Serial Saturday Update

It’s going to be another short blog post tonight, folks. My sister and her new beau came to visit today and take us to lunch, which somehow turned into lunch and two movies, which is one movie and half a burger too much for me, as it turned out. I had a great time, but man, I feel like I just hiked half a mile up a rocky hill and threw myself off the other side. Hell, I can remember hiking up rocky hills just to admire the view from the top…What have I turned into?

Chronic illness is a bitch.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Had a great time, that’s what I’m focused on now. That, and uploading the next chapter of my FNAF fanfiction, Everything Is All Right, Part 3: Children of Mammon over at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. And then I think beginning in July, I’m going to add another round of Writer’s Workshop Wednesday to the lineup. I know, I know, I’ve been talking about it for months now, but I mean it this time. I just hope y’all want to hear my thoughts on writing fanfiction, because that’s what I’m working on right now.

Flawless segue!

So Ana went to meet Shelly at Gallifrey’s. She did not shower first. She didn’t brush the work-dust out of her hair. She didn’t change her shirt. She didn’t have a clean one to change into anyway, but she wouldn’t have, even if she had. She did wear make-up, but only what was necessary to cover her bruises so she wouldn’t be forced to explain them. Short of wearing a sign around her neck, she wanted to make it very clear this was not a date.

Two could play at that game, apparently. He was forty-five minutes late, long enough that Ana had begun to wonder if she’d been stood up on her not-a-date, although when he finally walked in, it was obvious he had gone home at some point to shower, change, and run a comb through his eyebrows.

Shelly made the rounds, nodding to those diners he knew and stopping at the counter to chat with Lucy as she rang another customer up before finally wandering back to the booth where Ana waited. “Looks like you’ve been busy,” was his sole acknowledgement of her appearance.

“Still am. You?” she asked, in the hopes that once the pleasantries were out of the way, he’d get to the point.

“Can’t say busy, but it sure feels like I’m running to catch up while the rest of world stands still. This mall job has been a bitch and a pack of pups since it fell in my lap,” he said, sliding into the seat opposite her. “Had to bring a demolition expert down special. He rescheduled twice, never mind how that affected all the special equipment I had to rent, and then there was an issue with the permits and the city on my ass wanting me to prioritize their penny-ante odd-jobs over everything else I got going on. I only just got the last of it scraped up the other day, two weeks behind schedule.”

He paused there and seemed to be waiting, so Ana said, “That sucks.”

“Slater’s a shiftless screw-up,” he grumbled. “Wyborn’s a lazy dog and between the two of them, they are representing Shelton Contractors as a good place for bad workers to just skate on by. In the end, a man’s got nothing but his name and his reputation. I have invested more than thirty years in that company and I will not have it be remembered as a clubhouse for clowns.”

Boy, he better not be lumping her in the clown car with them as his reason for firing her. She’d rather have her morals called into question than her professionalism.

“Times have changed and not for the better,” he announced, signaling Lucy now that she was finished at the cashier’s station. “Used to be, folks had personal accountability. Now it’s all me-me-me. My generation raised a generation of loudmouth liberals, who raised a generation of materialistic twits, who raised a bunch of self-entitled brats, and where it’ll go from there, who knows? Everyone’s got their hand out, looking for a paycheck they don’t have to earn. Meatloaf sandwich,” he finished as Lucy approached the booth with a glass of ice water and napkin-wrapped silverware, but no menu. “And what’ll you have?”

“Betty Burger and fries. Separate checks,” Ana added pointedly.

“One check,” Shelly corrected. “This here’s a work-related expense. Never pass up a tax deduction, little miss. There’s some advice from a successful business owner. Where was I?”

“I believe you were complaining about the youth of today always expecting a free meal.”

 

Saturday Serial Update

My sister and I took my father out for an early Father’s Day celebration at our favorite local Pho place, and he remarked, as he often does when we take him for pho, that he still cannot believe he waited until he was 70 years upon this Earth before trying pho. He is not fond of Chinese food, you see, and having been married more than 40 years to a woman who loved Chinese food more than air, he had to choke it down without complaint because it made her happy. In his mind, Chinese food and pho were interchangeable. That’s weird, but okay. They both tend to have restaurants who spell out their letters with similar fonts, and if you don’t go in to try the food, how else are you going to judge? He went along with us to the Pho place the first time expecting to enjoy nothing but our company and to his surprise, pho is freaking amazing and he loves it.

