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.”

 

Serial Saturday Update

I hope everyone out there had a Joyous Yule, a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Kwanza, or, you know, just a nice day. But before we say goodbye to 2016 and hello to Year 1 of the Trumpalendar, it’s time to upload a new chapter of my Five Nights at Freddy’s fanfiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, available now at archiveofourown.org and fanfiction.net.  I still have about three chapters left to write on part three, and yes, I am getting nervous, but it is what it is. If there’s a bit of a break between Part Three and Four (and Five), oh well, right? My readers are all patient, understanding people and the FNAF fandom is renowned for…um…hmmm. Well, moving on. How about an excerpt from Chapter Fourteen?

Everything Is Alright Part 2

 

 

Ana hadn’t realized she’d been working for Shelly long enough to acclimate to the work-schedule until she woke, jobless, at a quarter to five for no reason. One of the animatronics was in the room with her, she knew even without lifting the curtain to look. She could hear servos humming steadily, rhythmically. Bonnie, playing his stringless guitar.

She listened as she drowsed, contemplating sleep at the same low emotional temperature as she reflected on the previous day’s events. Ultimately, however, she decided if she was going to walk to town later and pick up her truck, she’d better get some work done at Freddy’s first.

When she switched on her camp lantern, the small sounds elsewhere in the room stopped at once. He must have known she was there, but he didn’t greet her in any way. Was he mad at her? She guessed she had kind of walked out on him after the shower and maybe he didn’t deserve that, but he’d been touching her scars. It was no accident, either. He’d claimed before he couldn’t feel much—how could he, with plastic hands?—but he’d been touching her scars. Not just like he knew they were there and he knew he was touching them, but also wanted her to feel him touching them and know that he understood…and of everything that had happened all that day, his understanding was the worst.

Now she had to go out there and face him and it was going to be awkward, the way it was always awkward with everyone who’d ever seen them, worse even than it had been with Rider when he found out, and he’d even guessed who put them there.

‘You are over-thinking this,’ Ana told herself as she shimmied into a pair of jeans, and it was true. Bonnie’s programming was complicated beyond Ana’s limited capacity to understand, but it was, after all, just a computer program. He had seen her scars, sure. He’d had to guess how to react to them, and he’d made that guess based in large part on her interactions with him, which at that moment had included her naked and kissing on him. Taking that into account, could she really even say he’d made the wrong guess?

He still hadn’t said anything, which was a little unsettling, but he probably had to see her to kick into guest-mode, she decided. To test her theory, she lifted the curtain and peeked out at him.

His eyes snapped on at once, showing her it was indeed Bonnie. He had been sitting on the edge of the stage with his guitar still on his lap even though he wasn’t playing it anymore. Seeing her, he put it aside and got up, limping toward her. “HI THERE! Hey. Are you-you-you—READY TO ROCK?”

“Yeah, sure. A little stiff. You’d think I’d be in shape, doing what I do for a living, but walking apparently uses different muscles. Hang on. I need to cover my shame before Freddy sees me.” Ducking back under the table, Ana grabbed a tee off the laundry-wall. By pure luck, the first one she touched was clean, both in literal terms and in the sentiment expressed. What were the odds? She put it on and crawled out, taking Bonnie’s hand when he offered it to gain her feet. “Where is everyone?”

“Chica’s in b-b-back somewhere, probably the arcade. I haven’t seen F-Foxy all night, so I guess he’s in the C-C-Cove.”

“And Freddy?”

Bonnie’s ears swiveled. He glanced at the kitchen. “Freddy’s always around-d-d.”

