CHAPTER 1 (no longer a thing RIP)
Henry Crosem liked to think of himself as a simple man. Ever since he was a boy he’d only ever had his sights respectively fall upon the category of:
Get good grades.
Get a good scholarship, specifically in the art field.
Maybe find himself a beautiful wife who could cook about as well as him.
They’d get married and have kids. How many kids Henry was never sure about, he just knew he wanted some kids. A couple of girls and a couple of boys.
Then he’d get old and have grandchildren. He would die happy with the ones he loved.
A simple, American way of thinking. Just living a happy life till the end of days. Nevermind the dreamers with big ideas and egotistical mindsets with business, business, business on their minds; all Henry wanted to achieve at was being happy.
He had never imagined himself as someone who was an amazing artist. It just so happened he was capable of drawing cartoons the best. Everytime he put pencil to paper those sketches became outlines and those outlines seemed to almost always breathe life in them with their exaggerated facial expressions and happy-go-lucky smiles adorning their round, plump cheeks. Pie cut eyes colored in black held all assortments of emotions ranging from melancholy, angry, grumpy, sad, bored, irritated, you name it; he could draw it.
An amazing cartoonist is what they’d called him.
He’d do well working for Fleischer or Disney, they would praise to him.
Henry, however, liked to think otherwise. It had never been a case of what studio he would go to, more like what kind of college would give him the best experience of his twenties. There was never a goal to join a big studio, too much expectation to follow the rules, stick strictly to the guidelines, don’t go off script! If there was one thing Henry Crosem hated more than algebra as a whole, it was having his creativity diminished or restrained into oblivion.
With the creative liberty he gave himself, he had managed to create something quite amazing. Something you wouldn't expect to get pass the parent censors, but this was Henry they were referring to and so they didn’t question the sharp horns and gleefully, creepy (but not sinister) smile that adorned the white of its face.
It had been created, though it had no name. It would be four exact months before a name that would be recognized and feared in the land would be given to the cartoon character.
“No, I mean the name - for the character - should be Bendy.”
Henry looked over at the voice who had spoken. It was a boy, well a man technically, but he had a few set features that made him seem like a boy, with a lanky build about him. His knees were knobby, and one even appeared to be slightly crooked (he was not wearing long pants like he usually would to hide such an extremity) and an angular and narrow face, his eyes were kind of big, and they were a bright brown swimming with mirth, his cheek bones portruded from the sides of his face, chin just a tad too sharp for one’s liking; his ears were pointy and big and stuck out like elf ears and his nose was sharp and curved up a bit at the end. To top it all off, he wore big, goofy-looking glasses that lo and behold, completed the nerd aesthetic to a fine degree.
Henry gave him a raised eyebrow and turned to look down at the little doodle he had created. “Bendy, huh?”
The picture itself was simplistic in design with “Bendy” waving enthusiastically at nothing in particular with a big smile on his face. Behind him lay a sweetly curved tail with the tip being drawn to look like the tip of an ink pen. A niche little design Henry was especially proud of.
Joey laid back into the bench he was situated on and shrugged, “It seemed like a good idea to me - I mean, it’s just..remember that essay from a few months back?”
“The one where I specifically remember coming into your dorm room and witnessing you bashing your head on a table while muttering about how much you want to jump out a window.”
Oh. That one. Some time ago, three months actually, Henry had embarked on an amazing journey through literature, in which he was told to write an entire essay on character designs and how they should and must coincide with their personalities in some shape or form. The teacher had given the students permission to use their own characters they had created in the essay as an example, and naturally, Henry had picked the first ever toon he'd called an actual success. The little toon demon had had many names running through Henry's brain, but none had ever stuck, and when he had found one halfway through his essay and sleep deprived he'd accidentally misspelled the name, and what came of it was jumbled jargon of what should have been Bentley.