Seriously, this is the world’s perfect food right here.

The point he likes to make is that although he has known since he was a young man that it is wrong to let prejudice about people direct your world view, he has happily adopted prejudices about pretty much everything else. It is only in the past ten years, he says, that he has truly begun to explore what he thinks, likes, dislikes and believes about the world around him. Here are some of his discoveries:

It pays to be adventurous when it comes to food. Pho is awesome. A couple drops of Pure Evil in your morning tea will perk up a man’s entire day. An all-natural peanut butter, honey and crispy mealworm sandwich is both nutritious and surprisingly delicious. (Okay, that one needs some background. When Posey, my hedgehog, was alive, this was our favorite evening snack. Dad came down to the kitchen while I was preparing it and stole a bite. Now that Posey is gone, I have no reason to keep buying mealworms, but sometimes I miss our late-night snacks).

It’s not ‘a waste of time’ if you’re with friends and having fun. Similarly, any way that you can connect with people can be seen as being ‘with’ them. Crude humor can be funny if it’s not aimed at hurting someone (discovered this one playing Cards Against Humanity for the first time, and as a side note, yeah, he won).

Writing great literature can be quite a different thing from telling a great story. Great stories can be found anywhere, not just in books. (Side note: Games like Little Nightmares, Inside, Oni and the Blind Forest, and Unraveled have really broadened my father’s video game horizons. I think he used to think literally all I played was The Sims, World of Warcraft and horror games.)

The body grows old with or without your permission. The mind only grows old when you let it. Let curiosity, wonder and kindness in, and you will never really grow old.

Love you, Dude. Happy Father’s Day.

My father, aka The Beard of Wisdom

For those of you reading my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part 3: Children of Mammon, the new chapter is up at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, so head on over and check it out. If you’re still undecided about whether or not a fanfic based on the world of Five Nights at Freddy’s can possibly be any good, probably nothing I say is going to change your mind, but maybe my father’s words about letting go of prejudices and trying new things will encourage you to at least read this snippet, and whatever happens after that will happen.

Ana dreamed of endless crawling through a maze of ducts, pursued by some unseen thing that seemed at times to be a swarm of rats and sometimes a giant version of Plushtrap and sometimes, the worst times, a broken animatronic endoskeleton with her mother’s skin wrapped around it and stuffed with dead leaves and wires. As with all dreams of that sort, no matter how fast she crawled, it was just a little faster, closing the distance between them until she could see her shadow growing long before her as its eyelight burned on her back and feel the vibrations of its heavy body lurching and banging just behind her. Then its hand closed on her ankle—metal bones and gnawing rat-teeth—and she fell on her face, clawing in desperation at the rubbery pad as it dragged her back toward its jaws. She began to scream, proof this was just a dream, and it screamed back at her in many voices made of static and screeching and Freddy’s cheerful baritone singing—

Singing?

GOOD MORNING, GOOD MORNING, GOOD MORNING TO YOU! OUR DAY IS BEGINNING, THERE’S SO MUCH TO DO!”

Ana opened her eyes, disorientated to find herself in the curtained safety of her ‘room’ beneath the table in the dining room and not the ductwork maze. Was this a new chapter of the dream? No, she was definitely awake; she had the bruises, the full bladder and the headache to prove it. But the animatronics were singing and that meant…

Stunned, Ana pushed the curtain aside and immediately had to throw up her hand as a shield against the sun’s rays. The actual sun, not just its diffused light, peeking in at her over the roofless walls.

“No!” But Ana’s watch dispassionately told her, ‘Yes.’ It was eleven o’clock.

Her headache instantly got worse.

“Bonnie!” Ana groaned, snatching at her jeans as she kick-clawed her way out from under the table. “How could you?” she demanded, glaring at Bonnie as he sang and twitched and strummed his stringless guitar. “You had one job! Wake me up before you go to sleep!”

