Feed Them

by RainbowBob

Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Everything Gets Better Eventually

Spike hurried down the empty Ponyville streets as the twilit sky bled to darkness. He had to get back to the library before then. Twilight was depending on him. He couldn’t let her down.

Straining from the great weight, he dragged his burden along the dimming streets. If he didn’t hurry, he’d be stuck in the streets at nightfall. The thought alone made him pick up the pace.

Spike ducked under windows and skirted the alleyways, remaining hidden in the shadows of passing buildings. Sweat poured down his body, causing his grip to slip and only further heighten his anxiety. He knew it was risky to drag so much along, but the benefit was too great to pass up. Gritting his teeth, he pulled with all his might and ran down the one last alley.

Around the corner, the Golden Oak came into view. Spike breathed a sigh of relief. There windows were barricaded and the door was still in place. It was safe for another night.

Spike redoubled his effort, abandoning the shadows and instead running to shelter. His legs never stopped pumping until he had grasped the doorknob.

Quickly opening the door and dumping his burden on the floor inside, Spike slammed the door closed. He allowed himself a brief moment to breathe, then began the finicky process of sealing the front door’s multiple locks and bolts. Afterward he went by the windows and pulled at the wooden boards he had nailed over them, making doubly sure that everything was tightly locked shut.

With the necessary checks done, Spike wiped his brow and relaxed in the gloom of the empty library. Light's last rays shone between gaps in the boarded windows; in only a minute’s time, the library descended into complete darkness.

He navigated the familiar darkness to the place where he had deposited his burden. Picking up the sack, Spike left the other object he had brought where it lay. It had been damaged, but not like it mattered; he was sure Twilight would love it when he showed it to her later.

Hauling the sack over his shoulder, Spike made his way to the basement. He paused at the door, taking several deep breaths before unlocking it. Upon doing so, he took his first step into the darkness.

The air was warm with a suffocating musky odor. The smell flooded the cramped room with its foul scent. At the top of the stairs, it wasn’t so bad: a sweet-but-sickly smell, like rotting fruit left out in the sun for too long. But as Spike descended deeper into the dark, the smell grew more powerful and vile undertones seeped into the air. Even so, he walked down the steps without much trouble. He had grown used to them; it was all he could do in such a place.

Each wooden floorboard creaked, its high pitched noise piercing the silence. Only when he made his final step on the ground floor did the room lapse into its usual silence once more.

Except for one thing.

Spike had awoken her.

He knew she did not sleep. He could already hear the chains click and clank across the stone floor as she tried feebly to get up, get to the bars of her cage, escape at any cost. Only, she never could escape, and would always fall weakly to the floor once she pulled her shackles taut.

Spike walked closer, not one light in the room offering any semblance of sight. But like the smell, he had grown used to this, and had come prepared. A match and candle were all he needed; whether this affected her at all, he still didn’t know.

The candle only provided two feet worth of sight, with the rest of the basement lost to black. Setting the candle near the bars of the cage, he approached the door. The jingle of keys—followed by several failed attempts at opening the lock—were finally met with success as the door opened.

“Twilight, I’m home,” Spike called out from the doorway of the cell.

The darkness seemed alive, shuffling and dragging itself forward to get closer to the light, or Spike, for that matter.

Spike pulled back the hood of his cloak, his unwashed face covered in so many bruises and scrapes that one wouldn’t be able to tell what color his scales once were. Taking several steps closer, Spike asked, “Hey, Twilight, are you feeling tired again? You can’t be lazy at a time like this.” He stopped before he could approach too close.

For in the darkness was a predator, and it pounced for the kill.

Spike fell on his backside, narrowly avoiding the wet chomp of broken teeth from Twilight’s maw that had closed in the exact spot his face once was. Backing up on his claws and knees, he put about a dozen feet between himself and Twilight, out of reach of the cage door.

“Sheesh, Twilight, no need to snap at me like that.” Spike chuckled, picking himself up and dusting off his filthy cloak; Twilight’s only reply was a snarl. “I already know how testy you can be with getting called lazy. It’s a joke—lighten up a bit. I think all your high and mighty princess attitude is finally getting to your head.”

Teeth ground against teeth. A single jagged tooth cracked a molar, and this was the only sound Twilight could make.

