Serial Saturday Update

It was a big day today, here at the Smith House. The last pair of kittens has followed my sister to her husband’s home (technically, they are still her cats, as opposed to his, so it’s less an adoption and more of a lateral slide), and the entire household has celebrated, in different ways, of course. My sister, for example, celebrated by transporting two yowling cats twenty miles down the road and then introducing them to their new roomies, a giant doofus of a dog named Baby and a smaller, even more doofier dog whose actual name escapes me because I pretty much just call it, “You doof.” I have literally seen these dogs get scared by their own shadows, so I think having scrappy Jack Septikitten around to protect them (from shadows) and sensitive little Danny Sexkitten to comfort them afterwards will be good for everyone.

I celebrated by spending the whole day in my writing room with the door wide open, because there were now no cats to flop down on the keyboard and purr at me. Sure, we still have cats, but my other sister’s cat prefers to do her flopping in the bay window beside me, my father’s cat has her own snoozing place in the closet, and my own cat, Waffles, is blind and doesn’t know where I am. Literally. He just now wandered into the room, bumped into two walls and a dinosaur and wandered out again.

Oh, and some of the neighborhood mice celebrated by moving in and are right this instant chewing on the inside of the walls directly behind my damn head. You ever read Stephen King’s The Langoliers?

Not the movie based on the story. That was terrible and no one should ever watch it for any reason.

The sound the time-eaters make, that rice krispies crackling sound…yeah, I get now why that one chick was covering her ears and screaming. It. Is. Maddening.

However, one good thing has come of it. Searching for the source of the sound led me to completely strip the room and give it the good spring cleaning I’ve been meaning to give it for a while now. Took the garbage out, cleared and organized the closet, found a fork and took it down to the kitchen where I ended up washing a load of dishes–the whole nine yards. Also, it turns out that constant exposure to a creepy crackling sound inside the walls of a dark room is no-end inspiring when one is writing a horror story, so I got some decent work done on my book. And I got the latest chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part III: Children of Mammon, uploaded on fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. So it’s been a productive day all around!

Still gonna kill the mice, though.

“But…But we’re adorably pestilent!”

Yep, first thing tomorrow, it’s Trap-City all up in this bitch. And all three cats are going to hear about this when it’s time for their annual performance review. Well, two cats are going to hear about it. Waffles can’t find the conference room. I’ve emailed him very clear directions, but, well, he’s blind. Also, he’s a cat and can’t read. Also-also, he’s a cat and not an employee, so he doesn’t get performance reviews. Also-also-also, he’s a cat, so even if I reviewed his performance, he’d just lick himself during the entire interview, hork up a hairball and walk off (bumping into two walls and yet another dinosaur on the way out, because he’s blind. Also, I have a lot of dinosaurs).

But I digress. My new chapter is up and that means it’s time to post another excerpt for those reading along to enjoy and for those not reading along to roll their eyes at while they mutter about when I’m going to write a ‘real’ book. (The answer is Someday. Definitely someday.) But in the meantime:

At length, Ana gave up even pretending to sleep and let her eyes open. She stared into the darkness, listening to the faint tick and whirr of servos in the room beyond her curtained table—Bonnie, playing his guitar. After a moment, she rolled over and peeked beneath the curtain. The wispy clouds that had cut up the sky by day had thickened considerably, forming silver swirls across the night sky where a nearly full moon shone a spotlight on the stage of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. Bonnie, alone there, leaned up against the side wall with one foot on the floor, playing his stringless guitar, said with one picture what a thousand words could never say about the toys that are left behind when the kids grow up.

She was sure she didn’t make any noise and Bonnie never looked up from what his fingers were doing on the neck of the guitar, but he said, “Can’t sleep, huh?”

“How’d you know? You got cameras on the back of your head?”

“Nope, but I got-t-t ears.”

“You can hear me looking at you?”

“Nope.” He glanced at her long enough to give her a quick, playful smile. “I c-c-can hear you’re not snoring.”

Ana laughed. “Yeah, Rider says I go like a chainsaw.”

“Aww, it’s not that b-b-bad. It’s a cute little snore.” He stopped playing and shifted around on the stage to better face her. “Something-ing-ing on your mind?”

“Not really.” Ana boosted herself up on her hands to better slide off the air mattress and slither out from under the table. She sat up against the wall instead, drawing up her bare legs and pulling her t-shirt over her knees. “Just restless, I guess.”

“You cold?” he asked, tipping his ears forward.

“A little. It’s still a million degrees during the day, but it’s gotten…I wouldn’t say cold, but definitely nippy at night. Wind’s changed. New front moving in,” she said, tipping her head back and sniffing at the breeze that blew in past the ductwork. “Smells like it might rain.”

“Oh yeah?” He looked up, his ears shifting to an interested angle. “What d-d-does rain smell like?”

“After it’s done falling, it smells great. Like…clean pavement and pines. And the quarry. Everything smells like the quarry in this town. But right now, it just smells like a roof I don’t have on yet.”

“It might-t-t hold off, you never know.” His fingers began to move again. Tick-tick-whirr, tick-whirr. “What’ll you d-d-do if it rains?”

“Get wet. I mean, if it wants to go balls-out thunder and lightning, I’ll hole up, but otherwise, I’ll just keep working. I won’t melt.”

Ana watched him play for a while, comfortably hypnotized by the movements of his fingers on the stringless guitar. She didn’t know music well enough to ‘hear’ what she could see him do, but she wished she could. Bonnie’s pumped up versions were the nursery rhymes she knew best, even after all these years. She wanted to hear them again.

