“So what did you think, Grandpa?”
“Grandpa, I’ve faced real magical danger with Buddy. This is only a game.”
“Well, I guess so, but as old fashioned as I am, I don’t think this is very good entertainment for an eight-year-old.”
Landon and Grandpa were spending the weekend together and had been sitting on the sofa in the living room watching a series of videos on Grandpa’s iPad involving a really popular and really scary video game series. Daddy and Landon’s sister Dani were visiting Aunt Jamie in California and Buddy had been spending the past week in a small pocket dimension meditating and studying. All of the adventures they’d been having over the past year had caused him to lose time in his own investigation of magic and improvement as a mystic master, and he finally was able to get back to what he needed.
“Oh, come on, Grandpa. It’s just harmless fun.”
“Scary fun, Landon.”
“I’m not scared.”
“Oh, how about how high you jumped whenever there was a jump scare.”
“You jumped too, Grandpa.”
“That’s right and you’re kind of making my point. Anyway, dinner should be about ready, so why don’t you power down the iPad for now. I’ll check the oven.”
It was just the two of them (apart from the living stuffed animals who had spent the afternoon playing numerous hands of Uno in Landon’s bedroom) so Grandpa decided they could relax and enjoy a pizza together.
When Grandpa opened the oven, a wonderful smell filled the kitchen. Landon forgot all about “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and thought only about dinner (except for the fact that the fictional Freddy’s was a pizza place kind of like Chuck E Cheese).
Inside Landon’s bedroom, the stuffed animals were just finishing their last hand, finally bored with Uno after nearly five straight hours of play. Baby and Ghost put the cards back in the box and were going out to the hall to put it in the closet with the other games. The rest of the stuffed animals checked out the kitchen. Even though they didn’t eat, they still enjoyed Grandpa’s and Landon’s company, especially since the house felt so empty without Daddy, Dani, and Buddy.
Meanwhile, back in Landon’s bedroom, in the top drawer of his dresser, the Soul Coin faintly hummed and stirred. During their last adventure in Gremlin Town, something had entered the (supposedly) empty coin, something unknown, something dangerous.
No one had noticed, not even Buddy, and if Gerlilianum, the ancient primordial dragon who lived under a tree inside the coin was aware of it, he wasn’t talking.
Inquisitive eyes peered magically out of the coin, taking in the rooms, objects, and living beings inside Grandpa’s home. They found nothing particularly of interest, that is, until they discovered the iPad. The eyes blurred the immediate world and shifted their view into the recent past. The eyes then discovered characters such as Freddy Fazbear, Bonnie the Bunny, Chica the Chicken, Foxy the Pirate Fox, and a dizzying array of others. Now these things called “animatronics” were truly fascinating, both by their electronic and mechanical nature and because of their embodiment of true evil.
“Agh! Too many things, too much information. I’ll just take what I want to get the job done and disregard the rest.”
But what about this “Circus Baby?”
It was just after midnight when the boy heard the voice. He hadn’t been sleeping very well with Buddy gone, but for a few seconds he still thought he was dreaming.
“Did you know that I was on stage once?”
The voice sounded familiar and so did the words.
“What?” He sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes trying to see in the dark. All of the stuffed animals were still asleep, although a few of them stirred a bit when he moved.
“It’s okay, Landon. I won’t hurt you.”
He realized it was the voice of Circus Baby, the real evil in “Five Nights at Freddy’s” who tries to get the night watchman to go into the scooper room to get “scooped.”
“I must have left the iPad on.” Landon slowly swung his legs out of bed. He figured somehow one of the “Freddy” YouTube videos was still playing. He walked across the bedroom, opened the door, and then stepped out into the hall intending to walk to the living room. He remembered leaving the tablet on the arm of the sofa.
Then he bumped his head. The ceiling was too close. He had to get down on his hands and knees to keep going forward. His hands felt cold metal, like thin aluminum instead of the hardwood floor. As he crawled forward, the sound echoed, almost as if he were in …”the vent. But that’s impossible.”
