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Fragmented Realities

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Fragmented Realities is a story created by Aldrasos. It is the second installment of The Redd Herring Trilogy. While the story still revolves around the main protagonist, Jace Redd, this installment is now told from a third-person perspective.

Prologue Edit

Will checked the cameras for the third time that night. It was a few hours past midnight, and he felt the drowsiness of sleep creeping up on him, closer and closer every time he closed his eyes to merely blink. He looked at the clock - 2AM. He still had four hours left of his shift, but from the ways things were going it looked like he wasn't going to stay awake that long. As he scrolled through the cameras he gazed upon the main stage, where there stood three silent, motionless figures. They weren't humans. They were robots. Animatronics, as they were called by staff. At least, whenever a customer wasn't around.

He couldn't lie - they did kind of freak him out. The way they just stood their, heads bowed and instruments by their side. God, the thought of them suddenly turning on sent shivers down his back. That being said, nothing ever happened here. No-one would bother breaking into a pizzeria in the middle of the night, especially after what happened a few days back...

Will looked down at the Notice of Termination slip on the desk in front of him. It wasn't because he was doing a bad job or anything, but ever since those children disappeared the restaurant fell into a downwards spiral which there was no hope of returning from. Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria, so it would seem, was doomed to close eventually. Well, it just seemed that tomorrow would be the day it finally happens.

Not that Will cared. The job payed poorly and the shifts were boring as hell. Sometimes he even wished that the animatronics came to life, just so that he had something to do. He shifted through these repetitive thoughts and kicked his feet up on his desk, leaning back and closing his eyes. If something happened, he'd hear it. But for now at least, he wanted to catch a bit of sleep - however brief.

Will's eyes snapped open to a sound. It was faint but...he definitely heard something moving inside the restaurant. He took his feet off the desk and rolled his chair forward. Picking up the camera viewing monitor. Ah, that was the problem - he forgot to turn it off when he fell asleep, and now it was down to just 50% battery. Speaking of sleep, Will glanced at the clock again, and was shocked at what he saw - it was 5AM, but the glass of the clock face...

It was shattered.

Will looked at the monitor again just as he heard a crashing sound somewhere around the other side of the restaurant. He jumped at the sudden blast of audio through the monitor, quickly switching to the main stage.

Freddy was gone.

Just as he lowered the monitor he heard frantic footsteps charging forward in his direction. Not bothering to check the cameras, he quickly lunged forward and slammed his palm onto the door button. The solid metal door grated closed horrifically slowly. But just before it could close a large, metal hand shot forward through the gap, jamming the door and stopping it from closing properly. Will scampered away from the door hurriedly, unable to perceive what was happening. He could only watch in horror as a red-ringed artificial eye peered through the doorway, the iris flicking around the room until it locked onto him, to which his sharp-toothed jaw fell open and the room was filled with a ear-splitting scream. Will clamped his hands over his ears and shut his eyes, the inhuman sound echoing through his mind.

And then he heard the terrifying sound of the door being forced open.

Will barely managed to stumble to his feet before Foxy already had his hook through the door, the gap of which was slowly getting wider and wider. With his mind screaming at him to do something and Foxy's shrieks penetrating his thoughts, Will could only stand and watch Foxy lunge into the room, bearing down on him with his hook raised high but his jaw now shut, as if he were savoring the moment. Will stepped backwards in a frantic panic to get away, but bumped into something soft and cushioned standing behind him. Before he could turn to look, the same soft material clamped around the sides of his face, and in a bone-crunching second his vision was turned 180 degrees round. His body fell forward but his view fell back, and the last waning thoughts that drifted through Will's dying mind were of a murderous brown bear and a furious red fox.

Chapter 1 - The Black, the Blue and the Broken Edit

It was the middle of summer when the restaurant finally closed down. As Vanessa Lichtenburg stepped out of the building for the last time, she raised her hand over her eyes to block the basking light which shined from the blazing sun overhead. She quickly unraveled the poster clutched in her fair hand and pinned it to the outside wall.

Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria - Closed for Business

She sighed lightly and turned her back on the restaurant, walking briskly away and into the shade of a large where two figures were standing beneath the leaves of a large oak tree. She started walking towards them after the one on the right waved her over. The man stepped forward and smiled, his light blue golfers hat pulled low over his similarly coloured hair, shading his eyes. His sleeveless white shirt was unbuttoned down the centre, revealing a muscular, heavy-set torso which matched his taut arms.

'Well, that's that, I suppose,' he said casually, 'guess I better start looking for a new job.'

Vanessa nodded and returned the smile, lightly brushing her long black hair out of her eyes. 'Well, the restaurant is expected to reopen soon enough, but in a new location. I may even get to run my own soon enough.'

