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/bootleg/ - Carpathia Chapter 1-5 by Anonymous_Green (Derpy)

By BlueGem
Created: 14th January 2021 08:35:26 AM
22nd October 2021 07:08:31 AM

  1. --- 01.
  2.  
  3. >You ordered a 'random selection' discount Chinese pony model.
  4. >There's a small hope inside of you that it will be something cool.
  5. >Probably not though, since you've heard how crappy these things are.
  6. >And a random selection model was all you could afford.
  7. >Finally, it arrives.
  8. >In a giant box with yellow masking tape all fucking over it.
  9. >It seems someone spilled a mystery liquid on it as well.
  10. "Well, let's see the damage."
  11. >You open the box.
  12. >Styrofoam peanuts everywhere.
  13. >There's a piece of paper with a bunch of Chinese moon runes on it.
  14. >Though, at the top there is some English writing.
  15. >'Model 0023. Derby Hoobs'
  16. >The paper falls out of your hands.
  17. "Oh God... What have I done?"
  18.  
  19. --- 02.
  20.  
  21. >You don't know why you did it.
  22. >No- you know exactly why you did it.
  23. >This never ending loneliness will make the lowest man howl at the moon...
  24. >Ah fuck, you're kind of drunk.
  25. >Well, the Derpy Hooves pony bot is finished.
  26. >She sits on your living room floor, still lifeless.
  27. >You have her plugged in to your computer, still booting up.
  28. >This 'Derby Hoobs' is a mess.
  29. >Her mane and tail are orange.
  30. >Fucking orange.
  31. >And one of her wings is missing.
  32. >You decided to attach the one wing, in the hopes she could still get some use out of it.
  33. >Okay, so for whatever reason, the Chinese manufacturers decided to put her model number on her head.
  34. >There is a bright red '23' stamped in the middle of her forehead.
  35. >And last but not least: her eyes.
  36. >Yes, they got the 'derpiness' of her eyes right.
  37. >It's the color that's all wrong.
  38. >To be honest, her eyes are creepy.
  39. >They are red.
  40. >Crimson red.
  41. >When you first plugged her in to the computer to boot up, they glowed, then went dark again.
  42. >It made your heart skip.
  43. >You hope they don't glow like that when she comes to life.
  44. >Another odd feature is that her tail is way too long.
  45. >It's like they forgot to turn the machine off that made her tail.
  46. >When she walks, it's going to drag on the floor behind her.
  47. >Oh well, maybe you'll trim it up later.
  48. >Right now, you just want to get her started up.
  49. >And another beer...
  50. >You get up to go to the kitchen.
  51. >Maybe this was a mistake.
  52. >There's no way this thing could come close to the ponies you've loved for years.
  53. >"HELLO!"
  54. >You almost piss yourself and drop your beer bottle on the floor.
  55. >Turning around, you almost piss yourself again.
  56. >Glowing crimson eyes are staring at you.
  57. >Well, one glowing crimson eye anyway.
  58. >Derby is smiling up at you, sitting on her haunches.
  59. >That cheery smile with the demon eyes is seriously making the hairs on the back of your neck rise.
  60. >But what really seems wrong-
  61. >"MY NAME IS DERBY HOOBS. IT'S A PLEASURE TO MEET YOU, ANONYMOUS."
  62. >Oh God...
  63. >Her voice sounds just like Gilbert Gottfried.
  64. >"I AM SO EXCITED TO START A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP WITH YOU. PLEASE TAKE CARE OF ME FROM NOW ON."
  65. >No.
  66. >Fuck no.
  67. >You run back over to your computer and start going through the software settings.
  68. >You notice that Derby's derpy eye follows your movements while she stays facing toward your kitchen.
  69. >There is NO way you're going to have a damn Gottfried pony.
  70. >Finally, you find the 'voice modulator' setting.
  71. >It's actually preset to 'Gilbert'.
  72. >What the hell is wrong with China?
  73. >You scroll through a rather large list of voice settings.
  74. >At the top is the 'Derby Original' setting.
  75. >You click that like no tomorrow.
  76. >Looking behind you, you see Derby's eyes blink like traffic lights.
  77. >Did she just reset?
  78. >She looks down and her eyes suddenly focus.
  79. >You lean over your chair closer to her.
  80. "Hello?"
  81. >The pony slowly turns her head to you.
  82. >Oh fuck, that's probably the creepiest thing you've ever seen...
  83. >She's still smiling and her blood eyes are zeroed in on you.
  84. >She slowly stretches out her wing and raises it toward the roof.
  85. "Um, Derby?"
  86. >She tilts her head, still smiling.
  87. >"Is that my name?"
  88. >Well, her voice sounds normal.
  89. >At least, it sounds like the Derpy Hooves from the original episode when she talked.
  90. >Only, it sounds... Empty.
  91. >Despite the smile, there is a definitive melancholy in her voice.
  92. "Yes, your name is Derby. My name is Anonymous."
  93. >You should call her Derpy.
  94. >But, somewhere in your mind you hold on to a selfish notion.
