Into Darkness

by Donnys Boy

Chapter 1: Into Darkness

“Into Darkness”

by Donny’s Boy

Never before had Pinkie Pie been so eager to see a party finally end. Still, she put on her very best and very brightest hostess smile as she watched her costumed guests slowly trickle out the front door of Sugarcube Corner. Twilight carried a sleeping Spike upon her back, the two of them dressed like a dragon and knight, respectively, while Applejack herded the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Applejack had dressed as a scarecrow, just as she did every year, while the Crusaders were the Three Musketeers. Pinkie overheard something about a sleepover at the Crusaders’ tree-house but quickly became distracted by a superhero-costumed Rainbow Dash coaxed Fluttershy into leaving the relative safety of the bakery to head back home.

Fluttershy wasn’t wearing a costume, but that was okay. This was only the pegasus’ first year actually venturing outside her cottage on Nightmare Night, after all. Pinkie could always try to convince Fluttershy to wear a costume next year.

As her friends dispersed into the night, Pinkie faithfully remained at the door, smiling and waving. Only after the darkness had swallowed them up did Pinkie let go of the smile that hurt to hold in place, the smile that she could feel cracking around the edges. Tiredly she turned around and glanced around the bakery’s first floor. It truly was a sight to behold. Glittering cobwebs hung from every corner, papier-mâché ghosts lurked in the windows, and over the rafters there criss-crossed streamers in a range of dark gem hues. Never before had one of her parties been so beautifully decorated and, as much as Pinkie prided herself on her partying abilities, she knew this time it had nothing to do with her.

She sighed, a long, deep sigh that left her chest feeling empty. Then, after taking another admiring look around, she stripped off her own costume--a white fluffy cat--and dropped it unceremoniously onto the floor. Turning off the bakery lights, she stepped outside and shut the door behind her.

The clouds gleamed a ghostly silver as they crowded the skies above Ponyville, almost completely masking Luna’s full moon. Fortunately, Pinkie Pie knew Ponyville as well as she knew the back of her own hoof, and she carefully trotted along the now hidden paths that led from Sugarcube Corner down to the Carousel Boutique.

As Pinkie made her way through Ponyville, the town’s houses stood dark and still. All the candy had been eaten, and all the costumes had been put away. All the foals had been put to bed, to dream of zebras casting devilish spells and of nightmares given living pony form, and another Nightmare Night had almost reached its end.

Almost, but not quite.

The tip of the Carousel Boutique’s roof was the only thing truly visible as Pinkie reached Rarity’s home. The earth pony paused and shivered. The hour had grown late, and there was a chill that seeped into the bones. But despite the chattering of her teeth and the way her fur stood on end, the thought of turning back didn’t even once cross her mind. She couldn’t. This was too important.

Rarity had not been at the party, and nopony missed a Pinkie Pie party. It simply wasn’t done. It was barely even conceivable. Even worse than missing one of her very best friends at the party, however, was the fact that Pinkie knew exactly why Rarity hadn’t come. Pinkie knew exactly whose fault it was.

Rarity had told her a secret.

Last night they had been in the bakery, decorating for both the holiday and Pinkie’s party. Rarity had brought over a box of supplies, ribbons and fabrics and all manner of crafting items from her own personal stock, and together they’d worked while the hours flew by. Rarity had put up streamers, while Pinkie Pie had baked her cookies. Pinkie Pie had arranged the tablecloths just so, while Rarity had provided instructions interspersed with the latest and juiciest town gossip. For hours they had labored to make Sugarcube Corner shine and sparkle like a spooky jewel and then, when finally they’d finished, Rarity had asked Pinkie to sit down with her to a cup of tea and plate of scones.

Pinkie didn’t remember the exact words she’d said, but she had thanked Rarity for coming over. For all the supplies and all the decorating. Giggling a bit, Rarity had reached across the table and laid her hoof over Pinkie’s own. Pinkie had grinned at Rarity--had grinned even bigger than before, that was--and Rarity had grinned back.