Bonnie twitched harder, stuttering out of sync with the others.

“You know what kind of time-crunch I’m under,” she complained, yanking up her jeans and trying to step into her boots at the same time. “I just lost five hours, thanks to you! Half a fucking day! God!”

Freddy lowered his microphone, mid-verse, and said, “DON’T. YELL. AT. HIM.”

“I’m not yelling and why not?” she added, turning on him with a glare every bit as fierce as his. “Should I be yelling at you instead? Did you tell him not to wake me up?”

“PUT. YOUR. CLOSED. ON.”

Ana glanced at the sports bra she’d been using for a pajama top, rolled her eyes and stomped over to the other side of her table to check her cardboard cubbies. No clean shirts. She picked through the dirty ones, sniffing until she found one she could stand to put on. She needed to make a laundry run, but not today, obviously. No time to drive to the laundromat or enjoy a hot breakfast at Gallifrey’s. Eleven o’clock. Jesus. “You did, didn’t you?” she grumbled. “You told him not to wake me.”

“YOU. NEEDED. TO. SLEEP.”

“No, asshole, I need to get the fucking roof on! And you seem to think I have all the time in the fucking world to do it!”

Freddy’s eyelids slanted slowly down. “DO. NOT. TALK. TO. ME. LIKE. THAT.”

“I’ll talk to you any way I want! Apparently, it doesn’t even matter what I say around here because you’ll just do whatever you feel like doing and to hell with me. Do you understand that I am not supposed to be here? That I am breaking the goddamn law?”

“YES.”

“Kids have always come out to fuck around at the quarry. There will never be a time when I can count on not being seen when I’m up on your roof. Got that? And do you understand that this kind of work is noisy and cannot be hidden? Can! Not! Do you?”

“DON’T. YELL. AT. ME.”

“Do you understand that the next opportunity to use fireworks as cover is in fucking January when there could be three fucking feet of snow on the ground? Excuse me,” she interrupted herself sourly and then shouted, “On the fucking floor!

Freddy looked up, but not at the roof or the lack of one. His expression was a perfect plastic facsimile of Rider’s God-give-me-strength-not-to-slap-a-bitch stare. “YOU. NEEDED. SLEEP,” he said when he dropped his gaze to her again.

“No, I don’t. That is why I have a can of coffee and half a case of Redline in the other room! You know what else I don’t need? I don’t need a goddamn babysitter! You want the roof on?”

“YES.”

“Then let me do it and stop trying to control me!”

Serial Saturday Update

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.

Flawless segue!

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…

Serial Saturday Update

So I just found out that I won two admission tickets to this year’s Penned Con in St. Louis!

Huge shout-out of gratitude both to Bridget Blackwood, who organized the giveaway, and Laurie Bowen, who could not make it, but who graciously gave me her winning ticket so that I could bring a guest to push my wheelchair!

Oh…I just made myself happy-sad.

Anyway, I will be in St. Louis, Missouri, at the St. Louis City Center Hotel on Friday, September 29th, and Saturday, September 30th, if that interests anyone at all. I don’t have a table, since obviously I didn’t know I’ d be going, but I’ll be happy to sign books, napkins, boobs, or whatever you want signed.

In other news, it’s upload night, and a new chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Three: Children of Mammon has just gone up at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, so if you’re reading along, this is your cue to drop whatever you’re doing and click over to get your weekly FNAFiction fix. Or FNAFix, as I just decided I like to call it.

Making up words and passing them off as real ones is one of the perks of writing. Thanks, Shakespeare!

I also received a review on Fanfiction.net, which is great, especially since their review system tends to ‘lose’ a lot of reviews between the reader sending it and the site receiving it. I have got dozens, literally dozens, of notifications for reviews that have yet to actually appear where people can read them. But this one is an extra scoop of great and I wanted very much to reply, except that it is a ‘guest’ review and not, I’m assuming, that of a member, so I can’t reply to it over there. I can, however, reply here in the unlikely event that Cool Reviews is following my blog.

