon noticed the caption underneath. Could this be the evil spirit plaguing two Ponyville residents? Reporters could find no explanation as to what caused this anomaly. Before she could read the main feature, the paper flew across the kitchen back over to Lyra.

“Film Reel actually got a picture of our ghost!” Lyra said, starting to pace back and forth. It was difficult to tell if she was jealous or thrilled. Maybe both. “How was she able to get a picture of it, and we couldn’t? Well, I guess she’s a professional photographer, maybe she just knows how to take a better picture than you do…”

Bon-Bon sighed. “She probably did something to it. Created a double exposure, or something. She didn’t strike me as the most trustworthy reporter, you know.”

“But still…” Lyra hung her head for a moment, then turned her attention back to her pumpkin. She set the front page aside and spread out the rest of the paper. “I want to figure out how to make real contact with him.”

“Good. If you figure out how, tell him to leave me alone,” Bon-Bon said. She returned to her work, measuring out several cups of sugar.

Lyra stood up on her back hooves to get a look at the top of the pumpkin. She raised the knife and plunged it in, all the way up to the hilt. “Aren’t you just a little curious?”


The knife yanked itself out and floated by Lyra’s side, sticky orange muck coating the blade. She sunk it back in and began sawing a circle around the stem. “I just don’t get it, Bon-Bon. He came from beyond the grave, beyond our mortal plane entirely, just to hang out with us for Nightmare Night! And you don’t even want to meet him.”

“Are you even listening to yourself?” Bon-Bon lifted an eyebrow.

“I’m just saying there’s no point in getting stressed out over it,” Lyra said. She began shoveling a stringy glob of orange out of the hole she’d carved. “It’s Nightmare Night. Stuff like this is supposed to be fun.”

Bon-Bon gritted her teeth. “Do you even realize what this has been like for me?” she said. “I’ve had to cancel so many orders because I won’t even get started on them. I’m always tired, but I can hardly sleep at night. And everypony in town is talking behind my back, and most of it is complete lies!”

Once she was finished, she just stood there, breathing heavily. Lyra had stopped carving and just stared at her. “But… you know, the ghost hasn’t really done that much.”

Bon-Bon let out a deep breath. “I know. Not nearly as much as ponies think, anyway. I suppose we should be grateful for that.”

“Exactly! It’s all just for fun,” Lyra said. She went back to her work on the pumpkin, shoving the knife into the front and carving out eyeholes.

They both worked silently for a while. Bon-Bon had measured out just a little bit of water to add to the sugar, not so much that it would get runny, but just enough to give it the right texture.

Lyra stepped back from her pumpkin and stared at it, tapping at her lower lip with the tip of the knife. She grinned, and turned it around to show Bon-Bon. “What do you think?”

The carving job was crude and obviously rushed. Lyra was far from a perfectionist. The pumpkin had a simple, toothy grin and triangular eyes. The roundness of pumpkins always made the face look deformed, in Bon-Bon’s opinion. The mouth and nose were flat, nothing like a pony’s head at all.

“It’s… great, Lyra,” Bon-Bon said.

“You think so?” Lyra turned it back around to take a second look. “I should probably get this out on the porch before… Wait, what time is it?” Her head jerked back to look at hallway, then she frowned. “I need to get over to Rarity’s. She said she would be putting the finishing touches on my costume by now.”

The pumpkin floated off the table and Lyra galloped out of the room, swerving the pumpkin around the doorway and through the front hall. Bon-Bon heard the front door swing open and close.

She was alone again.

There was caramel browning on the stovetop and a dozen apples sitting on the counter, waiting to be dipped whenever it was ready. She was nearly finished, though it only meant she would have to move on to making something else. Still, progress was satisfying. And rare these past few days.

By the looks of things, it would still be a few minutes until the caramel was ready. It was best to leave it be while it was browning. Only a novice would stir it.

Outside the window, Bon-Bon watched dry brown leaves skittering down the road in the wind and a couple of foals playing in the street. They kicked a ball back and forth. One of them pointed at the house, said something that Bon-Bon couldn’t catch, then they both laughed and continued their game.

Even with the faint sound of the stove burning and the muffled yells and laughter from outside, everything seemed far too quiet. What was it? Lyra had left, but… There was more to it than that.

She realized what was missing—the clock. Without those chimes, the day was feeling endless. Normally she would hear it chiming every half hour and be able to keep track of the time, but now it had gone dead.

Bon-Bon walked out to the hallway and looked up at it. The crack in the glass caught the reflection of the light. It was still stuck at the same time it had stopped at earlier. This clock was an antique, so she wouldn’t even try to fix it. Probably just take it over to the repair shop as soon as she got the chance.

First the pictures on the stairs, then the clock. Bon-Bon thought her own sanity was the only thing left to break.

She was still staring at it when she felt a hoof rest on her shoulder.

“Bon-Bon, I think something’s burning.”

It was like Lyra had just appeared out of nowhere, but Bon-Bon was more concerned with the stench that had suddenly hit her nostrils. Nothing could send her into a panic quite like the smell of smoke and burnt sugar coming from the kitchen.

She galloped into the kitchen and saw thick smoke rising from the stove. She flipped the dials to off, and then stared down at the crispy black mess caked in the bottom of the pot.

Lyra slowly walked into the kitchen. “Bon-Bon, what happened?” she said quietly. “You’re usually more careful than that.”