'Really, after everything that's happened?'

'Most likely, yes.'

The man was about to respond, but then he thought better of it. Instead he turned back around to the third wheel of the conversation.

'Uh, are you OK?' he said in a concerned voice, to which the other man looked up for the first time.

'Oh...yeah, I'm fine...' he said solemnly. As Vanessa looked at him, she felt her mood begin to darken with every passing moment. Everything about him was red - his clothes, his hair, even his eyes. The only thing that wasn't red was his skin, which was pale from him him staying indoors so often. His eyes were downcast, the irises which were once bright and unnaturally beautiful now dark and dead. He didn't seem to have shaven in weeks, and his motions were ever so slightly sluggish, indicating his worsening alcoholism. To make matters worse, clamped between his teeth was a cigarette which had long since burnt itself out, but he didn't seem to be bothered enough to throw it away. He, who had once been a shining example of modern technological genius, had since been reduced to a downcast wreck.

'Is something wrong?' she asked, even though she knew the answer. The red man sighed and shook his head - a painfully blatant lie.

'You need to stop thinking about Layla, Jace.' The second man had spoken up again, and to the sound of the name Jace's eye twitched in automatic response. The muscular man put a reassuring hand on his shoulder, but Jace quickly brushed it off, his eyes burning with spontaneous anger.

'Don't EVER mention that name in front of me again!' he hissed, before sharply turning around and stalking off into the bright sunlight.

The two watched him leave, the muscular man glancing at his hand with apparent surprise and hurt. Vanessa just watched, worried.

'With Jace like this, I don't know if another restaurant is possible, John.'

John nodded slowly. 'Yeah. He deactivated them, and without him we can't turn them back on. Even if he did, without him or Richard around to fix them up their only use if spare parts. David's in a coma at the hospital, and will probably never wake again...'

'...and with all the other original engineers doing other things with their lives, no-one's around to build new ones...'

A brief silence fell over them.

'Damn...Jace, Richard, David, Takaya, your brother...It's staff really dropped like flies since that incident, didn't they?' John noted, to which Vanessa nodded in agreement. And then she thought of something.

'Hey John?'

'Yeah?'

'Where's Richard?'

Chapter 2 - Dead Ends Edit

Jace spun the lighter around and around in his hand, the metal casing dancing lightly across his fingers. After a few turns he stopped and did the sequence in reverse, flicking it spinning into the air and catching it expertly, before returning to the usual rhythm. But after a while his movements slowed, and the lighter eventually fell back down onto the metal desk.

Things weren't going well in Jace's world. His goddaughter, Layla, was murdered only last month outside the place where he worked, all because he wasn't at the meeting place early. If he had only been there ten, no, five minutes sooner everything could have been avoided. However, time has a tenancy to continue regardless of the woes of mortals, and the mechanic had all since been left alone, with only his grief for company.

He was still trying to understand why he felt so utterly miserable. It was a terrible incident - that was undeniable - but it wasn't as if she played a massive role in his life or anything. The only relationship they had were Jace's responsibilities for her. Not that that meant anything anymore.

Things had gone downhill after that. Another incident occurred, this time in the restaurant itself. Several children went missing, one of the employees had disappeared and another, one of his personal assistants, was hospitalized permanently by an animatronic. It was no surprise the diner closed soon after. But the worst thing?

The killers were never caught.

Neither of them.

Those policemen - those useless, spineless fools - they didn't want to investigate the disappearances after all that's happened. Then again, no-one wants anything to do with Freddy Fazbear's anymore, Jace included. That being said, he couldn't leave things as they were. A closed case? Ridiculous! He didn't care much for the other children, but Layla...she was HIS responsibility, and he failed her. Well, Nothing can bring her back now.

But he can still avenge her.

Jace rose from his desk and stalked over to the far side of the room, snatched up a pile of papers and retreated back to his seat. He had spent the last few weeks scanning through things like this - newspaper articles, police reports, witness accounts. Suffice to say, he had all the pieces, he just needed to fit them together properly.

He was close, though. He already knew who the murder was - Takaya Nobles. The violent delinquent had attacked him, set an animatronic on him, before going into hiding. If anyone had a reason to get back at Jace, it was him. Unfortunately, Jace had no idea where the psychopath was hiding as of yet. It was a dead end.

That wasn't going to stop him though. He was sure that a person like Takaya would return to the restaurant at some point, either to get rid of the evidence or to repeat a similar crime. Right now, all he could do is wait...and wait...and wait...until the snake writhed out of its haven, to which he would promptly snatch it up, and show it not the simplest of mercies.