  95. >That is not Derpy.
  96. >"Why am I here?"
  97. >That catches you off guard.
  98. >She flaps her one wing and reaches up with a hoof, touching her face.
  99. >"What am I, Anonymous?"
  100. >Damn.
  101. >You're going to need another beer for this.
  102. "You're... You're a pony, Derby."
  103. >You don't want to tell her what she really is.
  104. >She folds her wing to her side and nods slowly.
  105. >Her eyes go derpy again.
  106. >There's still that smile.
  107. >Maybe she can't not smile?
  108. >You get up and make to go for the kitchen again.
  109. >"Please don't leave me."
  110. >You stop and look back at Derby.
  111. >In complete silence, she moved when your back was turned.
  112. >You flinch back from the ponybot mere inches from you, looking up with those glowing eyes and that haunting smile.
  113. >Your eyes are drawn to the '23' on her forehead.
  114. >"Please, take Derby with you, Anonymous."
  115. >You swallow and nod slowly.
  116. "Okay. I'm just going into the kitchen to get a drink. You can come with, if you want?"
  117. >Derby just stares up at you, unblinking and smiling.
  118. "Oooookay."
  119. >Turning around again, you walk into the kitchen.
  120. >A quick look back and you see that Derby is following.
  121. >She is still attached to the computer by her cord, but it unplugs and falls to the floor when she gets far enough away.
  122. >She makes absolutely no noise when she walks.
  123. >Her wing hangs limply down at her side, grazing the floor as she goes.
  124. >Her tail drags like a snake behind her.
  125. >And that smile...
  126. >"Please don't leave me, Anonymous."
  127. >You give her a sad look and open the fridge.
  128. "I'm not going anywhere, Derby. I promise I won't leave you."
  129. >Derby sits down on the kitchen floor and her eyes focus on you again as you open a beer with shaky hands.
  130. >"Promise... You, promise Derby. Okay."
  131. >With a nod, she looks down at her hoof.
  132. >You take a big drink and watch her examine herself.
  133. "Are you okay, Derby?"
  134. >She whispers so softly, you barely make it out.
  135. >"I promise I am not experiencing pain..."
  136. >You freeze in place, the hairs on your neck rising again.
  137. "What was that?"
  138. >Derby looks up at you again.
  139. >Her eyes are looking in different directions.
  140. >One at the ground, one at the beer in your hand.
  141. >Slowly, the eyes move and focus on you.
  142. >It takes everything you have to not look away.
  143. >Her smile seems to get larger.
  144. >"Please don't leave me, Anonymous."
  145. >You sigh and take another large drink.
  146. "I promised I wouldn't, remember?"
  147. >Derby finally closes her eyes.
  148. >"I remember something. You made a promise. You promised, Anonymous."
  149. >Her eyes open again and seem to glow brighter.
  150. >"Anonymous promised Derby. Derby remembers. Please don't leave me."
  151. >You won't get any sleep tonight.
  152.  
  153. --- 03.
  154.  
  155. >A blanket is pulled over your head.
  156. >Only a bit of your face sticks out.
  157. >Enough to breathe and stare at your bedroom wall.
  158. >Behind you, you can feel them.
  159. >Those glowing crimson eyes are burning into the back of your head.
  160. >Derby seems to have one setting when it comes to personal space.
  161. >Magnetic.
  162. >Wherever you go, Derby follows.
  163. >Always asking you to please not leave her.
  164. >She crawled up into your bed when you went to lay down.
  165. >Because of the instruction manual being in Chinese (and having no damn diagrams), you don't know where Derby's power switch is.
  166. >Does she even have one?
  167. >How long does her battery charge last?
  168. >For twenty minutes now, Derby has sat behind you, watching you try to sleep in your blanket cacoon.
  169. >Just staring at you.
  170. >There's got to be some way to change her settings.
  171. >Tomorrow, you will mess with that.
  172. >But for now, you need to sleep.
  173. >You have work tomorrow.
  174. >As you think of work, your eyes begin to slowly close.
  175. >"Anonymous."
  176. >The soft melancholy voice snaps your eyes back open.
  177. "What is it, Derby?"
  178. >You feel her weight shift behind you.
  179. >Your cell phone charging on the bedside table creates enough light to cast a shadow of Derby on the wall in front of you.
  180. >You can see that she is stretching her wing toward the ceiling again.
  181. >It's an ominous sight.
  182. >"Derby thought you were leaving."
  183. >You sigh and pull the blankets tighter around your face.
  184. "I'm just trying to go to sleep."
  185. >Silence fills the room.
  186. >"Please don't sleep. Derby will be alone."
  187. >Damn it.
  188. >You sit up suddenly and grab the TV remote off your bedside table.
  189. "How about I let you watch something while I sleep?"
  190. >The glowing eyes stare back at you in the dark.
  191. >You turn on your small bedroom TV.
  192. >The History Channel is on, showing a documentary about The Titanic.
  193. "How about this?"
  194. >You look back to Derby.
  195. >She stares at the tv, both eyes focused.
