The below chapter is a "WIP" draft that has been untouched since 2014. Since it has been 4 years, and due to the unlikeliness that this story will ever be completed (I suck balls), I figured I'd just release this unfinished chapter. Who knows, someone might get still get a kick out of it. Peace.
After gradually losing himself for over a month, Dee found out that the two most critical acts of survival were actually ending him: Eating and Sleeping. In feeble attempts to prevent further change, our protagonist both starved and sleep deprived himself - well, herself - as long as possible until, eventually, the point of no return. No longer able to walk, Dee still decided he'd rather transform on his own terms than submit to sleep. At least, that was until Twilight stepped in. After being forced into a slumber and being rudely awakened in a new body, it's not long before Dee finds himself in Hospital where trained 'professionals' are there to keep an eye on him. With his world shattered and emotions fluctuating, what will become of our protagonist now? (Spoiler: Probably not much)
Did she still feel that way? Her initial expression doesn't convey any disgust, but in all honesty it was hard to gauge what her feelings were on the matter as she analyzed you through a large, suspicion-filled, magenta-tinted eye.
"That's so..." she whispers more to herself than to anyone else. You're ready for the bombshell.
At once, Dash zips off her chair and launches over to you taking in every new detail as she hovers over-head.
"Seriously! Look at her - er, I mean him! It's like this was meant to be! Aww man, this is so cool. Does it hurt? Do you recognize me? I'm R-A-I-N-B-O-W D-A-S-H, rememeber?" She boops your nose with her hoof and ruffles your mane.
"Hey!" you protest, long ginger strands obscuring your vision.
"You even have a tail and everything! This is sooo cool! I mean, don't get me wrong, you were cool before. Kinda. But now?" As she swoops behind you blood flushes to your face, though you're not entirely sure why.
"If only you'd been a Pegasus! Finally I'd have had a proper flying buddy! No offense to Fluttershy or anything, but sometimes a girl just needs someone else in life who can keep up the pace! Heh, though imagine if you WERE a Pegasus! I'd totally teach you how to fly, Ah man, that would have been a lotta fun. Looks like you're grounded as an earth pony though. Tough luck, kid."
On the other side of the room, AJ lets out a distinct cough.
AJ remained tranquil, in spite of all the eyes focused on her. Was her face being purposely obscured by the rim of her hat? Or was that just due to the angle she was slouching at? In your peripheral vision Rarity casts a nervous glance between Applejack and you. A sudden thick tension brews in the sterile hospital air, although you don't immediately understand why.
The cogs in your brain mesh furiously; the last time you'd seen Applejack was... Ah. Right. Of course. Crazed, panicked, irrational from shock, you hadn't been the most cooperative. What had you done again? Dull memories of you biting your own skin surface, followed by attempts at ripping your mane out. Well, AJ had been both quick and brave enough to pin you down to prevent further damage, and yet, you'd progressively escalated the situation until finally a sturdy hoof knocked some sense into you.
You continue to stare at the blonde-haired, apple-marked pony as the silence buzzed louder. Now that you'd had some time to process and reflect, you couldn't fathom why you'd flipped out like you had back at the Boutique. Was it a fight or flight response? Almost definitely. Did it justify attacking AJ? Hurting the one pony who'd been a solid friend throughout your inconceivable time in Equestria? No. Sure, you'd had your differences, but you'd always held respect for AJ ever since she dragged your sorry ass out of the Everfree forest.
Further recollection of your previous actions makes your chest constrict; your face slowly flushing with shame. As if sensing the guilt the bruise below your eye prickles, further serving as a reminder of your irrational actions. Why were you such an emotional time bomb these days? The outburst to Twilight just the night before was a prime example.
The tense moment was obviously getting to Rarity as her front teeth endlessly caressed her bottom lip. Rainbow Dash, who'd been hovering awkwardly in midair, remained uncharacteristically quiet.
"It's good to see you, Applejack."
And before anyone could intervene, you roll towards AJ and embrace her in a lame, heavy-hooved hug. There's no immediate response; Rarity and Rainbow Dash apparently rooted to the spot holding onto their breath. You continue.
