Detective Pony – Chapter 7, Blood in the Snow
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Detective Pony – Chapter 7, Blood in the Snow

March 1, 2020

[Music: “Turkish March”,
remixed with echoing bells] Chapter Seven, Blood in the Snow Alternate, anagrammed chapter title:
Hobo-Tinned Owls. Pawnee and Pam exchanged a worried ferret. They couldn’t make Anna see reason when she was so blinded by the special love a girl feels for her pony. But they couldn’t leave the world of the
living to save a millennia-old pony who was closer to a god than anything else
that ever trod the earth either. The worried ferret squirmed out of Pam’s
hands and ran off to worry elsewhere. Pam sighed. “We’ll go to hell with you,” she said. Anna turned back around,
tears welling up in her eyes. “Maybe you and Acorn can be redeemed,”
said Pawnee. “Maybe the cat — and death itself — aren’t
as powerful as we mortals think.” “But promise us you won’t turn back as
we leave the underworld,” said Pawnee, “or Acorn might be pulled back in.” Pam rolled her eyes like, we get it, you know
a bit about mythology. You want a fucking pat on the back? Where were you when I learned numbers, huh? Anna wanted to hug her friends. But she knew it was dangerous to show affection,
since it could be taken as a sign of weakness. Acorn had taught her that. “Then it is settled,” Pam said. “We follow that fucking cat and descend
into hell together. Then we find Acorn, free him from the eternal damnation that he
is surely suffering at this very moment, and lead him back with us, where he will live
out the rest of his sinful days haunted by the knowledge of what awaits him when he inevitably is pulled back into the pit.” “And then we can all ride our ponies down
the Pony Pal Trail!” Pawnee blubbered excitedly. Anna smiled at her friends. “Thank you.” “Pony Pals stick together,” said Pam. Acorn seethed as he watched Minos smugly shit off the edge of the lone tree stump in the middle of the dead clearing. Acorn wasn’t sure what it was with which
he was seething — rage? self-loathing? jealousy? — but seething he surely was. “When will the other two judges fucking
get here?” Acorn snapped. “But Acorn,” said a voice behind the pony,
“we’ve been here all along.” Acorn spun around and saw two figures standing on — — or were they hovering slightly above? — the grey marshy ground. One was a tall middle-aged woman in a plum
crushed-velvet pantsuit, whose glasses did nothing to hide the keen
glimmer of her brown eyes. There were a few streaks of silver in her
wavy brown hair, and they imbued her with a
sense of dignity, like — Fuck it, I’m bad at descriptions. The other person was a really rad dude with
really rad shades who needs no introduction. “Who are these douchebags?”
Acorn whinnied. The rad dude spoke again:
“We’re the douchebags who wrote you.” “Wrote me?” Acorn said. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” “I means that you’re a fictional character,”
the woman said. “That’s right,” said Dirk Strider. (He hadn’t introduced himself
as Dirk Strider yet, but it should be totally obvious who he is. No need to be coy. And the woman’s Jeanne Betancourt,
the author of the original Detective Pony. Let’s not pretend this was any sort of dramatic
revelation.) “You’re a text, Acorn,” Dirk continued, “and I’m going to fucking
deconstruct you.” “You wouldn’t dare to… That’s a daring proposal… I dare you… to try…” Acorn said falteringly. “Can’t get that Derrida pun to work, huh?” Minos observed dryly. “Fuck you, cat. I’ll get it eventually.” “All puns aside, Acorn,”
Jeanne Betancourt said, “yes, you are a character
from a book that I wrote. And Dirk … well, I’m not sure exactly how
he’s involved in all of this, but apparently he wrote it too?” Dirk waved his hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about it, Jeanne Betancourt.
Doesn’t matter.” “If you say so, Dirk.” (There, they’ve introduced each other. So now everyone knows everyone else’s name and can refer to each other accordingly.) “The point, Acorn,” Jeanne continued, interrupting my didactic parenthetical edification, “is that we created you, and so we’re in a unique position
to judge you for the horrible things you’ve
apparently done.” “‘Apparently’?” Acorn whinnied. “So you don’t even know what it is that
you’re judging me for?” “They don’t know your sins yet,”
Dirk said. “I’m going to have to read them.” He pulled a thin, worn paperback book from
his back pocket. Its purple cover showed a picture of a pony, and was defaced with some vulgar and hilarious text. “‘Read’ being a loaded term, of course,”
