Serial Saturday Update

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

Oh well. There’s always next year.

cryingchildfnaf

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

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

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

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

Everything Is Alright Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving (Have Some FNAF)

It’s Thanksgiving Day here at the old Smithstead, continuing a long family tradition of not having holidays on the same day as everyone else, because we all have enough stress in our lives. Props to my sister Cris who did all the cooking and cleaning and pretty much everything that made this day happen except waking up the friggin sun. Is it any surprise she’s won the Best Sister Ever Award three years running?

Best Sister Ever!

I do find it odd she refused the accompanying trophy…

I am once again unwell, so I’ve spent my day alternately lying in bed and wishing I was dead, or sitting at the dinner table wishing I was lying in bed and wishing I was dead, only while eating turkey. Ordinarily, I would also be working on my book, but I made an executive decision to take the day off instead, only to remember at the last minute that it’s Friday and time to upload a new chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night. Not quite halfway through…and I’m not done writing the third part, so…yeah, not a good idea to take a day off. This book is really getting away from me, for some reason, and I have next to nothing written of the fourth and fifth parts, so I’m starting to sweat the idea of a continuous upload schedule. I dunno. We’ll see.

But in the meantime, please head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org to check out the new chapter, which contains one of my personal favorite lines in the book (I know, I know, it’s cheap to give yourself self-praise, but what can I say? I likes what I likes).

Everything Is Alright Part 2

But as bad as the restrooms were, the gymnasium was worse. Upon first opening the door, it blew a rancid gust of hot, wet, rotting air at her so foul, she briefly thought she might pass out from the stench alone. She’d had no idea until that moment that could even happen. After daubing a little peppermint oil under her nose and donning her breather, she was back, but even through these defenses, the smell seeped in, coating the back of her throat with the swampy-sweet taste of Death.

She explored her new surroundings without moving from the door, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the gloom and her stomach to adjust to the smell. The south-facing wall from about a few feet off the floor to a few feet from the high ceiling was made of glass; before time and neglect had blackened the panels, enough sunlight and moisture had gotten in to sprout every grass seed that ever tracked itself in on some kid’s sneakers. A veritable jungle had sprung up, completely covering the floors and crawling up the wall wherever a crack presented a rooting place. On the north end, the jungle had grown clear up to the ceiling in a suspiciously straight-lined, symmetrical shape. But it had all long since died, leaving clumps of brown and black vegetation over every surface, shiny in the light of her lantern, still wet.

Everything was still wet. The windows were steamed and streaked with noisome condensation. The walls bubbled with fungus. Most of the playthings were no more than ominous bumps and bulges in the weeds, but certain objects were big enough that they could not be hidden, even by the jungle’s best efforts. A small carousel, its canopy rusted out to orange lace, with seats shaped like Amelia Owlheart’s adventuring aeroplanes. A climbing maze of plastic ice caves infested with plastic yetis lead to a wavy slide that once might have deposited kids on a trampoline, but now emptied through a rotted ring into a mass of black grass and sludge. A scaled-down model of Freddyland’s Monkey Kingdom, in the form of a great stepped pyramid, ruined first by design and again by time. And overseeing all this from the middle of the room was, of course, another New Face of Freddy’s, overgrown by slimy, black weeds.

At her first step toward it, her boots squished down through a carpet of soggy, dead plant matter and pushed up a brown, bubbly ooze; the floor was thickly padded, she soon realized, to prevent broken kiddie bones should one of the restaurant’s young patrons fall off those monkey bars, and that padding had soaked up twelve years’ worth of stormwater and whatever had drowned in it. It would all have to come out, and if there was a floor beneath it and not just asphalt and earth, it would have to come out too. Gritting her teeth, Ana walked on, squishing and squelching her way to the imitation animatronic and pulling away great, greasy handfuls of dead grass so she could see its fake, stupid face.

It was a weasel or ferret or mongoose, something long-bodied and short-limbed, anyway, with no waist but with a slight suggestion of hips and breasts to indicate this was a girl. Meet Tumble, said the nearby sign. Folks call her a tomboy, but Tumble loves being a girl, she’s just a girl who loves running, climbing, getting dirty and playing sports! She and her twin brother, Rumble, make a great team, but she wants to play with you!

Ana read the last line twice, then raised her eyes to meet Tumble’s, leering at her through a veil of slick, dead weeds. One of the weasel’s paws was extended, but with so much paint eroded, it was difficult to tell whether it was palm-up or palm-down…ready to clasp in welcome, in other words, or to clutch and catch.

