The Number 22

Chapter 3

I was being dragged against my will...unable to do anything as the book forced me to bring it back to bed with me. My mind (the only thing I had under my control) was trying to formulate a plan, but the book seemed to try and block my creative thoughts and replace it with those of its own. The book wanted me thinking about it and it only. However, being the Element of Magic, I managed to use a mind-clearing spell to give myself a few moments of peace...a few moments to clear my head and think...without the book thinking for me. The spell payed off as I imagined myself in a clear white room that contained nothing...It was just me and the walls...Nothing else. I knew that, back in my normal state of mind, I was still being controlled. Luckily, though, the spell gives you a few minutes to think clearly in your new state of mind, while, in actual time, only a few seconds pass. However, I knew I had to act quick and think of what I had to do.

"Okay, Twilight, let's go over the facts here: (A You own a book that almost accurately describes your personal childhood and young adult years. (B Your friends tried to assure you there was nothing to worry about, but now you are being controlled by the book itself...Now, the only thing I have to decide is...WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!"

I screamed and screamed inside my mind, knowing all the while no one could hear me. I was free to express myself and let out all my held-in emotions...but only for a short time.

"...Wait...I've got it! I'll just return to my original plan: going to the bookstore I got it from and researching its origins. If anyone else has had the same problem, I'm sure it's in a book or document or something!...Yes! I'm not going to let it ruin my life anymore!"

My time was up as I returned to the real world. My hooves were turning the pages as I awoke. When I finally adjusted my vision, I found myself to be at "Chapter 3."

"Alright, it's obvious the book wants me to keep reading...So...if I just do as it says with no questions asked, it won't try anymore of that "magnetic pull" stuff again and I can continue on just like I was. Then, when its guard is down, I can go to the bookstore and track down its origins. Hopefully, they'll also let me return it...I hope I saved the receipt..."

But there was one thing that was still bothering me...How had it known about Orlando? I mean, sure he was my first love...but I had never told anyone about him...not even my parents. And this book had done far more than describe his features...It described our first night together.

"Well, whatever sick and twisted mind games this book is playing, I'm not following them. You hear that, you dusty old piece of literary trash?! You are not gonna best me!"

Chapter 3

The Italian Blonde

My relationship with Orlando grew even stronger over the next few weeks. With each night, I grew closer to him than I had to anypony else...and I felt that he felt the same way. However, even though I was having the time of my life, a certain assignment caught me by surprise...and that's when the terror really began.

It was about four weeks after I met Orlando. We were both very happy with the way things were, never getting bored being together. In fact, it seemed like every day we were discovering something new about each other. Although, I still kept my job, so I often had to leave him in the afternoon. And one afternoon...that afternoon...was a special one. And not just because it was my birthday.

I heard a call made to the police over the scanner (I kept one by my bed to keep myself informed on all of the good research opportunities). It was an elderly mare calling in from her apartment. At first, I was thinking that she was just another one of those kooky old ponies who didn't know what she was talking about. However, when she spoke of her next door neighbor hanging his head through a noose while standing on a chair, I knew then it was no joke. The tone of her voice just couldn't have been a joke.

I was always fascinated with suicide...not because of the different ways of doing it, but because of what led ponies to do it. I knew this was a perfect opportunity. So, after telling Orlando good-bye, I set out to the address. When I got there, there was yellow tape everywhere. Police ponies were ushering a large crowd back. Not long after I arrived, some stallion got into a fight with one of the cops. Utilizing this distraction, I then proceeded to slip past them and under the tape. I felt sorry that he got tasered, but I knew that his pain worked itself out for my need. I had found out that the suicidal stallion lived in the last room on the right on the top floor. When I got there and walked inside, the scene immediately set itself into my mind: a bare-white room with a brown chair in the middle. And, of course, on top of the chair was the neighbor. He was blonde, appearing to be in his mid-20's. The noose was already around his neck. All he needed to do was jump...Right before I could get to him, he held his hoof up and started talking to me.

"Come any closer and I'll do it."

"...Oh, sure. But, I don't think that would make me very happy. It's my birthday today, you know?"

"Oh, don't try that shit on me. I know you "persuaders" are all the same. You tell us stuff like "this isn't the right choice" and that we "should look to the future." Well, ya know what? Screw you guys!"

