Serial Saturday Updates and Merch Drops!

Yes, you read that blog-title right. I have an actual official merch store now. Just click on that link and hop on over to redbubble, where you can find a wide variety of RLee-themed clothing, coffee mugs, face masks and more, featuring quotes from my books, my red-eye brand icon and other stuff that reminds me of me. Have you ever found yourself in a truly piss-licking mood and needed a slow-count of six, but can remember what comes after ‘Two for his brunt?’ Get yourself a Prayer to the Six sticker for your hydroflask, laptop or the dashboard of your car. Do you need the word Jentacular defined on your very own jentacular mug? Of course you do! Ever wondered how to tell the world Se garrug y sildurra Kane without having to actually pronounce an alien language? Show your loyalty to our favorite dopine-harvesting slaver with a selection of comfy hoodies and tees. Over a dozen designs are already available across a variety of products, with more coming as we work ’em out.

And of course, I have a new chapter of my FNAF fanfic up on fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, so if you are reading Everything Is All Right, Part IV: New Faces, Old Bones, be sure to hop on over and check it out. We’re getting pretty close to the end of the fourth books, after which I will be taking a quick break from EIAR so that I can write Reed’s story, resurrected from the editing room floor and restored to the Arcadian series. After that, it will be right back to FNAF until the fifth (and final!) book is finished. I’ll be sad to see the end of that series, but I’m already feeling the excitement kindling for the Dark Fae series I have planned to follow it. Plus, there are two more lost Arcadian stories to come, so stay tuned, readers! And in the meantime, there’s always the fanfic, where things are definitely taking a turn for the weird…

 

“Cool, cool,” he said, nodding, but wound down into a wince. “Okay, so here’s the thing. I…have a question. And it’s kind of awkward, but I’ve run out of time to procrastinate on it, so I’ve got to ask. I’m just not sure how to bring it up.”

Ana shrugged. “Spit it out.”

“Okay. So it’s…okay. Okay.” He took a breath, muttered, “Okay,” one more time for luck, then said, “Do you want them all done like the fox?”

Some part of Ana must have known what that meant, because her stomach tightened at once with inexplicable guilt, but the rest of her was so tired that she just blinked at him. “What, like…a whole family of foxes? No. We just went over this, man. Barry’s a bear, Buster’s—”

She broke off there because Yoshi was already shaking his head and behind him, Ana saw Foxy give her a special sort of Look, so he knew what this was about.

And then she got it, a split-second before Yoshi said, “I’m not talking about what’s on the outside, I mean on the inside.”

Ana opened her mouth, but the vehement protests never came out. She just sat there, gaping, and the longer her silence stretched out, the more her window for denying it dwindled until she all but heard it slam shut. Of course Yoshi was going to notice what was hidden behind Foxy’s loin-plate at some point during his complete reconstruction. Did she really think he wouldn’t know what it was?

Yoshi promptly made things worse by dumping more enthusiasm on the fire. “It’s fine! What a lady does with her bots is entirely her own business.”

“I’m not doing anything!” Ana said, way too loudly and way too late. She was blushing; she could feel it, like actual acid eating her face. “That was there when I got him!”

Yoshi winced again, sharing her embarrassment good-naturedly and adopted a pacifying tone. “Okay, so…do you want me to take Percy’s…um, ‘peg leg’ off?”

The earth refused to open up and swallow her and a meteorite refused to scream down out of the sky and flatten her, so Ana had to say, “No,” and just wish she was dead instead.

“It’s okay,” Yoshi said after a million years. “Really. It is. I’m not judging you. When I first got back on my feet, the only place that would hire me was at one of those ‘adult novelty’ manufacturing places, only these guys catered to more…niche tastes. Really niche. Like someone browsed Bad Dragon and said, ‘You know, there’s some good ideas here, but I think we can take it a lot further.’”

Ana covered her face.

“Mostly handhelds,” Yoshi went on relentlessly. “But we did a pretty good sideline in life-size dolls and that was where I mainly worked. You know. Sculpting various movie monsters and aliens and that one lizard-guy from that book by—”

“Dude!” Ana sputtered through her hands. “I do not want to hear this!”

Serial Saturday Updates

It’s Upload Night!

Actually, now that I think about it, it might have been Upload Night last week, but I’ll be honest with you, I seriously injured myself and I spent most of the last several weeks in a haze of painkillers and most of the time, I had no idea what day or month it was. The only reason I still remembered the year is because this particular year is 2020 and ain’t nobody who’s lived through this year is ever going to forget it.

Anyway, I apologize if I missed an upload. I know I’ve been bad about that. Obligatory ‘I swear I really thought I’d be done with this whole series by now,’ but I did not foresee that Fate has apparently been setting up a glorious Rube Goldberg’s machine designed to take five friggin years to make toast or whatever the end goal was, and the little metal marble of this metaphor representing my body’s health has been tumbling around ever since, riding baskets and knocking down dominos and bouncing me from one medical crisis to another, but HOPEFULLY, the end is in sight.

