Eyes Without a Face

by theycallmejub

Chapter 16: Wingless, Hornless

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Chapter XVI: Wingless, Hornless

The days fall way. At first nothing changes. Me and Crest fall right back into our routine. We break legs. Hit up bars. Drink ourselves sick. Fool around in bathroom stalls. Harass innocent unicorns. I keep an eye out for Scope’s killers, searching for them among the ranks of the Daughters of Discord. I come up with nothing. Big lumpy heaps of nothing. I start to suspect Temporal fed me bad information. Nothing changes. Days go by and nothing changes.

Then one day the last of the Shard runs out and everything changes.

The drug game counts for more than half of the Daughters total income, and when Junebug died, she took half the gang’s future cash with her. The Daughters apparently have no shortage of raw materials and laboratory types capable of cooking up more of the stuff, but Junebug kept the recipe for Shard in her head. Never wrote it down. Now the idiots are up shit’s creek and there isn’t a paddle in sight. Crest has connived himself that Big Sis is going to have him killed on the spot soon as her flight touches down in Manehattan at the end of this week. He was supposed to be in charge while she was away. Supposed to be protecting Junebug and the rest of the gang’s assets. Crest is sure he’s a dead pony, and after what happened a few nights ago at that bar, part of me hopes he’s right. Trouble is I can’t let Crest get himself killed. Not yet. He’s still my invitation to the party. My golden ticket to the Grand bucking Galloping Gala. If he falls out of favor with Daughters then so do I.

The drugs run out. Everything changes.

With Junebug’s product off the streets the junkies start looking elsewhere for their fixes—and just like that, suddenly Discord’s Kitchen is open for new business. Not just open to the small time independents Crest and I have been chasing out of drug dens, either. The disappearance of Shard is a sloppy wet dream come true for the big players in Manehattan’s criminal underground: the uptown gangsters. Crooks like Grift; the Oranges; and some new player named Blitzkrieg, an earth pony who stepped up to fill the void left by the late Filthy Rich. They’ve all started muscling their way into the Daughters’ territory, slugging it out to see who’s going to be the Kitchen’s new drug kingpin.

This new guy Blitzkrieg has been giving the Daughters the most trouble. Krieg’s an old stallion. Born in Maneich. Raised in Stalliongrad. Story goes Krieg got his start running guns down in the Unikraine, but got sick being an earth pony trying to make a name for himself in a country run by unicorns. Figured he’d never get a fair shake back there and decided to try his luck in the big city. He had to ditch his old racket because there’s no market for guns in Manehattan. Only unicorns can shoot the damn things, and the unicorn population in Manehattan is too small to create much demand. That, and most of the unicorns that do live here are cops.

Krieg’s new game is drugs and prostitution. Same game the Daughters have been playing for years, but for the most part it’s been a game of solitaire. Now it’s a full blown high-stakes poker match, and the Daughters have the least amount of chips on the table, and they’re about one bad hoof away from losing it all.

Worst part is that with the uptown gangsters staging their takeover, me and Crest and a few of the biggest, meanest goons in the gang get stuck running damage control. That means we tear-ass all over town making sure the competition doesn’t muscle us out our territory. Trouble is the uptowners don’t scare easy, and the Daughters are used to scaring the piss out of every pony who crosses them. They aren’t used to pushing around ponies who can push back. The Daughters may be the only street level gang crazy enough to cross the uptown bosses, but they aren’t ready to go war with any of them, let alone all of them at once.

The only break the Daughters catch is that the uptowners are also fighting each other over possession of Kitchen; it’s a free-for-all and the Daughters are right at home in all the chaos. And the only break I catch is that all this new trouble forces Crest to give up his crusade to avenge Junebug’s murder.

Part of me is upset I can’t tell him the truth. Crest is one of Manehattan’s criminals—one of the worst—but he seems genuinely to have cared for Junebug. He seems to genuinely care for me too. There are nights when I wake up in his bed, sweating and shaking, and his strong forelegs encircle me, and we are so close I feel his heart beating against my chest—and I… I can’t believe he’s the vicious killer that stabbed his friend to death, then dusted himself off and laughed about it. There are nights when he rocks me to sleep with soft words and softer kisses, and I just can’t bring myself to admit that he’s one of Manehattan’s criminals.

