Vinyl Scratch reached out a hoof to turn off the showerhead, immediately cutting off the cascade of warm water that was spilling forth from the mechanism. She stood quite still, breathing through her mouth and inhaling the intoxicating scent of her wild berry shampoo as the frothy concoction swirled its way down the waiting drain. Opening her scarlet eyes, she watched as rivulets of water lazily flowed down her gleaming white coat, chasing the bubbles and droplets from her mane into the metal orifice.
As she stepped out of the ceramic bath, she grabbed her dark green, extra-fluffy towel in her mouth, tossing it onto her back in one swift motion as she began to rub herself dry. Tired hooves worked their way around her body, scrunching and expanding the towel in all the right places to reach every last bit of her ivory coat. She let out a sigh, letting her breath hang in the air with the hot steam fogging the entire bathroom. It had been a long, trying day, and the warm vapor served as an excellent relaxant to the weary mare.
Beginning work on drying her mane and tail, the unicorn rustled the towel around in erratic circles, fluffing the two-tone strands into haphazard patterns. She brought the towel to the small, circular mirror beside the shower, and rubbed away the fog to observe her handiwork. The end result was a poor imitation of her usual spiked, fluffy style, and she hastily worked to smooth her mane over a bit with her hooves.
Tired ruby eyes stared back at her from the reflective circular surface before her, and she gave a rueful smile to her glass-entrapped doppelganger. The aftereffects upon her body from the party two nights ago still had not left her, and the bags under her eyes and various bruises from alcohol-fueled misadventures served as the most obvious highlights of that fact. She bared her teeth at the mirror, happy to find that they were all still present despite her wild antics.
The somewhat-damp DJ turned, tossed her towel overtop the shower curtain rod, and flicked on the overhead heat lamp to begin drying the thoroughly-moistened room. Her shoulders still sore from all of the record-scratching she had done during recording that day, she began a slow walk to the kitchen in pursuit of a pick-me-up.
Her house was a small, closely-packed condo on the edge of Ponyville, each room only big enough to fit two or three ponies comfortably at a time. The kitchen was a bit larger than most rooms, with a breakfast bar taking up quite a bit of space, while a countertop, stove, and refrigerator stood connected along the opposite wall. Each of the fixtures had a pale blue finish, giving the room a calming feel, while the floor was covered in patterned white tile. She had always preferred that home her feel welcoming, and she had picked the colors to give the house a false sense of serenity.
Vinyl stood upon her hind legs, opening her freezer and peering inside, hoping against hope that some of her favorite treat remained. Fortunately, some divine force seemed to be on her side. With a small, almost-emptied tub of strawberry ice cream clutched in her hooves, she trotted over to the bar and sat down. Her horn surrounded by a vibrant red aura, she magically grabbed a spoon from a nearby drawer as she opened the lid of the container. Smirking at the pink ice cream before her, she began scooping spoonfuls directly from the carton, letting the frozen goodness melt upon her tongue between each bite.
Late night ice cream had become a bad habit of Vinyl's, but she was well aware that her daily exercise routine was more than enough to combat whatever weight gain she would suffer from indulging herself. The pressure of recording her first album of completely original music was beginning to take a serious toll upon her, causing undue stress and an unusual level of self-doubt in the generally carefree unicorn. The need to please her fans with her first solo album was the priority in her mind, and the thought of the record being a letdown gnawed at the edge of her sanity each and every day. She found herself in a bad mood most days, and kept to herself when not partying. It wasn't like her, and she wasn't happy about it.
Manually grabbing the spoon with a hoof, she shoveled a generous glob of the treat into her mouth before overturning the spoon and letting it rest against her tongue. She brought her forelegs down onto the table, crossing them and resting her chin atop them. Her signature violet glasses stared back at her from across the room on the countertop, and two small reflections of an exhausted Vinyl Scratch were present in the lenses. She stared at herself for a long time, her mind racing and her thoughts hitting upon everything and nothing at the same time. The only thing clear to her was that the work day, or work night as it so often became for her, was over, and she needed to just wind down and relax before she went insane.