The longer she looked at Tumble, the stronger the smell seemed to get, but as much as she disliked the New Faces of Freddy’s, Ana knew the leering weasel was not the source. It was close, though. Very close.

Ana turned and studied the pyramid behind her. Real creepers seamlessly inter-braided with the plastic ones stamped into its mold. Monkeys with shaggy dead-grass pelts cavorted along the sides, their grinning mouths stained black and green, shining as if with fresh drool.  It was open on top, except for a complicated network of rusted monkey bars and rotted ropes, but the rest of it was all closed in and had proven remarkably watertight. The bubble-shaped windows through which many a child had once playfully peeked were now covered in algae scales or entirely submerged in dark reeking water.

Ana looked up, and of all the many stained cracks and holes in the ceiling, the largest was exactly over the Monkey Kingdom. Shreds of insulation wrapped with weeds hung down in clots with ropes of slime dangling even lower, swaying very slightly in the draft that had followed Ana through the open door.

The color of that slime, yellowish-brown, was both familiar and significant.

 

Serial Saturday Update

It’s Friday night! You all know what that means! Yup, it means I’m home alone, wearing my new knitted T-rex hat with no pants on, wrapped in a blanket and covered in kittens, watching Good Eats on the Food Network and updating my FNAFiction.

Wow. I need to reflect on my life choices.

In my defense, this is an awesome hat.

In my defense, this is an awesome hat.

While I’m doing that, why don’t you head on over to archiveofourown.org or fanfiction.net and check out the new chapter of Everything Is All Right, Part Three: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night? There’s thrills! there’s chills! Well, okay, maybe not, but there is a pretty steamy make-out session between our heroine, Ana, and a giant purple robot bunny.

…yeah…my life definitely took a weird turn somewhere along the line.

Everything Is Alright Part 2

They were coming up to the party room now, so much as she would have liked to continue, Ana said, “Hold that thought, because I am not done telling you how wrong you are,” and pushed open the door.

“What are you d-d-doing?” Bonnie asked, sounding almost alarmed.

“Just hang on a sec,” she said distractedly, peering into the dark. It looked exactly the way she remembered, except for a little more water-staining on the wall it shared with the dining room. The smell of mildew was strong, but nowhere near as bad as it was elsewhere in the restaurant. As bedrooms went, this was prime real estate.

While Ana investigated from the doorway, Bonnie limped over to the junction and peered around the corner like a cartoon spy, then looked back and hissed through his speakers, “You c-c-can’t go in there!”

“Pretty sure I can,” she said and proved it, picking her way across the room in the dark until she bumped a table. She fidgeted with the strap of her day pack, then went ahead and set it down, already mentally appropriating the wardrobe for her clothes and planning where to lay out her bed.

Behind her, the door creaked open and Bonnie’s eyes threw her shadow huge on the stage wall. “Hey,” he said in his scratchy, artificial whisper. “We’re not-t-t sup-p-posed to be in here.”

She looked back at him. “Why not?”

He didn’t seem to know how to answer. “We’re just not. C-Come on, we need to g-g-get out of here.”

“What are you afraid of?”

His shoulders immediately straightened and his twitching ears went up. “I’m not afraid-d-d, I’m just-t-t…you know. There’s rules.”

She almost told him she was a pirate, but decided, given his weird, untold history with Foxy, that fell just on the other side of the mean line. Instead, she said, “I’ll risk it. Come on in if you’re coming in, Bon. You’re making me nervous just lurking in the doorway.”

He leaned back to check the hall again, but then came all the way inside. The door wheezed slowly, slowly, slowly shut. It might have bumped him when it finally closed; he twitched.

“You okay?” she asked, amused.

“Yeah, s-s-sure. I b-b-break rules all the t-t-time. I’m kind of a b-b-bad bunny.” He tried to shrug, or maybe just twitched again. His eyelight made the shadows in the room jump and whirl as he looked around, his gaze bouncing back and forth along the ceiling until it came to an oversized square vent. He set his load down next to her pack and stepped away from the table, eyes locked on that vent. “I j-j-just don’t know what-t-t we’re doing here—” The last word broke off short as he jerked and looked at her. His servos spun a little faster. One ear twitched. “Are we…uh…m-m-making out? B-B-B—BE SURE TO FLOSS—God d-d-damn it. Because! Because it’s f-f-fine if we’re not-t-t, I d-d-don’t want to assume or anything-ing-ing, it’s j-j-just awesome if we are.”