Luckily, it was his own work and so his teacher completely glossed over the typo when he'd turned it in, didn't mean anything to Henry who was a wreck throughout the whole endeavor and beyond. To hear Joey bring it back up again had him quite annoyed and embarrassed, which was always a good combination of emotions.
“I mean...that doesn't...really...sound - feasible?...” Henry stated, wincing at how his voice strained on the last word. He'd had a sore throat for a whole week, and it was annoying - agitating - at best.
Joey suddenly leaned in, eyes wild with excitement. “But, it could work so well! Like a pun!”
“Well, I mean, he's a toon; and they're pretty bendy aren't they?” Joey stated in a matter-of-fact tone. He shrugged.
“Well yeah-” Henry muttered, finding himself becoming a tad more convinced.
“Then it's perfect!” Joey exclaimed, arms flailing about. He almost fell out of his seat in the process of his jerky movements.
Henry snorted and rolled his eyes at his friends antics, then glanced back down at his crinkled, white paper. Hesitantly he reached for the pen he had laid down on the table, before lightly gripping it, and, holding it steadily, etched the word ‘Bendy’ into the paper.
Well...it wasn't that bad of a name…
The name for the studio, was pretty lacking in creativity.
Joey Drew Studios.
It was bad enough that Joey's name was viable to turn into someone's pun of the week, but then to gleefully add it to the studio's name - considering on the fact that it was an animation studio to begin with - didn't make it better, and Henry so badly wanted to bury himself into the sandy and gravel parking lot.
Beside him Joey stood proud and tall with his hands on his waist looking up at the crooked sign reading his name in big, blocky letters. A smile, all teeth exposed, like it could light up a Christmas tree was plastered on his face, and with some carelessness, the man slammed a hand upon Henry's shoulder with more force than he had intended, especially for someone so skinny.
Henry looked, and his moss greens met excited browns that seemed to have a smile of their own. It was infectious in a way and the chestnut haired man smiled as well.
“With this, Henry. This studio; you and I...we're gonna go places...big places…”
Joey said it with confidence and bravado and Henry couldn't help but to believe him. Even if he thought that couldn't be further from the truth.
Even though some part of him felt like this was lie. A big lie.
One of many lies yet to be made.
The place itself was desolate and gray.
Faded, yellowed walls with torn and shredded wood, along with the pervasive smell of old ink was all that was left of a dream.
And Henry had long since cried about it.
Shuffling through the strangely quiet halls of the studio, he tried to keep his breathing as shallow as possible, especially with the aforementioned dust and...rotten wood, he hoped that was what that smell was. Stepping lightly over wooden boards so as to not immediately fall down another hole the man continued on, clutching a broken and bent pipe against his chest, if only if to feel secure if nothing else. His axe, which would be his third axe having been lost, had broken while in the midst of a fight with a hoard of searchers. He’d narrowly escaped death for the twentieth time before giving up and thrusting the rest of what was left of the weapon into the ‘stomach’ of one of the moaning creatures of blackness.
Didn’t mean anything though because he still ended up with a mouthful of ink that he just barely managed to stop from slithering down his throat. He scratched at his neck feeling an itching sensation welling up inside him.
Another coughing fit.
Not now! Not now! Henry cast his eyes around the space he was in but all he could see were blank walls with questionable dark stains splattered on them that definitely didn’t look like ink to him.
Walking just a little bit faster till he was going in a light jog he made it to the end of the hallway where he came across two passages.
A wheezy breath in the form of an exhale escaped passed his lips, releasing some of the pressure from off his chest. With a quickness, the man hadn’t known himself to have he slapped a thick hand against his mouth silencing any further noise less he make a noise loud enough to attract attention to any monsters roaming the halls and be killed off - that, and he didn’t even know of any other Bendy statues that could be down here. And besides that, he couldn’t afford to get into another fight, not now; not after having to deal with killing the only true companion he’d found solace in in this hellhole of a studio turned into a beast of nightmarish proportions by that fucking someone he thought he could trust. And then having to fight them afterwards when they didn’t get their way, Henry just slightly escaping the inky person’s grasp and making a beeline for the exit. Now he found himself incredibly deep within the studio, and at this point he was certain that there was no way of escape, all he could truly do now was survive, and maybe hope that he could come across someone else trapped here as well, although the likelihood of that being the case was quite small as far as he was concerned, and yet optimism had always been one of Henry’s defining characteristics. Now alongside being able to cheat death itself!
