"But it's been so long!"
"Dude, I'm sure they're fine—"
"What if they're not?!"
"I...I don't know..."
The two friends remained in their seats, staring at each other in worry. By now the restaurant was nearly empty, for outside had become quite dark. It was usually around this time that Freddy Fazbear's Pizza began to retire. Already the animatronics had retreated to their lair, wherever that was, and many employees had gone home for the night. The place was barren, save for perhaps a family for two that had decided to stay abnormally long. Whether to visit with each other or just relax, their reasons were unknown. But Bernard and Leveret stayed out of fear. Fear that something had happened to the girls.
It had been exactly half an hour since Vixen had left to console Pazi. Bernard had been keeping a close eye on the wall clock by the entrance, because "that was just the kind of person he was," he claimed. And as that big hand made it's leisurely way around the face, a 180 rotation was in the end reached. They shouldn't have been taking this long.
Something must have gone wrong.
"What do we do? What do we do?" Bernard rambled, clamping his hands to his face. "What if something's wrong? What do we do?!"
"Bernard!" Leveret shouted, calling him out of his own stressful world. The boy looked up at his friend, seeing his hands laid out on the table, and his eyes piercing through him. "Chill out, you hear me!" he commanded. "You're not helping!"
"You think I care!" Bernard yelled, then immediately hid himself back in his hands. In order to hide a blotchy red face, from both Leveret and the customers that had turned to stare. "You don't get it," he muttered. "I don't know where my sister is. You don't understand how scared losing your little sister makes you."
Leveret didn't respond right away. Bernard was right; he couldn't have understood. Leveret didn't have a younger sibling. His sister was much older than him, so there was no need worrying about where she was. Scarlett was indeed very responsible, but at the same time the greatest sister in the world. Sure, they were at each other's throats quite often, but they always made up afterward. It was an unconventional relationship, but a relationship nonetheless. In secret, they actually liked each other, even if people around them didn't believe it. And although Scarlett could most certainly take care of herself, Leveret knew that if something had ever happened to her, he wouldn't know how to keep living. So perhaps he didn't know that same pain Bernard possessed, but at least he understood something similar. Enough for him to relate even a little.
"Okay," Leveret said, and Bernard raised his gaze. "I get it. You got every right to be scared. Just, maybe give them the benefit of the doubt, you know?"
Bernard wiped away a tear from his cheek. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"I mean, maybe they're okay," his friend responded. "They could just be taking a really long time. Just before we start wigging out and calling the cops we should look around for 'em, right?"
Bernard paused to think, but eventually agreed. "Right," he concluded, gathering himself enough to seem like he might not have been crying. "Okay. We should just go check the restrooms then?"
Leveret nodded. "That would be the first place to check. That's where they went anyway."
The two boys rose from their seats and made their way across the room, down toward the restrooms area. In search of friend and sister.
And Albert saw this.
People had seemed to disregard the little boy at the end of the dining hall, sitting all by himself. His mismatched Rubix Cube was held in his hands underneath the table, but he had officially lost interest in attempting it. Albert watched as Bernard and Leveret walked to the restrooms, and he felt a dreadful knot in his stomach. They shouldn't go over there, he knew. Although he didn't exactly know the reason. They just shouldn't. As far as Albert knew, that place was a trap. He had seen Pazi had go back there, and she didn't return. Vixen had made her way into that room, and she never came out. Albert didn't want Bernard and Leveret to go in there either. He want to see them come out. He prayed so hard that they would be safe. Because whatever was back there was not friendly to visitors, and it made sure that they never came back.
Leveret peeked out from the doorway. "They in there?" he called.
A voice echoed from the other room. "No," it responded. "How about there?"
"No," the boy uttered, exiting the men's restroom. Bernard came out of the women's, his face downcast. "Are you sure?" he asked. "Because I don't remember them leaving."
"Yeah, man. I'm sure," Leveret said. "I checked all the stalls."
Bernard put a hand to his head. "Oh my gosh. Oh my—"
"Hey," his friend warned. "Don't start. We only checked one place. They're probably just somewhere else." As he assured his friend, Leveret wasn't exactly sure himself. On the inside he was just as scared, though he tried his hardest not to show it.
