"Ink on a Page"
Derpy couldn't comprehend the feeling that the music always filled her with. It was a sensation unlike any other. The sound of it was palpable, tangible, a physical anomaly that seemed to surround her. It was lifting her up, protecting her from something, from everything. It may have been in the rhythm, or in the actual notes of the melody. It could even have spawned from the very words being sung, but whatever was creating the unusual sensation remained a mystery.
She was never able to see the wreckage of the burning house after the flames had died down. The group that had met her outside the building split up shortly after the fire-squad had begun their efforts to put out the blaze. The brown stallion, Sandman, remained behind with a slightly younger stallion who had a cool-grey coat and black mane, tail, and mustache. A few others from the group also stayed behind, but the faces were too blurred to determine who any others were.
Derpy walked next to a stallion with a faded violet complexion. His mane was red, but the color was starting to fade from it and thus revealed a slightly orange tint behind the primary color. This stallion was older than the rest of the ponies. She couldn't specifically tell how much older he was, but it was enough to make it visibly obvious.
Despite this age difference, he still was not the largest or tallest stallion out of the bunch, in fact he was one of the shortest. Yet in spite of this fact, Derpy still felt safe when around him. He was always calm, and portrayed an essence of wisdom by the way he listened. As the filly tried to talk to him, he didn't speak back, but he always responded somehow, and it was the way he did so that had convinced her that the stallion was not only listening to what she said, but also understood her inquiries.
The given circumstances created a great deal of questions. However, the foal's curiosity had an overbearing wish to know just where they were going, and such a question was not exactly simple to answer without speaking.
But the stallion still said nothing, and Derpy felt that it was because even he, in all his thinking, did not know either. She wondered if he was as confused as she was, and if he was also afraid.
Still they continued to travel, farther and farther away from the burning building, until they were finally far enough that they could not even see the smoke in the distance when the sun finally broke the horizon.
Derpy slowly opened her eyes to find herself in a familiar setting. She was back at Sweet Apple Acres, lying in Applejack's bed, which she recognized by the covers, which were embroidered with the country mare's cutie mark.
It was daytime, and from what she could tell, she was alone.
Slowly, she began to lift her head from the pillow and proceeded to stretch her back. Whilst doing so it popped four times, and it felt as if she was much more stiff than usual. There was talking coming from outside the room, followed by the sound of hoof steps coming up the stairs.
Derpy put her front legs in the air to stretch them; again they felt like they were incredibly stiff.
The door opened slowly at first, and then Applejack walked in once she saw that Derpy was awake.
"Oh thank heavens y'all 'er okay." The country pony said in relief, wiping a pretend sweat from her forehead.
Derpy was starting to become concerned. "Well yeah, why wouldn't I be?"
Applejack stared at her with caring eyes. Then she sighed. "Granny Smith said that you probably wouldn't remember what happened."
"Why? What happened?" The pegasus said with a voice that only grew slightly more frantic.
Applejack walked to the side of the bed and looked down at the little night table next to the head of the bed. She calmly opened the drawer and retrieved a little notebook and pencil. As she passed the two objects over to Derpy, she told her "You may want to write this down "
"Two days?" Derpy said in shock, it was more rhetorical than not.
Applejack continued to offer her apologies and assured her it was an accident.
"The wood that Apple Bloom brought back was from the area I warned her about. It's my fault for not explainin' to her why exactly she wasn't supposed to collect that wood. It's dangerous."
"Well it depends really. Some ponies have it worse than others. The wood she cut was called Neveroak, and while it seems normal, the smoke of the wood is poisonous. Since you were sittin' downwind from the fire, you managed to get more in your body than the rest of us. Then you kind of just went swimmin' in the smoke, so to speak."
Derpy was silent. This was all just so strange. No wonder she was so stiff, she hadn't moved all weekend.
"We found you out cold down by the lake. Apple Bloom confessed about the wood and ah gave her quite a talkin' to. She was real sorry about what happened."
Derpy's frown lightened up. She sighed. "Accidents happen. Where is Apple Bloom now?"
Applejack seemed to perk up a little too. "School ended 2 hours ago, so she is probably with her friends."
"Doing something crazy no doubt."
They both laughed, and Applejack wiped a tear from her eyes. "Yeah, ah guess so."