It was funny though really - the ink could destroy you or heal you, yet it could never figure out which to stick with when it came to Henry, which technically gave him the advantage to do as he pleases, but there was a need to still be cautious around the stuff…
He wondered if that’s why Wally and Norman ended up sharing the same fate...
Henry shook his head, his faded, chestnut hair bobbing lightly with the motion. He couldn’t think about those things now. When he found a safe room to rest in he could reminiscence and cry like a bitch then, right now he needed to focus. The pressure in his chest had built up even more and the wheezes were turning into full on gulps for air as he tried to maintain composure, but it was kind of hard to do that when his lungs felt as if they could burst at any second, and he was sure that if he stopped now to let out a polite and quiet cough he would end just showing that it was truly possible for a human to projectile vomit from a distance.
But he couldn’t stop, and his coughing fit could very well leave him vulnerable to any ambush.
Better to be safe than to be sorry.
That’s what he told his daughter at least.
“But the spider looks so cute! Why can’t I touch it? It ain’t doin’ nothing!” A small girl with pale skin and dark hazel hair and intense dark blue eyes stared up him with a small pout, her brow furrowed.
“Only if you wanna get bitten!” Henry exclaimed sitting the tool box covered in oil. He’d been working on the family car has it had broken down for the third time in a row and he wanted to check it out and see if he could fix the problem himself before even entertaining the thought of going to a car shop to get it repaired. He turned to her and placed his hands on his hips, a steady, playful glare directed at her. “Your mother and I don’t have the means to pay another hospital bill because you’re feelin’ a little adventurous.”
The girl pouted just a little bit more to the point of where her bottom lip began to wobble, and with some cursed talent she managed to give off the impression that she was about to cry. Luckily, Henry had had plenty of time to get used to her ‘pouty face’ and so was able to ignore it. He waggled a finger at her with a stern glare, “Nuh-uh, ain’t happenin’.”
“Daaaaaad!” She stomped her feet on the hard packed earth causing small dust clouds to poof into existence. She balled her small hands into small fists and glared back at him silently. Her dark eyes reflecting a storm, yep, she certainly was her mother…
“Better to be safe than sorry my dear!” And he said this in what he considered to be a perfect match to the Wicked Witch’s voice from ‘The Wizard of Oz’, though of course his wife and child would digress heavily on that front.
So caught up in his memories, Henry completely forgot to pay attention to just about...well anything, and so when the first cough, which turned into a second and then a third came loose from his throat, he immediately collapsed on his hands and knees, inhaling shaky breaths and desperately wishing for some water to alleviate the misery his throat was under. Coughing seized for a moment before making a comeback faster than he could anticipate, and soon he was hacking and choking on bits of ink lodged in his throat refusing to come out anytime soon. Spat on the ground and looked in horror and the wet chunk of dried ink and blood glistening in the dim light of the hall.
He stood back up hastily, groaning and still spitting and hacking and wheezing and coughing. As he did this he could hear the sounds of heavy moans from behind, and he turned to see thin amalgamations of a half-human half-melted deformity crawling across the floor, its thin arms shivering as if they could collapse at any moment.
Although this one was small, where there was one, there would be ten more to count and Henry knew he definitely didn’t have the strength to fight them all off.
So he ran.
Or attempted to at least. Instead he hobbled a meger pace that would grandmas seem faster in comparison to a man in his late fifties.
