Children of Mammon Premieres

The third part of my 5-part Five Nights at Freddy’s Fanfic just went up over at and again over at! For the tens and tens of you waiting with bated breath since Part Two concluded, go check it out, but be warned! With each new installment of the series, the book as a whole gets darker and my mental high-water mark (or low limbo bar) for twisted scenes to include in a book keeps moving. I’ve barely begun working on Part Four and I’ve already started working out some of the more crazy-violent and upsetting scenes I’ve slated for Part Five and frankly, I’m left thinking I just might go ahead and open The Bull of Minos with the Pasiphae/Bull sex scene after all. Yeah, not so excited to see me get back to the ‘real’ books now, are ya?

Those of you still nodding should be ashamed of yourselves.

Those of you nodding excitedly should remember how the Minotaur was conceived.

For all those who asked, my dad is doing great and quite tickled by all the well-wishing from my readers, some of whom are also his readers! Anyway, we all know the drill by now. Here is an excerpt from the new chapter. Let’s just pretend I did all the bitching and moaning about how I need to blog more about other stuff besides my FNAFiction (I do, and I will, but not this week. Next week doesn’t look good either).

It was hot in the closet from the start and with winter clothes pressing down from above and heavy blankets heaped to one side, the heat became almost an animal thing, panting its used breath into Ana’s face as she lay huddled and crawling with sweat atop a pillow of mismatched shoes. She slept closet-sleep, oppressive and unrestful, but deep enough that she never heard footsteps on the kitchen linoleum until the door rattled and opened, hitting Ana with the twin slaps of fresher air and bright light. She raised her head groggily, seeing only a formless black mass against the light.

“Get dressed,” her mother told her. “We’re going out.”

Ana unfolded her body and made it work, gaining her feet and walking to her room on legs that somehow were both shaky and stiff. There was still a little fire shining off the dirty clouds outside her window, proof that she had been in the closet only a few hours this time. It had felt like much longer since she’d come home from school and walked stupidly into the eye of her mother’s storm. She had no idea what she’d done this time and had learned not to ask. She was beginning to learn to be grateful for the closet, which, hot and dark and suffocating as it was, was still a barrier between Ana and her mother’s fists.

Ana opened the broken suitcase where she kept all her clothes, shifting the neat piles of tops and bottoms until she found the too-tight top and too-small shorts that were her ‘going out’ clothes. She took a quick shower, brushed her wet hair, then dressed without looking at herself in the mirror. A little tinted lip gloss was all the make-up she was allowed to wear and applying it took all the time she had left to waste. Her mother was already waiting for her in the car.

It was a twenty minute drive to Rider’s place. Neither spoke.


Serial Saturday Update

So how was my week, you ask? Well, it began with the heater going out on Sunday, as we are in (hopefully) the last cold snap of the season. Nothing to compare with some of the winter storms going on in other parts of the country, but it’s still been around freezing at night, so yeah, kinda wanted some heat. However, I’m a mature adult, so I put on my Godzilla onesie and just tucked a kitten in each bootie to keep my feet warm.

Then on Monday, my father began to complain of stomach pains. One humorous 80’s style montage later, he was admitted to the hospital, where he ended up staying until today. Nothing too serious, except in the sense that any five-day stay at the hospital for your 70-year old father is serious, and let me repeat, he’s home now and all better, so we can all laugh over the times when the nurse gave him his pain meds and he proceeded to, as the kids say, “trip balls”. It probably doesn’t help that right before all this happened, he and I were watching Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital, so unsurprisingly, whilst hallucinating for three or four hours, he ended up wandering a nightmare version of our local hospital and talking to demonic dopplegangers of the nurses. The doctor who spoke to us the next day said they were going to be talking about that one for years to come.

So I lost a lot of this week to visits and general fretting. Also painting. You all remember when I mentioned I was teaching myself to paint? Well, when The Beard was on his bed of pain, we asked if we could bring him something from home to keep his spirits up and he said, “Snails.” Now, he was possibly joking and definitely high as hell, but my sister and I went home and painted the man some snails. Here is mine:

I remind the reader that I am neither a professional painter, nor a photographer.

