Serial Saturday Update

I’m working on the last few chapters of the second part of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, and “inspiring” myself to write the bleakest and most awful scenes by checking out Horrible Review’s tribute to the most disturbing movies ever made and watching those few I haven’t already seen. Many of them are…how do I put this nicely? “Arty?” You know. Meaningful and symbolic. As opposed to good. However, there are some real gems on that list, and even in some of the stinkburgers, there’s a pickle of interesting character or mustard blob of dialogue. So it was worth doing, but my God, is it depressing.

Anyhoo, Saturday snuck up on me again, so I got to pull my head out of Part Two and post the next chapter of Part One! So if you’re reading along, scoot on over to Fanfiction.net or Archiveofourown.org and check it out. Here’s an aperatif to get those juices flowing!

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

The Kellar job went much more smoothly after that, in part because no one ever forgot to close the door again, in further part because Jack’s friends rediscovered whatever lost motivation they’d had for embarking on a career in home renovations and became moderately helpful, and in final part because Ana made the conscious decision to get the fuck clear of Mason even if it meant sleeping with him. It did not, which was more unnerving than the alternative, because he was far from oblivious to her presence and if his constant staring and shadowing didn’t have anything to do with sex, then it had to do with his missing cook, whose disappearance appeared to have gone unnoticed in this tiny town where everyone noticed everything. But then, Mammon had a long history of not noticing when people went missing.

It was a bad situation, made tolerable because she could tell herself she could get out of it anytime she wanted with one phone call. And it might have been true, at least in the beginning, but that ended the day she came home and found two official papers stapled to her aunt’s front door. The first was her written notice informing her that a representative of the city’s health and welfare department would be by on this day between those hours to determine whether the property was safe to inhabit. The second was a citation, because evidence of habitation was already present—meaning her clothesline and camp stove, no doubt—and she had fourteen days to pay the attached fine. A handwritten note at the bottom of this paper added that if she persisted in taking up “unlawful residence” in her own damn house, she could be arrested for trespassing.

Tempting as it was to call these assholes up and demand to know how the hell she was expected to clean and repair the property without setting foot on it, Ana restrained herself. She already knew the answer anyway. They didn’t expect her to fix the house; they expected to tear it down.

Hopeless as the situation seemed, Ana was determined not to give them the satisfaction of an easy victory. After each full day working on Mrs. Kellar’s house, no matter how late or how exhausted she was, she went to work on her own. With a little chemical augmentation, she made steady progress in both places, but had to use more to maintain her momentum, resigning herself to the mounting paranoia and insomnia as acceptable risks.

But with each passing day, the lines of her perceived reality blurred out further beyond their former clear boundaries. She heard things—every whisper of wind across the grass outside the truck where she lay awake sounded like footsteps. She saw things—dreaming or awake, those lines were blurring, too. She began to feel, as the debt guy whose name she could no longer remember had told her, not alone in the house where she had always felt welcome and safe. She grew more and more disconnected from herself and the consequences of her actions, even as other obscure connections crept in from the borderlands and insisted upon themselves: The dump trailer in Mrs. Kellar’s driveway seemed to be stuck at half-full, no matter how much broken sheetrock or old sinks she threw in it, while the dump trailer in her own driveway was always either empty or full and she couldn’t keep the damn cover from blowing off it to save her life. This was important, somehow. This was absolutely life and death shit. Within the invisible threads binding those two dump trailers to each other and to her were found the secrets of the universe. How could anyone be expected to sleep with mysteries of that magnitude unveiling themselves right before her eyes?

A part of her was dimly aware that this was a bad situation and she was making it worse, but it was a quiet voice and easily silenced.

Until she moved the grandfather clock.

Heading Home on Serial Saturday!

So we’ve stopped for the night midway across Missouri. A little early, sure, but there’s a flash flood warning, so we thought it best to head for high ground and dig in rather than keep driving. Here on the tail-end of the vacation, our funds are stretching a wee bit thin and we still have one or two stops we’d like to make, time and finances permitting, so we are sleeping on the cheap. In fact, the motel we are staying at tonight is…well, here is an actual conversation we had whilst ordering in a pizza.

CRIS: Do they even deliver out here? Should we call and ask before we order? (ed note: Remember when you could call and order a pizza instead of having to fill out a freaking dating profile with Dominos Online?)

LAURA: Sure, I can do that. What’s the name of this hotel?

ME: Just tell them it’s the one that looks like it’s been closed for five years.

LAURA: Okay, he says he knows that one. What room are we in?

CRIS: I don’t know…I think there’s a one in it.

ME: Tell them to take it to the office. There should be a guy in a dress pacing back and forth having a one-sided conversation with his invisible mother while stroking a knife. Just ask him where the victims are staying.

LAURA: I’ll…just tell them we’re in the room with a car parked in front of it.

CRIS: And tell them to hurry. I don’t want to be murdered on an empty stomach.

Just as a precaution, none of us showered.

Just as a precaution, none of us showered.