"As much as it pains me to say it, I guess I won't be needing those awesome cowboy boots anymore."
Applejack lifts her head slightly revealing a large, blood-shot eye.
"N-nah, 'guess ya won't."
"Well, that's fine, I suppose. After all, I'm an Earth pony now. My feet, or eh, hooves, should be strong enough without them. I could always try re-purpose the boots into plant pots or something. Earth ponies are good farmers, right?" you smile, trying to pierce a hole in the crushing atmosphere.
"I'm s-" AJ tries to apologize as she views your injured face, but you're too quick for her.
"It's okay. Really. Just, promise me something: Never fight me 1-on-1, IRL."
The mutual confusion on each pony's face at that statement somehow made you giggle. At once, the tension you'd felt instantly lifted from your chest. It felt amazing. Unfortunately, it didn't last long as a vile thought slithered in your mind:
"You guys... haven't spoken Twilight recently, have you?"
A deep dread ensnares your lungs, like a giant clamped fist had squeezed out all the air. If Twilight had shared any of the knowledge you'd recklessly parted with last night...
"No, we haven't. Not seen her since you were admitted here, dear," Rarity replies while stifling a yawn, "We did invite her to come here today but she said she had plans, or to quote, 'something to investigate'."
Relief. This was good news. Or was it? What if she was cooking up some scheme to discredit you right now? No, you have to be positive - as long as your current company were unaware of your life as an pony-obsessed internet fiend, all was dandy for now.
For the next hour AJ, RD and Rarity make polite small talk. You're pretty sure they're purposely avoiding awkward topics about your new form, for which you're thankful. Rarity, who'd insisted you let her take a look at your mane, brushed it quietly as you relayed your woeful waiting lobby experience and the resulting, agonizing physiotherapy session. You were on the cusp of mentioning the mild excitement of seeing a celebrity, but instead decided to avoid any mention of either White Wax or DJ PON-3. You didn't want to involve anyone in your crazy theories just yet, 'least not until you had solid proof.
Gradually, the topic of conversation goes full-circle, returning to the night of your transformation.
"So... you're saying Twilight induced me into a sleep that lasted like 3 days? How does that even work?" you probe baffled by this information. "More importantly, why did you let her do it?"
Rarity, who was still rearranging your mane speaks up, "Well... you know Twilight, Dee. She has a spell for pretty much any occasion. And what with your... over-zealous reaction, she figured it'd be safest to have you... subdued, instead of continuing to thrash around hurting yourself or indeed others. I don't think 3 days was her intention, though. That's partially why we brought you here."
"I can't say I blame Twi, I mean, seems like it was the most sensible solution." Rainbow Dash chimes in with a shrug.
You frown. Was it really just a 'sleep' spell? You definitely recall having some surreal dreams, but the details of them had long since evaporated from your mind.
"How are you holding up emotionally, Dee?" Rarity inquires, her voice one of concern. "Pull says you've been somewhat uncooperative with the nurses, refusing to eat meals, etc etc. Is that true? Ah, dear, don't move! Your mane!"
Rarity quickly stabilizes your head with her hooves as you'd made to turn around and face her. You scowl.
"Pull? You mean Hooflong? Don't believe a word that guy says. I've not been uncooperative, at least, I've not intentionally been uncooperative. It's not like I don't want to eat, it's just..." you start, wondering how best to explain it.
"Oh cut her a break Rarity, the food here IS pretty awful. I had more than my fair share when I nicked my wing and had to stay overnight. Remember?" RD spoke up while casually flapping overhead.
"Now that you mention it, I do remember watching that -disgusting- incident." Rarity agrees, a shiver crawling from her neck to tail.
"And besides..." you continue ignoring the tangent "I don't even know HOW to eat. I'm not educated in pony eating etiquette, I literally know nothing about anything anymore."
"Is that why yer tail's constantly twitching?" AJ asks, nodding her head towards a bouncing ball of ginger. Glancing at your side, your tail is indeed playfully swishing around without any conscious thought.
