The Phantom of Octavia
PonySamsa Mar 5th, 2017 (edited) 285 Never
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- The hiss of a spray can was the only sound in the dusty theater. The seats had been covered up years ago, with the sheets on top covered in a thick layer of dust. Several of them were exposed, having had the sheet removed sometime during the years of disuse for one reason or another. Ponies had come to look, to think about buying it in order to put it back in working condition, but none had taken the plunge, leaving it to slowly decay.
- Color Splash had heard about the place, and the many rumors as to why it remained closed, but seeing that it was in one of the richest neighborhoods in Manehatten had been the deciding factor. She needed to leave her mark, and this was the best place to do it. The streets of this part of town remained too busy and far too well patrolled by police ponies to make it safe to finish her work before getting caught, and leaving her work unfinished was completely unacceptable. So she’d taken it as a challenge, and here she was, starting work on her mural in the early hours of the morning.
- She flipped her hood back, exposing her horn better and giving her an unobstructed view of the wall of the theater she was going to cover. Her sea green mane shimmered in the light cast by her horn, the silver glow of her magic casting shadows that shivered and swayed in the otherwise pitch-black theater. She pulled back from the beginnings of her mural, digging through the saddlebag of colours she’d brought with her, setting them up in a neat semi-circle around her as she sat and painted.
- Color Splash had known about the place. Everypony in Manehatten had at least heard of it. Stories of it being haunted. Of it being the site of a murder. Of a phantom that cursed every performance held in it. It looked the part, at least. The façade was a looming and ancient set piece, with fantastical scrollwork going up the front of it, and an impressive and imposing marquee to announce whatever performance would be there. There were even gargoyles on the front, set to stare down at everypony as they walked by. The city kept the front clean, and nopony wanted to get rid of it, because it was such a piece of history, but nopony also wanted to do anything with it. The rumors of it being haunted, and the rumored accidents to performers kept everypony away.
- Color Splash scoffed, her voice seeming to be surprisingly loud in the empty theater. Half of the accidents attributed to this place weren’t even true. She’d done some research before coming, mainly to find some blueprints, but she couldn’t help coming across the history of the place. There had only been four deaths in the place since it was built so many decades ago.
- The first was a death by drowning. Some magician had an accident and ended up failing to escape from his own death trap. The second was a stabbing. A jealous actor had switched out the collapsible dagger for a real one during a play. The third was a magical misfire. Some showboating unicorn had set off too many thaumotechnics and accidentally struck a member of the audience, killing the poor chap.
- The final one was the only one that had yet to have closure. Nopony had been tried for the murder, but after the final performance of the Canterlot orchestra, one of their cellists went missing. The worst part was that nopony noticed until a week later when the orchestra was set to perform in Baltimare. Poor mare was found dead in the basement of the theater, tied up and already dead several days. Whoever had done her in was long gone by that point, but that kind of black stain on your history will do in the best theaters. Show ponies are a notoriously superstitious lot.
- Color Splash wasn’t interested in what showponies, alive or dead, were up to, though, and if art was going to be missing from this theater, it might as well be her to put it back in. She wasn’t an actor or a musician, but her art was still just as legitimate. Who knows, by the time they show the theater next, maybe they’ll see her mural and it will get the attention it truly deserves after all these years? A smile touched Color Splash’s lips a she imagines her art getting that kind of attention, and she continues painting, the faint hiss of the cans filling the theater hall.
- After some time, with about a third of the painting done and splotches of color on her hooves, hoodie, and mane, Color Splash put down the current can and looked over what she’d currently completed, appraising it and making sure everything was coming out the way she wanted. While she was looking over her work, she heard what sounded like a cough coming from behind her, somewhere among the seats. Color Splash jumped to her hooves, knocking over some of her cans with a clatter, and she released her horn’s light, plunging her into darkness. She scrabbled up the stairs, distancing herself from where she was just in case whoever was in decided to lash out blindly.