Here is his/her/its review:

I must ask, How does it feel to be able to sit down and type and know that what you are writing down is better quality than most published novels? Because as a writer myself I have to imagine that that would feel pretty good and I hope to find out myself someday. Congratulations on already being there! This whole series is fantastic and full of amazing use of foreshadowing and red-herrings. It was never predictable and every single reveal and event has felt fully and completely set up by the time of introduction, without ever feeling like the writing is too verbose. That is a difficult balance to pull off yet you have done it. You are a – literal – inspiration that has kicked my passion to write in the butt like only a few before, and you have renewed my interest in the FNAF world again. Bravo and thank you.

 

Some of you may be saying to yourselves, ‘Holy shit, R. Lee, egomaniac much? Are you seriously brag-blogging now?,’ while others may be saying, ‘Okay, R. Lee, sure that’s a nice thing for someone to say, but what’s the extra scoop of great?’ and still others are saying, ‘Did I turn the stove off? I’m sure I did. Maybe I should check, though.’

The answer my friends, stems not from the first sentence, but from the second-to-last (and also, no, you did not turn the stove off, you just turned off the oven light). There is no greater compliment I can think of than to be told I encouraged someone to write or renewed their passion for writing. That is, bar none, the greatest feeling in the world for me. And renewing interest in a game I love is the metaphorical cherry on top.

The whipped cream represents validation, the chocolate syrup is a sense of professional pride, and the nuts are just nuts.

Cool Reviews, if you’re reading this, reader response like that is the reason I am posting this fanfiction out on a public forum instead of just passing it around to my friends, and I would love to read your stories in the future. And to all my readers, your continued support as I take this time to play around in an abandoned pizzeria instead of writing a ‘real’ book means a lot to me. So once again, thank you one and all.

Now let us celebrate our mutual friendship by all joining hands and hearts and reading this excerpt of this week’s uploaded chapter. (I’m running out of ways to segue to the excerpt…)

 

As the sun began its final descent on the first day of July, Ana sat on the loading dock of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, enjoying the feel of the breeze if not the smell of it, and suffering the oppressive heat even as she basked in the inner warmth of a day’s work done well. There were a few hours of daylight left and she supposed she had work enough to fill them, but she was comfortable with the progress she’d made. Yes, she’d have to make up tomorrow everything she’d put off today, but life was about learning to compromise and sometimes a girl needed a cold beer and some dank weed more than she needed to check off all her little boxes. Her only regret was that she hadn’t thought to go get dinner first, but there was nothing she could do about it now. Once the cap came off and the lighter came out, the keys went away. Ana Stark had done a lot of stupid things in her life and had no doubt she’d go on to do a lot more, but she always flew responsibly.

So she was done for the day, but as ready as she was to relax, she found it difficult to switch off her brain. Again and again, it took her through a speed-build of the roof, looping through the stages, playing out alternate paths should various obstacles arise, bringing her triumphantly to the conclusion only to queue itself up again. She had a feeling the problem would resolve itself by the end of this joint, but in the meantime, it was damned annoying. She just wanted to relax and yet, here she was again, skipping through tomorrow to wake up predawn on the 3rd, climbing up to the roof and laying down the deck, building outward from the storeroom-corner so she never had her back to the road. Get the underlayment down, even if it meant working through the night, and up again at five on the 4th, tar and overlay in sections, should be done well before midnight. A good night’s sleep and up at five on Sunday to finish off with the top-coat and all the booting around the HVAC system.

The real HVAC system, she amended, glancing back and up through the exposed beams at what she could see of the mystery ductwork that had been hidden in the old roof.

It still bothered her. What were they? They weren’t anything to do with the air conditioning system; the effort of believing that, even half-heartedly, was too exhausting to keep up. But they weren’t anything like the ducts she and Mike had crawled through at the Toybox, either. They were big enough, sure, but at the Toybox, the ducts had been on the ground and had openings in all the rooms where…someone…might want to spy on their prey. Here, the ducts were on the ceiling and the vents, what few there were, were set inaccessibly high, in places that Ana could not imagine gave anyone a good view of the guests below. If it wasn’t for a practical purpose and wasn’t part of Mike Schmidt’s killer-animatronic nonsense, what was it for?

Easy enough to see for herself.

“Oh come on,” Ana murmured, even as her heart leapt with excitement. “You can’t really be thinking about climbing in there.”