Spike shook his head, shivering. “Also, stop making that noise. It’s super weird. You’re going to need your teeth now that you can eat what I’ve brought for you.”

Spike ran over by the candle and picked up the sack he’d set aside. Opening it up, Spike licked his lips.

“Mmm-mmm, we sure have something good to eat tonight. It’s a bit cold since the stove doesn’t work anymore, but you won’t mind, will you, Twilight?”

Twilight moaned, more slobber dripping on the floor.

He grinned. “Oh, sounds like you’re already hungry!”

Spike dug into the sack and pulled out a slightly bruised apple. “I found this in one of Applejack’s old carts down in the city square. She must have left it there when it started. Lots of rotten ones, but hey, this one is pretty good. Oh, and hey!”

He withdrew a dandelion sandwich, the bread only somewhat covered in mold. Picking the worst of the green parts off, Spike threw both the apple and sandwich into the cage. “I got you this treat as well. Now, I know you’re on your diet and everything, but c’mon, who can pass up a dandelion sandwich?”

The apple rolled down the interior of the cage, being lost before it could faintly be heard hitting the bars on the other side. The dandelion sandwich slid along the cage floor, only one half illuminated before it stopped.

“Twilight, come on, eat the sandwich,” Spike called out after several seconds had passed with the sandwich being untouched. “Just forget about your diet and take a bite. It’s reeeeeeeeally tasty. I swear!”

Twilight only breathed heavier, the occasional drip of slobber being the only noises she made.

“I’ve tried to make you eat everything, but you just don’t want to.” Spike frowned, his lips quivering. “How are you going to get better if you don’t eat?”

A low moan pierced the basement like a chilling draft. The chains clinked closer now, dragging along the floor as the wet plop of hooffalls followed it.

“That’s right, come on, come on, it’s your favorite,” Spike said, peeking his head out from the edge of the cage’s door to glimpse the sandwich. “It’s not even that stale. I swear. Just a little nibble.”

The shadows condensed into a single body, heaving each breath with great effort as more bile dripped from her mouth. A hoof appeared into the dim lighting. It had become hard to tell its original color, though patches of purple could still be seen past the blistering skin and exposed muscle. The entire appendage was discolored to a grayish hue mixed with shades of green from either mold or the rotting of the skin.

The decomposing hoof squished down on the sandwich, juices from both limb and food dripping onto the floor. Soon enough, the rest of Twilight followed suit. Spike smiled when she finally appeared in the light.

Much like her hoof, Twilight was a walking cadaver of her former self. Most of the right side of her face was a mess of boils, rotten flesh. On the same side, her skull had caved in and a vile blackness gushed forth. All that remained of her mane was a ratty shamble of hair that managed to stick to her skull better than her skin did, while her right eyeball and most of her jawline had unfortunately fallen off. The entire right side of her cutie mark was gone, teeth still sticking out of the skin. Other than that, what flesh hadn’t been chewed off remained barely intact. Even her wings—once preened and groomed each and every day—were defeathered and now just barely sticking to her sides, rotting just like the rest of her.

Twilight opened her maw of broken teeth and blackened gums, making an unintelligible sound from the back of her throat.

“Sorry, no mustard this time,” Spike explained, returning to his bag and shuffling through the items in it. “And before you ask, yes, it does have mayonnaise. I know you hate that stuff, but you can just wipe it off, right?”

She stumbled forward and moaned louder, a brownish-red liquid dripping from her teeth while even more fluids of various colors seeped from the most rotted parts of her body.

“Oh, come on, Twilight, it was hard finding that food! You never appreciate all the work I put into helping you!” Spike pulled a dingy ruby from the sack and popped it in his mouth, barely even bothering to taste it as he gulped it down his throat and pulled out others. Mouth full of rubies, Spike muttered, “You don’t eat anything I get you. How do you expect to get better if you don’t eat?”

Twilight hurled herself forward, her chains causing her to face-plant firmly into the floor. The chains weren’t attached to shackles. Instead, heavy metal spikes had been rammed through the bone of all her legs.