Serial Saturday Update

Ugh, my sleep schedule has flipped upside down in such a short length of time. It’s now half past 8 in the evening on Friday and I’m uploading the latest chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Three: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night now because I cannot stay awake any longer. I had to retreat to my bedroom to write this, where there is only one sleeping cat and not four sleeping kittens, all of them mocking me with their brazen appetites for sleep. So tired…

No change on the kitten front, by the way, but we very nearly acquired a dog the other day when we opened our front door and found an enormous dog shivering on our porch. Naturally, we immediately gave him something to eat and drink while we exhausted our limited investigatory skills. Super-friendly, calm, didn’t bark at our dad’s dog or chase our kittens. No collar, but a nice coat, no sores, clean ears and eyes, trimmed toenails. Emaciated, but it really doesn’t take long for a big healthy dog to go from slender and fit to skeletal, especially in winter. Our theory was that he’d run away (we hoped he’d run away anyway; the holidays are a popular time for people to abandon their pets) about a week ago, but we couldn’t find any lost dog notices around the community, in the papers or online that matched his description. My sister Cris had the wise idea to call City Hall for advice, because it’s a small town and what do we pay taxes for if not to advise constituents about lost and found dogs?

Yeah, I’m laughing, but they had a protocol in place and not only did the city official cheerfully call a local cop to swing by and take a found-dog report, but also arranged for the local vet to board him until his family was found or, if necessary, he found a new family. We should have asked what the protocol was for kittens…

Anyway, all’s quiet once again on the home-front, but seeing that poor, slate-thin dog in the snow has made all of us appreciate our cozy home and family even more. Which is only appropriate for the season. Considerably less appropriate is my Five Nights at Freddy’s fanfiction! (“Nice segue!” “Thanks!”) So head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org and check it out! Still on the fence about whether or not to read this one? Well, if you’ve managed to resist 30+ chapters so far, one more isn’t going to make a difference, but what the hell, I’ll leave you with an excerpt anyway. Christmas is about giving.

Everything Is Alright Part 2

Freddy still had not moved, not so much as the wiggle of an ear or a grunt to acknowledge all the squishing and muttered swearing that prefigured Bonnie’s approach, but as Bonnie rounded the carousel and limped up behind him, he suddenly spoke: “I’M. GOING. TO. K-K-KILL. HER.”

Bonnie halted mid-step.

Freddy glanced at him and shrugged, still glaring. “NOT. REALLY. BUT. I. CAN. NOT. BELIEVE. HOW. MAD. I. AM. WHERE IS SHE?”

“You d-don’t think she’s in t-tr-trouble, do you?”

Freddy growled through his speaker and turned his attention back to the window and through it, presumably to the road beyond the edge of the bluff. Bonnie couldn’t see it, between the growing darkness and the scum coating the glass, but he guessed he’d be able to make out headlights if there were any. And there weren’t. “YOU. DON’T. WANT. TO. KNOW. WHAT. I’M. THINKING. RIGHT. NOW.”

‘Leave it alone,’ Bonnie told himself as he followed Freddy’s footsteps out. ‘Don’t push. If you corner him, you know what he’ll do, so just…just let it be.’ And then he said, “But you’re not-t-t mad at her, right?”

“NO.” Freddy sighed. “AND. YES. WHERE IS SHE? THIS. IS. NOT. HER. HOUSE. IT’S. MINE. SHE. DOESN’T. GET. TO. COME. AND. GO. WHEN. EVER. SHE. FEELS. LIKE. IT.”

“You said-d-d she could.”

“WELL. I. DIDN’T. MEAN. IT.”

A shiver rattled through Bonnie’s body. His pinkie fell off. He picked it up and fidgeted it back into place, but it wasn’t going to stay long. It needed a screw. He shivered again.

Freddy did not appear to be watching him, and the window-glass was too filthy to offer up a reflection, but at the second shiver, he sighed. “I’M. NOT. MAD. AT. HER. NOT. REALLY. IT’S. JUST.” He stopped there, not clicking, just quiet.

“Just what-t-t?”