Happy Lao New Year!

So I slept the hell out off my bed and woke up to my cat, Waffles, gently barfing a ‘good morning’ to me at the foot of the bed. He’s so thoughtful that way. He must have missed me while I was away visiting my sister and the kittens who do not barf on my bed.

Anyhoo, after pouring a cup of coffee into me, my other sister wandered in and mentioned that the Lao Buddhist Associates Temple down the road is throwing their annual shindig this weekend.

For real, I pass this every time I go to the gas station or the bank.

We’ve lived here for three years and always kind of wanted to go, although we were hesitant to just barge in on a festival. However, it’s got lots of tents set up and smells really…like REALLY good when you drive by, so we figured, what’s the worst thing they can do? I don’t think I’ve ever met a mean Buddhist.

Not saying they won’t kick your ass if you provoke them, just that they’ll have peace in their heart when they do it.

So my sister, my father and I tumbled optimistically into the car and headed down the road to the temple, where we were happily directed to a parking space by the smiling man at the gate. Since it’s a pretty small compound, I figured I could walk on my own (Spoiler: I figured wrong).

Turns out the festival we at the Smomestead (it’s growing on me) have always privately and probably racistly referred to as Buddhafest is a celebration of the Lao New Year. So many kids running around squirting silly string at each other or throwing shaving cream or blowing bubbles! So many stalls with bubble tea in so many amazing flavors (I love bubble tea, btw. I could have dropped an easy hundred bucks in that place on bubble tea alone, just sampling every flavor)! So much food! They even had durian, which we know enough about to not want to try, but which was still awesome to see in person. And clothes, so many colorful clothes. I’m really sad that cultural appropriation is a thing now, because those clothes were so nice and looked so breezy and cool, and it’s hot and sweaty as Bigfoot’s buttcrack out here in (I nearly typed Mammon) the Midwest.

Anyway, I made it about halfway down one of the two rows of booths and then the little hamster running on the wheel in my central control box hit the yellow alert switch and started the ten-second countdown to a total systems failure. I sat down. There were no chairs. I just sat down.

Fortunately, this was not as socially awkward as it might have been at, say, the grocery store.

My sister helped me to a food tent with actual chairs and went to get my wheelchair. This felt worse than it actually was. I was intensely aware of how many people were staring at me as I had to get into the chair, but then I realized, heh, we were three of maybe 12 white people in a crowd of several hundred. No one cared about the chair. They were too busy taking pictures of the marshmallows, especially the one in the beard.

So I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of our day out. We bought some smoked squid and taro-carrot slaw and ate it in the music tent, where they had live music and people who appeared to be line-dancing to it. Kick-heel-step-turn, kick-heel-step-turn. Except for their hands. They were essentially just keeping the beat with their feet, but dancing with their hands. I could have watched it all day if it weren’t for the fact that the volume was so loud, I could literally feel the baseline in my sternum.

Damn it. Somewhere along the line, I turned into an old fart. I’ve already got the aching bones that predict the weather. Pretty soon, I’ll move the couch out to the front porch and buy a cane so I can wave it when I yell at the kids to keep off my lawn.

Back home now, with a happy tummy full of squid and significant hearing loss, I figured I would post this and sort of make up for the slap-dash post I made last night when I was too tired to word properly. And also, I wanted to share with you the amazing fanart one of my FNAFiction readers did for me! Check it out!

Thanks, Peccolia!

Man, there is something seriously satisfying to my meta-sense to receive fanart of my fanfiction of a game that I first learned about by seeing fanart.

Serial Saturday Update

It was a big day today, here at the Smith House. The last pair of kittens has followed my sister to her husband’s home (technically, they are still her cats, as opposed to his, so it’s less an adoption and more of a lateral slide), and the entire household has celebrated, in different ways, of course. My sister, for example, celebrated by transporting two yowling cats twenty miles down the road and then introducing them to their new roomies, a giant doofus of a dog named Baby and a smaller, even more doofier dog whose actual name escapes me because I pretty much just call it, “You doof.” I have literally seen these dogs get scared by their own shadows, so I think having scrappy Jack Septikitten around to protect them (from shadows) and sensitive little Danny Sexkitten to comfort them afterwards will be good for everyone.