Anyway, since we’re on the road and the hotel’s amenities are, shall we say ‘sketchy,’ I’m going to go ahead and post Saturday’s chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part One: Girl on the Edge of Nowhere now, at 6.30 on Friday instead of midnight, when it’s officially Saturday. Regularly scheduled uploads will resume next Saturday. Please enjoy this excerpt from this week’s incredibly short chapter! (Only nine pages…which is practically a novel-length book in fanfiction circles)

* * *

Ana was allowed to work unimpeded by the presence of Mason’s trainees, right up until Hardwood Floor Day, whereupon Mrs. Kellar swept herself and her yappy Yorkies out the front door, declaring that the noise from the sander and the fumes from the wood stain were giving her a headache and probably giving her precious babies cancer. It was unclear whether she meant the dogs or her sons, but what was clear was that Ana had only just finished sanding down the new living room floor and hadn’t even prepped it, much less started staining. However, once she got her breather off, the chemical smell hit her like a brick to the sinuses.

In spite of everything at stake, the very least of which might be her own safety, Ana lost her temper.

Out through the kitchen she went and into the new hallway she’d installed in the old garage to find the goddamn door open. Without a word, she stalked over and slammed it as hard as she fucking well could. In the unfinished space, still concrete floors and bare walls, it made just a hell of a noise. She wasn’t even back to the kitchen before the door opened again and out came an angry man who, in all fairness, it had not been a good idea to startle.

Words were said. Never in her entire time in Rider’s stable had Ana ever gotten in a shouting match with another pony, but she didn’t have a chance to be embarrassed by her behavior, because either the slamming door or the yelling had brought Mason in from the backyard where he and his favored few had been smoking and making business calls. She did manage not to join in with the finger-pointing, just stood and fumed until Mason turned his shark eyes on her, when she said, “The door was wide open and your mother noticed the smell. If that had been someone else, someone who knew what they were smelling, the fucking cops would be on their way right now.”

Mason nodded once and turned back to his cook. “You leave the door open?”

“It gets hot in there!”

“Did I tell you to keep the door shut?”

“It was open for, like, two minutes and she comes barging her fat ass in—”

Before Ana could cut in—and she would have, something she never would have done in Rider’s stable—Mason punched his cook in the face. The sound was as loud in its own way as the slamming door had been. There was blood on his knuckles when he pulled back his arm, blood squirting through the other man’s fingers as he clapped them over his mouth with a caw of surprise and pain.

Ana’s breath caught and her feet rooted. She watched, frozen, as Mason knotted a hand in his cook’s shirt and commenced to beating on him until there were teeth on the floor and blood on the walls. It took a very long time. The noise in the unfinished space was tremendous.

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

You can read the rest at Fanfiction.net or Archiveofourown.org, along with any other chapters you may have missed!

 

Serial Saturday and Vacation Update

Greetings, ya’ll, from New Hampshire!…where no one says ya’ll. Hmm, I’ll have to work on my protective coloration.

So we made it, after four days of travel. It took this long owing in part to my state of fragility, and in larger part because I insist on stopping at every tourist trap along the way to get my picture taken with giant plastic anthropomorphic hot dogs and such. Yet here we are, and as you can see, we have achieved wifi, so those of you reading along on Everything Is All Right, Part One: Girl on the Edge of Nowhere, can hurry on over to Fanfiction.net or Archiveofourown.org and check out the new chapter. We’re more than halfway through now, which is a little nerve-wracking, since I haven’t quite finished the second part yet (been working on the third, fourth and fifth…bad R. Lee!)

I’m staying at an amazing lakehouse with a bunch of other romance authors. We’ve been chatting each other up all night, and let me tell you, when we got to the “So what are you working on now?” part of the conversation, nothing shuts a roomful of romance writers down like a big grin and the words, “Five Nights at Freddy’s Fanfiction.” Yeah, and adding, “Don’t worry. She eventually sleeps with one of the animatronics,” doesn’t help.

Actually, one of the other authors also writes fanfiction in his spare time, so we spent a good three hours nerding out together. I really kind of want to brag about all the big names here, but I’m going to wait at least until I get their permission. For now, all I can tell you is that I’m definitely feeling like the party-crasher.

Anyhoo, here is an excerpt from Chapter 11 of the FNAFic. After posting, I’ll finally get to sleep in a comfy bed again (not since our first night out; much love to my sister’s friend, JoAnn, for putting us up!) and tomorrow, I start work feverishly on those last chapters of Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night.

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

Ana had never forgotten anything so entirely as she’d forgotten falling asleep at Freddy’s. When her phone rang the next morning, she not only did not remember she was in Pirate’s Cove, she didn’t even remember she was in Mammon. She rolled over, reaching out for the charging port she kept on the nightstand in her room all the way back in Oxtongue, and fell off the bench onto a clammy, very hard floor.

“Ow, what the fuck!” she said, flailing in the perfect blackness in which she found herself, and striking only alien chunks of nothing known to her.