“This couldn’t have happened so quickly…” Bon-Bon said, shaking her head. “I wasn’t gone for more than thirty seconds.” She turned towards Lyra. “Weren’t you going to see Rarity?”

“I already did. I just got back. Your candy was burning, and you were just standing out there staring at that clock,” Lyra said. “It was a little creepy, honestly.” She didn’t come any closer. She simply stood in the doorway on the other side of the kitchen.

Bon-Bon slipped on some oven mitts. She took the pot off the stove and put it into the sink, filling it with water and leaving it to soak for a while. Hopefully she would be able to scrape it all out and the pot wouldn’t be ruined forever. That was the last thing she needed.

What had happened, though?

“I don’t think I can deal with this anymore…” Bon-Bon muttered. “How long were you out?”

Lyra tilted her head. “About… an hour. Maybe an hour and a half.”

Bon-Bon felt woozy. She stared out the window. Those fillies from earlier were gone. The empty street was bathed in the orange light of early sunset. Her stomach turned, and she knew that if she spent another moment inside she was really going to be sick.

“Do you want me to help you clean up?” Lyra said, taking a few hesitant steps forward.

Bon-Bon took a moment to respond. “Yes,” she said finally. “I need to step out for a while. The… The smoke’s getting to me.”

“Alright, then…” Lyra eyed her as she walked by.

Bon-Bon was nearly out the door when she noticed the stack of boxes sitting on the edge of the counter. The few orders that she had managed to complete, waiting to be delivered. From the ponies who planned far enough in advance when they were making their candy orders.

She thought about it for a moment, then loaded one of the boxes into a saddlebag. Bon-Bon probably wouldn’t find a better excuse to head over and talk to her again.

It was unusually warm for an evening in autumn. The fresh air was helping Bon-Bon clear her head somewhat, but the more she thought about what exactly had happened, the more disturbing it seemed. She hadn’t left the room for more than a minute, she was absolutely sure of that…

Her thoughts were interrupted when the door was finally answered. “Oh, hello, Bon-Bon!” Twilight stepped aside to let her in. “Is that my order? I was wondering when I would hear back from you.”

Bon-Bon stepped into the well-lit room and set her saddlebags down as soon as she was in the door. “It’s been… hectic,” she said. “I hope I can manage to get the rest of the orders done. I’m usually taking care of deliveries long before this.”

“It’s no problem at all,” Twilight said.

Bon-Bon simply nodded and started unpacking the boxes of candy, setting them on the table in the center of the room. Twilight watched her for a while without a word.

“You know, I’ve been studying the history of Nightmare Night recently. It’s amazing,” Twilight said. “It goes back a long time. Originally it was to commemorate the time of year when the Princesses allow longer nights, but the modern traditions of monsters and ghosts weren’t added until—“

“Twilight, you know I’ve never exactly been fond of this holiday. Perhaps even less than usual, this year,” Bon-Bon said. “I believe you know why.”

“You’re not still letting Lyra talk you into those ghost stories, are you?” Twilight smiled.

“We already told you. We’re not making these things up. There’s something strange going on.”

“It’s true! It was in the paper today!” Pinkie Pie said.

Both of them spun around at the interruption. Pinkie was bouncing across the library to meet them. “They even got a picture! There’s a real ghost there!”

“Pinkie? How did you get in here?” Twilight said, glancing around wildly.

“You read the newspaper?” Bon-Bon said.

Pinkie’s eyes seemed to pop out of her head. “I read all about you guys! All the stuff about hearing ponies walking around when there weren't any ponies there, and things flying off the walls on their own, and those voices—“

“There were never any voices, Pinkie.”

“—and I realized that you’ve some seriously spooky stuff going on! This is the real deal!” Pinkie finished.

Twilight laughed, and shook her head. “I can’t believe that so many ponies are falling for this! Do you think that everypony would be so quick to jump to those conclusions at any other time of the year?”

“You don’t understand, Twilight! There are some things that even super-smart ponies like you can’t explain!” Pinkie said.

“Twilight, things have started to seem downright dangerous,” Bon-Bon said. “I would never fall for this sort of nonsense. There really is something there. Just today, I was… Well, I don’t really know how to explain it, but—”

“That’s why I had to warn you!” Pinkie said.

Bon-Bon blinked. “Warn me about what?”

“Not to get scared!”

“But I thought you were saying…”

Pinkie shook her head. “Just because you’ve got a haunted house and ghosts and everything doesn’t mean you should be scared, silly! That just makes everything even worse!”

“She has a point. You do seem to be getting stressed out, Bon-Bon,” Twilight said. She trotted across the room and started scanning the shelves. “You should try to take it easy. I still say that haunted houses and evil ghosts aren’t real. I even have a book that says…” She stopped in front of a section, looked around for a few moments, and frowned. “I thought I had it… Or did I lend it out?”

“You do have books about ghosts?” Bon-Bon said. She walked over to Twilight’s side. “I thought I might ask you. What are they?”

“Oh, no, I don’t keep very many books about that kind of thing,” Twilight said. “And I think I must have lent out my only one earlier.”

“Really? I was going to ask if you had any good ghost stories.” Pinkie frowned. “Reading about Bon-Bon’s house really got me in the mood for some! Oh well.” She turned skipped out of the room, humming to herself.

Bon-Bon watched her leave as suddenly as she had appeared. Then she turned back to Twilight. “Please. Whatever’s going on here—a ghost, or whatever it is—can’t you just take a look at it? And, more importantly, find out how to stop it?”

