Happiest Day

How long is too long? A question no child should ever have to consider.
(Entry for "Oneshot Writing Competition") (Revised as of 7/27/17)


1. Happiest Day

She appeared.

And that was all she knew.

She hadn't walked through any entrance, nor had she made any intention on coming here.

She just...appeared. That really was the only word for it. But she understood.

No, not really. Though she had grown accustomed to not understanding.

A familiar image encompassed her, dulled like an old photograph. Tables set out for dining, and balloons pressed against the ceiling. Strings stagnant as if wire, while they dangled from the bulbous rubbery sheens of blue, green, purple, yellow, and red.


She hated the color.

It was a hue that spoke of massacre, like an omen of damnation.

A color that she had seen far too often.

The blur of a restaurant rippled like a dream. It looked exactly as she had remembered. The little phantom truly did not understand.

She liked to think that this all made sense, but that would be quite invalid. Everything that had happened to her was up in the air, a hazy fog trying to resemble a memory.

Twenty years it had been since that memory had begun.

Or was it thirty? Perhaps a hundred?

She couldn't have known for sure. It had been so long ago.

Yet she hadn't changed. While she stood and was, she bore the same age as when she had ended. And she would continue to look a mere fraction of her years, her appearance tinted a fitting corpse gray. For as long as she li—

Never mind that.

Her legs carried her across the tile that so vividly resembled a game of checkers. Beside her she caught a glimpse of two inanimate figures, seated at one of many tables. A cake frosted in pink towered before them, and the pattern continued for a ways, at nearly every other table beyond. With the exception of one child she noticed sitting alone, in sole possession of the lumbering dessert, all to himself. Lucky duck.

Whether accompanied or solo, each kid donned some sort of mask picturing any variety of animal. She remembered she could have bought any one of them long ago.

Before she was imprisoned for no wrongdoing, forced into her own little corner of hell.

All that she could afford was this piece that veiled her face presently, one that had certainly not been available for purchase at the wavering booth in the corner. She knew of this character she portrayed, better than some. As if she and it were one in the same.

She cursed its very existence.

It had been a prison cell with no door to bolt. It was never meant to be as such, yet had been despite. A bringer of joy to "children and adults alike," repurposed into a chamber to shackle the innocent. She bore the face of a life-sized jack-in-the-box, an animatronic that somehow only she had found completely petrifying.

And she had played its part for as long as the thing had remained assembled, and even longer after that.

"Mommy! Wind the Puppet for me!"

"That Puppet gets me every time!"

"Ahh! It's so scary! Close it! Close it!"

The years were lengthy and harsh; it grew ever so tiresome. She watched, she heard, she felt. Every time the crank would turn, the teeth of the gears meshed and winding. When the latch released and allowed her to soar, after a passage of time not even she could foretell. She would pop right back out to the squeals of children and the gasps of adults. Unable to move, silenced to nothing at all. Not a scream for help to be made, not a cry for her mommy and daddy to be heard.

Instead, she was made to listen to their own piercing shrills, declaring for all to hear that she was just "so scary."

She knew she was scary. She had seen it burst from the crate made to look like a present. Like a gift that promised a surprise unlike anything you've seen before.

So true, yet so deceitful. And now she was able to experience that fluttering feeling.

She was the Puppet.

Although it slipped her mind from time to time, she hadn't always been a living machine. She was once but a child, lost far too soon. Taken from her family and judged unfairly; lynched for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. She had been trapped in that stupid Puppet for so long, that she had nearly forgotten who she was.

I was Marion.

She had to remind herself often.

I was Marion. I am Marion.

She was still her, whether or not she still was.

It made sense...not really.

She hated that horrid thing. She hated them all. Every single one.

No, not them.

She hated those animatronics they had been put in.

Marion would never hate them.

The others she had come to know, taken just as she. So many victims that she had to count.

Nine. She had known of nine. Ten if she considered the boy from Fredbear. But she had never been sure about him...

However, there were the four that Marion had been acquainted with the longest, whose demises she had witnessed with her own two eyes—as plastic and painted as they had been. The youthful spirits had cared for her like siblings in their capture, even despite their disapproval of the living arrangements. Marion had given them all life, each child the body of the animatronic which they were to house for eternity. She thought that this in itself would be enough to repay them for their kindness, to perhaps grant them relief after the terrible events that had unfolded.

After all, that was what she had wanted; to keep living. 

But it seemed a trait that they hadn't exactly been pleased to have. In fact, none of the nine seemed to appreciate it much. Marion didn't understand this either.

And that man, a face none of them would ever forget. For it had been he, clad in his revolting purple uniform, who had ended them all.

Marion and the initial four—they had ended him one stormy night. Showed him the true meaning of pain, forced him to know their suffering firsthand. Finally, their nemesis was granted the recompense that was due him. A glorious feeling it was, the happiest day Marion could recall.

At least, it should have been.

But even so, although he was gone with revenge so sweet, nothing seemed to change.

For they were still d—

Never mind.

Through the eyes of her mask she kept her gaze fixed, as she crept straight toward a doorway, her preplanned intention.

Until her foot kicked something across the floor.

Marion glanced down at the checkerboard, seeing the object she had catapulted with surprising ease. It was a mask bearing a character she had known before, but hadn't come across in a very long time. She walked over to pick it up in her hand, a sudden excitement surging through her. It had been so long since she had touched anything, without the hindrance of the Puppet in her way. The weight of the mask work with the pull of gravity, the glossy plastic smooth at her fingertips. It was a sensation she couldn't describe: feeling. Sacred, if she dare say. A sense that nobody would think to miss, until the opportunity was taken away. Marion could have stayed there forever, caressing the mask in her hands. She certainly had the time.