“This is what you think a bad bunny is?”

His eyelids took on an annoyed slant. “Hey, I’m p-pl-plenty dangerous, I’m just not a d-d-dick!” The expression held a moment, then wavered itself away. “Um…are we th-though? Making-ing out-t-t—OUTER LAYER OF THE MENINGES REMOVED—God damn it!”

She hadn’t been planning to and she sure didn’t have the time, but when he asked like that, stumbling over the words, ears broadcasting ten thousand tumbling thoughts while he tried to play it cool, the looming shadow of the Fourth of July faded into insignificance. It was just her and him, like it was meant to be, like it had always been. Fate, with a capital F.

She smiled. “Well, I’d like to, but apparently, you’re plastic and I guess that means…I’m not sure what that means, actually. You don’t want to?”

“No! I mean, yes! I mean-n-n, that’s not what-t-t I…damn it.” He ran his hand over the top of his head, scraping away bristles of what used to be plush fake fur, and heaved air out through his joints in a sigh. “Can I st-start over?” he asked without much hope.

“Sure.”

He blinked. “Really?”

“Yeah. It’s never too late to start over.”

His ears went down and up a few times. He took one dragging step, looked down and around at all the stuff on the floor, then up at the vent, then at her again. His left hand rose, twitched, rose again and hesitantly beckoned. “C-C-Come here.”

She went. His hands tapped and twitched their way around her waist, endearingly awkward until he was sure of their placement, when between one heartbeat and the next, his cautious grip closed into an unbreakable vise. He pulled her to him, right up against the cracked, bristly, stinking plane of his chest. It was warm there, over his heart; everywhere else, he was cold and clammy as a coffin.

“Not-t-t sure what to do,” he said. “S-S-Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. Do you know what you want to do?”

His cameras whined, changing focus. One hand flexed. “Yeah.”

“Do it,” she said, not without some amused trepidation, because depending on where his adaptive programming paths were branching off to at the moment, things might be about to get really, really weird.

Wednesday Writer’s Corner

Ignore that little voice in the back of your head telling you it’s Thursday. A writer, like a wizard, is never late. Nor is he early. He posts on his blog precisely when he intends to.

gandalf1

NERRRRRRRD!

Normally, this is where I’d give you all a damn good excuse, like a storm knocked out the internet or it was my night on zombie watch or something, but the truth is, I just didn’t do it. I didn’t even forget. I straight up didn’t do it. Bad me. No biscuit.

The fact is, one of my favorite cousins flew in to visit over the weekend and everything sort of came to a halt while we all group-hugged for three days. I feel I’m safe saying she’s among my favorites cousins. Most of my other cousins are devout Mormons and, as such, are unlikely to be reading this. You have to love your family; you do not have to follow their blogs. And thank God, really, because enough of them already suspect I’m going to hell without ever reading one of my books or the many, many inhuman sex scenes recorded therein. But I digress.

My cousin came to visit and at first, we all assured each other that that visit would not interfere with anyone’s writing schedule. “I can entertain myself,” she told us. “You just do what you got to do and I’ll play with these kittens.” And we all laughed and laughed because we knew NO ONE FLIES HALFWAY ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO WATCH NETFLIX IN A GUEST ROOM WHILE YOUR COUSINS TYPE ON THEIR COMPUTERS IN ANOTHER ROOM. DUH.

So yeah. The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed the WIP widget in the sidebar over yonder hasn’t budged in a few days and that would be the reason. It’s not an excuse. I made a conscious decision to spend time with my family instead of fulfilling my NaNoWriMo quota and I stand by that decision. However! My cousin went home Tuesday and yesterday was Wednesday and I neither wrote nor blogged, and that was also a conscious decision. Honestly, it would be wrong even to apologize, since I’m not sorry. Bad me.

The punishment is especially harsh because I love biscuits.

The punishment is especially harsh because I love biscuits.

I’ve written before about the writer’s work ethic. I like to think I’m not a hypocrite, but the facts speak for themselves at times like these. However, I’m not going to talk about that again today, except to say I fell off the horse, but I’m back on it now and riding at full gallop. Look for that WIP widget to start moving again later tonight.