Twilight bit her lip. “I’d like to. I mean, I’d like to prove that what’s happening is nothing I can’t explain. But I’m running a bit behind on preparations.”

You’re running behind?”

“On my costume preparations, of course. I was so caught up in studying the history of Nightmare Night that I completely forgot to look into details about Light Charmer. I’m going to dress up as her this year.”

Bon-Bon tilted her head. “Who?”

Twilight let out a sigh. “Ponies are so ignorant of the history of magic. That’s why I need to take extra care to ensure my costume is one hundred percent accurate.”

“Nopony would be able to tell…” Bon-Bon muttered.

“Sorry, Bon-Bon, but I can’t help you right now. I’ll check my schedule for an opportunity, though!” Twilight said, smiling. “Just remember that there's no such thing as ghosts.”

Bon-Bon couldn’t pursue it any farther. She thanked Twilight for her business and started on her way back home.

Pegasi were already starting to move dark clouds into the sky by the time Bon-Bon left Twilight’s library. Brown and orange leaves swirled and spiraled through the empty streets.

Don’t get scared. That was the only advice Pinkie and Twilight had for her? How was she supposed to “not get scared” when this ghost could have burned down their house today? And now who knew what could be coming next?

She passed by a stallion reading the newspaper on the way back. He was too engrossed in the story to notice her. And there was the picture on the cover. Bon-Bon couldn’t believe that everypony in town would have found a picture of her bathroom on their front steps this morning, but it was even harder to believe that hazy form materializing next to the bathtub was really there.

Bon-Bon quickened her pace before the stallion did have a chance to realize who she was, and turned the corner to her street just as a few scattered raindrops started to fall.

Lyra was staring out the front windows when Bon-Bon arrived home. “Looks like it could rain,” she said.

“Oh, really?” Bon-Bon said.

“Yeah. We haven’t had a good storm in a while. I bet this one’ll be really big.” She craned her neck, trying to look up at the sky.

“How much did you get done with the kitchen? What’s left to clean up?”

“Don’t worry. It was tough, but I took care of all of it,” Lyra said. She turned away from the window, and rubbed her chin. “I, uh… I know you’ve been stressed out lately. I forgot to tell you earlier, though. I’ve got good news!”

Bon-Bon scowled. “I’m not sure I trust anything that you’re calling ‘good news,’ but go on.”

“I was on the way to Rarity’s earlier today, and I was talking to some ponies. They’re professional investigators. They said they’ll come over in a few days and figure out what’s going on here,” Lyra said.

“You… what?” Bon-Bon blinked at her. “What do you mean, ‘professional’?” The term sounded dubious when you applied it to something like ghosts.

“They’re the leading experts on ghosts and hauntings in Ponyville. They’re going to figure out what’s going on here.”

“I was asking Twilight to help and she's still not convinced. Who else is there?”

Lyra frowned. “I don't think Twilight would ever be convinced we had a ghost. These ponies know what they're doing. Trust me.”

“And they’ll get rid of it.”

Well…” Lyra dragged the word out. “Maybe. I wouldn’t make any guarantees.”

Bon-Bon could hardly believe it. “You’re serious about this? Where did you find them?”

“It wasn’t hard,” Lyra said. She immediately changed the subject. “Hey, tonight’s going to be awesome, though! Do you think ghosts like it more when it storms? Or is that just in campfire stories and stuff?”

“If you had asked me a month ago, I would have told you it was all just stories.” Bon-Bon let out a yawn. “I’m going upstairs to try to get some sleep.”

It didn’t last long. Bon-Bon was awoken by an earsplitting crack of thunder. She sat up straight in bed, glanced around the dark room, and then fell back down, making a mental note to lodge a complaint with Rainbow Dash in the morning for this utterly tasteless weather.

Over the patter of rain on the window, she could hear another sound. Soft music in a slow, mournful melody. Lyra must be up, too. With all this thunder, the entire town must be.

The room was lit up by a flash of lightning for just a moment. Bon-Bon rolled over in bed, trying to get back to sleep. She had to. If she could just ignore the weather, maybe…

Another flash of white, but this time she saw something.

It was only a glimpse. A vague black silhouette in the doorway, which at first she took for Lyra, but it couldn’t have been. The mane was too long, and there didn’t seem to be a horn, although it was hard to tell. And the lyre music from down the hall hadn’t stopped.

Bon-Bon sat up again and reached over to turn the lamp on. Light filled the room, and there was nopony there.


View Online

It was beginning to get dark outside.

Bon-Bon sat by the fire with her front hooves crossed, finished with work for the day. To be more accurate, she couldn’t continue working even if she wanted to. She would leave a bowl or a jar of ingredients on the counter, turn around, and find it moved a few inches. Or was it still in the same place? It was impossible to focus when you constantly doubted yourself over such trivial things.

She watched Lyra, who was lounging on the couch with a book of ghost stories, turning the pages and softly humming the same tune from that night.

“That was you playing music a few nights ago, wasn’t it?” Bon-Bon said.

Lyra looked up. “You mean during the storm? Yeah. I didn’t wake you up, did I?”

Bon-Bon shook her head. “The thunder took care of that.”

“That’s why I didn’t even go to sleep!” Lyra said, beaming. “I mean, a thunderstorm, in a haunted house, right around Nightmare Night? That’s something you just don’t sleep through. It’s way too much fun.”

“And you were in your room the whole time,” Bon-Bon said. She stared into the flames.


“Lyra…” Bon-Bon sighed. “I think I saw it.”