Not that end. Don’t be so dramatic.

I have been feeling better in these last few months than I have in years. I have every reason to be optimistic about what the next few years will bring. That’s part of the problem, actually. I feel so good, I’ve been much more active, after spending most of the last several years in and out of a wheelchair, and as a result, I have maybe been overextending myself, which has led me to take a couple falls, which has led to some new injuries. Hence my Rube Goldberg metaphor.

Not to be a downer or anything, but if this cartoon was 2020, it’s worth noting that we’re still waiting on the metaphorical iron to burn through our metaphorical pants.

 

Anyway, all of this is to tell you that I may have missed last week’s upload, but I’m here now and there is a new chapter of my FNAF fanfic, Everything Is All Right, Part IV: New Faces, Old Bones up on fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, so if I’ve left you on a cliffhanger (and I know I did), head on over and check out the new chapter! I’m giving Freddy and friends kind of a break this week. I know, I know, I’m too kind.

Watching Freddy come together was a weird feeling for Bonnie. He couldn’t really call it ‘interesting’. Mechanics had never been one of his interests, which, okay, was probably ironic on some level, although it wasn’t like every human was interested in biology, so it couldn’t be that ironic. So he wasn’t ‘interested’, but there had to be a word for the reason he couldn’t look away. He wasn’t interested, he was…fascinated. Fixated? Mesmerized. He was…he didn’t know. Chica would know. He wished he could ask her. Ana was so deep in the job, she probably wouldn’t even hear him if he hollered a question across the room, but while Yoshi sure seemed to know his stuff, he didn’t lose himself in it like Ana did. Too nervous, Bonnie guessed. He kept consulting his photos, checking and double-checking the schematics, putting each part through a checklist of identification and confirmation before he brought it to the table, and meanwhile, there was Ana, snapping stuff together like Legos. The contrast was amazing, but he didn’t think that was the only reason he couldn’t look away.

It wasn’t like he’d never seen a build before. For the most part, he was in the vault when it was time for the others to get redone, but not always. If nothing else, he’d taken his own turn on the table a couple times, and even if his endoskeleton hadn’t been redesigned to the same extent as Foxy’s, he’d still gone through it. He’d had to walk up to the construction pad and stand there while the Lift dug under his casings and clamped onto his bones. Then the Scoop ripped his old skin off and the air gun blasted his bones clean. Then the Lift took him to the table and after he was locked into his restraints, down came the Spider.

It had a real name, but ‘blah-blah-blah-automated-fabricator’ could have meant any of the devices cluttering up their Creator’s workshop. By the time Bonnie was being reskinned for the opening of Circle Driver, all their creator’s old wordy inventions had short, simple names, and you sure didn’t need to know what the Spider did to know which one it was when you were looking at it. It had eight huge jointed arms capped with opposing digits for precise manipulation and at least as many smaller appendages, pencil-thin and lightweight, each one fitted with a specialized head—a drill, a pincer, a blade—all connected to a central unit containing the device’s essential systems, which was suspended by a number of writhing cables. He could still remember how it felt that first time, watching it descend out of its homing pad on the ceiling, unfolding all those legs as it came closer, clicking and humming to itself in what might have seemed a distracted manner if Bonnie were the kind of guy to humanize machines, which he wasn’t. Then it went to work, all its legs in motion all at once, deactivating his limbs and plucking them off so fast, he almost didn’t have time to be afraid, but at least he didn’t have to watch the whole time. Just until it pulled out his eyes.

Serial Saturday Updates

Greetings from Quarantine!

I hope you all are safe and well, and holding it together during these interesting times. We’re still all good at the Smomestead as we move from the cold-wet season into the hot-wet season (there are really only two seasons in a year around here), with a generous sprinkling of thunderstorms and tornados. True story: Dobby woke me up at three in the morning last night to take her outside, which is always a mixed bag, since I’d just barely gotten to sleep and find it difficult to fall back asleep once I’ve been awakened, but on the other hand, I’d much rather go a night without sleep than scrub the carpet. But I digress. Dobby woke me up, so I dragged the minimum amount of clothing I’d have to wear to avoid arrest should the Prude Police happen by, and we went outside.

Beautiful night, full of stars. There has been a sliver of a silver lining in this whole ordeal, in that we’ve seen some of the manmade damage roll back around the world, and although the air quality is pretty good where I’m at anyway, the stars are so much dimmer than I remember them being as a child. But last night, they were beautiful. Warm night, with an oddly chill breeze blowing through off an on, just to remind me it was there. A few clouds smudging up the sky, mocking me with my inability to paint clouds realistically even though real clouds barely look realistic. Just a calm, quiet, dry, clear night.

Ba-ZORP.  Insta-lightning out of nowhere, slicing down out of NOTHING, so bright it left greenish burners floating across my vision and so close I could smell it. And you know what they say, if you’re close enough to SEE lightning, you’re close enough to get hit by it. I bolt (ha-ha, get it? Cuz it’s lightning) back to the house so fast, I practically outran the thunder, which hit like a bat made of air on the top of my head. You know that thunder that kind of grabs the house and shakes it, just to remind you why you buy homeowner’s insurance that covers Acts of God? Yeah, that kind.

