Ponies stopped their conversations as Fluttershy passed. The dampness on her cheeks, the horrible, sunken look in her red eyes, the way she dragged her hooves as she trudged through the quiet street just outside of Ponyville screamed just as loud as her wailing. One mare stepped forward and extended a hoof to help her. Fluttershy stopped her caterwauling and looked up from the ground in front of her and towards the mare for only a moment before she continued her wailing.
The mare walked away slowly, never turning away from Fluttershy.
Pinkie and Rarity witnessed the whole thing and rushed off to catch up with Fluttershy.
“Goodness me, dearie! What has gotten into you?” Rarity came to Fluttershy’s side and touched a hoof on top of one of Fluttershy’s.
“Yeah! You’re not acting like Fluttershy at all! Did you eat some bad muffins? I know I have, and they made me want to cry, and vomit too.”
A glare from Rarity was enough to stop Pinkie from going on a tangent about recent escapades involving bad muffins. She turned back to Fluttershy, who was still looking at the ground and crying. “Wherever are you going in such a state, dear? It’s not like you to be so… dramatic in public.”
Without looking up from the ground, Fluttershy pointed down the country road. “I… I… I have to go say… I’m sorry!” said Fluttershy between sobs. Both Pinkie and Rarity looked down the direction she was pointing. This road lead to only one thing, and it made Rarity cringe.
“So, you need to go… there, right? If you go there and say you’re sorry, will you feel better?”
Fluttershy nodded before wiping away a bunch of tears with her foreleg. “I… I…”
Rarity sat next to Fluttershy and lightly pressed against her. “Don’t worry, darling, we’ll go together.” Pinkie sat on the other side of Fluttershy and nuzzled her.
Fluttershy sucked up some snot and looked up Rarity. “O...Okay…”
The rusty gate squeaked and shut with a loud, metallic clang. Even the wonderful weather today couldn’t help the gloom and doom that settled over the place.
Rows upon rows of stones stood before the three, marking the final resting place of ponies who came before them, and those who were unfortunate enough to meet their end at a young age. On these stones were engravings of cutie marks above names and dates. Some graves were overrun with weeds and moss, while others looked fresh and new. Rarity felt a shiver run down her spine and Pinkie remained silent as Fluttershy slowly led them deeper into the graveyard.
No birds sang, and the wind was still; the only things that disturbed the peace were the clopping of hooves on a cobblestone path and the weeping of a miserable mare. The three slowly made their way deeper into the silent cemetary, going farther back where the graves were fresh. Fluttershy stopped in front of a grave, the soil still damp from the morning dew and crawling with earthworms. No grass had yet grown on the grave.
Fluttershy plopped her bottom on the ground. Her mane fell over her eyes as she drooped her head. Her shoulders heaved every few seconds when she sobbed, but other than that, she remained quiet.
Rarity and Pinkie sat behind Fluttershy as well. Rarity looked at the grave in front of them, but couldn’t recognize the name or the cutie mark that was inscribed on the stone. They sat still for what must have been a short eternity. Pinkie squirmed and twitched in place, glancing about at the other graves. She reached for Fluttershy and opened her mouth, but Rarity pushed away her hoof and shook her head. Pinkie put her hoof down and continued to fidget.
More time passed until Fluttershy broke the silence. “I’m a horrible pony.”
“You’re not a horrible pony, darling. You are the nicest pony we know! What ever would make you even think such a thing?”
“Yeah, Fluttershy! Why are you being so mopey?”
Fluttershy lifted her head slightly and turned to her friends behind her, but stopped, shook her head, and curled up tighter, sticking her head between her front legs and her nose to the ground. “No… I… I… I’ve done a bad thing.”
Pinkie grabbed Fluttershy’s chin and pulled her head up. She stared right into Fluttershy’s eyes and put on the biggest smile. “So? We’ve all made mistakes! I’ve made mistakes before! No use letting that get you down.”
Rarity smacked Pinkie’s hoof pushed her away from Fluttershy. “She’s right, darling. We have all done things we regret, but it doesn’t make you a bad pony. I’m certain whatever it was, you did what you thought was right. There is no need to beat yourself up over it.”
Fluttershy looked between her friends and the fresh grave. She lifted her head, raising it higher than her withers.
Pinkie smiled. “Yeah! It’s not like you killed anypony or anything like that, right?”
Fluttershy froze, her eyes locked on to Pinkie. She fell to the ground, covered her face, and wailed. Rarity glared at Pinkie, who responded with a shrug and a “Whaaaat?”
Rarity stepped up to Fluttershy and crouched down to be level with her and tried to soothe her. “Listen, Fluttershy, whatever you did, we are sure you didn’t mean it. We know you’re not a bad pony and would never do anything to hurt anypony. We are your friends, and nothing could ever, ever change that.”