- Her first thought was that it was the police. Somepony had seen her come inside, and had called law enforcement and they’d had to contact whoever had access to the building to let them in, which is why it had taken so long for them to arrive. But then she second-guessed that. It couldn’t be the police. They weren’t usually so quiet when suspecting a breaking and entering. They’d come in, shields up and horns blazing, ready to deliver the smack down on anypony foolish enough to cause trouble in this part of town.
- As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she was able to see faint outlines. She couldn’t see much beyond that, because the auditorium was sealed from the outside on all sides. You’d have to leave the auditorium before you’d encounter any windows, so she had to make do with just faint shapes. Color Splash carefully lifted her head above the seats to see if she could spot anything. Maybe somepony moving about, trying to sneak like she was. She just hoped if there was somepony here, that she’d spot them first. Peering around in the dark, she was a little disgruntled to find it completely pointless, as she couldn’t see anything at all. The ability to see shapes in the darkness only availed her for things nearby, anything further away was a shapeless mess.
- Color Splash waited, straining her eyes and ears for any sound, any motion, anything to tell her she wasn’t just being paranoid for no reason. She didn’t want to get caught, so caution was necessary, but she was worried she might be overreacting. She gave it another minute or two, remaining motionless, and when nothing made itself obvious, she gave it one last look, then lit her horn again.
- When her silver light flooded the room once more, she was momentarily dazed from the illumination, but it quickly passed, leaving her squinting. She kept her head low at first, but once she was sure there was nopony here, she sighed and turned back to her paints. She had just picked up a can of paint when she heard a wooden clattering coming from somewhere down near the stage. Color Splash dropped the can of paint, jumped to her hooves, and turned to look at the stage, horn at the ready. She whipped her light around and directed it at the stage, changing it from a small sphere around her to a cone, whipping it to and fro, lighting up each part of the stage in a frantic sweep. There was nothing, and no pony. Only an abandoned cello lying in the middle of the stage.
- Color Splash stopped, and brought her horn’s light back to center stage, illuminating the instrument. She hadn’t looked at the stage when she came in, but it seemed odd that with everything else in the theater rather well upkept, if dusty, that an instrument would have been left laying on stage instead of packed away somewhere. Color Splash cast her light about the auditorium, checking up and down the aisles, and sweeping haphazardly around the seats. Even checking some of the balconies just in case, but they were all shuttered and empty. Color Splash started carefully down the stairs to investigate, because there had been two noises so far, despite over an hour of silence, so somepony, or some thing, was causing these noises. They seemed to be a little bit too deliberate, not to mention that one sound had been a cough, though she wasn’t certain that’s what she’d heard at this point. She was a little concerned her mind was playing tricks on her.
- Color Splash kicked up dust as she walked down the unused steps to the stage, snorting to clear the dust from her nostrils as it floated up in swirling clouds. She climbed the stairs on the side of the stage and stood on the edge, just around the curtains, casting her horn light to backstage on one side, then stepping forward slightly to cast her light behind the curtains on the side nearest to her. It was dark, but there didn’t appear to be signs of anypony having passed through here lately, as the dust was completely undisturbed. That’s not to say there weren’t hoofprints, but what hoofprints there were had come through here long ago. Long enough to be filled with dust themselves, so at least it wasn’t tonight they had been here.
- Color Splash finally turned her light back to the cello in the middle of the stage, her horn light focusing entirely on the instrument where it lay. As she got closer, her confusion grew, as the cello itself was completely clean. There was no dust on it at all, and it was in absolutely pristine condition. Color Splash leaned in closer, looking at the strings. They were completely unrusted. She looked around briefly, checking to see if anypony was nearby or watching, and reached out a hoof to pluck one of the strings. The note seemed alarmingly loud in the dark theater, but it was very clear, and awfully pure. She was no musician, but she’d wager it wasn’t off-key at all. Color Splash checked around the cello, seeing no bow for it, but also no hoofprints in the dust beyond her own. It was completely undisturbed, so that raised a very disturbing question: ‘Who put this here, and who was keeping it clean, and HOW?’