I celebrated by spending the whole day in my writing room with the door wide open, because there were now no cats to flop down on the keyboard and purr at me. Sure, we still have cats, but my other sister’s cat prefers to do her flopping in the bay window beside me, my father’s cat has her own snoozing place in the closet, and my own cat, Waffles, is blind and doesn’t know where I am. Literally. He just now wandered into the room, bumped into two walls and a dinosaur and wandered out again.

Oh, and some of the neighborhood mice celebrated by moving in and are right this instant chewing on the inside of the walls directly behind my damn head. You ever read Stephen King’s The Langoliers?

Not the movie based on the story. That was terrible and no one should ever watch it for any reason.

The sound the time-eaters make, that rice krispies crackling sound…yeah, I get now why that one chick was covering her ears and screaming. It. Is. Maddening.

However, one good thing has come of it. Searching for the source of the sound led me to completely strip the room and give it the good spring cleaning I’ve been meaning to give it for a while now. Took the garbage out, cleared and organized the closet, found a fork and took it down to the kitchen where I ended up washing a load of dishes–the whole nine yards. Also, it turns out that constant exposure to a creepy crackling sound inside the walls of a dark room is no-end inspiring when one is writing a horror story, so I got some decent work done on my book. And I got the latest chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part III: Children of Mammon, uploaded on fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. So it’s been a productive day all around!

Still gonna kill the mice, though.

“But…But we’re adorably pestilent!”

Yep, first thing tomorrow, it’s Trap-City all up in this bitch. And all three cats are going to hear about this when it’s time for their annual performance review. Well, two cats are going to hear about it. Waffles can’t find the conference room. I’ve emailed him very clear directions, but, well, he’s blind. Also, he’s a cat and can’t read. Also-also, he’s a cat and not an employee, so he doesn’t get performance reviews. Also-also-also, he’s a cat, so even if I reviewed his performance, he’d just lick himself during the entire interview, hork up a hairball and walk off (bumping into two walls and yet another dinosaur on the way out, because he’s blind. Also, I have a lot of dinosaurs).

But I digress. My new chapter is up and that means it’s time to post another excerpt for those reading along to enjoy and for those not reading along to roll their eyes at while they mutter about when I’m going to write a ‘real’ book. (The answer is Someday. Definitely someday.) But in the meantime:

At length, Ana gave up even pretending to sleep and let her eyes open. She stared into the darkness, listening to the faint tick and whirr of servos in the room beyond her curtained table—Bonnie, playing his guitar. After a moment, she rolled over and peeked beneath the curtain. The wispy clouds that had cut up the sky by day had thickened considerably, forming silver swirls across the night sky where a nearly full moon shone a spotlight on the stage of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. Bonnie, alone there, leaned up against the side wall with one foot on the floor, playing his stringless guitar, said with one picture what a thousand words could never say about the toys that are left behind when the kids grow up.

She was sure she didn’t make any noise and Bonnie never looked up from what his fingers were doing on the neck of the guitar, but he said, “Can’t sleep, huh?”

“How’d you know? You got cameras on the back of your head?”

“Nope, but I got-t-t ears.”

“You can hear me looking at you?”

“Nope.” He glanced at her long enough to give her a quick, playful smile. “I c-c-can hear you’re not snoring.”

Ana laughed. “Yeah, Rider says I go like a chainsaw.”

“Aww, it’s not that b-b-bad. It’s a cute little snore.” He stopped playing and shifted around on the stage to better face her. “Something-ing-ing on your mind?”

“Not really.” Ana boosted herself up on her hands to better slide off the air mattress and slither out from under the table. She sat up against the wall instead, drawing up her bare legs and pulling her t-shirt over her knees. “Just restless, I guess.”

“You cold?” he asked, tipping his ears forward.

“A little. It’s still a million degrees during the day, but it’s gotten…I wouldn’t say cold, but definitely nippy at night. Wind’s changed. New front moving in,” she said, tipping her head back and sniffing at the breeze that blew in past the ductwork. “Smells like it might rain.”