“SHE. SHOULD. BE. HERE,” said Freddy. His arms lifted and dropped. “AND. I. HATE. THAT. I’VE. STARTED. THINKING. THAT. OF COURSE. SHE. SHOULDN’T BE HERE. NO. ONE. SHOULD. BE. HERE. BUT. I. DON’T. LIKE. THAT. SHE’S. NOT. HERE. NOW.” Freddy’s gaze swept the road one last time before he turned around. Grumbling low in his throat, he started walking, leaving deep depressions in the undergrowth to slowly fill in with ooze. “I. NEVER. SEE. HER. EAT. SHE. ALMOST. NEVER. SLEEPS. SHE. WORKS. TWELVE. HOURS. AND. THEN. COMES. HERE. AND. WORKS. EVEN. MORE. I’D. ALMOST. BE. HAPPIER. IF. I. K-K-KILLED. HER. MYSELF. THAN. WATCH. HER. DO. IT. LIKE. THIS.”

Bonnie opened his mouth to tell him not to say things he didn’t mean, then closed it again without talking at all, just in case Freddy did actually mean it.

“I’M. NOT. MAD,” Freddy said again, passing him. “EXCEPT. I. AM. THE. SAME. WAY. I. DON’T. WANT. HER. HERE. EXCEPT. I. DO. AND. I. REALLY. REALLY. DON’T. LIKE. NOT. KNOWING. WHEN. SHE’S. GOING. TO. WALK. IN.”

“She’s not doing-ing it to piss you off. She’s got-t-t stuff to do.”

“SO. DO. I.” Freddy surely knew what that sounded like, because he grumbled to himself as he pulled the door open, but he couldn’t leave it alone any more than Bonnie could, it seemed. “IF. SHE’S. GOING. TO. BE. HERE. SHE. SHOULD. BE. HERE. AT. A. REASON. ABLE. HOUR,” he stated. “THAT’S. ALL. THERE. IS. TO. IT.”

“Oh c-c-come on.”

“NO. IT’S. DISRESPECTFUL. TO. SAY. SHE’LL. BE. HERE. AND. THEN. STAY. OUT. ALL. NIGHT.” Freddy grunted, his eyes moving restlessly from toy to toy within the gym, still monitoring the playground years after the kids had all gone home. “LET. ALONE. WHAT. SHE’S. OUT. THERE. DOING.”

“You can’t-t-t give her a c-c-curfew, Freddy.”

“THE. HELLO! I. CAN’T.”

“She’s not a k-k-k—KIDS UNDER FOUR EAT FREE—kid,” Bonnie argued.

“I. DON’T. CARE. HOW. OLD. SHE. IS,” Freddy started to say. He stopped, cupped his muzzle and shook his head into his palm, then dropped his arm and boomed, “AS. LONG. AS. SHE. LIVES. IN. MY. HOUSE. SHE. OBEYS. MY. RULES. GOOD. GOD. BONNIE. WHAT. AM. I. TURNING. INTO.”

“Kind of a jerk-k-k, to be honest.”

Serial Saturday Update

It’s 1:45 in the morning on Saturday. I woke up about an hour ago and I’ve got my first pot of coffee brewing in the next room. I’m catching up on my Game Grumps after posting the newest chapter of my FNAF fanfiction up on fanfiction.net and again on archiveofourown.org. Now the kittens are romping crazily around the room and I’m typing this and wishing I had a cheeseburger. Just a Saturday, you know. Just Saturday things.

In all fairness, this could just as easily be a Tuesday or a Thursday for me. At this time of year, I often find myself reflecting on just how ridiculously lucky I am, because Lord knows, it ain’t talent and effort that determines success in this world. The fact that I am able to sit at home in my underwear writing non-profit fanfiction for an entire year and STILL make enough money to pay my bills fills me with a sense of profound gratitude and smug humility.

I often have profound emotional reactions to commonplace things.

I often have profound emotional reactions to commonplace things.