Before it turned into a confession crossed with a lecture on accountability, this post was going to be about characters–about OCs in fanfiction in general and my EIAR characters in particular–but as I say, I did not prepare, so that will have to wait until next Wednesday’s post, when I’ll hopefully be more on the ball. In the meantime, I hope all my fellow NaNoWriMo Writers are doing well and getting those words out. We’re over the middle-mark now, folks!

Serial Saturday Update

Saturday again, or will be in a few hours. Time to update my FNAFiction (also my NaNoWriMo project!), Everything Is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night. So if you’re reading along, skip on over to Fanfiction.net or Archiveofourown.org and gorge yourself on the new chapter. As usual, here is a small sample! And if I sound a little bit like I’m phoning it in tonight, that’s because I still kind of feel sick, I’ve got a very close cousin whom I rarely see flying in for a visit tomorrow, AND I’ve got four kittens trying to help me write this post. So yeah, not one of my best. Still, I got it up on time and that’s the important thing.

Everything Is Alright Part 2

Ana wasn’t sure just what she expected their reactions to be following this declaration, but it wasn’t silence. All four animatronics stared at her, not blankly, not as if their programming did not allow them to comprehend her words, but as if they absolutely did and were sharing a moment of stunned disbelief.

“YOU CAN’T,” said Freddy at last, prompting Chica to enthusiastically reply, “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING WITH HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS!”

“A little short on friends at the moment,” Ana admitted with a careless shrug. “But that’s okay. I can do this by myself. The fates have aligned, providing me an extended run of good weather, a three-day weekend at a critical juncture, and access to a commercial upcycled lumber yard. I’ve got the tools already and I’ve put up a metric shit-ton of buildings before, including roofs, and as much as anyone can guarantee anything in this fucked-up world we live in, I can guarantee you, I got this.”

“YOU CAN’T,” Freddy said again, still with that grim plastic frown.

“Sure, I can. Hey, you do me a solid, I do one for you. That’s how it works. And you did me a real solid that one time. In fact, I think it’s safe to say you probably saved my life.”

Freddy grunted. It was neither denial nor agreement, but more a sound of impatience, as if her life and the saving or losing of it were entirely irrelevant to the matter at hand. “YOU. DON’T. UNDERSTAND,” he said. “YOU CAN’T. BECAUSE. I. WON’T. LET. YOU.”

Ana let out a breath that was half a laugh and half a sigh. “God, I knew you were going to do this, I just knew it. Seriously, Freddy? You won’t let me fix the roof?”

“NO.”

“Why not?”

He clicked to himself for a while, but when he spoke, all he said was, “BECAUSE. I. SAID. SO.”

Ana’s brows raised. “Holy shit, is that the wrong answer.”

“I’M FREDDY FAZBEAR. I’M THE LEADER OF THE BAND.”

“Yeah, you are. You’re Freddy Fazbear.” She leaned forward a little, putting special emphasis on her next words with a direct stare. “You’re the animatronic. And I’m the human. Want to guess what that means?”

Freddy’s hands clenched on his biceps. “I’M. THE. ANIMATRONIC,” he growled. “YOU. ARE. THE. TRESPASSER. WANT. TO. GUESS. WHAT. THAT. MEANS.”

“Oh for…really? We’re back to this shit?” Ana threw her hands up and slapped them down on her thighs again. “Check your memory banks, big bear. You’re the one who said I could come over whenever and stay as long as I want.”

“THIS. ISN’T. WHAT. I. MEANT,” said Freddy, sweeping one arm back at the equipment filling the far end of the kitchen. “YOU. CAN’T. DO. THIS. YOU. CAN’T.”

“I know what you’re thinking,” she said quickly. “You think I’m high or something and I’ll tear half the building down and then sober up and realize I’m in over my head and leave you with the mess.”

Freddy blinked at her, uttered a short bearish laugh, and said, “NO. I. WASN’T. THINKING. THAT. UNTIL. NOW.”

“Then what’s the problem? Look around! You can’t just ignore this and hope it goes away! You have to fix this! Now! Before it’s too late! Chica, back me up on this.”

“I CAN HELP,” Chica said obediently, waddling closer to Ana in the narrow kitchen aisle. “LET’S ALL WORK TOGETHER. I LIKE TO HELP MY FRIENDS. I CAN BAKE THE CUPCAKES!”

Freddy held up one hand before she could get too carried away with her act, still glaring at Ana. “YOU. CAN. VISIT. BUT. YOU MAY BE ASKED TO LEAVE. IF.” He clicked a few times, his gaze drifting over her left shoulder for several seconds before coming back to her with an air of frustration. “YOU. DAMAGE. RESTAURANT. PROPERTY.”