Derpy smiled. "Tell her I'm fine. I need to go collect my thoughts."
Applejack nodded. "Ah bet you do."
The Apples offered to make Derpy lunch, but she declined. She needed to get some air, so to speak.
After leaving the farm, Derpy was at a loss of where to go next. She had just gotten over the fact that she had slept through an entire day, and she couldn't truly figure out a location that could possibly correspond to such an event.
At first she had thought that the park would be a nice place to unwind, but then she decided she didn't quite feel like being outside. Her second thought would be to go to the Blossomed Daisy, and why not? With that in mind she started off toward the little diner.
Service was a little slower than usual that day. It was strange, Derpy noted, because the diner didn't seem particularly busy at the moment. Thinking back she couldn't really remember a time when it was very busy, but then again she was used to not remembering much.
She looked over to the counter. The cashier was talking to one of the waitresses. When she turned her head towards the kitchen door, she saw the waiter who normally served her outside approaching the other two and engaging himself in their conversation. Then Derpy looked down to her glass, which was empty except for a few melting ice cubes.
While an empty drink was nothing to complain about, she found it rather odd that this was the first time she had actually had to wait for someone to come by and fill her glass again. In truth it wasn't just the empty glass, but rather the fact that the glass had been empty for nearly ten minutes.
Her usual waiter looked over to her for a moment, then back to his two companions before going back into the kitchen and returning with a pitcher of lemonade. As he approached the table, the waitress followed him.
Derpy pretended not to notice them approaching until the waiter was close enough to pour the lemonade, which he did.
"Sorry about the wait." He said sincerely.
Derpy smiled at him. "No worries."
As the grey pegasus started to sip her beverage, the waitress stepped up.
"So Derpy " she said, trying not to sound conspicuous. "I couldn't help but to notice you came inside today."
Derpy looked up with a worried expression. "Oh, is that a bad thing?" She was starting to feel a little nervous. She didn't want to be a bother.
The other two shook their heads.
"No not at all," replied the waitress, "it's just that out of all the times you have ever come here you have never sat inside."
Derpy blinked. "Oh, really? I hadn't quite thought of that." She went back to sipping her lemonade.
The colt filled her glass to the top again before speaking. "It just came as a surprise to see you inside for once. I guess we were interested is all."
Derpy continued to smile innocently. "I'm surprised that you even noticed. I don't even get how you already know my name and order when I first walk in."
The two servers looked at each other with slightly concerned expressions.
"Well, why wouldn't we?" asked the colt.
The filly raised a brow. "Yeah, I mean like you come here more than any other customer we have."
The colt nodded. "You never say too much, and I haven't really struck much of a conversation before, but you are definitely the pony I have served the most."
Derpy stretched her face in a way that showed a bit of interest. There was also a bit of confusion portrayed in the way she tilted her head as she spoke. "I am?"
They nodded. The waitress went on to explain how Derpy was at the restaurant three or so times a week.
The colt nodded. "In fact our manager has us give you a discount because you're here so much. Sometimes we don't even ring you up."
Now this she took as a surprise. Suddenly, she felt a little bit guilty for not recognizing something like that, but the fact remained that this was all unknown to her. As far as she knew, going to the diner was like a treat, not a common visitation. But now she was being told that she was practically as common to see around the diner as they were.
Now Derpy started trying to remember some times she had eaten there. She couldn't find any recollection of it, and it was bugging her. Obviously, to know by heart where the restaurant was meant that she had been there a number of times before, and if those visits had been spread apart over time then it would make sense to not remember. But to forget something that she did nearly every other day was beyond her.
"Are you okay?" the colt asked. His eyes widened slightly and his expression seemed a bit worried.
Derpy shook her head quickly as if breaking from a trance. "Uh, yeah, I'm fine."
The two teenage ponies looked at each other with slightly guilty complexions. They seemed worried that maybe they had put too much stress on Derpy.
The colt went on to ask if there was anything else that Derpy wanted to order, and declined. Both the servers insisted that the drink was on the house before going back to work. She waited until they were both occupied with their jobs before pulling out both of her notebooks.
First she opened the original and quickly began searching through the pages.
