Well, the weekend is upon us again, and for the first time since Christmas-ish, I feel almost human. I’ve mostly shaken off the cold. Although there’s a bit of a cough and a stuffy nose stubbornly lingering, I can breathe, so that’s fine. I’m still sleeping 12 hours out of the day, which is baffling and annoying. Hopefully that’s just part of the recovery process and I’ll get over it too, because I have got to finish this book and get on to the next one. It’s been years since I’ve had to worry about deadlines. I’m kind of feeling the panic a little, I have to admit.
Anyhoo, it is Saturday (or will be in half an hour), so my newest chapter of my FNAFiction is uploaded on fanfiction.net and again over at archiveofourown.org for those who are reading along. And hey, special chapter this week! Only seventeen chapters in, the titular character of Mike Schmidt is introduced! Which means next week, my head-canon starts exploding all over Scott Cawthon’s and I brace myself for the, “But that’s not what happened!” blowback from the fans. Or maybe not, who knows. I’ve had a really good reception so far.
As usual, I have an excerpt here for those of you who might still be on the fence when it comes to starting this series. Enjoy!
The second phone call—the world-ending one—came that evening, as Ana was hard at work in the gym. She never heard it ring. She had her earbuds in and her music player on in an effort to occupy her mind with something other than the intense pain and exhaustion presently wracking her body. Later, looking for omens, she would recall that the last song she heard before the phone call that ruined everything was Imagine Dragons’s Monster. If it was true there were no coincidences, that was surely Fate, with a capital F.
In any case, she had the volume up full-blast, so she didn’t hear her phone ring. She might not have heard it even in dead silence. After ten solid hours spent pulling the walls down and the floor up, scraping the grease off the ceiling and cutting away the collapsing tiles where it was safest to do so, covering the windows in a colossal curtain of black plastic, removing all fixtures, installing new outlets, and now finally putting up new lights in anticipation of the not-too-distant day when she had the bear’s permission to rewire the building, she had reached that special stage of exhaustion when sounds registered, but were no longer being processed. Sensations still were, however, so when her left breast started buzzing, it only took a few seconds for her to realize what was happening.
She didn’t need much of an excuse to take a break by that point, but still her first instinct was not to stop. Her will to work had long ago been replaced by mere momentum and once her body was at rest, she was afraid it would take more than she had in her to get it started again. Still, she pulled her earbuds out, took the phone out of her bra and looked at the display. Unknown number, local area code, no name attached.
Thoughts of Mason blipped onto her radar and faded out again. Unlikely. After all this time, that particular hash had to be good and settled. Yet the fact remained, not a whole hell of a lot of people knew this number. Might be Villart again, calling from home, but it felt kind of late to be conducting business by phone.
What time was it anyway? Eight-thirty. Christ, so early. Felt like midnight already and she had three more lights to go if she was going to finish this room tonight. Which she guessed she didn’t have to do, strictly speaking, but if she didn’t, she’d only have to play catch-up tomorrow.
The phone rang again, right in her hand. Ana bared her teeth at it and answered with an irritated, “Hang on.” She heard some sort of reply—masculine voice, single syllable, not someone she recognized.
She climbed down from the ladder on legs that had suddenly decided to go rubbery, steadying herself with arms that weren’t much better, and said, “Okay, I’m here. Who is this?”
“Before I answer that, you mind if I ask who this is?”
“You called me, remember?”
“At least tell me, is this is the person who placed a Craigslist ad asking for animatronics repairmen in Mammon, Utah?”
“Yeah, I did. Forgot all about that,” she said with a short laugh. “So you just decided to call up at eight-thirty on a Friday night to offer your services? Come on with that horseshit. Who is this?”
“My name is Mike Schmidt and I really need to talk to you.”
“Yeah, yeah. Hang on. This better be good,” she said, heading out the gym door, through the plastic, and into the dining room. Bonnie, sitting on the empty stage with his guitar on his lap, looked over at once, ears up and hopeful, but before he could say anything, Ana showed him the phone and touched a finger to her lips. “I’m on the phone,” she told him, boosting herself onto her table and letting her legs dangle. Now her feet hurt, too. “Get me a drink?”
Bonnie nodded and set his guitar aside, standing.
“Excuse me?” said the phone.
“Nothing, talking to a friend. All right, I’m listening. What’s up?”
“I’m…look, that’s complicated and I don’t want to get into it over the phone. Can we meet? Tonight, if possible.”
“Meet? Like, in person?” She laughed. “You couldn’t just lead off with a dick pic like everyone else, you had to go straight for the hook-up.”
Halfway to the kitchen, Bonnie stopped and looked back.
Ana shook her head at him and firmly pointed at the doorway. “Nice try, creep, but not in a million years. I’m hanging up now.”
“If you do,” the man said calmly, “I think there’s a very good chance you’ll die.”
Funny. It didn’t sound like a threat.
“Why? Hang on.” Covering the phone’s mic, Ana made eye-contact with Bonnie and said, “You’re getting me a drink, remember?” As he finally ducked through the plastic and went to the kitchen, she put the phone back to her ear and said, “Who did you say you were? And what’s this got to do with my ad?”
“My name’s Mike Schmidt and I’ll answer all your questions, but not on the phone. You in Mammon tonight?”
“Fairly close,” Ana said vaguely. “But you haven’t told me anything worth meeting up for and unless you do—”
“You know the Gallifrey’s on Majestic Ave?”
“Yeah,” said Ana in her best I-ain’t-buying-it voice, all the while mulling over the merits of some fried jalapenos and a Betty-burger.
“I’ll wait there until ten. You don’t show up, I won’t bother you again. But I hope you do. And if you have any questions about Freddy Fazbear—”
“—you’ll be there,” the voice concluded without a pause.
“Wait, what? How do you—”
Dead space. He’d hung up on her.