On a subsequent visit, when we asked again if there was anything he’d like, he said, “A dangerous platypus.”

You have to look closely to see the platypus.

And so the week passed in this manner. Now that he’s home, I finally got around to asking what the hey was up with those weird requests, or if he even remembered making them. He said of course he remembered. He’d been trying in his own weird way to reassure us by showing that his sense of humor was intact, and it threw him slightly that no matter what he said, we just took it in stride. I think by the end, he was wondering if maybe we were high.

Anyway, all’s well that ends at home, so back to my regularly scheduled blog.

Today, the second part of my 5-part Five Nights At Freddy’s fanfiction series, Everything Is All Right concludes with the last chapter of Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, which you can find up at and again over at And next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-websites, the first chapter of Part Three: Children of Mammon, will premiere. If you’ve stuck with me this long, why not tag along a little longer?

Oh crap, I just realized I have one week to write a blurb.


Serial Saturday Update

So…remember last week (and the week before that and possibly the week before that) when I said this week would be see the last chapter of the second book in my FNAFiction series uploaded? Yeah, well, I failed to take into consideration the fact that the last chapter was thirty pages long. So I split it into two, which means that this is still the penultimate chapter and NEXT week will be the last chapter of the second book in my 5-part series. I swear. For realsies this time.

I want to thank everyone who has commented here or messaged me privately concerning last week’s blog post, by the way. I want to respond individually, but with the deadline I’ve been under, have just not been able to allocate the time. I do appreciate it, however. I read each and every one of your messages and am always grateful for your feedback and encouragement.

Since blog whenever and about whatever seems to be the consensus, I guess I’ll improvise for a while and see where it gets me. At the moment, as I say, I’m really rushing to get this last run of edits done, but as soon as I’m out from under that particular onus, I will start making two posts a week–one wip update, and one actual effort to blog.

So yeah, the new chapter’s up over at and Good news, it’s up super-early, because I’ve been up since yesterday and I have every intention of sleeping until Sunday. Not as good news (or even better news, depending on your personal philosophy), it’s not the last one. One more (always one more), and then we’ll say goodbye to Everything Is All Right, Part 2: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, and say hello to Part 3: Children of Mammon. …crap, I need to write a blurb…. oh well. Here’s an excerpt for you to enjoy while I try to figure out how to tell a 300 page story in 140 words or less.

Mike waited until they were in the car and on the road before he took up the story again. “Faust broke ground on the last Fazbear’s, the one I call the Trap, on September 10th of 1999. It opened January 1st, 2000, and you, of all people, ought to know how impossible it is to throw up a place like that in that amount of time. Like Metzger, he had crews going around the clock, shuffling labor around, hiring and firing so fast, hardly anyone even knew what they were building.”

“Why do you call it the Trap?” Ana interrupted. “Weren’t they all traps, according to you?”

“To me, huh?” He snorted, then shrugged. “I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.”

“Faust’s perspective, you mean?”

“Do I?”

“You are if you’re saying he was the one setting the trap,” Ana said. “What was he trying to catch?”

Mike drove in silence one minute, two, three…and then pulled the car over to the shoulder so suddenly, Ana knocked her head on the window. Mike braked—the tires squealed a protest—and then just sat while the engine idled and time passed.

“Look,” he said at length. “I have been talking all night and if I’ve still got to spell this shit out, I guess there’s no point in going on. So I’m going to ask and I need you to answer me…What was going on at Fazbear’s? What’s the connection between all those missing kids and those fucking animatronics? I’ve got a bullshit theory, but I want you to tell me what it is.”

She wanted to tell him she didn’t know. Because she didn’t. Oh, she knew what he wanted her to say, but that…that was pure Hollywood horror movie. Not even Hollywood. That was straight-to-the-dollar-bin-DVD horror. That was a Syfy Original Picture. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t be real.

“I don’t believe it,” she said at last. “I can’t believe it.”