The book fell to the ground as Lyra jumped off the couch. “No way!”

Bon-Bon simply nodded. “It was just standing there. Watching me.”

“What did it look like? Was it a boy or a girl? It wasn’t walking on two legs, was it?” Lyra bounced over to her. “I can’t believe you never told me about this! This is huge!”

“I couldn’t see very much detail. It wasn’t there for very long.” Even though the vision had only lasted a split second, it hadn’t left Bon-Bon’s mind. She hadn’t told Lyra at first because she was afraid Lyra would react like… Well, the way she was now.

“But did it talk to you? Leave anything behind? A message, maybe? Anything?”

“It was just standing there. Watching me, I think,” Bon-Bon said. She shifted around uncomfortably. “Lyra, these investigators of yours had better find out what’s going on. I’m not sure how much longer I can take this.”

“Your work is nearly finished, though, isn’t it?” Lyra asked.

Bon-Bon sighed. “You mean the orders I haven’t been forced to cancel? Then yes, I suppose it’s almost done. But, Lyra, this isn’t going to end just because Nightmare Night passes us by. I don't think it has anything to do with that. It’s just going to stay here unless we find a way to get rid of it.”

Lyra sunk down, avoiding Bon-Bon’s eyes. “I guess not…”

“And you still haven’t told me who these ponies are. Does Ponyville even have paranormal investigators?”

There was a knock at the door. Lyra grinned, and trotted out to the front hall to answer it. “I bet that’s the team!”

“Team?” Bon-Bon said. For right now, she was going to trust Lyra’s judgment. Lyra was obsessing over this thing. It wasn’t hard to imagine that she would have gone out and actually found somepony who was an expert on these things. Of course, an expert on ghosts already sounded questionable, but at this point Bon-Bon considered herself a firm believer.

“Hey, Lyra!” The familiar high-pitched voice made Bon-Bon cringe. She’d recognize that crack anywhere—she’d be willing to bet anypony in town would.

With a groan, she headed out to the front door. She turned a corner, and sure enough, Lyra was standing there with Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo. The three of them stood there with their saddlebags, looking just like the schoolfillies that they were.

Bon-Bon walked up slowly. “Um, girls, you’re not here to…”

“Don’t worry, Miz Bon-Bon! We may not look like much, but we’re real expert ghost hunters!” Apple Bloom said.

“Yeah! We’ve read every single book in Twilight’s library on the subject,” Scootaloo added.

“Even if there only was one single book in Twilight’s library about ghosts…” Sweetie Belle mumbled, staring at the floor.

“But we still read the entire book, cover to cover!” Scootaloo pushed to the front of the group. “Or most of it, anyways!”

Bon-Bon smiled at them. “Lyra, can I talk to you for a moment?” she said in a sweet voice.

“Sure!” Lyra followed her out to the living room. “What is it?”

These are your ‘professional investigators’?” Bon-Bon said through gritted teeth. The smile had vanished. She was fuming.

Lyra raised up a hoof. “I know it doesn’t look good, but trust me on this! They were telling me all this stuff they’d read and they really seem to know what’s going on.”

“I’ve been telling you that this thing is starting to seem dangerous! This isn’t something for a bunch of curious young fillies to be poking their noses into. Who knows what could happen?”

“Look, they told me that if they earn their cutie marks in paranormal investigation tonight, then we don’t owe them a single bit,” Lyra said. “So what's the problem?”

Bon-Bon’s mouth hung open for a moment as she tried to come up with an adequate response. There was none. She turned around and headed back out to the front door where the fillies were talking amongst themselves.

“It would be easier to get the ghost here if we had one of those special boards the book was talking about,” Sweetie Belle said. “With all the letters and stuff so that it can answer our questions.”

“What’s wrong with just talkin’ to it?” Apple Bloom said.

Sweetie Belle shook her head. “There’s special ways to do this. You can’t just ask it to come out.”

“I thought it said something about using a mirror,” Scootaloo said.

“That’s only for certain ones. Wasn’t there a thing where we all get around a table and put our hooves on it until the ghost shows up?” Apple Bloom said.

“But you need garlic in case it’s an evil ghost.”

“That’s vamponies,” Sweetie Belle said in a flat tone.

“Yeah, ghosts are supposed to go away if you use silver, not garlic,” Apple Bloom said.

“Where did you hear that?” Scootaloo said. “Did you even read the book?”

“They might come out if we keep fighting,” Sweetie Belle said with a shrug. “I heard ghosts show up around ponies when they’re angry or sad.”

Scootaloo shook her head. “That’s windigoes! They’re completely different.”

Bon-Bon had to step in. “Girls, that’s quite enough. Why don’t you just start your… investigation?” she said. “But do it quietly, and don’t make a mess.”

“Yeah. I’ve never been able to make it show up, but I’m sure that if we wait long enough, we’ll get something,” Lyra said. “How about we set up in the living room?”

“Okay!” The fillies all followed Lyra. Somehow Lyra was always able to get kids to cooperate, probably because she was nearly at the same level of maturity but with the added authority of age.

“With any luck, Crusaders, we’ll have definite proof of a paranor… paran… Something really weird by the end of the night!” Apple Bloom said.

“What do you think a cutie mark for ghost catching would look like?” Sweetie Belle said.

Bon-Bon groaned and put a hoof to her forehead. She was starting to feel a headache already, and the night was only just beginning. She trailed behind them and watched as they gathered around the living room, still chattering in their high-pitched little voices.