It hurt, now, to remember that grin. To feel the keen absence of its warmth and its affection.

Pinkie should have known, perhaps. When Rarity’s eyes darkened and when Rarity’s voice trembled. Perhaps Pinkie should have realized the secret that Rarity had to share. But she hadn’t. She hadn’t, and because she hadn’t, she’d been caught by surprise.

And so Pinkie had done what she nearly always did when she didn’t know what else to do. She’d laughed. She’d laughed, a big bark of a laugh, and even though she’d swallowed it down as quick as she could, the damage had been done. She’d known it instantly, too, and she’d have known it even without seeing the hope in Rarity’s face crumble like an old castle wall and the light in Rarity’s eyes fade away like a ghost.

“I’m sorry,” Rarity had said in a starch tone, not sounding sorry at all, as abruptly she’d stood. “I did not realize you would react so … well, no matter. I was obviously mistaken, and I do apologize.”

And Pinkie hadn’t seen Rarity since. All tonight, throughout the entire party, she’d found her eyes drifting towards the front door. Just in case a late partygoer happened to arrive. Every time she heard the door open, her heart leapt at the thought that it might be Rarity who’d come walking in, with that dazzling smile and words of forgiveness on her lips. But Rarity never did.

Now standing in front of the boutique, staring up at its imposing spires as the wind howled through the empty streets of town, Pinkie hesitated. She rubbed one foreleg up and down the other, frowning thoughtfully. On the one hoof, she and Rarity really needed to talk. That was what friends were supposed to do when things weren’t right, and Pinkie knew nothing would get better unless and until they did. On the other hoof, the boutique’s living room windows were completely dark, and the hour had grown much later than was probably acceptable for a social visit, strictly speaking.

The wind continued its lonely, whistling dirge, and Pinkie wished it wasn’t quite so cold. It was hard to think when it was so cold. Helplessly she cast her eyes around, desperate for something, anything, that would ease the ache in her chest. Her prayer was answered by a lit candle, shining dimly through the drawn curtains of an upper story window in the boutique.


For the first time since she’d left Sugarcube Corner, Pinkie smiled. Stepping forward, she rapped sharply on the boutique’s front door and waited. The seconds ticked by, like drops from a leaking faucet, and the door stayed shut. Pinkie pressed her ear up against the door. Nothing. Not so much as a cough or a whisper could be heard from inside. Pinkie reached for the doorknob and gave it a good pull, but the door remained stubbornly closed.

“Locked?” Pinkie frowned. “But Rarity never locks her door …”

The earth pony backed up a few steps and stared up at the window above, where the candle flickered behind the curtains and glass, reaching out to her with its promise of warmth and light and Rarity. Pinkie bit her lip. Twilight had told her it was very rude to barge into other ponies’ houses--or libraries--and Pinkie supposed Twilight was probably right. Twilight usually was. But still, this was important. A sort of creeping dread churned in her stomach, heavy and oppressive, and Pinkie decided that this time Twilight simply had to be wrong.

With a resolute nod, Pinkie trotted around the perimeter of the boutique. She kept her ears perked and, when she heard the sudden clatter of her own hooves against wood, she stopped. Directly beneath her lay the door to Rarity’s basement. Ages ago, Rarity had asked Applejack to come board it up so foals wouldn’t be able to lift the latch and fall down the stairs, but Pinkie was prepared. She always traveled ready for any and all kinds of emergencies, and she pulled out a screwdriver she’d tucked away for just such a situation. Quickly she wedged its tip underneath the nailed-down boards, using the screwdriver’s handle as a lever to pry up the wooden planks one by one.

The basement proved dark and stank of old rot and mildew, a suffocating stench that choked like a garrote, and Pinkie tripped over mostly obscured roadblocks as she picked her way across the room. The door leading back outside slammed shut behind her, echoing throughout the large subterranean room, and Pinkie stifled a yelp. Whereas before the room had been dark, now it was utterly pitch black. By memory Pinkie felt her way towards the stairs that led up to the first floor of the boutique. Still she heard nothing, except the too-loud sound of her own hooves against the concrete. Pinkie would have thought it unnerving, had she been the type of pony to get unnerved.