“If I damage it? Hey, look around, big bear. The damage is already here. I’m talking about fixing it.”

“NO.”

“Freddy—”

“I. SAID. NO.”

She looked at him and for a moment, it was almost like he was looking back, like he was a person and not a giant toy programmed to respond to keywords and situations. In that moment, he was real—still broken, still filthy, still doomed, but real—and maybe it was time he got a reality check of his own.

“That roof is coming down in the next hard rain,” she told him quietly, no longer smiling. “And the next hard rain is coming.”

Wednesday Writer’s Corner

So here we are, a week into November! Okay, yeah, more than a week. Nine days. Don’t be pedantic. I hope all my fellow NaNoWriMo participants are having fun. A strong work ethic and a stack of unpaid bills to incentivize one is great and all, but it’s been my own experience that nothing keeps momentum going on a project like a fresh sense of fun.

My own NaNoWriMo project is chugging right along, as we can all see by my daily-updated WIP bar, up there at the top of the right-hand sidebar. I’m still having fun with it, although it can be a struggle to resist the urge to edit and refine. The point of NaNoWriMo is to smash through obstacles like “I’m waiting for inspiration” and “I can’t think of exactly how to say this” and just put the words down on paper. Or on your computer screen, or whatever. Man, you are picking nits today!

Anyhoo, as part of my promise to blog more, I wanted to make sure I got an extra post in each week during NaNoWriMo and this week, I figured I’d talk about fear.

My NaNoWriMo project, as most of you probably already know, is the third installment of my Five Nights At Freddy’s fanfiction. FNAF is a horror game with a strong fanbase that is apparently toxic, or at least, that’s what the incredibly toxic bunch of people who hate FNAF say. And me? I’m the worst of all FNAF fans: I write fanfiction, and worse still, I write the kind of fanfiction with bad words, original characters and (eventually) sex.

Everything Is Alright Part 1 (1)

Sorry-not-sorry, ya’ll.

Now, people who hate FNAF have a lot of reasons and they will happily tell you what they are. Do they need reasons? No. I don’t like a lot of games, and I don’t feel a strong urge to defend my personal preferences to others. Opinions are subjective. I do not like FPS of any kind, GTA or Mario Maker, but I am content to live in a world in which these games and their fans exist. So people don’t need to fill the comment section with all the reasons why FNAF sucks. I’ve heard them. And while I don’t agree (obviously, since I write the aforementioned fanfiction), I would like to address one of the more common complaints, which is that FNAF is nothing but a bunch of jumpscares and jumpscares aren’t scary.

Of course jumpscares are scary. It’s right there in the name, isn’t it? They don’t call it jumpsnore, they call it a jump-scare. Because it scares people. Is it the most sophisticated form of horror? No. It’s cheap and easy and overused by people who don’t know how to get a fear response any other way, but I maintain it’s overused because it works. It’s about as close as you can get to a guarantee of a response, in fact, because all us humans are hardwired down in our DNA to startle when something jumps out at us. And it’s actually worse when you know it’s coming, because now you’re watching for it, listening for the sound to go quiet right before that blatt of noise. Get it over with, you think, not realizing that your hyper-vigilance is only filling your brain with ALL the cues you might otherwise be missing if you weren’t so determined to not be taken by surprise.

The startle reflex is an instinctive response that sidesteps logic and goes directly to the don’t-eat-me part of the brainstem. As the scare is repeated (say, about the third night of FNAF), it loses its effectiveness. Eventually, they become tedious and even if there’s enough of a break that one of them does ‘get’ you, you’re more annoyed than startled.

This, in a nutshell, is why so many people disliked FNAF and games like it, and it’s a perfectly valid reason. As far as the argument “any game that’s just a jumpscare-fest is not scary” goes, I agree. I just don’t see FNAF as a jumpscare-fest. Jumpscares are a big part of the game’s design, but it’s the story, and the shadow behind the story, that made me a fan.