“Which one is that?” she asked at last.

Bonnie played on, but twitched an ear in her direction. “Mm?”

“What song is that?”

He shook his head, fingers slowing now, smoothing out a complicated melody only he could hear. “You d-d-don’t know it. It’s new.”

“New?” Ana thought that over and, smiling, asked, “What kind of pizza do you think I like?”

He stopped playing and looked at her. “Wow, you’re kind-d-d of full of yourself, aren’t you?”

“You know I’m not wrong.”

“I didn’t say you were wrong-ong-ong, I said you were full of yourself.”

 

Serial Saturday Update

I’m going to break with my half-assed tradition and begin this post by talking about my father instead of my WIP (they’re connected, so that’s not really breaking tradition as much as bending it. I do pretty much everything half-assed). Faithful readers of this blog will remember that he had an extremely mild medical issue a short while ago. Last week, on a follow-up examination, it was discovered that his gall bladder is chock-full of stones, so he’s got an appointment next week to have that removed before it blossoms forth into a beautiful emergency.

Dark Butterfly by LoboRJO

For best effect, play Beethoven’s 6th as set to children’s screams.

All of us are happy about this except my father, who says he has only just begun to feel like himself again, pain-free and mentally-focused. He’s been moping around for a few days, beard and eyebrows drooping, loudly bemoaning his tormented state of mind during a recovery process for a surgery that is literally still a week away. Like, move over, angsty teens, and watch a true master at work.

Anyway, as part of his preparation for going under the knife, my father has been slumping around, despondently enjoying all those things he won’t be able to do post-surgery, and one of the things at the top of his list is work on his novel. The combination of pain and pain meds following his last procedure left him unable to either sit in a chair, concentrate on a monitor, or just, you know, think whole thoughts.

I’ve been there. Often.

However, even my father occasionally hits a rut and today, he found himself just not in the mood to write. He procrastinated in all the usual ways–making tea, drinking tea, researching the history of tea on the internet, locating an online purveyor of tea, ordering tea, reheating his tea which had gone cold. You know, as one does. When he ran out of tea, he discovered he still had plenty of procrastination left in him, so he sat down and read the first three books of Everything Is All Right.

Yeah, I know. I was surprised, too. He’s got half my books on his hard drive and, heck, I’m right upstairs. I’d have sent him the rest. He hasn’t even read Olivia or The Scholomance.  But no, he read my FNAF fanfiction because, quote, “I need this book in my life right now,” end quote.

Remember this is, at its core, a book about abused, abducted and murdered children. Dad, seriously, no one needs this book in their life.

Anyhoo, once he’d finished Part III (yeah, he’s got the whole thing, in it’s beta-form), he came upstairs to bounce some theories off me and found me working on Part IV with some ‘inspiration’ on the TV, namely Markiplier’s playthrough of the first game. Now, my dad knew he’d been reading fanfiction of a video game, but he’d never seen it. He’d never even seen me play it. This was the very first time he’d seen the characters I’d been writing about.

“What are we watching?” he asked, walking into the room and looking at the TV and before I could say one word, he said, “Good heavens, that’s Bonnie.”

Bonus ducks for identifying him from an image that didn’t show his ears or his guitar.

He sat down and we watched Mark play. When the first game was over, it was getting late, but I queued up the next one, just long enough for him to meet the Toys, Mangle, and the Puppet. This was…a strange experience for me, hearing my Dad refer to characters and locations by the names I had given them. Not to be too much of an ego-maniac or anything, but it made me feel weirdly like I was part of the creative team and not just the community.

So…sorry, Scott, for hitching a ride on your wagon, but also sort of not-sorry either, because that was a hell of a good feeling.

Anyway, as you may have gleaned from all this self-congratulatory rambling, the next chapter is up over at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, so if you’re reading along, be sure to check it out. If you’re not, yes, I’m still going to slap you in the virtual face with excerpts until you give in.

 

A lifetime of temporary living situations had made it so that Ana rarely found it difficult to fall asleep, no matter where she was. And she was by nature a deep sleeper, even sober; with a beer or two in her, she usually slept like a snoring stone. If it was true that the infrequent shriek/bang of fireworks and Freddy’s regular stopovers kept her from really achieving that perfect black-out state of suspended animation, at least it was also true that she couldn’t get too upset either, not with Bonnie’s arms around her and the steady rhythms of his systems thrumming under his skin.

However, even if the constant disturbances to her sleep did not upset her, they were still disorientating. She dreamed and woke, dreamed and woke, until a dozen dreams seemed to seamlessly meld with her beer-blurred recollections of the night before to create an uninterrupted and entirely false memory, one in which she talked about the Independence Day spirit and how Freddy didn’t like her and he talked about the girl who’d broken his face in with a bat and that the Bunny Patch bunnies were all named after real rabbit breeds. And while she was pretty sure all of this had actually happened, sprinkled throughout were nuggets of pure nonsense, like the false fact that at one point, there had been deer grazing on the show stage, or that David had run through the room trying to write his name in the air with a sparkler, or that Bonnie had talked about watching the fireworks in the parking lot at Circle Drive when he was no older than this building.

She felt no real urge to sort out fact from fiction. As far as she was concerned, it could all be a dream as long as this part—the part where she woke in the night and heard Bonnie ‘breathing’—was real. And it was, so fuck the rest.