“I’m not asking you to believe it. I’m asking you to say it. So say it. Tell me what I believe, if that helps, but you say it out loud.”

She couldn’t. After everything she’d seen tonight…the one thing she kept seeing now was her pizzeria, her Freddy, her Chica and Foxy. Her Bonnie. They weren’t killers. They weren’t monsters. They just weren’t.

Serial Saturday Update

The bell has rung, the candle’s lit and book is being read. Next week, the last chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night goes up and the week after that, Part Three: Children of Mammon premieres. Faithful followers of this blog should know by now that I have been scrambling like mad to get this third installment completed “on-time.” I’m not used to working under a deadline, and it’s already nerve-wracking to me to have to publish some parts of an epic work before all of it is written. It doesn’t help that the last, oh, fifty pages of Part Three were actually the fourth or fifth segment I wrote for the whole series, well before I had really hashed out my protagonist’s personality, so it ALL has to be smoothed out with extensive rewriting.

What I’m saying is, this last leg of the book is actually work and has been for a couple of months now. And yeah, I know, EVERY book turns into work sooner or later, and it should, frankly. I’m not one of those people who insists that everyone should do unpleasant things because they ‘build character,’ but let’s face it: we do not grow in heart or mind solely from experiencing only those things that make us feel good. I have never put out a perfect book. I have always found something that could have used more work–typos, continuity errors, rough spots, missed opportunities…God, the list of my common errors is longer than any of my books and my books are stupid long.

So while I was up here editing and trying to think how best to blog about the trials and tribulations of editing without sounding like a whiny bitch (did I do it? I didn’t do it, did I?), I tapped over to Facebook for a second and there before my eyes is a post my father made on that self-same subject. I told him I was going to steal it for my blog because it said everything I wanted to say, only much, much better, and here it is:

My father, aka The Beard of Wisdom

My father, aka The Beard of Wisdom

I write for pleasure as, I suspect, most folks do who choose to give tangible form to the visions that take shape in our imaginations. My daughters—who have been doing this much longer and more successfully than I, and who have been endlessly encouraging—warned me that even so pleasurable an activity as I find this can become very like work from time to time… hard work even.

But that was for them. They work hard at their craft. Me? I anticipated no reward beyond the exercise of my brain and the liberation of my imagination. For me it would be all larks and daisies! Hah!

There is the story, I have discovered; and the tale demands that I tell it well. True, nobody knows the actors more intimately than I; but do the dialogue and behaviors I have related both revealed their character to the reader and precluded interpretations that make them into something they’re not? Does their world flow naturally and consistently from the themes and threads of their actions, or is it contrived and forced. And is it consistent throughout? Can the tendrils of the final resolution be traced (if only retrospectively) throughout. And lastly, have all the fun-to-write but superfluous digressions been scrupulously culled, dumped unmercifully into an odds and end notes file, bits-and-pieces for future stories that I’m probably never going to write? That I discover is where the work comes in.

And that is where I find myself: tidying up the grand resolution to an epic fantasy trilogy. And I must tell you, friends: this is work!

Buy my dad's book!

Click here to see my dad’s first book on Amazon!

Support a growing beard!

Click here to find my dad’s second book on Amazon!


So thanks, Dad. And on the subject of things that are work, faithful followers may also have noticed that I’ve pretty much done nothing BUT blog about chapter updates for months now. Believe it or not, that’s really disappointing to me. I want to blog more. Well, okay, ‘want’ is a strong word, but I realize that I should be blogging more and saying more than just, “Yo, next chapter’s up, go read it.”

I’ve been struggling with this for some time, wanting to get more blogging in but, frankly, unsure what to write about that anyone would want to read. In the past, I’ve done what I think of as ‘seminars’, a long-running series with a focus in some way or another on the craft of writing. Should I be doing more of that? I could talk forever about how a character’s name influences his or her personality or how to write tentacles into sex scenes or the fine line between possible and plausible in a fantasy setting or…Or should I be doing LESS of that?

