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 fanfiction.net and again over at archiveofourown.org. 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.”

“Jesus.”

“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 fanfiction.net and also over at archiveofourown.org, 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.

mangle1

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

Serial Saturday Update

The week has simply flown by and now Friday night is here again and I am only just keeping ahead of my upload schedule. I lost so much momentum over the holidays, then got sick and lost even more, and now it’s like running in Jello trying to catch up.

Every book hits that point were it stops being this marvelous creative process and turns into work, and for me, Part Three hit that point about two and a half months ago. The me that could write thirty pages in a day has become the me that needs a whole week to write a 10-15 page chapter. Still not done with this book and Part Two only has four more chapters to go. Ugh. Every week, I tell myself sternly that I cannot keep dragging my feet. Every week, I put in 6-8 hours a day of what sure as hell feels like writing, editing and refining. And every week, I am astonished to find that I have only managed to finish one more chapter. What the hell, me?

However, I only have another chapter or two to go, so as long as I keep even this sorry pace going, I’ll be able to keep the uploads coming without breaking between books. And even better, once I finally get Part Three to bed, I can move on to Part Four and it’ll turn back into fun. Until then, all I can do is keep it moving. So in that defeatist spirit, please enjoy this excerpt from my FNAF fanfiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, which you can find over at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org.

Everything Is Alright Part 2

“Following the unsolved disappearance of Billy Blaylock and the tragic accident that befell poor Maria Osgoode, Fredbear’s Diner closed in August of 1967 and never opened again,” said Mike, passing over a newspaper clipping to prove it from his binder of never-ending sorrow. “But the building stayed. Never renovated. Never leased. Never torn down. The springtraps were supposedly scrapped—”

“Supposedly?”

“We’ll get to that, I promise. The springtraps were gone, but the diner was still in working order and, as the hype surrounding Maria Osgoode’s death faded, a lot of kids and their parents started looking forward to a grand re-opening. The kid kept pretty close-mouthed about his plans, but at the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the new and improved Fazbear Band made their first appearance, singing carols, dancing with the kids, and mingling with the audience. When the kid ended the party by announcing the impending opening of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, the roof damn near blew off with the cheers.”

He started up the car and drove. North to High Road, east three miles, as remote as the first site in its own way. She couldn’t really see how it was a better location. It didn’t even have a strip mall, just the restaurant and a parking lot, surrounded by trees. The resemblance to ‘her’ pizzeria was strong in that sense—the isolation, the quiet—especially when it came to bouncing over the broken asphalt, slapping grass that grew in the cracks and dipping in and out of mudholes, but the building itself was nothing special. Still, with restaurants, as with people, it was what was on the inside that counted.

“In February of 1968, the first real Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria opened,” said Mike, parking before the boarded-up doors. “With a couple big changes, some obvious, some very much behind the scenes. The biggest change of all wasn’t the name over the awning, but the name on the paychecks: Fazbear Entertainment, Incorporated. CEO, Fredrich Faust. Vice-President, Viktor Metzger. Stock options were made available. That had to have been Metzger’s idea, since by this time, his only source of income came from managing the restaurants, while the kid was making money in his sleep on patents he’d sold before his nuts dropped. Even so, the kid was smart enough to maintain a controlling interest in Fazbear Entertainment and he’s never sold it. Even today, when the stock can’t be worth the paper it’s printed on, he won’t let go of a penny’s worth. And there I am,” he added, shaking his head. “Getting ahead of the story. 1968. And in the months between the old site closing and the new one opening, it is perhaps worth noticing that Faust makes a lot of trips to the new site in the middle of the night and if you came close enough to it during the day, you could hear music. Guitar, mostly. Not like someone left a radio on. Like someone was there learning to play.”

Sleepy Serial Saturday

It’s only four in the afternoon on Friday, but the new chapter of my FNAFiction is going up now, because I have operating with far too little sleep for far too long and now I’m going on forty hours without any at all and I just can’t wait until midnight. So let’s just pretend this is a long post with lots of cute pictures and witty captions. And sure, why not, as long as we’re pretending, why not pretend it’s the last of a ten-post series on pitfalls and rewards of writing fanfiction. I’ll even pretend I’m writing this with a plate of nachos close at hand, because nachos are fucking delicious, all meaty and crunchy.