There were in fact three entries involving the diner, three instances she failed to remember. She continued to scan through her writing until she came across the section labeled Reminders Inceptive. The section was written in a different font. The writing was also considerably neater to the extent that the pen would have had to been held with magic and not a mouth.
Without thought, she began to read. This went on until she reached the fifth paragraph where she came across a sentence that so boldly and clearly stated that "A routine action can become habitual, causing a pony's subconscious to label it as unimportant."
Derpy looked up. Did that mean that if she did something on a regular basis she would lose her memory of it? That seemed to contradict what they had been trying to do before, and thus she found it very confusing.
She closed her notebook and returned it to her saddlebag.
Maybe Twilight could elaborate further on what she had written. She was probably at the library; she did live there after all.
While walking to the library, the strangest sense of déjà vu had come over her. She had in fact walked from the diner to the library at least once before when she had previously decided to go there, and strangely enough she did in fact remember that instance. This caused her to grow a little more aggravated that she couldn't remember the three trips to the diner. But that didn't matter at the moment as she had other things to worry about.
She arrived at the library with a single goal in mind. This goal, however, was met with a much different outcome.
The second she walked through the door, Spike ran up to greet her.
"Oh there you are Derpy. Twilight has been sick the last few days, and that's why she hasn't been in contact with you."
"Yeah, one of those book club members had a cold; must have given it to her."
"But you don't have to be down, they are just about to start in the other room."
She looked at him questionably, but didn't have the time to ask who was waiting or why because Spike was already leading her there.
As he led her through the archway into the other room of the library, she was met by a bit of silence, then lots of laughs. Cheerilee trotted up to her still giggling. "Oh hey there Derpy, Apple Bloom told me what happened, I didn't expect you to come." Her voice seemed to come off in a way that was almost offensive. Her tone of voice seemed to be lacking the amount of concern that her words implied, yet the feeling was subconscious and Derpy didn't necessarily know that the feeling was there. "Come on, we are just about to start."
The mare led her over to where five other ponies were sitting. The ponies began to introduce themselves as Daisy, Rose, Lily, Clementine, and the only male, Noteworthy.
"But you can call me Blues," the stallion said, "everypony does."
Derpy was still in a bit of shock. She had forgotten all about the poetry club, but that wasn't surprising.
Clementine was the leader of the club, and thus was the one to start every discussion. Nopony complained though. She picked fun topics, and nopony seemed to have any objections. It only seemed like the club would talk about a topic, and then would share a poem or two and talk about those. Then they would repeat the process. It was because of this that Derpy felt quite secure.
About an hour into the whole meeting, they decided to try something else.
"It is simple," explained Clementine, "we take turns closing our eyes and creating a rhyme about the first thing we see."
They all nodded except for Derpy, who just kind of stared into the distance. In all honesty, she hadn't been paying much attention for the duration of the meeting. She would offer the occasional smile, nod, and chuckle, but most of the time, if not all the time, such reactions were just subconscious reflexes.
She pretended to listen as the others began pressuring Blues into going first. From the parts she had been listening to it seemed that the others liked to pick on him, most likely due to being the only male in the club. This of course did not include Spike, who, despite not actually being a member, made occasional appearances and took part in whatever activity they happened to be doing. However, such an occurrence was more due to the young dragon's boredom, rather than any real interest in the poetic field of literature.
When Blues was finished, they of course continued to their giggling and sarcastic sounding compliments which all failed to actually do any damage to his self-esteem and were all in good fun. The only difference than his reaction this time to his usual come back was that he brought it into question as to whether Derpy could do any better. The question quickly grew into an interesting proposal in the minds of the others, and it wasn't long before Clementine made the notion an actual invitation.
"Yes why don't you give it a shot Derpy?"
Hearing the use of her name in a direct statement, or question as it were, was enough to free her from daydream-like state of mind. As she abandoned her straying thoughts, she became alert. Her reaction was quite similar to that of a daydreaming student when called upon by a teacher to answer a question. Needless to say, she wasn't exactly sure what was happening right then.
"Come on now, it isn't difficult, just close your eyes and let the rhyme come to you." Clementine rested her chin on her hooves as she waited to hear Derpy's poem.
Not quite alert enough yet to put up an argument and not wanting to stick out, Derpy decided to play along.
Derpy closed her eyes and tried to think of something.
