It seemed just like a typical day at any typical beach. The sun shone brightly, with not but a single cloud anywhere in the sky to obstruct it. The waves did their normal routine of breaking and crashing onto the edge of the beach before retreating and repeating the process. And the beach itself just sat there, hot, white and sandy as always. The seagulls foraged for small creatures, the turtles tended to their nests, and the crabs retreated down their holes to avoid the seagulls.
Not a single sentient being was on the beach at the moment, except, of course, Sunset Shimmer, the villainous girl who had recently been reformed into a "good guy" when Twilight Sparkle and friends performed an exorcism on her that banished her inner demons. And so now, here she was on the beach, flaunting her ever-so-voluptuous body in an extremely lacy black bikini, and wielding a Frisbee. With her was Winona the dog, the pet of Shimmer's enemy-turned-friend Applejack.
"Okay, Winona, fetch!" Sunset called out as she hurled the Frisbee, which spun like a UFO as it flew above Winona's head. Ever determined, Winona gave a great leap into the air, a leap normally reserved for creatures like kangaroos, and caught the Frisbee right square in her jaws.
"Good catch, girl!" Sunset commended.
At that point, Winona suddenly stood up on her hind legs and took the Frisbee from her mouth. "Thanks, Sunset!" she answered in a British accent and threw it back at her companion.
Sunset, however, for some unexplainable reason, did not acknowledge that anything was out of the ordinary. Instead, she simply ran backwards, looking to catch the Frisbee just as Winona had just done. Then, when she jumped up to try and catch it, the Frisbee hit her right square in the face, sending her into a back-flip just as she plummeted to the sand on her back. Her moment of physical pain was evidenced by the words NO SALE appearing in all caps in her eyes, the huge stump sticking out from the top of her head, and the birds that had just appeared, flying around her head.
"Oh, hard luck," Winona commented as Sunset helped herself back up her feet, her cartoon-like injuries suddenly disappearing the blink of an eye, as per customary in any cartoon.
"It's okay, girl, I got it."
But then, just as she bent over to pick up the Frisbee, she noticed a large, long, creepy shadow cast from her left. A long pointed shape, looking like a claw, stuck out.
Nervously, Sunset turned to face the shadow and screamed with her eyes bulging out of her head when she saw a most horrifying sight—a gray-skinned man with white hair, and matching eyebrows and goatee. His eyes were crimson, surrounded by light yellow scleras. He wore a greenish-brown fedora, a red-and-green striped sweater, grey trousers, and black dress shoes. He was wielding a metal rake, staring down at Sunset with murderous intent.
Sunset was too shocked to yell again; rather, she simply held up a picket sign that said "SAVE ME, PRINCESS CELESTIA!" a method of communication made popular by cartoon villain Wile E. Coyote. Unfortunately, Princess Celestia failed to appear.
The gray-skinned man brandished his rake. "Glad to rake your acquaintance, Sunset Shimmer," he lavished. And with an evil, maniacal laugh, he swiped the rake at Sunset's belly...
At that precise moment, Sunset shrieked aloud, thinking that it was all over for her, that this was her time.
Suddenly, she noticed that she was in her bed, which was heavily soaked with her own sweat, in her own rented apartment room. She wasn't at the beach at all. Neither the talking Winona nor that cheap imitation of a serial killer was to be found.
"Phew. It was just a crazy dream," she sighed as she pulled down her covers.
But she soon changed her mind as she took notice of the lower part of her pajama shirt; it was torn, and on her belly, there were extremely bloody scrapes running across her belly, scrapes very much reminiscent of what would've been made by an attack from the gray-skinned man in his dreams. The mere sight, combined with a thought, resulted in an extremely hair-raising scream released from the bowels of Sunset's lungs.
She only stopped screaming at a sudden knock on the door.
"ShimMERRRR!" It was the landlady. "Is that you screaming bloody murder in there?"
"You're three days behind on your rent!"
"I'll get on that," Sunset groaned as she hurled her body out of bed.
Later that day, Shimmer was walking with Rarity and her younger sister Sweetie Belle on the way to Canterlot High School. She chose Rarity, who was wearing a red baseball cap for some reason, to confide to about her nightmare. Of course, Sweetie Belle couldn't stay of the conversation for long.
"...and he scratched me with his rake!" Sunset finished, lifting her shirt to reveal the bloody scrapes.