The sudden sound of her doorbell caused her introspection to cease as she gasped in surprise, dropping the spoon to the dark granite tabletop as she quickly raised her head. She was unsure if the noise was real or she was hallucinating from lack of sleep, so she stared at the door for a while before hearing a few knocks of a hoof against the wooden portal. Vinyl rose from her chair, her cobalt and azure tail swishing behind her in an expression of her curiosity as she approached the door. Though many ponies would guess she would still be awake at the current hour, very few would think to visit so far into Luna's night.
As the mare cracked the door open to receive her guest, she couldn't help but give a full, true smile upon seeing who awaited her. An exuberant Pinkie Pie stood bouncing in place upon her doormat, deep magenta mane and tail bobbing as she rose and fell.
"Heya Scratchie! Mind if I come in?"
'Scratchie' couldn't help but roll her eyes at the pink pony's chosen nickname for her. She had always found it to be a little childish for her own tastes, but didn't have the heart to upset her longtime friend, and the word had eventually grown on her. "Of course not, feel free!" She blinked as she stepped aside to admit her friend, and by the time her eyes reopened, Pinkie was gone. Completely unfazed, she shut the door and turned, fully expecting the carnation force of chaos to inexplicably be inside her house already.
Pinkie Pie did not disappoint, as Scratch found her seated in the chair she had just arisen from, hungrily eyeing the abandoned ice cream.
"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH, STRAWBERRY! CAN I HAVE SOME PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE?" her friend pleaded, voice steadily rising in pitch until it reached a level that could shatter glass.
Vinyl laughed a bit at her friend's antics before replying. "Of course you can. Want me to feed it to you, babe?" she asked suggestively. Memories of their first 'experiment' as the DJ had coined it rushed over her like a warm wave, making her lips and the base of her tail tingle in anticipation of Pinkie's answer.
"Oh, no, that's ok. I'm not here for that tonight. At least I don't think I am." Pinkie put a hoof to her chin, raising an eyebrow. "Am I? Hmmmm… " She rose from her seat briefly, standing on the tile floor and waiting for some unknown signal to take hold of her.
Vinyl merely watched with amusement, unsure of what to expect, but knowing not to question whatever may or may not happen. After several seconds of standing completely still, Pinkie giggled, did a cartwheel, and landed sitting back in her seat while bringing a spoonful of ice cream to her mouth. "Nope! My eyelids don't feel shifty, so I don't need any naughtiness tonight!" She closed her eyes, letting out a long noise of contentment as she chewed happily on the ice cream.
Vinyl did her best not to flinch at the sight of her friend chewing ice cream, and eventually shuddered to clear the thoughts of the sensation of the freezing dessert upon her teeth from her mind. She walked over to the counter, stood upon her hind legs, and leaned back against the surface, her forelegs bent back to support her as she stood. Letting out a slightly disappointed groan at her friend-with-benefits' lack of libido, Vinyl decided to speed things along a bit before her mood worsened. "So, Pinks, what does bring you to my humble abode tonight?"
Pinkie tilted her head in confusion, eyes wide and spoon hanging from her nose. She considered her friend, rotating her neck in circles, causing the spoon to spin around while somehow remaining attached to her face. As Pinkie noticed what she was doing, she began to giggle, spinning the spoon faster and faster as her giggles turned into a series of snorts and raucous laughter. The spoon eventually flew off of her face and clattered across the tile as she fell to the ground shaking with mirth, banging her hooves on the floor and rolling around. Suddenly, the laughter stopped, and she jumped up, brought her hooves together and then pulled them apart, producing another spoon from places unknown, and sat back down, beginning to dig in to the ice cream once again. Realizing her friend was still waiting, she looked up from the food with her mouth half full. "Uh… what was the question again?"
Vinyl, being completely used to this sort of thing, didn't miss a beat. "Not that I mind your company or anything, but why are you here so late tonight?" She ran a hoof through her mane, trying to prevent her mild frustration from showing.
"Oh! Well, I know I usually drop by for some naughty fun or to invite you to a party, but I kinda wanna maybe sorta really REALLY wanna just talk to you. I think I need some advice."
For the first time that night, Pinkie managed to genuinely surprise the pearl-coated unicorn. Vinyl had to blink several times before she was able to register what had just been said. "You… need advice? You mean this is a serious visit? Holy shit, Pinks, did somepony die or something?"