“Twilight, I know you want to hug me, but it’s not safe. You might infect me.” Spike hesitantly approached the downed mare. “You’re sick right now, Twilight. Everyone is. But soon, everyone will be cured, and we’ll all be happy again, just like before. But for now, you have to stay locked up so nopony else gets sick. That’s why you have the chains on, remember?”

She looked up at Spike. A hiss escaped her ruined lips, her mouth aimlessly chomping the air.

“Twilight, please eat the sandwich. You have to eat something.” Spike was on his knees now, already in a begging position. “You haven’t eaten for days. You’ve already lost plenty of weight. A tiny, teeny, insignificant sandwich wouldn’t hurt, right?”

She pulled at her chains, each jerk causing the spikes wedged into her legs to pull her back tight, resulting in any attempt at movement to be a utterly useless. Like a newborn, Twilight crawled forward, her chains scraping against the floor.

Spike stopped eating. The sandwich he had gotten Twilight was now a mess covered in sickly fluids, and bits of Twilight’s skin and mane. Completely unappetizing.

After pondering this for a moment or two, Spike finally snapped his fingers and smiled widely. “Oh hey, I know what will cheer you up enough to eat some food! Guess who I bumped into at the market today?”

Twilight’s rattling hiss fizzled into bubbling mucus as blood poured from her lips.

“Nope! Come on, Twilight, guess again!” Spike snickered under his breath as Twilight continued to wheeze and hack and moan as if her lungs were filled with an ocean of her decomposing organs. Holding a hand to his face to hold back his giggles, Spike said, “Okay, okay, no need to get testy. I was just going to say, I bumped into Rainbow Dash earlier today. She’s been so busy—we haven’t seen her in forever. But she decided to visit today! Wait right here, and I’ll go get her!”

Spike ran up the stairs and closed the basement door behind him with a loud thud, leaving Twilight alone with just the darkness and the candle to keep her company. Not for long, however, since the door opened back up, followed by a heavy object being hurtled down the stairs. Every thud and crash in its journey had a wet smack attached to it, like the object was filled with a gooey substance.

Climbing down the last step, Spike shook off some questionable spillage his foot had been coated in. “Well, that wasn’t the best of ideas,” he said, dusting off his cloak, “but don’t struggle so much next time, okay?”

Rainbow Dash attempted to turn over, but much like a turtle flipped on its back, she just couldn’t get back up. She bit haplessly at the air, her eyes reduced to nothing but dark orbs that cried a horrid black liquid.

Spike dragged Rainbow by the tail to the cage, various entrails following behind her. Reaching the door, Spike heaved her inside and quickly latched the door.

“See, Dash, that wasn’t so bad, right?” Spike asked, peering through the bars. “You always had to be the stubborn one, but there’s no need, you see. Plus, now we can hang out!”

Dash twisted her neck in unnatural positions. Her lower jaw barely hung onto her face, while her tongue flopped out a foot in length from the hole in her neck. Most of her scalp had rotted off, leaving only dirty rainbow locks of what used to be her mane sticking out in odd places. Her wings, once her pride and joy, were nothing more but broken cartilage and torn muscle. Along with this, the most noticeable thing about Dash was the fact she no longer had any legs; all four had been hacked off, broken bones sticking out from what remained of them rotting much more profusely than the rest of her corpse.

“Sorry about the trouble, Dash,” Spike said, “but you know I had to cut off your legs so you wouldn’t escape. But you don’t mind, do you? Besides, once everything gets back to normal, I’m betting Twilight can reattach them, or even make you new legs! And wings, too! Isn’t that awesome? New limbs for everybody!”

Rainbow Dash had managed to roll on the floor of the cage, ending up beside Twilight. The two barely noticed each other, their faces turned to only Spike as their jaws uselessly frothed and bit down on their diseased gums.

“I mean, seriously, you nearly tackled me while I was at the market. What were you doing there, anyhow?” A devious grin appeared on Spike’s cheeks. “Were you spying on me? Couldn’t get enough of the Spike Man, huh? Not really surprised myself, as I’m one of the most alluring bachelors in Ponyville at the moment.”

Rainbow Dash hopped in place, hissing as she attempted to scoot closer to Spike.

“Okay, fine, if you don’t wanna explain it, you don’t have to.” Spike turned away from the two and slid on his back until he was sitting against the bars. Holding the edge of his cloak, he stared at the numerous stains that covered its patchwork design, the smell of death already indistinguishable to him.