- Curiosity was burning inside her, mixed with a healthy dose of paranoia and confusion. The cello raised so many questions that she didn’t have answers to, and she really didn’t know where to begin finding answers, or even if she wanted them. Could it have been a unicorn? A unicorn could have placed it, but how would a unicorn have avoided disturbing the dust, unless the unicorn could perform telekinesis from really far away. But then, why place the cello here in the first place? What purpose did it serve? Color Splash’s eyes narrowed. Was somepony playing her for a fool? Her eyes flicked up to the balconies, then to backstage. Somepony must be here, and somepony thought spooking her was funny. Well, she wasn’t going to put up with it. Resolute, she pointed her horn light ahead of her and marched behind the curtain, heading backstage.
- As she passed into the cluttered area behind the curtains, she kept her light moving to and fro, checking for any movement or anything that seemed out of place. Meanwhile she kept her ears pricked, the muted blue of her fur swiveling back and forth, listening for any sound that wasn’t the gentle tap of her hooves on the wooden floor. She found plenty of set pieces from different plays, the occasional musical instrument, and several costumes in various states of disrepair, but all of them were covered in the same dust the rest of the place had been inundated with.
- Just as Color Splash was beginning to get think she wouldn’t find anything, her sweeping light passed over something grey in the darkness. She did a double-take and pulled her light back to where she had seen it, but it was gone. It had looked like a pony, but she hadn’t heard any hoofsteps. It hadn’t been flying, either, so it couldn’t have been a Pegasus. Color Splash carefully walked closer, trying her best to keep her hooves as silent as possible, the tapping she made seemingly louder than normal in the silent theater. When she got to the spot she thought she had seen the pony, the dust was undisturbed yet again, so it couldn’t have been a pony. Even a flying Pegasus would have disturbed the dust with their wingbeats.
- “Is anypony there?” Color Splash said, her nervousness prompting her to speak up. She winced at how loud her voice was, but kept moving forward, following the hall she thought the pony, or whatever, had travelled down.
- She continued down the hall, passing by several open doors she briefly checked, looking to see if any dust had been disturbed in any of them. Actor’s rooms, makeup rooms, and the green room, she assumed. There was even what must have been a practice hall for bands and orchestras, as there were music stands all grouped in one corner that gave her a bit of a start at first. She took a second look at the practice hall again, and noticed that in here, there was some dust disturbed. It floated in the air in her horn light beam, and she moved it down to the floor, seeing where it came from. One of the music stands had been moved, and recently. Within the past day, recently. There were clean lines in the dust on the floor where the stand’s legs had been dragged through it, and she could see, as she walked closer, that there was sheet music on the stand.
- “Cello concerto in G” Color Splash read out loud.
- She picked it up with her magic and flipped through the pages, checking the back, the front, and the margins, for any signs of writing or some sign of whoever may have put it there. There was a name on the front, in the bottom-right corner in very neat and flowing cursive. It was tough to read, but it read: ‘Octavia Melody’. Okay, so whomever this belonged to was possibly behind these shenanigans. A unicorn, maybe? Color Splash had heard of unicorns who could levitate. They were rare, and she certainly couldn’t do it, nor had she ever met anypony who could, but it was something exceedingly powerful unicorns could accomplish. Starswirl probably could have done so.
- “Alright ‘Octavia Melody’,” Color Splash called out, putting some venom in her voice. “I know you’re here and I don’t know what your game is, but I think it’s time to call it quits. This isn’t accomplishing anything.”
- After her voice died down, Color Splash perked her ears up again, listening for any sound that might give away that she had guessed correctly. A hoofstep, a cough, a bump, a scrape, or anything else.
- Nothing came.
- Frustrated, Color Splash stamped her hoof. “Seriously, this is foalish and immature! If you want me gone, just say so instead of messing about like this!”