…And then there nights like tonight. Nights when Crest reminds me exactly why the Daughters of Discord bear the namesake of the Lord of Chaos himself. It’s a namesake they almost live up to…


Out of the corner of my eye, I see Crest lift one of the Stalliongrad earth pony goons over his head and chuck the stallion clear across the bar. The barkeep ducks just in time to avoid getting a face full of one of the largest ponies I’ve ever seen, and the goon smashes into the shelves of liquor behind the counter. They grow them big out east, but Crest is strong. He pitches the stallion like a shot-put then leaps over the counter to finish the job, his pipe wrench hanging out his mouth and looking eager to break something.

The display impresses me. Distracts me long enough for another Krieg’s thugs to get the drop on me. He bucks me just above my temple and the lights hanging from the ceiling flicker and die as I skip across the floor like a stone over the surface of a pond. Just as the lights start blinking back to life, something heavy and wet breaks over my head and then something sharp scrapes along my back. I hear Olive scream. When the stallion kicks me again, bouncing me of a wall like a rubber ball, I realize the bar’s electricity is working fine. I realize the blackness was only my eyes forgetting how to work after I ate that first buck to the head.

He hits me again. I lose a moment. I’m weightless. Floating. Gone. When reality comes spinning back so does the stallion who’s tossing me around like I’m a child. I try to stand, but my legs aren’t having it. I lie on my side, squinting at the monster of a pony through the almost visible pain throbbing behind my eyes. He’s twice my size at least. Built like a wall. He spits out the broken bottle—the something heavy and wet that broke over my skull—and he lumbers toward me, kicking upturned chairs out his way as he nears. He takes his time. He’s got all the time in the world and he knows it.

I take a breath that does a number on my ribcage; then I scrunch my face and push out a hurt, gasping noise, hoping to make the pain look worse than it is. Big colt here thinks he’s got me beat. Hell, he just might, so I go ahead and let him think it. Let him get comfortable with idea of crushing my head under one of those anvils he’s got at the end of each leg. He takes his time and I let him.

“You be good little filly for me, yes,” he taunts as he lumbers toward me. His voice is as enormous as the rest of him. “You lie still and take lumps like mare and maybe I am letting you live. Maybe I am sending you back to your boss in wheelchair.” He laughs. Lumbers. Takes his time.

When he’s good and close I shove my boot into one of his front legs, and his knee bends the wrong way, and all that size weighs down on the joint, and it gives with a nasty snap. He curses. Topples like a stone tower in an earthquake. Goes down and stays there.

From where I’m lying I see Crest struggling with a pegasus mare who’s giving him all he can handle. Olive is mixing it up with two of the brutes in the center of the bar. She’s holding her own, but if one of these Stalliongrad thugs is twice my size, then they're at least three times as big as Olive.

It’s been four nights of this shit in a row. Four nights of me and Crest and little Olive getting our teeth rattled by Krieg’s goons: mountainous earth ponies and pegasi who look too big to fly. Four nights of us trying to run them off corners, chase them out of bars and drug dens and clubs. Four long, painful nights. Crest says we need to keep up the pressure. Show them we mean business. I’ve been trying to sit out these little crusades of his, but Crest says I’m the gang’s best fighter and insists I come along every night. It’s true, of course. I am the gang’s best fighter, though right now little Olive is giving me a run for my money.

Olive is fighting two of them. She holds them off for a year or two while I force my legs to stay underneath me. When I sure I’m not going to topple over, I grab a pool cue from the rack leaning against the wall and charge at one of the brutes from behind. The pool cue snaps uselessly across her back. She wheels around with surprising speed for an earth pony her size, looking more annoyed than anything else. Without thinking, I jab the splintered end of the cue into her shoulder. That gets her attention. She cries out. Doesn’t go down. She’s big, but there are weaknesses no amount of size or muscle can negate. I remember my training—remember that I’m the only pony in this barroom brawl who really knows how to fight.

Dropping her only takes two more hits: one to the throat and another to temple. She goes down hard but she’s still conscious.

“Bleedin’ hell, Rosy!” Olive shouts, forgetting where she is for a moment. “Where you learn to mash a pony like that!”

Crest throws the mare he’s tangling with through a window. Laughs. Spits out his pipe wrench. “You lot of hulking, vodka swigging mouth-breathers had best clear off,” he trumpets. Idiot. Drops his weapon so he can shit talk. That’s just like him. Idiot. “This is Daughter country and ‘round here we don’t—”

Crest stops short at the sound of it, but we all hear the noise a split second before he shuts up.

Sirens. Police sirens.

