Serial Saturday Update

The first of five milestones has been reached, as Part One of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, concludes over at Fanfiction.net and Archiveofourown.org, so if you’re reading along, go ahead and check it out, and be sure to leave a comment telling me how much I suck for ending it there! Ha ha! And then get ready, because Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night premieres next week, same FNAF-Time, same FNAF-Channel.

This is great for all you readers, but not so much for me, as it means I not only have to remember how the heck I set up the books in the first place, what with the cover images and tags and all, but also how to get Part One as a single document together and dump it on Wattpad, for my readers who are waiting to read the whole thing all at once. I know I should do that tonight, but honestly, I’ve been weaning myself off coffee and have a massive headache. I’ve already been staring at my computer for ten hours and I am done.

So please enjoy this excerpt from the very last chapter of the very first Part of a much bigger book than any I’ve written so far, while I take a couple aspirin and lie down in a dark room.

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

And just like that, it all came together.

The following Monday, Ana received her first official welcome: her copy of the inspection report, stating that conditions at the property were within parameters for the house to be safely inhabited, along with a notice from the post office not-so-politely reminding her to come in and fill out an address card for their records. While she was in town doing that, Ana dropped by the DMV and got a Utah’s driver’s license, then went home and celebrated by reshingling the roof. A week later, the woman from the Mammon Utility Board came out to connect her power and water, whereupon the basement flooded because the house had not been weatherized for twelve years. Replumbing took another week and as she was finishing that mess, the local storm god thought it would be funny to snap the top off a dead pine and hurl it through the garage door. All of this in addition to the cleaning, clearing, hauling and landscaping that she was not only now allowed to do, but obligated to do as a homeowner.

So she kept busy. But the one thing she did not do was unpack and move in.

She thought about it. She even took a box of clothes upstairs once, wandering up and down the hall for more than an hour with every intention of claiming a bedroom for her own. Not Aunt Easter’s and never David’s, but hell, there were six more, weren’t there? Some were even familiar to her, as if she’d played in them as a child, but she had no real memory and no special feeling for them.

It should have been a good thing. It wasn’t. Far from providing her with a refuge from the oppressive memories she found in every other corner of this house, the unknown quality of these guest rooms was itself repulsive. The somber colors painted on one set of walls had been someone’s choice, the commanding desk with heavy brass finishings had fit someone’s style. There were still memories here, lying as heavy as the dust over every surface, she just didn’t know whose they were. It was bad enough to share this house with the absence of her aunt and cousin; she couldn’t share it with strangers as well.

In the end, she took her box back outside and set up her tent. Sooner or later, she knew, she’d have to get over herself and move in, but not yet. She could eat in there, once she had replaced the appliances, installed new cabinets and bought new dishes. She could shower in there, not to mention all the other bathroom-related activities that came with indoor plumbing. She could probably watch TV or read a book or go dancing down the hall in her underwear, although she hadn’t tried yet. In fact, she was certain she could live in the house as long as she kept her eyes open while she did it. The thought of being asleep in there, helpless, oblivious…no. Not ever, maybe, but for damn sure, not yet.

Serial Saturday Update

Friday really has a way of sneaking up on me. I was working on Part III of my FNAFiction all day, just relaxing and binge-watching Boardwalk Empire (nothing relaxes me like a little sex and violence, as Rider would say), and tending to my younger sister, who has spent the past two days artistically splayed across her sickbed (seriously, she’s so cute when she’s sick. All wearing her pink pajammies and hugging on her plushie Toothless), and when I reached the end of Season Three, I was just thinking about putting the book away for the night, taking the dog out, turning on some YouTube and winding down (yes, for bed, and at night, no less. So unnatural. But it’s summer and hotter than a hard fuck here in the Midwest, and because I cannot sleep with the noise of an air conditioner and the central cooling does not reach my end of the house, it’s either sleep at night when it’s cooler or swelter to death trying to sleep during the day), when suddenly, I realized it’s Friday. Which means that it will be Saturday when I wake up in the morning, which in turn means I need to update Everything Is All Right, Part One: Girl on the Edge of Nowhere. After all, there’s only one more chapter after this one and I’d really like the personal satisfaction of knowing I met every deadline. And for those of you wondering how I’m going to tie up all those loose ends in just this chapter and one other, why, the answer is simple. I’m not. That’s why I’ve been calling this the first ‘part’ of a book, and not the first book in a series. I resolve nothing. (Insert maniacal laughter here)

Jeez, not that maniacal! Take it down a notch!

Jeez, not that maniacal! Take it down a notch!