  196. >It seems like she's entranced.
  197. "Derby?"
  198. >You wave a hand in front of her face.
  199. >She keeps on staring straight ahead, focused on the show.
  200. "Nice."
  201. >Laying back down, you pull the blanket comfortably up to your chin and sigh.
  202. >Finally, some sleep.
  203. >You stare at the ceiling.
  204. >Looking one last time at Derby, your breath catches in your throat.
  205. >Her head is turned back toward you.
  206. >Those red eyes glow like embers.
  207. >"I like this. Thank you, Anonymous."
  208. >You move your feet against each other under the blankets.
  209. "Uh, that's good. You should keep watching then."
  210. >Derby just smiles at you.
  211. >The glow from the TV behind her makes the sight even more unnerving.
  212. >"Goodnight, Anonymous."
  213. >Her head turns back around and she is hypnotized by the tv again.
  214. >You reach over to your bedside table once more, this time opening the drawer.
  215. >Pulling out your bottle of cough syrup, you open it and take a quick swig.
  216. >You want to fall asleep as quickly as possible.
  217. >Deeply asleep.
  218. >The faint noises of the Titanic documentary carry to your ears for a while.
  219. >Then the effects of the diphenhydramine start to take hold.
  220. >You feel Derby rest her wing on your leg.
  221. >As you fall into a drug-induced sleep, you feel a twinge of guilt.
  222. >It feels like you are leaving her, in a way.
  223.  
  224. -
  225.  
  226. >The sound of your alarm wakes you up.
  227. >You turn it off and groan against your pillow.
  228. >A dreamless sleep.
  229. >It's time to get ready for work.
  230. >First, a shower-
  231. >You go to move, but now that your mind is slowly waking up, you notice a weight on your legs.
  232. >Between your legs.
  233. >You look down and are met with a red-eyed stare.
  234. >Derby lays curled up between your legs.
  235. >The TV is still on in the background.
  236. >Derby smiles at you.
  237. >"Good morning, Anonymous."
  238. >You yawn and hoist yourself up.
  239. "Mornin'. Did you sleep, Derby?"
  240. >Derby's eyes wander off.
  241. >"Yes. Derby slept for three hours, fourty-six minutes and eight seconds."
  242. >You chuckle and rub your eyes.
  243. "That's pretty precise. I hope your sleep-mode was enjoyable."
  244. >You get out of bed and stretch.
  245. >"Derby had a dream."
  246.  
  247. --- 04.
  248.  
  249. >As you smoke a cigarette out on your back balcony, Derby watches you.
  250. >It's been a long time since you have smoked.
  251. >Your nerves need it.
  252. >Just as always, she smiles.
  253. >Since you had one of those closed off balconys, you let the ponybot follow you outside.
  254. >She followed you into the bathroom when you did your morning routine.
  255. >It was kind of awkward taking a piss with her standing right behind you.
  256. >Luckily, she didn't try to follow you into the shower when you went in.
  257. >She just sat outside the curtain.
  258. >Smiling.
  259. >You tried to ask her what her 'dream' was about.
  260. >But she only stated she didn't remember.
  261. >It's hard for you to believe that she can even have a dream.
  262. >Maybe it's a pre-programmed response?
  263. >As you smoke, you watch one of Derby's eyes follow a bird soaring through the sky.
  264. >She turns her head to track its movement.
  265. >When it is out of sight, Derby extends her wing out and looks over at it.
  266. >You can practically hear the gears turning in her head.
  267. >Maybe you should have just left the wing detached...
  268. "Derby, do you want to fly?"
  269. >The ponybot looks away from her wing and back to you.
  270. >The wing drops and hangs limply at her side.
  271. >For a moment she doesn't say anything.
  272. >Then-
  273. >"No. I don't like that."
  274. >Your brow furrows.
  275. >Shouldn't she be programmed with an 'instinct' to fly?
  276. >"Derby doesn't want to fly. Derby wants to stay on the ground, with you."
  277. >Oh, that's actually kind of cute.
  278. >It would be a lot cuter if she didn't sound like her pet fish just died though.
  279. >"Derby will never leave Anonymous. Derby promises."
  280. >You look back at the sky, smoke drifting past your eyes.
  281. "Yeah..."
  282.  
  283. -
  284.  
  285. >You have to leave.
  286. >It's time to go to work.
  287. "Derby, I have to go to work now, okay?"
  288. >She sits on the couch, smiling at you as you put your shoes on.
  289. "Hey, I didn't think of this, but are you going to be fine with your battery life while I'm at work?"
  290. >Derby looks down.
  291. >"My charge is at seventy-nine percent. Derby will plug herself in to charge when battery life drops below forty percent."
  292. >Well that takes care of that.
  293. >You stand up and take out your car keys.
  294. "Okay, Derby. I'm going now. Maybe you should just go into sleep-mode until I'm back?"
  295. >She just stares at you from the couch.
  296. >You really don't want to leave her alone in your apartment.
  297. >Didn't really think of that when you decided to order a ponybot.
