Can't Go Home Again
"Owner of Fazbear restaurant dies of heart attack."
Mike could still remember the column that was released in the paper only a couple of weeks previously. Nobody had called and told him before that time, maybe they just didn't know they needed to call him. Technically he wasn't related to Fredrick, didn't even work under him anymore, but they had never become strangers. It had just seemed so sudden to open the paper and see the words printed there. It was a few days after that when Mike got the call that he was needed. He hadn't even hesitated before he threw himself back into the mix.
It had been a big part of his life, working at the Fazbear establishment. He was there, he was fired, he was rehired, and he would on and off be a part of it. Mike hadn't worked at the pizzeria for a while before all of this happened, but it still stood out to him. It was still a part of who he was and he wasn't sure why that was. It wouldn't let him go. Apparently Fredrick wasn't ready to let him go either as his will left him with this new task. Not once had he ever mentioned considering putting any employee in his will, especially not Mike.
Fredrick didn't have any living relatives; his wife died during childbirth, his children died over the years, and he then lived mostly to himself. As such he had listed various employees of his as receivers of his estate, but only two of them were currently alive. The other inheritor was a guy named Sam who worked during the day as a technician. Sam and Mike were relatively friendly, though didn't talk very frequently outside of work setting. Sam had inherited Fred's car, the company van, and whatever was left in the old warehouse. The actual Pizzeria was planned for demolition.
Mike, who Fredrick was especially fond of, had gotten his home and whatever was inside. The older man had once mentioned that Mike was like his son in a joking manner, but never did he expect that he would actually be left such intimate property and belongings. From what Mike knew nobody had been in the house yet. The man had gone to the hospital with chest pains and died shortly after of a heart attack; he wasn't very old but had been battling with a variety of heart related maladies, so the sudden death was unexpected but not surprising.
There was no foul play or mysterious circumstances, Fredrick hadn't been in his house when he had the heart attack, and nothing was needed out of the house immediately so nobody had gone inside yet. The will was specific as well; there was nothing needing dividing and everything in the house was left to Mike alone. Mike himself didn't understand how this could happen or how there was absolutely nobody coming forward to argue with the will. He still went along with it.
This was why he was currently sitting in the driveway staring at the door and stalling as long as he could. Mike didn't really want to go inside of the building, didn't really want to see what was inside, but he had to. With a soft sigh he opened the car door and stood. It was early morning and most of the nearby houses were empty as their owners went to work or school. The entire street was silent as Mike approached the front door with the keys in his hand, finding the appropriate one and slipping it in the lock. He unlocked the door and stepped inside.
The first room was a living room. All of the lights were off, but the electricity seemed to still be on as the TV was sitting on. It was a small, standard living room with a TV, a couch, a connecting kitchen nearby, and a set of video tape and book shelves against the back wall. Mike shut the front door behind him and wandered in. He felt a little uneasy and decided not to turn on the lights. Instead he crossed to the TV; it was on a blue 'VCR' screen and underneath the TV there was a VCR player. A tape was sticking out of it and Mike pulled it out to bring closer to the TV's glow.
It was labelled 'Fredbear Cartoon'. From what Mike knew there had been a Fredbear cartoon that ran for a short while, but he had never seen it. He set the video in the VCR and set it to rewind. While it did so he stood and crossed into the kitchen next. It had less natural light than the living room, even though the curtains were drawn in the living room, so he turned on the light. It flickered to life and revealed a small kitchen set with the usual appliances and a small table in the corner. He casually strode over to check the fridge and glanced inside.
"None of this stuff can still be good…" The milk was questionable and some of the leftovers squeezed into plastic tubs didn't seem to still be edible. Though he did notice what looked like a relatively new flat of pink iced cupcakes on the bottom shelf. He crouched down further and studied them; these looked only about a week old at most, definitely not a month old. White cake underneath and topped with sprinkles, just a random flat of cupcakes. Mike then shrugged and took one, wondering if someone actually had been in there.
The cupcake did taste a little stale and left Mike second guessing their age, but wasn't bothered enough to stop eating it as he continued to check the kitchen. In the pantry he found at least seven or eight more packages of cake mix and another tub of icing. He chuckled a little at the thought of Fredrick having a secret sweet tooth. Fredrick has once refused sheet cake on his birthday, back when they were still working together, claiming he didn't like cake. It looked like that had been a bit of a fib, probably to keep his 'stern boss' front.
On the table was a vase with a few shriveled flowers in it and an empty, frozen pizza box. With the kitchen basically scanned, Mike casually left the room. It hadn't occurred to him before that maybe he could learn things about Fredrick that he didn't know. He assumed he'd go through his stuff, but not actually learn his secrets. Part of it made him feel better, made him feel closer to him, and he crossed back through the living room and to the hallway. He flicked on the hallway light only to have it not respond. He flicked the switch a few more times before deeming it dead.