This is where you’re pretending there’s a photo insert. Like of nachos or something.

Or...a pug dressed as a stegosaurus, I guess. God, you're bad at this.

Or…a pug dressed as a stegosaurus, I guess. God, you’re bad at this.

But yeah, the new chapter is up on fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, so those of you who spend all week pining for updates can squee on over to the fansite of your choice and gorge your hungry eyeballs on my wordcraft, as a pug may gorge upon nachos. Pic please!

That's a three-headed panda puking rainbows. What...Where do you even FIND this stuff?

That’s a three-headed panda puking rainbows. What…Where do you even FIND this stuff?

Okay, whatever. I’m too tired to deal with your uncontrolled and unrepentant imagination. Please enjoy this excerpt from Mike Schmidt and the Long Night. I’m going to bed.

Everything Is Alright Part 2

“Mr. Schmidt?” she said, extending her hand to be shaken.

“That’s me.” His hand was soft, the kind of hand that did white-collar kind of work, but his grip was strong and his eyes were direct and intelligent. Up close, he wasn’t just good-looking, but kind of on the damn side of good-looking. “Don’t get too comfortable,” he added as Ana signaled a harried waitress. “We’re not staying long.”

“We’re not, huh?”

“What I’ve got to say, I’m not comfortable saying in public.”

“Or on the phone.”

“Or on the phone,” he agreed, not smiling. “You can laugh at me all you want. God knows, the story I’ve got to tell is going to sound batshit crazy and I can’t help that, but if you want to hear it, this is how it’s going to be.”

“Okay. Just coffee,” Ana told the waitress, who had finally swung by the table with a clean cup and some silverware. “So let’s start with the obvious questions, shall we? Why did you assume I was looking into Fr—”

“Don’t say the name.”

Ana blinked, her lips still pursed around the word ‘Freddy’. “Why not?” she asked finally.

“Because this is a small town,” Mike said, staring her down. “And even though a lot of this happened a long time ago, it left some very deep wounds. Anyone close enough to listen in could get their scars ripped right open. Don’t. Say. The name.”

If this was still the script, it was a damned good one. Ana frowned and nodded.

“I’m not going to talk about any of that here,” Mike said again. “But I will get to it, I promise. First off, I’m going to ask if you’ve got any recording devices. Because let me state for the record—”

“Are you seriously asking if I’m wearing a wire?”

“—that you do not have my consent to be recorded.”

“I’m not recording you. Jesus. Don’t you think you’re going overboard on the atmosphere here?”

He didn’t smile. “Let’s get one thing straight, lady. This is not the Hookman or Sheepsquatch we’re talking about. This is not some cute piece of local color that boosts tourism and gets a summer festival named after it. This shit really happened. Real kids really vanished. Real people really died. This place we’re talking about…this place…” His jaw clenched. “It eats people.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Do you?”

“Yeah,” she said again, harder now. “My best friend was one of them.”

“Do you mind…” Mike’s eyes cut right and he shut up. Lucy brought the coffee and topped off Mike’s cup. Ana didn’t touch hers. Mike drank his back to the halfway point and put it aside. “Mind if I ask who?” he finished as soon as the waitress was gone.

“My cousin,” Ana said. “David Blaylock.”

“David Blaylock, huh?” Mike leaned back in his booth, studying her face with new interest. “Well, I’ll be goddamned. You’re Anastasia Stark.”

Serial Saturday Update

Well, the weekend is upon us again, and for the first time since Christmas-ish, I feel almost human. I’ve mostly shaken off the cold. Although there’s a bit of a cough and a stuffy nose stubbornly lingering, I can breathe, so that’s fine. I’m still sleeping 12 hours out of the day, which is baffling and annoying. Hopefully that’s just part of the recovery process and I’ll get over it too, because I have got to finish this book and get on to the next one. It’s been years since I’ve had to worry about deadlines. I’m kind of feeling the panic a little, I have to admit.