Her phone rang again, reminding her of its existence. She found her pack by the noise and fumbled the thing out as much for its light as to answer it, and put it on speaker with a baffled, “Who is this? What time is it? Where am I?” as she aimed its screen at her surroundings. A stage. A curtain. The stadium-style benches.

Oh yeah.

“This is Lee Shelton, over at Shelton Contractors.”

“5:50?” Ana read, looking at her phone’s screen. “Is that right? Holy shit, man, I better have slept straight through to the evening or I’m starting the day with an ass-kicking!”

“Well now, missy, maybe I got the wrong number. I thought you were looking for work. In this line of business, this is a late start.”

“What sort of work?” she asked, boosting herself back up on the bench and rubbing her elbow, which had come out the worse for being fallen on. “For what sort of pay?”

“I got what you might call an urgent job this morning and I find myself a man down. If you’re still interested, I can offer you fifteen an hour for a day’s work, all cash, free and clear of Uncle Sam. Sound good to you?”

“I was hoping for a more permanent arrangement.”

“I do believe Gallifrey’s is looking for a part-time waitress to help out with the summer crowd. That might be a bit more your speed, missy. I can’t afford to run a charity here, but you do something close to a man’s work and we may talk again next time I find myself light. When can you be here?”

The curtains rustled. Foxy stuck his head out, lighting her up better than the phone. She waved at him, saying, “That depends. I’m not at home. If you need me daisy-fresh, I need an hour to go home and grab a shower. If you don’t, I can be there in ten minutes.”

“Seeing as how the emergency call of which I speak is a busted septic tank and you, little missy, will be in it up to your hips, I don’t suppose daisy-fresh is of particular importance this morning.” A tactful pause. “Still interested?”

“Yeah,” she said sourly. “Money is money and shit washes off.”

“True enough.” Another pause, longer than the first. “You mind if I ask how it is you don’t seem to know where you are? You only been in town a few weeks. Isn’t it a little soon not to know where you’re bedding down?”

“Are you going to be shocked when I tell you that’s none of your business?”

“Nope. You going to be shocked when I tell you if I don’t get an answer, you’re not on my crew today or any other day? Not that I’m electing myself morals police, but this is a church-going community and I got to be sure of the people that work under me, even if they work under the table, so to speak. I will not hire on a scandal in a skirt.”

“I don’t wear skirts.” Too late, Ana realized that was the wrong insult to address. Rolling her eyes, she said, “Fine. You said you knew my cousin?”

“I remember him.” A pause. “Went away to live with his dad, we heard. His momma took it hard.”

“Yeah, well, so did I. He was my best friend when we were little and losing him like that, there one day and just gone the next…I never got over that. So I went out last night to a place—” Ana looked around Pirate Cove, her eyes coming back to Foxy’s more than once, but unable to meet his stare for long. He looked too much like he was listening. “—where he was happiest. I thought…I’d feel close to him. I didn’t follow anyone home, I just fell asleep in a weird place because I was missing my best friend. You feel like an asshole yet?”

“Little bit,” Shelton said evenly.

“Good, because you’re not my father or my husband and I’ll sleep wherever and with whoever I want.”

Foxy’s head cocked.

Shelton let a significant pause pass to give her time to regret her unladylike demeanor, but she didn’t, and he said, “Well now, if you don’t mind working for an asshole, you got a job today, but keep in mind that I may not be your husband or your father, but when you’re on the clock, I am your boss and you’ll show me respect. Got that?”

“I seriously doubt you’re this interested in who the rest of your crew is fucking, boss,” Ana snapped, then took a cooling breath and said, “But yeah, I got it.”

“Then be here in ten, missy, and come ready to get dirty.”

He hung up without waiting for an answer, but Ana kept her phone in hand for the light. She swept it along the stage first, then around the floor in front of the stage, and finally up at Foxy. “Where’s my lantern?”

Foxy leaned back behind the curtain and looked at something out of her sight, then back at her. “No idea.”

“I get the feeling you’re lying to me, Captain.”

He gave the cracked front of his chest a tap with the curve of his hook. “Pirate.”

“Uh huh. Fine, keep it. I’ll get another one.” She stood, stretching her stiff joints one at a time. “I did not mean to stay the whole night. I was only going to rest my eyes for a second. Why did I sleep so damn long?”

He twitched hard and barked out, “YE F-F-F-FERGOT TO SET YER ALARRRRM CLOCK!” and shook himself off in that dog/water way, gripping at his head with his furless hand and muttering under his breath.

“Alarrrrm clock?” she repeated, wincing.

“Aye.”

“That’s the worst pirate joke I’ve ever heard.”

“Ye ain’t-t-t heard many then, have ye?”

Serial Saturday Update

This is the last chapter of my FNAFiction that will go up before I leave on my vacation. Hopefully, there won’t be any interruptions to my upload schedule while I’m gone, but if there are, that’s the reason. Anyway, Chapter Ten just went live on Fanfiction.net and Archiveofourown.org and I warn you now, it’s the longest chapter in the book. For that matter, it’s one of the longest in any of my books. I probably should have broken it in half, but I just couldn’t see where, so I kept it as is, a million pages long. You might want to pack a snack before reading. An excerpt, you say? Why yes! Here it is.