As the night wore on, the fireworks petered out, but Freddy’s patrols remained as consistent as ever. She woke each time he passed through, if only long enough to identify the slow scrape-thud of his footfalls before letting Bonnie’s presence lull her back to sleep. So when yet another fragment of dream blew unexpectedly apart, she did not startle up in alarm. She listened and sure enough, plastic crinkled as Freddy came into the dining area.

Bonnie didn’t move as the footsteps drew nearer, but Ana heard the distinctive sound of his eyes turning and focusing, watching Freddy come.

Freddy’s footsteps stopped right in front of them. A pause. Then, with a smile he could not make but which Ana could all but see: “IT’S. NOT. WHAT. IT. LOOKS. LIKE. RIGHT.”

“I wish,” said Bonnie, as quietly as he could. His jaw didn’t move. Trying not to wake her. “You’re an ass, by the way. Remind me to t-t-tell you why.”

Freddy grunted affably and mechanisms whirred as he made some unseen gesture. “IS. SHE. SLEEPING.”

“Yeah.”

“No, I’m not,” Ana mumbled. “What time is it?”

“ALMOST. SIX.”

“Christ, I slept in.”

“You d-d-don’t have to get up yet.”

“Yeah, I do,” she sighed. “Not enough hours, my man. Every one of them counts.” Ana stirred, drawing in her legs and stretching them out again, opening her eyes. She saw a field of pale, dingy purple first—Bonnie, lit up by Freddy’s eyes—and then her arm, which had slipped sometime in the night from resting on his chest to cupping the Ken-doll-smooth front of his groin.

Ana looked at that for a while, sleepily amused, then raised her head to find Bonnie looking back at her.

“Looks like I want to start the day with a bang,” she said in her fresh-from-sleep throaty purr. “You up for it, my man?”

His ears snapped up. “Really? I mean, yeah! YOU BET!  D-D-Damn it. Freddy, sc-scram. I mean, are you serious? B-B-Because if you’re not, that’s c-c-cool, but if you are, um, we may need-d-d to work a few th-things out first. Freddy, for real, get-t-t lost.”

Serial Saturday Update

I’m pleased to report that it’s been a pretty good week. I’m feeling better (not quite back to normal, but as Lan observes in Land of the Beautiful Dead, the things we use to measure ‘normal’ has a way of slipping the longer we have to deal with ‘not-normal’), I got out of the house for a little while, I ranked 28 on Tuber Simulator’s “My Shop” Event and added another diamond trophy to my collection, and I just uploaded another chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Three: Children of Mammon. Throw in a maple bar and it would have been the best week ever.

Throw a little bacon on that maple bar and I’ll see to it you have a good night, too.

However, I’ve got a warm cat, a hot chai lattle and an arguably terrible Stephen King mini-series in the other room waiting for me (told you it was a good week), so I’m going to make this update short and just say that we’re good to go over at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. Small chapter, just our hero and her bunny relaxing with a couple beers, taking a much deserved breather following the previous chapter’s hectic events (and blissfully unaware of the even more hectic events to come…FORESHADOWING!). Faithful readers of this blog might recognize the bare bones of this scene. I’m really happy I didn’t have to cut it out of the final draft. There’s an awful lot of, well, awfulness in this story and not nearly enough cuddles.

“You ever see fireworks, Bonnie?” she asked, sticking stubbornly to what she saw as the point. “Real ones?”

“Not at this place, but at Cir-Cir—CIRCUMJACENT TO THE MEDULLA—Circle Drive, son of a b-b-bitch.” He shook his head, muttering static through his speakers, then went on, “It was always a pop-p-pular place for kids after d-d-dark. They’d set ‘em off in the parking-ing-ing lot and we used to watch until they saw us or the c-c-cops saw them.” He cocked his head at another shriek and explosion. “But no, not here.”

“Why not? This place is nice and isolated, with a good flat parking lot and a building—Jesus!” she sputtered at the end as a fucking sonic boom went off in the quarry, loud enough to rattle the plastic sheets hanging over the doorways. Only when it was over did she realize she’d been sitting stiffly forward the whole time, straining to hear or perhaps poised to leap up and run. Trying to laugh it off, she settled back against the scratchy pillow of Bonnie’s hard arm and finished, “A building between them and the road. This would be a great place to set off fireworks. Why are those idiots down in the quarry and not blowing shit up right here in the parking lot? Or—”

She broke off there, blushing, but Bonnie calmly said, “Or in the d-d-dining room?”

“People break in here all the time. It’s dark, it’s secluded, it’s full of bustable objects. It can only attract the very worst kind of person.”

He glanced at her, plastic eyes moving beneath plastic lids while the rest of his head remained perfectly immobile.

She held up a warning finger. “This is not a story about me, but for the record, I swear, I steal, I trespass, I smoke pot and yes, I swallow. I am, without a doubt, the very worst kind of person.”

He chuckled and tipped his bottle.

“And I broke in. So why didn’t they?” Ana asked as yet another barrage of explosions set themselves off. “Why aren’t they here right now?”

Bonnie shrugged, rocking the arm behind her neck, which wedged it in at a different, even more painful angle. He said, “This p-p-place is supposed to be haunted.”

“By what, the ghost of pizza past?”

He looked at her, his eyelids lowered but level, and said, “Boo,” in a flat, unironic tone.

She thought of Mike Schmidt, then stubbornly slung an arm around his neck and shifted so she sat up a little straighter and could get a little closer. “Should I be scared of you?” she asked in her sultriest voice.

His expression did not change. “Not g-g-gonna lie to you, baby girl, yeah. Yeah, you p-p-probably should.”