Bernard stared at him for quite a while, but then nodded. "Yeah, you're right," he said. "So, like, how about that storage closet?"
Leveret wore a look of confusion, but Bernard was already on the move. The boy turned around to see his friend reaching for the handle of a door. Leveret hadn't really noticed it before. It was quite inconspicuous, as it seemed to camouflage with the violet walls. Though since the door was unmarked, no one could know for sure if it led to a closet. But honestly, what else could it be?
"Oh," he uttered. "Um, sure. Sounds good."
Although whether or not he gave the "okay" wouldn't have stopped Bernard. He intended to twist the nob in his hand, only to find that it wouldn't twist at all.
"Huh," Leveret spoke from behind. "Well, guess not there."
Bernard turned around and gazed. "You're not helping," he said.
Leveret winced. "Yeah, I know, sorry. Just...follow me."
The two walked back into the dining hall, which had further emptied since they had left. "Here, how's this?" Leveret suggested. He pointed down toward the entrance. "You check over there, aaaand..." he scanned the area a bit, "...and the Pirate-Stage-Thingy." He then gestured behind him. "I'll do the halls right there."
Bernard glanced toward the areas he had been designated to, wondering why in the world Pazi and Vixen would be in either. But realizing that there were few other places for them to be, he pushed the inquiry aside. "Okay," he said, and that was that. Bernard made his way to Pirate Cove, and Leveret disappeared into the hallway behind him.
After a while, Leveret had finished his task. He had examined the darkened halls, and on top of that even searched the security room that he had discovered connected them. Yet all he could find was a big load of nothing. A few posters, a telephone, a static video screen, a dusty fan, and perhaps a useless knickknack here or there. All that mattered was that neither Pazi nor Vixen was to be found, quite contrary to what Leveret had guessed. So there the boy stood, outside one of the dim hallways he had just searched, without any idea of what to do next. He saw that Bernard was still behind the stage, on his own quest for his sister and friend. Other than the slight rustle of the star-patterned curtain, there was absolutely nothing in the dining hall. No customers, no employee, not even an animatronic. It was apparent that he and Bernard had limited time left to search. Before the place officially closed, and their chance would be lost.
Where else would they have gone? Leveret asked himself. There was nowhere else in the restaurant for them to be. Though the boy believed that Pazi and Vixen could still be alright. He wasn't one to jump to conclusions, so without evidence he found it unwise to conclude anything at all. Not until the fat lady sang, he thought.
So instead, he recapped to himself: there was the Pirate-Stage-Thingy, which was being searched by Bernard at this very moment; the entrance, also Bernard's department; the halls and security room, a complete bust; the kitchen, which was completely and undeniably off-limits to customers; the dining hall—obviously; the restrooms, not there either; the storage closet...
Well, it had been locked.
Leveret slowly made his way back toward the restrooms, as a thought wormed its way through his mind. Pazi had run into that area by the restrooms, and none of the three had seen her leave. Vixen had gone back there as well, and neither Bernard nor Leveret noticed her come out. It would have made sense for them to hide in the women's room, yet as they weren't in any of the stalls, neither women's nor men's, there was only one other place for them to be.
What were the chances of the three of them, all watching at the same time might he add, missing the blonde-haired little girl leave the area? And how could the boys not notice their friend, who honestly stuck out like a sore thumb both age-wise and clothes-wise, even if she had pulled a "secret agent" and sneaked out? The point was, it wasn't practical. The chances were nary, and that calculation had spiked Leveret's interest in that closet. Or, whatever that door led into. As it was the only other route to travel in that little area, he had found his culprit. They had to be in there. And the fact that the door was locked only frightened him more.
So he crept up to the barrier, his fist at the ready to knock upon it.
Though he didn't have to. For just as he raised his hand to rap it, it opened.
Leveret stepped back in alarm, as a strange being made its way through the opening.
A furry yellow suit.
The rabbit-like animatronic closed the door behind itself, and turned with the intention of going back to its post. Until it saw Leveret, however. It froze in place at the sight of him, staring with cold metal eyes. Leveret stared as well, except with very much real eyes. While he looked on, a strong whiff of chemicals smacked him in the face. He blinked only to shield his eyes from the airborne hazard, but they teared up despite the effort.
"You mind, kid?" the robot suddenly asked, which startled the boy quite. "I gotta get back to work."