In fact, a large portion of Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, is wholly focused on introducing new plot points without fully resolving any of the questions raised in Part One! The best thing about fanfiction is that since you can’t sell the book, you’re under no pressure to make the book saleable and you can flaunt all the rules you want. (More maniacal laughter.)

Maniacal laughter overloading system! Abort! Abort!

Maniacal laughter overloading system! Abort! Abort!

So yeah, the gist of this post is to let you all know that Part One has nearly run its course, Part Two is ready to go, and I’m hard at work on Part Three. My hunch is that I’m almost halfway done, but my hunches aren’t exactly foolproof, so we’ll see. In the meantime, head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org to check out the penultimate chapter of Girl on the Edge of Nowhere, a portion of which has been reproduced for you here. Enjoy!

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

 

The week that followed was a bad one, but hardly the worst of her life and she got through it with only one lapse—one joint, just one, to help her sleep on Monday night. The rest of the time, she was able to work herself to a state of sufficient exhaustion by cleaning the house and taming the yard. Whenever boredom or nerves intruded, she occupied herself with small cosmetic repairs, but the cloud of futility darkened daily and by the time Tuesday morning saw her driving down the road to Gallifrey’s, she had convinced herself not even the ghost of Johnnie Cochran himself could save her aunt’s home.

There were two men waiting for her in the corner booth at the diner. The lawyer looked more or less as Ana had pictured him, enough that she doubted she needed the red tie he was indeed wearing to help her identify him; mid-fifties, well-groomed, soft around the midsection and hard around the eyes, despite his personable smile. The other was a young man, enthusiastic as a puppy, with somewhat unfortunate looks and no conception of an ‘indoor voice’. Before he could be properly introduced, he popped out of the booth to shake her hand, tripped over his shoes, and ended up on one knee gripping her hand in both of his clammy ones, so that the entire breakfasting crowd turned around to watch a marriage proposal.

“Whoa,” he said, too loudly. “That is one serious sunburn. You’re shedding like a snake. Also, nice ink! I always wanted to get a tattoo, but my mom would kill me. Your eyes are the bluest I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of creepy. Are the pancakes good here? I’m not a pancake guy, but I’m kind of feeling the pancakes.”

Ana looked at the lawyer. “Mr. Schumacher?”

“Heel, son,” the other man said and the puppy bounded up and folded himself back into the booth. “Lem Schumacher,” he said, extending his own hand for a lawyerly shake. “This is my associate, Mr. Madison. I am your attorney. He’s an expert witness on loan for the occasion. And you must be Ana Stark. Please, sit.”

She sat.

They talked for the better part of two hours, although very little of what they discussed had anything to do with the house. The lawyer kept saying that could wait until they saw it. Instead, he kept directing the conversation to the town itself, making notes when Ana could see nothing at all noteworthy about what she was saying, and asking questions that painted a picture of Mammon as a seething beehive of intolerance, sexism, and general assholery, all of it crowned with a halo.

“Look, I see where you’re going with this,” Ana said finally, “but I am not comfortable playing the religion card.”

“You don’t have to,” he replied, typing away on his notebook. “That’s my job. And I’m very good at it, Miss Stark.”

“Yeah, but I really, honestly, genuinely do not believe this has anything to do with where I spend my Sundays.”

“Why they’re harassing you is irrelevant,” he said, still typing. “It only matters what they can prove. And if I do my job correctly, which I will, what they’ll have to prove is that not being Mormon is not the reason they are harassing you.”

“Kind of hard to prove a negative, isn’t it?”

“It’s impossible. And that is why we’ll win. However, before we get too far ahead of ourselves on that end of things, I’d like Mr. Madison’s opinion of the house.”

“I looked for it on Google-Map,” the puppy interjected, looking up from the Eschler-esque sculpture he was constructing from the uneaten portion of his breakfast. “I thought everything was on Google-Map, but I can’t find a single street in this whole town on street-view. It’s weird. It’s like it doesn’t even exist.”

“We’re a small town.”

“No, I mean it’s weird,” the puppy stressed, leaning across the table (and his pancakes). “Did you know there’s a super-secret military installation just twelve miles from here?”

“Uh, did you know they pulled stakes and moved out, like, fifty years ago?” Ana countered. “Super-secret, nothing. Everyone knows about that.”

“Yeah, but nobody knows what they were doing, that’s my point. It was all top-secret shit. No one knows.”

“They were trying to build rockets and jet planes and stuff,” said Ana. “There’s a whole museum here in town full of their failures. They sell postcards of the stupider ones right in the lobby.”

“What?”