"No... My tail just seems to have a mind of its own. I can move it if I really focus, but for the most part it just does what it wants. Is that weird? Should I be to control of it?"
"Well, yeah, it is your tail after all" RD replies dismissively giving a few shakes of her own, "See?"
"It'll come in time dear, you really have got a lot to catch up on. How to feed yourself, how to clothe yourself, how to brush your mane, how to apply makeup-"
"Woah, woah, hold on - I'm not wearing make up!" you object instantly.
"Oh please, Dee. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. You'll need to be mentored in all these things, it is why you chose me, is it not?"
An instant wave of retorts and protests flood your brain, but you let them pool in your mouth before swallow them back. Rarity is just trying to help. These ponies are your friends, and you'll likely need all the help you can get. Perhaps for once you can just control your emotions, and act thankful. This was now your life.
"Something the matter?" Rarity asks, her expression uneasy from the sudden pause.
"I'm frazzled" you eventually sigh, trying to flush the inevitability of it all from your mind. "Today has been so long. Everything is so different. I'm scared. I'm even more scared that I've already adjusted to the high-pitched squeak that is apparently my voice. I can't even begin to describe how I feel. I feel lost, like someone just deleted my save. I have to restart."
"Your 'save'?" AJ repeats with a puzzled look.
"Uh, think of it like a... diary. My dairy. Pages of my life have been torn out; they've never 'happened'. Now I need to rewrite the diary. As a pony." You blink, "Thinking of the months ahead honestly terrifies me. I'll need to relearn everything, adapt to my new shape, conform to culture... but..." A lump forms in your throat, "I don't WANT to relearn, conform or adapt. I just want to be me. I want to go home. It feels like I've had my life taken from me, as if I've suddenly developed a severe disability. I just..."
Rarity, sensing the dangerous mood swing in progress, places a reassuring hoof on your arm.
"Let us take it a day at a time, dear. It'll certainly be a whole new experience, but it doesn't need to be scary. Remember: we'll always be here for you. No one is expecting anything of you. We're all happy to wait patiently by your side, encouraging you when you need us, helping you whenever you require us."
This display of generosity makes your heart swell.
"...Even when I need to go pee?" you ask tentatively.
It was remarkable to watch a pure-white coat go even whiter. RD's laughter echoed through the ward.
There's an abrupt knock on the door, shortly followed by the nurse you recognized as Penny Feather marching in with a trolley.
"Lunch." she states blankly, slapping a fresh tray on the foot of your bed. "I'd also advise keeping this visit short, Doctor Hooflong's orders were that this patent have rest, so we'd be grateful if you'd say your good-byes soon."
"Well that was subtle." RD commented as the door closed.
"She's probably right though, Rainbow. We really should let our widdle patient have some space to rest," Rarity beams "I sincerely hope you make a speedy recovery Dee, the Boutique currently feels so empty."
Rarity's sentiment resonates with you - were you actually missed? Could these ponies be here, not out of sympathy, but because they genuinely like you?
"I hope I have a speedy recovery too, I can't stand this place. Oh, and hey... thanks for the visit. It's really improved my mood." you smile, allowing each pony to awkwardly hug you on their way out. AJ's hug lasts the longest, and only breaks when RD taps her lightly on the shoulder.
"A'ght, a'ght, I'm movin'. Take care of yourself now, won't ya?"
You nod, wheeling yourself to the door to see them all off.
"I promise I'll rest as soon as the door closes" you reassure them while stealing a glance at the clock. 2:15pm. You had 15 minutes before the charity event started.
With the familiar 'click' of the shutting door acting as a trigger, you spin around to view the meal the nurse left for you. It's much the same as last time, just a white gelatinous glob on a plate accompanied by a tiny cup of water. Feeling famished, you don't have any hesitation in slurping up the pitiful meal in one lick. Drinking was harder, but you discover that if you bit the cup's rim and gently tilted your head back you could aptly water yourself.