Dirk said as he began thumbing through the paperback. “Vocare versus legere. Isn’t it funny that the English word ‘read’
doesn’t distinguish between reading silently and reading aloud? We need to employ separate
modifying words to clarify. The father phoneme and the filial grapheme
reunited by ambiguity.” Minos and Betancourt were rolling their eyes as if the two of them were desperate gamblers down to their last dollar and said eyes were their lucky pair of dice. Or as if the cat and the woman were political
prisoners, and their eyes were the final cigarette they were preparing
for their stalwart comrade before he was dragged out into the snowy courtyard of the palace-turned prison
to face the firing squad. Or as if they were star-crossed Italian lovers
forced apart by cruel circumstance and trying to draw out the moment of their
departure for as long as possible, and their eyes were the r’s in their final “arriverderci.” Or as if they were pastry chefs, and their eyes were the dough
for the royal tarts that would be served a few short hours later at a hastily-assembled diplomatic dinner called in response to some
urgent sociopolitical crisis, and the resolution of said international kerfuffle depended on the cooperation of the second
archduke of Belgium, who was as notorious for his capriciousness as he was for his sweet tooth. They were rolling their eyes
pretty fucking hard, is the point. Dirk continued, undeterred. “The closest we have to a unique verb for
‘to read aloud’ in English is probably ‘recite’ — from the Latin ‘recitare,’
which can mean either ‘to repeat from memory,’
or ‘to read aloud.’ But the English ‘recite’
is almost exclusively used to refer to speaking from memory,
not directly from a page. After all, how can one re-cite,
cite again, without the initial citation
from brain to page? The mind as an indeterminate step
between text and mouth, words being inscribed on the surface of the
brain before being spoken. That word — inscribe — is really
the heart of it all, isn’t it? Scirbere, to write. Inscribe, not just to write,
but to write into, to embed words in the page. A reversal of the standard interpretation
of causation/power. Page writing into man, the source and the
receiver of the violence flipped. Speaking as reading, reading as speaking; reading as writing, writing as reading. So when I say that I will
‘read’ your sins, it should be clear that I’m simultaneously
reading them and writing them, and it should be equally clear that there
is no difference at all between those two actions.” “… What the Christ-shitting fuck
are you talking about?” Acorn neighed. Dirk shrugged. “You tell me. But all pedantry aside, I should tell you
how this will go down. Now, Acorn, even the most cursory
examination of your crimes makes it apparent that your soul is unfit
for any sort of reward in the afterlife. But torture and torment
hardly seem right either.” “Yes. We won’t be making a choice between
heaven and hell,” Betancourt said. “It’s much more weighty than that. It’s a choice between existence and nonexistence.” Minos nodded. “We — well, the two of them — have direct control over your narrative. They can rewrite it so that you never
existed at all.” “The question is not what you deserve,”
Dirk said, “but whether you deserve. With the sins that you have accrued, Acorn,
do you deserve to have ever lived at all?” Acorn pranced and snorted. “Do you think I give a shit? Erase me, delete me,
whatever it is you’ll do. Nonexistence doesn’t scare me.” Dirk shook his head. “No, Acorn, I know that you
don’t give a shit.” He turned his head slightly so a beam of light
glinted off his sunglasses in a cool and dramatic way. (His flashing eyes, his floating hair …) “But I think that Anna would give a shit.” Acorn finally stood still. “… Just hurry the fuck up and judge me.” 17a) Minos: Do you remember why we have
come here today? Is it not true that our purpose is to hear
the sins of this pony, known as Acorn? And is it not further true that the three
of us, after listening to said sins, shall make a judgment concerning the fate
of Acorn’s existence? Acorn: Well, yeah, Dirk said all of that a
few moments ago. Betancourt: Yes, Minos, all you say is true. Minos: And what form shall our judgment take? Is it not true that each of us shall cast
their own vote, and whatever ruling has gained the majority
of the votes shall be enacted? This seems a just system. Is there anything I have omitted from my telling? Dirk: Nothing, Minos. Betancourt: True, it is just as you have said,
Minos. Acorn: Why are you speaking in rhetorical