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

“Hello?” Ana swept her phone’s light across the stage, but it was empty. “Anyone home?”

A metallic rattle in the kitchen, as of pizza trays being shifted, followed by footsteps. Ana turned her light that way and Chica raised her arm, not in a wave, but to shield her eyes. Ana lowered the beam of her light.

“Sorry,” she said. “Is Bonnie around? I’ve got—”

“RUN.”

Ana blinked. “What?”

Chica’s upraised arm spasmed and her head rocked back on her thin neck. She righted herself, more or less, her fingers still tremoring in one hand, and said, “RUN-N-N AND PLAY. RUN AND P-P-PLAY. HEY RUMBLE! HEY T-T-TUMBLE! SOMETIMES IT JUST-T-T FEELS GOOD-D-D TO RUN RUN RUN…AND PLAY.” She shook again, her arm snapping out and smacking hard into the doorway. One of her few surviving plastic wing-feathers broke off and dropped to the floor.

Ana put her toolbox and pack down on the table that had been her bed’s canopy the last time she was here (the garbage bags that had been her mattress were still there; ripples of scum showing where rainwater had seeped in, collected, and evaporated away) and went over to pick the lost feather up.

She knew right away there was no reattaching it. When she took Chica’s hand and turned it to get a better look at the underside of her arm, she could see a whole row of jagged stumps where other feathers had snapped off. She could also see deep cracks in her plastic skin, exposing grimy metal bones and clots of time-blackened machine grease. The smell wafting out of her was putrid, so much worse than she remembered Bonnie being, as if something had crawled inside poor Chica and died.

“You okay?” Ana asked.

Chica looked at her, her paint-flecked eyelids heavy over her eyes, giving her a weary, sorrowing stare. “WE ALL DO BAD THINGS SOMETIMES,” she said. “BUT IT HELPS…IT HELPS…IT HELPS TO SAY I’M SORRY.” Then she walked off down the hall, laughing to herself and saying, “IT’S TIME TO EAT! HEY, FREDDY! COME AND SEE! WE’VE GOT A BIRTHDAY GIRL! LET’S EAT!”

Okay, well, never mind. If Bonnie didn’t turn up on his own in a few minutes, she’d go find him. This place was big, but hardly infinite.

Ana went back to the table and brought out her lantern, which did a fair job of showing her just how hopeless this place was, in case she’d forgotten. She turned it all the way up anyway, holding it over her head as she tried to determine the best place to work. There weren’t a lot of bests left in this place, so that was what she was still doing when the door to the West Hall behind her banged open and Bonnie lurched through it.

He saw her and froze, one arm and both ears twitching. “It’s you,” he said.

“It’s me,” she agreed, setting her lamp down. “Miss me?”

“What-t-t are you d-d-do—DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS, KIDS?—doing-ing here? You-You-You…Why d-d-did you…”

His head cocked as if listening. A moment later, Ana heard it too: the tinkling, playful sound of music well back in the hall. Several bored nights haunting old cartoon clips on YouTube had led her to its name—the Toreador March, from, of all things, an opera called Carmen. Pretty much every cartoon ever made that set itself in Mexico sampled something from that opera, usually the March. She hummed along for a bar or two as it drew louder, nearer, and Bonnie twitched again and looked at her. The lights where his eyes should be flickered as the cameras there irised open and shut, as if with uncertainty. “You’ve g-g-got to g-get-t-t out—OUTSIDE WHEN THE WEATHER IS—out of here.”

“Yeah, yeah. The restaurant’s closed, I remember.”

“No, th-th-that’s not…” He limped in the direction of the East Hall, where the music was growing steadily louder, then turned back to her as fast as he could turn, which wasn’t, very. “G-G-Go. Get-t-t out of here. N-N-Now.”

“What’s the matter, Bon?” she asked. “You don’t look very happy to see me.”

“I’m not-t-t.”

That stung. “What the hell, man?” she asked, trying to laugh it off. “I thought we were friends.”

“Yeah. So d-d-did I.” He started toward her, his ears rotating back and lying flat as he came. “You m-m-made me think a lot-t-t of thing-ing-ings that night-t-t and th-th-then you t-t-t-took—” A hard spasm interrupted him. He grabbed at his lower jaw to steady it as he shivered, still trying to talk. “You t-t-t-too—TO THE EXTRAPYRAMIDIAL TRACT—you t-t-took my—MYELINATION ARTIFICIALLY INDUCED—damn it! It d-d-doesn’t matter, j-just-t-t-t go!”

“But I didn’t take anything. Oh wait, you mean this?” Ana opened her pack and brought out his lunchbox.

Bonnie’s cameras locked onto it. He went silent, except for the hum and click of his internal parts, and still, except for the sporadic tics and tremors glitching through him.

“I wasn’t going to keep it,” said Ana, setting the lunchbox on the table. “I didn’t even mean to keep it this long, but I had a lot going on and, you know, priorities.”