  298. "See you later."
  299. >You exit your apartment and close the door behind you.
  300. >Just as the latch catches, something slams into the door on the other side.
  301. >It makes you recoil away.
  302. >You can hear Derby slamming her hooves against the wood.
  303. >It sounds like even her wing is beating against it.
  304. >"Anonymous? Where are you?"
  305. >Her sad little voice is muffled through the door.
  306. >"Anonymous, don't leave Derby!"
  307. >You quickly open the door back up.
  308. >Derby sits smiling up at you.
  309. >"Hello, Anonymous. Welcome home."
  310. >You sigh and rub your temple.
  311. >This isn't going to work.
  312. >Thinking quickly, you enter the apartment and close the door behind you.
  313. "Derby, I have to go to work. But how about I leave the TV on for you?"
  314. >Derby follows you over to the couch silently.
  315. >You pick up your remote and turn the TV on.
  316. >Derby's attention is drawn to it immediately.
  317. >Both of her eyes zero in on the screen.
  318. >She's completely transfixed, standing in front of the couch.
  319. >With a chuckle, you bend down and pick her up.
  320. >She's light.
  321. >Maybe around forty pounds.
  322. >Her fur is soft, and her wings are covered by a surprisingly high quality batch of synthetic feathers.
  323. >But you can still feel the solidness of metal and polymer below her coat.
  324. >Her eyes stay fixed to the commercial on TV, but her front hooves wrap around your neck suddenly.
  325. >You can't place her down on the couch.
  326. >She has you wrapped in a tight hug.
  327. >Her head nuzzles under your chin as she watches the commercial over your shoulder.
  328. >Suddenly, you want to call in sick to work.
  329. >This is what you wanted when you ordered Derby.
  330. >You shift your arms a bit and return the hug.
  331. >Her belly is against your torso.
  332. >Unbreathing.
  333. >There is no warmth coming from her.
  334. >But the feeling of her squeezing you close and the feeling of her coarse mane against your neck makes you close your eyes.
  335. >'Don't leave me, please.'
  336. >No.
  337. >You have to go to work.
  338. >With effort, you grab Derby's sides and peel her away from you.
  339. >She hangs suspended in your outstretched arms, still staring at the TV behind you.
  340. >You place her on the couch, her long tail draping over the edge and down to the floor.
  341. "Derby, I'm leaving now."
  342. >She stares straight at the TV.
  343. >"I want to watch Titanic."
  344. >You raise an eyebrow.
  345. >Oh, that's right.
  346. >Last night she watched that documentary.
  347. >Luckily, you actually have a copy of The Titanic on DVD.
  348. >A gift long ago from your mother.
  349. >You go over to your DVD rack by the TV and find it.
  350. >Popping it into the DVD player, you grab the remote and set it up.
  351. >After a short explaination of the controls to Derby, you get ready to leave again.
  352. >Derby sits on the couch, lost in the world of the doomed ship.
  353. >Her eyes seem to be glowing in waves.
  354. >Like she's processing information.
  355. >After work, you will plug her in and see what you can do about some of her settings.
  356. >She lays down with her head resting on her front hooves, her red eyes never leaving the screen.
  357. >You open the front door and look back at her.
  358. "I'm going to work, Derby."
  359. >She doesn't move.
  360. "I'll be back around five."
  361. >Her eyes are one with the TV.
  362. >With that, you step outside and close the door behind you, locking it.
  363. >The only sound from the other side is the faint music from The Titanic, taking Derby to another world.
  364.  
  365. --- 05.
  366.  
  367. >Work was shit.
  368. >You work in a restaurant, as a cook.
  369. >It's not glorious, but it pays the bills.
  370. >Barely.
  371. >You drive home in your piece of shit car.
  372. >Right after work, you stopped at the corner store to pick up some stuff before going home.
  373. >Some fresh cigarettes, beer (Pabst, because it's cheap) and another bottle of cough syrup.
  374. >You feel sort of gutted about picking up smoking again.
  375. >It's been over six months since you quit.
  376. >And the Nyquil-
  377. >Well, it seems you are going to have to start leaving the TV in your room on for Derby while you sleep.
  378. >The Nyquil will help.
  379. >Derby was on your mind all day.
  380. >You pull into your apartment complex and park, flicking your spent cigarette out of the window before rolling it up.
  381. >Before you can even turn your car off, your phone starts going off in your pocket.
  382. >You cut the engine and dig your phone out.
  383. >The screen reads 'MOM'.
  384. "Damn..."
  385. >You light another cigarette before you answer.
  386. "Hello?"
  387. >"Where are you?"
  388. >Her voice is loud and you press the 'volume down' button a couple of times.
  389. "I just got home from work."
  390. >"Oh. I'm making dinner."
  391. >That seems like a blunt anecdote, but you immediately understand the implication.
  392. "I can't come over tonight. I'm too tired."
  393. >You lean your seat back and blow a big cloud of smoke at the roof of your car.
  394. >"You haven't been over in two months."
  395. >Has it been that long?
  396. >"Well, whatever."