questions? Minos: Very good. And now, Dirk, you, I suppose, should speak
next, after duly calling upon the Gods. Acorn: What’s going on? Dirk: All men, Minos, who have any degree
of right feeling, at the beginning of every enterprise, whether
small or great, always call upon God. And we, too, who are going to discourse of
the nature of sin, of guilt, and of punishment, must invoke the aid of Gods and Goddesses and pray that our words may be acceptable
to them and consistent with themselves. Acorn: Why is my name in front of
everything I say? Betancourt: Come, then, clear-voiced Muses, whether you have gained this epithet because
of the quality of your singing or because the Ligurians are so musical, grant me your support in the judgment that
my colleagues and I shall soon make. 17b Acorn: And what are those numbers and
letters over there on the left? Minos: Let this, then, be our invocation of
the Gods, to which I add an exhortation of myself to
speak in such manner as will be most intelligible to you, and will
most accord with my own intent. Acorn: Wait. I know what’s happening. Betancourt: A good and fair invocation. Now it must fall upon Dirk to begin
the reading of the sins, while Minos and I listen attentively and comment
on occasion as we see fit. Minos: Excellent, Jeanne; and we will do precisely as you bid us. The prelude is charming,
and is already accepted by us — may we beg of you to proceed the strain? Acorn: I won’t play along. We’re not making this into a Platonic dialogue. Dirk: I certainly shall, Minos. Despite the fact that some
of those gathered here are making things harder
than they need to be. Acorn: No. Fuck you. I refuse. The pony defiantly kicked his name off the
page with his powerful hooves. “That’s better.” Betancourt: Acorn, please, don’t make this
into a whole thing. “Fuck you,” Acorn said, after he kicked
another “Acorn:” into the abyss. “Fuck you fuck you fuck you and the symposium
you rode in on.” Dirk: You’re not really in any position
to argue with us, Acorn. We’re doing this. It’s happening. 17c “How far up your own ass do— hold on, I need to take care of this too.” He kicked the 17c into the growing pile. “Goddamn Stephanus pagination.” Betancourt: Can’t you just humor him
on this one, Acorn? That’s kind of how we arbiters do this thing. I mean, if it were up to me, we might try… Dirk: Oh, come on, Betancourt! It’s tradition! Minos: It’s formal. I like it. Betancourt: Of course you’d like it, you
get to be Socrates. “I’m not going to go through with this
needlessly complicated and pretentious dialogue bullshit just so this glasses-wearing
fucker can get his rocks off. Besides, this asshole—” Acorn derisively tossed his head
in the direction of Minos “—already roped me into two pages
of terza rima. Betancourt: Oh no. Was— “Hang on, let me get that for you,”
Acorn said, and then sent yet another prefix into the
bottom margin with his powerful hooves. “Thanks. Was it metered?”
Betancourt asked. “Iambic pentameter.” “At least he didn’t insist on hendecasyllables,”
Betancourt said, crinkling her nose in repulsion at the thought
of those particularly odious feet. (“That’s a good pun,”
Dirk whispered to nobody.) Minos: All right, fine, we can— Acorn cocked one of his back hooves
“Minos:”-ward threateningly. “Fine!” Minos huffed. “There. No more dialogue. Happy?” Acorn: Very. “You don’t have to be an asshole about
it, Acorn,” Jeanne Betancourt said. The two girls and the town trudged through
the snow silently. Pawnee and Pam had left Lightning and Lil’
Seb behind miles ago. They’d told the ponies to return home and
had pointed them in the right direction. If they just followed the trail in a straight
line for a few minutes, they’d be back at the barn. But the girls didn’t hold out much hope
that the ponies would make it, because, as has been covered earlier in this book,
ponies are incredibly fucking stupid. At this very moment, Lil’ Seb and Lightning
were probably freezing to death or falling off of cliffs or trying to eat each other or some stupid shit like that. Fucking ponies. Fucking ponies. “Hurry,” said Anna. “I can feel the Other Side tugging at my
very sinews. We’re close now.” “Here, kitty, kitty,”
Anna called with vicious sarcasm. It was all starting to become clear
in her mind now. The cat. Her friends. Her own death. Her new life. The detective pony. All was converging, all was colliding,
all was rushing to a climax. A revelation trembled just past the threshold
of her understanding, and here, where the birch forest of Wiggins and the
