It’s that time again! And here I am, still at my sister’s place. I nearly didn’t bring my laptop, either. Couldn’t think of any reason why I’d need it, since I had access to hers for writing, checking email and noodling around on games. And just between us, hers is a heck of a lot better than mine. But at the last minute, I decided that hot-seating her computer might strain the host-guest relationship, so I brought my laptop after all, which meant I inadvertently brought my story, which meant the latest chapter of my FNAFic series, Everything Is All Right, can go up on schedule and I still have not missed or been late even once since this project began!
If you knew me in person, that would seem a whole lot more impressive.
Anyway, I think my sister’s house has had a good effect on me. You know how it is. It’s not your fridge, it’s not your bed, it’s not your bathroom, plus there are kittens flopping in front of, next to and directly on top of you at all times, but there’s a comfortable blend of adventure and familiar to the general atmosphere. Good for agitating the little grey cells and all that. I’ve written two chapters here, which means I’m only 18 chapters behind and not 20.
Yes, I am still freaking out over that. But that’s my problem. All you, the reader, have to do is head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org and check out the new chapter! I left it on a bit of a cliffhanger last week, as you may recall, with Ana following Freddy into the dark, on her way to the basement, which, as we all used to know (and all children still do) is where the monsters live…
Out of the kitchen, down the hall, past the dogleg corridor that led to the locked manager’s office, Freddy led her through the building, and only when he opened the door to Pirate Cove did Ana get the first faint inkling of where he was taking her.
If Foxy was on stage, he said nothing. He must be used to hearing Freddy pass through. And that was fine. Once distracted, Freddy might ‘forget’ he’d ever agreed to take her to the basement and Ana wasn’t sure she had it in her to ask again. So she kept quiet, matching her footsteps to Freddy’s as she followed him into the Treasure Cave.
Ana had a decent sense of direction and as Foxy had observed earlier, there was only one way through the maze. She’d mapped the place out on her roombuilder before, and although she hadn’t exactly memorized the layout, she knew there were no secrets. Take away all these modular panels and it was just four long walls at right angles, no nooks, no crannies. Even the hidden Grotto wasn’t hidden all that well.
“HERE,” said Freddy, moving her ahead of him at a crossways and into a snaking corridor that narrowed at every bend until he was scraping the foam off the walls on both sides.
“This turns into a dead-end,” said Ana.
“I. KNOW. KEEP. GOING.”
“Go where?” she asked, her voice level but her heart beginning to pound. “It doesn’t go anywhere. It just quits.”
He put his hand on her shoulder and gently pushed. “KEEP. GOING.”
She walked, winding back and forth and around until the corridor ended. The fake rock surface had been flattened in a rough square and a suitably creepy skull shape carved into it to laugh at her failure to find her way through the painfully uncomplicated kiddie maze. Looking into its dusty eyes, Ana asked, “Now what?”
“MOVE. THE. WALL.”
“This isn’t a moveable panel,” said Ana, indicating the left-hand edge. “Look. There’s no lockplate. It doesn’t come off.”
“YES. IT. DOES.”
Dropping to one knee, she felt along the edges of the panel for the connecting clasp she could already see wasn’t there, then did it again, exploring every inch from the floor to the ceiling on both sides. Nothing. She pushed anyway, to no effect. The foam walls of the maze were all modular panels, but this one was flush up to the perimeter wall. It wouldn’t slide left or right, wouldn’t so much as wiggle.
“I don’t understand,” she said, keeping her eyes on her hands and pretending that itch between her shoulder-blades was just a trickle of sweat and not the anticipation of a huge fist crushing her spine in one punch. “It doesn’t move.”
Freddy reached over her shoulder and poked two fingers into the socket-eyes of the carved skull. Not far, not even up to the first knuckle, but further than the sockets were deep.
Freddy withdrew his arm. “YOU. HAVE. TO. DO. IT,” he said. “I. CAN’T. FEEL. I. MIGHT. BREAK. IT.”
Stunned, Ana looked more closely at the skull’s shallow sockets and saw only painted foam. But it didn’t feel like foam when she touched it. Plastic. Hard, textured. When she put a little force behind it, the sockets moved, depressing like the buttons they were. She pushed her thumbs into the skull’s eyes, all the way in.
They clicked, first one and then, with effort, the other.
“PUSH,” said Freddy.
She did, first with her arms, then setting her shoulder against the foam, heaving to very little progress until Freddy reached over her again and added his strength to hers. Disused mechanisms groaned, scraped, and finally began to move. The door rolled back into the wall with excruciating slowness, revealing the layers of the wall—foam, sheetrock, wooden stud, insulation, vinyl membrane, and at last, a thin concrete slip painted over rough rock. When the door cleared that, the guide-arms locked, fully extended. The room beyond was black and still. The air that blew out of it was cool, stinking of minerals and maybe old, dried death.
Ana breathed it in and when the taste had no more power over her, she set her shoulder against the door and heaved it to one side.
And there they were, three springtrap suits, side by side by side, silvered by dust, seeming to be connected somehow…were they holding hands?