“Seriously, you should go. They’ve got a little theater with a film on permanent loop where they show crash after hilarious crash. I was in there for an hour and I wasn’t even stoned. Some of the things they were trying…I mean, yeah, I’m sure it didn’t help that the weather out here is fucking nuts, but mostly, they just didn’t know what the hell they were doing and the results are a triumph of human fuckery.”

“Are you sure?” the puppy asked, looking disappointed.

“You don’t believe me, you can go out to the old site anytime you want and poke around. Just about everyone around here does. No one’s going to jump out of a black, unmarked helicopter and shoot you. No one’s going to tranq you and take you to their underground laboratory and interrogate you in a cinderblock room filled with vats of genetically-engineered hybrid-alien supersoldiers. Nothing’s there but a lot of snakes and they’re just the usual kind, not the cyborg mutant ones that spit acid.”

“You can always tell the ones whose parents let them watch television unsupervised,” the lawyer remarked, folding his computer away with one hand while checking his phone with the other. “Are we ready to go?”

Serial Saturday Update

So here I am at my local diner, drinking coffee, eyeing the pie counter and living dangerously by uploading my newest chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything is All Right, Part One: Girl on the Edge of Nowhere over a public network. The beta-read of Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night has finished and I am hard at work writing Part Three: Children of Mammon. In order to put myself in the mood, I spent the morning watching documentaries on serial killers and child predators. Eesh. Then to cheer me up, my younger sister took me to see Florence Foster Jenkins.

Marvelous movie. I highly recommend it, but then, I’m biased. She’s always been a personal hero of mine, right up there with Batman.

Anyhoo, the new chapter is up and, as it is presently pouring buckets of rain and ripping up the heavens with lightning, I’d better get to the excerpt while I still have power. If you like what you see here, head on over to Fanfiction.net or Archiveofourown.org and check out the rest!

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

She sulked in the quiet room for a while, but now that she was awake and her head had somewhat cleared, the overwhelming stench and oppressive stuffiness soon drove her out. The dining room was no cooler, but it at least had a draft that kept the air circulating, which made it tolerable, if not comfortable. She reclaimed her bed of trash bags beneath the solitary table and watched the show, drinking her way steadily through her supply of warm water and wishing she had a burger, a joint, a beer or all three, preferably in an air-conditioned room somewhere far away from here. Between acts, Bonnie would come over and pace around the table where she had caved herself, but she ignored his stuttering invitations to come and play, and eventually he had to go back onstage.

The phone call came in the middle of his rendition of Everybunny Needs Somebunny, as he and Chica stuttered and limped their way through a song and dance act they had once performed as smoothly as Fred and Ginger. Ana answered without even looking to see who it was, her eyes never leaving Bonnie as he lifted Chica, twirled her around and dipped her over his arm. She had never seen anyone dance like that in real life. And she guessed she still hadn’t, this not being exactly as real as reality got, but it was still fascinating to watch. He was struggling, that much was clear, but his struggles only made it more obvious that it had once been easy.

Ana didn’t know how to dance, beyond a little club bump and grind, and that linedancing crap she’d had to learn to work at that soft-core strip club masquerading as a steakhouse. Fuck that job. It had more or less destroyed any youthful interest she’d ever had in the subject of rhythmic ass-shaking, and yet here she was, so absorbed in what was happening on that stage that she could almost feel her own feet moving through the steps.

These were her thoughts when the phone rang and they continued unabated when she took the call and thumbed it onto the speakers, expecting Rider because who else would it be?

“Hey,” she said, watching Chica clumsily twirl across the stage, guided by Bonnie’s hand on her waist. The flocking there had been worn away to bare plastic, polished to a shine by years of just this touch, that twirl. “What’s up?”

“May I speak to Anastasia Stark please?” said an unfamiliar voice. A man’s voice, the sort that put her in mind of ironed shirts and neckties that might be loosened, but never removed.

“You got her,” she said cautiously as Freddy, who had been watching her watch the show for the better part of a half-hour now, narrowed his eyes and came a little closer. “Who is this?”

“My name is Lem Schumacher. I’ve been retained on your behalf by our mutual friend, Robert Jakobson.”

Ana snorted through her bewilderment. It was always funny to hear Rider’s real name. “Robert,” she said. “So…wait, you’re the lawyer?”

“I am, for the present, your lawyer. Forgive me for taking so long to get back to you,” said the voice. “It’s been a day and a half, as they say. Now, I’ve been given the broad strokes of your situation, but if you don’t mind, I have a number of questions, Miss Stark. Is it Miss Stark? Or would you prefer Anastasia?”

