Happy belated Fourth of July, my fellow Americans! (To my non-American followers, happy random day!) As my feelings closely resemble Ana’s on the subject of celebrations, we spent the holiday mostly inside, watching the traditional movies about the fight for freedom–
–and adjourning to the porch after dark, to watch our neighbor set off a truly spectacular display of fireworks, all the sparkly kind and none of the screamers or exploders. Where we live, this holiday falls square in the middle of firefly season, so half the fun of the show was watching the firework go off, followed the other half of the fun: watching thousands of fireflies flash their butts in a desperate effort to flirt with a low explosive pyrotechnic reaction.
Naturally, it is also smack in the middle of the mosquito season, but I remembered to spray myself down liberally with toxic, toxic chemicals before venturing into the wilderness (my porch). Well…everywhere except my shoes. It’s not like mosquitoes are, like, super-super small or anything and can slip through the breathable mesh to sup upon my tasty, tasty feet or anything, right?
By the way, let me just take a moment to say that of all the places you can get bit by a mosquito, the sole of the foot is officially the worst. Sure, there are probably more delicate, dangerous or deviant places to scratch, but at least you CAN scratch them. You know what you feel if you scratch the sole of your foot, assuming your foot is as callused as mine because I hate wearing shoes? Nothing. Just the itch. Seriously, you can go at that bite with a steel farrier’s rasp and get no relief. I’m going out of my damn mind.
Anyhoo, another week is behind me and that means it’s time for a new chapter of my Five Nights At Freddy’s fanfiction, so if you’re reading along, head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org and check it out. It’s another relatively small one (3600 words), on account of the fact that it was originally over 10,000 words, which I did not notice until I was formatting it for upload. I really got out of the habit of paying attention to chapter size when I started self-publishing. So short chapter this week, big one next week, and I promise you, this thing with Ana and Freddy is coming to a head. But it’s going to get worse before it gets better…
The dream did not end as much as shift sideways and melt into reality. Erik Metzger’s deep purple became Bonnie’s lavender, the death-grip on her braid became a few stray hairs snagged between Bonnie’s knuckle-joints, and the light shining off glasses became Bonnie’s glowing eyes.
“Hey,” he said and it was Bonnie’s voice now, low in volume but scratchy with static. “It’s four o’clock—TIME TO ROCK! Goddammit. Sorry-ry-ry. You said four, right-t-t? You up?”
Ana rolled toward him and hugged his outstretched arm, burying her face in his soft, highly toxic fibracene fur.
“Oh, hey! HI THERE! You ok-k-kay?”
Was she? She honestly wasn’t sure. She felt like she had a hangover, only without the headache. Her head felt stuffed with wet, warm cotton; her stomach, the same. Coming down with something, most likely. Summer colds were the fucking worst.
“I’m fine,” Ana mumbled and tried to sound like she meant it. “Bad dream.”
“Yeah.” He stroked her hair, petting her with the hand she hadn’t trapped against her body. “Sure—IS A GREAT DAY FOR—didn’t sound like a good-d-d one.”
“I’m fine. I’m just…wait.” Ana lifted her head slightly and looked around. She saw her cardboard closet, the dark sheets that curtained her table, her day pack pillow and the dusky blue ripples of her air mattress. “Who put me to bed?”
“I don’t remember coming to bed,” she said, pulling away from Bonnie and moving the curtain to see the room beyond him for herself, as if there were any doubt at all she was in the dining room. “I was talking to Foxy. We were talking about…about…I don’t know. I didn’t mean to fall asleep on him, but I sure don’t remember leaving.” She looked at Bonnie, unsure what she was feeling, but just like waking up hungover, it was easier to be angry than confused. “Did you seriously come and get me? You don’t even trust me with him when I’m asleep?”
“No,” he said, ears folding back, only to snap up again as he shook his head. “I mean, yes! Of c-c-course I do! I mean, it wasn’t-t-t me!”
“Was it Freddy?”
Before Bonnie could answer, Freddy’s deep voice came growling out of the East Hall: “WAS. WHAT. ME.”
Ana quickly crawled out from under the table, gaining her feet just as Freddy swept the plastic sheets aside and limped in. He switched his eyes on as he walked, scanning the room and checking the gift shop and the lobby before turning his attention on her.
“WAS. WHAT. ME,” he asked again.
“Did you carry me in here last night?”
“YES.” He left the And? unsaid, but it was there anyway.
“What the hell, bear?”
His brows drew slightly together. “YOU. FELL. A. SLEEP. IN. PIRATE COVE. WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?” His gaze shifted to Bonnie with explain-this all over his plastic face. “WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?”
“I d-d-don’t know.”
“The problem is, I’m not some toy that got left out by mistake! You don’t carry me around and you don’t put me places!”
“RULE NUMBER TWO. DON’T YELL.”
“I’m not yelling!” Ana said, loudly.
“YOU. ARE. YELLING. AND. FOR. WHAT,” Freddy demanded, his eyelids tipping the few degrees that made all the difference between confused and annoyed. “I. PUT. YOU. TO. BED.”
“You put me away! No, you didn’t even do that! You wiped me under the table like a piece of chewed-up gum!”
Freddy spread his arms in a broad gesture of defiance. “YOU. FELL. A. SLEEP. IN. PIRATE COVE.”
“Get this through your thick head: You’re not my fucking babysitter!” Ana interrupted, marching forward to thump him on the chest. “You don’t set my bedtime and you don’t put me in my fucking room!”
Freddy backed up a step, his pupils irising fully open in a split second and slow to contract. “RULE NUMBER SIX. DON’T TOUCH FREDDY.”
“Then don’t touch me! You hear me, bear? You don’t pick me up, you don’t put me down, and if you find me being eaten alive by a goddamn python, you don’t fucking unwrap me! Don’t! Touch me! Got that?”
“OKAY,” said Freddy after a moment. It was not agreement. He turned around, talking now to Bonnie even though he looked at neither of them as he continued on his rounds. “I. HAVE. MORE. IMPORTANT. THINGS. TO. DO. YOU. DEAL. WITH. THIS.”
“Deal with my ass,” Ana muttered, yanking her day pack out from under the table.
“AND. GOOD MORNING. TO. YOU. TOO.” Freddy pushed through the plastic and out into the West Hall. As soon as the door shut, his footsteps could no longer be heard, but his voice came through the open ceiling. “NOT. AWAKE. FOR. FIVE. MINUTES. AND. SHE. ALREADY. NEEDS. A. NAP.”
“Fuck you,” Ana muttered.