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.
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.
“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.
“That’s the worst pirate joke I’ve ever heard.”
“Ye ain’t-t-t heard many then, have ye?”