Before I go on, I feel like I need to say that I am not a film student specializing in the suspense genre, nor am I a neuropsychiatrist (if that’s even a thing) who specializes in anxiety disorders. My sole qualification for writing this post is that I watch a lot of horror movies. Like, so many. Like, it would almost be a shorter list to name all the horror movies I haven’t seen. I will watch any horror movie, good or bad, homegrown or foreign, big budget or indie, or any combination thereof. Stalkers, slashers, monsters, disasters, invasions, swarms, outbreaks, splatter, paranormal, body horror, torture porn, “bad death” scenarios, possessions, survival, nature attacks–you name it, I’ve seen it. If given the chance, I am happy to hold forth for hours and hours on what I think makes a good or bad movie, although my opinions rarely jibe with those of the greater public. Some movies that I loved were likewise loved by critics (Cabin in the Woods, The Babadook, Suspira, The Thing); some movies that I love are schlocky as hell or otherwise panned by critics (Wishmaster, Deep Rising, Jeepers Creepers, Paranormal Activity, Tusk); and some movies that critics praised, I hated (It Follows, The Conjuring/Annabelle…pretty much anything that comes from the so-called ‘case files’ of those two outrageous fucking frauds). And when it comes to the age old original vs. reboot argument, I hate to admit it, but the ‘beloved’ originals are often objectively awful. Nowhere is this more apparent, in my opinion, than with The House on Haunted Hill. The original is boring, baffling and bloodless; the remake has a decent premise, great chemistry between the actors, and a knockout performance by Geoffrey Rush as Steven Price. Same goes for the “foreign versions are inherently better than big budget Hollywood remakes” thing. I loved Ringu and Ju-on; I loved The Ring and The Grudge, too. I did not care for Let The Right One In; I loved Let Me In. A Tale of Two Sisters? SOOOOO much better than The Uninvited. The Wicker Man…both versions dumb as hell. Although I don’t think it was Nicholas Cage’s fault the American version stank. He did a good job with the part he was given, he’s just a victim of his own reputation for the crazy.

Not saying he didn't work hard building that reputation, just that he's not responsible for every bomb he's ever been in.

Not saying he didn’t work hard building that reputation, just that he’s not responsible for every bomb he’s ever been in.

All of this I say so that when I say I think something is creepy, it means I genuinely think it’s creepy, and I think FNAF is creepy. Jumpscares aside, it has a lot of really solid horror elements: isolation, darkness, derelict surroundings, antagonists that can neither be fought nor reasoned with, dwindling resources, a time limit, and repetition, of course, knowing what’s coming and having to do it again and again and again. All these things, yes, plus an ambiguous backstory that includes the abduction and murder of children, but that’s still not the creepiest element of FNAF.

No, for my money, the worst and most horrific part about FNAF is the nature of the animatronics themselves. Because whether you lean toward the idea that these are machines built by a sadistic child-predator as AI accomplices in his murders or that they are possessed by the spirits of dead children who are no longer able to differentiate between their killer and any old hapless bastard who takes the job of night guard, the fact remains that these animatronics are aware of you and capable of independent thought and action. They are living minds bound to artificial bodies. When the pizzeria was open, they were forced to sing and dance for screaming little kids all day. And as if that wasn’t awful enough, when they broke down, they were ripped apart and put back together again, sometimes with parts stripped out of other animatronics. Ultimately, they were abandoned and left to rot while the building in which they were trapped fell apart around them. That’s some scary shit right there. It is impossible for me to play this game without imagining how that must be for them, and yet, it’s just as impossible to fully embrace them as victims because they will kill you just as dead as disco at your first lapse in concentration. And that’s scary to me, too. The game forces you into a position where you, the player, are pitted against other victims. You are, in a very real sense, the bad guy.

A very, very real sense, if some game theories are to be believed.

A very, very real sense, if some game theories are to be believed.

When it comes down to it, I guess that’s why I started writing Everything Is All Right. I mean, yeah, sure, I wanted to figure out the timeline and piece together the story and all those other nerdy fan reasons, but I also felt, profoundly, that even the ‘good’ ending of FNAF 3 lacked real closure for the real victims. I wanted a story, sure I did. But more than that, I wanted a happy ending for the game that had gotten deeper under my skin than any game I’d played in years.

How deep? Well, I play a lot of horror games, but very few have really scared me. Fatal Frame 1 and 2, Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, F.E.A.R., P.T., Dead Space, and yes, damn it, Five Nights At Freddy’s, jumpscares and all.

Serial Saturday Update

Welp, it’s Saturday and I’m sick again. That didn’t take long, did it? So it’s a good thing I got such a strong start on my NaNoWriMo goal, because today, I only managed about 300 words. Ugh. Four days in is way too early to start the slacking, but I spent a good six hours in front of this computer and those 300 lousy words felt like a damn marathon.