2:20pm. Tension rises in your gut - what's your next move? Should you go to the charity event before it officially begins? Or after? Maybe during? You hoof collides painfully with your temple as you fail to scratch your head. Okay, well judging from the warm reception DJ PON-3 received in the lobby it was pretty clear this event was going be well attended, so going during wasn't any use. Also, surely after the event ponies would try to get autographs? That strikes off going during or after.
You make a decision: now's the time. Taking a deep breath, which felt much shallower than usual, you heave open the door and start the intimidating excursion through hospital wards. While there weren't technically any restrictions or curfews enforced on you, you can't help feeling that you we're out of place. Eventually shrugging it off, you become more preoccupied with remembering where the hell this event was. You'd not explored the hospital enough to have a rough idea of the floor plan, so the best bet was to keep a look out for any fliers or signs as you continued squeaking your way up the 3rd corridor.
Just as you arrive at another set of swinging doors something in your peripheral vision moves. You start, spinning round to come face-to-face with another wheelchair-bound pony. You pause, returning her startled gaze. There's a moment of silence as you both stare each other down - what was this mare's problem? When it became clear she wasn't going to speak first you decide that you might as well use this situation to your advantage, regardless of how uncomfortable they looked.
"Uh, excuse me, do you know where...?" To your horror the other pony's mouth opened to speak at the exact same time. The sudden awkwardness of the situation made your neck to prickle painfully. Wait. The penny dropped: your were staring at your OWN damn reflection, not another mare. You were mindlessly gazing into a mirror situated near a bend in the corridor, probably to allow nurses to see in-coming stretchers and trolleys. This sickening realization causes a hollow ring in your ears.
She was you.
Shuffling closer for a better look, once again you take in details of your impossible frame.
How the hell were you ever going to get used to this? Staring at a reflection that didn't cognate as yours was just way too surreal an experience. With little effort you could fool your brain into thinking you were watching a random pony though a tiny window. The mare tilts her head, her large eyelashes accenting her round eyes. God, she was so cute, and yet... this was you. She was literally you. Her half-lidded eyes gradually grew wider the longer you basked in awe of her. Her - no, YOUR nose and mouth were dainty, your ears standing fluffed and tall through the neat bundle that was your hair. Every detail was just like that of a real pony, down to the alarming large eyes and the slightest hint of freckles. It was sickening, almost like you were intruding in someone else's body. What if this poor, tired-looking mare sitting before you in a wheelchair actually had a life or family until you'd body-snatched them via some strange spell.
You remain mesmerized by your own reflection for a few minutes until finally some hurried clops in the corridor beyond snap you back to reality. Well, this reality at least. Tearing your eyes away from hers, you quickly scoot towards the source of noise, desperate to the point of actually asking someone where this disco event was taking place. Flustered, you shove the door open without thinking about what you're doing. THUD.
"Oh wow, ow!" comes a pained yelp from behind the door.
"Ah crap! S-sorry, I'm really sorry about-" you babble, stopping when you see who emerges from behind the door frame rubbing their forehead.
"Oh hey, it's you!" the white pony beams, the ghost of a scowl on his face instantly rearranging to display dazzling teeth.
"Uh... uh, uh..." You lock up, mouth hanging open. You certainly hadn't anticipated meeting your *quarry like this.
"Oh, you are the same fan from earlier right? Am I confusing you with someone else?" White Wax frowns, his brow sinking. "No, it's definitely you, I recognize your cutiemark. You coming to FARTS?"
"W-what?" you stammer, confused at his question. "Ah, you mean Fillies Against Radioactive Treatment Sessions?"
"The very same! It's a good cause, I mean do you know what radiation does to the young and developing? We should stick to using magic for our diagnoses, even if it's slower and relies solely on unicorns - at least we know it's safe." Unsure how to respond, you just continue looking blankly up at his blue gaze.
"We're just finishing setup now, the event takes place just down the corridor there" he nods his head to your right. "Are you thinking of coming along? I mean, can you? With a wheelchair and all..."
He breaks off looking awkward as you consider his question. The only reason you'd wanted to go in the first place was to potentially meet White Wax. Now that you had him here, there was no real point.
"Yeah I'm going." you blurt out before you mind processes anything. "I don't need to dance to have fun, right?"