She breathed a huge sigh of relief upon reaching the door leading upstairs, as she pushed it open and stumbled into the blessedly fresh air of Rarity’s kitchen. But the relief was short-lived, as almost instantly a voice called out from the second floor, “Who is it? Who’s down there?”

Pinkie squared her shoulders. This was it. This was her chance to make things right.

“Hiya, Rarity!” she called back, in a voice as cheerful as possible. “It’s me! It’s Pinkie Pie!”

There was a pause long enough that Pinkie wondered if maybe Rarity hadn’t heard her. Finally Rarity finally replied, “You must leave the house. Now, Pinkie.” Her voice sounded ragged and rough, like unpolished stone, almost as though she’d been crying. “I will talk to you tomorrow, if you want, but right now you have to leave.”

Undeterred, Pinkie made a beeline for the stairs that led to the boutique’s upper story. The stairs creaked under hooves with every step, and they sounded almost painfully loud in the otherwise dead silent house.

“I can’t leave until we talk! ‘Cause I know you’re really upset with me, Rarity, and I don’t want you to be--”

“I’m not upset!” Rarity was definitely crying. “Please, Pinkie! Go away!”

Pinkie flinched as though struck, but stubbornly she pressed on. On the second floor, the door to Rarity’s bedroom was the only one closed. Hints of the candlelight peeked out into the hallway, making it look as though an unearthly halo glowed around the entire door. Pinkie reached forward and placed a hoof on the doorknob, only to find this door locked, as well. She supposed she shouldn’t be surprised.

“Rarity? Can you come unlock the door so we can talk and make up and hug and be best friends again?”

“Just … oh, please, just go away!

It hurt. Dear Celestia, how it hurt to hear those words being spat out at her and, worse, being said in that tone. Not angry, not exasperated, but sad. Fearful. Pinkie only hesitated a moment before reaching again for her trusty screwdriver. This was all her fault--her fault that Rarity was sad, her fault that Rarity was crying--and that meant it was up to her to make things better. No matter what it took.

Apologies could come after.

“Pinkie Pie?”

“Yes?” Pinkie mumbled around the handle of the screwdriver.

“What’s that noise? What is it you’re doing out there?”

“I’m comin’ in so we can talk,” Pinkie answered, still fiddling with the lock. “I’ll go ‘way after and leave you ‘lone.”

“N-no!” From the other side of the door came a series of scratching sounds, as though Rarity was scrambling for something. “Don’t you dare come into this room! Pinkie, I am serious!”

Desperation rippled in Rarity’s voice, stripped bare of all its usual genteelness, and Pinkie’s stomach cramped in response. Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to keep working on the lock. Fixing now. Apologies later.

“Listen to me, Pinkie! The sky! It--it won’t stay cloudy forever!”

“The sky?”

The screwdriver dropped from Pinkie's mouth as she turned to glance with furrowed brows down the hallway. Sure enough, slight illumination trickled out the opened doors of the other rooms, spidery fingers of pale moonlight creeping along the hallway floor.

A sudden slam from the other side of the bedroom door caused Pinkie to jump. Whirling back around, she stared at the door, blinking, her breath coming in ragged little bursts.

Maybe it was only because it was so dark that it looked like the door had splintered a little down the middle. Just a trick of the light, a shadowy illusion.

“Promise!” came a growl, barely Rarity, barely even equine, from within the bedroom. “Pinkie promise!”

The earth pony worked her jaw, but for once, no words came forth. She stood rooted to the carpet of the hallway, paralyzed. All she could think of was how much she wanted to just see Rarity’s face, to gather up Rarity within her forelegs, and yet her body utterly refused to move.

“Promise!” Rarity's voice was even louder now. As though she was pressed right up against the door. “Promise you won't unlock the door!”