“Oh yeah?” He looked up, his ears shifting to an interested angle. “What d-d-does rain smell like?”

“After it’s done falling, it smells great. Like…clean pavement and pines. And the quarry. Everything smells like the quarry in this town. But right now, it just smells like a roof I don’t have on yet.”

“It might-t-t hold off, you never know.” His fingers began to move again. Tick-tick-whirr, tick-whirr. “What’ll you d-d-do if it rains?”

“Get wet. I mean, if it wants to go balls-out thunder and lightning, I’ll hole up, but otherwise, I’ll just keep working. I won’t melt.”

Ana watched him play for a while, comfortably hypnotized by the movements of his fingers on the stringless guitar. She didn’t know music well enough to ‘hear’ what she could see him do, but she wished she could. Bonnie’s pumped up versions were the nursery rhymes she knew best, even after all these years. She wanted to hear them again.

“Which one is that?” she asked at last.

Bonnie played on, but twitched an ear in her direction. “Mm?”

“What song is that?”

He shook his head, fingers slowing now, smoothing out a complicated melody only he could hear. “You d-d-don’t know it. It’s new.”

“New?” Ana thought that over and, smiling, asked, “What kind of pizza do you think I like?”

He stopped playing and looked at her. “Wow, you’re kind-d-d of full of yourself, aren’t you?”

“You know I’m not wrong.”

“I didn’t say you were wrong-ong-ong, I said you were full of yourself.”

 

Serial Saturday Update

I’m going to break with my half-assed tradition and begin this post by talking about my father instead of my WIP (they’re connected, so that’s not really breaking tradition as much as bending it. I do pretty much everything half-assed). Faithful readers of this blog will remember that he had an extremely mild medical issue a short while ago. Last week, on a follow-up examination, it was discovered that his gall bladder is chock-full of stones, so he’s got an appointment next week to have that removed before it blossoms forth into a beautiful emergency.

Dark Butterfly by LoboRJO

For best effect, play Beethoven’s 6th as set to children’s screams.

All of us are happy about this except my father, who says he has only just begun to feel like himself again, pain-free and mentally-focused. He’s been moping around for a few days, beard and eyebrows drooping, loudly bemoaning his tormented state of mind during a recovery process for a surgery that is literally still a week away. Like, move over, angsty teens, and watch a true master at work.

Anyway, as part of his preparation for going under the knife, my father has been slumping around, despondently enjoying all those things he won’t be able to do post-surgery, and one of the things at the top of his list is work on his novel. The combination of pain and pain meds following his last procedure left him unable to either sit in a chair, concentrate on a monitor, or just, you know, think whole thoughts.

I’ve been there. Often.

However, even my father occasionally hits a rut and today, he found himself just not in the mood to write. He procrastinated in all the usual ways–making tea, drinking tea, researching the history of tea on the internet, locating an online purveyor of tea, ordering tea, reheating his tea which had gone cold. You know, as one does. When he ran out of tea, he discovered he still had plenty of procrastination left in him, so he sat down and read the first three books of Everything Is All Right.

Yeah, I know. I was surprised, too. He’s got half my books on his hard drive and, heck, I’m right upstairs. I’d have sent him the rest. He hasn’t even read Olivia or The Scholomance.  But no, he read my FNAF fanfiction because, quote, “I need this book in my life right now,” end quote.

Remember this is, at its core, a book about abused, abducted and murdered children. Dad, seriously, no one needs this book in their life.

Anyhoo, once he’d finished Part III (yeah, he’s got the whole thing, in it’s beta-form), he came upstairs to bounce some theories off me and found me working on Part IV with some ‘inspiration’ on the TV, namely Markiplier’s playthrough of the first game. Now, my dad knew he’d been reading fanfiction of a video game, but he’d never seen it. He’d never even seen me play it. This was the very first time he’d seen the characters I’d been writing about.

“What are we watching?” he asked, walking into the room and looking at the TV and before I could say one word, he said, “Good heavens, that’s Bonnie.”

Bonus ducks for identifying him from an image that didn’t show his ears or his guitar.