"Nooooooo, nothing like that." Pinkie let out a loaded sigh, stopping her ice cream binge, content to just swirl the spoon in the soupy leftovers at the bottom of the tub. "I dunno how to put this, but… huh. Have you ever… felt like you weren't yourself? Like you were upside down some days?" she asked, completely inverting her head upon her neck for emphasis as she looked at Vinyl.
Vinyl gave the question some thought, trying to piece together what Pinkie might really be asking. "Well, everyone has off-days, but I get the feeling that's not what you mean."
"Nah, not really." Her neck continued its rotation, setting her head right-side-up as it completed a full circle. She hopped off the chair, deciding instead to sit on the kitchen floor upon her haunches. Pinkie drew a long breath before beginning her explanation. "Well, the other day, I was hanging out with a bunch of my friends for Gummy's birthday party, and it looked like everypony was having fun, so I invited them to an after-birthday party the next day, and everypony started avoiding me and I got all paranoid that they didn't like me anymore and I followed them and Rainbow Dash was like 'STOP FOLLOWING ME' and I was like 'NO' and she was like 'YES' and I was like 'NO' and then she managed to get away and then Applejack and I had a neck-stretching contest and then my friends sucked at making construction noises and then I went home and I got all sad and I turned into Pinkamena."
Though her lack of sleep probably didn't help matters, Vinyl was fairly certain that she would still have had difficulty trying to figure out exactly what Pinkie was rambling on about with a full night's rest. Deciding that the scattered and unfocused details probably weren't the most important part of the story, she instead focused on the last bit of what was said. "You… turned into Pinkamena? Isn't that your real name?"
"No, silly! Pinkie Pie is my real name, Pinkamena Diane Pie is my REAL name!" she said, eyes rolling in opposite directions before returning to their usual places.
Vinyl knew that this conversation had 'long night' written all over it. "I… don't really follow, but continue. So… you're saying you… turned into yourself?"
"Well, kinda I guess maybe. I'm the worst explainorator ever." Pinkie stomped her hooves in frustration, making a disjointed beat upon the ceramic tile. "There's Pinkie Pie, and there's Pinkamena. I'm not Pinkamena, but she's me. Only when I stop being a party-loving silly-filly, though."
Vinyl was completely at a loss by this point, and was unsure she would be able to help her friend with the strange problem she seemed to be having. The unicorn had a feeling that she would need a hard drink after this conversation drew to a close. "Alright, uh… what exactly happens when you 'become Pinkamena'?"
"Well, my mane deflates, my coat gets a little darker, and I become a sad, judgmental, stupid, suspicious, whiny-hooves. And I start talking to inanimate objects. And my eyes drift apart a bit sometimes."
Vinyl let herself drop to all fours, wondering whether she should ask the question on the tip of her tongue, somewhere between dreading the answer and being interested to see the outcome. Deciding that her night couldn't possibly get any worse, she decided to jump off the deep end, horn-first. "Can you… can you turn into her on command?"
Pinkie blinked. "You know, I've never actually tried before. Hold on." She raised her hoof, and an explosion of confetti shot out from the tip of her foreleg as a party hat warped into existence. She put the item upon her head, and began walking over to Vinyl's toaster, took it out of the wall, and put it in the seat at the bar. Satisfied with her setup, she stood staring at the appliance, and began to shake violently with effort, rising slowly off the floor as she did so.
Her friend stared on with a look of shock upon her face, unsure if she should interfere with Pinkie's attempts. Vinyl eventually settled upon the notion of letting Pinkie do… whatever it was that she was doing, and backed up to stand beside the refrigerator to give her friend space.
Without warning, Pinkie's mane deflated, letting out a depressing, strained noise. She fell to the ground in a zig-zagging pattern, floating back and forth in the air until her stomach touched the floor. The party pony slowly dragged her hooves under herself until she was standing, and gave her friend a depressed look.
"Did it… work? Are you… yourself but not yourself?"
Pinkie's mane instantly inflated again, accompanied by the sound of an unseen jazz trumpet. She once again flew up into the air, a winning smile back upon her face. "Nope! Looks like I can't force it after all! I got my mane to go down, but I couldn't hear your toaster no matter how hard I tried!" She let out a small giggle, bouncing in place a few times before circling around and sitting back down.