Cue me, shivering in the entryway, wondering if I should run up to hide in my room like a frightened child or run down and hide in the storm shelter like a sensible adult? Should I wake up the others or let them fend for themselves. Apocalypse Rules in storm season. Should I get my laptop?

Gradually, I become aware that there is no actual storm. When I gather up enough courage to peek outside, it is a beautiful calm clear night, full of stars. Apparently, Zeus just dropped one of his javelins, probably while sneaking out the window of some sleeping sha-boopy before she wakes up and recovers enough presence of mind to wonder what the hell she just did with that mysterious platypus.

So I went back to bed, which is not quite the same thing as going back to sleep, and as a result, I am very tired as I write this, so I’m going to make it short and just say that a new chapter of my fanfic, Everything Is All Right, Part IV: New Faces, Old Bones is up on fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, whichever platform you prefer, so if you’re following, head on over and check it out. If you’re not following yet, it’s unlikely that I’ll change your mind and convince you to give it a try with another snippet, but I’ma give it a try anyhow. And to all of us, here’s hoping for another uneventful week, with clear nights and bright stars, and no random lightning this time because that shit’s scary.

Stay safe!

Her phone buzzed only twice over the course of that day. The first time, it was Yoshi, wanting to know if she wanted food yet. She told him she was fine and to just get whatever for himself, then made half an effort and asked how things were going out in the shop, just like he was on the other side of the world and not right across the driveway.

“Can’t go faster than the scanner,” he replied in a tone of cheerful apology. “But every little piece is progress. You?”

“Same,” she said and that was more or less her last word (apart from those she muttered without conscious thought) until the next buzz. That time it was Shelly. She was tempted to let it go to voice mail, but against her better judgement, she answered and then had to spent an interminable seven and a half minutes convincing him that she really was in another state and not available to come that night, not even if he paid her cash under the table. No matter what she told him or how often, he just kept saying the town needed decorating for the holidays and he had a deadline to keep and in thirty years he’d never missed it, and then he’d dangle another ridiculous incentive in front of her.

“I’m not in Mammon,” Ana reminded him crossly. “You know I’m not! What do you expect me to do, drive a hundred miles just to hang your fucking wreaths and drive back?”

His flustered harrumphing told her that was exactly what he’d been leading up to.

Ana had withstood the conversation up until that point without once thinking she was in danger of losing her temper, and to be fair, she still never thought she was in danger of that. There must have been a dozen lines to cross between the mild irritation she thought she was feeling to rubber-legged, white-hot, adrenaline-fueled rage, but she jumped them all and before she knew it, she was yelling, “I’m not there, you idiot! If not missing your stupid fucking deadline is this important to you, then get off the fucking phone and go hang the fucking wreaths yourself! How did you run a company for thirty fucking years without realizing that sooner or later, you’d have to fucking work?”

Maybe he took her advice. He hung up, anyway.

Ana stood for a while in the shower she had, mere minutes ago, been contentedly caulking, just feeling her heart pound and hands shake. Her first conscious thought to pierce the residual fog of anger was, ‘You just lost your job. You know that, don’t you?’

“Yeah,” she said. Her voice bounced off the tiles, flat and unreal on her ears.

‘You just love making life harder than it has to be, don’t you?’

“I guess so.”

Serial Saturday Update

Day 17,981 of Quarantine.

All of us here at the Smomestead are still doing well as far as our physical health, although my mental health is definitely taking some hits. I had a legit panic attack the other day, but I had it as an author, which is probably not as serious as it might otherwise have been, because I recognized immediately what it was and instead of living in THAT moment, I took some mental notes so that, in the future, should I write a scene where my character has a panic attack, I can do it realistically. I did the same thing in the time leading up to each of my surgeries. I’m not sure if it’s a healthy coping mechanism or not, but it’s super-effective, and probably healthier than my main coping mechanism, which is to bake metric fucktons of cookies, cupcakes and pies. #QuarantineFifteen is real, yo.