Needless to say, Rarity was startled beyond belief. "Good Lord, Sunset!" she gasped. "You need to see Nurse Redheart immediately!"
At around that time, they neared the entrance to the school.
Sunset tucked her shirt back down to hide the scrapes. "That's the first thing in my list before class, Rarity," she explained. "But you know what the weirdest part of it was? That guy looked like the janitor who disappeared from this school last year: Groundskeeper Discord!"
Realizing a coincidence between their situations, Rarity let out another gasp. "Oh my...! Groundskeeper Discord was in my dream as well, darling! Only he..."
With her eyes streaming tears, Sweetie Belle clung to Rarity, whimpering, "He... he turned into a furnace, and... and..." She stopped, revealing a small burn on her right hand before continuing, "And almost ate me alive!" She broke down onto Rartiy's skirt, sobbing.
"Gosh, Sweetie Belle, I'm... I'm so sorry," Sunset replied, not knowing what else to say.
As Sweetie Belle continued to choke out sobs, Rarity knelt down and wrapped her sister in her arms. "Shhh... It's okay, Sweetie Belle," she whispered, soothingly. "That bad man can't hurt you now."
Having overheard their conversation, more friends of theirs—Applejack (who wasn't wearing her trademark cowboy hat for some reason), her little sister Apple Bloom, their big brother Big Macintosh, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo—arrived on the scene.
"You too?!" Apple Bloom asked, anxiously. "Discord had me shrunk and whacked with his broom!"
"I was locked in his shack—full of falling sharp tools!" added Scootaloo, her arms covered with band-aids.
"He almost crushed me with giant manure bags," cut in Big Mac. "Had to use a lotta shampoo to get the stink off."
Upon saying this, he was consoled by a warm hug from Fluttershy, who happened to be his girlfriend. "Oh, my poor, brave big Mac," she crooned.
"Don't you worry none, Fluttershy," reassured Big Mac. "Ah'll be just fine. See y'all round." He pecked Fluttershy on the cheek and took his leave.
"Just don't get into too much cider out on the farm, ya hear?" called out Applejack.
"Eeyup!" called Big Mac as he exited the building.
Returning to the business at hand, Applejack told the girls what happened in her dream. "That darn Discord came close to runnin' me through the head with his pitchfork. Mah scalp still itches," she added as she scratched her head. "More importantly... LOOK WHAT HE DID TO MAH HAT!" Outraged, she held out a light brown cowboy hat, which was half-torn and ripped up.
Rarity, upon seeing the state of the hat, shook her head. "Some people just don't appreciate fashion these days."
Rainbow Dash, in a mixture of awe and fear, spoke next. "He turned into this awesome monster tractor and chased me through the soccer field! Could've run me over if I hadn't heard Fluttershy crying for help in our pool."
Concerned about that last part, Sunset turned to Fluttershy and asked, "What... what happened?"
"H-h-h-h-h-he had me sleepwalk outside," she said, shaking in fear. "In my dream, I was d-d-d-d-dancing on the b-b-beach, when suddenly... I found myself fall into the ocean. Before I knew it, Discord came at me in the form of a sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-shark and..." Her voice trailed off as she rolled up her left sock, revealing ominous-looking tooth marks on her ankle.
Gasps of horror echoed throughout the entire circle of friends, except Rainbow, who swore to herself that she'd seen those marks before.
"He p-p-p-p-p-pulled me under the water," Fluttershy whimpered, tearing up. "I could've drowned..."
Rainbow reached out, slung an arm around Fluttershy and dried her eyes with her free hand, comforting her. "Lucky thing I was around to save you, little sis," she asserted. "Just don't try any more shark movie rip-offs without me, okay?"
"Now that you've mentioned it, Fluttershy," began Sunset, "I heard that Discord was once the school's swim teacher."
"Yup, he sure was," Applejack confirmed, "'til Principal Celestia had the pool shut down four years ago."
"Meh," Rainbow shrugged. "Some maniac filled it with salt water and put in a live tiger shark. For laughs. Vice-Principal Luna's never lived that down after diving in."
"And then Discord became Groundskeeper?" Sunset reasoned. "That... makes sense."
Before anyone could answer, Pinkie Pie suddenly burst out of an adjacent locker. Everyone was surprised, not just by the way Pinkie made her entrance, but also by the way her body was gleaming from head to toe like a car just out of the wash.