But she forced herself from the trance and tore her eyes from the piece. It laid grasped at her side, where she wouldn't have to think about it, or wonder where it could possibly have come from.

She didn't understand the situation, so she pushed it aside. Life just worked easier for her that way.

Or, perhaps not...

She continued to move to the doorway. There was no door, however, but only a curtain that acted as a barrier for sight, and nothing else. Marion arrived at this sad attempt at solitude and reached out her arm. The cloth lay at the back of her hand, and it followed the subtle movements she made.

The feeling...so soft...

Marion rattled her head. She was only prolonging the inevitable. She wouldn't let herself fall for this again. Her arm moved to the opposite end of the doorway, the curtain having swept alongside her hand.

And she saw the four.

She saw five. But she recognized those four.

Marion shouldn't have been startled. She knew that they would be there. Besides, this was her memory, and her own invitation. But even with the anticipation she had constructed as high as a tower, she might as well have been thrown a surprise party. The usual kind, where the participant deserving of praise knew all along. She had been aware this whole time she had meandered throughout her long-lost memories, the forgotten enclosure of Fredbear Family Diner.

The scene of her murder.

She stayed put in a daze, the moment returning so violent and vivid, and not of her own accord. Long ago she had stood at that window, one cool autumn day as she could recall. Peering through teary eyes inside the restaurant that had opened just a few months prior. Marion stood and watched the kids run around and play, toying around with the animatronics that had been raising inquiries from parents all over the town. She was meant to only stand for a minute, out of curiosity alone. And then she would return home after a long day at school, and see her family as she always did. It was a routine, but a blessed one. Though she didn't consider it special at the time, the little girl had thought upon her evenings fondly, but nothing more than that. 

And Marion could remember the horrid feeling in her gut arise so suddenly, like a stomach-ache that would never be cured. A hot fiery redness dribbling from the tear, contrasting the icy metal that her insides felt for the first time. The instant she realized what had happened, and had thought to gaze into the reflection of the window pane. Imperfect the glare had seemed, but Marion couldn't have forgotten his face even if she had tried. For a thousand years if God willed her to continue. A picture of pure evil, cruelty ablaze in his eyes. And ultimately, that unsettling grin of amusement.

In a mere few seconds she had meticulously sketched this man's contours and features, an unintentional yet impressive feat in her final moments. The last thing she felt herself do in her weakness was keel over and slam onto the pavement. She remembered nothing else.

Until she awoke to a cold unlike any other.


Marion perked her gaze from the tile up to where the voice had come. The memory had been much too real, as if she were there and not here. Though she was certainly not anywhere near Fredbear Family Diner; the place had closed down not long following her death. The little girl was the very reason the building had shut its doors. Apparently not many parents wanted to bring their children to a place where murder was a possibility.

Marion couldn't have been there.

In fact, she was nowhere.

And so were they.

"It's you."

She peeked through the holes of her mask and found them all there, seated around a low table and below even more variegated balloons. Every single child looking up at her like an elephant in the room, when in reality she was nothing of the sort. For they were just like her.

Marion couldn't see the four's faces, yet she knew exactly who they were. Strung around their heads were masks not unlike her own, embodying the characters that they themselves had been damned to haunt. A young man rose from the ground at her entry, costumed as the pinnacle mascot of the franchise. Yet he said nothing, and only kept staring as before.

At the opposite end of the table two others had reclined, and were now sitting up at attention at the sight of the child. A boy and a girl, seeming near the same age as their friend who played the part of Freddy Fazbear. Respectively a bunny and a fox, animatronics with silly names that Marion didn't care to recall.

"Why are we here?" inquired a little girl near the back, as a bird character whose species nobody could ever agree upon. 

She was so young.

She was too young.

Marion inched forward, her hands taking hold of the unoccupied mask in front of her. She shivered, quite nervous out of her mind.


But nothing else would come out; as if she had anything to say anyway. Marion was in the spotlight, an actress stricken with stage fright. All she knew in this moment was that she had wanted someone to be with her, anyone that was left.

And here they were.

"Where is this?" the girl in the fox mask spoke.

Marion bowed her head. It had slipped her mind that they wouldn't know this place. How could they?

"It's..." she wavered, "...it's called...Fredbear...Family Diner..."

No one said anything. Perhaps the five were thinking over the title, contemplating whether or not they had heard it before.

"This is where I.....this is where I..."

Marion couldn't say it. She wouldn't finish the sentence, not even in her own mind. She couldn't accept that she—

"You died here?"

She whipped her head up in a flash toward the source. The fifth child at this congregation, the single soul that she hadn't met before. He sat at the very end of the table opposite where she stood, the only one of them that revealed a tearstained face. Of all the children, he was the elephant in the room. And it wasn't too difficult for Marion to remember the mask in her hands, and put two and two together.

"You're the boy in Fredbear," Marion uttered, slowly shedding her nerves. The little boy adverted his eyes down to the table. "I haven't met you before," she continued mindlessly. This child had always fascinated her. She had heard that his head had been crushed in Fredbear's metal jaws, causing the close of yet another rendition of the infamous franchise. Death-by-animatronic, an opportunity for her to use the strange ability she possessed. Yet Marion hadn't needed to give the boy life, like what she had done for the other nine. For almost immediately he had begun to haunt the animatronic without her assistance, disappearing and reappearing like a specter in anyplace he wished. No one had ever done anything like that. The girl didn't understand it.

So it was nothing new, at least.

"I think this is yours," Marion said, gesturing to the mask before her. The little boy didn't need to look at what she presented. He raised his shoulders, thinking that somehow this would make him appear less visible. Despite the genuine effort, it wasn't really working. 