I hesitate to write too much about my personal life. Most of the time, I don’t do anything apart from writing or talking to other writers about writing anyway. But is that what readers want to know about? Should I do a series on my favorite movies? If I go on a road trip, do you really want to hear about it? Last week, I went to Build-A-Bear with my sisters. Want to see a photo of my kickass battle-mammoth? Would you like to see pictures of the two kittens we got stuck with after rescuing them around Halloween? Would you like to adopt the two kittens we got stuck with after rescuing them around Halloween? For the love of God and Gann, won’t SOMEONE take a kitten? Do you want to know how long I cried after getting a wheelchair for a Christmas present, not because I didn’t want it, but because I knew I needed it? For serious now, what do YOU want me to blog about? Because I want to do it more often, but I want to do it for YOU. If  you left it up to me, I’d never blog at all. Contradiction in terms as it may be, I am an outrageous introvert when left to my own devices. There are things I don’t want to talk about, things I will not talk about, but mostly it’s just a question of not knowing what to say.

For tonight, I have only this to say: The next-to-last chapter of my Five Nights at Freddy’s fanfiction is up on and again over at, so go check it out and enjoy this excerpt.

Everything Is Alright Part 2

Ana watched the world outside the window, all black trees and black hills on a black sky. Her stomach growled once, indifferent to human suffering. She never had gotten her dinner.

Mike turned off on Circle Drive, the heart of downtown Mammon, and that was something too, wasn’t it? Of all the pizzerias, this was the only one that wasn’t set down in the middle of nowhere. George W.M. Reynolds Elementary, where Ana and David had gone, was just five blocks east; Elizabeth Gaskell Middle School and Blackwood High, ten blocks south. Once upon a time, it had been surrounded by the sorts of shops that catered to kids, but they were all gone now, leaving nothing but their empty shells and signboards without letters. She could see the ghosts of Pop-In Video and the Book Bin (New & Used!), victims of the changing times and their own outdated media, perhaps, but she could also see what had once been a Gamer’s Paradise, a Comic Corner, a Maybe’s Candies, and even the hulking remains of a Toy Barn, also dead and gone. And right in the middle, alone now in a vast, cracked ocean of asphalt, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, just the way she remembered it, except…

“It’s smaller,” Ana said unthinkingly as Mike pulled up and parked. Smaller than she remembered, she meant. It had seemed huge to her that day—a castle, a fortress, a kingdom unto itself. Now it was just a building. One she had only ever put one foot inside.

But Mike couldn’t hear her thoughts. He said, “That it is. Less than half the size of the Toybox. What’s that tell you?”

“Bigger isn’t always better?”

“Yeah, my wife used to say that before she met me,” said Mike with a rare smile. “But funnily enough, bigger is usually better when it comes to the restaurant biz. More seats means more paying customers, after all. So it is odd that Faust would have scaled back, especially since the Toybox’s success proved he could handle a business twice this size.” He cocked an eye at her. “Thoughts?”

“It wasn’t about the money for him.”

“I agree.”

“You don’t sound like you like it, though.”

“If it’s not about the money, what’s that leave? And I don’t believe that either.” Mike shoved a hand through his hair and looked at the building—a frustrated, baffled, beaten-down stare. “Even after everything I’ve seen and heard…and done…I just don’t have a handle on that kid. That kid,” he repeated with a self-deprecating laugh. “He was fifty when the Stockyard opened. Hell, he’s over seventy now and I still see him in my head as that grinning little kid with the fucking mouse-ears on. Naw, it’s not about the money. Partly because he’s so fucking rich, he could shit out a failing restaurant every year for the rest of his life and still make money, but mostly because it was never about the money when it came to Freddy Fazbear. I honestly believe he thought of this place as his last chance to do what he only ever really wanted…entertain people with the best animatronics in the world.”

“His last chance? But this wasn’t the last Fazbear’s.”

“No. But that’s getting ahead of the story. Christ, this is a long story.”



Serial Saturday Update

Welp, time to summon the Betas, because ready or not (I’m not ready), I need to get the editing phase underway for Part 3 before Part 2 concludes. Two more chapters. That’s it. That’s all there is.