  397. >She's annoyed.
  398. >"I have mail for you. Come get it whenever."
  399. >It's annoying that your mail still sometimes shows up there.
  400. "I'll come over this-"
  401. >"It's a letter for debt collection. How much do you owe?"
  402. >Your heart sinks.
  403. "You opened my mail?"
  404. >"It came to my house. Your father wanted me to throw it out. How much do you owe?"
  405. >You close your eyes and let the cigarette burn between your lips.
  406. "I don't want to talk about it. I'll come over this weekend to pick it up, okay?"
  407. >"When are you going to get your shit together, Ano-"
  408. >You hang up on her and throw your phone down on the passenger seat.
  409. >For a while, you sit staring out of the windshield at the cardboard dumpster in front of your car.
  410. >The cigarette in your mouth has burned out and a large portion of ash drops into your lap.
  411. >You groan and get out of your car, grabbing the plastic bag from the corner store and slamming the door shut.
  412. >Today was a shitty day.
  413.  
  414. -
  415.  
  416. >Derby is exactly where you left her.
  417. >You enter your apartment and quickly close the door behind you.
  418. >Derby is still on the couch, staring at the TV.
  419. >The Titanic is still playing.
  420. >She must have watched it at least two times already.
  421. "I'm home, Derby."
  422. >Her eyes never leave the TV.
  423. >You walk over and pick up the remote, pointing it at the screen.
  424. >When it goes black, Derby hops right off the couch and slinks over to you.
  425. >She sits at your feet and smiles up at you, one eye drifting off.
  426. >"Welcome home, Anonymous. Derby missed you."
  427. >You set the plastic bag on your coffee table.
  428. "I missed you too. How was your day?"
  429. >Derby's wing suddenly reaches forward and brushes against your leg.
  430. >You stand still as her wing pats your knee.
  431. >"Derby doesn't remember."
  432. >She smiles up at you as her wing continues to slide around your pant leg.
  433. >Is she doing it on purpose?
  434. "Well, it seems like you watched Titanic a few times."
  435. >You pull your leg away from her and pull a beer from out of the bag.
  436. "I'm gonna make something to eat and then we can plug you into the computer, okay?"
  437. >She just watches you open your can of beer with her smile.
  438. >As you take a drink, your eyes are drawn to the red '23' on her forehead.
  439. >You lean down and brush your thumb across it.
  440. >Some of her mane slides over the back of your hand.
  441. >Her eyes cross, following your hand and her mouth opens silently.
  442. >The painted numbers feel indented, like they were roughly stamped into her skull.
  443. >"Anonymous, how was your day?"
  444. >Her wing comes up again and starts doing its strange patting motion against your wrist.
  445. >Now you are aware of what is happening.
  446. >Just as you were curious about the numbers on her forehead, Derby must be curious about you.
  447. >Her wing seems to be examining you.
  448. >You straighten up again and take another drink.
  449. "It was... Good."
  450. >You grab the bag from the table and walk to the kitchen.
  451. >Derby follows, her wing brushing the back of your legs.
  452. >It feels sort of surreal-
  453. >A robot trying to physically examine you.
  454. >But you don't mind.
  455. >You turn on the kitchen light.
  456. >It's a small kitchen.
  457. >A dingy kitchen.
  458. >The yellowed light makes it seem like the place is always grimey, no matter how much you clean.
  459. >You set your bag on your slightly tilted table and pull the cans of beer out.
  460. >In the corner is your small fridge.
  461. >You open it and place the beer inside.
  462. >Aside from the beer now, your fridge is pathetically sparse.
  463. >A carton of eggs.
  464. >Some pickles.
  465. >Some expired chicken breast.
  466. >'When are you going to get your shit together?'
  467. >You quickly close the fridge and sit at the kitchen table with your beer.
  468. >The light flickers overhead.
  469. >You sigh and stare at the scratched up table top.
  470. >Without thinking, you reach into the bag again and pull out the Nyquil.
  471. >Sleep is all you want right now.
  472. >You open the medicine and take a large drink.
  473. >It makes you shiver.
  474. >A sudden noise draws your attention.
  475. >Derby is pushing your other wooden chair toward where you sit.
  476. >She slides it across the linolium until it bumps against your chair.
  477. >With a smile, she crawls up on the chair beside you.
  478. "Derby?"
  479. >The ponybot takes a seat next to you and leans her head against your side.
  480. >Her wing wraps around your back.
  481. >She moves her head against your ribs, like she's nuzzling you.
  482. >"How was your day, Anonymous?"
  483. >That makes your chest tighten up.
  484. >You take another drink of beer.
  485. >With one arm, you reach around Derby and pull her small body against you.
  486. >Your eyes wander over to the counter.
  487. >Beside your microwave sits a stack of mail.
  488. >All of the letters state the same thing.
  489. >'How much do you owe?'
  490. >"Did you have a good day, Anonymous?"
  491. >You close your eyes and take another drink.
  492. "It was bad. But I'm doing better now."
  493. >Derby's wing pats your back.