"Uh…huh. Well, that's good, I guess." Vinyl walked closer to her smiling friend, slightly unnerved by the gleam of Pinkie's sparkling white teeth. "So… how can I help you? I still don't really understand, and it seems like it might have been a one-time thing, I guess?" Vinyl put a hoof on Pinkie's shoulder in a reassuring gesture, unsure of whether her friend was happy or upset by her revelation.
"But it's not a one-time thing, Scratchie, it's been happening more and more lately!" Pinkie's voice was strained, and she looked like she was on the verge of a breakdown. The sudden mood swing caught Vinyl by surprise, and she backed up again. "I keep doubting my friends, and when I do, Pinkamena comes out! I know it isn't normal, and I know you don't believe me, but I don't know what to do about it, and if anyone in Ponyville knows me well, it's you!"
"Hey, hey, hey. I never said I didn't believe you." She shifted her weight uncomfortably upon her legs, beginning to get slightly irritated. "I just said I didn't understand. Why do you keep doubting your friends, anyway?"
That particular question had not crossed Pinkie's mind, and she twitched her tail a bit while thinking about it. "I dunno… I guess I'm just worried that… they're getting tired of me. That my personality is wearing on them, that they don't really understand all of the weird things I do, and that they'll distance themselves from me because of it." Pinkie looked away, pouting as she continued. "Especially Rainbow Dash. She saw Pinkamena, and she had no idea what to do, and she always knows what to do! What am I gonna to do if the others see me turn into her… me? Her. Me-her! They wouldn't be able to handle me being a big fat stupid judgey-socks!"
Vinyl knew Rainbow Dash quite well, and found an angle that she could use to try to cheer up her confused friend. "Well, Dash is still your friend, right? Even after… meeting Pinkamena?"
"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah, but her element is loyalty, and even she got all weirded out!" she stomped her front hooves for emphasis before drawing a giant gasp as her eyes began to water slightly. "What if… what if she's just sticking around to be nice? What if she really thinks I'm crazy? Not like super-fun-slinky-Pinkie crazy, like REALLY crazy!" she said, waving her front hooves wildly before returning them to the floor. Pinkie put on a dejected look, puffing out her lower lip and giving Vinyl her best pout. "Do you think I'm crazy?"
As much as Vinyl wanted to reply with 'YES, PINKIE, I DO THINK YOU ARE SLIGHTLY INSANE', she controlled her speech carefully, deciding instead to voice how she really felt about the situation.
"Well, no. I don't think you're like… go-on-a-random-pony-bucking-spree crazy, you just live differently than most ponies. You've always been a bit of an oddball, but I don't really think there's anything wrong with that. Listen, Pinks." She walked over to the refrigerator, removing a bottle of water and taking a swig before continuing. "Everyone does get a little weird once in a while, and they stop acting like themselves for a bit, but your true friends will stick by you even through your little… episodes. If they haven't left you for being yourself yet, I'm sure they won't anytime soon."
Pinkie stopped her pouting, looking a little bit happier about the situation, but niggling doubts still clung to her mind. "But… but what about Pinkamena? Even if they do accept her, what if I can't? I can't control her, and I don't really know what she is! What if I AM losing it?"
Vinyl sighed, setting down her water upon the counter. "You aren't losing it. At least, not any more than you were before. From what you've told me, and I'll admit I still don't get it, your little Pinkamena problem isn't that strange. It's just your way of dealing with being in a bad mood, with a little Pinkie twist. As long as you aren't getting the urge to burn down Ponyville or anything, I'd just say accept Pinkamena as a part of yourself, and do your best to deal with it whenever it surfaces."
"Well, I do like fire. A lot. Pinkamena likes it more…" she said, beginning an evil cackle that began rising into a crescendo of uncontrolled laughter. Vinyl's face fell, her eyes shifting back and forth as she slowly backed away from her apparently insane friend. Pinkie dropped the act, turning her cackle into a fit of giggles. "Silly filly! I'm kidding!"
The DJ let out a breath that she didn't know she was holding. She internally decided that she really, really needed to get some sleep, and that her frazzled nerves were causing her to be more cautious and on edge than usual. "Well, babe… sorry I couldn't really be of more help, but do you feel a little better, at least?"