Not that it mattered. Even though all of the windows were blocked with blinds and curtains enough light made it through that he could see well enough. Just the same, it wasn't like Mike was scared of anything anymore. He had become somewhat numb after working at the Pizzeria on and off for so long. He opened the first door in the hallway and found a small bathroom, looking around and then leaving. The next room, however, was very peculiar. It looked like a child's bedroom with a small bed, a baby blue color scheme, and what looked to be a toy box.
Or Mike thought it was a toy box. It was shaped like an oversized birthday present and was pressed against the back wall. Mike crossed closer and fiddled with the opening flap. The room's light filtered into the box and revealed… Toys. Just as Mike expected, the box was filled about halfway with plush toys that resembled the Freddy Fazbear and the other characters. There were even a few that looked like differently styled Freddys and Bonnies. It was an interesting find, but a confusing one. From what Mike knew his children were deceased.
Mike then wondered if he just kept the room together because he lost his child. It made him suddenly lose his appetite. In fact, it practically drove him out of the room, and he turned on his heel to leave only to slowly stop as he noticed something propped on the bed. It had to be the nastiest, dirtiest, rattiest looking Freddy plush he had ever seen. It didn't even look like it had been a child's plaything, it looked like it had been a chew toy to some sort of mongrel. It gave him flashbacks of the slumped Golden Freddy that he occasionally saw on the job.
With a shiver he looked to a nearby shelf where a few books and a few blankets were lined. He set his cupcake down beside a music box sitting on the top and went for one of the small blankets, then boldly tossed it over the dirty bear. "If only this would've worked with the real thing," he murmured to himself and continued out of the room. He then moved to the last three rooms. The first of which looked like a teenager's room. By now Mike wasn't feeling comfortable in the children's rooms and just shut the door again.
There was another room that was stylized as though for a girl. There was a good deal of dust on the furniture and the light also didn't work. Unlike the hall, this bedroom no longer had a bulb screwed in for whatever reason. Mike shrugged it off and went to shut the door. Though as he shut the door he suddenly started to hear a noise. He hesitated and checked his phone, at first knowing it wasn't his phone and yet thinking it was a cellphone noise. It sounded like a soft chiming. He leaned into the child's bedroom again, but noted that it was coming through the wall.
That led to the last room in the house. As he opened the door the noise got louder and he stared in at the master bedroom. There was only one small window and the room seemed to be just a master bedroom. From how used the room seemed to be, he assumed that it was Fredrick's bedroom. The chiming noise was like some sort of rendition of 'Pop Goes the Weasel' and was coming from the nearby shutter closet. Mike stared at it with furrowed brows, "What is that? A cellphone?" He continued towards the closet slowly, reaching out and resting his hands on the knobs.
"What am I doing? There's going to be something in here," he remarked to himself, but then promptly shrugged it off. Again, Mike wasn't too paranoid, and the sound didn't exactly sound threatening. He assumed he just hadn't heard it until he opened the room beside this. Mike got it over with and opened the closet abruptly. Everything seemed to happen in only a split second and yet there somehow was a period long enough that Mike could mentally regret opening the closet. All he saw was a dark figure and a bright face of white before it slammed into him.
Mike was knocked off balance and fell onto his back on the carpeted floor. It fell directly atop him and wrapped its fingers tightly around his neck. He coughed at the sudden inability to breathe while its weight rested on his chest. He grabbed onto its wrists and stared upwards at it. It was lanky, a black and white figure of fabric, with a white face of porcelain. There was a wide smile seemingly stuck on its face while the chiming of 'Pop Goes the Weasel' seemed to imminent from his chest. It was terrifying and it was obviously some sort of animatronic.
Thankfully it wasn't necessarily strong without the surprise attack. Mike rolled onto his side and managed to throw it off, it hitting the foot of the bed as he leapt to his feet and dashed out. As he thundered down the hall it followed right behind him. He could hear the chime catch to him as he narrowly leapt out the front door. He got to his car before he realized the immediate danger he put the entire street in and turned back, knowing he would have to shut the door, lock it in, somehow contain it. Yet to his surprise, it didn't follow him out.
Mike carefully approached the door again and looked inside. It was still there standing in the living room, staring him down, but it refused to follow him out the door. With the moment of respite he had, Mike reached into his pocket and pulled out his key ring and the small flashlight that hung on it. He clicked it on and pointed it at the being. It didn't move in the light, but it allowed Mike to get a better look. It looked tall at first but on s second glance he realized its tapered legs were a few inches above the carpet.
It also looked very mime-like, or perhaps like some sort of doll or clown. Shockingly enough, it was one of the most unsettling looking animatronics Mike had faced, and this counted the slumped figure nicknamed 'Golden Freddy'. He could remember Golden Freddy ever tackling him or chasing him down the hallway. He shut the door and hurriedly dialed a number into his phone.