Slowly, Bonnie let go of his jaw and lowered his arms. He took one step, then another, then limped the rest of the way across the room. He looked at her, then at the lunchbox, and as she removed the two sections of his face and began to unwrap their protective sweaters, he picked it up, only to slam it down immediately with a startling bang. “Where is it?”

“Jesus! Right here, keep your ears on!” Ana held up the larger piece, the one with his reconstructed eye-sockets and the sculpted round peaks of his cheeks, edged all around in the deeper color of his head and body just as Chica finally came into the room from the hall, with Freddy in tow.

Freddy’s gaze went straight to Bonnie’s face and the music accompanying him stuttered and died. He looked at Ana—in that first moment, his eyes seemed to be dark sockets with only tiny points of silvery light at their centers, but it must have been a trick of her peripheral vision, because when she looked at him, his eyes were normal—then at Bonnie. “WHAT DO WE HAVE HERE?” he asked heartily.

Bonnie did not speak or move or look around.

Freddy grunted, glanced at Chica and held up his arm in an obvious stay-here gesture, but shuffled closer himself, his head cocked and eyes narrowed.

“ARE YOU OKAY?” Chica called. “WHAT’S GOING ON, GUYS? HI, BONNIE! HI, BONNIE! WHAT TIME IS IT? ARE YOU HUNGRY? LET’S EAT!”

“Well?” prompted Ana, since Bonnie was only standing there. Did he even recognize himself? She shook his muzzle free of the restraining arm of its sweater and held it up in front of the other piece so he could see both of them together.

He still did not react.

“The nose wasn’t in the lunchbox,” she apologized. “I had to improvise and I warn you right now, I am not a fabricator. It’s just a hacky-sack, painted black and kind of smooshed down. So…yeah.”

No response from Bonnie.

Across the room, Chica tapped her fingertips together and said, “IT’S SO GREAT TO SEE YOU!”

Freddy looked at her, then at Ana. His answering grunt was more of a growl. Otherwise, he did nothing.

“I know it looks weird without the fuzz,” she said, rubbing the now-smooth plastic surface of his muzzle. “It was getting everywhere and fucking up the glue, so I just took it all off. I’d have put it back, but I don’t know how to flock, even if I knew where to get some. That’s me, you know. If you’ve got the parts, I can slap ‘em together, but when it comes to arts and crafts, I haven’t got the first fucking clue.” She waited, watching him with an uneasy frown as he continued to just stand there. “So,” she pressed. “What do you think?”

Nothing from Bonnie, nothing but the click and hum of his internal parts. Waiting for her to say something he could react to, Ana supposed, so she thought and said, “I made it just for you!” in her best Chica-impersonation.

At once, Chica clicked hard and said, “THE SECRET INGREDIANT IS PEANUT BUTTER,” but Bonnie still didn’t say anything. His hand rose in twitches, like the ticking of a clock-hand, and lowered again without ever touching either his face or his muzzle.

“You f-f-fixed it,” he said in a static-filled whisper.

Road Trip!

So my younger sister met me in the hallway today and whispered, “Seven days…”  We all know what that means, right?

No.

No.

In seven days, we load up the car and hit the road for a fun-filled fortnight in New Hampshire! So naturally, my health took a nose-dive and I am presently laid out in bed, craving a strawberry slush and the cold, comforting touch of the Reaper, not necessarily in that order.

This does not much affect my travel plans. After all, I’ll be riding in the car, not running alongside it. And once we get there, we’ll mostly be lounging around the house, writing on our various books and enjoying the company of other writers, which generally means we all stay in our own rooms and type. However, on the way there, we had planned to make one or two stops and my anticipation for these stops had slid on the anticipation spectrum away from the joyful and deep into the dread. I’m an introvert, the child of two introverts, and to quote the esteemed Dr. Lecter, when two deep-rolling swallows knock their feathered boots, their offspring cannot stand to have anyone they don’t know even look at them, much less ask them if they’re all right, and God help them if they should actually collapse at a social event, something that has happened to me in the past.

Okay, I'm paraphrasing.

Okay, I’m paraphrasing.

So my feelings are somewhat divided. On the one hand, I’m still excited to be going and I know I’ll get lots of writing done and recharge the old batteries by doing it in a different place, but on the other hand, I really wish I could walk more than fifty feet without falling over. Failing that, I wish there was room enough in the car for a wheelchair, just in case. Failing that, I wish I owned a wheelchair.

Let me tell you, of all the sentences I’ve written–surely, it’s in the billions by now–that was the saddest.

Okay, enough depressing shit. I’m going on a road trip! And because life is a coin with two sides, the fact that my sisters and I are leaving for two weeks also means my father is inheriting a damned zoo during the time we are gone. Collectively, we are leaving him to care for two dogs, three cats, two evil fish, one green-winged macaw, and one hedgehog. And, because we have reached that point on my personal what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-blog-about scale, I’m going to tell you about them.