The weather around here is doing its usual springtime bipolar thing, bouncing back and forth between hot and muggy, and cold and windy, with buffers of thunderstorms and tornado warnings inbetwixt. This has not helped my anxiety. We actually lost power for a bit this morning due to some storm that blew through out of nowhere. If you’ve every wondered how self-isolating during Quarantine could be even worse, try doing it without power. I only had to deal with that for an hour and it nearly ended me. It wasn’t the lack of internet that did the damage, either. Hell, I’ve been an old fogey in a young fogey’s body practically since birth. Can’t watch TV? No problem, I’ll read a book. Only between the storm and this house’s near-total lack of window, it was too dark to read. We found some candles, but the flickering light, tiny typeset and my old-fogey eyes combined to make reading, if not impossible, at least not pleasant. Ditto painting. Turns out light is a pretty vital element of painting. So I figured I’d make breakfast, only, ya know, no power so no toaster, microwave or stove. Or coffeepot. Nothing to do really, except sit in the dark and wait for the power to come back on. But that’s okay, right? It’s good to have a little quiet-time, just sit and be alone with your thoughts….thoughts like, ‘Is this really just a bad storm or is a tornado out to rip off the roof and smear me from here to Oz?’….thoughts like, ‘I bet the sump-pump needs electricity too, so if it keeps raining like this, the basement’s going to flood again.’…thoughts like, ‘Why does my dog keep crawling into my lap and shivering? They say animals can sense things like tornados. Is she sensing one? Or does she just hate the noise and she thinks I can make it stop? Dumb dog, I can’t fix this. I can’t make it okay. I’m not even okay, how do you expect me to help you? Wait, now she’s leaving. Why is she leaving? Does THAT mean she senses the tornado? No, she’s just getting her frog plushie. There’s probably no tornado. I wish I had a frog plushie that could fix this. Oh, she’s bringing it to me. She thinks I need it more than she does. That’s cute, but also, is that the tornado?’

Obviously, I survived and even more surprisingly, so did everyone else trapped in the house with me, but it really makes you appreciate how our forefathers and foremothers had to go through their various times of hardship in the age before Netflix and coffeemakers. They had dogs, though. Which is probably how they did it.

We don’t deserve them.

And as I sit here writing this, I can hear thunder. The storms are coming back. Serious storms? Who knows. And yes, before you ask, I do have a weather-app, but the last time we had an actual tornado warning, one so close that I literally, no joke, stood out on my front porch and WATCHED the funnel form DIRECTLY across the street, I checked that stupid app and it told me the temperature and said there was a 15% chance of rain that evening, so yeah. My faith in apps was somewhat shaken. Better finish this up, pack some snacks and head down to the basement, just in case. And if you, like me, are going to be huddled in the corner of your storm shelter tonight with a candle and your dog and your dog’s plushie frog toy, best download some reading material now, before the power goes out and you lose your wifi. Might I suggest the latest chapter of my Five Nights at Freddy’s fanfiction, Everything Is All Right, Part IV: New Faces, Old Bones! You can find it at archiveofourown.org and fanfiction.net, whichever platform you prefer. It’s a biggun, too. I probably should have split it down, but that seemed like a lot of work and I was having trouble focusing today for weather-related reasons.

To be fair, nothing about Fred Faust’s animatronics was simple, but these were the least complicated parts and he could barely cope with them. When it came to things like the cooling system, the facial rig, and of course, the ways and means of making the animatronic walk on its own, Yoshi freely admitted he was in way over his head. That wouldn’t be so bad except that he had an irritating habit of insisting she was in over her head, too. When she suggested modifications to improve maneuverability and balance, he flatly told her it wouldn’t work. Even after she took the keyboard away from him and proved it could be done—as far as a schematic could prove anything before simulations had been run—he just sat there, shaking his head.

At least until his phone buzzed at him.

“Sorry,” he said, like he always said when his phone went off, but just like he always did, sorry or not, he took it out and thumbed at it. “This will just take a second and then we’ll get right back at it.”

“Right,” muttered Ana, rubbing at her throbbing head.

“Or are you hungry?” Yoshi asked, texting madly. “Maybe we should grab some lunch or something. It seems like a good stopping place.”

A good stopping place. Ana glanced at the door closing off the shop, where Freddy lay in pieces and the other three stood untouched. Yesterday, they had managed to analyze, scan and upload two animatronic legs. Today was half gone and they hadn’t even finished scanning one arm.

Fuck this.

“Sounds good,” Ana said and pulled out her own phone. “You mind if I make a quick call first?”

“No, go ahead,” said Yoshi with flustered relief. “I’ll just…um…yeah.”

Ana tapped open her contacts and selected the one at the top of her fairly short list. She turned a polite angle away from Yoshi while it rang through, symbolically separating herself from his personal space while making sure he could hear every word she was about to say.

The other end picked up.

Ana said, “Hey Rider.”

 

Serial Saturday Updates

Day 6001 of Quarantine: Created a serial killer in my Sims game to take out all the townies who wear that stupid eyeball ring, alphabetized my spice rack, and organized a slumber party for some stuffed animals.

Okay, one of those is a lie. I have never alphabetized a spice rack in my life.

I hope everyone’s staying safe out there. I appreciate all your happy thoughts and well-wishing. So far, my family and I are all doing well. We’re taking care of ourselves, washing our hands, self-isolating (or just living normally, if you’re me) and doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our community. It has really made me think, though. Last year, I embarked on the first leg of my epic quest to improve my health by, among other things, changing my diet, which meant learning how to cook more meals from scratch, meal-planning, and freezer-prepping. As a result, when the COVID hit the fan, my freezer was full of casseroles and I actually knew how to turn the random components in my pantry into real food. Quarantine isn’t fun for anyone, but I have to admit I’m having a much less difficult time than I would be having, if I hadn’t had a year to hone those skills.