- Still nothing came.
- Frustrated, she groaned in frustration and crumpled the sheet music up, tossing it aside as she stomped her way out of the room. She stopped when a cold breeze blew past her, filling her nose with dust. She sneezed twice, her eyes watering. Her eyes widened in realization after her nose stopped tickling; there shouldn’t be any wind in here unless the doors were open. She raced back to the stage, shutting her horn light off when she arrived at the stage and peeked around the curtains.
- But the doors to the auditorium were still closed.
- The darkness was still absolute, and she sighed in relief, thankful the police hadn’t arrived. She was about to turn her horn light back on, when she heard the rustling of paper, as of something being uncrumpled and smoothed out. She froze, not daring to move. The sound was very nearby, just ahead and to the left, near center stage. There was a thump, then a scrape, and the clunk of metal on wood. It was near where the cello had been laying on the stage. Color Splash psyched herself up, took a deep breath to steady herself while her spine tingled from unexplainable fear, then lit up her horn, focusing it right where the sound was. The beam of light shot out and spotlighted the source of the noise!
- Where the cello had been lying alone before, now there was a music stand. Color Splash had a sinking feeling it was the one she’d just left behind because there was sheet music on it. Sheet music that had been uncrumpled and smoothed out. She stood there dumbfounded for a moment, then felt a cold breeze blow past her, stirring up dust as it traveled somewhere toward the back of the theater. She could swear she heard a quiet muttering as it went.
- Once the breeze had died down, Color splash realized she was holding her breath. She didn’t know what was going on, but she knew it wasn’t funny anymore. What she’d assumed had been a terrible prank was swiftly becoming a terrifying journey into the unknown. Was it a ghost? A cello, like the cellist who’d been killed so many years ago, so that lent credence to that, but ghosts weren’t real, were they? The very fact that she was second-guessing her own opinion on ghosts was the clincher. It was time to go.
- She kept her ears perked backwards pointing toward the stage as she hopped down, and made her way swiftly, but calmly, to her saddlebag and paint. She shoved the cans back inside, strapped the bag to her back, and started making her way to the vent she’d crawled in from. She’d had to scale the side of the building overlooking an alleyway, using a ladder she’d had to hide once she got inside. She only felt slightly bad about damaging the grating, but getting a theater like this more attention would have been worth it, along with the attention her mural was going to have gotten. But nothing was worth this creepy mess the whole escapade had become. She didn’t know what was going on and she no longer cared.
- She got to the room she’d entered from, climbed back into the vent in its position up on the wall of one of the rooms, and started scooting along through the cramped passage, her horn lighting the way ahead. She had made it a small distance, when she felt a cold breeze ruffle her mane in the tunnel. At first she thought it must be a breeze coming from outside, but then she felt a prickling on her hackles when she realized it had come from behind her. She turned her head to look back the way she had come, casting her horn’s light back down the tiny hole. She saw nothing except the exit to the room she’d entered from in the distance. She turned back around, her horn’s light coming to bear in her desired direction, and she found herself looking into the face of a pony.
- She jumped, screeching in the dark, and reared back, smacking her head on the top of the vent. The impact knocked out her horn light and she cursed, while she swung a hoof out in front of her, trying to punch the asshole who’d spooked her.
- “Celestia dammit you motherfucker! I fucking knew you were in here! Setting up all that shit just to scare me!” Her hoof didn’t hit anything except the walls of the vent, so she lit up her horn, rubbing her throbbing head. “I don’t know what your game is, but I’m getting out of here, okay? The place is all fucking yours.”
- Her light illuminated nothing, so she assumed the pony had scuttled out of the vent. She was almost there, anyway. Just around this corner, a short distance away and. . .