"You must have dropped it," she rambled, not gathering from his body language that he didn't want to talk about this. "I found it on the floor. Thought you'd want it ba—"

"Please," the standing boy interrupted, in a tone that didn't speak of anger, as Marion had expected, but of the weariness of a soul that was tired of being. "Tell us. Why are we here?"

Marion glanced at him, and then returned her head as it had been before. The stage fright had subsided, and she suddenly recalled her lines. She moved forward as she examined the tile beneath her. Once at that small table her knees gave way, and she knelt at the end of it. The mask was set upon the tabletop and slid a bit past the middle, but she still didn't look up.

She certainly remembered her reasoning, and she had no intention to lie. Marion just didn't need to give the whole of it. After what she had done to them, she knew they wouldn't care anyway.

"I'm sorry for bringing you here," she started. "I just wanted to clear things up."

The boy in the bunny mask leaned his elbows upon the table. "Clear up?" he repeated.

Marion nodded her head. "We're not gonna last much longer. Our bodies are gone. I don't think we have a lot of time left." Her eyes lifted just slightly, so that their headpieces could be seen in her peripheral. "I just thought...maybe we could.....I wanted to talk to you."

Everyone in the room froze, even Marion. She only lay in wait, for any response at all.

"You wanna talk?" the boy from Freddy said, kneeling at the table as well. "You never wanted to talk to us."

"Well," the fox girl spoke up, "to be fair, we didn't really want to talk a lot either."

Marion nodded again. "I understand," she said, and this time she really did—quite a rarity nowadays. "I know you didn't like what I did. I was just trying to help..."

A silence swarmed the room, and was eventually broken by a sigh that required no air. "We know you were," the Freddy boy assured. "It's just that...we're tired. Does that make sense? I mean, aren't you?"

She finally looked up at him, gazing into the milky eyes that peeked through his mask. "Tired?" she questioned. "Tired of what?"

"Tired of just, you know.....living?"

Marion petrified at the mention. She couldn't move a muscle. 

"You're not a little worn out?" the boy pressed. "We've been going for, like...what has it been?"

"I tried to keep track," the other boy recalled, still staring down at the tabletop. "But I lost track after twenty..."

"I counted thirty," the girl mentioned.

The young man from Freddy placed his hands before himself. "It doesn't matter," he said. "I'm just saying we've been going for a really long time. We weren't even supposed to be here. What was even the point of all of it?"

Marion found herself able to breathe again. Though it wasn't like she needed to. "We got him," she defended, reminiscing on that fateful night. "We got rid of him. Remember?"

They all let that sink in for a bit. "That's true," the girl in the fox mask spoke. "I guess that was something. We stopped him before he could hurt anyone else."

"No we didn't," the little girl chimed in, which hit everyone around her like a blow in the gut. "He still killed the other ones."

Marion winced as she recalled the other five children, each one of them murdered at the third-and-counting Freddy-establishment. The latest souls that received her special gift of life, given the structures of the "new-and-improved" animatronic models. She hadn't known those kids too well, not well enough to even catch their names.

But it had been years since their souls and hers had crossed paths. All of them had already moved on, to wherever on was meant to be.

The thought terrified Marion.

"We thought we were helping," the Freddy boy said, folding his arms as if to keep warm, "but we were already too late." He closed his eyes and traveled deep in thought. "So if what we did wasn't doing any good, then it was just revenge, wasn't it?"

Marion pondered it, though she didn't need to think for long. "Yeah," she put bluntly, and unashamedly. "He was a murderer. He killed us, and we wanted revenge..." She raised her wide-eyes to her guests and stuttered, "Well...I guess I wanted revenge..."

The boy in the bunny mask nodded. "No, you're right," he admitted. "I thought I wanted revenge too."

"Yeah," the fox girl said. "Me too. I thought that was what ghosts were supposed to want. Like, a kind of moral code or something." She chortled half-heartedly, but stopped after only a second.

The Freddy boy turned his head to the little girl seated beside him. Surely no one could see his face, yet his eyes shown a tenderness that one doesn't just find anywhere. Perhaps it was a sorrow that only the "long-and-lost" are able to know.

"That man killed my sister," he forced. "He killed my friends. He tore my family apart. He took everything from us." His words were fraught with grief, and a simmering rage that had just begun to boil. "I knew that I wanted revenge. I was so sure of it."

Yet just as he it had gotten going, his temper cooled so suddenly. "But when we did it...it was over. Just like that." The boy stared blankly for a few moments, until his breath started to grow heavy. "I felt nothing. I didn't feel relief. I wasn't glad it was over. I felt like I should have, and I tried. But I couldn't."

Everyone looked down, wherever down was in regards to each. This was beginning to grow extremely uncomfortable, as they further verbalized the agony that had entangled their minds for so many years. But all six of them knew that no matter how much it stung, this meeting needed to be had, and must commence.

"Nothing changed," the oldest girl wavered, attempting to keep her tone consistent. But it was like driving a car on a gravel road. "He died, and that was it. After that everything was the same. I think that's why..." She left her statement open, for they all could infer the rest.

"'Cause we're still dead," the boy seated beside her burst. "Because nothing we do will ever change that." He closed his eyes. "I think...I think there was the thought that maybe...if we got him back, something would happen. Like, we'd be released, or be at peace or something." He paused a moment. "And it was so stupid. We were stuck from the start. We just didn't want to admit it. It was all so pointless!"

From across the table the little girl had begun to whimper. Her brother placed an arm around her, but did nothing else. After all those years, there probably wasn't anything more he could do for her.

"I got so mad," she spoke through the tears that stained her cheeks underneath the mask. "I wanted to leave. I just wanted to d—" She stopped right there, and allowed the sobs to take over. The boy concealed his emotions behind the headpiece as best as be could, hoping that no one could see his grief. He was failing miserably.