I said in my last post that I wanted to use this time to improve myself in some fashion and I have actually been working at that, decluttering the house and tackling some of those little to-do tasks that pile up in the corners of all houses. I haven’t gotten as far as setting up an exercise routine yet, and I really need to, because I’m one of those people who bake away my anxieties, which would be fine if that was all I did, but then I’m trapped in quarantine in a house full of delicious baked goods, so…yeah, I need to stop using the treadmill as a hat-rack and use it as, ya know, a treadmill. I’ve also done some painting along with The Art Sherpa‘s free tutorials on YouTube (I encourage everyone who’s ever wanted to paint to click that link), reread some of my favorite books (including The Stand by Stephen King, because irony, and also Tiffany Roberts‘ always delightful Kraken series), and watching way too much Netflix. What are you all binging on these days?

And yes, I’m writing. I’m so close to the end of Part IV of my FNAF fanfic, and I know I’ve been saying that for 200 pages now, but I’m 200 pages closer and that’s pretty dang close to the end. I’m going to take a quick break before I start Part V so that I can write something else real quick (HA! Remember when I thought this fanfic series was going to take one year to complete? Ohhh, me and ‘real quick’ have about the same relationship as me and ‘real short’) but then I’ll be back at it. It’s the age-old problem: so many books, so little time.

But for now, I have a new chapter up on archiveofourown.org and fanfiction.net, so if you’re reading my fanfic, Everything Is All Right, follow the link of your choice to check out the freshness.

Foxy spent the night in a bad mood, for which his own arse-headedness was only partly to blame. Cards had just not been a good idea. On the rare occasion that they played back at the pizzeria, whichever pizzeria that was, Freddy was always dealer (and, coincidentally, always won). His absence now cast a gloom over the good time they were supposed to be having. They didn’t fight, exactly, but there was some bickering over rules, sore losers and sore winners, and a lot of silence.

The quiet made it possible to listen through the thin walls that separated Yoshi’s workshop from the office where Ana thrashed and moaned in her sleep. Foxy was no expert, having only sat up with Ana on two previous occasions, but it didn’t take an expert to know that she was having a bad time of it tonight. Worse than usual? He didn’t know. It seemed to him that she’d done some twitching and mewing the other times, but she hadn’t exactly been sober then either. Maybe it was something to do with the smoking, maybe not. He didn’t know enough about Ana’s sleeping habits—or anyone’s sleeping habits—to have any kind of intelligent opinion on the reasons or wherefores. He only knew it was hard to listen to, and worse even than that was knowing Bon was listening too, and taking it just as hard. Maybe harder. Just like he had some kind of personal stake in the girl’s well-being.

“Just friends, me fuzzy arse,” Foxy muttered and tossed a few bolts in the poker pot.

 

Checking In

I know I’ve been quiet too long lately, and I realize this is exactly the wrong time for someone with a history of health issues to suddenly go dark, so at the risk of making it all about me, let me just start by saying, all’s well at the Smomestead. These are scary times and I am very aware that what we’re going through now will probably end up in history books someday. I know so many people at risk. I’m one of them. My sisters, my father, my friends…It’s a very helpless feeling, when the best line of defense is to wash your hands.

I’m not going to say more about that. I’m not a health professional, am hardly qualified to speak intelligently about any part of this whole ordeal, except for my own experiences, and I’d rather not. All I really want to say is…Please, people, let’s try to stay safe.  Be alert, but not afraid, and take every opportunity to be kind. Now, more than ever, it is so important to be kind.

Okay.

I have a new chapter of my fanfic up at archiveofourown.org and fanfiction.net, and while I know I’ve gotten more and more unreliable about updates lately, I’m going to do better.  I want to use my quarantine-time positively and see if I can figure out how to manage my time like a damn adult, set up a schedule for writing, paint regularly, and what the hell, maybe start an exercise program. I want to see progress come out of this, for me and for all of us.

 

Serial Sickness Continues

I think I may have skipped an upload week. I honestly don’t know. I was sick…and then I got some kind of infection…and after a week of pretty intense medication, I’m finally recovered enough to get sick again, or maybe it’s just allergies? I’ve been doing a lot of spring cleaning at the old Smomestead and that kicks up a lot of dust, mainly because I only clean in the spring. But I’m a bottom line kind of person and the bottom line is, I don’t remember much of February and I kind of want to sleep until March. I would have given this upload a miss and just gone to bed if I wasn’t like 80% sure I already did that once. So here I am! Uploading! On schedule, sort of, maybe?

So once again, there is a new chapter of my fanfic, Everything Is All Right, Part IV: New Faces, Old Bones (ugh, I just sat here for a solid thirty seconds trying to remember the name of my own book before giving up and looking at the open document…and now I just forgot where I was going with this…I should really write these posts in the morning. I have all kinds of energy in the morning. I’m like Cinderella, I turn into a zombie at eleven. That’s how Cinderella went, right? Oh yeah! I remember what I was going to say now. Thanks for attending my parenthetical aside. It was a journey), so if you’re reading along, head on over to archiveofourown.org or fanfiction.net and check it out! In the meantime, I have a snippet! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m taking a double-shot of Nyquil and going to bed. See you in a fortnight! Hopefully.

