Nothing new to report on either the Lost Tales of Arcadia: Tooth and Claw front (I know I said I only had one chapter to go, but I’ve written four of them and there’s STILL one chapter left! The book is stretching out like the hallway in a horror movie), or on the FNAF fanfiction front, but I do want to keep this blog active, so please enjoy this sneak preview from Tooth and Claw!
A foot kicked her in the ribs, waking her out of a dream in which she slept in the mud into exactly that same reality. Nona rolled over and frowned at a bleary-eyed soldier as he cut the tape on her wrists and ankles before moving on to rouse a handful of other women from their sleep-huddle.
“You’re on kitchen duty,” he informed Nona’s group, already walking away. “You four get wood, you four get water, and the rest of you stay put for now. Hey, Packer! Where’d we put the cigarettes?”
‘No mercy,’ Nona thought, following the other women across camp to the fire where she’d last seen Fiona’s grasping hand. There was nothing there now but smoking ashes and drag marks in the mud. ‘This is not about incapacitating them long enough to sneak away. There is no away here and no point in sneaking. Take them out.’
Good advice. She wasn’t sure how to do that, though. She hadn’t hit anyone since high school and she’d never done anything more serious than break a nose or chip a tooth even when she had. She did not consider herself a violent person, but she thought about killing these people now, thought about it without rancor or excitement, but only as the first step in a procession that led to her certain demise. She had to kill them and kill them so fast that they didn’t even have time to think about catching her, but only took her down. If they caught her, they’d torture her. They’d made the other girl, Fiona, scream in ways Nona could not have imagined coming out of a real human being and they hadn’t even had a reason to do it. Whatever Nona did, she had to do enough of it to make them panic, make them shoot her in the head, end it quick. So none of that baby-shit. No slapping, no punching, no ball-kicking. Murder.
She got comfortable with the idea. It wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be.
And what does this image have to do with that scene? Read the book…
And heck, since you’re here, how about a sneak previous for Everything Is All Right, Part IV: New Faces, Old Bones?
Ana started walking, but changed direction after just a few steps, moving away from the shady back end of the building and heading instead all the way around to the front side. It was a long walk, maybe no longer than the walk to the loading dock would have been, but with the afternoon sun shining its full punishing force onto her head and the asphalt frying her boots from below, it felt longer. At last she reached the lobby doors, now resting crooked in a frame so new, she could still smell that new-door smell. She raised a hand, hesitated, then raised it higher and knocked.
She heard something immediately on the other side—the whir of old motors echoing in the empty lobby. The doors shuddered, then scraped open just a crack, showing her the thinnest stripe of brown fur and the startling brilliance of one backlit blue eye. The eye blinked. The doors shuddered again and one of them groaned open on a badly-bent hinge, supported by Freddy’s massive paw.
“SO. IT. WAS. YOU,” he said, ears facing forward but tilted back in cautious surprise. “WHEN. I. COULDN’T. HEAR. YOUR.” He paused, clicking, then continued, “CLUCK. COME. ANY. CLOSER. I. DECIDED. IT. COULDN’T. BE. YOU. AFTER. ALL.” He paused again, but didn’t search for a soundfile. Tiny servos whined as his eyes searched hers. His face, far too expressive for plastic parts, showed strain. “AN-N-A. I—”
“Why are you still talking like that?” she interrupted. She didn’t want to hear anything he had to say when it came after her name when he said it like that. “Bonnie was supposed to fix you.”
“I left the keys!”
“IT. ISN’T. THAT. SIMPLE.”
“Yes, it is!” Fear, grief, confusion and a thousand other emotions she couldn’t acknowledge and hardly knew how to name came boiling out all at once in and choked, angry rush: “And if that was all you ever wanted from me, you should have just asked! I’d have done it! I’m easily that stupid! I’m here now, aren’t I? But what in the hell was all that family crap? Don’t you talk to me about home and…and love and…and burying my fucking dead aunt when all you wanted was the keys! You had no right!”
“You had no right!”
He stopped trying to talk. She wasn’t sure how to start. Desert insects drilled up the desert air; apart from that, it would have been uncomfortably silent.
“My truck ran out of gas,” she said finally. “That’s why you didn’t hear it. I’m not trying to sneak in.”
“PEOPLE. WHO. SNEAK. DON’T. KNOCK,” he agreed.
They stared at each other some more.
At length, Freddy twitched and said, “WOULD. YOU. LIKE. TO. C-C-COME ON IN, KIDS! WELCOME TO FREDDY-DY-DY FAZBEAR’S PIZZERIA!” He shook his head, grumbling, and added, “I’M. SORRY. I. THOUGHT. I. WAS. READY. FOR. THIS. BUT. BONNIE. WAS. SUPPOSED. TO. HAVE. THIS. PART.”
“I. THOUGHT. YOU. WOULD. GO. AROUND. BACK,” he explained, releasing the other door (it sagged at once, leaning slowly open until the wind gusted and banged it shut) as he stood aside to let her in. “BONNIE. IS. WAITING. BY. THE.” He clicked to himself, looking away with the same embarrassment as a man might show if he had to stop mid-sentence to burp, and came back with, “HICKORY-DICKORY-DOCK. I. WANTED. HIM. TO. TALK. TO. YOU. FIRST. I’M. NOT. GOOD. WITH. THIS. SORT. OF. THING.”
“I don’t want to talk to Bonnie,” Ana said quickly. She hadn’t moved, hadn’t put even one foot over the threshold, although he’d given her plenty of room to get by without touching him. “I’m just here to get my stuff.”