chthonian depths of hell overlapped, Anna felt at the centre
of an odd, religious instant. “I hope that hell has an open bar. I finished the last of my backup flasks
hours ago.” said Pawnee. She had a serious problem. This was a cry for help. Anna stopped bothering to project even the slightest pretense of caring
about these antics. Anna pointed to the ground. “This is it,” she said solemnly. “This is the point of no return for me;
I can feel it. Once we cross over, I can never reenter the
world of the living.” Pawnee gasped in shock; Pam just nodded. “I was ripped from this realm once,”
Anna continued, “and it won’t let me escape
its grasp again.” “I know I can’t change your mind,”
said Pam sadly. “I know you love Acorn more than you love
life; and apparently more than you love me.” “Oh, Pam. You’ll always be the one that got away,”
Anna said, voice shaking. “And Pawnee … Pawnee,
you’re pretty cool too.” The girl and town were moved by this uncharacteristic display of emotion from Anna. The three held hands and took that
all-important step forward. Nothing around them visibly changed,
but they could all feel it. They were damned. Pawnee touched Anna’s shoulder
and pointed at the ground. “There’s blood in the snow,” said Pawnee. “Just like the chapter’s title!” Anna saw the blood, too. Rage gathered in her eyes. Pam stopped and held up a hand. “Listen,” she said. “What’s that?” The girls stood still and listened. Anna heard a faint meow. “It’s a cat,” she whispered. She smiled. Her smile was far redder than the blood, and
far colder than the snow. “—while wearing a powdered wig. And finally, number
six hundred and sixty six: embezzlement.” Dirk closed the book, tucked it into his back
pocket, and looked at Acorn. “Truly, an impressive and
intimidating list of sins.” Betancourt shook her head sadly. Minos looked solemn; he wasn’t even shitting, which is kind of his character’s gimmick, so you could tell he meant business. “Are we ready to make a ruling?” Dirk asked. Acorn reared up on his hind legs
and whinnied tempestuously at the three arbiters
lined up in front of him. “One fucking moment, don’t I get to say
anything in my defense?” “Weren’t you listening to my whole big
thing about speech and writing?” Dirk asked, obviously annoyed. “ ‘Grapheme vs. phoneme’ and all that? Do you really think the subject’s speech holds
any power in the world of a text? What is written is; what is merely said vanishes instantly if
there is no one to record it, like invisible water
off the ass of an invisible duck. [faint quacking sounds] And we’re done recording you.” Acorn seemed ready to argue, but Minos held up one of his adorable little
white paws to stop him. “Dirk is right,” Minos said. “He may be a pretentious douche,
but he’s right. We, the three arbiters of the afterlife,
have heard the evidence. And now we must decide
what your fate shall be.” “Not so fucking fast!” a girl’s voice
shouted from the distance. Acorn’s ears instantly twitched up. Could it be? It could in-goddamn-deed. The trees of the dead forest behind
the arbiters shuddered. Dirk, Jeanne, and Minos turned to face the
commotion and nervously inched back. A deep rumble slowly built, louder and lower
than thunder, making the ground shake as if a train was
approaching – a train of the gods. The bone-white trees swayed wildly
in the windless air, they violently uprooted themselves, floated weightlessly in the air
for a breathless moment, and then hurtled to either side
with savage force, disappearing into the horizon. Through the newly-parted pass, silhouetted by a blinding, otherworldly glow
behind them, walked two girls and a town. Jeanne Betancourt squinted
into the blinding light. “Are those…” “That’s right,” said the girl leading
the way. The bright light faded and the three walked
into view, posing like a team, and looking like complete
badasses. Anna Harley stood at the mouth of the gorge
that she had just carved into hell and grinned triumphantly. “We’re the motherfucking Pony Pals. And we’re here to fuck. Shit. Up.” [Music: “Turkish March”,
remixed with echoing bells] [Credits Narrator]
Detective Pony was originally written by Jeanne Betancourt. The first two pages were altered
by Andrew Hussie, pretending to be Dirk Strider. The rest of the pages were altered
by sonnetstuck, also pretending to be Dirk Strider. The book is read by Duckface as
yet another person pretending to be Dirk Strider, and Naked Bee, as Jeanne Betancort,
a fourth character who may or may not be Dirk Strider. This recording was instigated, perpetrated,
and assembled by Naked Bee. [crunch] [ttthwwwip]