I swear I’m not always sick. Sometimes, I’m injured. Or asleep. But mostly, I’m sick.

It took nearly an hour just to take all the pictures he insisted on before he was ready to start taking things apart, and then it was her turn to bring momentum to a crashing halt while she impressed upon him the importance of listening for the beep. She didn’t really think she had anything to worry about as far as that went. Technology had advanced considerably over the last fifty years and unlike the men who had disregarded a young Fred Faust’s warnings to follow the protocol before removing hardware they knew nothing about, Yoshi had probably fried a thumb drive in his time. When she told him to listen for the beep, he agreed immediately and his enthusiasm for following that rule did not wane no matter how many times she said it.

The practice run was a dissection of Freddy’s dismembered legs and it was there that Ana began to understand just what a grueling process this was really going to be. Freddy’s left leg was composed of one upper leg bone, two lower leg bones, three joints—hip, knee and ankle—and a foot. How many parts was that, seven? One would think so, but no, because the bones were capped with connecting plates and fasteners, the joints were complex mechanisms in their own rights, and the foot…there had to be a hundred separate parts in the foot alone. Plus, there were pumps acting as muscles, tension springs acting as tendons, numerous sensor pads acting as nerve clusters, separators, contractors, flexors and stabilizers. Each of these components had to be matched to their Toy-sized equivalents, from which the new endoskeletons would be assembled, and those corresponding parts scanned into the system, and even that wasn’t as simple as it sounded, not just because the scanner took for-freaking-ever (although it did), but because Yoshi had to first create a file for each piece, identify all its component materials with his analyzer, get its precise weight and measurements, and then teach the program how that part connected to other parts, and give the program a way to cross-reference the files for those parts, and if they needed auxiliary objects of function, most of which had to be ‘built’ inside the program from their own separate parts, all of which needed to first be scanned in, which meant Yoshi had to create a file…

It was a painstaking process and of course, pains should be taken. This repetitive, brain-melting tedium was what was going to restore her animatronics to their full potential and keep them alive for years to come. One mistake could mean the difference between Freddy Fazbear and Freddy Fazmobile. She was glad to see Yoshi taking it seriously, she just wished he’d take it seriously a little faster.

She suspected he was taking longer than he had to, but if he was trying to impress her with how methodical he could be, she had no one to blame but herself. That she even wanted to blame someone was only a testament to her own mood, which had steadily eroded under the strain of thinking through her headache and steadying her trembling hands, until all she wanted to do was…whatever she had to do to make it stop.

But she didn’t. She was not an alcoholic.

 

 

 

Serial Saturday Updates

So I was right last week…about a lot of things, I’m sure, but specifically, that I was getting sick. So here I am, wrapped in a blanket with a warm dog on my tender tummy, looking like I just woke up, which I did, and let me tell you, after I finish this post, I’m going right back to bed. Me being sick is deeply distressing to my dog, Dobby, who has spent most of her time attempting to comfort me in dog-ways. She brings me her toys, defends me against the cat (who could not care less about me on the best of days and actively wants nothing to do with me when I’m sick), and does her best to heal me according to the ancient dog-wisdom of licking me until the germs are so soggy and disgusted that they leave on their own. Unfortunately, my germs are, like me, too tired to go anywhere. Posting the newest chapter of my FNAF fanfic, Everything is All Right, Part IV: New Faces, Old Bones is the most productive I’ve been all week and it’s Friday.  But hey, grab your victories wherever you can, right? And I won’t be sick forever. (‘True. Eventually, I’ll die.’ ‘Shut up, brain.’)

Anyway, new chapter. Head on over to archiveofourown.org or fanfiction.net and check it out. See you next fortnight!

“I’ll go get the others,” Ana said, turning the empty cart around and tucking the restraints up around the handle. “You coming?”

“No, I think I’m going to make a little more space here.”

Ana nodded, but her eyes narrowed. “Okay, so…before I step out, I’m going to say something and I need to hear you say you understand and you agree.”

“I’m listening,” Yoshi said with a quizzical smile.

“Good. I don’t want you touching my toys unless I’m there to watch you do it. You can catalogue the spare parts, work on the new skins, or do whatever voodoo you do on the computers, but unless I am physically present, you keep your hands off my animatronics like they were made of spiders, you got that?”

“I’m sorry…what?”

“You heard me. And I’m aware it’s unreasonable, but this is a hard line and I want to hear you say you’ll toe it or we have no deal. You’re going to have plenty of chances to do something sneaky behind my back, but believe me, I will find out about it and when I do, I will make you very sorry for a very, very short span of time. Do right by me and that will be the only time I ever threaten you,” Ana went on, quietly overriding Yoshi’s startled stammering. “Do me wrong…” She paused, pretending to think while holding his gaze, then affected a little shrug and finished, “Well, that’ll still be the last time, but it’ll end a whole lot worse. You need to ask me what that means?”