“Well, if you’re not going to tell me why you were at the market, I may as well tell you why I was. See, I needed some more items for the library, but markets were running out of food, and I needed to get my grocery list finished. You know how cranky Twilight can get when the fridge isn’t stocked up. I swear, ever since she became an alicorn, it’s like she’s eating for two ponies now.” Spike sighed whimsically. “Anyway, I thought maybe Applejack wouldn’t mind if I took some apples. I mean, she has a ton, and I’d pay her back anyways. So I was going to Sweet Apple Acres, when I just so happened to run into you.”

Spike twiddled his thumbs, waiting as Twilight and Dash made their typical responses of low moaning and slobber.

“Yeah, big surprise meeting you there of all places. And boy, did you ever get the jump on me.” Spike chuckled, shaking his head slowly. “You always were good at ambushing ponies, Dash, right out of nowhere. I mean, much longer and you really would’ve gotten me…” Spike looked to his sack, filled with whatever he could scavenge out in Ponyville. “Good thing I had that shovel, though.”

He reached out and withdrew the tool, its surface slick with blood and various dents. The wooden handle had so many bite marks that it could barely hold together, with a chunk missing from one end.

“You know, I don’t even know why I carry this thing. I mean, it was useful to cut off your legs, but I think a machete would work better. This old thing took forever and ever.” Spike hummed, twisting the shovel around in his hands as its wet surface caught the light of the candle. “Maybe there’s good stuff to bury?”

Spike set the shovel down, closing his eyes while resting his head against the cold bars. The nauseating smell, the low illumination, the sounds of moans and wheezes, and the constant drip-drip-drip all covered him in their sickly embrace. He accepted it.

“I wonder... if I go to Sweet Apple Acres tomorrow, will I find Applejack?” Spike licked his lips with his long reptilian tongue. “Maybe her or Granny Smith can make some sweet apple fritters. I can bring some back for you guys, too. Twilight, would you eat that?” Spike turned around to peek at Twilight, preoccupied with biting her chains while getting her broken teeth stuck on them. “Yeah, I bet you would.

“Maybe I can bring Applejack over here to visit. She’s even more stubborn than you, Dash, so that’d be a toughy. I’d probably have to go later in the day, in case she’s busy with chores.” Spike chuckled again, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. “Might have to take more off of her than just her legs if I want to get her here, that’s for sure.”

Yawning while stretching out, Spike smacked his lips a few times and scratched the side of his cheek. He felt the first telltale signs of exhaustion seeping into his bones and muscles. If Twilight found out, he’d be forced to follow a curfew for sure.

“I wonder if I can get Fluttershy too. Shame she lives so far away from town—right next to the Everfree Forest no less—but I think I can manage getting her back here if I prepare. Make a bagged lunch or something. I can probably have tea at her cottage too.” Spike pouted, rubbing the end of his chin with a claw. “But how do I get her back here…?” Spike waved his claw and giggled. “Ah, that’s future Spike’s problem, not mine.”

He shuddered, putting a finger to his temple and wincing. “Oh, geeze… I just remembered that. Remember how bad my brain freeze was from that, Twilight?”

Twilight simply snapped in Spike’s general direction, though like all the other times he paid it no mind.

“Man, that was a wild time, right? I couldn’t even look at ice cream for an entire week after that. Didn’t help that Pinkie loaded me up with enough sugar to bake five cakes out of.” Spike remained silent for several moments, looking deeply into the flame of the candle as it flickered, the wax nearly half-reduced. “I wonder if I can find Pinkie, too.”

A thud followed by an unpleasant sound of bone grinding against the floor came after Spike’s statement, probably from Rainbow Dash again.

“I mean, I’m pretty sure she’s still at Sugarcube Corner, but I haven’t seen her in forever. Or anypony there, actually. It’s strange—just about everyone there up and disappeared a few weeks ago, right when everypony was getting sick. I think Pinkie was the first one in that part of town to get sick. Weird, right?”

After several seconds of awkward silence, Spike shrugged. “Oh well. I’m sure I can find her eventually. Then we can get the gang back together. Maybe have a picnic too. How does that sound?”