As if showing its approval, the phone next to him suddenly started ringing, causing him to jolt slightly. Not many people knew his number, so a call was quite the rare occurrence. He picked up the receiver and raised it to his ear, and smiled slightly when he heard a familiar voice.

'Hey Jace, it's Vanessa. I just wanted to check how you're feeling. You kind of stormed off, so I was kind of worried.'

Jace leaned back on his chair, his smile widening. He liked Vanessa, she was intelligent, kind, caring...he could go on, but getting attached to people would probably slow him down at this point, so he tried to avoid friendly interactions like this as much as possible. That doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy such times, and he secretly he kind of wished for times like these to come about, just so he could phase out of the cruel reality around him, if only for a little while.

'Yeah, I was kind of in a foul mood.'

'Sensitive subject. I'm not sure what John was thinking when he brought it up.'

'What, like you're doing now?'

Jace heard her take a sharp intake of breath at her mistake, but laughed anyway.

'No need to be so uptight. Sure, I was a little angry, but that doesn't mean I'm going to throw a fit every time I hear the name. It's not as if I'm doing much good pouring over these old papers anyway.'

Vanessa's relief was obvious, but when she spoke up again her voice was stronger and more serious.

'On the subject. I thought I should tell you something. The animatronics are being kept in a warehouse in town, with a storage company called Cloaked Inc. They're a bit shady, but the storage is cheap so the boss thought it was a bargain. Anyway, I thought you might want to check up on them once in a while, and if you want the business is looking for a guard to watch over the animatronics. Apparently even these guys are a little unnerved about housing wandering robots.'

Jace hung on every word. 'So, they want someone with experience to look after them, and they asked you to find someone suitable?'

'That's about it, yes.'

'Well, I guess I have nothing better to do until the diner reopens. I'll give them a call.'

Jace set down the receiver and placed his head in his hands. Cloaked Inc.? It does sound kind of suspicious, and he doubted they worked entirely in the law.

And then the thought came to him. The main evidence for the disappearances must be the animatronics. The cameras he had installed in them had been caked in blood when he retrieved them from the suits, so if the person responsible wanted to ensure they are never found, they would have to keep track of the animatronics. And maybe, if Layla's death and the disappearances were connected, then capturing the second killer could quite possibly lead him straight to his associate.

Takaya Nobles.

Well, it seems it's not quite a dead end after all...

Chapter 3 - First Night at the Warehouse Edit

Cloaked Inc. wasn't the large, rich storage company Jace imagined. When he had turned up with an employment form, they hurriedly accepted and set him immediately on the all-night shift, alongside a twenty-year old named Chloe. She hardly seemed at ease watching over a large warehouse containing animatronics which were reportedly prone to wandering around at night for several hours, but her nervousness seemed to lessen when she learnt of Jace's background. However, this hardly pleased Jace. Having her witness the animatronics in action would petrify her, and the last thing he needed was her alerting the police and getting the machines taken away, out of his reach for good.

I'll need to get rid of her somehow... Jace thought, sitting down in his seat and observing his surroundings: He was based in a small sub-office attached via corridor to the main monitor room where his unwilling assistant was stationed. His job was to monitor the motion sensors to keep track of the animatronics and to guard the exits, while the other Nightwatchman's job was to watch the cameras and close the doors. It was a flawed system, but it worked.

Several hours passed, and nothing unexpected happened. Just as he predicted, the animatronics moved around in the night, sometimes venturing towards the exits. He occasionally went to check up on Chloe, but no news came up. It was 4 AM when the first incident occurred...

Jace was checking the cameras to the left exit. The motion sensors detected that one of the animatronics was nearby, and the last thing he wanted for it to run around and hurt somebody. They weren't safe anymore, perhaps never even to begin with. Just as he was about to check the sensors again a flash of movement showed Chika sprinting towards the exit, arms raised and flailing in the air. With lightning speed Jace slammed down on the shield button, and in fast response the metal shutter closed over the exit, trapping the yellow robotic as it slammed into it. Seconds felt like minutes as he watched Chika claw away at the steel, watching the dents get deeper and deeper. The ways things were going, it would probably hold for the rest of the night, but he couldn't be sure. That's when the second incident occurred...

He looked up at the motion detectors, his eyes scanning for the red lights. To his horror, however, only Chika's was present. Foxy, Bonnie, Freddy...none of them were there! Just then he heard a petrified scream from down the hall, and he felt a cold shiver run down his back. Gritting his teeth he pushed himself off his chair and sprinted back to the monitor room, and skidding round the corner he realised what had happened. Chloe was stumbling back towards him, and behind her were the three missing animatronics, creeping stealthily out of the shadows towards them. Freddy was in the middle, advancing forwards with slow, lumbering steps. The sight ignited a torrent of confused thoughts, assembling and scattering in his mind like a thousand fragmented realities. However, one stood out amongst the rest, and he seized it. It was clear to him then, that Chloe had tried to escape from the warehouse after seeing the animatronics rush the stairs towards them, but had been trapped between them.