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  1. "Nothing around them visibly changed but they could all feel it" I absolutely love how Dirk attempted to replicate the original dolls. Such another example of the absolute beautiful attention to detail! WOW!!!

  2. The way the camera zooms all the way in on Dirk's expressionless Ken doll face and rapidly cuts between slightly different angles while he jiggles up and down to reflect the escalating intensity of his completely unintelligible rant about the nature of speech is just sublime

  3. I love the opening scene with the Pony Pals. The fact that so much of Betancourt's words can be preserved, that Pawnee and Pam are having their doubts in two universes, adds something. Beneath all of Dirk's bullshit, he never abandons that core friendship. I'm just soft for how much the characters love each other!

    I can't believe how accurate Jeanne Betancourt's doll is? I hope more than ever that she (the actual author, not the character) is quietly aware of what her book has become. I find it so interesting that Dirk and Jeanne are judging Acorn for "what he's done" while also taking credit for writing him. What is free will in this instance? If the Pony Pals never showed up, how would their judgement have gone? And yet, the Pony Pals, regardless of Dirk-the-character's surprise, were also written to show up and no other outcome is possible. It's this kind of question that makes me think that Detective Pony appearing in Theseus is going to come up again. The double-layer of meaning whenever Dirk or Calliope have discussed authorship is as yet unresolved, and given the tumultuous reaction within the fandom (outrage at "Dirk's" or "Jane's" actions which is so often coupled with outrage at the new writing team, a state which is unable to resist blaming both) and Homestuck's tradition of commenting on fandom trends, I have to assume this will come up and in fact will be a major plot point. We've already seen in Pesterquest the writing team inserted into the world. Will Hussie-the-character or the other writers as characters reappear in order to replicate this scene? If they do, can they judge a character for actions they were written to perform? Can they judge themselves with harming characters when that's an impossible thing to do? This also seems relevant to discourse relating to equating writing about violence or sex to be equal with performing those actions as a person. And rewriting Acorn's existence seems to be another way of saying retconning him out of the story. And Acorn's ambivalence towards life is so Dirk. But Anna (Jane/other friends) would give a shit. I don't think the copy of the book in HS^2 is just about referencing the Longcat Rant.

    OMG MINOS IN A COWBOY HAT! That might be the cutest fucking thing ever. And a second after I have that thought, he's in a little prisoner hat, princess hat and chef's hat. What are you doing to my heart?? I approve so much of this amazing costuming.

    Of course Dirk uses heavy gestures. I always appreciate when a thing starts ridiculous and continues to the point of absurdity. I love the format of the Platonic dialogue, and since my last reread of the story I've actually read some Plato and *wow*, these voices are perfect. I don't know if Sonnetstuck just changed a couple words or if he wrote it in the style, but it really works.

    The Pony Pals' arrival is fucking perfect. There's something about the drama of their entrance that isn't quite conveyed in writing and the visual perfectly delivers on. I also love their hellsonas. All five of the characters who have crossed over have a tangible-ness to them. I can't wait to see what happens next and thank you so much for your incredible work on this!! <3

  4. Jeanne should have been voiced by the person who does unchanged narration would have given her a bit more of a unique structure.

  5. I feel like I'm having a stroke and a war flashback at the same time watching this. Thank you naked bee and Dirk strider impersonator

  6. Goooooood I love the transition to the Other Side for the Pony Pals! Also the way you did the Platonic Dialogue bit was amazing.

  7. thank you so much for your dedication to this weird ass prose <333 also Minos is super cute in any kind of hat

  8. i thank you for this blessing and i am still unable to concentrate enough to get through all of dirk's rambles but this is the closest i've ever managed to get to processing it all

  9. It’s been so long since I’ve listened to the original recording that ive forgotten most of it, it’s nice experiencing all this for the first time again and being pleasantly surprised by its events

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