Huh. I was just about to ask aloud why this book suddenly turned into such a grindfest and then I realized that with the conclusion of Part 3, I will have written 1000 pages in the last year. I joked that this would be the case, way back in the beginning, but then, I joked that all FIVE parts would add up to 1000 pages, not just the first three. This book is a monster.

Appropriately enough.

Appropriately enough.

And every monster bites now and then, I guess.

Anyhoo, if you couldn’t tell by the above bitchin’, the latest chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part 2: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, is up on and also on, so if you’re reading along, head on over and get yer fix. (Damn laptop keys are crapping out on my. Half the time, I get nothing when I hit the F-key, and the other half, I get three, four or six Fs. Some of my favorite words begin with F.)

I have a pretty good recall for my books, which is to say that if you ask me a question about one of them, I can usually think of the answer without looking it up. I still know most of the character’s names off-the-cuff (or offfff-the-cu, as my frigging laptop would say if I wasn’t paying attention) and I don’t often get tripped up by forgetting hair and eye color mid-way through the book, but I tend not to remember my books by their titles, plots or heroes. I remember them by the hardest scenes I had to write. And this scene, in this chapter…this is how I will remember this book. This is the scene that made me think, for the first time in my writing career, ‘I need a trigger warning on this thing.’ So yeah. You have been warned.

Everything Is Alright Part 2

The video was in black and white, shot from a high angle downward to a table with two chairs. Mike was in one of them, smoking his third cigarette, by the looks of the ashtray between them. “You sure you’re okay with this?” Mike asked. The audio was bad, tinny.

The other man shrugged. He was not a young man, but there was something about him, something more than just his too-thin build and hunched way of sitting, that gave that impression. Not of youth exactly, but of age cut off, stunted, and it wasn’t in his body, but his face. His eyes, mostly. Those staring eyes, looking out a thousand yards away to watch some other time play and replay and play again, never really over.

Ana’s finger twitched, wanting to find the pause button and end this before it ever started. She was not the least bit curious what this man had to say. She believed it, whatever it was. She didn’t need to hear it to believe it, and she didn’t want to. Whatever had destroyed this man…it could still hurt.

“Tell me your name,” Mike said.

“Yeah. Right. Okay.” The man looked directly at the camera and said, slowly and clearly, “Nathan Donahue. Nate. In 1987, when it happened, I was fifteen. I’d have to look up the date, I don’t remember it. But it wasn’t long after their big re-opening. After, you know…you heard about the Bite?”

“Yeah, I heard.”

“Yeah, so the place was closed for a while after the Bite, but then it opened up again, and it really wasn’t very long after that. I get the feeling it was cold, so maybe…winter? I don’t know. Weather in that town is weird. Anyway, it had to have been a weekend, because I was staying over at my best friend Robert’s house and he and his big brother, Steve, and Steve’s girlfriend, Tessa, all got the idea to sneak into Freddy’s. The one off Mulholland, the one with all the plastic toys. And the puppet in a box.”

That was all he said for a few seconds.

“You okay?” Mike asked.

“Yeah. Yeah, quit asking. Let me just say it. You’d think it’d get easier, but it doesn’t,” he added and laughed. It was an awful laugh.

Post Valentine’s Serial Saturday

I was going to make a special St. Valentine’s Day post, but then, you know, I didn’t. By now, faithful followers of this blog should know that, given the choice between doing a thing and not doing a thing, I will not do the hell out of that thing nine times out of ten. And I will only do it the tenth time if the thing involves going to the zoo, watching bad horror movies, or buying a new hat. And if I can wear that hat to the zoo on the day the animals decide they’ve enough of humanity’s shit and go all Hitchcock’s The Birds on our collective asses, THAT is a great day!

But I digress. I was going to write this terrifically insightful post about the various romantic pairings in my various books, but I didn’t, so let’s just take a moment to appreciate all the hard work I could have put into it instead of noodling around on Tuber Simulator all day decorating a room for the Valentine’s Event that didn’t even frigging rank for the third time in a row.