Hallowing moans were the only sounds Twilight and Dash produced. Exposed organs from Rainbow Dash’s ripped apart stomach were tangling themselves with Twilight’s chains, though neither seemed to mind.

“What? No, I’m not forgetting anypony,” Spike objected, counting his fingers one by one. “I already have you, Rainbow Dash, then I’ll get Applejack and Fluttershy, and finally Pinkie. That’s everypony.”

Twilight loosed another moan.

Spike grit his teeth and smashed the back of his head against the bars. “Okay, fine, fine, I know! I forgot Rarity. You don’t have to remind me every five seconds!” Spike held his head in his claws, eyes shut tight. “I can’t find her, okay? I tried looking everywhere, but I can’t find her!

Twilight and Dash replied with hoarse breaths and rasps, their moans reaching a dreadful chorus.

“Her house…” Spike gulped, feeling his palms slicked and wet. “Everything is burned to the ground. Nothing but ashes left. That’s why I can’t find her, okay?”

Spike wiped his eyes. His tears were the first thing to wash his face in a long time. “I searched and searched and searched, but nothing! It was just when everypony was getting sick and I… I… I wanted to make sure Rarity was all right. I didn’t want her to get sick is all.”

As the vile fumes from Twilight and Dash’s living corpses were also filling his lungs, Spike attempted to use his cloak to cover his mouth and nose, but only succeeded in replacing the room’s odor with his cloak’s even more deplorable smell. He struggled to hold his breath, but in the end he retched on the floor, coughing and spitting as more tears rolled out.

“The fire burned everything down. The walls, the ceilings, the floor. I couldn’t find her. I just wanted to make sure she wasn’t sick. That’s all I wanted. Not her, not you guys, not anyone. I didn’t want any of you to be sick. Not Rarity, not Rarity, not sick, like everyone else.”

Spike shuddered, spitting one last time as he took a big gulp of reeking air that filled his lungs with its vile breath. “I wanted to be sure she wasn’t sick. And now I can’t find her. Maybe… maybe she’s somewhere safe, right?”

As Spike grabbed ahold of a bar to heave himself back to his feet, he noticed Rainbow Dash directly before him. She had been crawling and sliding on her own bodily fluids to reach him, using what little remained of her legs to inch herself closer.

Now with Spike was directly in front of her, right next to the bars, she took her chance; she used what little remained of her legs and pushed forward, her teeth scraping along Spike’s fingers holding onto the bar.

Spike quickly released his hold and fell back, screaming loudly as blood poured from his fingers.

“Dash, you bit me! You’re not supposed to bite me or else I’ll get sick too!” Spike shouted, rolling on the ground as a fresh wave of agony washed over him. He desperately squeezed the wound, screaming even louder as the pain increased. “I don’t want to get sick! I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I don’t want to! And it’s all your fault, Dash!”

Using his elbow, Spike pulled his leg underneath him and unsteadily got back to his feet. He stumbled toward the sack, blood dripping on the floor. He wrapped his cloak around his hand, digging through the sack and throwing out items and random junk.

“I can’t believe this happened again. I was careful and everything. But I slipped up. I could get sick. Then who’ll take care of Twilight and everyone else? Who?”

Spike stopped when he finally got the object he desired. He withdrew the blade, a typical butter knife whose edge he had sharpened. Shaking, Spike pulled away his cloak and revealed the back of his fingers, covered in blood and the black residue that came from Dash’s mouth. He held the tip of the knife over his index finger, both his hands shaking so hard he could barely get it level.

He turned back to Twilight and Rainbow Dash; Twilight was still stuck in her chains, clouded in darkness as the candle burned lower and lower, while Dash frothed and moaned as she bashed her head uselessly against the bars.

“D-Dash…” Spike muttered, “I’m sorry for yelling. You didn’t mean to. You’re just sick. L-like everyone else. Except for m-me. I can’t be sick. Because I-I-I need to take care of you guys.”

Taking in a deep breath, Spike winced. The knife tore into his flesh and ground against the bone. Stopping for a moment, he took note of the dying flame. Once it finally gave out, he chuckled.

“H-hey, guys. I think I finally found something you’ll eat.”

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