 

Serial Saturday Update

So I was contacted by the man behind Thornewood Creations, which I hope means some of my readers sent some love his way. He graciously sent some more pictures of work that he does apart from wands, and before we jump into the usual fanfic chapter upload notification, allow me to share those pictures with you, because I cannot gush enough about this guy’s work. He needs, and I mean NEEDS to get an internet storefront somewhere, somehow. Check it out:

So beautiful.

Okay! On to the boring author-stuff! A new chapter of my Five Nights at Freddy’s fanfiction just went up, and I’d like to take a moment if I may to say, sincerely, Thank you so much, all of you who are reading along. Thank you to those of the FNAF fan community who then looked up my other work and started following this blog. Thank you to my longtime readers who took a chance on fanfiction for a video game they may not even have heard of before I started filibustering its praises here. Thank you to everyone who has left a comment or review over at fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org where the series is running. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to assure me that they are only waiting for the whole thing to be available so they can binge it without having to wait a week between chapters. And thank you thank you thank you to everyone who is patiently waiting for me to work this weird obsession out of my system and get back to writing real books. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Come on! Bring it in!

Okay, with the mushy stuff out of the way, on with the update! Yes, there is a new chapter of Everything Is All Right, Part Three: Children of Mammon up, so if you’re reading along, please head on over and check it out. It may well be the longest chapter in the book (I kind of got out of the habit of paying attention to things like that), and it’s something of a pivotal point in the sub-narrative of the roof repair. Watch that first step, Ana. It’s a doozy.

***

Ana found the information she needed on the boot of the ventilator, took a picture with her phone and—in what she would later consider a genuinely paranormal episode of precognition—unthinkingly tucked her phone into her boot instead of her pocket. Later, this would be hilarious. Her psychic self apparently thought she could handle all the things who’d ever tried to kill her—countless beatings, the lake her mother had driven her into, scores of bad scenes she’d walked into while working for Rider, that whole mess with Mason Kellar, not to mention fucking Springtrap—but God forbid she lose her phone. She would keep the picture, that of the make and model information for a direct drive upblast roof ventilator, taken at 8:13 in the morning of June 29th, 2015, eventually printing it out and framing it. It hung on the wall for the rest of her life, in commemoration. For now, blissfully ignorant, she straightened up, took a swift count of the ventilators, then headed for the exhaust elements over by the kitchen, giving the dining room area as wide a berth as she could manage. She was almost done. The trick was not to get sloppy, not to rush, to be aware of the wind but not to fear it.

As if it could hear her, the wind came back with a vengeance, flattening her clothes and howling in her ears, but beneath its monstrous voice, Ana still somehow heard the crack. She knew instantly what it was. She looked anyway, just in time to see that iconic sign—FREDDY FAZBEAR’S PIZZERIA, where Fantasy and Fun come to life!—first shake, then splinter and finally explode. Fragments of letters spilled in all directions, insensible as a bowl of alphabet soup. The surviving painted figures of the mascots blew apart, giving her a glimpse of Chica’s bib, Foxy’s eyepatch and Bonnie’s guitar, but it was Freddy’s giant hat, because of course it was, that flipped over and slammed into her.

Her world went black so suddenly, she thought it had killed her. Just struck her dead right there on the roof, and whatever consciousness was left to have that thought at all was just the formless residue of her soul, waiting in the dark for a light to open up and show her where to go next.

Then she hit the roof—arm, back, knee, cheek—tumbling and scraping over its gravely surface as the hat perpetually slapped her along, until it decided it had had enough and wedged itself underneath her. The wind got behind it and suddenly she was one hundred percent airborne, riding Freddy’s fucking hat like a goddamn flying carpet for one heart-stopping second or two or three, before it flipped her over and slammed her down into a big bowl of roof pudding.

Not onto.

Into.

She fell through before she even knew she’d hit it and the hat covered the hole she’d made so she fell in the dark through that spongy, stinking mass into a blocky, unyielding something. She hit it like a hammer; it sounded like a gong. But she only hit it with the back of her head and one shoulder. The rest of her kept falling, dragging the rest of her with it, flipping her over in a blind cartwheel to bang facefirst into another hollow blocky something before she’d finished fully registering the first impact.

It was the last clear sense she had of her fall, although she remained conscious, because Ana’s thoughts divided then into three distinct memory-paths, none of them real.

In the first, she was again twelve years old, standing at the center of a ring of jeering faces as one of them told her she was so ugly, she must have fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. This was the first fight Ana had ever been in, and it had been the first because that was the most baffling and outrageous insult she could stand to take. If they’d made fun of her for being poor, for her ill-fitting clothes or the duct tape holding her split shoes together, that would have been fine. If they’d made fun of her for smelling, because she so often went to school directly from the closet, stinking of sweat and piss, even though she tried to only get it in the jar, that would have been fine too. But she knew she wasn’t ugly and it was the lie that finally broke her, the lie and the idea that she would never be beat up enough to satisfy these kids and the kids that would come after and the whole effing world, that they would also get to lie about her and laugh when they lied. No. Too much. So Ana punched. The kid, startled, punched back and all her friends piled on, but all of them together were no match for Ana’s mother, whose punches had been Ana’s teachers all these years. Ana took them without flinching and gave them back, beating at this screaming, crying tangle of children with her mother’s anger, her mother’s fists. She was the ugly tree, by God. She was every branch on the way down and when they had finished falling and lay all around her on the ground, they were the ugly ones, snotty and bloody and bruised and ugly.