Anyhoo, it is Saturday (or will be in half an hour), so my newest chapter of my FNAFiction is uploaded on fanfiction.net and again over at archiveofourown.org for those who are reading along. And hey, special chapter this week! Only seventeen chapters in, the titular character of Mike Schmidt is introduced! Which means next week, my head-canon starts exploding all over Scott Cawthon’s and I brace myself for the, “But that’s not what happened!” blowback from the fans. Or maybe not, who knows. I’ve had a really good reception so far.

As usual, I have an excerpt here for those of you who might still be on the fence when it comes to starting this series. Enjoy!

 

Everything Is Alright Part 2

The second phone call—the world-ending one—came that evening, as Ana was hard at work in the gym. She never heard it ring. She had her earbuds in and her music player on in an effort to occupy her mind with something other than the intense pain and exhaustion presently wracking her body. Later, looking for omens, she would recall that the last song she heard before the phone call that ruined everything was Imagine Dragons’s Monster. If it was true there were no coincidences, that was surely Fate, with a capital F.

In any case, she had the volume up full-blast, so she didn’t hear her phone ring. She might not have heard it even in dead silence. After ten solid hours spent pulling the walls down and the floor up, scraping the grease off the ceiling and cutting away the collapsing tiles where it was safest to do so, covering the windows in a colossal curtain of black plastic, removing all fixtures, installing new outlets, and now finally putting up new lights in anticipation of the not-too-distant day when she had the bear’s permission to rewire the building, she had reached that special stage of exhaustion when sounds registered, but were no longer being processed. Sensations still were, however, so when her left breast started buzzing, it only took a few seconds for her to realize what was happening.

She didn’t need much of an excuse to take a break by that point, but still her first instinct was not to stop. Her will to work had long ago been replaced by mere momentum and once her body was at rest, she was afraid it would take more than she had in her to get it started again. Still, she pulled her earbuds out, took the phone out of her bra and looked at the display. Unknown number, local area code, no name attached.

Thoughts of Mason blipped onto her radar and faded out again. Unlikely. After all this time, that particular hash had to be good and settled. Yet the fact remained, not a whole hell of a lot of people knew this number. Might be Villart again, calling from home, but it felt kind of late to be conducting business by phone.

What time was it anyway? Eight-thirty. Christ, so early. Felt like midnight already and she had three more lights to go if she was going to finish this room tonight. Which she guessed she didn’t have to do, strictly speaking, but if she didn’t, she’d only have to play catch-up tomorrow.

The phone rang again, right in her hand. Ana bared her teeth at it and answered with an irritated, “Hang on.” She heard some sort of reply—masculine voice, single syllable, not someone she recognized.

She climbed down from the ladder on legs that had suddenly decided to go rubbery, steadying herself with arms that weren’t much better, and said, “Okay, I’m here. Who is this?”

“Before I answer that, you mind if I ask who this is?”

“You called me, remember?”

“At least tell me, is this is the person who placed a Craigslist ad asking for animatronics repairmen in Mammon, Utah?”

“Yeah, I did. Forgot all about that,” she said with a short laugh. “So you just decided to call up at eight-thirty on a Friday night to offer your services? Come on with that horseshit. Who is this?”

“My name is Mike Schmidt and I really need to talk to you.”

“Yeah, yeah. Hang on. This better be good,” she said, heading out the gym door, through the plastic, and into the dining room. Bonnie, sitting on the empty stage with his guitar on his lap, looked over at once, ears up and hopeful, but before he could say anything, Ana showed him the phone and touched a finger to her lips. “I’m on the phone,” she told him, boosting herself onto her table and letting her legs dangle. Now her feet hurt, too.  “Get me a drink?”

Bonnie nodded and set his guitar aside, standing.

“Excuse me?” said the phone.

“Nothing, talking to a friend. All right, I’m listening. What’s up?”