"...But...I wasn't going to try and persuade you to do anything...I was just gonna tell you to be careful...because some ponies who hang themselves tie the noose wrong...Yep. They don't tie it tight enough...and they end up with a permanent "necklace.""

"You think I didn't tie this right?"

"I really don't know...but I don't think you're the kind of guy who would take such a big chance..."

This seemed to strike something in him, because, after that, he smiled, pulled the noose off his neck, and allowed me to help him down.

"Is it really your birthday?"


After calling off the police, he sat down with me and we spent the next few hours talking...But the funny thing was that I never remembered to ask him about what I'd come there for in the first place: the thing that causes ponies to commit suicide. Although, I did learn that he was of Italian descent and that he could play guitar... Overall, we had a pretty civilized and normal conversation...until he started tearing off his wallpaper...It turns out that the question I didn't remember to ask...was gonna be answered.

"Um...What exactly are you doing?"

"You see, my friend...I'm known for being able to read ponies...And, over these last few hours, I've been reading you very well...You didn't come here to stop me from killing myself...You're too smart to care about others like that...No...You only wanted to know what was driving me to suicide!...Well, if you really wanna know,'s this number!...22!"

At first, I didn't know what he was talking about. However, before I could ponder it any further, he began to explain.

"This number is everywhere!...And I mean everywhere! Driver's licenses, pages of books, even my name! It was in the words that I spoke, the pieces of music I played...Everything! You know what my favorite color is?....Green. G is the seventh letter in the alphabet, R is the eighteenth, E is the fifth, and N is the fourteenth. 7 + 18 + 5 + 5 + 14 = 49. "Green" has five letters. 49 - 5 = 44...The number 44 is divisible by 22!"

Underneath the wallpaper was multiple writings of the number twenty-two. Some were math problems that equaled it, while others were problems I didn't even get. I was starting to get both creeped out and curious about his obsession with the number. I didn't know what to say since I wasn't familiar with a situation like this. So, I asked the only thing that came to mind.

"Got any more coffee?"

We continued to discuss things. He started off talking about the number, but soon stopped and went on to focus on other things. However, one thing he said about the number did fascinate me. He said that his dad had went through the same thing while he was growing up. He supposedly almost went insane before finally deciding that, in order to protect his son from the "curse," he would kill himself and his wife...and he did. He shot her in the head and then blew his own brains out. Although, according to him, the curse was still passed on to him.
"I guess Daddy didn't love me enough."

I could tell he was better than he was when I first met him, but he was still holding in a lot of confused emotions. I decided to try and help him relieve some of the pain.

"I had an aunt who visited a fortune teller when she was young. She asked her about who her first love would be. The old fortune teller told her he would be a "mysterious stallion in black." So, she spent her younger years keeping her eyes peeled...Then, one day...she finally met him..."

"You're lying."

"...He dressed completely in black clothing, hiding his face lots of times with a black bowler hat. They were married three months later. It started off good, but then he decided she wasn't good enough for him. They filed for divorce after one and a half years of holy matrimony. My aunt, however, being the stubborn mare that she is, didn't want to give up on him. So, she decided to dedicate the rest of her life to finding the mysterious stallion who stole her heart...To this day, she still searches...for the Stallion in Black."

"And this is supposed to make me feel better?"

"Yes...because you look smarter than the Stallion in Black."

I managed to get a smile out of him with that last statement. I figured that my work was done with him, so I left. Just when I got outside, however, he smashed into the pavement right in front of me...face-first. He had apparently jumped off of his balcony. I couldn't understand why he did it, but I assumed it was because he didn't want anypony else to fall victim to the number. I found it silly and preposterous that such a big deal could be made over a number...I was so preoccupied with my thoughts that I failed to notice that, as soon as he landed on the pavement, my watch read 2:22 PM.

"...Yes...YES! I'M FREE! It's stopped mirroring my life! I've never in my life met an Italian blonde obsessed with the number 22! I'm finally free!"

I was dancing with joy as I tried to put together what had happened over the past few days. I finally came to the conclusion that it had all been a coincidence and that, when I thought the book was controlling me, I was just suffering from a form of stressful delusion...Yep, I was pretty happy that I failed to recognize that the clock read 10:22 PM...22:22 in military time.

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