"No, no that won't do at all," said Clementine with the sort of drawn-out enunciation that made one seem, in a sense, ostentatious, or even slightly pretentious. "Dear, you are doing it wrong."
With her eyes still closed Derpy raised a brow. She proceeded to ask the unicorn in what way she was supposed to accomplish the task at hand. The tone of voice she used to do so was supposed to be mocking the way that Clementine was speaking, but nopony seemed to even notice.
"You're squinting dear, a clear sign that you're struggling to think of something. Just sit back, relax your muscles, and close your eyes; no need to try and think of something."
Derpy took a deep breath.
"You have to speak dear." Clementine said and all the others giggled. "Just make sure not to hurt yourse "
"Burning bridges gone ablaze, all happy days left far behind, look around as if to find some peace at mind "
Derpy paused for a moment. Clementine seemed a bit shocked. "Oh tha "
"Now I'm home, safe and sound, but I'm alone, so I look around. She is just staring at me, she is crystal clear. Her anger is all I can see, the mare in the mirror."
Once again she paused, and Clementine tried again to speak. "Well now, tha "
"Memories all fade away, every day a new adventure. I take the words my friends say, and I dare to venture my own way. I made mistakes, but that's okay. I can't change who I am or who I was, and she shouldn't stare like I'm a lost cause. I am not alone, I have my friends, ponies like Cheerilee on who I can depend.
I write it down, every night. Good or bad, wrong or right, it's on my pad in black and white. Whatever I do, everything said. A word unwritten is a word not read. I can't remember a lot of things, but the world is just a stage, and the acts are all written in my notebooks, it's in the ink on the page."
Derpy opened her eyes and looked around to see everypony staring at her. There was silence, until Clementine finally spoke. "Well, Derpy, that was very, uh how do I put this? Oh yes, that was amazing!" She started clapping her hooves and the others did as well. All except for Cheerilee, who stayed quiet and inconspicuously slipped away.
When she was starting to feel embarrassed from all the compliments, Derpy excused herself from the room, only to find Cheerilee walking out the door of the library. Confused, Derpy ran to meet the mare before she was more than a few yards away from the building.
"H-hey Cheerilee! Where are you going?"
The mare stopped walking but didn't turn around.
"Are you leaving already?"
Cheerilee had left wearing a green scarf that seemed to flow in the breeze. It was a nice contrast to her magenta complexion.
Slowly she turned around; there were tears in her eyes.
"What's wrong?" Derpy asked with a great deal of concern.
Cheerilee shook her head. "Y-you shouldn't have said that about me "
Derpy was confused and a bit shocked as well. "Did I do something wrong?"
"No, you didn't. You never did. You have always been a wonderful pony." Cheerilee turned around and hastily trotted off, tears and all.
Clementine walked up behind Derpy, who was now sitting on the ground, staring off in the direction Cheerilee had left.
"Where did Cheerilee go?"
Derpy didn't answer.
The evening sunset had come and passed, but Derpy was too confused to enjoy it. She didn't return to the poetry meet, she had too much to think about.
It was a quiet night, quiet enough so that there was nothing to distract her from her thoughts. But at such a time when there were so many questions running through her mind, it was uncertain whether or not a distraction was something she needed.
What was Cheerilee so upset about? She seemed completely carefree when she first engaged Derpy that day, so why the sudden change?
A stroll in the park was a fair attempt at collecting her thoughts, but rather than finding peace she ended up pacing back and forth in front of a park bench, all the while mumbling to herself.
"What did she mean by never?" she would ask herself, and then would counter her own question by asking "did I say something to offend her?"
This went on for quite some time before she finally climbed onto the bench and rolled onto her back. There she lied still, staring at the sky. It was a cloudy night, and very few stars were actually visible.
For a while she said nothing, only waited to think of something. Anything.
Nothing came to mind. There was just silence. Total, complete silence.
She sighed as she rolled onto her stomach. Her head dropped between her forelegs and her eyes closed. She let out a sigh, if not for any other reason it was to simply break the silence. Inside she knew the sound would do little to help. The sound of her breath would only show the drastic contrast of the total silence.
But this was not the case. As the slight echo of her sigh faded into the dark another sound took its place. First she perked up her ears, and then she opened her eyes. She then brought her head up and tilted it as if trying to listen into the air more clearly.