  494. >"Derby wants to be better too."
  495. >You look down at the top of her head.
  496. >The light flickers again and for a moment only the red glow of her eyes light the room.
  497. "How are you feeling, Derby?"
  498. >In the silence that follows, you fill yourself with more alcohol.
  499. >The cough syrup feels heavy in your gut.
  500. >"Derby was lonely."
  501. >So she does remember.
  502. >That hollow feeling returns.
  503. >"But Derby learned."
  504. >Your hand brushes over her side.
  505. >Across the notch where her missing wing should be attached.
  506. "Learned what?"
  507. >Her wing moves up your back and the feathers slide across the bare skin of your neck.
  508. >Goosebumps spread over your flesh and you shiver again.
  509. >"Derby learned that if she is lonely, I can press play."
  510. >Press play?
  511. >Ah, she means the DVD.
  512. >It's a good thing you actually had that.
  513. >You nod and finish your beer.
  514. "That's good. I don't want you to be lonely."
  515. >Finally, your pathetic kitchen light gives out.
  516. >You are left sitting in darkness.
  517. >Save for Derby's glowing eyes.
  518. >"Can we press play?"
  519. >You stand up, Derby's wing sliding down your body.
  520. >You open the fridge and grab a new beer, throwing your empty one into the trash.
  521. "Alright. Let me smoke a cigarette and then we can watch Titanic together, okay?"
  522. >Her eyes stare back at you in the dark.
  523. >"Anonymous?"
  524. >You open your beer.
  525. >"Are we lonely?"
  526. >The sounds of your neighbors arguing next door come through the thin wall.
  527. >You reach into your pocket and take out your cigarettes.
  528. >A dog starts barking outside as the sound of police sirens scream past on the street below.
  529. "Let's press play, Derby."
  530.  
  531.  
  532. --- 06.
  533.  
  534. >It's hard to say exactly when you fell asleep.
  535. >You don't remember.
  536. >NyQuil will do that to you.
  537. >The first thing you notice when you awake on your couch is the wetness on your waist.
  538. >Second, the sun is trying to shine into your living room through the closed blackout curtains.
  539. >Third, the wetness in your pants turns out to be from the spilled beer can that was in your hand when you fell asleep.
  540. >Your waist and a spot on the couch are soaked.
  541. >This is not the first time your couch got a beer bath.
  542. >The fourth thing you notice is-
  543. >"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?!"
  544. >"SpongeBob SquarePants."
  545. >Your blurry eyes look up to where the SpongeBob theme song is playing on the TV.
  546. >Derby is standing only a foot or so away from the screen.
  547. >As she sings along, she shakes her butt from side to side.
  548. >Her wing is held high and her long tail swishes on the ground behind her.
  549. >"If nautical nonsense be something you wish!"
  550. >Derby keeps shaking her back end in an awkward jig and sings back to the screen.
  551. >"SpongeBob SquarePants."
  552. >Her singing voice is flat and morose sounding.
  553. >But she seems to be happy, dancing and bobbing her head.
  554. >Your head is killing you.
  555. >And your stomach is sick.
  556. "Derby..."
  557. >The pony turns her head around while still shaking her butt.
  558. >Her everpresent smile greets you.
  559. >"Good morning, Anonymous. SpongeBob SquarePants."
  560. >You take the empty beer can from beside your waist and place it on the table in front of you, where six other empty cans stand.
  561. "Yeah. SpongeBob SquarePants."
  562. >You grab your phone from off the arm rest and check the time.
  563. >Two in the afternoon.
  564. >Derby turns back to the TV.
  565. >Even though the song is over, she still jitters a bit.
  566. >Luckily, you don't have work today.
  567. >Your head throbs.
  568. >There's a nasty taste in the back of your throat.
  569. "Ugh..."
  570. >You grab your pack of cigarettes from the coffee table and take one out.
  571. >Never have you smoked in your apartment, but right now you can't find the intestinal fortitude to make your way outside.
  572. >So you light up right on the couch.
  573. >"Derby likes this show."
  574. >You lean back on the couch and look at Derby.
  575. >Her head moves slightly, following the movements of characters on the screen.
  576. >Without an ashtray, you grab the beer can you just set down and ash your cigarette into it.
  577. >"SpongeBob SquarePants."
  578. >Today you will plug Derby back in and examine her settings.
  579. >Today you will.
  580. >But after a nap.
  581. >You're soaked in beer and your head feels like ground beef.
  582. >There's no point in trying to deal with this right now.
  583. >So you take the half-empty bottle of NyQuil from the table beside the couch and have a drink from that.
  584. >At least you don't have to work today.
  585. >There's really nothing for you to do.
  586. >So you finish your cigarette and drift back to sleep.
  587. >The last thing you remember is the sight of Derby bouncing happily in front of the television.
  588.  
  589. -
  590.  
  591. >Today is the seventeenth.
  592. >Your phone bill comes out today.
  593. >The TV and internet comes out in two days.
  594. >And the car insurance is today as well.
  595. >One more paycheck this month and then your rent is due on the first.