That was the first memory-path. Beside it, no more real and no less vivid, she was nineteen and bogged down on some back road in a spring storm in Colorado, trying to push her car (the last car she would ever own; all the rest would be trucks) out of the mud and onto the pavement again while freezing water sluiced off the mountain around her ankles. Then came a surge of water, mud and rock, spinning the back end of the car around and shoving her right off the edge of the world and down the mountainside. It wasn’t very steep. She did not fall, but slid, now on her knees, now her belly, now her side. The water was all around, not deep, but frothy and foul, choking her as the mountain tumbled her away. She’d broken her leg and three ribs on that slide, but that was not the part she remembered now, only the tumbling, the suffocation, the stink.

In the third and last memory-path, Ana simply fell in the black and hit nothing. This was the Ana knocked dead on the roof by a flying top hat, the Ana who would fall forever because no light would ever come for her. She was in Mammon now, and all children of Mammon are forsaken.

Forsooth! R Lee’s Day at the Faire

I’m home! Actually, I’ve been home for a day or two now, since I was just going to the Renaissance Faire, not trekking to Mordor to throw a ring into an active volcano. But it was a big day for me (bigger than I was anticipating) and when I got home, I was all tuckered out and needed some recovery time.

That sounds like a joke or at the very least, it sounds like I’m a toddler, but the thing is, at some point in the last couple of years, I wandered over the line from medically compromised to medically fragile. What does this mean, exactly? Well, the short answer is, while I’m by no means at Death’s door, nor is She at mine, when I get sick, I have a hell of a time shaking it off. Last Halloween, as you may recall, I got sick. And I’ve had a hell of a time shaking it off.

So I’m okay, in the sense that there’s nothing seriously wrong with me at the moment, but I’m not okay in the sense that most of last week (and probably most of next week), I was falling-down feverish and coughing up a lung, displaying all the enthusiasm of a chronically depressed sloth while resembling a heap of towels some inconsiderate jackass has used to hurriedly mop up a burst sewer line in the basement and then forgot to wash, so that they sit there in the warm, quiet dark for weeks on end, still damp, until they start to sprout…things.

The moral of this story is, stop leaving the damn towels on the floor.

So I’m okay, is what I’m saying, but my bar for measuring ‘okay’ has gotten lower and lower over the years, and last Saturday’s ‘okay’ found me in high spirits as the group and I headed for the Renn Faire, but also found me in a wheelchair. And when we got there–

You know what? A little info sidebar here, for those of you who do not live in the Midwest. Ahem. Weather be crazy here, yo. Maybe not Mammon-crazy, but crazy e-fucking-nough. Four days ago, it was so hot and muggy that I woke up in a literal puddle of sweat. By that evening, a stormfront had moved in. Cue the wall-shaking thunder and lightning all night while I huddled in the basement with my computer under one arm and my blind cat under the other, watching the weather channel. Come the dawn, there was a lake in the backyard and our septic system was flooded out, which meant we couldn’t use water or else the basement bathroom would back up and spew stormwater (among other things) from every possible opening.

Yes. This one, too.

That day was cold, not quite freezing, but it warmed up fast around dusk. Like, really fast. Like new-stormfront-moving-in fast. Cue thunder and lightning all night with me perched over two inches of water in the basement with purring cat (he’s blind, he couldn’t see the water) and computer, watching the weather channel again. Following that, it was again dryish and very windy, with intermittent episodes of rain, sun, thunder, freaking HAIL, more sun and more rain. That was Friday, let me remind you. We planned to go to the Faire the next day, come hell or high water, both of which were likely.

Saturday’s forecast called for more of everything, so we were pleasantly surprised when Saturday dawned cool, but dry. A little windy, not too bad. Blustery, as Pooh would say. A blustery spring day.

Back to me in the wheelchair, arriving at the park full of hope only to discover that the fairgrounds were predictably muddy. Like, suck-your-cosplay-boots-off muddy in places. Which on the mud-scale is at least three ticks beyond mire-a-wheelchair muddy. So I could not be pushed. I had to walk.

Now, I can walk for short distances, but like my ‘okay’ bar, my bar for measuring a short distance has gotten shorter and shorter. Several miles back and forth across the fairgrounds is so far beyond my capabilities at this point that it might as well be that trek to Mordor after all. So when I saw that mud, my heart sank, but the tickets were already in hand, so I gave it the old dropped-out-of-college try and I’m pleased (and somewhat astonished) to report that I lasted six hours. It helped that there were lots of events, so anytime I got to feeling like a collapse was imminent, I could just stop pushing the empty wheelchair, sit in it, and watch the jousting or the belly dancers until I got my head back on straight.

Time passed most enjoyably whilst I watched the belly dancers…

God, I want to delete this post so bad and just start over with, “Back from the Faire, had a blast,” but you know what? I’m effing proud of walking. I don’t know exactly how far…hang on, let me ask…

Okay, I asked my sister, Cris, how much we walked and she said, “I hatched three Pokemon out of one incubator,” which either means that we walked a lot or that she had a small stroke. Either way, I’m calling this a personal achievement. On to the Faire stuff.

I didn’t have a lot of money to spend because I’ve been writing fanfiction for the past year instead of working, but holy cow, I could have dropped quite a few mortgage payments at that place if I wasn’t so good at adulting and, you know, aware of financial consequences. At nearly every booth, I saw something I desperately needed, but I restrained myself admirably and only whined until my sister bought me a few things, such as this hat…

Modeled here by the lovely Miss Ladybones

…and this clay skull, which the guy practically gave me for free because he saw how deeply I fell in love with it. He had a whole booth full of perfectly fired, carved and glazed skulls, but this one…wow. I heard it call my name. Now it whispers to me from the darkest corner of my bedroom.