All the heads in the room, The Daughters and Krieg’s goons alike—they all turn toward the windows. We squint into the night. It’s dark out. As dark as it gets and most of the streetlights on this block are busted. We squint. I see blue and red flashes. Movement. Ponies shuffling into position. We squint. Hold our breath. Wait.

Then comes the unmistakable crack of a bullhorn waking up. “This is the police. We have the place surrounded. Surrender now and you have my word you will not be harmed.”

The shock of confronting Manehattan’s finest in the Kitchen proves too much for us. We stand frozen in the bar, unable to wrap our heads around what’s happening.

The bullhorn cracks again. “I repeat: surrender now. Drop whatever weapons you may be carrying and come out slowly with your hooves in plain sight.”

“Is this happening, sis?” Olive pipes. Her voice is small and childish. More confused than afraid. “Is this, like, is this for real?” She looks to Crest. Crest looks to me. I look to Olive.

Then a cluster of sharp stars pierce the blackness beyond the windows, as if Luna herself had stomped the night sky down onto the sidewalk. Not gathering like the star at the end of Temporal’s horn, but blinking into existence, appearing rapidly, then hanging in the air like motionless fireflies.

“Bloody—uni—cunts!” The curses creep out Crest’s mouth in slow motion. The stars flicker—and then light is taking the bar to pieces.

Crest is swearing, and I am lunging at Olive, and I am tackling Olive to the floor, and I am covering Olive’s head—and if she is screaming I don’t hear it over the wail of Krieg’s thugs or the boom of magic bolts shattering glass and wood and bone.

It’s chaos inside the bar: all lights and sounds and fury, none of it making any sense. I look around and find Crest kneeling, using an overturned table as an improvised shield. Our eyes meet. He points toward the row of windows at the other end of the building. I nod in understanding. Cops said they had the place surrounded, but the blasts are only coming from one direction. Could mean they're playing it smart: shooting one way to avoid any friendly fire. Could mean they're trying to funnel us out through the back where they’ve got an ambush waiting. Crest is betting it’s neither. The smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth tells me he doesn’t buy it for a second. Tells me he thinks that bit about us being surrounded was a bluff.

Crest is smirking, the crazy bastard. The end of days is whizzing by his head like a swarm of hungry parasprites, and he’s smirking. Daughters of Discord is right. Crest is at home in all this head-turning insanity. It’s where he belongs. Where I belong as well. Can’t say the same for little Olive. She’s shaking underneath me like she won’t ever stop.

Crest nods. Smirks. I get a feeling in my gut like I’m two breaths away from hurling. I tell Olive we have to make a run for it, and all around me the bar and most everypony in it is getting hammered to pieces by thunder and lightning.

And then I’m on all fours, galloping, chest burning, heart pounding—and Olive is dashing ahead, bolting past me with that pegasus speed of hers—and the room is stretching, and the window is receding, moving further and further away with every step I take.

Next thing I know I’m in the air, and there’s glass biting my face and winter cold patting my back, applauding me for making it out alive. The sidewalk jumps up quicker than I expect, throwing itself at me like a long separated love. I’m spitting out a mouthful of snow when I hear Crest shout for Olive to hit sky and not look back. It’s hard to catch a pegasus once she gets off the ground, and Crest figures there’s no sense in all three of us getting arrested tonight. Olive doesn’t think twice. The cops must see her shooting into the sky, because a few magic bolts soar up after her, missing by miles.

A squad cart tears around the corner.

Glowing horns charge through the ruined bar.

“Meet you back at the Alley, lovely. Don’t keep me waiting too long.” Crest winks, then hurls himself headlong at the squad cart. A second before he's trampled, Crest bounds over the pair of unicorns pulling the cart and dives back hooves first through the windshield—shattering glass and laughing like the maniac he is.

I make a run for it, not bothering to see what comes of Crest’s stunt. I’m not worried about that stallion. There isn’t a cop in Manehattan who rolls out of bed early enough to catch Crest; and there isn’t a prison this city’s built that can hold him. They’ll have to kill the bastard—which Manehattan’s finest will have no problem doing—and if they do kill him, he’ll leave the world no poorer.

I don’t worry about Crest and I don’t worry about little Olive: one is light-years away by now and the other is uncatchable. I worry about me. I run for it.

Cops in the Kitchen? What the hell are cops doing in the Kitchen?