Yoshi stared, then slowly raised his hand and said, “Are you being serious right now?”

“Is that your way of telling me I need to convince you before you take me seriously?” Ana put a hand on the nearest worktable, close to, but not quite touching, a large screwdriver. “Because we can do that.”

“No! I just…um…want to make sure you’re not messing with me, because…you know…people mess with me a lot. And I can take a joke! If it’s a joke.”

“It’s not. These guys are special to me,” she said, looking over at Bonnie. “If I seem like a bitch right now, it’s only because they are so important to me. Shit happens and most of the time, I can be very sympathetic toward the author of the unintended fuck-up, but where these guys are concerned—” She shifted her gaze from Bonnie to Yoshi, giving him the full force of her icy blue stare. “—I have no chill at all.”

Serial Saturday Updates

Today has been…one of those days. A drop-your-coffee, trip-over-the-dog, everything-hurts-and-I-think-I’m-getting-sick kind of day. The kind of day where you spend damn near an hour meal prepping soup ingredients and then drop all over the kitchen floor that you haven’t swept or mopped in what I’m going to say is at least a week, but we all know at most it’s a whole lot longer. The kind of day where you spend four hours typing on your book and then Word shuts off for NO APPARENT REASON and you lose everything you did. The kind of day where you just have to take a Sims break and your stupid Sim goes to his final exam in his athletic wear and a cold snap moves in and HE FREEZES TO DEATH INSIDE THE STUPID EXAM BUILDING BEFORE YOU EVEN HAVE A CHANCE TO CHANGE HIS CLOTHES!!! The kind of day where you have to force yourself to walk to dog and you feel guilty about how little you want to do it because she’s so excited, and in fact her excitement leads her to bounce all around you in the yard and you trip over her for the second time that day and go down like an AT-AT on Hoth.

So it’s been a day, is what I think I’m trying to say, but even if I accomplished literally nothing else (less than nothing, actually, but I have to redo all the stuff that I did and dropped/spilled/vanished into the void because Word hates me), I remembered it was Upload Night. So here is a new chapter of my FNAF fanfic, Everything Is All Right, Part IV: New Faces, Old Bones, in which things are not going well for our heroes either. Hop on over to archiveofourown.org or fanfiction.net and check it out! I’m going to bed early, because there’s still an hour left in this day and I don’t want to know how much more worse it can get.

Bonnie had never really travelled anywhere before, but this wasn’t what he thought travelling would be like. It wasn’t supposed to be a joyride, he knew that. And being trapped in a box not much bigger than the Vault where they were stored between pizzerias wasn’t the start of what anyone would call a fun time. Still, he was finally seeing some of the real world beyond what Ana called the Edge of Nowhere and he wanted to enjoy some of it, because that was sure never going to happen again.

Ana had cut little slots in the side of the truck so they could see outside, making sure that they all had one directly behind them on the benches, so they didn’t have to get out of their restraints when the truck was moving. Although Bonnie appreciated the gesture, he didn’t use his very much and whenever he did, what he saw didn’t look a whole lot different from what he’d been looking at all his life. The snowy mountain (with all its curvy roads on the outside of the truck and Foxy barfing up his boots on the inside) had some different trees and some soft blues and greens that were interesting for a while, but then they came right back down into the same dull red desert he thought they’d left behind in Mammon.

In fact, Chica was the only one who got any real use out of the little windows. She spent the whole trip peeking out and exclaiming over what she saw, oblivious to the complete lack of excitement from the rest of them. Foxy spent the whole time either puking or trying not to before Ana shut him off, and Freddy was so deep in his own head that he might as well have been shut off, too. Bonnie tried to fake some enthusiasm whenever Chica gushed over whatever stupid landmark caught her eye outside, but his thoughts, as always, were with Ana.

After the last stop, she said it would be another hour before they got to Yoshi’s place. Bonnie’s internal clock had popped up in the corner of his vision when the restaurant ‘opened,’ and she was right: Exactly sixty minutes after she started driving again, Chica said, “I think I see it. MechaTech, right?”

“I don’t remember, but that sounds familiar.”

“She’s slowing down,” Chica said, fingertips nervously tapping at the wall of the truck as she peered outside. “This is it.”

Freddy roused himself out of his funk when the truck turned off the paved road onto an uneven gravel drive and looked out the window behind him for the first time on the whole trip. “I’m on the wrong side, I think,” he said. “What does it look like?”

“Um…well…there’s a building,” Chica said dubiously.

Bonnie unbuckled himself and got up.

“What are you doing?” Freddy said sharply. “Wait for the truck to stop! You’ll fall!”

“Relax, we’re going, like, a tenth of a mile an hour. Aaaand we’re stopped.” Bonnie pushed Foxy’s body off to one side so he could use the window behind him. “There is a building,” he confirmed. “And a house. They both look kind of sketchy to me.”