But I digress again. It’s Friday n–uh, Saturday morning! And that means I’ve got another chapter of my Five Night’s At Freddy’s fanfiction up on and again over at It’d be nice if there was something romantic about this chapter, but…yeah, no. Part Two is almost finished now and you know what they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn.

Everything Is Alright Part 2

The hall bent to the left not long after Ana and Mike passed the restrooms (someone had spraypainted a monstrous Freddy, big enough to cover both doors, with a dead little boy in one clawed hand and a dead little girl in the other), and right where it bent, there was a door. No gold star and top hat insignia here, just a few stark signs reading Employees Only, No admittance beyond this point, and Parts and Services. It had been locked at one point, but someone had kicked it in. Nevertheless, Mike stood in the hall a long time, searching every inch, every dark corner, and especially the air vents in the ceiling before he took his first steps inside.

“The Toybox opened in 1981, under Erik Metzger’s management,” he said. The walls caught his voice, made it echo unpleasantly, muted and distorted, as if some Other were slyly mocking him with his own words. “The kid wanted nothing to do with the place. At first, it was assumed it had to do with some legal trouble he was in—the whole Fredbear and Friends thing—but even after—”

“What Fredbear and Friends thing?”

“Not relevant. We’ve got a lot to cover tonight, can we just—”

“You brought it up,” she pointed out.

Mike looked at her, then sighed a little and said, “Fine. Bare bones, no questions. Remember I said when the Flagship opened, it opened as Fazbear Entertainment, Inc? Well, when the kid was securing all his intellectual property, he forgot to include Fredbear’s Family Diner. With the roaring success of Freddy’s, it was inevitable some gold-digging asshat should come along. In ’78, that asshat arrived in the form of a man named, honest to God, Malice McGee.”

“No fucking way is that a real name.”

“I know, right? Sounds like a Bond villain. Anyway, McGee opened a themed diner called Fredbear’s in Salt Lake City, using animatronics on stage and people in suits on the floor, and from what I’ve seen, they were substandard even for the time. He modeled his animatronics after the Flagship group, with some slight color changes, and even claimed to be a ‘sister site’ to the pizzeria. He probably thought the kid would never hear about it, but he did and he sued the everloving shit out of everyone involved. McGee retaliated by adding a bunch more animatronics and suits, using other animals and color schemes, and argued that the kid didn’t have a monopoly on the concept of a singing animal band. Since the kid had failed to trademark Fredbear’s, McGee went ahead and did that too, although he did ultimately add ‘and Friends’ to further distance himself from the name he was obviously trying to cash in on.”

Mike paused to check his watch, visibly reined his reporter’s instinct under control, and went on, “After years of lawsuits back and forth, suddenly, one afternoon in 1983, a real prize of a kid and his prize friends grab said kid’s little brother at the little brother’s own birthday party, and haul this terrified, crying child up to the main stage to give Fredbear a kiss. Right as they lift him up, Fredbear throws back his head for a laugh, then snaps forward and somehow catches the kid’s head between his jaws.”


“But he’s not one of Faust’s animatronics. He’s just a machine and that machine keeps going with its program. It takes six minutes to shut it down and in the meantime, it’s singing, it’s telling jokes, and with every word, it’s crunching away on that poor kid’s skull. Kid was in a coma about a week on life-support before he finally died, and McGee got hit not only with the family’s suits, but a class-action suit from every other family that had been there—and probably a few that hadn’t—claiming emotional damages. Understandably desperate, McGee offered to sell the legal rights to the name Fredbear back to the kid, but the kid wouldn’t buy. His reputation and finances in ruins, McGee struggled through six more months in legal battles before eating a bullet. Rumor has it, he climbed into one of his totally-not-a-Freddy-Fazbear costumes before he put the gun in his mouth, but I don’t know. That sounds a little too poetic, even for a guy named Malice…”