Freddy started to speak, but his first word became a growling grunt as his attention snapped out to the road. Ana caught only a glimpse of sunlight dazzling on a couple of bicycles before Freddy dropped a paw on her shoulder and propelled her inside, pulling the doors shut behind her. They wouldn’t close; He tried three times, then stood, tense, a door in each hand, holding them together with just a narrow crack between them through which to watch the road. She knew the bikes had gone on to the quarry by the way his ears relaxed. He grunted and fiddled with the doors some more, heaving them around on their bent hinges before he managed to shut them and keep them shut.
“I. MISS. THE. BEAR. ARCADE,” he grumbled, backing away from the doors with his hands up, ready to catch them if they should fall open again.
“The…? Oh. The barricade. Yeah. I’ll see what I can do. Don’t read too much into that,” she said as his ears went up and his eyes narrowed. “I just…I don’t want anyone else getting in.”
“OR. OUT,” Freddy guessed, but then simply moved on without looking to see if she followed. “BONNIE. SHE’S. HERE. CHICA. YOU. MIGHT. AS. WELL. WAKE. UP. THAT’S AN ORDER.”
Chica’s violent convulsions, coupled with the sound of something big crashing through the storeroom, prevented her from noticing that Freddy had moved away from her, but the little creak of the West Hall door opening cut across it all.
Freddy was leaving. She could hear Bonnie’s hurried footsteps in the kitchen now, each one closer than the one before. She could hear his hands beating on the cupboards and the oven for balance, even see the pale glow of his eyes growing brighter through what remained of the hanging sheets of plastic. She’d see him in a moment. He’d see her. And Freddy was just leaving them to it.
“Where are you going?” she blurted, taking half a step after him, a full step away and two steps back into the lobby, to the effect that she pranced in place and fell against the gift shop wall. “I said I didn’t want to see him!”
“I’M. GOING. TO. GO. GET. FOXY,” he replied. “WE. SHOULD. ALL. BE. HERE. FOR. THIS.”
“For what? There is no ‘this,’ I just want my stuff and I’ll leave! Don’t!”
Then Freddy was gone and in the very next second, Bonnie was there, tangling up his ears in his impatient push through the plastic and trying to brute-force his way free. This succeeded in pulling the plastic off the door’s frame, but gravity only caused it to fall over him and either a slight static charge or the perverse nature of inanimate objects made it cling tighter. He staggered out into the dining room, pulling at the loose ends, which forced folds of plastic into his joints, wrapping himself tighter and tighter. “Oh for—really?!” he exclaimed right before he fell over.
Chica and Ana both started toward him, stopped, looked at each other, and both stepped back, as perfectly synchronized as clockwork figures when the hour is struck. To punctuate this awkward exchange, the camera on the stage wall snapped on, throwing a dirty spotlight over the whole scene.
It focused on Bonnie first, attracted by his thrashing, but didn’t stay on him long. It aimed itself at the stage directly below it next, where Chica stood tapping her fingers and avoiding its one-eyed gaze, then moved to the empty spot where Freddy ought to be singing, given that this was the end of the five o’clock set on a Thursday, then panned slowly around the room until it reached Ana.
It seemed to Ana that it ‘stared’ at her for a long time, considering that she wasn’t moving or making noise or doing anything that should keep its attention, but it did eventually return to its home position and switch off, right before the West Hall door opened.
Freddy limped in and stopped short, looking at Bonnie, still thrashing on the floor. “REALLY.”
“Yes, really!” Bonnie snapped. “It’s this new act I’m working on where I wrap myself in plastic and fucking faceplant on the goddamn floor! What do you think?”
“I. THINK. PERFORMANCE. ART. IS. UNDER. RATED. FOR. A. REASON,” said Freddy, but he headed over to start peeling Bonnie out of his trappings. “HOLD. STILL.”
“CAN I PLAY TOO?” Chica asked, stealing another glance at Ana before carefully descending the stage steps. “I LIKE TO HELP MY FRIENDS!”
Ana looked back as Freddy and Chica wrangled Bonnie onto his feet and saw Foxy still in the shadowed corner of the West Hall.
“I’ll g-g-give ye one chance, luv,” he said with a wry slant of a smile. “Give me yer hand-d-d right now and I’ll carry ye off to P-P-PIRATE COVE. I’ll get-t-t ye drunk and do wicked things to ye that ye won’t remember and we never has to t-t-talk about. Ye can skip this sorry sh-sh—SHOWTIME!—show altogether. What say ye?”
“Still the same speech settings,” Ana said to herself. She looked at the stage and saw the glint of metal there on the grungy pad. The keys, untouched. “He didn’t fix any of you. How could you leave them like that?” she demanded, turning on Bonnie.
Before Bonnie could answer, before he was even fully upright, Freddy said, “AN-N-A. THAT’S ENOUGH. WE. CAN. TALK. ABOUT. THIS. BUT. WE. ARE. GOING. TO. DO. IT. LIKE. ADULTS. SIT. DOWN.”
“Who said I was talking? I’m getting my stuff and I’m leaving!”
Freddy nodded. “FOXY.”
A cold metal hand closed around Ana’s tattooed arm, covering the ravens, Thought and Memory, from view. “Told ye it were yer last-t-t chance,” said Foxy, leading her away from the doors to the stage. “Rest yer nethers, lass.”
“I’m not sitting!”
“On the stage or on me knee, luv,” Foxy replied implacably. “Them’s yer only say on the matter.”
Ana sat. On the stage.
“OKAY,” said Freddy, limping over. He glanced once at the camera on the wall—dark now, blind—and then faced her with a bearish grumble and folded his arms. “LET’S. TALK.”
And what am I working on today, you ask?
Well, to be honest, today, I did this.
So…yeah. Books are coming soon! I RLee-Promise!