“I … I can't! I'm sorry, Rarity, but I can't!” Pinkie swallowed thickly. She felt nauseous. “It’s already unlocked.”

Another slam against the door, hard enough that the door shuddered in its jam. Still Pinkie didn’t budge.

“You … foolish ...” Rarity let out a howl, a deep groan that rose in pitch, higher and higher, until it became a scream. “R-run, Pinkie! Now!”

A third slam, the hardest yet, sounding like a cannon blast in the otherwise still house. Then the door cracked open, just a few inches.

The smell of something like sulfur, sour and putrid, hit Pinkie's senses first. She gagged on the stench and staggered back a few steps. Only then, with a bit of distance, did she notice the pair of eyes staring out at her from the small opening in the doorway. That same lovely shade of blue she knew so well, dark and deep like the ocean, and yet not quite the same. They glittered in a way Pinkie had never seen before, practically pulsing with a strange and malevolent light. They stared out at Pinkie, unblinking, unwavering, unnatural.

Rarity's eyes and yet, somehow, not Rarity.


“Run,” whispered Not-Rarity.

Pinkie Pie's hooves moved without conscious thought. She turned and bolted, taking the stairs two and three at a time, her heart in her throat. Behind her, she heard the bedroom door crash open. A second later came the thuds of hooves against stairs, coming quick and fast and thunderingly loud. Pinkie skidded to a halt right before smashing face-first into the front door of the boutique, and her fore hooves scrambling for the door knob so she could--

Locked. Somehow, the door was locked from the outside. The question of how that had happened--and why--crossed her mind for the slightest of moments, until the smell of hot sulfur sent her sprinting once again.

She whipped around a corner and headed for the kitchen. If she could just reach the basement, she could leave the same way she'd come in. She could escape and make a run for the library, and Twilight would know what to do. Twilight would have an answer, have a plan.

Skidding across the kitchen’s smooth linoleum, Pinkie threw herself against the slightly ajar door that led to the basement. She tumbled down the stairs, and as the door slammed shut behind her, once again Pinkie found herself plunged into total darkness. With agonizing slowness, she waded through the sea of junk scattered along the basement floor, stumbling over a box here, tripping over a raised pipe there. Finally she reached the door that led back outside, and she pushed up against it.

It didn't budge. Pinkie shoved harder, putting her whole weight into the effort, but it wouldn't give an inch.

“It's magic.”

Pinkie whirled around. Near the top of the stairs, directly in front of the still shut door, Pinkie could see a pair of gleaming blue eyes. She shouldn’t have been able to see the eyes--she shouldn’t have been able to see anything in the dark basement--but there they were. Like twin lighthouses, threatening danger.

“The doors, that is. It’s magic meant to keep me trapped inside,” explained Not-Rarity, with a gravelly, ghoulish laugh. “She doesn't much like it when I … come out to play.”

Pinkie pressed her back against the basement wall, her sweat cold and clammy against the concrete, and tried to control her breathing. Stand up tall. Nice, slow breaths. Stand up tall and don't look away.

“But now you're trapped here, too. Aren't you, Pinkie? She never thought of that. Foolish, really.”

“Who … who are you?” Pinkie managed to stammer out, the words scratching her throat like thorns.

“Mmm, now. That would be telling, wouldn’t it? And I do know how strongly you feel about keeping secrets.” Another of those ghastly laughs that sent a shiver straight down Pinkie's spine. “Let’s just say I’m an example of why you oughtn’t underestimate the powers of the Elements of Harmony. Or the perils.”

Keep breathing. Just keep breathing. As quietly as she could, Pinkie began edging her way around the perimeter of the room. Her gaze never faltered. Her gaze never left those glowing eyes, and in turn, those horrible eyes never left hers.

Stay standing. Keep breathing. Baby steps. One hoof after the other.

“Generosity is so very last year, darling! Survival of the fittest is what’s in, what’s fresh, what’s now.” Not-Rarity’s voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, both at the same time, echoing crazily off the walls. “And I’m afraid only one of us shall be surviving this night.”