There were a few rings and eventually a voice spoke, "This is Sam Fritz."
"Sam, you're not going to believe this! The Boss-!"
"Sorry, I'm away from the phone. Leave a message." Mike tensed with a groan and waited for the beep before speaking, "Sam, call me back when you get this. The Boss has a mime living in his house and it just attacked me. I think it's some sort of animatronic. Get back to me, this is important."
He ended the phone call and looked to the door again. He knew that he couldn't just leave; he had to somehow get inside and properly contain it, but with it watching the front door he knew this wasn't safe. "It won't come out… Maybe I can distract it and get in through the back."
Of course there were plenty of other thoughts. Such as many questions to why this thing was even in the house in the first place. They went ignored as Mike opened the door once more, pushing it open and watching as the living room was revealed. It still stood in the same position, staring him down, and Mike felt a little sweat start to form on his brow. Slowly he crouched down and set the flashlight on the floor, angled towards the thing, then stepped out of view. Animatronics weren't entirely smart and he hoped this one wasn't either. He kept low and circled the house.
It was actually the master bedroom that had an unlocked window. Mike had to struggle to climb into it, being that it was small and high, and then tried to accomplish getting down without making a noise. He started to cross the bedroom quietly, peering out into what part of the hall he could see. It seemed to still be in the living. At that moment music began to emit from somewhere nearby, the chime of the Toreador March. Mike only had a second of alarm before he realized that it was coming from his pocket. Throwing quietness to the wind he slammed and locked the door.
He then rushed to answer his phone, "Hello, hello?!"
There was a familiar voice on the end. "Mike, it's me. I just got your message. Where are you?"
Mike sputtered and blurted out, "Where do you think I am? I'm still at the boss'! I'm locked back in his bedroom!"
Sam could be heard fidgeting with something on the other side of the line, "Tell me what the thing looked like. Is it a black and white sock monkey looking thing?"
Mike furrowed his brows, "Sock monkey?... It's black and white. But if you want I can ask him, he's probably right outside the door."
Sam ignored his sarcasm. "See, I was just wondering because I was out here checking the warehouse and I noticed one of the toy animatronics is gone. You know that set that was destroyed? Well, some of their parts are still here. One's completely missing and it just happens to be that Marionette Puppet thing that used to run the prize hall. It had this big creepy smile, sound familiar?"
The former security guard moved away from the door and sat on the bed, "That's it. I tried to corner it or something… I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Any advice?"
"Actually, I do have some. That thing used to be controlled by this music box. It used to actually be in a box and when the music box was wound it would stay inside." Sam continued to explain, but Mike slowly found himself losing focus as realization set in fully. That room he had passed, the bedroom, had both of those items in it. The Puppet had been living in here, possibly with Fredrick's full consent. "Can you find a music box in there?"
Mike snapped to focus, "I know where it is. I spotted the music box in the other room… Maybe I can make a run for it."
"Yeah, that's not a good idea. I don't know much about it, but I think the thing's fast. I mean, I never heard of anyone seeing it on security cameras, but I doubt every guard remembered to wind the music box."
Either way, Mike stood, "I'm getting off the phone now. If you don't hear from me by tomorrow… Just assume I died in a dark hallway, strangled by a sock monkey." He then ended the call and slipped the phone into his pocket. Taking a deep breath, he readied himself and slowly cracked the door. Yet the Puppet was not outside the door like he expected.
"Did it not hear me?" He wondered as he stared into the hall. He then started down towards the bedroom, unable to see into the living room as he was keeping close to the wall.
He ducked into the bedroom and, lo and behold, there stood, or hovered, the Puppet on the other side of the room. Mike froze for a second and then dove for the shelves. It sprung on him, but as he was turned it flopped onto his back and clung to him, unable to get a proper hold. He grabbed for the music box on shelf as one arm slipped around his neck, beginning to choke him.
It had heard him and it had known. This made Mike only more determined to fight back. He tried to pry the arm off with one hand and grabbed the box with the other. He tugged the box in against his chest and struggled to wind it. The Puppet changed tactics, now going for directly the box and nothing box. The 'Pop Goes the Weasel' that had played from it earlier now broken down into a series of shrill chiming as it frantically grappled with him. Finally, he wound it three times and the music box began to emit a soothing melody. It's not long enough, he knew it, but he still tried.
It took about ten seconds before the Puppet's grip suddenly weakened. The chiming died down as well. Then it eventually fell over to the floor. Mike didn't even wait to see and stood, stumbling towards the door, the music box winding down and silencing. By time Mike was slamming the door it had roused again, still on its knees but now looking to him. It looked angry, if it could even look angry while smiling. He locked the door from outside and then wound the music box again. The entire time he did he could hear the Puppet banging on the door.