The things it says are unspeakable.

What did I do at the Faire? Why, I ate bourbon toffee, tried cinnamon honey from Vinduska Apiaries (fun fact time: I love honey. I collect it like some people collect wine, with bottles from all over the world, and that was the best cinnamon honey I’ve ever had), watched a guy named Sasquatch carry a 20-foot pine log over 150 feet before flipping it end over end another 50 feet to carry his clan to victory in the Highland Games, cheered for the bad guy in the jousting tournament, watched the only female jester escape artist flip out of a pair of Australian thumb-cuffs right before my eyes, and just generally had a great time. Some highlights:

Shout-outs to some of the vendors I saw and whose goods I coveted far more than is probably healthy. Please click on the links. These artists are incredibly talented and deserve all the love and success in the universe.

Minerva’s Menagerie. They make and sell jewelry and other items from found nature and ethically-sourced animal products. Yes, that means roadkill. It also means taking ‘ruined’ leather goods like belts, purses and shoes that others have thrown out and repurposing them. The things they have made from these unlikely materials are simply gorgeous. They can be contacted through their Facebook page and are in the process of getting an Etsy shop up and running, although there’s not much there yet.

Alde’ware. They “find and adopt out” dragon eggs. Marvelous people. I discussed various breeds of dragons and the effect of climate change and pollution upon the vanishing species for several minutes before adopting my East Egyptian Ashclaw, also known as the False Firedrake.

There he/she is, up on the top left, already rising above the rest.

Odyssey Craftworks. There is so much amazing and unique jewelry at places like conventions and Renaissance Faires that after a while, you get a little blind to it. You see one stunning handcrafted opal ring, you’ve seen them all, amirite? I’m as guilty of this cavalier attitude as the next person, but every once in a while, you see some work that stands out, even in a sea of excellence. Odyssey Craftworks is a small group of artisans of various fields, producing artwork, fragrances and jewelry. They are in the process of constructing a website, and they have a shop on Etsy.

Thornewood Creations. That link will direct you to his Facebook page, which is fairly new and not set up around a shop yet. He has given me his kind permission to link it here, and you may contact him through it with requests/orders. He does not have an internet storefront yet, which is a pity because mere words cannot express how amazing their selection of wands is. It’s as close as you can get to a real-world version of Olivander’s. Not even kidding. The base wands are selected for the mythic properties of the wood, then hand-tooled according to ancient woodworking practices. Many are augmented by copper cores or crystal tips and are sold with some of the shavings produced during their creation for ritual purposes. Wands aren’t all they produce, obviously, but in a fair metaphorically swimming in wands, these…wow, it was like seeing a Maserati on a small-town corner used-car lot. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with them other cars, but damn, that’s a Maserati. Enough words, must have pics!

How they look when he’s ready to start…and how they look when he’s done with them…

Notions By Narissa. Sells functional and decorative crafts in leather, wood, metal, glass and clay. Oh, the clay. I love me some pottery and they had some there that made my heart laugh and wallet weep. If you’re not a fan of pottery, click on the link and see if her amazon storefront can’t change your mind. If you are a fan of pottery, don’t click the link or you’ll  end up eating ramen noodles for the next month out of your beautiful new bowls.

Every Magical Day. Another jewelry booth, you say? No, I say, NOT just another jewelry booth. These artists take real coins from around the world and craft them into necklaces and rings. Doesn’t sound like much when I type it out like that, but seriously, these things aren’t just pretty, but each one tells a highly personal story. I’m working with them to buy my father a man’s ring made from a French coin minted in the year he lived in France. They also sell genuine Viking rings collected by locals every year when the floods recede, and old Celtic rings recovered from the peat bogs when the locals go out cutting peat. Deceptively plain, utterly captivating little pieces of pure history (seriously, one of those Viking rings is haunting my dreams).

Big Sister Cosplay. Confession time. I personally hate the word ‘cosplay’. I hate it. I don’t hate the people who do it, of course. A, because I’m not an asshole, and B, because I’ve done it myself since I was 13, long before there was a stupid word for dressing up like a comic book, cartoon, movie, TV or generally fictional fantasy character. But as much as I hate the word, half my closet is reserved for costumes and even better, for costume components. You ever get a really distinctive set of horns or a pair of boots, even though they went with nothing you already owned and you were now more or less committed to building an entire costume around one accessory? This is where you do that. Their rather limited Facebook page (linked above!) does not begin to show off the full scope of her closet. From medieval wench to anime monster hunter, she’s got your back covered, literally. Let me be clear: Kayleigh Price has  e v e r y t h i n g. And she will work with you to find components or make them from scratch to manifest your vision.

And on that note, we come to my last and by no means least shout-out: A Pinch of Pixie Dust. They are also costumers, with loads of costumes, mostly fairy-central, varying from wings and cloaks all the way to complete styles, all ages, all sizes, but they stand out from vendors with similar wares because these guys live the life. They cosplay (God, I hate that word) fairies and they know their glittery shit. Also, as I was sitting and recovering in my wheelchair in front of their booth, the Fairy of Autumn…

No idea where she got the name.