“I’m…look, that’s complicated and I don’t want to get into it over the phone. Can we meet? Tonight, if possible.”

“Meet? Like, in person?” She laughed. “You couldn’t just lead off with a dick pic like everyone else, you had to go straight for the hook-up.”

Halfway to the kitchen, Bonnie stopped and looked back.

Ana shook her head at him and firmly pointed at the doorway. “Nice try, creep, but not in a million years. I’m hanging up now.”

“If you do,” the man said calmly, “I think there’s a very good chance you’ll die.”

Funny. It didn’t sound like a threat.

“Why? Hang on.” Covering the phone’s mic, Ana made eye-contact with Bonnie and said, “You’re getting me a drink, remember?” As he finally ducked through the plastic and went to the kitchen, she put the phone back to her ear and said, “Who did you say you were? And what’s this got to do with my ad?”

“My name’s Mike Schmidt and I’ll answer all your questions, but not on the phone. You in Mammon tonight?”

“Fairly close,” Ana said vaguely. “But you haven’t told me anything worth meeting up for and unless you do—”

“You know the Gallifrey’s on Majestic Ave?”

Food. Hmm.

“Yeah,” said Ana in her best I-ain’t-buying-it voice, all the while mulling over the merits of some fried jalapenos and a Betty-burger.

“I’ll wait there until ten. You don’t show up, I won’t bother you again. But I hope you do. And if you have any questions about Freddy Fazbear—”

“What?”

“—you’ll be there,” the voice concluded without a pause.

“Wait, what? How do you—”

Dead space. He’d hung up on her.

Serial Saturday Update

Second week with the cold…I appear to be over the worst of it, but I’m for sure still feeling it. Maybe I’ve just turned into the world’s biggest baby, but this feels like the worst cold I’ve ever had. Sure, I’ve been sicker, but as far as pure misery goes, this is about as close to the line as you can get without actually being for-real sick. Worst part is the stuffy nose, through which I can NOT at all breathe, coupled with the sore throat that has made the tonsils that never once gave me trouble throughout my childhood swell up so that I can barely breathe through my mouth. Most of the time, this is just inconvenient and uncomfortable, but whenever I eat or try to sleep, it feels like I’m being suffocated.

Like this, only in a adult onesie with a couple kittens batting at the tissues and pouncing on my toes.

Like this, only in a adult onesie with a couple kittens batting at the tissues and pouncing on my toes.

Anyway, enough bitching.

Okay, a little more bitching.

You’d think with me being sprawled across a bed for a solid week with nothing to do except explore the summit of Mt. Kleenex, I’d have gotten lots of writing done, right? Yeah, but no. Even on those days I was not fording a river of Nyquil, I was completely disconnected from all rational thought. Every morning, I would wake up, don my adult onesie to prepare myself for all the adulting I was about to do, and announce to the world that I was not going to spend a week being sick like a damn baby, I was going to get some WORK done! Invariably, this bold declaration was followed by six or eight hours of me staring slack-jawed at the same page, throwing used tissues at the wastepaper basket and trying to remember how to spell ‘a’.

At one point, the cough syrup went to my head and I apparently tried to make a snotman.

I really gotta empty that wastepaper basket.

Okay, but for real now, enough bitching. Even though I did not manage to write a SINGLE CHAPTER all last week, the new chapter of my FNAFiction has to go up regardless, so if you’re reading along, it’s time to head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org and check it out.

Side note: This chapter contains one of the songs I myself put together, because even though I was writing fanfiction, I was still concerned about copyright issues. Now, I am not a songwriter, so my prep-work was pretty much limited to playing the clip where Foxy hums and trying to determine what words would fit in the dums and diddles. I also listened to and/or read dozens upon dozens of traditional seafaring songs from them bygone days of pirates and whalers and such, and let me tell you, those were some rapey little lullabies. Research takes you down some weird roads sometimes, but I have to admit, I’m perversely proud of the end result.