My father and I discussed this over Thanksgiving, after which he went away and made the following post on Facebook (my father is now on Facebook, a fact that fills me with pride, quiet hilarity and of course, determination). Yes, I asked his permission before reposting it here. On a side note, I would cheerfully repost each and every one of my father’s ramblings on Facebook, because they are ALL like this. On those rare occasions that I post anything at all, mine are a solid 80/10/10 split on bad jokes, bitching and movies I have seen/would like to see. But when my dad noodles around on Facebook, this is what comes out:

 

After a lifetime of working for other people, doing what ‘they’ wanted me to do in exchange for bread and butter and a place to lay my head, I retired. It was great! I did just what I wanted, when I wanted to, and when I didn’t want to do it anymore, I did something else. Absolutely perfect! Then after 46 years of marriage to a wonderful woman, she succumbed to the ravages of diabetes and brittle cerebral capillaries and passed on to the next stage of our existence – and I found myself living alone for the first time, with my children scattered about the countryside. 

I believe that I must have been waiting around for my own passing, because slowly my mind started going to sleep. I didn’t like it in a dispassionate sort of way. I suppose I resented it when I noticed it, but not enough to do anything meaningful about it. My body slid deeper into decrepitude, and I cared not a whit. Fortunately, a few of my daughters lived 45 minutes away, and seeing what was going one (and not liking it), they decided they would do what any loving family does in these cases: they would needle me back into activity and save me from a fate worse than… well, you know.
One day, three of them (all published authors) came by to invite me to enter a writing project called Na-No-Wri-Mo, short for National Novel Writing Month, explaining that it was a low-key writers completion in which contestants had the month of November to write 50,000 words of a work of fiction on the subject of ‘The Ferryman’. I wouldn’t even have to enter the competition; I just had to write the 50,000 words. No pressure, and would I do it? Please, please, please, please?

They weren’t fooling me a bit! I knew exactly what they were doing. My rut had become both deep and comfortable and they wanted me to leave it (for my own good, mind you, but leave it nevertheless). Moreover, I had written in the past, both in American-English and in French-French, manuals, policy statements and short stories (with one novel I had worked on and never finished)—and had thought them quite good for what they were. To accept the challenge in this context was to lay myself open to the actual discovery that I was, in fact, no good at all, had never been any good; and in such a manner that all the world would immediately know it. But most dreadful of all, I should thereby willingly and with malice aforethought enter into direct competition in my daughters’ own special sphere of expertise. A cardinal rule to parenting is never, never compete with your children; it was a rule I had tried to adhere to.

They pleaded. They implored. And in the end, with many misgivings, in a moment of weakness, I relented

Best thing that’s happened to me in retirement! I have no expectation of writing a best-seller, making a gazillion dollars and achieving world fame. It’s enough that a few people may read and enjoy a world into which I have frequently retreated to escape the humdrum occasionally encountered while engaged in the business of living day to day. And it has achieved beyond all expectation the purposes for which I entered into the game: 1.) I no longer choose to live in a rut, even a very comfortable one; 2.) my mind has rediscovered with keen interest the world around me; and 3.) I am no longer content to slide into physical enfeeblement and inactivity, not even a very comfortable one; my mind has rediscovered with keen interest the world around me; and finally, I greet each new physical obstacle with as much grace as I can muster in a hunt for new ways to accomplish what my body once did easily.

 

My father’s second book is coming out soon, so get ready to see a lot more noodlings from the mind (and beard) of M. Francis Smith. In the meantime, please also enjoy this excerpt from the latest chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, in which our hero, Ana Stark, meets one of the pre-eminent citizens of Mammon…

Everything Is Alright Part 2

Her first impression was that of age, although she wondered why almost at once. He certainly was old and not particularly well-preserved, but he wore it mostly in his face. He moved like a much younger man, albeit a young man carrying a heavy weight at the end of a long, trying day. His step was sure; his hands did not shake; his eyes were concealed at the moment behind a pair of dark glasses, but she had the strong feeling that if she could see them, they would be clear and cognizant. His hair was white, still thick despite his years, trimmed short and lacquered into place so it did not move at all as he walked. His cheek was as stubble-free as Ana’s own, although Time had carved a permanent expression of worry into his brow and grief into his mouth. He was dressed in black slacks held up by a black leather belt and black suspenders, and a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows and only the topmost button undone. His shoes were polished to a higher shine than the kitchen stove. Throw on a jacket and a tasteful tie and he could have fit right in at the opera. Or a funeral.