Once the music started to play again the Puppet's noises died. The house turned quiet except for the music box, and Mike exhaled in relief. "It's over…" He shook his head to shake it off. "I'll call Sam from the car. He can come over here and we'll somehow get it back in the box and take it over to the warehouse. Easier said than done, way easier than that was." He turned and headed for the front door, finally deciding to reach for the light switch. His hand paused in mid-air as his eyes landed on something he hadn't noticed before beside the door.
Or something he had noticed coming out of the kitchen but hadn't really paid attention to. This is partially because the one thing that stands out wouldn't have stood out then. Hanging on the wall above the light switch was a picture of Fredrick and two children. Fredrick was younger in the picture and was posed smiling as his children stood before him. The older boy had his own smile of confidence and looked quite a bit like Fredrick. The younger boy had a smaller smile and looked relatively unremarkable. It was something else that caught his attention, the bear the little boy held.
It wasn't just any bear. It was the nasty Golden Freddy plush that Mike had seen in the other room. Though the one in the picture looked much cleaner and newer. There was no doubt to Mike that it was the exact same plush toy that he saw earlier. A cold ball settled inside him as he gawked at the picture. It was all laid out; his boss, his family, and the bear. The same bear that was sitting in the room with the Puppet. With the animatronic that had just attacked him. Like the other animatronics that attacked him, that were possibly once children.
Everything seemed to click and it made Mike feel ill. "This could be a mistake. That doesn't mean anything. He could've adopted the thing to replace the kid, even with it being so creepy." It didn't seem to make it better though. Mike blamed his softness for Freddy and the gang for this frustration. Or maybe it was his own history coming to haunt him.
Mike had lost his parents in both a physical and metaphorical sense at a young age and for years afterwards he had been struggling on his own trying to make a living. The night shift job had never paid well, but somehow it managed to help keep him afloat. It empowered him being one of the only ones who survived even a week, not to mention actually returning to work again. He was even one of the only night guards who put together the idea of the deceased children being connected to the crazed animatronics.
He was the only one close enough that the boss himself had given him such a gift. All of these intimate details; Mike wondered if Fredrick knew he was going to find them. Fredrick had been good to him, Freddy's in a whole had given him a new lease in life, and so he owed them this.
He carefully shut the front door and flickered on the living room light. It didn't really help illuminate the place, but it did manage to somewhat steady him for what was coming. He then wandered back down the hall and to the bedroom door. The music box was still playing as he sat down in front of it. For a moment he lifted it and looked it over. He recognized the song from an old clock toy that he had as a child. It was certainly soothing, even as he purposely wound it down. Probably more soothing to children than having Freddy flash music through his eyes.
The music slowed to a stop and the house was silent again. Mike waited for about thirty seconds, suspecting that was all that it needed, and then spoke.
"Look, I don't know if you care or if you even realize it, but that guy who lives here. Fredrick, the man who I guess is taking care of you… He's not coming back." Mike still didn't even know if it could hear him, but he suspected it heard him on the phone earlier. He was venturing into dangerous territory by just speaking, he knew this. "…He died a couple of weeks ago."
He fiddled with the music box in his hands. "I think they said it was a heart attack. He was having chest pains and all that, but…But they weren't able to stop it. When you get older you always get the risk of dying, but… It was sudden. It was really sudden." He decided not to even mention the fate of the Pizzeria. "I'm here because he… He wanted me to be here." He changed his original planned reveal of the will; he didn't want to even imagine that now this house was his. "I don't even know if you know what I'm saying or if you even care, but you deserve to know that he didn't just…"
Mike trailed off at this point. Grief was trying to nag at him; he had kept cool for this long and now he felt it creeping in on him. He managed to again push it back again and drop his head into his hand. He inhaled, he exhaled, he tried to think, but his mind was blank. He was only dragged out of his brief slump by a strange noise from the other side of the door. From his current position it sounded like a shuffling and unease passed his mind. "Please tell me there's not a vent or something in there…" He leaned a little closer to the door to try and hear the extremely faint sounds.
It was clearly crying. Soft, barely audible, but still crying. For a second it even almost sounded human.
Mike sort of assumed that there wouldn't be a reaction and tensed against the door. This is when he needed to get up and leave, give it some time to calm down, go get Sam, and then take it from there. Maybe it would even be best to just wind the music box and put the thing back to sleep. Unfortunately, he couldn't just walk away. It was a problem he had for years and why he kept returning to the Pizzeria, he couldn't detach himself and he couldn't let go.
He slowly stood to his feet, his pulse rising as he brought out the keys yet again. He stopped on the one he had used to lock the door and slid it back into the lock. This was probably the worst decision of his life. He knew it, but it didn't stop him from opening the door and stepping inside.
There was no going back from this.