Everything Is Alright Part 2

 

Under normal circumstances, taking measurements was the quickest part of any job, but the circumstances were far from normal. She had never been gladder for the purchase of her laser measurer. Shelly could call it a toy all he wanted, but she could not imagine doing this with tape and a pencil. The pizzeria’s layout was easily the most convoluted she’d ever seen, as if it had been deliberately designed to confuse the senses. Even Ana got turned around once and managed to set a quarter of the damned restaurant in the wrong direction on her roombuilder before she realized her mistake.

By the time she made it to Pirate Cove, Foxy was already done with his set and quiet. She considered greeting him, but decided her pride really couldn’t take a repeat of this morning. She wasn’t sneaking around out here. If he wanted to talk, he knew where to find her.

She started taking measurements and tapping them into the roombuilder. It took longer than the other rooms had. Pirate Cove was a big space, neither squared nor empty. The prop ship jutting out of the back wall and all the cargo piled around it interrupted the laser; those decorative glass floats on the wall reflected it. Finding a clear shot from wall to wall was difficult enough to do just once, but having to do it more than a dozen times at every irregular jut and angle turned a simple job into an endless exercise in frustration.

Dum-dum-dum diddly dee-dum. Dum-dum-dum diddly-dee.”

Ana glanced at the curtain as Foxy’s low, sing-song chant trailed off to growls and then to silence. She scuffed her boot deliberately, letting herself be heard, but he didn’t call out. Shrugging to herself, she went back to work, blindly lining up a shot, thumbing the button, realizing she’d hit a float only after the digital reader tried to tell her the opposite wall was nine hundred ninety-nine feet away, moving a half-step to the left and trying again. Maybe she ought to take the damn floats down…but that would mean getting the ladder and climbing up and down it a million times before she could even start the job she was trying to do. Not to mention the fact that Bonnie would also be done with his set before too long and right back under her feet.

Da-da-da dee dum,” muttered Foxy, somewhere behind the curtain. “Da dum…da da-deeAnd the ship were bound up in the bay.”

Ana’s focus broke. She looked around, the laser pointer aimed and ready-light blinking, listening. She knew all of Foxy’s songs—at least all his old songs—and that was not a line she recognized.

And I had but one night for to frolic and fight…for at dawn, we must all be away.” Metal scraped on wood, gouged at it. His hook. “It’s hoist the black flag and away.”

No, she definitely didn’t know that one. And she wasn’t sure she liked it, although she couldn’t have said why not. It had an unremarkable melody, simple enough for kids to follow, nothing hard or jarring on the ear. Maybe it was just the way he was singing it, low and rough, so that despite the easy lilting rhythm of the tune and the unexceptional lyrics, it felt like something ominous building. Which was silly and she knew it. This was a kid’s place. Foxy’s songs had a tendency to dip into dark places—pirates were supposed to be scary—but fifteen men on a dead man’s chest and sailing with a skeleton crew were about as grim as it got here.

Me boots were on land and with bottle in hand, I were in a bonny fine mood. When I spied a maid walking down by the docks, in a place no woman should…A place no good woman should.” Another slow scrape punctuated this line, which was itself indefinably weighted with meaning.

Aimed at her, she supposed, trespassing here in his Cove. Little did he know she was no good woman. She smiled and tried in vain to get a measurement. Damned glass floats.

Her skin were like milk and her hair were like silk. She were rounded at rudder and bow,” growled Foxy. “So I says to her, ‘Miss, I’ll be taking a kiss and whatsoever else I might allow. Will ye or no, I’ll be taking it now.’”

‘And this is where she pulls her sword,’ thought Ana comfortably, wiggling her laser-pointer an inch this way and an inch that way, hunting for that magic angle that would find the other wall. ‘And you’ll fight it out and steal that kiss when you beat her before you go sailing off.’

And I’ll give ye a shilling if ye be willing and so off to bed we’ll go—

Off to bed? Seriously?

“—Mind ye, two years at sea without a lass on me knee has left me disinclined to hear no,” Foxy sang. “But however ye’ll have it, just so.”

