It’s going to be an early night for me tonight…or a super-late one, considering that I’m having one of my insomnia spells and have not slept in *checks clock* 39 hours and 13 minutes, give or take a few minutes. Before that, I had four glorious hours of sleep, and before that, another 22 hours of staggering through life like a ghost possessing my own corpse…or a ghost possessing an animatronic endoskeleton wedged into a human body wedged into a mascot suit.
So once again, I’m too tired to be witty or insightful. I’ll have to settle for announcing that the newest chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Three: Children of Mammon, is up at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org for those who are interested. For those who aren’t…well, are you sure I can’t tempt you with a tasty snippet? It’s got ratcake!
Ana wasn’t out long, to judge by the size of the sweat patch she pressed into the ratcake as she lay on it. She wasn’t even sure she went all the way under. She never lost full awareness of her surroundings (that almost would have been a blessing), she just gained new ones. She heard sounds as she lay fighting her way out of the void—tapping, rustling, the whine of Bonnie’s servos as he played his broken guitar, the soft lilt of Aunt Easter’s voice whispering as she used to do when Ana was having nightmares and needed soothing back to sleep—one flowing into another, washing in and fading slowly out again. She felt touches—spiders and rats and the Puppet’s claws and Bonnie’s kisses—all together, all at once. And then:
“Wake up, Honeybunny.”
Little Ana rolled over, scratching at the fuzzy blanket she lay on, but unable somehow to pull it up over her head, although she tried. She mumbled a question, unformed even in her own mind, one that was equal parts Where and Why and What, but not Who. Only one person had ever called her Honeybunny.
“You can’t stay here,” said Aunt Easter and that was true. She’d promised, though, or someone had. For now, Aunt Easter’s wonderful castle on the mountain was just for weekends and summers, but someday, they’d be a family and it would be forever.
“When?” Ana muttered.
“You’re almost there,” said Aunt Easter or maybe it she said, “We’re almost there,” and she wasn’t in bed at all, waking up to have to go home at the end of a visit, but in the car and riding up the mountain for the start of one, and soon she’d see the light through the trees and then she and David would be running up the path together to the porch.
“No, no,” said Aunt Easter, her soft voice gently lifting Ana as she sank once more into dreams. “You have to wake up. Follow me, Honeybunny. Don’t be afraid.”
“I’m not afraid,” Ana said, half in dreams, but waking up fast. Already she was awake enough to understand that not being afraid was exactly what got her into this situation and nothing to be proud of.
Her aunt did not reply. She was never there.
Ana dragged her eyes open as soon as she could manage it, but of course, she was alone. Except for the rats and they didn’t count anymore. The dead ones didn’t, anyway. There was at least one live one somewhere; she could hear it somewhere in the duct, little sounds like dry leaves tumbling across a windowpane, but as long as it was moving away and not toward her, she wasn’t going to panic.
On Ana’s first attempt to push herself off the less-than-lovely bed on which she had nodded off, her hand snagged on the thing she’d thought was an arm, dragging it closer to her. Of course, it was not an arm, she could see that now, just a regular old rat’s nest decked out with the sorts of knickknacks rats bring home. What she had mistaken for knuckle-bones were just more rat bones, maybe mixed with bird or bat. The cavity of the nest was packed with feathers and shreds of stained cloth, wads of plushie stuffing, chewed-up posters and dry leaves, with rat shit mixed heavily throughout, like the scent-pearls in a bag of slightly more disgusting than normal organic potpourri.
Filling out the rest of the cavity were other rat-treasures, packed without rhyme or reason wherever they would fit, like a scaled-down version of Aunt Easter’s hoard. Small stuff, for the most part. Tiny Fazbear Band figures and plushie eyes, loose wires and plastic feathers Chica had broken off, gold and silver doubloons with Foxy’s face on them, arcade tokens stamped with Freddy’s top hat, tatters of cloth and shiny scraps of party hats. But there were larger items as well. An empty beer can. A pair of sunglasses. A stained sneaker that had done double-duty as a rat nursery to an ill-fated brood of ratlings.
All of this Ana took in at an instant without really thinking about, but one thing did make her stop and really give the contents of the rat’s nest a closer look. Her mind first tried to tell her it was a giant fortune cookie, then a toy pyramid that had broken open halfway, before she understood she was looking at Chica’s beak.
Her credulity wavered, unable to visualize a rat wanting Chica’s beak, much less carrying it away, but regardless of her imagination, the beak was here in front of her. When she picked it out of the nest and brushed off the clinging shreds of tat and crap, it was solid in her hand. A little scratched up, but all in one piece. She could have it back on Chica’s face in no time, as soon as she was out of here.
If she ever got out of here, she reminded herself, but that thought was a long time coming. All her thoughts were starting to stretch out a bit and fray around the edges. It was too hot and the air was so dead and still. She began to wonder if she had actually woken up from her faint at all, or if this was just some dream. Even more dreamlike and unreal, she could still hear the rat, its tiny claws scratching up the walls far back in the maze as if it wanted her to hear it…