…and I got to chatting, and I remarked on my regret that my cosp…you know, I’m not going to say it…my dressing-up days were pretty much done, because, well, wheelchair. And she promptly told me about an episode of Say Yes To The Dress where the bride was in a chair and they by-God got her in a gorgeous dress that not only accommodated but incorporated the chair into its design. Then she said she did custom work and she liked a challenge. Skills aside–and these fairy folk have skillz, ya’ll, the kind you spell with a Z–the fact that they will work with someone to that extent, with that level of enthusiasm, deserves major kudos. I cannot wait to work with these people, and the next Renn Faire that comes my way, I will be dressed-up again, whether I’m in my chair or not.

It’s the little things that separate you most from what you always thought of as your life. And it’s the little things that make you feel like you’ve fit back into it. A toast, then. To all the little things!

Huzzah!

Serial Saturday Update

Hi-ho, faithful followers! It’s Friday and you know what that means! That’s right, the Renaissance Faire is tomorrow and Yours Truly shall be tripping on over to enjoy a weekend of eating turkey legs, wearing funny hats and saying, “Forsooth!” Which is pretty much every weekend for me, come to think of it. And darn near every weekday…

Anyhoo, as a consequence of Friday e’en, Saturday morn must forsooth follow, and with it, verily, another chapter of mine epic fanfiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Three: Children of Mammon. Hast thou yet cracked yonder digital tome? Cuz if not, fie upon thee, thou impertinent dewberry! Thou gob-bellied onion! Thou pribbling, ill-pated pancake!

Right. So the new chapter’s up and if you want to read it, you can find it safely ensconced in the care of the good folks at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. In the meantime, here is but a small sampling of my wares. Enjoy! I’ll see you at the faire, anon!

Bonnie did not consciously count the seconds that Ana was gone, but in spite of his determination not to be a jealous dick, he could not help but note that Foxy left with Ana about a quarter after ten and did not come back with her until half past two in the freaking morning.

“That was a long shower,” Bonnie said as Foxy shrugged the plastic sheets aside and ducked through, carrying Ana, half-naked and sound asleep, in his arms. “What the h-h—HI THERE!—hell are you wearing-ing-ing?”

“Her jeans. Aye, that’s right, I got in her p-p-pants first. Eat yer heart-t-t out,” Foxy growled cheerily, switching on his eyes to scan the room and nodding when Chica waved. “Freddy around-d-d?”

A grunt from the South Hall was his answer and then Freddy switched on his own eyes and came out of the dark, watching as Foxy knelt down beside the table and tucked Ana away. “IS. SHE. SLEEPING.”

“Eh, sleep may b-b-be a light word for it,” said Foxy, leaning up against the wall. “She’s got t-t-three joints and half a bottle o’ rum in her. She’s out-t-t. Wouldn’t wake for it even if the horns o’ judgment were to blow out’n her ass.”

“You are such-ch-ch a charmer,” Bonnie muttered, putting his guitar aside and struggling up onto his feet. He was walking much better these days since Ana had worked on his knees, but getting up and down was still hard. “Did she t-t-talk?”

“Oh aye. Three joints and half a b-b—BOTTLE OF RUM, didn’t I say? After a certain p-p-point, I couldn’t shut her up.”

Before Bonnie could ask what was wrong, his knee gave out and he dropped stiff-legged back onto the stage.

Grumbling, Freddy crossed the room in long, impatient strides to pick him up like a child and thump him on his feet. “WE’RE. NOT. TALKING. HERE,” he said and pointed at the hall. “BONNIE. STAY. AND. WATCH. HER.”

“The hell I will.”

Freddy, already walking away, turned around. “BONNIE. I. HAVE. SPENT. ALL. DAY. CHASING. HER. AROUND. THIS. BUILDING. AND. I. AM. NOT. IN. THE.” He paused, clicking and scowling. “MOO. TO. LISTEN. TO. YOU. TELL. ME. NOTHING. IS. WRONG.”

“Freddy,” Bonnie replied, mimicking his tone with savage accuracy, “I spent at least-t-t three hours off and on holding her while she c-cr-cried. I don’t need-d-d you to tell me something-ing-ing’s wrong. You want her watched-d-d? You watch her. I’m going t-t-to hear this.”

Before Freddy could answer, Foxy quietly said, “I think-k-k we all need to hear this, Fred. Ye don’t want to do it-t-t here, let’s move on, but let’s do it quick-k-k and get on with it.”

Freddy looked back and forth between them for a long minute, then went over to the table and looked beneath it for an even longer minute, but at the end of it, the glaring angle went out of his eyelids. He picked Ana’s limp arm up and tucked it next to her on the mattress, rested his hand briefly on her head, then straightened and let the curtain fall. “ALL RIGHT,” he said. “THE QUIET ROOM. GO.”

They went, Chica toddling on ahead to hold the plastic open for those of them with ears. Before he followed, Foxy picked up Ana’s duffel bag and slung it over his shoulder.

“What are you d-d-doing with that?” Bonnie asked.

“Ye’ll know soon enough, mate.” Foxy attempted to scrape the loose stack of papers Ana had taken off the lobby wall together, then gave up and gestured at it. “Get these for me, would-d-d ye?”

Bonnie obeyed, looking them over in confusion as he did so. Happy kids. Freddy on stage. Chica with a birthday cake. Him with his guitar. Lots of newspaper articles, but only the ones gushing over the various openings and special events. Silly stuff, and all of it ten or twenty or even forty years old. He couldn’t see anything Ana would want to keep, much less Foxy.

“What are these for?” he asked.

“For Freddy,” said Foxy. “Might not-t-t need ‘em, but I likes to be prepared and Freddy b-b-believes more in what he sees than what-t-t he feels.”