“What an astonishing co-incidence,” this man said, briefly holding up a smartphone before tucking it away with a casual familiarity Ana was, frankly, not used to seeing in a man of his age. “I had a call from the fraudalert line about a fifty-two thousand dollar home theater system I appear to have purchased. If you’re here to deliver it, you may take it upstairs to the room at the end of the hall on your right. I don’t watch that much television anymore apart from the science channel, but I dare say I’m looking forward to counting Morgan Freeman’s freckles in high-def and hearing that glorious voice in theater-quality digital surround-sound…and who is this?” he asked, at first in that clipped lilt that meant someone was trying to be polite while in a state of supreme irritation, and then the color dashed out of his face all at once. He staggered and grabbed onto the closest countertop, his voice a sudden, shaking rasp. “Who is that?”

“Don’t worry, he gets like this,” Chad said, although he looked just as taken aback as the rest of them by the suddenness of the transformation. “Grand-dad, you remember Mr. Shelton. You’ve met him lots of—”

“Who are you?” The old man moved forward, thirty years older than the man who had come into the kitchen just seconds ago, catching at Shelly’s shoulder with a shaking hand only to push him aside, looking at no one and nothing but Ana. “Tell me who you are!”

“This is my assistant,” Shelly said, plainly uncomfortable, holding the old man’s arm like he expected it to snap off in his hand. “Stark, maybe you better wait in the van.”

“Stark,” said the old man at once, then again, nearly whispering. “Stark.”

“That’s right, this here is Joe Stark’s little girl, grown up.” Shelly grimaced around the room with his help-me eyes on, but Chad was enjoying the show and damned if Ana knew what to do. “I don’t know that you ever knew old Joe.”

The old man was quiet for a long time. Then he took his arm from Shelly’s grip and slowly straightened, shedding age and infirmity like snakeskin. “By reputation,” he said, calm, steady.

“Yes, he, ah, he had one of those.” Shelly tried on a gameful chuckle, but was too nervous to make it fit. “Perhaps you also heard of Mellie, his wife. Perhaps not. Bit of a party girl.”

The old man turned a cold stare on Shelly, made even colder by being filtered through the impenetrable black of his glasses.

“Well now, this is their girl, Ana,” Shelly stammered. “Moved away when she was just a mite, but she’s come back.”

“When?”

‘What’s it to you?’ thought Ana, but in a curious rather than offended mental tone. “A couple months ago,” she said.

“Where are you staying?”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m sorry,” he said, stepping back as if he could defuse the question with more physical distance between them. “That was impertinent. At my age, one loses one’s ability to recognize impertinence, except in the very young, of course. Am I making you uncomfortable?”

“No,” said Ana, marveling somewhat that it was the truth. “No, and it’s fine. I’m staying at…at the family home.”

“You have family here.” He said it oddly, neither quite a question nor a statement.

Yes would be the simplest answer, if a lie; no, the most honest, but would lead to more questions. She hesitated and Shelly jumped on the silence to say, “She’s living in her momma’s sister’s place, you know the one, up on Coldslip.”

“Yes,” the old man said, his gaze sliding away, unfocused. “I know the one.”

“Marion’s place, I guess I should say,” Shelly continued. “You must remember Marion.”

“His memory’s not—” Chad began.

“I remember.”

“That’s great, Grand-dad.” Chad looked meaningfully at Shelly, mouthing ‘He doesn’t remember,’ while the old man stared at the wall.

But Ana thought he might. When he looked at her again, she said, “People say I look like her.”

“You do. When I saw you…I thought I’d seen a ghost.”