- Color Splash poked her head out of the vent and into the room she’d entered from. She was fairly sure she hadn’t turned around. She must have gotten confused when that pony had spooked her. Sighing, Color Splash turned around, crawled back through the vent. . . and ended up back in the room again. She was positive she hadn’t turned around. Certain of it. A chill went up her spine as she looked around the empty room. She turned around once more, pulled out a spray can, and started spraying a small hashed line as she crawled through the vent. When she came to the corner, she turned it, and her light illuminated the same color hashed line on the opposite side she was spraying.
- “What. . . the fuck?” Color Splash said, dumbfounded. She turned around and looked behind her, seeing the hashed line on both walls. “This isn’t possible.” She crawled out, and threw the can across the room, smashing it against the wall in a burst of color. “This isn’t goddamn possible!” She shouted.
- There were surely other exits, maybe she could even get the front doors open, so Color Splash galloped through the halls, that awful cold breeze at her heels, mocking her attempts to escape. She threw open the auditorium doors, running out into the lobby, and slammed into the front doors. They resisted her efforts, barely even shaking on their hinges as she pounded her hooves on it. Bucking at them, checking them with her shoulder, and even trying to pry them open with magic. She moved to one of the barred windows, and tried to fit a hoof through the smash the glass, maybe call for help. Even being arrested would be better than being stuck in here with, whoever or whatever it was.
- Her hoof could barely fit through the bars, and she couldn’t get enough force behind her strikes to do anything more than tap the glass. She pulled her hoof out and tried to read back and punch through them to the glass, but there was too little leeway and she just ended up smacking the bars, the ringing of her hoof on metal filling the lobby. She tried to use her magic to push it open, but her telekinesis wasn’t strong enough. She could make it wobble, but that was it. She cursed herself for not paying attention in magic class growing up.
- “Yes, teach, now I do wish I could stop a runaway carriage.” She said, despairingly.
- Her face pressed up against the bars, looking left and right on the mist-covered street outside, trying to spot any other ponies in order to hopefully get their attention. Sadly, the fog was too thick and she could only see the area immediately in front of the theater, which was devoid of ponies, holding just a single street lamp flickering in the darkness.
- “Oh my fuck, it’s like, three o’clock! Why is everypony asleep?” Color Splash shouted angrily, bashing a hoof against the bars.
- With one last punch at the bars blocking her way out, she turned around and slowly moped about the lobby, looking for something she could use to pry open the doors or break a window. She found some umbrellas, but they proved too flimsy to break the window. Cheap material or just weak with age, they all bent or snapped trying to smash the glass.
- “They certainly built things to last in the old days.” She muttered. “Except umbrellas.”
- Being within view of the street and some light beyond just her horn was at least calming, so she stared at the lamp, casting its glow on the surrounding fog, before turning back to the lobby to try to find something else. She had managed to shake off the worst of her fright, and resolved herself to deal with whoever was playing this nasty prank.
- After a few more minutes of searching the lobby for anything useful, she gave up and decided she needed to go hunt for an exit elsewhere. If the vent wasn’t going to work for some nasty-ass magic reason, and the front door was locked up too tight, then she’d have to find something somewhere else. Maybe an exit to the sewer in the basement, or an upstairs window. She flashed her horn light at the maintenance stairs to the narrow, ominous-looking basement door, and then to the warm, wide-open stairs leading up to the balconies and possibly some other windows. Her eyes flicked back to the doors leading to the auditorium.
- “Not really a hard decision, honestly.” She said quietly, and started up the stairs to the balcony.
- Once up there, her search began for any kind of exit she could use. Windows, vents, or the like. Sadly, her search around the top of the stairs revealed no windows on the upper floor. She tried to remember if she had seen any from the outside, but beyond the ground floor, she hadn’t really paid much attention. She wasn’t expecting to use the front to enter when she’d planned this escapade. The bathrooms were no good, either. They had vents, but these vents were much too small for her to fit inside, being half as big as the one she’d entered from. She hunted about, going up and down the aisles next to the balconies, peeking inside all the rooms she could find, her horn light whipping about, and illuminating each corner of every room she passed. But despite her efforts, and the meticulous way in which she went about it, she couldn’t find a single possible exit. Her inability to find an exit, and the oppressive darkness knowing that somepony was still out there waiting for her to slip up or something, was really starting to get to her.