“And your families know that you’re staying over here? Do they know what you’re up to?” she asked.

“Rarity said that as long as she got a quiet’s night sleep, she didn’t care what I got myself into!” Sweetie Belle said.

“If only we could all be so blessed.” Bon-Bon glanced towards the doorway. “I’ll be upstairs, so please keep it down.”

Bon-Bon lay in bed upstairs. She was trying to sleep, since it was obvious that the fillies downstairs weren’t going to. She was admittedly jealous of all that energy.

“…the Headless Horse!” She could hear Sweetie Belle yell the last line of that old campfire story, and then the others shrieked and laughed. They’d been at it for hours.

With a groan, Bon-Bon rolled out of her bed and shook herself. She slowly headed out the door of her bedroom and headed downstairs to the kitchen. Maybe a mug of cider would help her relax. They still had some, as long as Lyra hadn’t drank it all. Probably not—Bon-Bon was the cider fan between the two of them; it was probably one of the few things about autumn she enjoyed.

As she entered the kitchen, she found Lyra there, filling up a snack plate.

“How’s the investigation going?” Bon-Bon said. “Or did you say filly sitting? Because that’s what it seems like to me.”

Lyra smiled. “Just wait. I’m sure something’ll happen.”

Bon-Bon gave her an exasperated look and then opened the fridge. She poured herself a glass of cider and sat down in front of the kitchen table. Lyra finished assembling the plate and floated it out of the room.

She could hear their voices in the other room. Lyra really was just filly sitting. At least their invisible friend hadn’t shown up. The activity always seemed to slow down whenever Lyra wanted something to happen. Maybe that was the trick to it.

The cider had only gotten sweeter with time, and Bon-Bon finished the last few drops in the mug feeling satisfied. She might as well check in on the others.

They were all seated around the living room. Other than the fireplace, all of the lights were off. The flickering light made shadows dance across the floor and up the walls. The fillies had already dug into the snacks and were munching contentedly.

“Hey, Bon-Bon!” Apple Bloom said. “Did you come to hunt ghosts with us?”

“Just checking in,” Bon-Bon said. “Lyra, are they really going to spend the entire night over? Doing… whatever it is they’re doing?”

“If we go to sleep, we might miss something!” Scootaloo said.

“Yeah! Ghosts come out when it’s dark, too!” Apple Bloom added. “So we’ve gotta do this when it’s night, or else we won’t find anything. The book said so.”

Bon-Bon sighed. She should have known better than to question the “experts.” Most filly slumber parties like this started out with such grand intentions and fell apart in a few hours, though, so maybe they’d tire out soon and give up.

“You should stay down here with us,” Lyra said. “It’s still a lot of fun even if we don’t find anything.”

“No thank you,” Bon-Bon said. “Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going—“

She was interrupted by a deep knell from the hallway. The clock was tolling the hour. All five of them stood there, motionless, listening to the chimes. Ten… Eleven… Twelve.

Nopony said anything, then Sweetie Belle groaned. “It’s already midnight? I thought we would’ve seen a ghost by now!”

Bon-Bon turned to Lyra. The look in her eyes said it all.

“You never got that clock fixed, did you?” Bon-Bon said.

Lyra shook her head slowly. “You said you were going to.”

The fire suddenly extinguished itself, and the room went completely dark. The logs sizzled. One of the fillies screamed, it was hard to tell who.

They heard Lyra’s voice: “It’s alright, I’ll just light it again.” Her horn lit up, casting a small circle of yellow light around her. The frightened faces of the three fillies could be seen now in the shadows. Lyra gave a reassuring smile. “Come on. You guys aren’t afraid of the dark, are you?”

“O-of course not!” Scootaloo said, exchanging glances with her friends. “This is it! We’re just about to find evidence, aren’t we? This is what we came for!”

Lyra trotted over to the fireplace and gave it a spark. Nothing happened. She frowned, tried again. Still nothing. She poked at the logs with one hoof, then stepped back. “They’re wet. It’s like somebody poured water over the whole thing.”

Bon-Bon reached over and pressed the switch on the end table lamp. It wouldn't turn on. She looked up. “Lyra, I think we need to get them home,” she said. “Right now.”

“But we’re just getting started!” Sweetie Belle whined.

“We can’t stop now!” Apple Bloom said.

Ignoring their protests, Bon-Bon felt her way forwards through the darkness and reached the front door. She raised a hoof to push it open. “I think we’ve seen quite—“ She grunted, and put both hooves up to shove with extra force. “—enough, so if everypony could just gather their things and—“ She leaned her entire body against it, but it still wouldn’t give. She glanced up. “You didn’t lock this, did you?”

“Why would I lock it?” Lyra stood at the other end of the hall, watching her. Her horn was still the only source of light. The fillies were still huddled close at her side, not letting a single hair on their tails stray into the shadows.

Bon-Bon gave another shove, pushing her shoulder into the door with as much force as she could muster. She sighed. “Look at what you’ve gotten us into.”


You’re the one who said they could come over!”

“Um, do you think we could try to get the lights back on?” Sweetie Belle said quietly.

“Yeah, we could... Uh...” Lyra looked over her shoulder at the hallway. “Where do we keep the spare candles?”

“They should be in the hall closet,” Bon-Bon told her.

“Alright. Come on!” Lyra smiled down at the fillies, trying to reassure them, and they followed after her.

