William didn’t remember what it felt like to be caught in the rain.
He didn’t remember how it felt to have the drops reach their icy fingers all the way through his clothes, making his skin clammy and cold. He didn’t remember what it was like to walk home in the dark, soaked and freezing, hugging his coat tighter, even though he didn’t know if it made him warmer or colder, thinking of a nice dry house where his mother would already have a fire going in the fireplace and perhaps even a pot of tea already steeped. He didn’t remember running up to his room and changing into a warm, heavy sweater and pajama pants and spreading his schoolbooks and his spiral notebooks where he did all of his drawings out on the hearth to dry them out.
It’s good he didn’t remember any of that, otherwise a night such as this, sitting alone on the leaf-strewn floor inside Fazbear's Fright, with water and grime dripping through the plentiful holes in the ceiling, would have bothered him. The old moisture that drained through the holes where his ears attached and dripped irritatingly down the inside of his suit, speeding up the rot of faux fur and other more organic material, would have driven him insane years ago.
There wasn’t much to do anymore since the night guard had stopped coming years ago. Management had decided that the horror attraction was more horror than attraction and closed it down. The frayed wires in his throat buzzed once, twice, in what passed as a laugh these days. That had been fun while it had lasted. He’d scared away quite a few night guards, and even caught one, back before his joints had rusted solid. There had been something enjoyable about chasing stupid youngsters in the dark dressed as a goddamn seven foot rabbit. But then the last one had clocked him hard with a wrench, right across the shins, and snapped something crucial. Was it bone? Corroded metal? A bit of both? Hell if Will knew. He couldn’t bend down that far in his suit to see. Whatever had happened, it turned his walk to slow, lumbering phantom pain - he wasn’t sure if he felt pain anymore, or if it was just his rotting human brain remembering what pain was supposed to feel like.
Anyway, that wrench to the shins had stopped all games of cat and mouse indefinitely. And then the building shut down and he didn’t see any more night guards, no more kids. Not even gangly teenage ones hanging all over each other, pretending that they weren’t scared and that the rotting bunny man looked, wow, so fake, let’s get a pic. It seemed that the daytime programming was still strong and, no matter what William did, he couldn’t get the arms to close around their throats or to bite them when they got right up close and poked at his chipped glass eyes. Blasted programming choice. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, and Henry had insisted on it, but boy did it make this purgatory feel more like hell.
There wasn’t much reason to go walking around anymore, though. The door and windows had been bolted shut with sheetmetal, as though the new owner meant to turn the building into some kind of utility shed. That was ten years ago, though, and nothing came of it. Nothing happened, except the slow, unstoppable force of rot and rust. Just recently, the roof had begun to cave in, but cruelly, ironically, it only happened after he was no longer able to make that sort of climb. He couldn’t fit through any of those tiny holes, anyway. They were only large enough to let ivy and rain through. And a bit of moonlight. That sure was nice.
The moon was high and bright tonight, even through the rainclouds. William eased slowly onto his back so that he could stare up at it without the difficulty of keeping his head angled upward. God, his head was heavy. Felt like it had gotten heavier lately. Drops of rain dripped onto him from leaves and broken beams. They disappeared into the rancid yellow fur on his chest, onto his decimated snout, onto his animatronic eyes. He liked it when they fell on his eyes the most, because when they did, they would sometimes also trace along to the underside and drip into his skull. When the rain made contact with whatever flesh and bone still remained inside his head, William felt the cold, he felt the dark, he smelled his musty suit, he thought of walking home in the rain. He thought of Elizabeth, Michael, George, sticky ice cream fingers on a hot summer day. Just for a moment. Whether it was supernatural or just the water reacting with one of the cables that pierced through his brain, he didn’t know and didn’t much care. It was the last pocket of gold he had and he held it tight behind his broken teeth.
What was it again that had been so important that it had driven him to become this, he thought, flexing his sore fingers in the wet leaves, scraping them on the concrete underneath. Immortal life, huh? Ha, well, not sure he’d call this eternal “life.”
His audio receptors picked up the sound of scuffling claws in the dark. He lifted his head up suddenly and shone his faintly glowing eyes into the dark, trash filled corner. It was probably just a rat, but it had been so long since William had heard another living being that he searched desperately for it. The scratching and scuffling continued and finally, emerging from an overturned speaker, came a raccoon with a scrap of something in its hands. William watched it, completely still, satisfied with how his night was turning out. He hadn’t seen a raccoon for, god, it had to be—
Wait a second, he thought. How did a raccoon get in? It wasn’t through that hole in the ceiling, that was damn sure. William shot up with an echoing creak. The raccoon locked eyes on him and froze in shock; it hadn’t registered him as a living thing and now it was cornered.
“How dddiid y-you g-get in?” William mused in his buzzing, malfunctioning voice box.
The raccoon dropped its snack and ran.
“N-no w-wait! Please!” he called after it, struggling to his feet. His ankles refused to bend and he fell onto his face. The raccoon didn’t wait. William heard its feet disappear down the hall. “Damn y-you!!” he yelled. He felt one of the wires in his shoulder snap, which caused his arm to go limp. He squirmed on the floor until he could find his footing again. Clutching his dangling arm, he limped down the hall.
“Where did you c-come from?!” he demanded, glowing eyes piercing the dark like spring locks. “P-please, I want, I j-just w-want…”
Sticky ice cream fingers. Rain in his hair. Henry with the kettle on.
“Pleassse, don’t l-l-leave me…”
The raccoon wasn’t listening. William slowly checked all the rooms, but wherever it had come from, it had hid or exited the same way. He was standing in the last room at the end of the hall, the mens bathroom, the room with the least number of windows in the whole building and he knew he had lost it.
William punched the wall with his good hand, he punched it with his bad hand, he kicked it with both bad feet. The framework of the building shuddered in response but it held firm. Thank you, Henry, damn you. Like everything else in his life, it rebuffed him, no matter how much he screamed and raged.
When he and his mother had moved from south London to south New York City, his mother had told him that if he wanted his new high school peers to like him, all he needed to do was assert himself. Assert himself and smile. Introduce himself, sit down at lunch tables, steer the conversation. But, despite his mother’s advice, when he sat down, students left the table and found another. Only one boy had stayed put, and afraid of being alone at school any longer, William had clung tightly to him.
The wall wasn’t going to give, so William stopped his assault. Ten years ago, he’d have punched it until it broke on principle, but these days, what was the point? He stayed facing the wall, swaying on unsteady legs for a moment, letting his anger cool. He held up his broken arm and stared at it in wonder. How much worse could his body get before his soul was finally ejected into whatever punishment awaited him? When the building finally crumbled and he was nothing but a skull and bunny ears under a ton of rubble, would he still be here? That thought was the only thing that scared him away from experimenting; not that he could do much to his suit anyway with the lackluster tools left in the office.
Maybe he would never pass on to where souls go, maybe that was what hell was: stuck dying an unending death, alone and forgotten in silent darkness. Maybe this is where he would be until the sun went dark, too. He thought about this as he returned to his spot under the crack in the roof to wait out another night.
But William was wrong. What he didn’t and couldn’t know was at that very moment, an online auction closed on a dilapidated building being sold “as is” just outside of Denver. A congratulatory email was sent to email@example.com, who had already tucked in the kids and climbed into bed with his wife and wouldn’t see it until the next morning.