He sat down and we watched Mark play. When the first game was over, it was getting late, but I queued up the next one, just long enough for him to meet the Toys, Mangle, and the Puppet. This was…a strange experience for me, hearing my Dad refer to characters and locations by the names I had given them. Not to be too much of an ego-maniac or anything, but it made me feel weirdly like I was part of the creative team and not just the community.

So…sorry, Scott, for hitching a ride on your wagon, but also sort of not-sorry either, because that was a hell of a good feeling.

Anyway, as you may have gleaned from all this self-congratulatory rambling, the next chapter is up over at fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org, so if you’re reading along, be sure to check it out. If you’re not, yes, I’m still going to slap you in the virtual face with excerpts until you give in.

 

A lifetime of temporary living situations had made it so that Ana rarely found it difficult to fall asleep, no matter where she was. And she was by nature a deep sleeper, even sober; with a beer or two in her, she usually slept like a snoring stone. If it was true that the infrequent shriek/bang of fireworks and Freddy’s regular stopovers kept her from really achieving that perfect black-out state of suspended animation, at least it was also true that she couldn’t get too upset either, not with Bonnie’s arms around her and the steady rhythms of his systems thrumming under his skin.

However, even if the constant disturbances to her sleep did not upset her, they were still disorientating. She dreamed and woke, dreamed and woke, until a dozen dreams seemed to seamlessly meld with her beer-blurred recollections of the night before to create an uninterrupted and entirely false memory, one in which she talked about the Independence Day spirit and how Freddy didn’t like her and he talked about the girl who’d broken his face in with a bat and that the Bunny Patch bunnies were all named after real rabbit breeds. And while she was pretty sure all of this had actually happened, sprinkled throughout were nuggets of pure nonsense, like the false fact that at one point, there had been deer grazing on the show stage, or that David had run through the room trying to write his name in the air with a sparkler, or that Bonnie had talked about watching the fireworks in the parking lot at Circle Drive when he was no older than this building.

She felt no real urge to sort out fact from fiction. As far as she was concerned, it could all be a dream as long as this part—the part where she woke in the night and heard Bonnie ‘breathing’—was real. And it was, so fuck the rest.

As the night wore on, the fireworks petered out, but Freddy’s patrols remained as consistent as ever. She woke each time he passed through, if only long enough to identify the slow scrape-thud of his footfalls before letting Bonnie’s presence lull her back to sleep. So when yet another fragment of dream blew unexpectedly apart, she did not startle up in alarm. She listened and sure enough, plastic crinkled as Freddy came into the dining area.

Bonnie didn’t move as the footsteps drew nearer, but Ana heard the distinctive sound of his eyes turning and focusing, watching Freddy come.

Freddy’s footsteps stopped right in front of them. A pause. Then, with a smile he could not make but which Ana could all but see: “IT’S. NOT. WHAT. IT. LOOKS. LIKE. RIGHT.”

“I wish,” said Bonnie, as quietly as he could. His jaw didn’t move. Trying not to wake her. “You’re an ass, by the way. Remind me to t-t-tell you why.”

Freddy grunted affably and mechanisms whirred as he made some unseen gesture. “IS. SHE. SLEEPING.”

“Yeah.”

“No, I’m not,” Ana mumbled. “What time is it?”

“ALMOST. SIX.”

“Christ, I slept in.”

“You d-d-don’t have to get up yet.”

“Yeah, I do,” she sighed. “Not enough hours, my man. Every one of them counts.” Ana stirred, drawing in her legs and stretching them out again, opening her eyes. She saw a field of pale, dingy purple first—Bonnie, lit up by Freddy’s eyes—and then her arm, which had slipped sometime in the night from resting on his chest to cupping the Ken-doll-smooth front of his groin.

Ana looked at that for a while, sleepily amused, then raised her head to find Bonnie looking back at her.

“Looks like I want to start the day with a bang,” she said in her fresh-from-sleep throaty purr. “You up for it, my man?”

His ears snapped up. “Really? I mean, yeah! YOU BET!  D-D-Damn it. Freddy, sc-scram. I mean, are you serious? B-B-Because if you’re not, that’s c-c-cool, but if you are, um, we may need-d-d to work a few th-things out first. Freddy, for real, get-t-t lost.”