To: H.R.H. Twilight Sparkle
From: Sunset Shimmer, M.D.
Dear Princess Twilight:
You asked me when you last saw me for a report on what happened with Cozy Glow here in my world. I’m still not entirely sure what happened, so this may not make any sense to you.
I think it’s enough to say that I “helped” her. The quotes are there for a reason. There was Equestrian magic involved, but it’s nothing that I consciously did or wanted to do. But what’s done is done.
I’ll start at the beginning.
When Cozy Glow got broken out of the “prison” you said she was being “securely” held in (I don’t know, and given my own history I don’t want to know), she somehow made it here into the human world. That was about 15 years (180 moons? Months?) ago, give or take.
At the time of the prison break, I was in college and trying to figure out what to do with my life here and my magic. Psychiatry seemed like a good field for an empath to get into, so that’s what I did. Turned out, I also had a knack for helping children, and for handling the really hard cases. The human world has a lot of these for some reason. To you, Cozy Glow may have been the most evil foal ever. (I can imagine the headlines… “Local Foal Sociopath Starts Race War, Summons Snow Demons.”) But to us, it’s another kid on a day ending in “y.” I’ll leave what that says about both of our worlds to you.
Cozy Glow first showed up in our records when she was found by a county sheriff two hours from here in Canterlot City. I suspect there was another portal connecting to there. She was obviously a child, but aside from her name she wouldn’t say anything about who here parents were or are, where she was from, or any details of her past. The extensive identity records humans keep had no record of her fingerprints or DNA. She was a literal “Jane Doe”—the human term for a girl without a past.
Our child protective services estimated her to be about seven years old by our reckoning. Cozy Glow ended up being taken into foster care by friends of the sheriff who found her.
Six months later, Cozy stabbed both of her parents and an older foster brother, then packed a backpack with food, a change of clothes, and weapons, then ran off into the night. Her foster family’s wounds were bad, but mercifully, not fatal. Police found her here in Canterlot city, living on the streets. She never said why she almost killed her family.
After that, Cozy Glow spent the next six years in a juvenile detention center. (Child prisons. We have prisons here for children. Just so you know.) But, because of a quirk of human law, children who commit crimes, especially at a very young age, can sometimes get a clean slate if professionals like me judge them to be reformed and capable of being peaceful members of human society.
That’s where I came in. For my post-residency fellowship, and to jump right into the hard cases, I chose to work at the Appaloosa State School. (Again, fancy-sounding kiddie prison, but I was hoping to make a difference there anyway.)
Cozy Glow was classified as “severely emotionally disturbed,” but on first glance you’d never know it. She was quiet, conscientious, eager-to-please. Almost a bit too eager. But once you got to know her, whether in person, talking with people who worked with her, or just watched her on cameras, (which were everywhere), you could tell that it was just an act. She was a master manipulator, and if she couldn’t ply someone with a smile, seduce, convince them with little girl tears, or seduce them with promises upon promises, then she would threaten, then yell, then burst into blinding rage, hitting and kicking, turning anything at hand into a weapon. I was doing a therapy session with her when she went into one of these rages, and I was terrified.
(Had you and the girls back at CHS not done for me what you did, would I have ended up the same way? Even today, the memories chill me. But enough of that.)
I’ll spare you most of the medical details, but Cozy Glow was a walking mass of what my profession calls “Cluster B personality disorders,” chronic difficulties in regulating her emotions and behavior, and relating to others. There are four of these, which she could shift between at the snap of human fingers. There’s the “histrionic,” showing extreme emotionality and attention-seeking behavior; Cozy always had to be the center of attention. There’s the “narcissistic,” which shows up in exaggerated self-regard and fantasies of unlimited power and success; you probably were very familiar with this one. There’s the “borderline,” manifesting in intense moods and relationships, ping-ponging between intense love and violent hate, and a pervasive fear of being alone. Cozy Glow would do so badly when she was isolated after her outbursts, even I felt sympathy for her. But most of all, the “antisocial:” manipulative or deceitful behavior for personal gain. She lied so often and without regard for consequences. She made up false identities and insisted that they were her real ones. She would steal anything she wanted. And she never seemed to care about any of it, no matter how much she was punished.
They gave her a brain scan about a year ago (one of the fancy pieces of technology that us humans have; we can look into the brain of a person and by tracking blood flow we can find things in very small parts of the brain that shouldn’t be there.) If you know what the amygdala is—I think equines have them?—Cozy had a malformed one. We weren’t sure it was working. Which would explain… well, a lot of things about her.
Cozy Glow was coming up on her eighteenth birthday, the deadline by which we had to decide whether she was reformed enough to go free under close supervision, or be transferred to an adult women’s prison. I was on Cozy’s “evaluation team,”—me, another psychiatrist, her physician, a social worker, a lawyer, and two of her teachers. We were divided. Three wanted to let her go. Three wanted to keep her confined.
And I…was on the fence. I insisted on an in-person evaluation. And—I didn’t say this part—my magic.
Orderlies brought Cozy Glow to my office. I let her sit down on the couch in the empty room, I took up the usual chair, with a notepad and a small pencil.