  596. >You sit at your kitchen table, looking at the sheet of paper where you've tracked bills.
  597. >There's not much to work with in terms of money.
  598. >It took a lot of saving to buy Derby.
  599. >That's part of the reason why your fridge is so bare now.
  600. >You put your phone down and creak back in your chair, sighing and running a hand through your hair.
  601. >Derby watches from her chair right beside you.
  602. >You take a drink of beer and pat her head.
  603. "I have to go shopping, Derby."
  604. >You are hungry.
  605. >It's a bad idea to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, but you desperately need food.
  606. >It's a good thing Derby doesn't need to eat.
  607. >"I want to go shopping with Anonymous."
  608. >You finish your last can of beer and toss it into the overflowing trash.
  609. "No. You have to stay here, Derby."
  610. >"Please don't leave Derby alone."
  611. "I'm just going to the store, I'll be right ba-"
  612. >There's a sudden knock at your front door.
  613. >No one ever visits in the evening.
  614. >No one ever visits.
  615. >You get up and go into the living room, with Derby following on your heels and her wing brushing against your legs.
  616. >Going to the front door, you look out through the peephole.
  617. >Your mother stands on the other side of the door.
  618. >The sight makes a sinking feeling in your stomach.
  619. >There is no way you can let her see Derby.
  620. >So you pick the pony up and rush to your bedroom.
  621. >Derby wraps her legs aground your neck and you almost run into a wall when her wing comes up to pat your face.
  622. >"I like it when you hold me, Anonymous."
  623. >You peel her off and set her down on your bed.
  624. "Okay, Derby... Please stay in here. Don't come out until I come get you, okay?"
  625. >Derby just sits and smiles at you.
  626. >One of her eyes drifts down.
  627. >As insurance for her compliance, you turn the TV on.
  628. >Her attention is drawn to the screen instantly.
  629. >It's still on the History Channel, so hopefully Ancient Aliens will keep her distracted.
  630. >With that, you leave your bedroom and close the door behind you.
  631. >Outside, you can hear your mom pounding on the front door.
  632. >From the kitchen, the sound of your phone buzzing on the table reaches your ears.
  633. >You bound over and unlock the three different locks on your door and open it.
  634. >Your mother's grumpy face stares at you.
  635. >"Why didn't you answer your phone?"
  636. "I didn't know you were planning on coming over."
  637. >You can see her eyes scanning the inside of your apartment behind you.
  638. >Shifting your body in the door frame, you try to block her view.
  639. >"I was out at my book club, so I decided to come by and check on you. So you're smoking again, huh?"
  640. >You try not to glare at her.
  641. >It's really hard.
  642. "Yeah. Sorry, but I'm actually going to go to the grocery store soon."
  643. >She is still trying to look into your apartment.
  644. >"At nine at night?"
  645. "I was asleep today. Walmart is open twenty-four hours."
  646. >"Are you going to invite me in?" She snaps.
  647. "I'm about to leave."
  648. >She makes her impatient face and you can tell she doesn't care about anything you have to say.
  649. >"I have something for you."
  650. >You see that down in the parking lot, there are three guys standing near a car, smoking.
  651. >They all look like tweekers and are watching you speak with your mother.
  652. "Alright, come on in."
  653. >You move aside and your mother rushes past you.
  654. >Once the door is closed and locked, you turn and see that your mom is staring down at your coffee table.
  655. >It's cluttered with the usual mess of papers, cups, knick-nacks and used plates.
  656. >But now there are empty beer cans with ash on the tops, a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of NyQuil.
  657. >"You're smoking in here?"
  658. >You sigh and go to do damage control on the kitchen before she can see it.
  659. "Only a bit. I didn't-"
  660. >"That's disgusting."
  661. >You roll your eyes and march into the kitchen.
  662. >There's nothing you can do.
  663. >The pile of dirty dishes in the sink.
  664. >The trash overflowing next to the fridge.
  665. >The mess on the table.
  666. >So instead of trying to mask the filth, you just grab your phone.
  667. >Your mother comes into the kitchen and makes a disgusted 'tch' sound.
  668. >"I wasn't expecting it to be this bad."
  669. "Yeah. I get it. I really have to get going soon. I haven't eaten today."
  670. >She steps over an empty box of cereal on the ground and over to the table, acting like anything she touches will try to bite her.
  671. >"Here."
  672. >She places a slip of paper down on the table.
  673. >You lean over and look as she takes a pen out of her purse.
  674. "What is that?"
  675. >"How much do you owe?"
  676. >She starts filling out a check.
  677. >Your stomach clenches and you lean back.
  678. "Listen, I don't need-"
  679. >"How much do you owe?"
  680. >You know she's not going to give this up.
  681. >With a sigh, you run a hand through your hair.
  682. "Three thousand..."
  683. >She looks up from the check and gives you a look.
  684. >That look hurts more than anything.
  685. >A mixture of irritation and disappointment.
  686. >With a 'tch', she finishes filling out the check.