"Heh, that's awesome! I love your enthusiasm. Well, I gotta ru-" he begins, but you cut him off.
"No! I need to speak to you. At least, can you lead me there?" you garble, your cool demising with each word.
Surprised by your request, White Wax's eyebrow raises. "Well, yeah, I can if you want - anything for a fan. We'll need to hurry though, I need to finish setup or Ms. Scratch will be mad. Can you uh, wheel yourself? Or do you want me too..." his ears droop as his tone once again grows awkward.
"I can push myself." you asset, chair squeaking into action. "Also, why do you call her Ms. Scratch? Why not just Vinyl or DJ PON-3?"
White Wax, who was striding by your side, thinks before delivering his answer.
"Respect, ultimately. Perhaps politeness. She tells me not do, but I can't help it."
"Politeness? But don't you guys tour together and stuff?"
"Well, yeah, it's kind of hard to explain our relationship. I'm nowhere near as talented as her, and yet she insists on keeping me around. Touring with her is all I've ever known."
All he's ever known? Does that mean there's a large gap in his memory?
"Speaking of names, what's yours? I didn't catch it earlier" he apologizes.
"It'sDee" you stammer automatically, caught off-guard.
"Misty?" he repeats, uncertain
"Just Dee." you respond coolly as you go through a set of doors.
"Judy?" he returns, looking slightly confused
"Has all that loud music damaged your ears? It's just Dee." you sigh.
"Ooh, Rusty? That makes sense, matches that fine rustic orange of your coat." he nods thoughtfully.
You don't bother pressuring the matter, instead focusing on sign ahead.
"That the place?" you ask, squinting to read.
"Ah yeah, we're almost there. Say, if you don't mind me asking, is your cutiemark related to rust at all? I'd love some context to better understand my own-"
"No." you say flatly as you start to slow your wheelchair down. "Do you really not know what that large 10M on your hip means?"
White Wax's expression falls as he cranes his neck to look at it.
"Promise not to tell anyone? But no, I don't. I've wondered for so long. At first I thought it was related to distance, you know like miles? Nope. Next I thought perhaps it means 10 minutes? But again, that doesn't really make sense with no context."
"Well, a unit of measure is one logical conclusion" you agree, "as it definitely is measuring something. Or rather, counting."
"Counting?" White Wax responds, his intrigue evident.
"Yeah, counting. This 20 here?" you gesture to your side with a free hoof, "Million. 20 million. Does... that make any sense to you without context?"
White Wax stops abruptly outside a set of doors as if his leg locked in place. He doesn't say anything.
"Did that ring a bell?" you question, hope rising in your chest.
Slowly, White Wax turns around. His striking blue eyes looked deadly serious.
"...For a split second, I felt I understood perfectly. I felt it made sense. Millions... millions of something. Could it be-"
Before he gets a chance to finish the epiphany, the doors beside White Wax open up and he receives another smack in the face. This time there's no apologies as White Wax realises who it is.
"M-Ms. Scratch?" he stammers timidly.
"Yo. You're late." she responds, her expression masked by a large set of shades.
"Ah, uh yes well, I was uh..." he glances nervously at you.
"It's cool. Get to it - those fillies are waiting."
Not needing told twice, White Wax zooms into the room that looked like another waiting lounge. Guessing that's where the event was, you make to follow him but Vinyl closes the door to prevent you getting through.
"Uhm, I'm intending on going to this event..." you begin.
"I know what you are." comes Vinyl's sullen tone, her hoof loosely pointing in the direction of your side. You pinpoint the area of interest - your cutiemark. You remain silent.
"Please, stay away from Max."
"Max?" you echo
"Yeah. Look, I'm sorry for your situation, I really am. But I can't have anyone dredging up his past."
"Wait, what do you-" you start, but she's already turned around to exit through the door.
"Wait!" you yell, trying to squeak your chair closer. Quick to act, Vinyl turns round and suspends the chair with magic rendering you completely immobile.
"If I were you, I'd stick with my mentor." she states flately.
And with those final words the door closes, casting a shadow over both figure and soul.