“Ana is fine,” said Ana, squinting into space as if trying to bring the conversation into a tighter focus. “Um, what sort of questions?”

“Why don’t we start by having you tell me how you acquired the property? And please, Ana, remember that I am your lawyer and everything you say is confidential. If criminal acts need to be concealed, trust me to conceal them. I dare say I’m better at it than you are. So. Tell me everything.”

She did, making the long story as brief and emotionless as possible, too aware of Freddy listening in. Schumacher asked a number of questions, particularly about the fees she’d paid and the contact she’d had with representatives of the city since coming to Mammon. Her brief meeting with the sheriff somehow came out, as did the Title Company lady’s remark about her aunt fucking the devil and burning in hell with demonseed David.

“Excellent,” murmured Schumacher when she reached the rambling end of her tale. “I love it when people do my job for me. But before we get too carried away, a little perspective is in order. I’m told you have a considerable amount of experience in the business of renovating homes. In your professional opinion, and putting all sentiment aside, is the property in question habitable?”

“Yeah, actually, it is. It needs some work, and probably an exterminator, but most of the damage is all, like, cabinets and drywall. The supporting structure is in amazing condition, considering the size of the hoard that was in it. I mean, it’s ugly at the moment, I’m not going to lie, but anyone who knew what they were looking at could easily see it’s not about to fall down.”

“Good. Now. Ana. I am going to ask some very personal questions and it is absolutely imperative that you answer honestly and fully. Are you ready?”

“I guess.”

“Are you presently involved in any illegal activities?”

“I bribed some city officials.”

“Not what I was expecting to hear,” the lawyer commented after a slight pause. “To do what?”

“Give me a burn permit and garbage service,” she said with a shrug. “Not exactly living the thug life, but—”

“But it qualifies,” the lawyer agreed, sounding as if he might be smiling. “I doubt they’ll be terribly eager to incriminate themselves, but thank you for telling me. Anything else?”

“I have some medication I don’t have prescriptions for,” said Ana, eyeing Freddy. “And I smoke a lot of pot.”

Freddy grunted, neither impressed nor surprised.

“Are you growing it?”

“No.”

“Selling it?”

“No, but no one would ever believe that if they saw my stash,” Ana admitted. “I didn’t know how long I’d be here and I didn’t want the hassle of figuring out how to get more while I was here, so, you know, I packed heavy, but I swear it’s all mine.”

“Mm-hm. Would it all fit in a breadbox?”

“I’ve never actually seen a breadbox, but it all fits in a duffel bag.”

Freddy’s ears cocked. He looked over his shoulder at the East Hall, then narrowly back at her.

“Don’t judge me,” she said.

Serial Saturday Update

Here we go again, boils and ghouls! Time for another chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part One: Girl on the Edge of Nowhere! Only a few more chapters left…and then I kick off Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, which is about halfway through its beta read, by the way. My father, who has joined the ranks of my beta readers, still thinks that name is an homage to him (Mical F. Smith), although he is not yet decided whether that’s an honor or not.

Anyway, the new chapter is up, so if you’re reading along, head on over to Fanfiction.net or Archiveofourown.org and check it out! Here is a snippet to whet your reader appetites!

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

Ana’s headache woke her from a dreamless sleep, but into such perfect darkness that when she finally gained the capacity to think beyond a reptilian perception of pain, she thought she had gone blind. The thought, as abstractly alarming as it was, could not quite penetrate the headache, however. She could not panic, only accept the terrifying new circumstances of her existence and go back to sleep.

She was still blind when she woke again. It was a testament to her somewhat improved state of being that this disturbed her. She touched her eyelids to make sure they were open. They were. She also still had the headache. It swelled as she sat up and again as she turned her head left to right, seeking and failing to find even a trace of light in her surroundings.

Where was she? The air felt close around her, hot and damp and too heavy on her skin. There were layers of unwholesome smells: dried mildew, rotten sheetrock, the sick mineral stink of old blood—a smell any woman who had ever lost a pair of panties behind the hamper at the wrong time of the month knew well—but they combined in some indefinable way to form a soothing whole. Somewhere behind the headache, she knew where she was; she chose to trust that instinct and was not afraid.

Of further comfort to her was the familiar feel and musky smell of her sleeping bag. Not just a sleeping bag. Hers. She lay on it, but not in the bed of her truck where she’d last slept. The floor beneath her was just that—a floor. It had a carpet, not very thick, but padded somehow so that even the sound of her patting at it was muffled and difficult to hear. The walls were also padded, covered over in a canvas-like material, stiff and grungy, unpleasant to feel.