"Ah! What did Discord do to you, Pinkie Pie?" reeled Sunset as shielded her eyes from the light reflecting off of her friend's body.
With a beaming face that suggested a more positive experience than what the other girls had been through as of late, Pinkie giggled. "He ran his floor buffer over me! It really tickled! I laughed so hard, I felt like dying!"
Rarity, being the fashion whiz of the group, was the only one that took any interest in Pinkie's abnormal level of shininess. "Why, Pinkie!" she marveled. "You look absolutely crystal clear, if I dare say so myself."
At that moment, a chuckling, accompanied by the sound of approaching footsteps was heard. Everyone turned to see Principal Celestia, accompanied by her sister Vice-Principal Luna, approaching them.
"Girls, we couldn't help overhearing your conversation," laughed Celestia.
"There's no mystery about Discord," smiled Luna. "He... well, he simply disappeared."
Noticing the nervous delivery of that last phrase, Rainbow grew suspicious. "Just like that, huh?" she mysteriously intoned.
"Just like that," Celestia echoed. "One might say he even retired on short notice."
Not knowing what to think, Sunset nervously replied, "Um... yeah, I guess so."
"Excellent!" affirmed Luna. "Now what do you say we just have no more curiosity about this bizarre cover-up..." She and Celestia walked away, leaving all the girls, except Pinkie, to exchange nervous glances as they wondered what Luna could've meant just now.
"Well I'm convinced!" perked up Pinkie.
"Convinced by what, exactly?"
Everyone turned and looked to see Flash Sentry, but what really made them gasp is the sight of his hair pointing up in a wild fashion. He looked as if he had been struck by lightning. This was further indicated by an electrical charge running up his hair.
"Whoa! Love the new hairdo!" marveled Rainbow Dash. "Where'd you get that?"
"Groundskeeper Discord. Put the nozzle on his hose in full throttle when I was playing guitar. Right into my amp." As soon as Flash finished speaking, another electrical charge built up around him.
Emotion overwhelmed Sunset, a look of horror crossing her face. "Oh no, Flashy… Not you, too!" She attempted to pull her ex-boyfriend into a hug to comfort him, only to get zapped. The electricity raced through her for only a split-second—just enough to visibly shake her. Her body started to billow smoke like a chimney.
"Whoa, Nelly!" exclaimed Applejack. "Ya'll alright there, sugar cube?"
"I'm fine," Sunset scoffed, reassuring her. "Just a little... shocked, that's all."
Pinkie tried hard not to laugh at Sunset's unintended pun.
"You're lucky to have your hair in one piece, Flash Sentry," said Rarity, sympathetically, "and I mean it. It would certainly never do to be seen in such a public place as this looking close to bald. You'd practically be a laughing stock!"
"Uh, thanks, Rarity... I guess," Flash replied uneasily.
At that instant, Sunset remembered that Rarity had not said anything about her dream. "Wait a minute. What did you say Discord got you with, Rarity?"
In a humiliated half-whisper, Rarity answered, "Hedge clippers."
"Is that why you're wearing this silly hat to school today all of a sudden?" asked Pinkie as she put a hand on Rarity's hat.
"No! Pinkie Pie, don't-"
But it was too late. Pinkie snatched Rarity's hat away and everyone, save Sweetie Belle, looked in horror of what had happened to the fashion expert. Her head was missing a significant amount of hair. Apart from a few remaining long indigo strands, it had been completely cut short. All the other students in the immediate area stared at Rarity. Some could be heard struggling with holding their laughter in.
"Uh, oops," uttered Pinkie as Rarity's eyes welled up from overwhelming embarrassment. She began to cry loudly, shedding large amounts of tears like a fountain. She ran off into the ladies' room, her sobs muffled behind the door.
"Oh, the pain...!" she wailed.
"This could take a while," Sweetie Belle sighed as she left down the west hall with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo.
"C'mon, Fluttershy," said Sunset. "Let's get to Nurse Redheart before class starts."
"I'll let Miss Cheerilee know where you are," called Flash as he headed down the east hall. "Just be careful."
"Thanks, Flash." answered Sunset. "You too." And with that, she proceeded to help the limping Fluttershy down the central corridor, leaving only Applejack, Pinkie, and Rainbow. They could still hear Rarity howling inside the lavatory. Water could be seen escaping from under the door.
"So, who's gonna get the mop?" Rainbow wondered aloud.