One of the dogs is my father’s, a short-haired, fourteen year-old black-and-white border collie named Choco, which my dad thinks is short for Chocolate Dog, and which is actually short for Chocobo, because I was playing Final Fantasy when he acquired the dog and my head-canon trumps all others. Choco spends his mornings outside herding leaves and butterflies, lying in the grass or lying on his blanket next to my dad’s computer, unless it’s raining, in which case he refuses to go outside at all. Since we live in the Midwest, it rains a lot, and so we cannot say with complete honesty that Choco is housebroken even after fourteen years. He is a gentleman and a good dog, but he was hit by lightning once (yes, I’m serious) and he is determined never to let it happen again. When the sky barks at him, he gets the fuck indoors and lets the bigger dog have the yard.

Choco, on a sunny day.

Choco, on a sunny day.

The other dog is apparently mine. I say apparently because he was supposed to belong to my sister, Cris, but as should come to no surprise to anyone who owns pets, they decide who they belong to (or who belongs to them, in the case of cats). We adopted him a couple years ago, when he was already old and arthritic, stone-deaf, with one functional eye (the other popped out when he was a puppy–he’s a pug, that’s a thing with them–and although they put it back in, it doesn’t work) and general digestive issues. I don’t have a camera, so here is a picture I found on the internet of a dog that looks exactly like him, down to the kind of halter he wears.

pug1

Isn’t this other person’s dog uglydorable?

On the subject of cats, one of them is also my father’s, but he cunningly foisted it off on us as soon as he moved in with us because he doesn’t like cats and only got it because my mother wanted a cat and he loved her more than he disliked cats. They acquired the cat from a guy who ‘rescued’ cats. Why is that in quotes, you ask? I’m glad you asked. This guy ‘rescued’ cats by acquiring free kittens and chucking them into a house–I cannot and do not wish to imagine the smell of that house–solely occupied by his ‘rescued’ cats. Once a day, he would open a couple bags of cat food and literally pour them in through a window. I don’t know how, if or when he ever scooped litter (or picked up bodies), but after a certain number of cats, it is physically impossible to scoop litter fast enough to keep up with the poop, and this guy, according to my mother, had well over a hundred cats and kittens in this house. How many kittens, you ask. I’m glad you asked. The answer is no one knows, because ‘rescuing’ these cats did not include spaying or neutering them, or even putting the males and females in separate rooms and closing the doors in this house occupied solely by cats, because the cats had been abused, according to this guy, and needed to feel free.

I begged my mother to report this guy to the authorities. She did not, because he was a member of her church and everyone would know who reported him if he got in trouble, which he absolutely would, because that situation is not rescuing.

So anyway, my dad got this cat, which had been flung into a window when she was a kitten to make it as one of a horde of feral cats contained within a house. Her age was unknown; the guy had no way of knowing when he’d gotten her or even if she’d been born in the house. The vet we took her to could only say she was probably between three and six years old, to judge by her teeth. She’s small, for a cat; the vet says she showed signs of severe malnutrition, although she wasn’t very underweight (if the best thing you can say about your rescue operation is that your cats are not ‘very underweight,’ you need to rethink the word rescue. Or at least put quotes around it). And she was so…

You know, I typed the word shy and sat looking at it for a while, but I’ma go ahead and say it. Traumatized. She was so fucking traumatized by your rescue operation, Mr. Church-Going Cat-Abusing Thunderfuck, that she spent the first week in her new home on top of the bathroom light fixture, shivering and purring at her new owners, but too terrified to be touched by them. I’m pleased to say that today, she loves to be snuggled and is very affectionate around people and the other pets, but it is very much a product of our rehabilitation and not her ‘rescue’.

I really need to start carrying one of these things around with me.

I really need to start carrying one of these things around with me.

Anyway, she is a cat, but she is technically my father’s cat already, even if she lives upstairs with us and the other cats, so I don’t feel too bad about asking my dad to take care of her for two weeks. We’ve had her the last two years and we don’t complain. My younger sister also has a cat, a black and white Maine Coon, who has two modes: asleep and insane. Her care instructions read simply: Good Luck.

And then there’s my cat, and again, I use the word mine with a tone of confusion and resignation, because that was not supposed to happen.

We acquired my cat…You know, off-topic here, but I don’t think I’ve ever bought a dog or cat in my damn life. I’ve adopted one or two from a shelter, but for the most part, they’ve just happened to me. Anyway, I think I may have told this story before, but here we go again. We acquired my cat about two weeks, maybe less, before we moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Bible Belt and we had absolutely no spare time or money to spend on new animals. My sister Cris was actually on her way to arrange the rental of the moving truck when she saw this Siamese cat lying in the road in front of my house where it had apparently been hit by a car. It lay in a pool of blood in the rain and she had no doubt it was dead until it raised its head as she drove by.

What can you do, right?

So the emergency vet we took it to looked it over and came out to talk to us. He said its pelvis had been crushed, its jaw was broken, its eyes had been abraded by contact with the road and its retinas would likely detach (they did), and it had a number of smaller injuries which would make recovery longer and more painful. He might never be able to walk or eat solid food, and how far did we want to go with care? My sister and I looked at each other and I sort of laughed and explained that our family fostered special needs children and we did not set a person’s value by whether they could walk or eat by themselves. The vet took the cat away and spent the next 48 hours working on it and watching over it. He charged us for nothing but the medication he sent us home with.