- “Fuck!” She yelled, punching the wall of the room she was in. She looked at her hoof, then at the wall, but sadly there was not even so much as a dent in it.
- She shook her head and rolled her eyes. She was no earth pony, otherwise maybe she’d be able to smash through the wall. She left the room in a huff, and was walking back down the row of balconies, sweeping her horn light in front of her, when she saw a set of curtains that blocked off each balcony ruffle gently. Angry at her predicament, and the pony that was doing all this, she raced toward it, pushing the curtains roughly to the side, and lit up the balcony, hoping to find the pony responsible.
- There was nothing. Just the backs of two fancy chairs. Narrowing her eyes, she slowly crept around them, then jumped in front, blazing her horn at the seats. “AHA!” She yelled. But once again, there was nothing at all.
- With an exasperated sigh, Color Splash turned away from the chairs and swept her horn light down into the auditorium. Empty rows of seats met her frustrated gaze, and the unfinished mural she’d been painting. She started to debate just finishing it, because whoever was keeping her in here wasn’t interested in her anymore. She moved her light to where the cello had been lying on the stage, and stopped, alarmed.
- The cello was now standing upright, with the music stand off to one side, the crumpled sheet music closed and seemingly forgotten. She watched, fascinated and horrified, as a bow was lifted through thin air up to the cello, and a spotlight, one more floor up, suddenly turned on, illuminating the cello, and making what appeared to be a pony, an earth pony, appear, holding both the cello and bow. Color Splash felt her blood turn to ice as the pony turned and looked up at her in the balcony, and began to play.
- The deep and haunting sounds of the cello floated up to the balcony, filling the auditorium. Color Splash, her horn light having gone out from shock, watched in terrible fascination as the pony played her haunting cello suite. Her hoof moved deftly back and forth, pulling the bow along the strings of her instrument. Her left hoof wrapped around the neck of the instrument, shaking up and down occasionally to create the tremulous notes.
- As she watched enraptured by the sheer audacity of this pony who had begun performing in front of her while she had obviously been trying to get away from her, Color Splash realized this was the face of the pony who had spooked her in the vents. She wasn’t a unicorn, and her instruments had been floating, and she had somehow appeared on stage. That either meant she had some serious stage magic going on, or she had a unicorn accomplice who was doing most of the heavy lifting. Color Splash looked up at the spotlight looming over the rest of the auditorium. Somepony had turned it on, and she meant to find out who. The earth pony was of no consequence, but that unicorn needed to pay the damn piper.
- With one last look at the performing cellist, Color Splash slipped out the balcony curtains, and began hunting about for the entrance to the final upstairs section. It was hidden away to preserve the aesthetic of the balcony section, but Color Splash found it fairly quickly. Years of sneaking into places she wasn’t allowed had given her a good sense of where ponies kept these things. Sure enough, the door was unlocked. She carefully swung it open, wincing at the creak, and crept up the stairs, tip-hoofing her way with her horn light off, though she was sure the pony was aware she was coming.
- Once she had made it up to the area the spotlight was, she thankfully didn’t need her horn light, as the illumination provided by the massive beam pointed down at the stage gave her more than enough in the tiny room. Enough for her to see shapes and even a few colors here and there. She snuck from box to box, peering into every hiding spot she could conceive of inside the cramped, box-filled room. Her ears turned this way and that, searching for any sound that might be out of place besides the constant cello music. Sadly, after covering every spot she could think somepony might have hidden in, she had to admit she was at a loss. The unicorn must have left.
- “Where the hell are you?” She muttered, lashing out at one of the dark lumps nearby. The feeling of cardboard was her reward.