Light flashes about a yard ahead of me. A unicorn appears in a rush of parting air. Teleportation spell. He pops into existence, standing directly in my path. His horn is glowing. I don’t stop. Don’t change paths. I lower my head and spear the bastard right in the chest. Run him over like a bullet train. We tumble. I roll. Spring back to my hooves. He doesn’t. I sprint off, leaving the stunned cop lying in the snow.

I turn into the mouth of the first alley I see just as magic bolt whizzes by, missing me by hopes and prayers.

Damn cops won’t let up. Can’t believe it. Cops in the Kitchen.

I turn into the alley’s mouth. There’s a dead end waiting for me at the back of its throat, but that’s fine by me. I’m looking for a way up, not through.

“Freeze!” A bolt smashes into the back of the alley’s throat. “Hold it right there! Hold it, I said!”

I leap for the low hanging ladder of a fire escape. The rungs are slick with frost, but I manage to not slide off as I pull myself up. Two stories later, a bolt smashes into the underside of the steps and the whole fire escape lurches like an upset stomach.

Two flashes of light.

Two cops appear.

One of them manages to get a shot off that grazes my ear before I shove my front hooves in his face and he careens over the railing. The other watches his buddy become a twitching pile of broken bones on the concrete and loses his nerve. Reality gasps and the unicorn vanishes, leaving me alone to pant and sweat and freak out in private.

I take a moment to find my second wind. Listen for more cops. Don’t hear any. Must have lost them. Between me, Crest and Olive, I can’t imagine it was easy for Manehattan’s finest to keep pace. They probably settled for arresting Krieg’s thugs. I don’t think any of those brutes made it out once the shooting started.

I’m in the homestretch now. I don’t know the Kitchen all that well, and I have no idea where I am right now, but it’ll be easier getting back Shanty Alley if I take the rooftops. I haven’t flown in a long time, not since that night I dropped out the sky. Had to hurry off the next morning. Left my hook and line dangling from a streetlight. Stupid. I don’t have my equipment, but in the Kitchen everything is built right on top of everything else. The buildings lean on each other. The going will be easy.

I climb toward the rooftop, my pace slowed by heavy thoughts. My heart is still banging away at a mile a minute, but I’ve finally calmed down enough to think straight.

First the fire in Shanty Alley, followed by the all out gang war erupting in the Kitchen: it’s no wonder the cops have shown up in force. My guess is the warring gangs have been making so much noise that the mayor and all those crooked politicians sitting on the city council can’t go on ignoring it. Manehattan has always been a city of sin, but the crooks who really run things usually keep all that ugliness in check for fear of attracting attention from state officials. I know for a fact the fire in Shanty Alley was covered up. I read all of one article about the fire, and it wasn’t even a front page headliner. I don’t know how they did it, but the ponies who really run Manehattan didn’t let the media anywhere near that one.

And that was small time. That was a few dozen street urchins nopony gives two shits about—nopony even knows are there—burning up in the junk piles poverty had forced them to call home. But if word that uptown has become a warzone were to reach the capital, all the crooked politicians and all the uptown gangsters would have white knight types like that clown Shining Armor showing up at their party to tell them the music is too loud.

And all this is only going to mean more distractions for me. It’s been almost a month since I’ve thrown in with this pack of wolves and I’m no closer than the day I cracked Temporal’s head open on the sidewalk…

Poor Temporal. I never did get a chance to burn her. Lay her to rest like I promised. After I fed Crest that bullshit about Temporal killing Junebug, the Daughters got the bright idea to cut the corpse's head off and send it to whatever crew she was running with as a warning. Animals. I let those animals butcher her, and for what? A fantasy. A vendetta against a bunch of characters from a story…

A storm of emotions rage in my heart and mind as I climb the fire escape. I think about Temporal, and I think about all the other lives I had to destroy to get where I am now. I think about Temporal and about Junebug, and Filthy Rich and the diamond dog and Sparkle and Baritone and Stephen Scope—and I wonder what will be left when I do find Scope’s killers. He was beautiful and his was the first life I ever tried to save. It’s a life that deserves to be avenged, but at what cost? So many lives for just one. So many. And in the end who will avenge all of them?

I climb the fire escape, and I think of all those lives, and I wonder what force, what terrible will, what sort of heartbroken avenger will come for me on their behalf.

I climb. Think. When I reach the rooftop, the storm raging in my chest and between my ears wanes, then dies. I back to the roof’s edge to give myself a running start and everything else falls way behind me, just so much noise filling the background. I haven’t flown in a long time. Not since the fall. Not since the city caught me and everything changed. A breeze nudges me, and I imagine the weight of the hook that once dangled from around my midsection. I remember the feel of metal brushing against fur—and I let it remind me where I am, and where I’ve been, and why it is I do what I do. Let it remind me that tonight I am chasing.

