All other ambient noises of the night were negated. The crackle of flames engulfing wood sliced through the barrier of the night air as intoxicating fumes floated into the sky creating false cloud cover. Sickly colors emanated from the wreckage while ponies and onlookers of all kinds gathered around the flames of various reds and yellows, those flames lighting up the looks of horror and fear on their faces.
One pony's face stood out above the rest, the face and very embodiment of happiness and joy being cruelly twisted into one of complete and utter terror. The saltiest of tears formed in the corners of her eyes as she made an attempt to hold back the floodgates of her emotions. Those blue eyes of hers that contained them themselves were embarking on a journey of painful realization: the realization that all she had known had been engulfed instantaneously, with no reason as to why.
Her gaze shifted down at the two heavy bundles that had latched themselves to her hooves; one of them being a unicorn and the other a pegasus. They looked back at her with the most fearful and unknowing eyes she had ever seen, eyes that even she couldn't brighten up. Just one look at their tousled manes and fairly newborn coats brought more pangs of pain as she questioned if what she was to witness was actually reality.
She may have tried to walk forward; it didn't matter. The two foals maintained a firm grip on her legs, leading her to collapse on the ground and embrace them while her composure failed and her tear ducts let loose a flood of liquefied pain. So many thoughts of uncertainty pounded against her mind as she questioned what the best way to explain the situation to the twins would be. The agony heightened as only mutterings and sobbing with the occasional full sentence managed to escape her lips.
"I'm so sorry,' was what she found herself squeezing out while she pulled the Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake in closer. Earlier she had attempted to shield their curious eyes from what horror that lay before them, but found it to no avail. It seemed as if there was no escaping the harsh reality for the twins.
The pink pony's eyes shot to her right to find a yellow mare whose flank was adorned with a trio of butterflies standing next to her, the pony's own tears flowing freely as she bent down and wrapped a hoof around her nearby companion. The two pink-maned mares watched another plume of smoke rise from the remains of Sugarcube Corner, painfully cringing at the thought of whose ashes had been carried up with them.
After an almost unreal wait of what couldn't have been longer than thirty minutes the Ponyville fire department had arrived, the fire ponies wasting no time in taking out their hoses and immediately dousing the flame. Painful hours, or minutes, Pinkie could tell, passed before the last smoldering ember was stomped out. A stallion dressed in red came out and gave an all clear for the somber party pony to enter the wreckage; as apprehensive as she was, she felt it to be her duty. Fluttershy gladly took the babies under her wings as Pinkie trekked alone.
As she approached the charred skeleton of her former home she was only certain of two things. That Cupcake and Carrot Cake were in there when the fire started, and that they didn't escape the wreckage. Her hoofsteps may have echoed through the hall, or it may just have just been her imagination replacing her horrible reality with her more cheerful memories.
The frame of the counter came in into her vision. Her eyes solemnly dragged themselves across it the granite, observing how the blue paint peeled away due to the heat of the fire. Partially melted yet still intact lay a familiar bell on the end of it, near where the cash register was supposed to be. Pinkie's hoof subconsciously reached out and fell upon it, letting out a loud distorted "ding!" leaving her in more tears as more memories flowed back. She quickly decided to leave that area of the wreckage.
She aimlessly wandered down the ruined halls as if she had never been there before, not even bothering to consider the remains of the stairs. Eventually she found herself in the kitchen, gazing upon what may have been a fruitless struggle to decimate the fire. Her eyes gazed upon buckets of what probably contained water and an empty fire extinguisher strewn around the charred frame of the oven.
"It's my fault."
She fell to her knees and slammed her hooves to the ground.
"It's all my fault!"
Pantomiming, she opened the oven door, she mentally removed the cake contained within it and turned off the oven, repeating the process, in each succession growing more and more internally destroyed. Still unsatisfied, she pounded her hooves against the ashes of the oven, hoping that she could somehow remove the cake before it became engulfed in flame.
In a quick slip she let gravity pull herself to the floor, staining her coat with ash. Tortured groans were released into the air as she rolled around and flailed violently on the ground, glass embedding itself in her back. The room was nearly silent discounting her heavy breath.
"Pinkie…" came an ominous echo that reverberated against the walls of the room.
"Who said that!" she screamed into the open air, not searching for an answer but for a vent.