2020 Begins and Serial Saturday Continues

No, I haven’t forgotten about…

 

Oh, hang on. First of all, let me say thank you to everyone who has sent me a welcome-back, get-well, merry-Christmas or Happy-New-Year. I wish I could have responded to each and every one of them, but…I know it sounds like an excuse, but I’m just so damn tired. I read them all, though, and each one made me smile. There have been days when even that ticks my energy bar down, so I’m sorry I couldn’t write you all the personal thanks you all deserved.

Secondly, no, I haven’t forgotten about my Road Trip Adventures here, and I know I’m now TWO months behind in documenting it….

Wow. Two months.

I feel like it’s only been a couple weeks, and I’ve slept through most of it, which is weird, because if anything, I’m sleeping LESS than ever before. What I’m doing is more like sleep-waking through my days. I’m okay. Sutures closed, everything healing better than I had any right to expect, but I’m…just…so…tired. Not sleepy. Tired. And I’m learning that there’s a huge difference. Then the holidays came around, with all that comes with it, and while I had a great Christmas with my family, it took a toll. They told me the road to recovery was going to be measured in months, but I really thought when the pain was behind me that I would bounce back, and that hasn’t happened. It will, but it’s taking it’s own sweet time, and in the meantime, I have to pick and choose what I do with my limited energy. So you will see more of Cupcake, just please understand why it’s taking so much longer than I planned/promised.

However, I do have another chapter of my fanfiction ready for reading (I hope. Because that’s the worst part of the fog that’s eclipsed my brain these days–finding words is so much harder, and that’s coming from someone for whom finding words has NEVER been hard). I think last week was actually when it was due to go up, but…yeah. I don’t even remember last Friday being a thing that happened. It’s a short chapter, but only because, once again, it was originally over 30 pages long and I had to break it down. This is just where it broke best, in terms of the flow of the story. And we’re coming close to the end of this book, after which there will only be one more and then I come to the end of this series. I’ll miss it. I’ve had more fun writing this than I’ve had writing anything in a long time, just because there’s absolutely no pressure to make it saleable. It’s dark, darker than anything I’ve ever written, and it’s got an undeniably goofy-looking cast of characters, but I can honestly say I’m proud of it, and as excited as I am to start the next project, there’s still a part of me that’s sorry to leave Scott Cawthon’s sandbox and return to my own backyard.

Anyway, the next chapter is up, so if you’re reading Everything Is All Right, Part IV: New Faces, Old Bones, head on over to archiveofourown.org or fanfiction.net and check it out! I promise I’ll try to update Cupcake’s Road Trip Adventures before the next chapter is due…and hey, Ana’s on a Road Trip, too! Must be Fate. With a capital F.

Ana’s GPS had promised the drive was less than three hours, so Ana planned for four, but at the three-hour mark, she was still in Utah. Away from Mammon, city-traffic was full of commuters who were all convinced they were going to heaven and didn’t mind who they took with them. Exits were closed. Detours were confusingly marked, if at all. Ana had years of experience driving in Los Angeles, but she’d gotten too damn used to Mammon’s empty streets and relaxed atmosphere. By the time the first hour was behind her, she had a splitting stress headache on top of everything else.

Even if the highway had been empty, she would have been late. As much as she wanted to get there, this was a heavily-loaded unfamiliar truck on unfamiliar roads in heavy rain. She took it slow, stayed alert and drove defensively, but no matter what she did, it could never be careful enough to appease the nervous bear in the back. Anytime she changed lanes or had to brake suddenly to avoid hitting some other jackhat, or hell, if the road itself just curved a little too much, she could expect a knock on the cab window, followed by Bonnie’s increasingly long-suffering voice passing on Freddy’s request that they stop somewhere because ‘she’ needed a break.

She tried not to let herself get too impatient with him, she really did. She understood that this was his first road trip, since he’d been shut down for transport in the past (something she came to appreciate more and more as these delays stacked up). He was making a hell of an effort here and the least she could do was meet him halfway, so yeah, she pulled over at a lot of scenic turnouts and read a lot of historical markers through the viewing holes as Chica exclaimed excitedly over everything she saw.

But it was easy to be sympathetic for the first two or three stops. After five or six, sympathy was in short supply. With eight came annoyance and by the tenth, she was just trying not to swear at him.

At last she came to the mountains, where the storm that had been following her since leaving Mammon turned to flurries of snow and sheeting ice, and the next time that knock came on the window behind her, she told Bonnie flatly that she was not going to stop in the pass and to quit asking or so help her God, she’d go right off the edge of one of these narrow winding roads and plummet a thousand feet down a steep icy slope and explode on the rocks at the bottom. She needed her goddamn concentration for other things, so they’d better find their fucking happy places and leave her the fuck alone.

“You heard her,” she heard Bonnie say in a tone that made it plain he had reached his limit with this shit, too. “Just deal with it.”