Serial Saturday Update

Good news, everyone! (Bonus ducks if you read that in Prof. Farnsworth’s voice.) Two of the kittens have gone to their forever homes, leaving us with just two more to unload on an unsuspecting suck…er…two more loving snuggly kittens in need of adoption. You know, I’m calling them ‘kittens’ but they are three months old now, creeping up on four. They have definitely lost their kitteny fluffball phase and grown into their lanky teenage phase, although they still seem to think they’re kittens. I’m going to try and get some pics because they really are quite gorgeous. I’ve been thinking of them as grey tabbies, but I guess they outgrew their kitten colors too, because Danny Sexkitten has more of a Bengal look, with big fat swirly stripes, and scrappy Jacky Septickitten is more of a tortiseshell. And soft, both of them. That fluffy medium-hair undercoat of theirs has made them just so soft.

Anyway, this is a blog about books, so forget the kittens…unless you would like a kitten, in which case, come get your kitten…but for the rest of you, the newest chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, is ready for reading on and also over at, so if you’re reading along, be sure to check it out. This week, Ana explores the Toybox, which was the site we all saw in the FNAF2 game.


This charming, family-friendly venue, complete with friendly, dismembered animal mascots to help your child come to terms with the grim reality of death!

Ana leaned over the counter to squint at the menu. It seemed the new, improved Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria offered exactly four kinds of pizza—four cheese, pepperoni, meat lovers, and supreme. Chocolate or vanilla cupcakes baked fresh daily while supplies last. Birthday cakes must be ordered in advance. No outside food or drink. No special orders. No substitutions. Also no checks, although there was supposedly an ATM in the arcade.

Ana swung her flashlight around to see if it was still there, and froze as she discovered what squatted between the In and the Out halls: the puppet’s prize corner. Most of the shelves were empty, scavenged by brave looters over the years, but a few remained. Cheap plastic top hats. Child-sized bibs with Chica’s face on them, her happy smile made crazed and ghoulish by grime and time. Paper pirate hats and eyepatches in either pink or black. Rotted-cloth bunny ears in fake-Bonnie blue. And below them all, wrapped in a dull red ribbon, the puppet’s box.

Ana moved past Mike, circling the prize counter as much as she could, seeking and ultimately not finding any way for a person to get in, apart from climbing over the counter. So she did.

Mike didn’t try to stop her, didn’t say anything at all. He watched, his light fixed on her while hers stayed fixed on that giant gift-box, now greyed and grimed. The lid was closed and at one point, it seemed to have been nailed shut all the way around the top, but the nails had been pulled and there was a splintered place where a lockplate had been chipped out. When she lifted the lid and peered over the edge of the box’s high side, she could see the puppet’s spring-loaded seat, the spring rusted into tight coils, but no marionette.

“Feel better?” Mike asked.

She did, a little. No, tell the truth and shame the Devil, a lot.

He didn’t press her for an answer, just waited for her to climb back over the counter before he turned his flashlight out over the dining area.

It was immediately apparent they were not the first ever to invade Fazbear’s after its doors closed for the last time. Vandals had been busy here over the years, but they hadn’t done near as much damage as Ana would have expected. Oh, the roof had collapsed. The entire middle of the dining area was a forest of rotten support beams and wires, with real trees sprouted up among them where stray seeds had taken root, some of them as thick as her wrist. Graffiti covered the peeling walls and moss covered the graffiti. Generations of plant growth had sprouted, seeded and died across the floor, leaving behind a desolate landscape of brown stalks and thorns tangled up with chipped tiles.

But for all that, Ana’s eyes could still see it the way it was back then. She could see three rows of lunchroom tables lined with party hats in the center of this huge room, see dozens of excited faces turned toward the show stage as the curtain went up and the lights came on and there was Freddy and the Fazbear Band.

Ana managed to take her eyes from the stage, but couldn’t seem to stop looking around. So much was similar to ‘her’ Fazbear’s, in color and style if not in actual layout, that she kept trying to bring the two into alignment, kept expecting to hear those heavy footfalls and grinding gears, maybe see Freddy’s eyes light up in the dark hall and hear the Toreador March start playing.

Everything Is Alright Part 2