Serial Saturday Update

Ah, the weekend! After a hard day’s slog through rewrites and swordfights and rewritten swordfights, it’s nice to just kick back with a bunch of kittens and watch my favorite holiday movie!

krampus1

I know I have a reputation for loving bad movies, but for real now, this is awesome.

So another chapter of my Five Nights at Freddy’s fanfiction, Everything Is All Right, part two, Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, just posted, which is terrifying to me. We’re getting close to the halfway point of that book, whereas I am still not done with part three. And it’s not because I’m slacking off at the zoo this time. Every day this week, I’ve put in a solid six hours, no breaks, and the only discernible progress I’ve seen is the clock ticking down. And the next day, I get up and go to work and do it again!

Gee, when I say it out loud like that, it's actually kinda appropriate.

Gee, when I say it out loud like that, it’s actually kinda appropriate.

Well, while I keep plugging away at it, those of you who are reading along can head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org and check out the new chapter! Is there an exerpt? You bet there is!

 

Everything Is Alright Part 2

The last time the subject had come up in Foxy’s hearing, Ana had mentioned she had to be at work by five in the morning, so when the four o’clock hour rolled around, Foxy picked himself off the deck of his ship where he’d passed the night and headed for the dining room so he wouldn’t miss her. He didn’t bother turning his eyes on at first, but the East Hall sounded different enough to be unsettling in the dark, so he switched on his lights. She’d cleaned it, scrubbed it maybe. Seemed like a waste to his way of thinking, if she was really planning to pull the roof down in two short weeks, but what did he know about building and un-building? She’d been hard at work, though. That much, anyone could see.

The others were in the dining room already. Bonnie, he expected, and it wasn’t so unusual for Chica to stick close to the stage as six o’clock drew nearer, but it surprised him some to see Freddy lurking in the back end of the room. Not patrolling, not passing through, just standing and watching the table where the girl had obviously denned herself down.

Bonnie had not taken his eyes off him since Foxy had stuck his head through the plastic sheets walling off the dining room from the Hall, but at least he’d kept quiet. When Foxy came all the way inside, however, Bon thumped his guitar down and got up to come meet him. “What d-d-d—DO YOU GET WHEN YOU CROSS A—do you want?”

Before Foxy could answer, the sound of a body shifting and then coughing came from under the table.

“Time’zit?” Ana muttered. More movement. Something glowed through the dark curtain she’d strung around the table. “Goddammit.” A sigh. “Fine.”

The glow blinked off. Another came on, bright enough to throw her silhouette on the fabric walls of her little room and show any wandering eye at all the playful curves of her body as she stripped out of her night-clothes. “I could have sworn I brought more shirts than this,” she muttered, pulling fresh ones on. Then she came crawling out on her hands and knees, pushing her lamp ahead of her and pausing only briefly when she saw the set of them arranged around her.

“The gang’s all here,” was all she said.

Caught unawares by one of his own catch-phrases, Freddy triggered. He let out part of his distinctive laugh, but the effort of suppressing the rest of it was a telling one. One hand hit the restroom door behind him as he convulsed, knocking it open, and Ana, climbing to her feet, immediately dropped to her knees again with both hands over her mouth and nose.

“Shut it!” she called through her fingers. “Jesus tap-dancing Christ, I forgot to cap those pipes! Fuck me! Shut the door!”

“You ok-k-kay?” Bonnie asked, still glaring at Foxy as he went to offer Ana his arm.

She took it, nodding. “Could have used another half-hour’s sleep, but whatever. Just means I’ve got time to go home before work.”

“Home?” repeated Foxy, ears forward. “Ye ain’t serious!”

“Uh, yeah? Why?”

“I ain’t seen ye at-t-t all this go-round! Blast, woman, what do I have t-t-to do?” he asked, laughing but only half-joking. “Carry ye off at the p-p—POINT O’ ME SWORD—to get a minute alone with ye?”