Fluttershy stopped her crying and peeked through her hooves at Rarity. “Do… Do you really mean it?”
Rarity nodded and smiled. Fluttershy sniffled and revealed her face. “I… I…”
Pinkie and Rarity leaned in closer, their ears perked up.
“I DID IT!!!” bellowed Fluttershy as she curled up again into a sobbing ball in front of the grave.
“WHAT!?” Pinkie screamed in Fluttershy’s ear before Rarity silenced her with another glare.
“Fluttershy, darling, I’m sure you’re blaming yourself over nothing.”
“But he.. he had a family and loved ones… and I… and I…“
Rarity pointed at the grave. “Darling, what did you do to make you think you’re the one responsible for this?”
Fluttershy snapped open her wings and uncovered her face. Her pupils were pinpricks and her eyes were even more agitated than before. “I fed him to the animals!” The mournful Fluttershy curled up again into a sobbing and heaving mess.
Rarity screamed in Fluttershy’s ear. “You did WHAT!?”
Pinkie was jumping up and down like crazy. “OhmygoshOhmygoshOhmygosh! We got to hide the body!”
Rarity raised a hoof to slap Pinkie, but she only shook it in the air a bit before she put it back down. “Pinkie! Settle down! This can’t be right!”
“There’s no body to hide anymore!” screamed Fluttershy from her little ball of wails.
Pinkie wiped the sweat off her forehead. “Phew! Then that’s one problem taken care of.”
Rarity facehoofed. “Pinkie! Fluttershy is not responsible for this! She can’t be! She…”
“He’s dead and it’s all my fault! They ate him! And his family!”
Pinkie lost her balance. “You fed a whole family to animals?!”
Covering her eyes, Fluttershy rolled around on the ground and wailed. Her fur and wings picked up dirt.
“Now, darling, I think you may be…” Rarity didn’t get to finish her sentence, as Fluttershy coughed and spewed a wad of phlegm in Rarity’s face. She froze for a moment and wiped away the phlegm, shrieking in disgust on the inside.
Fluttershy rolled around and kicked her back legs. “...And to think, I’ve been doing this for so long! How many families have I hurt!?”
Pinkie Pie grabbed Fluttershy by the shoulders and pulled her up to eye-level. “Don’t worry, Fluttershy! We won’t let you fall for this! Whatever happens, we’ll be there for you! Rarity! I’m going to need a bucket of cold water, some bleach, a hockey mask, some trash bags, several passports for Neighico, 2,000 bits, and a slow, white bronco!”
Rarity rubbed her temples. There was no way this could get worse.
“Is everything alright over there?”
Rarity and Pinkie sprang up and shrieked. Pinkie dropped Fluttershy on the ground with a thud. Behind them was a patrolling guard. He took a look at the scene in front of him. Two mares with stressed looks on their faces and manes a mess; a third on the ground curled up into a ball and wailing like there was no tomorrow.
“She didn’t kill anybody!” announced Pinkie. Rarity jabbed Pinkie in the side. “I’m sorry, sir, but my friend is mourning the death of a… close friend, if you wouldn’t mind…”
The guard nodded. “I’m sorry to have intruded on your personal matters.” He turned around and headed back towards the graveyard entrance.
Rarity wiped the sweat off her forehead. “That was close.”
She tiptoed over to Fluttershy and rubbed her on her back. She was no longer wailing, but muttering “worm...food...worm...food…” over and over again.
“Yup! He’s worm food alright!”
Rarity pressed against her temple. This was stressful enough without Pinkie being herself. She leaned down close to Fluttershy’s ear. “Fluttershy, we’re here for you, and we are going to help you the best we can. But we need to know exactly what happened. Can you please explain to us how this all occured?”
Fluttershy fought back her sobs and sniffles as she spilled her guts. “Well, I came here... this morning on my way to town… to get some more f-f-food for the animals… and, and, as I was feeding the b-b-baby birds, I thought to myself, ‘Birds have families. Mamas and Papas who look after their young and love them very much. Just like us ponies. So do ferrets and bears and snakes.’ I… I looked in my hoof and saw a worm, ‘But what about worms?’ and then it was eaten by a bird! Then I realized it… I’ve stolen a worm’s family member and fed it to an animal! I’M A MURDERER!”
Fluttershy broke down again and wailed loudly. Pinkie and Rarity stared at Fluttershy with gaping mouths.
Rarity turned to Pinkie. “Pinkie, I’m going to tell Aloe and Lotus we’ll be a little bit late for our appointment. Do you want me to pick you up anything while I’m in town?”
Pinkie nodded. “Yeah! Could you pick up a couple of daisy sandwiches? I think we’ll be here for awhile.”
Rarity walked into town. If this was anything like when she had a similar thought while feeding fish to ferrets, it may take a while.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Worm’s family! I didn’t know what I was doing! I DIDN’T KNOW!”