“Prepared-d-d for what?”

“Look, mate. I know it ain’t-t-t in yer nature, but I need ye to t-t-trust me. We’re on the—PORT SIDE—same side, remember?”

“Yeah, right.”

“Then let-t-t me do the talking here, eh?” Foxy gave whatever was in the duffel bag a grim sort of pat and started walking. “It’s apt to g-g-get pricklish.”

Serial Saturday Update

Welp, I have two kitten-related items to report, the first and most being that we can no longer call them kittens. They have become cats. And this relates directly to the second item, which is that they have become OUR cats. Dammit.

We tried. We really did. I personally asked everyone I know to please take a kitten home, but sadly, my life as a dedicated introvert has led to the unfortunate reality that I just don’t know that many people. My sister, Cris, was able to find the two toms a forever-home (Markimoo has become an amazing mouser, while Arin the Grump has become a furry lump of purring fat permanently affixed to the husband’s lap), but the two mollies are here to stay.

With dutiful resignation, we took them to the vet today to be spayed. I went along because I have had surgery and I know how important it is to have a strong support network and also because my sister said we could stop for burgers on the way home if I was good. The receptionist and vet both exclaimed over how insanely soft and affectionate they are, then asked their names. My sister elected not to give their full names–Jack Septikitten and Danny Sexkitten–so simply gave them as Jack and Danny. Cue weird looks from the vet, who then says with a laugh, “These are GIRL-cats, right?”

Smart-ass me promptly replies, “Did you just assume my cat’s gender?”

It was a joke, so I thought they would laugh. They did not. The vet apologized, so immediately and with such feeling that my sister was compelled (justifiably, I might add) to smack me and explain that I thought I was funny and yes, they were girl-cats, just named for male youtubers and also, biological gender was about to become a huge non-issue for these particular cats, so it didn’t even matter.

“What’s a youtuber?” the vet asked.

“It’s a little difficult to explain,” I replied. “Have you heard of the internet?”

“Go sit in the car!” snapped my sister.

I did not get my burger.

The kittens–sorry, the cats came home this afternoon. Man, they have never been so glad to see anyone as they were when they saw us come to pick them up. They are presently recovering in the library. I, too, have found that no matter how bad I feel some days, I will always feel at least a little better when snuggled up with my sister on the couch surrounded by books.

Okay, on to the real stuff. New chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Three: Children of Mammon, now available at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org for those who are reading along. And for those of you who are still trying to decide if a fanfiction based on a jumpscare video game about rogue animatronics in a pizza parlor is really worth reading, all I can say is, hey, it’s free, right?

Foxy heard a loud crash during the two o’clock set. It startled him, although he supposed there was no real cause for alarm. It was plausible enough that a carload of kids had pulled up while Foxy was killing time in his cabin between shows, but Freddy never let his guard down and since he hadn’t called Foxy out to defend the restaurant, it couldn’t be anyone inside smashing the place up.

That raised the question of just what it could be, though. After all, it had been a loud enough noise to reach all the way to Pirate Cove, which ruled out something as simple as Chica taking a tumble, and it hadn’t shaken the timbers or anything, so it couldn’t have been the roof dropping in. Maybe a firework, although Foxy would have sworn it was a bangy sort of noise, rather than a boomy one. Nothing as little as a bottle smashing up against a window and nothing as big as a car crashing through one. He would have asked Freddy to settle his curiosity, except that Freddy didn’t come. Not at the end of his set, not at the end of the next one, not all the rest of that long day.

The longer Foxy went without seeing him, the more ominous that crash got. Maybe it hadn’t been Chica taking a tumble after all. Maybe it had been Fred himself, and if he’d managed to fall hard enough to pop his chest open (or crack his battery case…but no, that was too awful a thought for even Foxy to consider), there was nothing any of them could do to wake him up again.

But hours later, long after closing, he heard the East Hall door open and Freddy’s distinctive footsteps enter the room at last.

“SORRY,” Freddy grumbled, while Foxy stood frozen in the bow of his ship, head down and eyes shut. “I. MEANT. TO. COME. SOONER. I. COULDN’T. GET. AWAY. SHE’S.” A pause, filled with clicking. “SLEEPY. AND.” More clicking, this time with growls threaded through it, before Freddy settled with obvious annoyance on, “SUNG. OVER. AND. SHE’S. KEPT. ME. CHASING. AFTER. HER. ALL. BEAVER DAM. DAY. OH. SORRY. WAKE UP. FOXY.”

Foxy broke from his paralysis with convulsions, digging his hook blindly into the bow of his ship to keep him on his feet until the moment passed. “A-A-Ana’s here?” he asked, shaking his head like that could dislodge the exceptions that came from terminating his closing protocol two minutes too soon.

“YES.”

“I never heard-d-d her truck pull in,” Foxy muttered, hopping down from his ship and then from the stage. “I need to be c-c-coming out more. So that was her I heard-d-d banging around?”

“YOU. HEARD. HER. ALL. THE. WAY. IN. HERE,” Freddy asked and fell into step beside Foxy, walking together to the door. “WHY. AM. I. SURPRISED. EVERY. TIME. I. TURN. AROUND. SHE’S. BUMPING. THINGS. DROPPING. THINGS. AND. CLIMBING. THINGS. IT’S. LIKE. TRYING. TO. WATCH. OVER. TEN. TODDLERS. AT. A BIRTHDAY PARTY. AFTER THE. GIFTS. ARE. OPEN. AND. THE. CAKE. IS. GONE.”