“Sorry, Captain. I told you I was working. Poor Bonnie hasn’t gotten any alone-time either.” She patted Bonnie’s arm absently as she rubbed her eyes, then stepped into her boots and did up the laces. “But to be honest, if I’ve got the chance to grab a real shower at home rather than a two-minute lukewarm drizzle here, you haven’t got a hell of a lot that can tempt me away.”

“If only ye knew, luv.”

Bonnie’s ears snapped flat.

“Put ‘em up, my man,” Ana said evenly, heading into the kitchen. “We talked about this.”

The pins in Bonnie’s ears creaked as he pushed them up to half-mast and no higher.

Ana rummaged in the cupboards, muttering to herself as she knocked things around. Then she said, “Oh!” and laughed. When she came out soon after, she had a candy bar in one hand—breakfast of warriors, that—and a long-necked bottle in the other. “I got this for you the other day,” she announced, holding the bottle out to Foxy. “And then completely forgot. Sorry. I got the best intentions, but my memory is for shit. Took a lot of hits to the head as a kid.”

Foxy came to take it, eyepatch flipping up so he could read the label. Kraken-brand spiced rum, it said. With a scrimshaw-style drawing of a giant squid tangling up a sailing ship. “Oh, aye,” he said at once and deftly scratched off the plastic seal. He hooked the cork out with a flick of his wrist and pretended to take a deep, savoring breath.

“How long has it been since there was rum in the captain’s bottle?” Ana asked.

“C-C-Couldn’t tell ye, lass. But th-this here is the end of a long d-d-dry dock for sure.” He fit the cork back in and slapped it home with the cuff of his hook. “Though it be a bit wasted-d-d on me, don’t ye reckon?”

“I love it when you talk like a pirate.”

Bonnie’s ears hit the top of his head again.

Without looking back, Ana said, “Something you want to say, Bon?”

Muttering, Bonnie pushed his ears back up, but folded his arms across his chest, looking impressively huge and pissed off for a pastel-colored bunny.

Foxy was not impressed. “Why d-d-don’t ye come on by the C-Cove later on, lass?” he offered, looking straight at Bonnie. “Convince me t-t-to share it with ye.”

“Sharing isn’t very piratey,” she pointed out.

“Maybe I j-j-just want ye drunk and disadvantaged.” He winked his eyepatch at her. “Don’t get-t-t more piratey than that.”

Bonnie’s fingers scraped on his arm casings as his hands clenched, but he kept quiet.

It was Freddy who said, “FOXY. MIND YOUR MANNERS.”

Foxy glanced at him, his ears folding briefly back in an expression of chagrin, although he was a bit too smug to really pull it off. “Aye, well, ye know where I am if ye ch-ch-change yer mind,” he said, popping his left thigh open and settling the bottle inside for safe-keeping. “I don’t-t-t much leave the Cove, even at night-t-t, but that don’t mean I don’t want the c-c—COMPANY OF ROGUES AND SINNERS. Eh, sorry about th-th-that, lass. I don’t mean it-t-t personally.”

“Hey, if the shoe fits, right, Freddy?” Ana tucked her candy bar into the side pocket of her duffel bag and shouldered the strap, fetching up her keys and phone and other humanish geegaws from under the table as she readied herself to leave. “I might swing by now and then, but like I say, I don’t usually drink when I’m working and I’ve got a lot of work to do tonight, so, you know…maybe, maybe not. Pencil me in for a hard maybe.”

“Hard’s the only-ly-ly way I come, luv,” Foxy replied, tapping his hook on his plastic chest casing to pretend that was what he meant by it.

Bonnie’s eyes opened up black and slowly, slowly shrank back into their colors.

Ana laughed. “I got a dirty mind,” she murmured.

Serial Saturday Update

Well, I didn’t get 50k words during last month’s NaNoWriMo, owing to my compulsion to smooth and refine my previous day’s work, to the effect that by the final week of November, I had become Penelope, unweaving by night what I had woven during the day. To complicate matters, I awakened a few days ago from a sound sleep and said, “I left something out of Book Two and I have to rewrite it, now, before it’s scheduled to update,” so the final day of NaNoWriMo was a total bust as I spent it editing instead of writing.