Bon-Bon went to the window. It was the only source of light, the moon illuminating the outlines of furniture in blue-black silhouettes. She noticed the house across the street. The lights were on in their first-floor window. So this wasn’t just a normal blackout.

She heard the sound of Lyra rustling around through the boxes in the closet, then: “There they are!” The floorboards creaked. Soon Lyra and the Crusaders reappeared.

Lyra went around the room, placing the candles one by one to light up as much area as possible. Eventually the entire room was lit, but still very dim. Bon-Bon didn’t care much for the dramatic effect.

“Until the lights come back on, I say we should all stay here together,” Bon-Bon said. “And once that happens, everypony is going back home. No questions.”

“But we’re just now starting to see some stuff!” Scootaloo said.

“Come on, Crusaders! We need to take notes on what’s happenin’,” Apple Bloom said. She looked over to Sweetie Belle. “You brought the notebooks, right?”

“Uh… I thought Scootaloo would.”

“Me? Bringing the supplies was your job.”

Bon-Bon went over to the couch and collapsed, putting her head down. They’d survived a few minutes of utter terror and now they’d sprung back to their normal, irritating selves.

“You guys wait here. I’m pretty sure we’ve got some paper and quills somewhere around here.” Lyra headed out of the room, casting a light with her horn again.

Her hoofsteps moved down the hall, up the stairs, wandered around for a while. Bon-Bon stared at the ceiling. After a few minutes she heard them coming down the stairs again, and Lyra returned.

There were some rolls of paper floating by her side. “I’ve got a few blank scrolls for you. It should be enough, right?”

“Thanks, Lyra!” Sweetie Belle took a quill in her teeth and started scribbling down some notes. She whispered with the others, nodded, and wrote down some more.

Behind the chatter of the fillies, Bon-Bon could still hear something. She sat there quietly.

“Don’t worry. I’m sure everything’s fine,” Lyra said, trotting over to lean against the couch. “I told you I’d have it all under control.”

“The hoofsteps didn’t stop,” Bon-Bon said, still staring up.

Lyra turned her head. “Huh?”

“I heard you walking around upstairs. You’re here now, but there’s somepony still up there.”

All five of them looked up at the ceiling. Nopony said a word. And they could hear them—slow hoofsteps, pacing up and down the hallway.

“We should check that out!” Lyra was grinning broadly. She looked back at the Crusaders, who traded glances. “Anybody?”

“Uh… Who wants to go up there?” Scootaloo said.

“Why don’t you go? I’m, uh… busy taking notes.” Sweetie Belle pressed her face close to the paper, trying to look busy.

Lyra frowned. “I guess I could go up there, if I have to…”

“By yourself?” Bon-Bon said. “We should really be staying together. In here.”

Lyra’s face immediately brightened. “Great idea! You should come with me.”

“And leave them alone?” Bon-Bon nodded her head in the fillies’ direction. “I really think we should all just stay here until it's over.”

“Come on. It'll only take a minute. It’s just upstairs.”

Lyra was already trotting out of the room and into the darkness. Bon-Bon sighed and went to catch up with her. She took one more glance back at the living room, with its light and the fillies sitting close together on the couch.

“I still don’t think this is a good idea.”

“Come on. We are supposed to be investigating,” Lyra reminded her. “Anything that happens, we check it out.” She looked up the stairs at the dark landing above them, and started climbing up, her light guiding the way.

“While the real ‘investigators’ hide downstairs.” Bon-Bon glanced at Lyra’s horn. “It must be awfully convenient, being able to do that.”

“Yeah, it’s not too bad.”

They reached the top. The upstairs hall was quiet again. The moonlight shone through the window, but other than that it was pitch black. Lyra ducked in and out of each room, scarcely letting herself spend more than two seconds looking over each one. Bon-Bon stayed in the hall, watching her.

“I think we both knew we’d come up here and not find anything,” she said.

Lyra poked her head out of her bedroom doorway. “You think it’s gone already?”

That was when they heard the screams.

Bon-Bon bolted for the stairs, hardly even waiting for Lyra to come back with the light. “We left them alone!” she said. “I told you we shouldn’t have left them alone!”

She burst into the living room, but the candles had all gone out. It was oddly quiet. Lyra followed up behind her.

“What happened? Where are they?”

“Help me look,” Bon-Bon said.

Lyra searched around the room with her light. She scoured the entire room, saw a patch of color, went back to it. The three fillies were huddled by the wall, their eyes wide.

“What was it? What happened?” Lyra said.

Scootaloo struggled to get the words out. “It was in here! We saw it!”

Sweetie Belle nodded frantically. “Yeah! It didn’t have a head!”

“It did have a head, it was just on fire!” Apple Bloom said.

Memories of what she’d seen on the night of the storm flashed through Bon-Bon’s mind. The strange figure in the lightning flash.

Lyra stomped a hoof. “I missed it again! I’m never going to see it, am I?”

What?” Bon-Bon stared at her. “You’re not still going to go looking for this thing, are you?”

“Uh, I don’t think I want my cutie mark in ghost hunting anymore,” Sweetie Belle said.

“Same here!”


“See?” Bon-Bon said. “Now we have to find a way out before things get any worse.”

Lyra sighed. “I guess you’re right. But the door’s still—“

“We’ll find a way,” Bon-Bon insisted. “Now let’s go.”

She led the way into the hallway, stumbling slightly in the dark. As Lyra came up behind her, Bon-Bon’s shadow appeared before her. She could see the door ahead. It had been sealed shut before, but there had to be a way to get it open. They would break a window if they had to.