- She finally gave up and lit her horn, lighting up the room. All she found, though, was boxes upon boxes of dust, paper, some that had crudely drawn pictures of light bulbs on them, and some that were labeled ‘electric’. Electric what, she didn’t know, and frankly didn’t care. She angrily trotted over to the spotlight, sticking her head out next to it. It was really warm, and she could see that stupid earth pony down on stage, trying to creep her out by playing cello constantly, while her stupid friend was rampaging about doing all the damn work. Just for some sick and frustrated satisfaction, she reached out a hoof, and flipped the giant switch on the spotlight, turning it off. The music stopped immediately. Color Splash smirked to herself, pleased that the earth pony had been interrupted.
- “Just tell me where your friend is, or let me out, and we can stop all this nonsense!” She yelled down at the stage. “This doesn’t need to go on any longer than necessary!”
- There was silence, then the cello started up again.
- The smile faded from her lips as Color Splash heard staccato cello notes pick up in the inky blackness. Her fading smile continued into a horrified gasp when a glow began down on stage. It increased in intensity as the music began to pick up, and Color Splash felt her hackles rise again as she could see the tiny figure down below her. The pony’s mane and tail began to float upward as she glowed a pale blue in the darkness. Tiny motes of light floated off her, and even from this distance, Color Splash could see that the pony was transparent. Sudden realization hit her like a train. A cellist alone in the theater, by the name of Octavia Melody. No tracks in the dust, despite there being an apparent earth pony trotting about. Unless the suspected unicorn she thought was here was extremely powerful, this was an actual ghost! The pony on the stage; Octavia, with her mane and tail flying in a nonexistent wind, began to glow brighter and brighter. She looked up at Color Splash in the spotlight room, her eyes fixed on Color Splash’s own.
- Color Splash shook her head, icy cold fear finally beginning to seep into her bones. She cried out in terror and bolted from the room, slamming the door open and galloping out into the lobby. She sobbed as she cantered down the stairs and crashed into the front door once again, her saddlebags spilling cans onto the floor as she tore it on the handle. Her hooves pounded vainly, the lock rattling, but not giving way.
- “Let me out! Why won’t you let me out!?” She screamed, hooves battering the thick wood, leaving small scuffs and scrapes in the veneer.
- The cello music grew louder and louder in her ears. Tears rolled down her cheeks as the fugue poured out of the auditorium through the cracks of the doors. She looked behind her, eyes frantically searching for an escape, and settling on the small cordon blocking the cramped passage leading down into the maintenance halls.
- Every part of her railed against the option, but her fear-addled brain had run out of options, and overrode any common sense in its desperate desire for any egress from her current situation. She kicked aside the cordon, carefully but hastily hopped down the stairs, and kicked open the door, the flimsy deadbolt added in recent years shattering under the force of her hooves. She had to try several times, but she managed to focus enough to turn on her horn light, illuminate the tunnel, and without thinking twice, bolted down one of the halls, hoping against hope that it would lead her out of this madhouse and into town. Or the sewers. Or anything! Just not here!
- The darkness ahead of her was pierced by her light, but no matter how hard she ran, the sound of the cello would not leave her ears. She plastered them down against her head, more in fear than anything else, but it still wasn’t getting any quieter. It seemed to be following her, but she dared not turn around. She ran, pipes and cobwebs and darkness. . . and music. That incessant, damned, cello music. She sobbed as she galloped, unable to escape it, even for a moment. Even this far undergound.
- She saw a light ahead of her, and her heart surged with hope for a moment, but it was dashed almost immediately. It was the glow of Octavia Melody, standing up on stage, her mane and tail floating wildly, with motes of ghostly blue flowing off her. Color Splash whimpered and tried to back up, but her flank impacted something soft, and she found herself falling into one of the chairs in the auditorium. She looked around, and tears flowed freely down her cheeks as she looked up at the glorious and terrible phantom playing the beautiful music.
- “Why are you doing this?” Color Splash asked vainly, trying to sink into her chair, her hooves covering her head. “What do you want?”
- “An audience.”
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