Landon looked back but it was dark all around him. Then he felt something hanging off his belt…his belt? He was supposed to be wearing a robe. He reached down. “A flashlight.” He unhooked it, pointed it back in the direction he came from, and turned it on. Nothing but vent for as far as he could see. Then he pointed it in the direction he was heading. Not too far away was what looked like some doors. He decided to make for them and see where they lead.
“I’ve got to be dreaming. None of this is real. That’s it. I’m dreaming.”
Landon reached the doors. He tried to push them open one-handed but they didn’t budge. Then he put the flashlight back on his belt and used both hands. The doors moved forward a bit, so he pushed harder. He pushed and pushed, and the doors finally came open with a jerk and he suddenly fell.
He hit the floor hard and the flashlight went out. He was totally in the dark and the echos around him told Landon that he was in a big room, a lot bigger than the living room of Grandpa’s house.
He stood up and got the flashlight again. He clicked the on button but nothing happened. “Maybe the batteries shook loose.” He rattled the light, tightened the screw lid holding the batteries in place, hit it a few times with the palm of his hand, and then pushed the button again.
A face suddenly appeared just an inch from Landon’s.
“Oh, it is you, Landon.”
It was Grandpa.
“Oh, Grandpa, you scared me to death.” They hugged each other.
“You scared me, too. What’s going on here. One of your magic tricks?”
“Nothing I did, Grandpa. At least nothing I think I did.”
“Oh boys.” The eerie little girl’s voice, unmistakably Circus Baby’s called to them from out in the darkness.
“What do you want, Baby?”
“Want, Landon? What have I always wanted?”
“To get me into the scooper room so you can scoop my guts out and wear my body. No way, Baby.”
Grandpa put his hand on Landon’s shoulder making the boy jump a bit. “Isn’t there any magic you can use here to light this place up?”
“That’s it. The light spell, one of my oldest and best magic spells. I can make this whole place as bright as day.”
Landon concentrated and summoned the spell and then FLASH!
Not only was it still pitch black but the flashlight went out.
“Hang on a second, Grandpa. I must have done something wrong.”
Landon tried to get the flashlight to come back on and then realized his Grandpa hadn’t answered him. Come to think of it, his hand wasn’t on his shoulder anymore either.
No sound at all.
Grandpa! Where are you?”
Just then Landon heard the sound of the scooper from somewhere up ahead and a horrible scream that had to be Grandpa’s voice. Then silence again.
“Grandpa!” Landon ran blindly forward and then tripped over something hard and flew forward, landing chest first and sliding.
As he tried to clear his head, he heard walking behind him, metallic footsteps. Then as he stood up again, Circus Baby’s voice was right next to him. “You know who I am, Landon. I mean who I really am.”
“Ennard.” Landon remembered the videos he’d watched with Grandpa earlier. Right then, he wished he’d never heard of “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” animatronics, or even pizza.
“You know I used to be William Afton’s daughter.”
“Purple Guy, right?”
“Right, Landon. He was my Daddy, but he did something terrible to me and to other children. That’s why their souls are possessing the animatronics. They aren’t evil, Landon. They’re just insane…like me.”
Wrong. Something was wrong.
She let out a super-evil laugh that filled the whole room. Had Circus Baby or Ennard, or whoever really scooped out Grandpa’s guts? Landon had to find out, but if he went into the scooper room too, he’d be doomed.
The light spell hadn’t worked. Why hadn’t it worked? It was magic. It had to work. The only time magic didn’t work was in the…the dream dimension.
The dream dimension. That’s what was wrong. The different characters in the Freddy’s game and how they related to each other, it’s all wrong. Like someone heard about them but never really saw all the videos or played the games, like how a dream gets things wrong.
He was dreaming all right, but it was no ordinary dream. Something was giving him a nightmare, a mystical nightmare.
Nightmare Fredbear. No, that’s silly. Everything in “Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a computer game created by Scott Cawthon. How did Landon know that? That’s something Grandpa would probably know.
“You can’t resist, Landon. Start walking forward and to the left, to the left, Landon. Just like before, just like your Grandpa did. You’ll be safe there, in the scooper room.”