"I can't go home," the little girl tried again. "I can't see my Mommy again. There's nothing I can do. I don't want to keep going! I wanna be done!"

Marion couldn't hold back her own tears, which she assumed nobody could see. This place...it had become so normal to her. But thinking it over, it was a place that no child should ever have to be in. Yet she had been forced right into it, and had then put nine others through it as well.

Had she been wrong; was this all a huge mistake?

A gentle hand grasped her own, and she looked up at the feel, only to find the fox girl looking back at her. "You never told us," she nearly whispered. "What happened here?" She gestured to the curtained doorway. "I mean, is this where you...you know...?"

As silent as she seemed, Marion's mind was whirring like a motor. Working itself to exhaustion, yet to no avail. This place was where she—but she wouldn't reveal it. Not aloud, nor to herself. As much as recollections whirled around in her head she wouldn't say. She didn't want to hear it, and she didn't want to explain.

"No," she spoke, in a shaken tone she hadn't intended to use. "I won't...I don't want..." Marion tried to keep herself calm, even through the whimpers forcing their way in between her words. "I...I don't want to..."

But should she? She knew how each of them had died, had watched the bloodshed firsthand. Well, except for the boy from Fredbear. She had learned of his demise from the other four, for they had been forced to view his death, just as she had theirs. These children had forgone misfortunes that would crumble an adult. The way they spoke of their state, with such pain and hopelessness that no kid should have to feel. They were on the verge of moving on, Marion was sure of it. And before they did so, they only requested to know one simple thing. Why shouldn't she tell them? As much as Marion didn't want to relay, they deserved to know her story before they left her.


She had always been afraid that if she accepted her...end...she might unintentionally move on. The very thought of ceasing scared her silly. She convinced herself that she would just hold on to the fact that she was still here. And thus, she must still be alive. Perhaps it was self-deception, but it worked. It had prevailed for all these years. Marion did exist, although where she presently existed remained a mystery still. The void? Purgatory? Maybe another dimension? No one could have said for sure, but at this moment none of it mattered.

"...Okay," she gave in, continuing to gaze down at the tabletop. Unable to see everyone's eyes widen simultaneously.

"I only wanted to look for a second," she thought to start. "But right after that I was going to go home—"

Marion halted; she had gotten ahead of herself. Her mind backtracked a little bit, until she settled upon an event which she could use to begin her story.

"There...were two girls in my class that liked to pick on everyone, but they usually picked on me. I was walking home from school and they...sorta pushed me on the ground. And just teased me a little."

"It's happening again."

"Shh. Let her talk."

"It was just stupid stuff," she clarified. "It was nothing really."

Marion certainly had no reason to bend the truth, other than the fact that the harshness of their words didn't pertain to the story at hand. And she didn't want any of them to pity her either. Even so, what the girls had said to her weren't nothing at all. They had been something, something that hurt. Words that still loomed over Marion to this day (or night, or evening...or absence from the fabric of time...the first option sounded better in her head).

"Oh! So sorry! We didn't hurt you, did we?"

"What? Like we'd care if we did?"

"...Yeah, you're right."

"Think we should we help the weirdo up?"

"Nah, I think she's got it."

Marion had forced herself to her feet and made straight down the sidewalk. Only for her persecutors to follow directly behind.

"Wow, did you actually try to dress yourself today?"

"I think she did! She tried so hard! Can't you tell?"

"Seriously? Black and white stripes? Any color at all? You kinda look like death, Mary."

Marion had scowled at the title and picked up the pace, trying to lose them and disregard their jabs at the same time. She hated when people used her nickname, and they knew that especially.

"Hey, isn't that a thing? Like, isn't there a ghost or something dead named Mary?"

"Yeah, it's Bloody Mary—wait! That's perfect!"

"It is! That can be your new nickname! Totally fits your outfit, doncha think?"

"Good thing you have us around. What would you do without us?"

"So you are so welcome, 'Bloody Mary.'"

"No need to thank us."

It was then that Marion had officially had enough. In an instant she was running as quickly as she was able, revealing tears only once she was out of their reach.

"Guess she's got somewhere to be!"

"Aw! See you tomorrow, weirdo!"

Marion hated that fact. She knew that they would see her tomorrow, sitting just a few rows in front of them at 9 o' clock in the morning. She would be there, as her parents willed her to. Despite what they knew of her torment, and their futile attempts to get her school to put a stop to it.

"That's horrible."

"What a bunch of jerks."

"So I just ran away," she continued, unaware of the mutters floating amongst her guests, or the dimness that the room had adopted. "I meant to go home. But I passed by the diner on the way." She paused, trying to find the words to say. "I'd been in there before. My family had eaten there a few times. I remember the food being pretty good. I just didn't really like the animatronics that much." She chuckled under her breath, but not out of hilarity. "They kinda freaked me out. 'Ironic,' I think. Isn't that the word for it? I can never remember..."

That was beside the point. "But that was what I meant before. I stopped to look in the window for a second. I'm not sure why I did. I...think I just liked to see people happy. You know, with friends." She heaved a breathy sigh. "I've never really had a friend—"

"Oh God."

Marion jerked her gaze from the table to the interruption. The boy in the bunny mask had blurted those words, and was staring googly-eyed off into the distance. And one by one the children around her followed suit.

"That's him."

Marion was bewildered by this. She had no idea what they were doing, rising from their seats and gaping at something of interest behind her.

"He looks different."

"'Cause he's not in the uniform."

"He probably didn't even work there yet."

She couldn't take this anymore. Marion made a full 180 in her seat. She wanted to know who or what in the world they were ogling at.