Pinkie said nothing. She simply continued her slow crawl, back pressed against the sturdy, comforting concrete, until she finally found what she'd been searching for. Instead of rough concrete behind her, there was smooth, cold glass. Not quite perfect, perhaps, but good enough. At least, she hoped it’d be good enough.

“No response, hmm? No quip, no pun, no silly little joke?” After a pause, perhaps meant for Pinkie to respond, the eyes began descending the stairs. “Very well. Then we'll have to play a different game, I suppose.”

The doorway was open now, unobstructed, but Pinkie kept her attention locked on the blue eyes that seemed to be floating in midair. Slowly, deliberately, almost languidly, the eyes approached her. Tracking her. Stalking her.

Slow, deep breaths. Keep breathing. Just keep breathing.

Suddenly the eyes were gone, like somepony had blown out a candle. Pinkie strained to peer through the darkness all around her, to get some hint as to where Not-Rarity might have gone. But she saw nothing. Heard nothing. She had to fight down the urge to bolt for the door. Instead, she stood motionless, holding her breath and listening intently.

“My poor, dear Pinkie!”

Pinkie’s head whipped to the right.

“So lost!”

Pinkie’s head whipped left.

“So confused!”

Not-Rarity’s voice sounded as though it came from nowhere and from everywhere, and Pinkie’s head hurt from how mixed up she felt. Stubbornly she locked her knees to stop them from shaking and did her utmost to ignore the pounding of her heart.

Then she smelled it. The sulfur. She gagged when the stink of it hit her, but she didn't move. She didn't flinch. She waited, quietly, nervously, still listening for a cough or sneeze or heavy breathing, something, anything--and then her tail started violently twitching.

Pinkie leapt forward. Less than a second later, she heard the crash of a mirror shattering into a hundred little shards followed by a high yelp of pain. Wasting no time, Pinkie dashed towards the stairs, only tripping once along the way before she managed to reach the door. She threw it open and blinked rapidly as the moonlight from the kitchen assaulted her eyes.

On autopilot now, she headed for the second floor, for Rarity’s bedroom. She panted heavily as she ran, thick saliva coating her throat, tearing through the shadowy house with its too-long halls. Her heart hammered against her ribcage, and her blood pounded in her ears like a timpani drum. But even over all that it was impossible to miss the sound of the thing that was not Rarity, as down below it clambered back into the kitchen.

Pinkie found the scattered remains of the door to Rarity's bedroom lying in the hallway, and nimbly she leapt over its splintered corpse and into the room beyond. The candle on the window sill still burned, and long, thin shadows danced along the walls and floor. Pinkie’s eyes scanned quickly across the bedroom, seeking, searching, for anything that might be useful. Bed, dressers, table, chair ...

Eventually--perhaps inevitably--her gaze fell upon the tiny flickering flame of the candle.

Just a second later, she was joined by those wicked, soulless eyes, and for the first time Pinkie got an actual look at her pursuer. A huge shadow stood over two ponies tall, with vaguely canine head and a broad, powerful body, and those blue eyes shone hard and cold as diamonds. The corners of the shadow’s massive jaws were pulled back and up, an ugly parody of a grin--until finally it noticed the candle held between Pinkie’s front hooves.

“You … you’re bluffing.” But the shadow sounded hesitant. Slightly unsure. “You wouldn’t dare hurt Rarity.”

Pinkie took a step forward. “You’re not Rarity.”

The shadow licked its jaws, a strangely contemplative gesture. “Perhaps not.” It lowered its head, so they were now eye to eye. “And perhaps I was wrong. After all, you’ve already hurt Rarity. Haven’t you?”

Pinkie frowned. It was a trick, and she knew it was a trick. But the trick worked its poison, as all at once the events of last night rushed back to her. The dark, secluded quiet of Sugarcube Corner. Tea and gossip and giggles restrained just enough to avoid waking the twins. Rarity’s hoof on hers, heavy and warm. Rarity’s eyes, eager, brilliant, not hard or cold in the least.