Suddenly, Lyra’s voice, sounding far away: “Bon-Bon? What’re you—“

The glow from Lyra’s horn suddenly went out. Everything was black. It took Bon-Bon’s eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness again. She could still feel the floorboards under her hooves, but as she reached around she couldn’t find anything.

More importantly, Lyra and the others were gone. She was alone, wherever she was.

A light clicked on somewhere, and the room lit up. Bon-Bon was momentarily caught off guard. It was the lamp on her nightstand. The sight of it was so mundane, yet somehow off.

Sure enough, she was in her own bedroom. Upstairs. But a moment ago she had been in the hallway heading to the front door.

“Lyra?” She turned around, but the doorway behind her only led to the upstairs hallway. The faint light cast her shadow across the floor, the door to the study was directly across from her, and in either direction, only darkness. Their house wasn’t that big, it couldn’t possibly be that dark in here…

Maybe her mind was playing tricks on her. She trotted outside. She knew where the stairs were, and if she could just head downstairs and find the others, everything would be fine.

“Lyra? What happened? Do you hear me?”

Bon-Bon turned her head to look back. The light shining out of her doorway was being swallowed up in the blackness as she trotted away from it. She looked over her shoulder. She could barely see where it was. Ahead of her, only more black. It was times like these she was almost jealous of Lyra’s unicorn magic.

She reached out with her hooves. To either side she could find doors. To the study, and to… No, her own room was nearest to the stairs, and the study was right across from it. There weren’t any other rooms in this direction. And how far had she walked already?

Bon-Bon couldn’t see anything now. It was total blackness. The only way to go was forward, but she counted her steps and the hallway was simply far too long. Was she even moving? There was no way to tell.

She recalled Twilight telling her this was all her imagination. How did you explain this, then? It was surreal, dreamlike, but it was also impossible to wake up. And it felt real.

Whenever she found the wall, she would find a door handle there. Was it the same one as before, or a new one? Now it was hard to tell if she was going in the same direction or not. Everything seemed the same in the dark, and she had lost track of how many times she’d turned around and looked behind her…

Then the hoofsteps started again.

That was enough indication of what direction she should take—just get away from those. She still couldn’t see in front of her, but gradually her pace quickened from a trot to a gallop. There was no time to think what would happen if she ever did reach the stairs.

The hoofsteps were getting louder. Impossibly loud. And yet still far away. This wasn’t their house, the hallway wasn’t this long or this dark, she’d lost track of just how long she’d been here or how many steps it had been. And whatever was behind her was coming up fast.

Thinking quickly, she reached to her left and pulled the door open. Whatever awaited her was surely better than whatever was in the hallway. She ducked into the room just as the thumping hoofsteps came up behind her.

She found herself downstairs, in the living room again.

The candles had gone out, but there was still enough light from the window to tell where she was. Bon-Bon became aware that she was holding her breath, and let it out.

It was only quiet for a moment. She heard glass shatter somewhere.

The floor underneath her hooves began to shake. The candles fell off the table, a lamp smashed on the floor, she could hear the drawers and cabinets slamming open and shut in the kitchen.

Bon-Bon fought her way across the room, still exhausted from running in… wherever she’d just been. Her knees buckled, but she could see the doorway to the front hallway.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Bon-Bon bolted for the front door. The hallway seemed to stretch out, pitching from one side to the other as the earthquake or whatever it was intensified. The door was moving farther away. Desperately, she reached a hoof forward, grabbed for it... A blast of fresh air hit her in the face.

She was out.

Bon-Bon flew out the front door, too late to notice when she tripped over something heavy and round. It rolled over into the dirt road in front of their house. It was about the size of a pony’s head.

Picking herself up and limping into the middle of the road, she finally stopped to catch her breath. Looking around, there was still nopony out here, though it was probably at some odd hour of the morning. She glanced at whatever she’d tripped over.

Lyra’s pumpkin. Of course. She stared at it for a moment, and somehow, she laughed. It was harsh, breathless; she was happy just to be outside.

But, now that she had turned around, what was more upsetting was the house.

Intense white light was shining out of all the windows. The house that she’d just been stumbling through in the dark was now lit up like a tree for Hearth’s Warming Eve, casting a glow on all the surrounding houses. Somehow that was even worse than the darkness.

Bon-Bon glanced around, but nopony else was out here to notice. Whatever hour of the night it was, the other houses were dark and silent. She looked back at her own house, and knew that no matter what, she was not going back inside.

“So much for your harmless little slumber party, Lyra,” she muttered.

So much for what Lyra had called the “best Nightmare Night ever.” This was what it had come down to. Fleeing their once-comfortable home in the middle of the night, running away from some invisible thing that seemed to only exist to torment her. Was this what Lyra considered fun? As soon as Bon-Bon found her, she’d…

Bon-Bon glanced around the street.

Where was Lyra?

Her eyes went back to the house, with that unnatural light pouring out of the windows. It was too bright to even see anything inside. Nearly blinding like sunlight, and yet it somehow didn’t hurt to look at it.

Bon-Bon took a deep breath and stepped up to the front door. She hesitated, trying to force herself to do it, then placed her hoof on the door handle and prepared to pull it open.

“Bon-Bon! What are you doing? What happened to you?”

She turned around just in time to see Lyra there, her eyes wild.

“Lyra? What happened?” Bon-Bon said. “Where are the others?”