When she did, she couldn't believe what she saw.

She had certainly seen it before, but not like this.

Their refuge was gone, the darkened walls demolished and soon the low table vanished. Instead of the interior of Fredbear Family Diner its exterior was placed. The six stood amidst the action, as if mere passersby in the street. It was so realistic, in fact, that this could have been mistaken for a play, a well-executed performance put on just for them.

Everything Marion had reminisced deeply upon, every event she had tried to gloss over—had they been able to watch it all?

This before them was what had been playing in her mind as she relayed. Yet this felt different. So many times Marion had replayed the scene, but never before had she taken the place of a third person. As if that girl at the front window was not her, and that man drawing near was not her killer.

Queue the average-looking citizen, dressed so casually that no one would even think to lend an eye to his presence. Yet the spotless vehicle he exited was quite out of the ordinary, painted a bright shade of purple.

"Appropriate," the boy from Freddy scoffed. Every one of them knew exactly what he meant.

No one had a second to examine the scene in detail, or remark upon anything further. For at his side a knife blade shimmered in the sunlight, and in the blink of an eye it had disappeared, concealed in the girl's side.

There were a few gasps from her guests, and one shriek. Even Marion was startled, and it was herself.

She finally rose to her feet, and she couldn't stop staring. "It was so quick," she spoke. "I didn't expect it. For a second I wasn't sure what happened. It's a peculiar feeling, being stabbed. I guess it sounds creepy when I put it that way, but it is. It's like feeling warm, but at the same time you're cold."

The man in the performance withdrew the blade, jerking it out the same way it entered. The little girl that played her role instantly collapsed.

"I remember falling, and hitting my head," Marion recalled, as the image started to fade with the revving of an engine. "And the sound of a car starting. I think he just drove away after that. But that was all I remembered."

No, that wasn't all. She didn't want to tell the rest, yet she knew she would have to. Her memories were going to tell them anyway. She might as well narrate.

Surely enough the interior had returned, yet much darker than before. Nighttime had fallen upon the world and cloaked the diner in a mourning shroud.

"Until one night..." Marion choked over tears, for she remembered it too well.

There was a crate poised against the wall, designed in a most intriguing way: a gift wrapped in white, and tied together with a wide crimson ribbon.

The fox girl put her hands to her mouth. "Oh my...no..."

"I felt so cold," Marion continued. "I couldn't feel anything but cold. Like metal coated my body."

The lid of the present lifted at the front, inch by inch it rose. Through the nightly gloom one could make out two holes, a pair of eye sockets. They were not human, nor living eyes.

"I could move though. Every part of my body but my face. But it didn't feel like my body. It was different; longer, taller, really stiff. Kinda like a Barbie doll."

Soon a figure had escaped the box, a clownlike entertainer that any child would have recognized. It shouldn't have been moving in the way it was.

"But I could see. I couldn't blink, but I could see. I saw the diner. It was really dark. I remember being terrified. I didn't know why I was here."

The Puppet lowered its murky eyes to the ground, seeming to examine its body. And once it did it stayed still for a solid minute. Then the head moved back and forth, and the arms and fingers maneuvered in a ritualistic fashion.

"And then I saw my body." Marion knew she was crying, but she didn't bother to hide it, or make the effort to care. "It wasn't my body. It looked just like the animatronic. I couldn't talk; my mouth wouldn't move. I wasn't even breathing. When I tried to move my hands its hands moved too. Every way I tried."

The hands lifted to its head and held there. "When I lifted them to my face I didn't feel anything. I wasn't touching anything. I was so scared. I thought I was having a nightmare."

Suddenly an imbalance tipped the crate over, and the Puppet sprawled upon the checkered tile. It lifted its head from the floor and seemed to look around the room, examining its every feature, and then gazed down at the entirety of its body. Appendages lying over the ground, encircled with white stripes that contrasted the black. The legs ended in points where feet would normally be, and hands traded for three claws with no discernible joints.

It stared for a while as if in shock.

As if it shouldn't have looked like it did.

Suddenly the Puppet scrambled to stand, finding it impossible to do so with an absence of feet. Hands to the ground as a crutch the machine tried again and again to stay vertical, and tumbled right back to square one once it thought it had this down. It was like watching a bee ramming itself into a window, going nowhere fast. Nearly pathetic to watch.

"It took me forever to learn to walk," Marion was able to say once she had cooled down a bit. The performance seemed to fast-forward like a VCR, as her mental projector skipped to the part where the animatronic had finally gathered its bearings. The steps were wobbly, but they were steps nonetheless. Little by little it advanced to the front window, the one that they all remembered.

"And I looked in the window, to see my reflection. I just wanted to be sure."

The Puppet stopped at the glass and crouched, its head down to its level. The image was slight, but enough. Slowly a hand rose to its face and stroked it, as of it had to touch it to believe. The distinct rosy blush, like cherries smashed into each cheek. A wide smile that did not tell of joy, and contained the entirety of space and time in between those bright red lips. And the lavender tears streaming from those dead eye sockets, and pooling out into the top of the mouth.

It was hideous. It was horrifying!

It was her now.

"I wanted to believe this was a nightmare. I wanted to with all my being. But it felt so real; a dream wouldn't have felt so real."

A metal fist slammed onto the glass.

"Gravity worked so accurately that my mind couldn't have made it. Customers acted in ways I couldn't expect or control. I wouldn't wake up, no matter what I did. When I counted a week I knew this was somehow real."

Another slam rang about the closed diner.

"I later found that my body was hidden inside the present. Deep under the poles and wires and hinges, where no one would've thought to look. I still don't know why it was there, but I'm sure that purple guy did it. But whenever I tried to move it to the open, I felt myself...kinda faint."