For every Cat-Rescue Guy, there is an Emergency Vet Guy. Remember that, folks.

For the next few months, my sister, Cris, was the one who held him and said soothing things while I was the one who forced medication down his throat and flushed his infected abrasions and wiped his eyes while they lost the fight to retain sight and later put him in a full bathtub to do water therapy as he practiced walking. That cat ought to fucking hate my guts. So where is he now, you ask? I’m glad you asked. He’s lying here on the bed beside me, hugging and occasionally grooming my foot. He never leaves the room if I’m in it. If I leave, he’ll go room to room, bumping into walls and testing each step until he finds me.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that today, Roadwaffle, or Waffles for short, not only walks everywhere just fine (and climbs on the bed and sleeps in my computer chair), but eats and drinks and generally does all the right cat-things. He is blind and his mouth doesn’t close so he’s always hanging his tongue out, but he’s a good cat and shouldn’t give my dad any trouble.

 

Again, not my cat, but an incredible approximation, except Waffles had two red-cast eyes.

Again, not my cat, but an incredible approximation, except Waffles has two red-cast eyes.

Then we have my sister’s macaw, who is in her teens and acts like it. Love that bird. She doesn’t talk very well, at least not coherently, but she mumbles all the time in my sister’s voice. She has the weirdest sense of humor. The bird, not my sister. Well…okay, both of them, but it’s the bird I’m talking about. When someone else is in the room, she wants to interact with them, but when she thinks she’s alone, she’ll play by herself and when she does…wow. Picture a green-wing macaw, if you will, clutching a toy in her talons. Now picture her very softly talking to herself, acting out two distinctly different voices, one of them growling and occasionally laughing and the other softly screaming. So: “Grrr! Ah hahaha! Arrrgh!” followed by “Ahhhhh! Oooo nooooo!” followed by “Ah hahaha! Grrr!”

As we see her...

As we see her…

...and as she sees herself.

…and as she sees herself.

I got to say, I can’t really recommend people get a macaw unless they are fully prepared for something that big, that intelligent, that lives that long. It’s less like having a pet than having a child, and yes, I know, lots of people treat their pets like kids, but this is REALLY like having a kid–a high-strung, unpredictable, hilarious, aggravating, noisy, socially-awkward kid who will probably outlive you and definitely learn to swear before they learn to say I love you…at least, in this house. My dad thinks the bird is wonderful and the bird is intimidated by my dad’s beard, so they ought to get along just fine.

At the bottom of the care list is my hedgehog, Posey Q. Pricklepants the Third. Unlike the dog (who needs feeding and walkies and petting and attention, but who cannot hear and doesn’t listen anyway because he’s a pug), and the cats (who mostly do their own thing, but want daily snuggles and treats on their terms), and the bird (who, like any other kid, needs more or less constant attention and supervision or who will unlock their cage and wreak havoc on the damn house…You keep kids in cages, right? Just me?), Posey is easy to take care of. She sleeps all day, runs on her wheel all night, and just needs a fresh bowl of water and a handful of cat food to be happy. Sure, she and I like to snuggle in the evenings, watch a movie together and share a chicken-salad-and-cricket sandwich (don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it), but I won’t ask my dad to do that. She’d disappear into the Beard and never come out again.

So there it is, the zoo my poor old father gets to tend while his ungrateful children are zipping off down the highway. There ain’t no more to say on that subject (we don’t talk about the two evil fish. To speak of them feeds their power), so I guess I’ll have to find something else to bore you with next week!

Serial Saturday Update

Well, now, it’s three weeks running that I’ve had nothing else to blog about apart from my FNAFiction. I’m on a roll. A terrible, terrible roll.

I’m preparing to take a cross-country trip at the moment, so maybe I’ll be able to share some observations and possibly pictures from the road next week. In any event, I won’t be completely out of contact, so it shouldn’t affect my upload schedule for Everything Is All Right, Part One: Girl on the Edge of Nowhere. Oh, did I mention I just uploaded Chapter Nine at Fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org? Here is a small sample (which some of you may have already read earlier on this blog)…

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

Ana did not waste time. Upon completing her first walkthrough—crawlthrough—of the house, she unpacked her things onto the porch and turned the trailer in at the U-Haul lot in Hurricane. While she was there, she dropped in at the outlet store mall and bought some essential items—a collapsible clothesline tree and a bag of pins, a foldaway chair, a solar-heated camp shower, a battery-powered lantern and a couple cheap LED flashlights, a propane stove and Dutch oven. After some debate, she also caved in and bought a tent, but didn’t set it up yet. Although the rain had not returned with the same force as had greeted her on her first night back in Mammon, it hadn’t dried out either. The house was in no condition to be occupied and, for now, the ground was wet and the porch was rotten. The boxes containing her life could sit under the sagging eaves and risk collapse—they were replaceable—while Ana slept in her truck, telling herself that it would only be for a few days.