He couldn’t help it. First his left foot stepped forward and then his right. Left, right, left, right, one footstep at a time he was doing what Baby told him to do. He was moving closer, closer to the scooper room. He knew what was going to happen to him in there. If he got scooped in a nightmare, would he die in the real world or would he just switch bodies with Baby?
In Landon’s bedroom, the only person still asleep was Landon. The living stuffed animals were awake and terrified. The dresser on the opposite wall was shaking and humming. A bright light was shining out the edges of the top drawer.
“Something’s happened to Landon, everyone,” Baby the stuffed giraffe declared. “We’ve got to do something.”
“But what, Baby?” Batty was panicked. He wasn’t used to fighting bad guys.
“It’s in the top drawer whatever it is, “Scorch the dragon gestured with one of his wings.”
“That’s right. We’ve got to get in there and stop it.” Baby hopped down onto the floor. Then he turned back toward the bed. “Stuffed animals, follow me.”
Living stuffed animals make great magical pets and although they weren’t always great warriors, they had never let Landon down before. Without Buddy around to do the protecting, it was up to them to help Landon if they could.
They all marched over to the dresser and then flew, hopped, jumped, rocketed, and otherwise got up on top. Then they worked together to pull, push, and shove at the top drawer. Finally it slowly started to open. It didn’t have to open very far. Baby’s legs were flexible and he could reach inside and grab the coin. It was glowing so bright, he thought it would be hot, but it wasn’t hot or cold at all.
He raised it over his head and threw it down to the floor as hard as he could while yelling his loudest giraffe warrior cry. The soul coin bounced a few times but nothing else happened.
“Let’s get that coin!” Baby jumped down after it and the rest of the animals followed knowing full well that a fall of four or five feet onto the carpet couldn’t hurt them at all.
They were brave stuffed animals but not very strong. They jumped on the coin, bit it, punched it, kicked it, and otherwise tried to scratch, bend, and break it, but they were cloth stuffed with mushy material and the coin was made of metal.
“We’re going about this the wrong way, gang.” As their leader, it was up to Baby to create a plan. “Stuffed animals can’t stop this thing, but magic can and we’re alive because of magic. We’ve got to concentrate all of the spells Landon put into us to break the coin and wake him up. Now everyone concentrate, concentrate hard.”
Landon opened the door to the scooper room. He saw all of the broken shells of numerous animatronics, everyone except Purple Guy, the one who started it all, maybe the original owner of Freddy’s, the Dad of the little girl who eventually became Circus Baby, and the one who killed her and the other kids (at least in this dream world version of the game). Landon was going to become the latest victim.
Out of the corner of his right eye, he thought he saw Grandpa on the floor covered in red. He didn’t want to look. He already felt like puking and crying at the same time. He didn’t want to be scooped and he’d give anything in the world if Grandpa could be alive again.
“We can’t hide anywhere without skin, Landon. I can’t hide inside the coin forever. But if I had your skin, your hands, your arms and legs, and your face, I could hide anywhere. I could even hide in your family.”
“No,” Landon whimpered. He concentrated as hard as his sheer terror would let him, but none of his magic worked. If this was a nightmare, then the real Grandpa might still be alive, but the second he stepped into the middle of the scooper room, he wouldn’t be. He’d never wake up, but whoever or whatever was hiding in the Soul Coin (because he, she or it just admitted it) would wake up inside Landon’s body to do who knows what kind of evil.
Landon suddenly turned back on Circus Baby and started fighting. This was a nightmare made by something else, but because it was a dream, if Landon believed hard enough, maybe he could defeat Circus Baby and get out of here.
“What are you doing Landon? You can only keep this up for a few seconds, maybe a few minutes. Besides, I’ve called for help.”
Landon looked over Baby’s shoulder. Purple Guy was coming. He couldn’t possibly fight both of them. Circus Baby’s eyes were glowing. She felt so strong. She was pushing the boy back into the scooper room. The Purple Killer was in the scooper room now. “You can’t fight us, Landon. You can’t fight me because the me in the coin is both of us.”