Oh well. There’s always next year.

cryingchildfnaf

In the meantime, I have managed to write better than 38k in a month, not too damn shabby, as well as find forever homes for two of the four kittens bestowed upon us by an uncaring Cosmos. Still two to go and hopes are high, although Christmas is a lousy time of year to adopt out animals.

And Friday snuck up on me again, dagnabbit. I went all day thinking it was Thursday, just hanging out with the fam, watching movies, shopping, drinking pumpkin chai lattes without a care in the damn world, until to suddenly have it brought to my attention that I need to post a chapter on my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Book Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night. So instead of midnight pancakes and cocoa at the local IHOP, it’s home to a roomful of rambunctious kittens I go, to rapidly edit, polish, and post, all the while asking myself how the hell I’ve let HALF THIS FRIGGING BOOK GO LIVE BEFORE THE THIRD ONE IS EVEN FINISHED!!!

I have made a resolution to get Book Three done, beta read and edited by the end of the year, and unlike my New Year’s Resolutions, if I don’t live up to it, there will be consequences.

So in the meantime, if you’re reading along, head on over to Fanfiction.net or, if you prefer, Archiveofourown.org to check out the latest chapter, and if you’re still on the fence about whether to give my silly little fanfiction about animal-shaped robots haunting an abandoned pizzeria where children were abducted and murdered a read, please enjoy this excerpt!

Everything Is Alright Part 2

Ana heard a sound like a muffled thump or banging in the night and thought it made her dream of thunder…or maybe she dreamed of thunder and just thought it made her imagine she heard a sound. This was especially confusing because she sure thought she woke up when the noise first started and saw Chica and Bonnie. At first, she thought they were talking, because they were facing each other, but there was an awkward amount of distance between them, if so; she wasn’t sure what made it seem that way, just that it wasn’t conversational. Once she noticed this, other oddnesses revealed themselves, like shadows in fog, taking shape while still remaining insignificant. Bonnie appeared to be leaning sideways against the rear wall. He had a hand up, motionless, not frozen in some stage-gesture as she’d first thought, but resting on the wall for balance. His head might actually be pressed up to it, cartoonishly eavesdropping, but on what? The door to the parts room backstage did not open. Nothing could be back there.

Ana closed her eyes and tried to go back to sleep. Bonnie said something. She couldn’t tell what, but his voice, even in whispers, was distinctly his own. She smiled.

Chica did not answer, which was nice, because she didn’t have much in the way of volume control, but she did start walking, the wheezes and clanks of her leg mechanisms as distinct in their own way as Bonnie’s whisper. Ana listened as Chica shuffle-dropped down the three steps to the floor, thinking foggily that she needed to check her email when she for-real woke up, see if anyone had responded to her Craigslist ad yet, because patched was not fixed and those pumps were going.

More static, louder than before, other noise that reminded her in her half-asleep way of an old-timey landline dialing up to the internet—all beeps and bongs and scratches—followed by a distant roll of dream-thunder. She opened her eyes again and saw Bonnie onstage and Chica in the middle of the room, motionless, their glowing eyes aimed up at the ceiling. So it wasn’t all a dream; there really must be thunder. Was that worth waking up for? She wasn’t sure she could. Even the idea of the roof falling in on her could not penetrate far into the leaden fog filling her skull.

“Is it raining?” she mumbled or thought she mumbled, but dreams had a way of twisting time out of linear order. And she had to be dreaming, because she could have sworn she said it, and then Chica went waddling past and into the kitchen, where she apparently tried to shuffle together two stacks of pizza baking trays like they were playing cards. The resulting clatter slapped the clouds right out of her head, however, waking her fully and immediately to a state of high alarm.

She rolled over to yell, “Jesus Christ, really?!” and promptly slipped off the air mattress again, although she managed—barely—not to fall off the table too.