Also, kitten update! We are beginning the process of weaning, so with luck, no more milk-feedings once our present supply runs out. The two biggest are enthusiastic about this new thing called “food,” while the two smaller kittens are still suspicious, but all four are eating out of a dish now, so we can stop with the hand-feedings. The vet has given them her official stamp of approval, so we contacted our local rescue organization about adoption. They are going to put the kittens on their website, but have asked us to continue fostering them, as they are short on room onsite. This is fine with us, although I think all of us are quietly picturing still “fostering” them a year from now. And let me remind you all, our three one-cat households combined to become one three-cat household already. Throwing four kittens into the midst of them has not been fun for anyone except the kittens, who are too little to know what the feline stare of death looks like.

It looks like this, in case you were curious.

It looks like this, in case you were curious.

Anyhoo, it’s Saturday, which means it’s time for the next chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, so if you’ve been waiting all week with bated breath, bate no more!…okay, that sounded wrong, but head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org to check out the new chapter. Have I got an excerpt, you ask? Why, yes!

Everything Is Alright Part 2

The day passed in a roar of engines and exhaust and sweat and swearing—a good day. At five, some of the men went home to wives and suppers, while the rest, Ana included, tromped across the lot to Gallifrey’s and commandeered a table for rowdy talk and working-man meals. If Ana found herself the butt of more than her statistical fair share of the coarse humor, she took it without flinching and gave it back as good, and it was a fine time with actual human people. She’d kind of missed that.

But one by one, the men broke away and eventually, the last one left and it was just her and Big Paulie. Before she could flag Lucy Gallifrey down for a to-go box and excuse herself, Paulie said, “You done all right out there, kid.”

“Thanks,” said Ana, still trying to catch Lucy’s eye without actually standing up on the table and waving both arms.

“Don’t mistake me now. I know who you are and I won’t forget it just because you can drive a backhoe and do half a day’s work.”

“That’s all anyone can ask, I guess.”

“And I won’t be working with you tomorrow. I took you today as a courtesy, because I wouldn’t turn you out in front of the whole crew, but now you know my feelings on it and if you show up on my site again, I won’t hesitate.”

“Okay,” she said mildly.

He seemed to take her refusal to protest as a personal attack, scowling as he said, “I told Shelly he was a fool for taking you on and twice a fool for keeping you.”

“Any particular reason?” Ana asked, waving harder to absolutely no effect.

He cocked his head. “You say that like I got none.”

“Have I given you one?” she asked, genuinely curious.

He leaned across the table, jaw tight and eyes hard. “Joe Stark was my boy’s best friend, growing up. Little Paulie ate over at his house a hundred times, he ate at mine. They fell away some after he met Mellie, but we stayed close enough to nod at over the years. It’s hard to see any man come apart like that, and him, practically a son of mine. The way he ended up…you heard about that?”

Ana gave up on Lucy and pushed her plate to the edge of the table. “I heard he took a dive into the canyon a while back, but what exactly do you expect me to feel about it? I never even met him.”

He shook his head and had a long swallow of lemonade. “I don’t expect you to feel anything. The women of your line have always been hard-hearted.”

“The women, huh?” Ana snorted. “My mom was no prize and nobody knows that better than me, but at least she was there. My father drop-kicked me to the curb before I was out of the fucking womb. Sorry if he was a friend of yours, but in my book, that makes him the asshole.”

He studied her with something that was almost sympathy. “That’s how you see it, huh? Oh, the things I could tell you.”

Ana shrugged defiantly. “Go right ahead. I can almost guarantee I’ve heard it all before.”

“Your mother was a man-eater,” he said, not angrily, but as a matter of fact. “Her and Marion both, I’m sorry to say, nothing a pair of she-leeches with their mouths between their legs.”

“My, what a vivid image.”

“It’s the truth,” he said. “Bad blood will always show through, and Jesselyn Blaylock was rubbing up on boys before she was out of bobby socks. I’d have been ashamed to call her daughter and her kids should have been ashamed to call her mother, not that she stuck around long enough to hear it. No, she lit out and left the last of her brood when they were still in diapers. Lord alone knows where she ended up, but she’s dining with the Devil now, I’m sure.” Big Paulie paused to run an eye over Ana. “You’ve done that a time or two yourself, I should think.”

“A time or two,” said Ana, sitting at the table with him.