The third and final fist had hit the pane, and the animatronic slid down the wall and to the ground in defeat.

Marion's tears had returned, yet the Puppet mask prevented her from wiping them away. "No one could know where I had gone. Neither could anybody know what happened to you. I wanted so bad to tell everyone that it was me. Someone to tell my parents that I was okay. To tell everyone what had happened to you guys. But I couldn't. From 7 to 11 we were locked. We couldn't move against the animatronics' program."

To their blatant surprise the scene began to change. Marion's mental projector morphed into an image that the five did not expect—or want—to see.

The little girl, the youngest of them all, entering a dimly lit room. With a skip in her step, and a smile on her face. Accompanied by a familiar man, in a familiar costume.

With a familiar object in his hand.

Her spirit clutched her brother's leg and wept.

"I watched it all happen. I saw what he did to you."

The time passed instantly, only to show the older girl instead. Her gaze intent, keeping an eye out for any sign of the missing child. Who at the sight of the horrible tragedy had meant to scream, but never got the chance.

The dulled apparition put her hands back to her face, refusing to mind the tears.

"Lured you in one by one, and hid you in the animatronics."

The boy in the bunny mask, yet now his face was revealed, tearstained and terrified. Restrained by the golden costume, unable to escape or be heard. The hand pressed against his face made sure of that.

His phantom sobbed without hindrance.

"I screamed for you to leave. I tried to warn you as loud as I could."

Finally the boy known to be of Freddy, entering the room set aside for storing the animatronics. In search of his sister and friends, and succeeding with flying colors.

Only then to become just like them.

"Where were you?" the boy asked through tears. "How did you see us? I didn't see any Puppet."

Marion remembered exactly where, and she turned to reveal with a point. "I was there," she answered. "Behind that cabinet. Do you see it?"

It wasn't difficult to find once he knew where to look. Concealed behind one of the out-of-order arcade machines a white box could be found. The lid lifted barely an inch, and a pair of dark eye sockets peering intensely.

All the while, desperate shrieks echoed through the void.

"No no no!"

"You need to leave! It's too late for them!"

"Get out of here!"

"Please hear me!"

"Why can't you hear me?!"

"You couldn't hear me," Marion spoke. "No matter how loud I screamed. None of you could. Neither could the kid in the doorway."

She closed her eyes. "Which I now know was you."

The maskless child's eyes widened. Marion spun back around to face him. "I saw you. You stood there and did nothing. You just watched everything go down. You could have gone and told somebody, but you didn't! Why didn't you do anything?!"

Finally he himself had begun to shed tears, taking his rightful place among the crying children.

"Quit it!" the fox girl demanded. "You can't say that! He was only six!"

"So what?!" Marion yelled. "All he had to do was say something, anything! And your families would know what happened to you!" Her anger had piled so high, and suddenly it seemed to topple like a lost round of Jenga. "And then after they found you, they might look around," she whimpered. "And then find me."

The scene had not changed at all, but had been left playing. Yet the echoey pleads had been revised.

"Do something!"

"Don't just stand there!"

"Get help!"

"What are you doing?!"

Marion listened, as everyone else had stopped to do. And in doing just that, she heaved a sighed.

"I'm sorry," she revered. "I shouldn't have yelled. There wasn't anything you could do to help them. And you might have put yourself in danger if you told anyone. I'm not even sure if anyone would have believed you. You really were only six...man, I forgot about that. You were...you were so young..."

Ripples appeared in the air, if "air" was the appropriate term to use in the vast plane of things that once were, but are not anymore, and never will be again. Marion lowered her eyes, her mind having taken yet another blatant turn.

"That day...I remember the day you died."

Amongst them had transformed once again. It was the same room as before, however no bodies to be seen, living or dead. Only a flood of noise blasting from elsewhere. The terrified shrills of a child, the laughter of a group of young men, and the otherworldly cries of four beings.

"No! Stop it! Please just stop!"

"I can't move! Someone help him!"

"Why would they do that?! Get him out of there!"

"Why isn't anyone doing anything?! He's gonna get hurt!"

The initial four stood in dazes. It was as if they were viewing a home video, but the picture was somehow frozen.

"I was stuck in the backroom like I always was," Marion spoke. "Ever since the pizzeria opened I was stored away. I think it was the purple guy; I think he was afraid someone would find me or something." She paused a moment. "But I could hear everything. I didn't know what was going on, but it sounded really bad."

A sudden noise struck the entities down to the core, and caused Marion to wince despite her wishes. A mechanical sound similar to a crunch, but it was of an object that should not have been able to make that kind of sound. Instead of the futile commands that would never be heeded, screams of horror filled the air. Both in reality, and the spirit realm.

"I didn't find out what happened till later that night," she said. "They told me everything when I asked. It was terrible. I'm...I'm so sorry that happened to you."

The little boy gazed into her eyes. He seemed to know her every secret through the convoluted gateways of her pupils. She found it very difficult to keep looking at him.

Funnily enough, he was the one to tear his eyes away, and glance down at an item in his hands. A golden piece that looked of a bear, and bore in between its ears a little black top hat. The plastic mask Marion had kicked across Fredbear Family Diner, and shouldn't have been so clueless to give back to him. He obviously hadn't wanted it.

Yet he had taken it from the tabletop despite. Marion hadn't expected that.

The boy held it near to his face just below the chin, as if unsure whether or not to conform with the crowd. But in time he lifted it up and pulled the elastic around his head. Marion was at a loss for words.

"You don't have to wear it," she sputtered. "I don't even know what they're for. It's kinda stupid really."

And it was then, that he finally responded.

"I was wearing it when I got here."