A subconsciously activated agonizing yell was released as she stomped up to her hooves and shook of the shards of glass that left clear splotches of red in her coat. Her body rotated multiple times on her flat plane, her crimson blood staining the floor as she did so. Hearing a voice again she blindly charged into one of the only free standing doors left in the house, knocking it off of its hinges, her and the door making contact with the ground with a loud thud.
The dust cleared away and an ear splitting silence fell upon the room. Pinkie coughed loudly, almost hoping to create echoing movement in the windless room. Looking up, she realized what had happened; she was in the basement and had fallen fifteen feet down the stairs on the door. In her daze she shakily brought herself to her hooves, only to fall back down under the weight of both herself, and her pain. Dust and ash entered her open wounds as she rolled onto her back, her eyes scanning the room for purpose; scanning the room for a reason for her to live anymore.
Allowing her head to fall to the right, she could feel her mane sprawled out and stuck under her body. It was in the midst of her accidental mane pulling that her eyes took notice of a mass she had never recognized in the basement before, however destroyed and flame-wrecked it was. Rolling over onto her stomach, she began the slow, agonizing crawl over to the large, alien object, her sprained forelimbs shaking violently with each ounce of pressure she forced onto them.
In a sweeping motion she attempted to lift the front portion of her body up, only to have herself fall and her face slam into the ground with an audible crack. She didn't care if it was her muzzle or the floor that bore her facial imprint that made the sound, she only cared to continue on to her objective, despite the foul tasting blood that streamed from her snout.
It wasn't until she was mere feet from the object that the low light conditions permitted her to see what it was, emotions again streaming from her. In complete and utter horror she looked at the charred and broken remains of a stallion and mare, their skulls the only parts of them mainly intact. It was like looking Death in the face when her pupils were tracing the blackened framework of the late bakers. She felt herself pull through a pile of ash as she drew in closer, her bleeding snout coloring the black remains.
Her weak left hoof lifted the identity of the stallion, tears streaming down her face, staining her messy mane. With a loud cry she pulled the other in closer with her other hoof, not wanting the Cakes to leave her in fear of being alone.
"Don't leave me!" she screamed as she gazed upon what was charred and left of her host and
hostess of many years. "Celestia! Why have you forsaken them! Are you out there!? Can you not hear their cries!? I can!"
The echo of Pinkie's voice was replaced by her brain with the shouts of pain and fear of the ponies she held in her hooves as they were incinerated and engulfed in flame. She looked upon the flaming skulls and began to panic, fearing that she too may meet the same fate.
In a flailing motion the likenesses of the Cakes flew out of her grasp and loudly hit the floor, the charred bone shattering and cracking upon impact. Safe from the danger of being baptized in flame Pinkie took a breath and gathered herself, realizing what she had done. The last pieces of her hosts' identity were now splintered across the floor, with no hope of any burial besides their premature cremation.
Yet again she crawled over to the pieces, screaming:
"Why do you do this to them!? Have you no heart!? Do you not love all of your subjects!?
Celestia! I know you can hear me!"
More screams permeated the would-be silence of the room as she began pounding her hoof into the shards of the skull, hoping to somehow force it back into existence. The ground seemed to shake under the force of her self-destructive beating, her hoof becoming bruised while her bloodshot eyes closed and she shouted for answers.
"I know this is your fault! I know this is your fault! I know this is…" Her aching hoof pleaded for relief as she slowed down and collapsed on the floor.
"…my fault. It's all my fault. I did this to you."
Pinkie wrapped her forelegs around her hind legs and curled up, sobbing loudly into the air, partially hoping for somepony to hear her cries and relieve her pain by any means necessary. She wiped tears from her face to find dried blood all along her muzzle, the same feeling on her hoof and back. Wincing, she rolled back and forth, hoping to somehow relieve the pain; hoping death would greet her with a smile.
She felt herself progressively falling into more and more despair the more she contemplated her condition and trauma. The entire concept of the passage of time seemed to fade away, the pillars supporting her own universe slowly beginning to collapse, their bloody supports unable to maintain the weight of her own consciousness. Alas, she was not greeted with such relief of slipping away.
The pink pony brushed off the voice as another one of her nightmares.
"Pinkie? Where are you?"
Hoofsteps began to increase in volume as the glow of a unicorn horn entered her failing vision.
"Pinkie Pie!" A purple unicorn galloped over to the collapsed form of her normally cheerful friend. "Are you alright? What's wrong?"
A groan was released that slowly turned into a sentence. "I was… I was so close…"
All that could be seen through her closing eyes was a worried expression on the other mare's face.