I back to the edge of the roof. It’s like coming home.

And then I break into a sprint, eyes narrowed, focused, squinting against the night and the cold and all the nagging memories. I sprint, and I find my stride, and the wind claws through my mane, my tail.

I sprint.




The space separating me from the from the roof’s edge shrinks like a deflating balloon. But before all the air escapes, something blindsides me. Slams hard into my right shoulder, running me down like a charging buffalo. I tumble. Skid. Almost go over the edge. I try to scramble back to my hooves, but there’s something heavy on my back. I lose my head. Panic.

Another cop? How? Didn’t see the light flash. Didn’t feel the air part. How? How?

“You’re as predictable as ever, Roseluck.”

The voice is familiar.

“I knew you would scurry up the first rooftop you saw. Is it because you feel safe way up here? Feel like nopony can touch. Can put their filthy bucking hooves on you.”

The voice is familiar and so is the cord encircling my neck as I try to stand. I don’t see it, but when I feel it go taut around my windpipe I know it has to be that same cord. That same cord held by that same pair of aroused hooves.

“You didn’t think I’d just let you walk, did you? Didn’t think I’d just let you… let you get away with what you did…” Sparkle keeps talking but I lose her voice because…because…

Shit. No air. Can’t breathe. Dizzy. Can’t breathe. Can’t…

And then all at once I feel some of the color return to my face as Sparkle loosens her grip enough for me to gulp down a few short, sweet breaths. Her voice comes back. I make out something about her wanting to strangle Redheart while I watch before the cord goes taut again and loss of air makes it hard to think straight. I come real close to passing out before Sparkle decides to ease up again.

“…You think you can just have your way with me. Every… Everypony thinks they can just—just have their way with me! I’m not some toy. I’m not here so you sick pieces of filth can get off…”

Sparkle pulls tighter, and I tug uselessly at the cord, and I feel something warm and moist drip onto the back of my neck, and—and…

…Celestia. Is…is she crying…?

“You hear me, Roseluck! I’m not your little plaything!”

Getting dark again. Can’t breathe. Come on, Rose, focus. Work through this. Think. You’re not dead yet, so think damn it.

“You hear me!”

Think. Think about Sparkle. She’s not a monster. Not like Manehattan’s criminals. She’s not a monster. Just a scared kid. Just a hurt, scared kid. Use that.

“You hear—”

“I’m sorry…” my voice comes out as thin and taut as the cord around my neck. Sparkle goes quiet as a grave. The cord loosens a bit. I gasp. Inhale sharply.

“I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have done that to you.”

“Sorry doesn’t cut it. We’re past apologies, Roseluck.” The hate in her voice cuts me like glass, but the cord doesn’t get any tighter.

Good. You got her listening. Keep it up. Keep talking.

“Spar—Twilight, please, listen to me. Listen to yourself. This isn’t you. I know you.”

“You don’t know anything about me!” She gives the cord a yank that nearly takes my head off.

“I do. You know I do. That’s why you said those things about us being together. That’s why you kissed me…”

“I… That wasn’t…”

“I only did it because I wanted you,” I hear myself say. Damn. Wasn’t expecting to take it this far. I try to stop. Try to shut the floodgates before all the water comes rushing out. “I wanted you, but I couldn’t betray Redheart. I was frustrated. Confused. I wanted you and I knew I couldn’t have you, so… I took you. Took you by force… I’m sorry.” I try hold it back, but the floodgates burst and the water comes rushing just the same.

Sparkle’s cord loosens. She’s sobbing openly now. Sucking and sniffing and whimpering like the scared, hurt child she is.

“That’s what they all say…” her sobbing grows in intensity. “They all say the same thing. That they wanted me. That they couldn’t control themselves. You, and the ponies who took my horn and…and all of them…” Sparkle’s voice is far away. I don’t know who she’s talking to right now, but it’s not me.

The sobs grow. Climb. Change. At first the sounds are hurt and ashamed, and then dark and hateful, and then wryly amused, and then hysterical—loud and hot and haughty. Sparkle’s sobs twist into laughter, the city's laughter—hot and haughty and mad as all hell.

She leans close. Presses her cheek against mine. Gives the cord a violent yank. I feel her breath against my face, burning, warm enough to melt snow.