He wasn’t anywhere near the end of the hallway when he heard a ghastly screech from behind, and, deciding that looking back was really stupid (he was going to die anyways though) he looked behind him to see ‘Bendy’ casually making his way out if the inky portal he’d created. From the looks of it, he was now more skinny than before, with what was supposed to be a spinal cord now looking closer to sharp spikes protruding from his back. His ribcage was more defined and poked through his ‘skin’ showing bits of white. If Henry dared to squint and look closer he could even make out bits of dark ‘flesh’ hanging off the ends of the white marrow.
The monster seemed to look to his left before looking to his right and staring dead at him.
Or at least he thought he was staring at him.
It paused, as if observing him, and then with a loud cry unlike all the others he’d heard before, it charged with clawed, inky limbs outstretched, ready to kill him immediately. At that point, still hacking up blood and ink, Henry allowed the creature to grip him, its claws digging deep into his flesh. He cried out in agony, but realized it was pointless because it was all the same dance and no amount of pleading or crying or begging would cause the pain to end; his suffering would continue onwards whether he wanted it to or not. And he was pretty sure this thing was just sentient enough to be able to understand how to sneak up and kill its prey, but not enough to have a moral conscience. Or at least that was the only theory he could come to.
Then again, was it really a theory? The amount of times he had been ambushed by ‘Bendy’ was immense after all.
Henry had long since stopped screaming, even as those wicked claws ripped flesh and skin from his white bones; even as he felt those same claws puncture a lung, causing him to gasp desperately for air; even as he had his intestines ripped violently from his stomach and in his faded moments of lasting life he watched the creature, with an ever present grin etched onto its face, crush his heart.
Blood was splattered everywhere, some of it old, and some of it new. Although if you asked Henry he wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference.
Henry’s entire body had been eviscerated and mutilated beyond recognition and could very well be described as a smears of red and chunks of flesh scattered about. Because that was basically what he had become, and still was technically.
Struggling through the tunnel of ink he could feel bits of his body wriggling and growing back. It was at this point, as he grew a neck for his decapitated head, that he realized he had just mere moments ago been nothing but a floating mass of empty air, or better yet, if this world worked the way it evidently did, he had been nothing but a floating soul amongst the ink that was now regrowing a body. And that was kind of cool, but also terrifying.
Everyone else lost their soul to the ink and yet he was still here ?!
He had died in the worst way imaginable. In a way that should not have ended with him emerging from the ink puddle next to the Bendy statue he had become familiarized with. Everyone else was gone, but even when he lost all his body parts his soul was able to go on…
Apparently, Joey was really fucking adamant about keeping him alive…
Fuck you, Joey...just- fuck you…
“Welp, twice times the charm I guess…”he muttered making his way back down…
Shit where the fuck was he?
He paused and looked both ways before a sudden realization dawned on him.
“Seriously, fuck you Joey…”
Successfully raiding a trashcan for food in a world dominated by inky creatures that didn’t necessarily need food to survive was always a blessing.
Which was incredibly ironic considering on the fact that this place ran on Satanic magic.
At least Bendy liked to think so.
Curved, white claws dragged through rubbish pulling out scraps of meat and black, fleshy things covered in ink. The toon was sure it was worms. He shrugged and shoved the food in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. Two more days before he would at least reach the sewer parts of the city, though of course he could cut that down to one-in-a-half if he snuck aboard one of those supply ships those Goldies were stationed in. But then again, everyone was looking for him most likely, or would soon.
Snatching a few more scraps of rotten meat covered in ink he shoved it deep into his pant pockets which were a dark, navy-green coloring with a dark, gray-orange coat wrapped snug around his top torso.
The toon jumped up and looked around wildly with oddly off-model eyes. He had stopped in one of the many alleyways designated throughout the city. In the distance, he could hear the sounds of shouting and yelling and the sounds of blaring horns.
Great - more hiding. And just when he didn't feel like involving Boris in anymore danger than he already was…
And he didn't trust his magic to be cooperative with him at the moment with his nerves all frazzled.