But the gears of government grind slowly. Ana knew this and believed she was prepared to deal with the inevitable delays in a rational and adult manner. What she failed to take into consideration was that, in this case, she was not watching the gears turn, but was caught up in them. Their many teeth were hooked and sharp; with each day, she was only pulled in deeper.

Serial Saturday Update

I really meant to blog this week. I hate having two Serial Saturday posts back to back. It makes it look like I don’t like blogging, which is true, but I hate that it’s obvious. Unfortunately, with the Writer’s Workshop having run its course, I have nothing to blog about. I’ll have to work on that.

Anyhoo, it’s Saturday. Actually, it’s 10:30 pm on Friday, but I’m trying really hard to be awake during the days in order to spend time with my family, which means I’m actually sleeping at night for the first time in months. Maybe years. Come to think of it, I think the last time I was diurnal was during the RT Convention in 2014. Let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to get up in the morning when you know you can walk down to the French Market for beignets and cafe au lait. When you got a day old maple bar and you gots to brew your own K-cup, its harder to get psyched up for it.

But okay, for all intents and purposes, it’s Saturday, and the new chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part One: Girl on the Edge of Nowhere, is up on Fanfiction.net and Archiveofourown.org, so if you’re reading along, you know what to do. For those of you just joining the party, here is a little teaser…

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

When Foxy pulled the door to the dining room open on its protesting hinges, he caught the briefest glimpse of Bonnie seated on the edge of the main stage before he leapt up like, well, a bunny and came staggering two steps toward him, only to stop and slump on his feet.

“Oh,” said Bonnie sourly. “It’s you.”

“Aye, nice to s-s-see ye t-t-too,” Foxy said, letting the scowl that couldn’t show on his face come out in his voice. Looking around, seeing Chica in the kitchen doorway and Freddy in the back hall that led to the playgrounds, he added, “Who the hell else w-w-would it be?”

Static muttered through Bonnie’s speakers as he returned to the stage and sat, slumped forward with his elbows on his cracked thighs and his hands dangling between his knees.

Foxy rolled his eyes and went over to Freddy, who made room for him in the narrow hall, allowing Foxy to see that the barricade that had blocked off the door to the playground had been shifted and the door itself forced open so it would never latch again. “Bleeding hell, what-t-t did I tell ye?” he demanded disgustedly of the world at large.

“DON’T FIGHT,” Freddy warned, shuffling back so that Foxy, smaller and more agile, could get in and do the tricky work of reconstructing the barricade.

“I ain’t-t-t fighting. I just be observing Bonnie’s wee b-b-bit of fluff laid us open for her return trip, when she robs us blind-d-d.”

“Oh. Yeah. Like th-th-there’s so much here to s-st-steal,” Bonnie grumbled in the next room.

“Why else w-w-would she do it?” Foxy called, slamming a table into place against the door and wedging it into position with precise kicks. “Oh, right. T-To see ye.” He snorted, ignoring Freddy’s disapproving grunt. “Maybe next-t-t time, ye can take her somewhere besides the bloody maze, so I d-d-don’t have to listen to ye giggling each other up? Hell, there’s a couch in the back, ain’t there? Or—where else d-d-do the kids do their grubbing? Behind the prize c-c-counter? Back r-r-row of the theater?”

“How about the p-p-party room?”

Foxy stopped picking over the scrap and stayed perfectly still for however long it took to think, distinctly and without immediate emotion, ‘He did not just say that.’

“DON’T,” Freddy warned.

Foxy dropped the broken chair and wire rack he had in his hands and turned around.

Freddy stepped in front of him, eyes flashing. “THAT’S. ENOUGH.”

The command passed through him like an electric shock. Foxy fought it, for all the good fighting did; when Freddy said enough, it was enough, and flat ears and black eyes made no difference at all.

Freddy waited to make sure his order took—it always did, but he always waited anyway—then limped back out into the dining room. “IT’S. OVER,” he said, and somehow all his many sound-bites, no matter how spoken in the original format, came out growling. “SHE. CAME. SHE. LEFT. IT’S. OVER.”

Bonnie did not argue or even look up, but his ears revolved and lay flat.

Freddy waited maybe half a minute and then let a few notes of the Toreador March deliberately drop. “WHAT DO WE SAY?” he prompted.

Bonnie raised his faceless head, looked directly into Foxy’s eyes with the whole of the dilapidated room between them, and said, “Fuck you.”

Foxy started forward.

Freddy put out his arm without even bothering to look around and smacked Foxy unerringly in the chest. With his other hand, he pointed at Bonnie. “TRY AGAIN,” he suggested. “TRY HARDER.”

“Fuck-k-k you in the ear,” Bonnie amplified, lurching to his feet.

“Start th-thinking o’ what ye want t-t-to say to yer ass,” Foxy snarled. “In ab-b-bout ten seconds, yer head’s g-g-going to be up it.”