The secret. The laugh. That terrible look on Rarity’s face--of something breaking, of something dying--followed by a sudden, stiff formality. And an ache deep in Pinkie’s chest, like a maelstrom sucking down all joy, as Pinkie had watched her friend walk right out the door.

Across the bedroom, the shadow didn’t move. Neither forward to attack nor backwards to retreat. It just stood there, staring. Waiting. Waiting patiently, like a cat playing with a mouse.

Swallowing hard, Pinkie Pie took another step forward, holding the candle like a sword at the ready. “I never meant to hurt her,” she said quietly. “I’d never, ever, not ever hurt one of my friends on purpose. Especially not Rarity.”

“Your lies will do nothing for you, I hope you realize.”

“I’m not lying! That’s why I came here tonight, y’know. To say I’m sorry. To make things better.”

“Lies!” The grin disappeared. A low growl escaped those gleaming jaws, soft and rumbling. A wordless threat. “You heard everything I had to say, and you laughed at me! Her. At her. You were cruel, and you were heartless.”

Pinkie’s ears twitched, and she took a deep breath. Still her heart raced, quicker than she’d ever guessed it could, and still her breathing sounded too ragged by far in her own ears. But the fear, while still present, was different now. Deeper and, impossibly, even scarier.

Pinkie Pie had never been a pony to think before she spoke. To plan out what she would say or how she’d say it. But she knew whatever she said next had to be exactly right. What she said next mattered more than anything else she’d ever said and not just for her own sake. So she used those precious few moments of silence to think and plan and offer a wordless prayer to whatever and whoever might be listening.

The candle between her hooves felt as though it weighed as much as a boulder.

Finally, looking straight into those blue eyes, Pinkie whispered, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I hurt you, Rarity.”

The shadow let out a quiet snort.

“I was just surprised, okay? I was surprised, and sometimes my mouth kinda reacts before my brain can think up something smart to say, because sometimes I’m not a very smart pony and--and I’m really, super sorry.”

Suddenly the shadow’s grin came back, albeit smaller and less cocky than before. “You’re only sorry now, of course. Don’t think I don’t know.” A slow shake of the head, paired with a mocking chuckle. “But it’s too little, too late. It won’t save you.”

“No, no, no! You don’t understand! I never thought saying I’m sorry would save me.”

The grin grew larger, becoming a smirk, and the shadow slunk forward. “A pitiful little candle isn’t going to stop me. You’ve no idea what I can do. No idea what I truly am. When I’m finished with--”

“Last night you told me you loved me,” Pinkie interrupted, her voice shaking just as much as the candle clasped between her hooves. “That’s what's gonna save me.”

At that, the shadow froze. Perhaps it was simply Pinkie’s imagination, a trick of the dim lighting, but she could swear that the shadow’s eyes softened just a bit. Became just a little less stone.

“Are you quite certain about that, darling?’

The words were soft, barely audible. Still spoken in that gravelly tone, still slightly mocking, brutal as a sledgehammer and precise as a scalpel, and yet …

And yet.

“If you really wanted to hurt me, you could’ve done it already. This whole time we’ve been talking, you could’ve done something, but you didn’t. That’s gotta mean something.” Pinkie hazarded a glance down at the candle, at its warm and glowing flame, before returning her gaze to those deep blue eyes across from her. “But even if it doesn’t, even if I’m wrong, one thing I’m absolutely, positively sure about? Is that I’m not gonna hurt you. Not now and not ever.”

The shadow shook its head, slowly, almost sadly. Pinkie didn’t know what that meant. She decided it was best not to think too much about it.

Pinkie Pie smiled gently into those blue eyes. “You wanna know why, Rarity?”

The shadow didn’t speak. It only just kept staring.

“Because I love you, too,” said Pinkie, leaning forward to blow out the candle.

The room fell into darkness.

Author's Notes:

This was written for the RariPie group's Nightmare Night contest: http://raripie-fans.deviantart.com/journal/RariPie-Nightmare-Night-Contest-2-400996083.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

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