She heard music. It was quiet enough that a slight breeze was enough to replace the sound. But there was no such wind. There were no crickets chirping either.
I need to go
Something inside her seemed to be urging her to move towards the source of the music.
Derpy didn't resist. Without thinking it through, she dismounted the bench and held her breath. When she was sure of which direction the music was coming from, she continued breathing normally and headed down the street.
After a few moments the music grew louder, but the way it echoed in the night kept it just as hard to locate. But luckily this was a one way street.
As she trotted the empty street of Ponyville, she found herself enveloped in a sort of trance. For some reason she found herself avoiding the street lights. It was as if the closer she was to the light, the more distorted the song was.
Still something inside her seemed to push for Derpy to continue walking.
At this point she was approaching Sugar Cube Corner.
Her heart started to beat faster, and a strange feeling began to overcome her. The light started contrasting to the dark in a different way. The softer shades started to clash with the highlighted colors, distorting the way things looked. Shadows seemed to blend in with the darkness, making it almost appear as if the only source of light at all were in fact the light posts.
She had experienced a similar occurrence when staring into the campfire two days prior. Her eyes had adjusted to the light of the fire, making her practically blind in every spot that was not lit by it.
But this was not the same. The lights shouldn't have been bright enough to do this, especially when she never stared into one.
The music grew louder as she passed Sugar Cube Corner, louder and clearer. Something strange was happening within her.
Derpy's movements and vision seemed to reflect the sound of the music. She started swaying as she walked, and the lights seemed to distort to the rhythm.
But the strangest was yet to come.
"From the depths- of all dismay- we all find a way- our lives start today "
She was singing, but she was unaware of it. She heard it like it was part of the music.
Derpy Hooves no longer knew where she was walking, nor did she care. Her mind was lost elsewhere, her body seemingly moving on its own accord. Everything was a blur, but at the same time it was all so clear. She saw only what she needed to see. She paid no mind to anything, as if she refused to acknowledge its existence.
As the melody slowed down, and the periods between each note grew longer with each one played, something began to form in front of her. It was a door, a door that seemed to form from smoky air, and that was the only thing she could see. So she did the only thing one can think to do with a door. Quietly and discretely, she opened it and took a step into it.
The trance she had been in seemed to fade away, but things still felt distorted. It seemed as if the world was a few frames behind her vision, but she continued into the doorway, walking ever so quietly forward. Just a few more steps forward were made before the song stopped playing completely.
It was then that the trance was fully broken, and Derpy became fully aware of her surroundings. Ironically by becoming more aware she felt less so, for she was in a building that she did not know what path she took to get to.
The darkness of the room was accompanied by silence, but even in the dark she could see shadows moving about. Though she was frightened, she did not speak. She only crept more and more towards the shadows until she found an archway. She walked through it into another room lit by a multitude of candles, in the center of which was a picture frame.
Derpy walked up to where the picture frame stood and had a closer look. She squinted to see clearer in the flickering light, and then her heart stopped when she saw who the picture was of. It was the same blue mare from her memories.
As shocking of a discovery as this was to find, it was not what caused her heart to stop. It was the sound of creaking floorboard, and the reflection of a stallion on the glass covering the photograph.
She quickly turned around to find herself face to face with the elderly stallion who owned The Red Leaf.
"Oh I I'm so sorry I I don't know why I mean I " she stuttered, trying to pull her words together. But the elderly stallion only shushed her.
He hushed her. "Quiet or you're going to wake the missus."
Derpy was stunned. She couldn't speak another word even if she wanted to.
The elderly stallion looked into her eyes. Hers were filled with confusion and terrified wonder. His were filled an old sort of wisdom, and at the same time seemed empty.
"Don't worry Derpy I knew you would come eventually " The old stallion looked towards the photo of the blue mare, and Derpy's eyes followed. "It's time I told you a little story, and answered some of your questions "
"It was some time ago. You were just a little foal at the time; I remember my first impression of you. You had this wild, rugged mane and the biggest eyes. I would have sworn your blood was made of sugar and caffeine the way you looked. But we loved you, all of us did.
I think the most memorable part of you was your eyes."