"So close to what?"
Pinkie let out another scream. "Dying! Like I should have! Don't you get it! I shouldn't be here right now!"
"Pinkie! Don't say that, of course you should be here."
"I was supposed to be home on time! I wasn't supposed to stay at Fluttershy's house that long and I was supposed to take the cake out of the oven! It's all my fault this whole Celestia-damn place went up in flame!"
Twilight was taken aback, completely surprised at the normally cheerful pony's self-destructive accusations. She took a deep breath as she began to explain. "It wasn't your fault. It was no pony's fault, it was a freak pilot light malfunction."
"How can you be so sure? How can you be so sure that I didn't accidentally murder the very ponies that have been giving me a place to live for years? This is all so wrong! It should have been me, not them!" Pinkie began to violently bang the side of her head against the floor, deeply hoping for the embrace of death to take her, only to be stopped and embraced by the lavender unicorn who's own tears began to fall.
"Pinkie, I'm so sorry this had to happen. I know you were close to the Cakes, but you can't blame yourself for what happened to them." She tightened her grip on the pony.
It all became too much for Pinkie, her tear ducts yet again welling up and her pain and suffering flowing forth out of her eyes as she openly balled into the air, every bit of sorrow and turmoil spilling out for all to see. She dug herself into Twilight's warm, comforting body, taking solace in the fact that another pony was there for her.
Slowly her sobbing began to slow down and her breathing returned to as-normal-as-possible. Time and reality groggily returned to her, her physical form again taking shape and feeling coming into existence once more within her universe. Subconsciously, she decided it was time to go. She made an attempt at standing, only to fall to the floor with an audible thud.
"Pinkie! Are you alright?"
But a groan emanated from her lips as she twitched on the floor.
Wordlessly Twilight levitated the pink pony into the air, lifting her up the stairs and back into the skeleton of Sugarcube Corner. Light from Celestia's new day weighed itself upon Pinkie's still irritated vision. She was released from the unicorn's aura and her legs immediately buckled the instant they made contact with the ground. Silently she had still hoped that it that shock of pain would be enough to take her out of the equation, but to her dismay it wasn't.
Coming up the stairs, Twilight was now able to see Pinkie in full light, obtaining a full grasp of how dire her situation was. Her attention was immediately drawn to the pink pony's back. She held her breath, trying not to succumb to a creeping sickness as she stared at the infected and seeping wounds. Thoughts of what the pony's mental and physical torture must have been completely destroyed the unicorn's resolve. It all became too much as she took a couple of steps away and let loose the built up sickness and disgust onto the floor. Wiping her lips with her hoof, she returned to the injured pony and continued to examine her, careful to avoid looking at her back.
She gazed upon the face of the sprawled out pony in front of her to see the dried blood dotted across her muzzle and a large gash on the right side of her forehead. Her held breath was shakily released, the harsh reality of Pinkie's situation settling in her mind. It wasn't until her eyes shifted downwards that her last hope for the pink pony's health came crashing down.
The unicorn's pupils dilated as they focused themselves upon a clear break in the pink leg of the pony, an extremely loud gasp escaping her lips. A bit of bone could be clearly seen through the skin, although it could have been a fragment of one of the Cake's skulls. She ran her hoof along her cold leg, getting no response from it. The lavender mare's breathing slowly started to intensify.
"Oh my Celestia… Pinkie, we need to get you to a hospital now!"
"No," the mare replied in between raspy breathes. "No, just leave me, I'm getting what I deserve."
"Pinkie, no! We are getting you to a hospital!"
The earth pony mustered all of her strength and sat up. "I said no! I'm dead, okay? Like I should be. Goodbye, Twilight. Tell everypony… Tell everypony that they were my best friends, and I'll miss them."
Pinkie Pie's eyes slowly began to close, her last visions that of the unicorn looking her in the eye and shouting something at her. She couldn't tell what she was saying, but it didn't matter anymore. She felt herself beginning to fall and lose her grip on her consciousness, he thoughts fading away along with her feeling; she got what she wanted. The pain had faded away; the world was right.
The beep of a heart monitor pounded loudly against the ears of a wounded pony. With each consecutive "beep" her ear twitched and her breathing slowly returned. She opened her eyes and looked around the bleach colored room, taking note of her bearings. Her eyes hastily shifted from object to object, memorizing their placement, immediately feeling the IV in her foreleg. Taking a breath, she found the strength to speak.
"I can never win, can I?"