“They got out. I made sure they got back home safely. You just vanished back there. We had no idea what happened. But we can’t go back in there. It’s not safe.” Lyra had never sounded so serious about anything in all the years Bon-Bon had known her.

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Bon-Bon said.


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Bon-Bon stood in the front hallway of the new house. The stairs were to her left, a doorway into the living room was at her right, and at the end of the hall was her new kitchen. It was unseasonably sunny outside, considering that it would be winter soon.

After two weeks of searching, they were finally here at their new house. It was a typical thatched-roof cottage, on the opposite side of Ponyville from where they had lived before. It would be hard to reorient herself to the new location, but it would work. There was no way in the world they were going back to that house.

Ponies had been talking about it around town. How something had forced her and Lyra to flee their house in the middle of the night, and leaving three young fillies from the local school terrified out of their wits. No doubt there were dozens of insane theories about what had happened, but Bon-Bon didn’t even care anymore. Let them talk. Whatever they came up with couldn’t be half as bizarre as the truth. As time went on, Bon-Bon wasn’t sure how much of that last night had even been real. It felt like a nightmare.

Finding a new house on such short notice had also been a nightmare, but a decidedly more normal and manageable one.

The historic Ponyville Inn wasn’t exactly the kind of place you wanted to stay for two weeks, but there was no other choice. Even one week would have been pushing it. It had occasionally given them a quiet night’s sleep, though for one weekend there had been a noisy family with three hyperactive foals next door. The service desk seemed to be entirely run by two lazy young ponies, probably barely out of school, who wouldn’t even replace the towels unless you went up and specifically asked them to.

Bon-Bon knew this was no way to live, so she had been talking to real estate agents from the very start. There weren't many options available. Not to mention they weren't in the best state financially, not after having one of the most critical seasons for business utterly ruined.

And Nightmare Night itself? It had been quiet. Lyra had put on her freakish costume—normal clothes, but with some kind of odd mask and strange tentacled things at the ends of her hooves—and gathered what candy she could. The town seemed to be in short supply. Bon-Bon had spent the night with her face buried in her pillow and tried to sleep through the humiliation.

A few days after that, Lyra had convinced her to go back to the house. Everything was still inside, including her lyre. It was a custom-made instrument from the best craftspony in Canterlot, not to mention it had been a birthday present from her parents. Bon-Bon didn’t really have the option to say no.

They had decided to go in together, never alone. It had been at noon, on a clear sunny day, and they had propped the front door open with a chair so it couldn't swing shut on them. They had only grabbed what was important and taken it back to the hotel. They could hire movers to recover the rest, as soon as they found a new house.

She was willing to take whatever was available, and this had been it. Not bad, admittedly. Not bad at all.

As a whole, the house was larger than their last, but the kitchen was just a bit smaller. She paced around, measuring it. Maybe it wasn’t too big of a difference. She mentally planned out how she would organize everything once they really got moved in. Candy season was over—finally, she thought, rolling her eyes—but cookie season would start in just a few more weeks.

The last dead leaves had been shaken off the trees by now, and the air was nearly freezing. It was that time of year that everypony was just waiting for the pegasi to get the snowfall out of the way so it could be winter already, but fall still had a few more weeks to go.

Bon-Bon could still remember the chill in their old house. This place was absolutely cozy by comparison. And those frantic, galloping hoofsteps from upstairs were just Lyra checking out every single room.

She moved on to the living room, noticing the fireplace. Now this would be a perfect place to relax in the winter. It would be best to get some firewood as soon as possible and really feel at home. Once furniture had been brought in, it would be something to be envied. She could almost laugh. Maybe that ghost had done them a favor.

Lyra came running down from the second floor. She glanced from side to side, noticed Bon-Bon in the living room, and ran up to her. “I looked all over. This place is in amazing condition. No leaks or anything! How did you find it?”

“I wasn’t about to spend any more time living in a hotel,” Bon-Bon said with a shrug. “This house was available, so I took it.”

“And the price tag wasn’t too bad, either…” Lyra shook her head. “Seriously, nobody else picked up this place? I thought for sure there would be some kind of catch.”

“Nope,” Bon-Bon said. “No catch.”

“Just a nice, if a bit plain, Ponyville cottage…” Lyra said. “You know, I’m almost going to miss our little friend back in the old house.”

Bon-Bon gaped at her. “You’re not serious. Don’t you even remember what happened?”

Lyra shrugged. “Well, yeah. But up until that point, don’t you think it was fun? You have to admit it made things interesting.”

Bon-Bon shook her head. “You’ll never change, will you?”

“It was an adventure. And now we’ve got all kinds of great stories to tell everybody for years to come.” Lyra gave a sly grin. “Seriously, Bon-Bon, you can be really boring sometimes.”

“I’d rather be boring than completely insane.”

“Suit yourself,” Lyra said. “So which room do you want? I call the one at the end of the hall on the left.”

“I don’t really have a preference. I’ll take a look around later,” Bon-Bon said.

Lyra smiled and walked around the living room. She looked out the window for a moment, then circled back around and sat herself down on a chair. “Yeah, I think I’ll be able to get used to this place.”

Bon-Bon nodded. “It should be quiet, at least.”

“It’ll take me forever to get the address right, though. It’s so similar to the last one,” Lyra said. “Now we’re at 41 Blackberry Lane, instead of 41 Blueberry Lane. Weird. You didn’t notice?”

“Well, um…” Bon-Bon gave a nervous smile. “Now that you mention it, that is kind of strange…”

The front door creaked slowly and slammed shut.