Leveret continued to stare. "Um..." he uttered, a bewilderment thrown upon his face. "The restaurant is empty..."
The animatronic went silent. "Wait, what?" it said, as it lifted its hands to its head, and removed it. "What time is it?" the man asked, whom the character had been revealed to be. Leveret strove to answer, but merely sputtered incoherently; this was a odd situation, to say the least.
"Uh, it's, um, like, seven-ish, eight-ish. I'm, uh, not exactly sure, though..."
The employee lifted a fuzzy hand to his face, as he gazed off into the distance. "Jesus," he muttered, running the yellow glove through his hair. "My boss is gonna kill me."
Once he could get past the overwhelming stench, Leveret recalled what he was supposed to be doing. "Hey, uh, sir?" he said, making an attempt at being polite—something he didn't try often.
The man looked down at him, awaking from his pink-slip-daydream. "Yeah?" he answered.
Leveret peeked past the yellow suit, eyeing the door with anticipation. "May I take a look in there?" he asked, jumping in head-first.
The employee's eyes widened slightly, and his face went nearly pale. Leveret noticed it, and backtracked to see where he had gone wrong.
"Uh, please?" he corrected, relieved that he actually remembered—better late than never, he supposed.
The man stared a moment, but in the end responded, "Sorry, I can't let you in there." He nervously chuckled. "Employees only, you know? It's one of those rules."
That Leveret understood fully; it was a common guideline. Yet this felt off. What exactly was it that he found off? Simply, the employee himself. He had emerged out of a storage closet, after quite a long time it sounded. He had completely lost track of the time, something that an employee should never disregard. He spoke as if he were a little kid that had been told to keep a secret, and not to mention wreaked of bleach. What in the world had this man done? What things had he seen?
"Yeah, I know," Leveret stated regardless. "It's just my friend and I are looking for some people and they were over here. So I was just wondering if I...I....."
The boy never finished what he wanted to say, for he started to trail off. After he noticed something upon the rabbit-suit's bright yellow fur. A rosy blemish that he had nearly missed.
Leveret's mind whirred at the speed of light, as it began to connect all the dots. Locked door, disoriented, anxiety, smell of cleaner, and now to top it all off, a blotch of what seemed to be blood hidden under his arm. The boy had seen this scenario numerous times, on those crime shows he and his sister always watched on television. The ones where the main character solved...murders.
He had been so invested in his detective skills that he hadn't noticed the scowl forming on the employee's face. Leveret hadn't been hiding the fact that he saw the red stain on the fur, his eyes intent and mouth agape. But he suddenly realized that he was in deep water. The man directly in front of him was a killer, and he knew that he knew.
So naturally, as is human instinct, rather than fight a man twice his size, Leveret proposed to run for the hills. Although, unfortunately, he didn't get too far. Mid-stride he felt a plush clutch around his arm, impeding his plan of escape. The boy experienced his heart drop to his stomach, as a dreadful fear encased his mind. He was jerked backward to his unsurprising dismay, and his body fell upon an ironically comfortable fur. The man's hold on him was impossible; there would be no chance of getting away. Immediately Leveret intended to scream at the top of his lungs, for that was all he was able to do now. Yet when he suddenly felt that same pleasant fuzz pressed against his face, he knew right away that he was finished. There was nothing more he could do. His scream was but a muffled background noise rather than a plea for help. There would be nobody to come to his rescue. He would experience the same fate that Vixen and Pazi had, in whatever morbid way they had been ended. He wouldn't be able to run, nor would he live to tell the tale. He couldn't avoid the inevitable demise that lay before him. He couldn't warn Bernard of this peril that now faced him. Leveret would never get to see his friends, or his family again.
He would never get to tell Vixen how much he liked her. Nor would he ever know if she had liked him back. Though he most certainly could have told her. In fact, he had had the opportunity an entire year, but had put it off at every chance. To think that he had been so close to telling her, just telling her! If he had known that his day would be their last, he would have shown her time and time again how much she had meant to him. But now it was too late; he had lost his chance forever.
Leveret knew this. And he hated it so much.
So as the killer dragged him into the unmarked room, poor Leveret, for the first time in a long time, cried.
And he closed the door behind him.