This in itself was enough to startle everyone. That right there might have been the most he had spoken for possibly years.

Yet surely enough he continued.

"I just sorta...appeared here, and it was on my head. I threw it on the floor. I didn't want to be Fredbear anymore." He stopped to recall something. "That day you said I died...I went into a coma actually. I had really bad dreams about the animatronics. They attacked me in my bedroom every night. But it wasn't like that—it was always night. They were trying to kill me. It was just so real. I thought...I thought..." He had begun to cry again. "I thought you knew I watched, and you were mad at me. I thought I deserved this."

The void went quiet, save for the young boy's sobs.

"No," the fox girl spoke. "Don't say that. Don't ever say that. You did not deserve this. You did nothing wrong."

"Oh God," the boy in the bunny mask uttered. "I swear, those things in your nightmares—that wasn't us."

The little girl had let go of her brother's leg, and made her way toward the newly masked child. She didn't need to kneel, for they were basically the same height. In fact, the boy might have been a bit taller than she.

She wasted no time and wrapped her arms around him. "I don't blame you for anything," she said over his shoulder, as he cried over hers. "There wasn't anything you could do. You were so brave. I'm really proud of you.....though, that probably sounds weird coming from someone younger than you."

The boy sniffled. "By only two months though."

The girl patted his back and chuckled. "Yeah, I remember that," she recalled. She pulled away and looked straight into his eyes. "But I am; I'm proud of you. You're a good friend, even though you say you aren't."

Surely nothing she said would change the boy’s mind, but they both were aware of that. "I'm sorry," he said. "I know you said you weren't mad, but I'm still sorry."

The girl concealed a smile under her yellow mask, though she wished her friend could have seen it. "You know we forgive you. For...I’m still not sure what. But fine, you can believe that you might have been able to do something. Think whatever you want. Just please..." The little girl stopped herself. "Don't...ever...say you deserved to die. Because you didn’t. No one deserves this. Not even the purple guy deserved it."

Marion tried so hard. She suppressed the mighty urge. 

"Please, don't," the boy from Freddy pleaded, noticing the surround lighting fluctuate like a power surge.

As if Marion wasn't already harnessing the entirety of her being to stop. Her eyes squeezed shut, her face contorted, and her knuckles clenched so tightly she thought they might shatter. But alas, it was of no use.

Never once in the history of people saying, "Don't think about it," has anybody been able to think of anything else.

In this memory there was no screaming, no yelling. Not even a cry for help. But truly the entity was beyond any of that. The sound it made could only be compared to a violent gurgle, as if it were drowning. But not in water.

Surely, water had been the cause of it, had initiated the malfunction. But a different metallic liquid made it a challenge for it to utter anything discernible.

Ironic, that the life that runs through man's veins can also do so much harm.

That "familiar" costume kicked and spasmed against a wall. And the man that could only be considered the same, hidden among it's rods and wires. Instead of its original yellow the costume's fur stained a bright red, so deeply soaked that no amount of bleach could restore it to its former glory.

Marion didn't need to open her eyes, for all that occurred was playing in her mind. Like a dusty tape that had been crammed away in the bottom drawer, hidden beneath old photo albums and forgotten knicknacks. She had wanted to forget it all, every single bit of her unfortunate past. This especially.

The gore didn't bother her much. She had seen that bright shade far too often to be unsettled.

From her, from the four, from him...et cetera.

She remembered where they had been standing as they watched his agonizing death, and the looks on all their faces. The little girl clutching her brother, burying her teary face in his transparent shirt. His own shocked expression as he held her close to him. The older girl looking as if she were about to puke, although she bore nothing to empty. Her friend beside her gaping in horror, seeming that he might faint at any second.

And Marion, staring. Just staring.

She wanted to smile in amusement. She wanted to laugh at his demise with a cruel grin on her face. Just like he did to her, while the blade had mingled with her insides. As he had done with the four beside her, while she silently screamed for them to run. That grin had been there, the same one every time. 

She wanted to smile. She wanted to laugh. She wanted to love this sickening feeling that had arisen in her gut.

She wanted it all so badly. She tried to force it.

And no matter what she did, none of it came.

Marion started to cry again, yet it was a different kind of crying. "I'm sorry!" she yelled, much more loudly than was required.

They all looked at her through the holes of their respective masks. "Hey, it's okay," the boy in the bunny piece said. "We understand. You can't control what you think..." 

But in time he realized that wasn't what the girl had meant.

"No," she bawled. "I'm sorry I did this. It's all my fault. I couldn't fix anything. I tried to help you and I failed! I gave you life because I thought you were afraid like me!"

The five continued to gaze on, as she spared a few seconds to cry without interference.

"I wanted revenge, and I thought you wanted it too. But it was pointless! Nothing happened! You—you were upset that you weren't 'at peace.' I was confused because I wasn't happy. I killed my killer and I wasn't content. I wanted to be but I couldn't! And when I couldn't figure out why I got angry, and I went crazy! I attacked security guards as if they were him. But I didn't know what else to do! I was trapped in a pizzeria and I haunted a Puppet! For so long I couldn't keep track! It was hell! But I was scared to stop existing! I didn't want to..."

Her defense had been torn down. She was going to say it.

"I don't want to die!"

It was out there. Finally, it had been done. 

But there was more.

"If you leave I'll be alone! I can't do it anymore! I don't want to be alone again! I don't want to keep doing this! Please don't leave me alone!"