  687. >"I'm not going to ask why. I'm not going to tell you how to fix what you have done."
  688. >She folds the check in half and slides it in front of you.
  689. >"Just get it together."
  690. >You look into her cold eyes.
  691. >"For the love of God, Anon. Get. Your shit. Together."
  692. >The only thing you can do is stare at her with your mouth slightly open.
  693. >Without a word, she hoists her purse up on her shoulder and exits your kitchen.
  694. >You stare down at the check in front of you.
  695. >It seems too heavy to pick up from the beat up table.
  696. >The sound of your front door slamming makes you look up.
  697. >You sit staring at the door of the kitchen in silence.
  698. >"Anonymous?"
  699. >Derby pokes her head into the kitchen.
  700. >She smiles at you, one eye looking over toward the stove.
  701. >"Is it okay for Derby to come out?"
  702. >She's already-
  703. >You offer her a weak smile.
  704. "Yes, Derby. Thank you."
  705. >The ponybot walks silently into the kitchen.
  706. >Without a word, she crawls up into your lap.
  707. >You shift in your chair, caught off guard.
  708. >Derby wraps her hooves around your neck and hugs you tightly.
  709. >Her mane slides across your face in an orange mesh.
  710. >"I am your Carpathia."
  711. >That makes you blink in confusion.
  712. >Derby's wing wraps over your head.
  713. >It almost feels like a hand pulling you closer.
  714. >"I will save you from drowning, Anonymous."
  715. >You feel the tears welling up in your eyes.
  716. "Damn..."
  717.  
  718. -
  719.  
  720. >You were wrong.
  721. >All wrong.
  722. >The calculations were all wrong.
  723. >There's less money in your bank account than you thought.
  724. >It turns out you only have fifty dollars left.
  725. >Fifty dollars to your name.
  726. >After the phone bill and insurance, you don't even have enough to pay the TV and internet bill.
  727. >And now there is even less after your trip to the store.
  728. >After checking your bank account and finding your meager funds, you had to make a choice.
  729. >So now, as you stand in your kitchen looking at your 'groceries', you feel drained.
  730. >The box of ramen noodles and cans of beefaroni will have to last you for the next week.
  731. >You can do it.
  732. >Of course- you didn't NEED the beer, NyQuil and cigarettes.
  733. >Of course.
  734. >But you bought them anyway.
  735. >You light a cigarette and take a drink of NyQuil as you listen to the sounds of The Titanic playing on the TV in the living room.
  736. >The feeling of the syrup sliding down your throat helps.
  737. >You ash your cigarette into the sink and look over at the table.
  738. >Your mother's check still lays in the same place.
  739. >Three thousand dollars.
  740. >You can pay off your debt.
  741. >Or-
  742. >You could use some to buy food...
  743. >No.
  744. >You have to get your shit together.
  745. >There's a vibration in your pocket and you slap your hand to your leg.
  746. >Your phone.
  747. >Taking it out, you turn on the screen.
  748. >A text message.
  749. >From your dad.
  750. >With your heart kicking up suddenly, you open the message.
  751. >'After you cash the check don't bother talking to us for a while. Thank your mother then handle your business.'
  752. >You stare at that message for a while.
  753. >Long enough to go through the rest of your cigarette and on to a new one.
  754. >Putting your phone on the counter, you open a Pabst and take a good long drink.
  755. >Through the wall, you can hear your neighbors start their yelling match.
  756. >There's the sound of glass breaking and a woman starts crying.
  757. >With your beer, you leave the kitchen and walk into the living room.
  758. >There's no light, save for the TV.
  759. >And Derby's crimson eyes.
  760. >She sits on the couch, smiling at the screen.
  761. >You walk down the hall and to your bathroom.
  762. >Closing the door, you turn on the light and take another drink of beer.
  763. >You catch a sight of yourself in the mirror.
  764. >It makes you turn away.
  765. >You get into the bathtub and sit down.
  766. >In one drink, you finish your beer.
  767. >Swallowing, you crush the can in one hand and throw it violently at the door.
  768. >It bounces off and slides across the linoleum.
  769. >You pull your knees to your chest and hang your head between them with your eyes closed.
  770. >When is this going to stop?
  771. >You are twenty-seven.
  772. >When do things get better?
  773. "It's too late..."
  774. >The door to the bathroom opens.
  775. >You don't look up.
  776. >Derby walks into the bathroom and you know she is staring at you sitting in the bathtub.
  777. >Smiling.
  778. >You can hear the sound of her shifting around and a clicking noise.
  779. >Lifting your head slowly, you turn to her.
  780. >She stands smiling at you.
  781. >Using her wing like a hand, she points the TV remote at you and clicks it over and over.
  782. >Pressing 'play'.
  783. >Finally, you cry.
  784. >You sob like a baby, sitting in your bathtub with your knees pulled tightly to your chest.
  785. >"What is wrong with you, Anonymous? Derby doesn't know... What is wrong with you?"
  786.  

/bootleg/ Chrysalis

by BlueGem

/bootleg/ Waiful Thread - OP Template

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