The party pony nodded vigorously, eyes closed and smiling as she bounced a little in place. "Yep! Even if I don't totally understand myself, talking to you helped a bit. I should probably get going now, though. You seem kinda tired, everything alright, Scratchie?"
She briefly considered telling her friend of her troubles, of how she was plagued by her own paranoia, of how she hadn't felt like herself in days. How she would… briefly feel like another pony entirely sometimes, how it would eventually blow over, and how her friends would stick with her despite the mood shift. The obvious suddenly hit her, and Vinyl felt a little bit more connected to her friend than she had at the beginning of the night. Her mood lifted slightly, feeding off of her friend's energy. "Yeah, I'm good. I think I understand what you meant now. Just don't let it eat at you, and you'll be fine. And if Pinkamena does visit sometime soon, tell her I said 'hey', and that she has a friend who understands her perfectly."
Ice blue eyes lit up, and the balloons on Pinkie's Cutie Mark seemed to get a little bit brighter as she smiled back at Vinyl. "Good! And I will!" An unvoiced understanding between the two ponies took place, and Pinkie started to feel a little better about her situation. For all of her craziness, she wasn't stupid, and the realization Vinyl was right gave her a little push in the right direction. Maybe Pinkamena was just Pinkie, and she had given a name to her 'other' self to run from the times when she didn't feel quite right. Pinkie hopped up and swam through the air toward the door, landing in front of it. She pointed a hoof at the wood, and it flew back, giving her access to the outside world. "Well, bye! Maybe I'll come by soon and we can have some fun!"
The jubilant mare stepped outside, her party hat falling off of her head and onto the floor as it collided with the door frame. The door closed, leaving Vinyl alone with her thoughts once again. She ran a hoof through her mane, giving a half smile. She really, really needed to get some rest, especially after that. She trotted up the staircase with a little bounce in her step, the aching in her shoulders having faded a bit. Though she wasn't entirely happy with the way that she had acted around her friend, she had never expected to help herself at the same time. Just a little of her stress faded, and she felt a bit better about the coming day.
She entered her bedroom, pulled back her covers, and flopped down upon her bed, closing her eyes. Her wild mane splayed out across the mattress, and she spread herself out, smelling the clean sheets and allowing herself a final sigh. Pinkie and Vinyl had both started the night in a state of worry, and both ponies were unsure how to fix their problems alone. Vinyl mused over the fact that all they seemed to need to turn their days around was a close friend and a quick talk. Maybe things weren't so bad after all.
Vinyl rolled over onto her side, nuzzling her blankets as she did so. Despite her previous attitude, she was looking forward to what the next day would bring. Maybe her problems weren't entirely fixed, but maybe they didn't need to be. Maybe Pinkie's weren't either, but maybe she was alright with that. Maybe the two were more alike that Vinyl had previously realized. And with that thought, she fell into a peaceful sleep, feeling just a little bit better than she had before.
Author's Note: And suddenly, pointless drabble. I wrote this for a few reasons, none of which are really all that important, but whatever. The big reason is that I wanted to experiment with writing styles, and I decided to try to limit myself for a one-shot to see how it went. I entered this story with the following rules:
-No characters allowed to think in italics
-No scene-transitions that break up the story or shift viewpoints
-Try to show Pinkie Pie being somewhat serious while remaining herself
-Torture Vinyl a bit, because it's fun
-Don't write an obnoxiously long author's note
I already know that last one is a lost cause, but the other restrictions and goals were pretty interesting to work around. No idea if I met the goal of writing Pinkie well, but I needed to try and see how it went before I include her in anything serious. As a side note, the majority of this was written at 2am after two consecutive horrible days at work, and the story kinda spiraled off into a "things aren't always as bad as they seem, and you aren't alone in being in a bad mood" sorta thing, which was not the original intent. Not sure how I feel about it, but there you go.
This story MIGHT tie in to a future chapter story I have planned for a long, long time in the future. Right now, The Endless Sky is my main focus, but these strange one-shots will definitely keep coming. As for TES, it should update either this weekend or early next week, as usual. Who knows, though. Gah. I'll stop rambling now, so yeah. Strange story, take it or leave it, I don't have any real explanation, and Pinkie Pie is crazy. Ponies.