There it was, the whole of it. The real reason that Marion had invited them here, and perhaps the true intentions behind her gifts of life. Yet her loneliness wasn't the only aspect surely; it was true that she believed others would wish to live on beyond death, just as she. But the fear of being the only one left, to remain in this void of nothing, was certainly a crucial puzzle piece. She had never voiced it until now, for she had been ashamed of the fact. Pushing another innocent life through the torture of possession, for the sole purpose of someone being with her, was selfish and cruel. She knew it, and she hated it. But there was no way to take back her actions, for it had been done—nine times. And now, she didn't think she could live with herself admitting it fully.

Not that she was doing a lot of living, or had been for the past thirty years.

Amidst her crying she thought to look up, sensing a presence before her. She was correct in her assumption, for the Fredbear mask stared right back, craning his neck to match her line of sight. The child slowly lifted a hand, and seemed to hesitate for a moment. But he was backed with confidence, a trait he had never been well known for having.

A second hand was raised up toward her face as well. Marion didn't feel the need to stop him, or even question his actions. In time his fingers met with not her skin, but the mask she wore. She was startled, just now remembering that she was concealed. She had been so used to not having a face of her own, as terrible and wrong as that sounded. She almost felt naked under a mask.

The boy felt the plastic, the cherry cheeks and lavender tears. His fingers traveled downward from there, disregarding the containment of space-time inside the mouth. Until he came across and grasped the bottom edge of the piece.

Marion was much taller than the boy, making his intention a bit difficult. But he was determined, yet another of those traits he didn't usually possess. He heightened his stature by rising on his toes, giving him a good inch or two to work with.

With his fingers clasped and his newfound height acquired, the boy slowly lifted her mask.

It didn't feel right; Marion was very discomforted. This was something new to her, revealing herself. Not that she didn't want to; remaining hidden away was just all she knew. Yet in spite the blaring alarm her mind had set off, she powered through it.

She wanted it off.

It took only a second for the piece to be raised, the face of her prison cell having disappeared, and replaced with her own. It didn't feel like her own, as she had grown so used to the Puppet's.

But it was her face, despite how it felt. She had nearly forgotten, the paleness now exposed for all to see, a pigment that had merited her many allusions to a vampire. Contrarily, her tone was more like the first snowfall of winter, when the clouds are just wishing to make good first impressions before the monotonous downpours of the coming weeks. Perfectly contrasting the nightly darkness of her shoulder-length hair, and complimenting the mahogany of her eyes.

Yet the purity of her skin was blemished, with two dim streaks that had formed by and by over the years. Caused by the many many tears of countless nights.

The boy pulled off his own mask immediately, so that now he was just like her. And he threw it to the ground, just as he had in his arrival. Marion saw those same lines that she had barely noted before. They ran down his face like rivers over his cheeks, and ending in deltas as if his jaw were the sea.

"What's your name?" he asked out of the blue, his voice clearer than before. "You never said your name. You didn't tell anyone."

She couldn't advert her gaze even if she tried. His eyes had locked with hers again like handcuffs, as if he already knew and were only testing her. But he couldn't have known. He was right; she had never told anyone her name. She hadn't felt the need, for the appropriate occasion had never presented itself.

And this occasion was ever so appropriate. 

"I am Marion."

She hadn't said it aloud before.

"I am Marion," she spoke bolder.

Yes, that was correct.

She was Marion, and not anything else. She wasn't a stupid Puppet. She never had been.

She clutched the mask that rested atop her head and tore it off. She was to make this final, doing just as the boy had done.

"My name is Marion!" she yelled for no reason at all, the plastic piece slamming to the floor.

The four others had drawn nearer, the victims she thought she had known. Yet she realized that she hadn't really known them at all, and neither had they known her.

"Go ahead," the boy that was not Freddy, and never had been Freddy, requested. Marion looked at him, her tears having begun again.

She understood exactly what he meant.

"My name is Marion Alkas," she whimpered. "I was nine years old."

The oldest girl moved to stand before her. Her hands reached for her fox mask and removed it with care. Her own face was now revealed, a much deeper tone than Marion's. Gazing with eyes like oblivion, and showing the tenderest of smiles Marion had seen in a very long time. The girl placed her hands upon the young child's shoulders, and in that moment she could not stop herself. Marion dove straight into her arms, and allowed herself to weep where she rested. 

"I was...I died in 1982."

Marion felt a pair of arms encircle her waist.

"I was killed outside Fredbear Family Diner."

Another embrace, along with the clatter of plastic upon the floor.

"The man that got me...he got nine others."

Now it was just hands on shoulders, but they were comforting nevertheless.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry..."

"Shhh," the girl that wasn't ever a metal fox consoled, gently stroking her dark hair. "It's okay. It's okay."

Marion continued to ramble, repeating words that she had already bawled, for she had never heard herself say them before. "I'm Marion Alkas. I died in 1982. I was nine years old..."

She had been so afraid to accept that she was dead, unsure of what was to come next once she embraced the fact, after this state of possession. But now, she felt no fear. No concerns of what would happen now. As if a dreadful weight had been lifted from her shoulders. For in the arms of perhaps her only friends in the world, she felt an overwhelming calm. A wash of peace. As if the world were fading around her, and those that held her close knew it fully.

Those five had accepted their fates long before she. They had been able to pass on for ages. They could have left whenever they wanted.

Had they prolonged their freedom...just waiting for her?

They...really had cared for her. And she did nothing to deserve it.

This feeling inside her...was this what it was like to be at peace?

Marion liked it.

Honestly, she wouldn't have been too disappointed...

If she could feel this way...


Perhaps moving on wasn't all that bad, whilst in the arms of those who loved her.

It didn't take long. In an instant it seemed, every single one of them was gone. Happy, content, and finally at peace.

While those damned masks remained on the floor of her mind. The lasting evidence of this peculiar congregation.

Where the six lost souls who were left had come together, and made this their happiest day. 

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