I asked her if she knew why I wanted to meet with her. She said yes, that she was going to be released soon. I asked her if she knew what that meant. She said that she did, it meant she would have to deal with doctors or psychs or teachers anymore, that she’d be on her own at last, and she’d never look back. She was absolutely beaming about it, like she figured this was just a formality.
Then I started talking about what that meant, about all my reasons why I didn’t think she was ready, and it was like a switch flipped in her head. Cozy had never liked me, but I could feel her just getting angrier and angrier. I asked question after question, and at first she ducked them. Then she started doing her best sad puppy impression, then she started promising me that she’d check in with us once a month, once a week, if it would put us at ease. She wanted out.
I didn’t think she was safe to let out.
I told her that.
And she lunged for my throat.
I went for her wrists. No time for magic than to save your life from a child sociopath.
But something went wrong. Normally I can just see a person’s vision… memories, senses, experiences.
This time, I think I was pulled in--or maybe she pulled me in?—to her mind. Or maybe what I just perceived her mind to be like.
There were no memories that I could tell. It was just a small pink pegasus with a curly blue mane, and eyes glowing red like a demon’s.
And I was there, once again as a unicorn.
And we stood on the edge of a raging, boiling volcano. On one side of me, a sea of lava. On the other side, sheer cliffs, then a forest, and beyond that the sounds of the sea.
“You WITCH!” She yelled. “I know this! This is Equestrian magic! Where are you really from? Did Twilight send you?”
I tried to tell her that no, you didn’t; But I also didn’t think lying or half-truths were the best strategy. So I said was from Equestria, and I did have magic, but that I was trying help her.
And she said I was a lying witch again, and that she was going to kill me and make sure I’d never leave her own head.
Naturally, I ran down the cliff. Tumbled, really. I could see her flying overhead, while I tried to dodge her from below.
There was a path down from the volcano’s rim, some kind of trench. It was lined with what looked like diamonds, vibrant and shimmering. But I had no time to explore. I made my way down the trench and into a stand of what looked like giant leaves. Good enough for cover.
I can’t explain it, but I felt an insatiable, gnawing hunger. I quickly took down one of the leaves, but it was tough and tasted terrible. But underneath it was a greenish root vegetable. That I ate, and it tasted sweet, sugary, watery, sustaining.
Cozy must have heard me. She landed right in front of me, a look of murder in her eyes.
So I offered her one of the root vegetables. “Take it. Eat it. It will make you (and I remember and regret this word) better”
She snatched it from my hoof and shoved it into her mouth. The evil grin faded from her face. The red left her eyes. The mountain stopped smoking. And through what I thought was a vestigial trench, the waters of the sea began to flow uphill, into the volcano, quenching it.
Cozy’s rage left her. But I saw something else in her eyes
I saw despair.
The next thing I knew, was breathing hard. The room was spinning. I wanted to throw up.
Cozy did throw up; I heard her retching. When I came to, there were orderlies and her doctor in the room.
When I sat up, I saw Cozy Glow just… lying there. Whatever was left of her volcanic temperament was gone. She laid down, and cried, and kept crying. I couldn’t hear everything she was saying, but I remember her saying over and over again, “I’m a bad pony… I’m a bad pony, I hurt them, I’m sorry, I don’t know why, just punish me.
That was about two weeks ago. She’s been in a semi-catatonic state ever since. We’ve got her medicated as much as we can, but she’s anxious and fearful. The one “weapon” she got was half a paper clip, and the only thing she used it on was her own wrists before she was restrained again.
They gave her another brain scan. Whatever was wrong with her amygdala is now fixed. Which is probably why she’s like this. All the guilt for what she did coming back at once. Like quenching the volcano.
I’ve only seen her once in person since then, and that was enough to make her cry even through a whole bunch of tranquilizers.
So that’s where we are.
I think I fixed Cozy Glow.
I think I broke Cozy Glow.
And I think I did them both at once.
Given what happened, Cozy Glow isn’t fit for much of anything. So, we’re going to keep her here for the next year at least. Hopefully try to help her come to terms with all the things she did, and move forward. Somehow.
That’s my report.
I dreamt last night, for the first time in a while. And I was back as a pony, as the unicorn you and Celestia and all my other teachers remembered.
I was on an island. My island. The island of my own head It was green and verdant, no signs of any volcanic activity. But every now and then, I heard a rumble. And every last time, it terrified me. So, I grabbed the nearest taro leaf, pulled it up, and ate and ate until the fear passed, and the old, vestigial paths remained soft, flowing rivers.
I’m glad you fixed me when you found me. I’m glad you took my demon, all my rage, away. I will always be grateful for that. I guess the longer we live with our demons, the harder it is for us when we’re gone. There but for some unknown grace… Cozy could have been me. And that still scares me.
Please give my regards to all of my pony friends there. I will tell all the girls that you say hello. Someday I will tell all of them what happened.
But I have a patient to care for tomorrow. She’s my responsibility now, fixed, broken, and whatever is in between.
All my love and thanks,