Something inside the coin, maybe something that came back from the Gremlin World was playing both the Purple Murderer and Circus Baby. Any second now he was going to be scooped. They forced his body to turn around. Landon could hear the mechanism that ran the scooper powering up. The scooper arm was going higher, getting into position. The child was held in place by both Purple and Baby. He couldn’t move. He sucked in his stomach as tight as he could, as if he could hide his guts from the scooper.
“Good-bye, Landon. It’ll only hurt for a minute.”
Then Landon heard a sound like glass breaking, like someone had taken a window pane and dropped it onto the concrete patio out back. It felt like the whole pizzeria was shaking, like a big earthquake.
Landon sat up in bed screaming. Then all the living stuffed animals ran over to him, jumped in bed and hugged and hugged and hugged him.
A few seconds later, the light came on and Landon saw Grandpa coming in fast.
“What’s wrong, Landon? Are you okay? Did you have a nightmare?”
Landon shot out of bed and grabbed Grandpa in a big hug. “Oh, Grandpa! You’re alive! I was so afraid you got scooped out.”
“Easy. Easy, Landon. It’s okay.” The older man patted his grandson on the back and sat him back on his bed.
“Ouch!” Grandpa looked down at whatever it was he stepped on and saw a bunch of broken pieces of metal. “What the heck?”
Landon looked and saw it too. “The Soul Coin. It shattered.”
“Yes, Landon.” It was Baby but something was wrong with him. Then he realized there was something wrong with all the stuffed animals. “We knew it was hurting you with magic. The only way we could break it was with magic.”
“But the only magic you have is your life force.” A terrible realization came over the boy.
“Yes…Landon.” By now half the stuff animals were completely motionless. “We…had to save…you…the…only…way…we…” Then Baby fell over with the remaining stuffed animals. Without the magic that brought them to life, they were just stuffed animals again. No more alive than his blanket or his pillow.
“Oh no.” Landon felt hot tears streaming down his cheeks. Grandpa hugged him again. On the floor, a dozen broken pieces of metal lay silently, all equally bereft of life and magic. Only Grandpa and Landon were alive in their little home.
The next day, Dad and Dani came back from California but Buddy would still be gone for a few more days. No matter what Landon tried, he couldn’t bring the stuffed animals back to life. He collected the broken pieces of the coin and strung them on a thin wire and then put the new necklace back in his top dresser drawer. He’d have to wait until Buddy got back to solve these problems.
Landon was in his bedroom lamenting over his now lifeless stuffed animals when he heard Dani toddling in. “Hi, Landon.” She ran up to him and gave him a hug.
He hugged her back. “Hi, Dani. Did you have a good trip with Daddy?”
“Yes, a good trip,” she announced proudly. He looked back down at his pet toy giraffe and Dani kept talking, but then something strange happened. Her voice changed.
“I can see invisible people, Landon. I can even see you.”
It wasn’t Dani’s voice anymore. It was Circus Baby’s. He looked back at her and saw the impossible.
This story is an immediate sequel to Saving Gremlin Town but it takes a much darker direction than the last several stories. Not sure where my eight-year-old grandson heard of Five Nights at Freddy’s but it seems like fare more appropriate for teens and older. Yet he seems to like it, so I thought I’d write him a wee horror story, although I’m woefully late for Halloween. I read a draft to him when I was mostly finished with the tale, and he told me I got most of the stuff about the Freddy’s characters all wrong. Really, there’s just tons of stuff on the web and it’s all confusing, so I did the best I could, figuring that my evil character in the coin cared less about accuracy and more about getting its victim (and I edited the text of the story accordingly).
I still have a couple of mysteries to solve such as the one I’m increasingly bringing two-and-a-half year old Dani into, the soul coin fragments (that was Landon’s idea), and then the curse on the Gremlins.
Welcome to the latest entry in the series of adventures I’ve been writing for my grandson for almost a year-and-a-half now. To read the series from the beginning, go to The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us. At the bottom of that story is a link to the next. Each subsequent story has a link to the next chapter, so all you have to do is keep reading and clicking and you’ll eventually get back here.
The next chapter is The Girl in the Tiny World.