Derpy looked up from the cushion she was sitting on. "What was wrong with my eyes?"
The old stallion chuckled. "Nothing was wrong with your eyes. They were not any worse than ours, they were just different."
"Different " the voice of Cheerilee echoed in her head. She had said something quite similar. "Different how?"
"Well, besides pointing in different directions, they seemed to be filled with so much life." Derpy frowned. "Oh don't get me wrong, you had some problems, but it was by your choice that you did so."
This statement caused her to start looking around the room with her eyes, as if searching for a reasonable explanation for what he had just said. When her eyes returned to looking at him she asked "What does that mean?"
The old stallion's face was more serious than it had been. "You must forgive me when I tell you that, like you, my memory has also been impaired since then." Derpy's eyes were watering up, and it was breaking the old stallion's heart. "But I can try my best to help. You were different, that much was certain, but not in the way that you think. If I remember correctly, your eyes were just a small part of what was happening."
She nodded, but remained silent.
"There was this strange quality about you. You were always happy. Oh, and you asked questions," he pressed his lips into a comedic looking grimace, "lots of questions. You wanted to know things, reasons. Sometimes you would try and learn how to do things, things you had no experience in, and you would try with what I always thought was a genuine lust knowledge. You were many, many years younger than I, but I considered you to be just as wise, and you were."
Derpy looked down and to the right, not sure what to say.
The stallion continued his story. "I remember very little from the past, it is true. However, I still do remember because I made a promise that I would."
"Promise?" She questioned, looking back up.
"Many years ago, yes, when we first came to Ponyville."
"To them " he nodded over to the table with the pictures on them. There was an odd glow around the photos as the stallion began to cringe. He lifted two photos over to Derpy. He then took off his headband to reveal the remains of a broken horn.
Derpy couldn't help but to stare and wonder if such a thing was painful.
The stallion must have noticed her staring, because he went on to put the headband back on. "Do not ask, for I do not remember. I'm sure that in due time you will remember for me. But first look at what is now in front of you. The blue mare, who sadly I cannot remember, and the brown stallion, whose name was "
This seemed to shock him. "You remember?"
"I've been having dreams "
"Ah, then you really are starting to remember. That is good. That means I can finally fulfill my promise from all those years ago."
Derpy looked at him with great interest as he stood up and walked into the other room where his wife was sleeping. There was the sound of a drawer opening, and then he returned with something in his teeth.
The stallion then gave her what appeared to be a letter. "This is for you, to help in your journey."
She took the envelope in her hoof and began opening it.
"Please read it quietly, I wish not to hear what was meant for your eyes only." He trotted over to a table with a music box.
Derpy nodded, and slowly opened up the letter. The paper seemed both fine and soft. It seemed rather fancy in her opinion. The writing was also very fancy looking. She sighed, and then started to read.
My dearest Derpy, if you are now reading this it means one of two things. The prior is that you have begun to remember what you had to forget, the latter being the one meant to give this to you has passed away. While I sincerely hope for prior, it sadly does not change the situation. By reading this you will be taking the first step on a path that will change everything you may have thought you were trying to learn.
I strongly urge that once the contents of this letter have been read you seek out my son, Doctor, in the hope that you two can succeed where we failed to help you. With you I have left a very important item, the Colt's key. The key to the Colab, I pray that you still have it. Take it to him, he knows what to do with it but does not know what it will do.
The remainder of this letter contains a series of events, sequences, and dialogues that may or may not have significance. Signed to your Infinity, Sandman.
Light the dark.
Bring the light.
The tired eyes bring the light the light the light
Friendship, light, way, flame, forever
"She chose to forget "
Derpy stared at the page for a bit longer. The lines that followed the signature brought nothing to mind. But then again, there was nothing on that page that stuck out more than the key.
She looked up at the old stallion. He was winding up a music box. When he finished it started to play a familiar tune, the one that brought her to the Red Leaf.
She looked back at the paper, not knowing what to think. But part of her wasn't thinking at all. The thoughts were all right there in front of her, in the ink on a page.
Good or Bad
Wrong or Right
On a Pad in Black and White
Whatever is done
What's ever been said
A word Unwritten is a word Unread
The writer's Key
To a world Unseen
Make one's own Reality
7 dn3|End 7