Ana frowned around at once, the laser-pointer and tablet in her hands now almost forgotten.

Oh, she ran like a hare, but I chased her down there and I were the quicker, ‘tis true. When she found herself collared, she fell ‘pon her honor. Aye, and I fell on it, too.” Foxy chuckled, the sound as devoid of humor as the lyrics were devoid of mercy. “On it and in it and through.”

Happy New Year To Me

Last week, my sister came down with a killer cold and, like the true friend and generous human being she is, she gave it to me. So here I am, with my head in an invisible vise, struggling to hold a thought long enough to type it down. It goes without saying I didn’t work on my book today. And I’m so close to done, I can taste it. It tastes like cough syrup.

Anyhoo, I’m going to make this short because I fully expect to die at some point tonight and I still haven’t picked out the clothes I want to be buried in, so let me just skip ahead to the part where I say the new chapter of my Five Nights at Freddy’s fanfiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night is live at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, so if you’re reading along, please go check it out and if you really loved it, please show your support with a like/kudo and maybe even a comment, because my egomania knows no bounds and also, I would like to put my book at the top of the search-list, also because my egomania knows no bounds.

Heh. This is me, keeping it short. TL:DR, New chapter up. Love you all and happy new year!

Everything Is Alright Part 2

Ana had been in some nice cars before, or thought she had, but on that day, she learned that cars are like jewelry, electronics, prostitutes and any other luxury item: price is no guarantee of quality. The muscle cars and cruisers she’d known paled in an instant as soon as she found herself in this one. She couldn’t have said what make or model it was, but the seat was leather and cupped her like a lover, the interior lines led the eye, and the air positively reeked of her own sweat.

“Where to?” Chad asked as his grandfather sat beside her and shut the door.

“One moment, please.” The old man reached into an inner pocket of his topcoat and withdrew a small plastic bottle. Not pills. Eyedrops.

Ana looked out the window as he administered them, unsure what the social protocol here was, and finally ventured a, “Still giving you trouble?”

“Oh no, I’m quite recovered from yesterday’s test. I wear special contact lenses to help with my sensitivities,” he explained, putting the bottle away. “But they do dry my eyes. So it is with most of the troubles that plague us, great or small. There are no cures, only compromises. I’m ready, Chad.”

“Where to?”

“The nearest international airport. I’ve never had a truly English English muffin.”

Chad braked hard before he’d fully reversed out of the slot and stared at him. “Really?”

“No. Gallifrey’s.”

Chad stared a little longer, then laughed uncertainly and started driving.

“You know they will never let me through the door like this,” Ana remarked.

“Yes, they will,” the old man said mildly. “Unless you’d rather go to London after all?”

“I don’t have a passport.”

“Trifles.”

“You’re in a mood, aren’t you?” Chad asked, crookedly smiling into the rearview mirror.

“I’m old. We’re temperamental. Perhaps I’m off my medication. One never knows. I always thought I’d travel around the world when I was older,” he added, gazing out the window as the scenery passed. “Which is odd, because I detest travel and did, even as a young man. Certain things are just expected, I suppose. I wonder now if I should have liked the world, had I seen more of it then?”

“It’s not too late,” Ana pointed out. “Older is a relative term.”

“True, but I have other obligations now. Promises to keep.”

“And miles to go.”

“Miles and miles. But you now.” His gaze shifted to her, disturbingly direct. His eyes were still bloodshot, unhealthy-looking. They were dark in color, a deep brown that made it difficult to determine iris from pupil; they were darker even than that, reflecting no light. She guessed his ‘special contacts’ had something to do with that, but the effect was unsettling, giving him a way of looking into or through and not at the things he turned them on. And right now, he was looking at her. “If you could go anywhere in the world this instant, if money was no obstacle and you had a passport, where would you go?”

“Home,” said Ana.

Chad snorted. “Never too young to be an old fogey, I guess.”

“Manners, Chad. And where is home?” the old man inquired.

“I don’t know yet.”

“Ah well. At least you haven’t stopped looking. I suspect most people do. I did.”