The Number 22

Chapter 2

I had to find out the truth about the book. I knew that somehow the book contained a hidden message meant only for me. I mean, come on, it was speaking of my childhood for Celestia's sake! However, a visit from my friends changed my decision...but only for a short time.


February 3

"Twilight?...Twilight, deary, are you home? Please open the door!"

CREEEEAAAAKKK

"...Yes?"

"Twilight, dear, I've been worried about you. I woke up last night to take Opalescence out for a walk when, out of the corner of my eye, I happened to see the library lit up with your bedroom light. I walked over to investigate and, not wanting to barge in, decided to use my horn to...um..."

"Wait a minute! I know what kind of magic you're capable of, Rarity! You were using the eaves-dropping spell, weren't you?"

"...Um...well...eaves-dropping is such a strong word..."

"What exactly did you hear?"

"Well...I heard you pacing around the room, talking to yourself the whole while."

"You heard what I was saying?"

"...Yes...and we came here to see what you were talking about."

"Wait a second...We?"

Just then, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie appeared beside Rarity in the doorway.

"We meaning us," spoke Applejack.

"Twilight," whispered Fluttershy, "According to what Rarity told us, you were mumbling something like...um...Well, it sounded like..."

"The book knows," finished Rainbow Dash.

"What exactly does that mean, dearie?" asked Rarity.

I started to wonder what I was going to say. I mean, haven't you ever had a time when you had a secret that you didn't what anyone else to know...but everypony was pressuring you to let it out? I prayed that I could choose the right words...words that wouldn't turn my friends against me and make them send me to a doctor...Actually, to tell the truth, I was wanting to just lie...Lie to make everything sound normal...Lie to get them out of my house and away from me...Lie to allow myself free time to explore the origins of the book...All I had to do was fib...But the truth just sort of came out.

"...Yesterday...I received a book from Rarity as a birthday present..."

"Oh, you mean that blood-red book?" asked Pinkie. "The Number 22?"

"Y...Yes! Pinkie, how did you know about that? Did your Pinkie sense tell you about it?!"

"Nope. I just saw the cover when you brought it to the party."

"Oh...Right..."

"Darling," continued Rarity, "What exactly is it about the book that's bothering you?"

"...Well, this is gonna sound totally crazy,...but the book seems to know a lot about my childhood."

"That's your problem, Twilight?!" smirked Rainbow Dash. "You bring us down here to tell us that a book seems to know what you were like as a baby? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!"

"Rainbow Dash!" yelled Applejack. "Now look, sugar cube. I know you tend to do a lot of studyin' and things seem to get stuck in yer head, but I think a book knows less about you than a total stranger."

"No, no, this is different! In that book, the main character said her favorite childhood book was Hoofling at the Zoo!"

"So?" asked Rainbow Dash

"So?!...My mother read that same book to me as a young filly!"

"Well, that doesn't prove anything, Twilight," spoke Rarity, "I'm sure lots of fillies had that book read to them."

"...Um...not really."

"Nope."

"Uh-uh."

"Nada."

"...Well, some help you guys are."

"And get this, guys. The character used to live in Canterlot, which she despised, had a neighbor named Mrs. Gumdrops, who had a dog, and her father was an accountant! My father was an accountant! I used to live in Canterlot...and I didn't like it because it was too fancy for my taste! I had a neighbor named Lady Gumdrops...who had a dog named Chief!"

"Wait a minute," interrupted Applejack. "You never said the dog's name was Chief."

"Well, in the story, the character's father thought of the dog as "pure mischief." My dad used to call the dog Ms. Chief, since it was a female."

"Well," responded Applejack, "I do admit that is kinda weird...but I still don't think that book's got any mystical powers or anything like that."

"Yes, Twilight," Rarity agreed. "A book is an inanimate object. Whatever descriptions it has that may be coincidentally similar to your past years do not imply the fact that it somehow knows about you."

"I like my pep-talk better," replied Applejack. "A lot less big words."

"...Maybe you guys are right. Maybe I'm just overlooking this a bit too much. I mean, come on, a book doesn't know anything about me. Books are meant to be read as literature, not worshiped as gods."

"Exactly, darling."

"Darn-tootin'!"

"...Um...yes."

"Eh, whatever."

"Don't worry, you guys. I won't stress myself out anymore. In fact, I think I'll read a little bit further into it. I'm sure that, once I read a little more, the similarities between itself and my life will disappear."

"Good thinking, Twilight!" cheered Rarity.

After my friends left, I did as I said I would do. I pulled out the book, sat down on my bed, and began to read further into the story.


Chapter 2

Orlando

Fourteen years later, I was different...but yet the same. I wasn't the eight-year-old Canterlot girl I used to be. I was a 22-year-old trouble-shooting, risk-taking researcher...who, unfortunately, still lived in Canterlot. I guess you can't always get your way about everything.

Anyways, since the fru-fru city was the best place to do my job, I got over the fact that I still didn't like it that well. It took a while, but I eventually got used to it...And that's when I met him...The most handsome stallion I had ever seen in my life (which was partially because I was kind of a tomboy who didn't hang around a lot of guys in my life). But, now, one was walking right up to me seemingly out of nowhere!

Ah, yes, I remember it well. I had just gotten through researching the causes of house fires when he appeared at the scene. He was the neighbor of the house's inhabitants who dialed 9-1-1 as soon as he saw the blaze. Everything about him was illuminated by the still-burning house (the fire department had just arrived, so there was still plenty of fire to put out). In fact, I don't believe there was one spot on his body hidden in darkness. That meant I could see everything...his tan skin, his pencil-thin mustache, and his muscular physique. Yep...I knew Celestia was watching over me that night, because, even with me being less than 20 feet from the blaze, I managed not to sweat.

At first, we didn't say anything to each other...We would only stare...After about two minutes of that, he finally broke the silence by asking me some questions about the research I was doing. I don't remember what they were, but that's not really relevant anymore. I answered them as honestly as I could, daring not to leave out anything, as if I was hooked up to a lie detector. Finally, after a long conversation, he invited me to his house for dinner. That night, I put on my best dress (the one I had never tried on before) and made my way to his humble abode. When I got there, he had a fire lit, romantic music playing, and the table set. He was standing in the middle of the main room with a rose stuck in his mouth...After what seemed like hours, I finally woke up in his bed with him snuggled up beside me...Then I realized something...He had never even told me his name. When I asked him, it only took one word for my body to become entranced...Orlando.


After I finished the chapter, I threw the book to the other side of the room. I wanted that thing as far away from me as possible. Sure, my friends had made me forget about worrying...but it didn't last long. The book had yet again almost accurately described an important event in my past. In this case, my first love. I was determined to get a good night's sleep...determined to keep the book out of my mind...but I failed.

"Alright, Twilight...you've had a rough day and now you're ready to replenish your energy for tomorrow with a good night's rest."

Suddenly, just as I was beginning to pull back the covers, my body began to tingle. Before I knew it, I was out of bed and walking. It was as if something had a magnetic force pulling me...and I knew exactly what that something was.

"No...No, stop!"

As I walked over to the book, my body impulsively began trying to fight back. But, just like me, it failed.

"This...can't be happening!...I CAN RESIST!...I...MUST...RESIST!.....NOOOOOOO!!"

After getting to it, I reached down and picked it up. My body seemed to scream inside as I brought it back to bed with me. Part of me wanted to get it away...but the other part...the stronger part...wanted me to keep reading...and I did.


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