Mother's Orders
IC date: Autumn 64
OOC date: November 23
Location: Dreamland
PCs: Makuru Dream-Daze
NPCs: N/A
GM: Applejack

*drip*

It's dark. Very dark. The only thing lighting this dingy, mildew-scented hallway being a single dirty light hanging from the drippy half-rotten beams across an unfinished ceiling. The stairs behind Makuru extend up and around a bend in the stairwell, where a dim bit of daylight casts a faint shadow across a few of the stairs. Ahead of Makuru, this hallway stretches out, ending in a dead-end, but lined on either side with several closed, rusty, metal doors, each with slender viewing portals at eye level, and tiny hinged doors, like doggie doors, on the bottom.

He has a tray balanced on his flank. Several bottles are arranged to keep balance upon this tray when the zebra walks.

*drip*

It's quiet down here, too. Naught more than the colt's own breathing echoing down the dark, dingy hallway…

Makuru trots down the hallway impassively, nost wrinkling at the foul smell of mold and decay that hangs in the air like a heavy fog. The trip has become routine to the zebra, necessity and time alike rendering the unthinkable into reality. He stops at the first door, glances at the tray on his flank to make sure he has all of the proper bottles, then peers through the slit.

The creak of the viewing port as it's slid open to peer inside prompts a sudden scurry of motion and scuffing of hoof! A weak, but fearful groan rises from the shadowy shape lurking within, huddled in the corner of what must be a stonework, windowless cell.

"Make sure they all drink their dose!" comes the voice of Mother from the stairwell. "I need'em all workin' hard! These beauty products don't make themselves y'know! No slackers, or you're gonna hafta take it outta their hide yourself!"

"Of course, momma," Makuru calls back up the stairs. He closes the hatch and unlatches the door, pressing his shoulders against the heavy iron and giving it a push that makes its rusty hinges squeal with distress. "You heard her," he says to the occupant. "It's time for your medicine. You need to keep your strength up for momma."

The shape huddles, wide white eyes peering from the dark shape. The vaguely familiar, dark shape, of another striped pony. "N..no.. P-please…" a weak voice says, one hoof extended, as though it were enough to ward away the approaching shadow of the potions zebra.

The tray is slid onto a plank sticking out of the wall — a convenient 'table' for doing his work. "Are you feeling sick again?" Makuru asks with genuine concern in his voice. "You're not yourself. Don't worry, once you drink this you'll feel much better." He uncorks two of the bottles and pours them into a small cup. A phial of orange powder comes next, a few grains carefully shaken into the cup which make the concoction steam violently for a moment before it settles into a noxious pink liquid. "Open your mouth, I'll help you drink it." His voice is gentle and kind, like he is speaking to a friend— because, after all, he is. The colt carries the cup to the dark shape's side and sits beside it expectantly.

The shape has nowhere to escape to! All it—she can do is huddle and shiver, those wide eyes starting to dialate, then lid as those noxious fumes waft her way. It all happens in a matter of moments, the filly sitting up as though in a trance, head hanging, eyes glazed, the shivering replaced with a sort of relaxed posture. Then her head tips up, mouth open obediently.

Makuru clasps the cup between his hooves and places its rim against the filly's lips, tilting it up so that the liquid pours freely into her mouth. "Try not to spill any like you did last time." His voice is like honey, his bedside manner impeccable.

The little zebra filly gulps, gulps, gulps! The potion is gone in moments, her head staying in place until she's sure there's nothing left to drink. She lowers her head again, hanging. "Everything is fine now." she says in a dull, flat voice. "I am fine."

Makuru hugs the filly, a wide smile plastered across his face. "That's much better!" he positively cheers. "Momma's gonna be so happy that you're feeling better! But you've gotta rest for now, okay? Get your strength back, I'll come back in an hour or two for you." He gives his zebra friend a friendly nuzzle on her cheek and stands up, retrieving his tray from the table by the door and grabbing the handle of the rusty door in his mouth so that he can pull it shut. The locks slam into place with a screech of old metal. There's still plenty more foals to give their medicine to tonight~

I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry…

Still sitting next to the filly in the darkened and sealed cell, Makuru still has his forehooves wrapped around her in a tight hug. Tears stream down his face while sobs wrack his chest, his apologizes uninterrupted as his mouth seems completely unnecessary for the thoughts to echo.

"Poor little Makuru…"

As Makuru is out tending to other foals, the sounds of metal doors opening and closing one by one, of scuffling hooves, fizzing potions, and sobs turning into dull voices of acquiescence, this cell where another Makuru is still hugging the now very-inert filly has another visitor. A small, blue, unicorn filly. Sitting in the opposite corner, watchful of the potions zebra colt.

"Do you want it to stop? I can make it stop you know… That's what I do, isn't it?" A pause. "Protect my friends from the bad dreams?"

The sobbing breaks into hiccups and the zebra colt looks at the far corner of the room. Dreamy…? he 'says' to the unicorn, lips not moving. Am I…? This is a dream again, right? Why am I dreaming about doing such horrible things? Miss Fizz made me promise I'd never hurt ponies like this… Makuru sniffles and holds the inert zebra at his side close to him. I don't want to be a bad pony.

Dreamy steps away from the corner, through the slim bar of light that filters through the left-open porthole in the door. She stands, as tall as a short lil' filly can stand in front of Makuru and the very doll-like striped filly he's clinging so desperately to.

"This is what the nightmare does, Makuru." the filly says. She definitely /is/ using her mouth to speak. "It looks for ways to scare you. It…" a pause, those amber-hued eyes of hers glancing towards the dank, darkened ceiling of the small cell. "I'm trying to deal with it." she says carefully. "But you have to be strong and…trust me." Another pause, those filly eyes focusing intently upon Makuru. "You trust me, don't you?"

Of course I do, Dreamy! Makuru nods weakly to his friend, then looks down at the filly in his hooves. She's… she's not real. Just the nightmare playing tricks on him, heartbreaking as those tricks are. The unicorn in the room with him, SHE'S real. He slowly climbs back to his feet. I trust you with my life… and with my dreams. Please help me. He takes a few hesitant steps to his friend, sparing a final glance back at the alchemically lobotomized filly on the floor, then throws his hooves around Dreamy's neck in a tight hug. I don't want to have bad dreams anymore…!

"Then tonight…" the filly whispers, forelegs curled about Makuru in kind. "…you shall be spared the bad dreams."

Already the dreamscape is fuzzy. But before it has a chance to completely shift into something more pleasant, Dreamy's visage darkens, glaring over Makuru's shoulder at the other striped filly.

Whom isn't a striped filly anymore, but another Dream Daze, shackled to the cell wall, her mane obscuring half of her face and the lone uncovered amber-hued eye staring at the Makuru's back. One hoof stretched out, trying to touch her friend..!

Then it's all gone. All draining into a swirling blackness. Dreams? Not tonight. Not for this little colt…