Holy shit, was she in a padded cell? Had she gone full-on crazypants down the streets of Mammon and been locked up in the nearest lunatic asylum? They still had those, right? Or, by the smell of it, had they opened one up again just for her?

But no…no, why would they lock her up with her own sleeping bag? Or, for that matter, her boots? She touched them to be sure, but already knew just by the feel of them on her feet that the laces were still tied. Ana herself had never been arrested, but plenty of other horses in Rider’s stables had and from them she knew if one went crazypants enough to warrant a padded cell, one did not go in it shoelaces intact. She was also wearing her belt, the buckle of which had a blade in the back. She could not possibly be locked up.

So where was she? And why did it feel so familiar?

Serial Saturday Update

I’m a little late updating my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part One: Girl on the Edge of Nowhere…by which I mean, I’m not as early as I usually am. In theory, I post new chapters on Saturdays, hence the blog title, Serial Saturday. In reality, I post new chapters on Friday nights so I won’t forget on Saturday. Today, I managed to forget even before Saturday rolled around, so…new high score, I guess. Yay, me?

I’ve got a great reason for forgetting, actually. I finished Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, and I was deep in my first round of edits, so that I could be ready for Monday when my beta-readers will all meet up and bash out the read-through. That way, I’ll be ready to go with the second part right as part one wraps up. No long wait between installments. Except for, you know, the long weekly waits between chapters.

Anyhoo, I did remember and I’m only an hour and a half late, so head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org if you’re reading along. Here is the traditional posting of the excerpt to whet your reader-juices! (hmmm, that sounded less gross in my head…)

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

Ana never did get the foyer and hall of her aunt’s house power washed, which was less a case of her coming to her senses and more about getting too high to operate machinery. In spite of what evidence suggested had been several attempts to get the power washer running, she had forgotten the essential role of the gas generator and had plugged the thing into the wall outlet instead. She could remember none of the frustrations this must have caused, but she guessed they had been fairly impressive because although she found the cord still plugged into the wall, the brand-spanking-new power washer was out in the front yard, where she appeared to have beaten it to death against a catalpa tree.

Ana probably could have fixed it, but not with the head she had on this morning, so she just gathered it, its cord, its box and packing materials, its operating instruction booklet and its fucking 30-day warranty, and threw it all into the dump trailer. Breakfast was Ritalin and Redline and then it was off to the Kellar job, where she worked herself to exhaustion, came home to a dinner of oxytocin and pot, and mopped the foyer—with plain old soap and water—before moving the grandfather clock back against the hidden door to the secret stair. Maybe in time, she’d be able to convince herself she’d never found it, but until then, she had work to do.

The days blurred together, pink and blue, sun and moon. She thought she put herself to bed each night in the truck, but woke every morning in the house—in the attic, in the bathtub, and once, terrifyingly, sweating beneath the purple comforter in the secret room below the clock. She would buy food, take a few bites and leave the rest in the most random places; she washed her clothes and either let them hang on the line until the wind blew them into the yard or folded them neatly and put them away in one of the house’s bedroom closets for her future self to find and be whipped into a paranoid panic by. She began to work later and later hours, preferring even Mason’s company and the muttering of his mother to that of her own ghost.

It couldn’t last.

One hot afternoon, having just completed the finicky process of staining the brand-new deck’s rails and posts, but before the job of staining the boards themselves had begun, Ana’s energy bar went from glowing green to flashing red between two beats of her suddenly laboring heart. She did not speak. She rose from her knees on the deck where she had been just starting her first brush strokes and, as her vision washed out to swirling white, staggered blindly to the stairs and fell into the grass.

She waited on her hands and knees for things to get better or worse while Mason and his boys sat in the shade at one end of the yard and watched her.

Several units of time passed, but whether they were seconds or minutes or even hours were impossible to know. The sun was blinding, hateful. The sky was blue, not warm and summery, but pale, as if the unseasonable heat had sapped all the color and life out of it. The ground on which Ana sat had baked hard and cracked wide open beneath the grass Mrs. Kellar had somehow coaxed to grow. Even the shade in which Mason’s many, many boys sat looked thin and painted on.

Ana threw up. She hadn’t eaten in a while, maybe not for days, so it was nothing but coffee and a few white dots that were undigested Ritalin and caffeine pills. With shaking arms, she scratched up some loose soil from the flowerbed and buried it, then crawled a short distance away and sat, leaning up against the side of the house. She shivered now and then, hot and cold and sweaty and possibly dying.

She waited.

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!