“All I’ve ever done is give, give, give. And all you ponies ever do is want and take and take. Well you can’t have me, Roseluck. Nopony can. You can’t have me, and you don’t get to apologize. We’re past apologies.”

Aroused hooves pull the cord taut.

“You took something from me, Roseluck. Something I’ll never get back. Now I have to take something from you. And then I’m going to find Yoosee Dee and Redheart and anypony else you’ve ever cared about, and I’m going to take something from them as well.”

Aroused hooves pull the cord taut. No sense in trying to fight it anymore. I’m done fighting. Done kicking and screaming and breaking things. Done playing the city's game. At least this way Manehattan doesn’t win in the end. This way she can’t taint me. Can’t make me one her criminals.

Funny. In the very end, as the shadows creep in from the corners of my eyes and the world goes black and cold and stops its incessant turning, it’s not Daisy or Lily that I think about. It’s not Stephen Scope or Junebug or Temporal or Crest. It’s not Dee… It’s not even Redheart.

It’s her. It’s Sparkle. I go to meet my end comforted by thoughts of my beautiful hornless unicorn.

I shut my eyes.

The noose slips easily around Daisy’s neck.

Lily screams.

Is screaming…

Is still screaming…

And then air is filling my lungs so fast I choke on it. I twist onto my side, clutching my throat, feeling the imprint left by the cord. My eyes snap open and Lily is still screaming.

“A hornless uni cunt is still a uni cunt you ask me.”

No. Not Lily screaming. Sparkle is screaming. She’s lying on her back, and Olive is stomping her face into the rooftop, and she is kicking and screaming.

“You got some nads showing your face ‘round the Kitchen, Commissioner. That much I’ll give you.”

Sparkle tries to fight back, but Olive is too fast for her. She pummels Sparkle with that pegasus speed of hers. Pummels her till she stops moving.

“You alright, sis?” Olive offers me a friendly hoof.

“I’m fine. She got the drop on me is all,” I say, standing up on my own. “Why did—what are you doing here?”

“I was worried maybe you and Crest didn’t get away, so I doubled back. And it’s a good thing I did too. You was gettin’ your arse whipped right proper, you was.” Olive laughs. Shoves me playfully.

“I said she got the drop on me. She came out of nowhere.” I shove Olive back, laughing in spite of what's just happened. In spite of myself.

And then somehow I know this is the moment. I know it’s happening now. It didn’t happen when I comforted her after the shooting, and it didn’t happen when I protected her from the wave of magic bolts ripping the bar apart. It didn’t even happen the moment I realized she’d come to save my life. It’s happening now. Happening with a shove and a laugh. Someday, I’ll look back on this moment, and I’ll remember the night when me and Olive—me and one of Manehattan’s criminals—became friends.

“Wait till the others hear I mashed up Twilight bleedin’ Sparkle,” Olive pipes. Her voice rises like a tea kettle. She’s still just a filly. Still so young. “I’ll have Crest’s job by tomorrow mornin’. Why, they’ll make me Big Sis’ right hoof.”

“We should get out of here,” I say, cutting Olive’s celebration short. “Think you can make it back to the Alley while carrying me?”

Olive nods. Smiles. I smile back, wondering how this happened. How I became friends with one of Manehattan’s criminals. We leave Sparkle where she’s lying and wander over to the roof’s edge. I tell myself to forget her. I wanted her—I still want her—but I tell myself I can’t—


Sparkle screams from behind. It is the last scream of dying animal. I turn around slowly. The animal is charging toward me. Its muzzle bleeding. Its mouth a twisted scar. Its eyes wide: each one a perfect gaping lavender abyss.


It charges. Screams. Bleeds. It doesn’t realize the cord is still wrapped loosely around its front hooves. Doesn’t realize till it’s too late. Till it stumbles, and pitches forward, and rolls, and tumbles.

I turn around slow and watch it. Amazed. Horrified. Captivated. I turn around slow, but Olive is fast. Olive is so, so fast.

I turn around—am turning around—and the animal is charging—and Olive is so fast—and the animal is stumbling—and Olive is grabbing me—and the animal is pitching forward—and Olive is lifting me—and the animal is rolling and tumbling and falling and falling and falling…


And I am reaching for her, but Olive is lifting me, and the animal is falling—


And she is falling. And she is breaking. The sidewalk is talking her to pieces.

And then she is gone. My beautiful hornless unicorn is gone.

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Eyes Without a Face

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