As she scrambled towards him he felt a burning anger erupt inside him, and he made his fateful decision. As his betraying assistant was about to pass him, he stopped her with a ferocious front kick which caught her full in the chest, sending her flying backwards and crashing to the floor, winded, in front of the animatronics. Through tear-filled eyes Chloe looked up to see Jace standing above her, looking down at her with a cold, undaunted look.

'Wha...what are you DOING!?!' she cried, reaching out towards him, but he just stepped away, back into the room.

'My job.'

And with that he pressed the metal shutter button, closing her off from the room. The grate rattled down, shielding him from the animatronics on the other side. Jace was just about to turn away when he noticed something blocking the shutter from closing properly. No...someone! Chloe's hand had somehow managed to jam the shutter, and he felt nauseous as he realised the force of the door was cutting deep into the bone of her wrist. He pressed the button again, watching the shutter retract upwards. Chloe stared at him with hope, thinking he had returned to save her. That maybe he had a plan to...

'Annoying...'

Chloe's expression of hope was lost as Jace's steel toe-capped boot connected with her face, snapping her head back and away from the door. Then, without a moments hesitation, closed the door again. A millisecond later he felt a heavy object throw itself against the metal, making him reel cautiously back. He reached back and drew his secret weapon, his father's old revolver, raising it towards the door at head height. If anything broke through, they were getting a mask full of lead before they could even raised a suited metal hand. It was then that he heard the screams - terrible, agony-filled cries of pain and horror which sounded far from human. But, despite the haunting sounds, Jace's expression remained one of cold, unnerved reservation.

He had survive his first night - but at what cost?

Chapter 4 - The Sacrifice Edit

The suit was more comfortable than Jace had expected. For several days he had been slowly putting together his own protective suit of costume armour - Gearkreig - to allow him to take a more practical role in combating the rampaging animatronics. So far none had escaped, but it was only a matter of time before they got so restless that they would overwhelm him and flee the warehouse. The suit boosted his height, making him taller than even Bonnie, and the thick metal plates were of toughened steel. Just before he left the preparation room he stomped over to the telephone and dialed in the number to the main office. After a few moments the nightwatchman on duty picked up.

'Hey Locke, it's me again. So, things are going to be pretty damn difficult this time, I'm afraid. The animatronics tend to get particularly agitated this far into the week. Good luck.'

Jace hung up. Briskly marching to the door he snatched up his signature weapon - a large metal pipe - and stepped out into the main area. It was too risky to stand directly in front of the animatronics, as they could easily pummel him to death if they surround him, and besides, he couldn't have Ryan catch him on the cameras again. Instead, he watched the camera's light switch from the green to red as the guard switched cameras before darting into the shadows. The main area was called the Maze, mainly because of all the different passages and routes people could take, but also due to how easy it was to get lost amongst the rows and rows of shelves. The animatronics were somewhere in the centre, and they would be waking up around now...

Suddenly, a great crashing sound filled the building from somewhere up ahead. He grimaced and jogged down the hallway, rounding several corners until he saw the cause of the commotion. Foxy had started scaling one of the walls in an attempt to make a shortcut over the Maze rather than go through it. Gritting his teeth, he charged forward, swinging his metal weapon with ferocious force, Gearkreig's exoskeleton amplifying his strength. The end of the pipe connected with hip, knocking him off the crates and back onto the concrete floor. He landed awkwardly but remained upright, his animatronic foot twisted in an odd angle. Snarling in his faulty robotic voice, the pirate fox raised his hook and leaped towards him, jaws open and aiming for his helmet. Jace swung again, catching him on the side of the head mid-jump, redirecting him into a wooden crate to his right. As the startled pirate clambered to his feet, Jace swung one last time, connecting with the back of his head and crunching Foxy's mask into the hard ground, where he lay, immobile.

Jace lent wearily on his pipe, drawing in a dozen ragged breaths as the adrenaline died away. Before it did so, however, another terrible noise rang out, this time one more identifiable. It was the sound of one of the protective Shields closing. From how far off it sounded, it seemed like it was coming from the Monitor Room.

The room where Ryan was.

Cursing, Jace pushed off and started picking up speed as he sped around the corners of the Maze. A few moments later, he was scaling a secret ladder to the Control Room, a place located just next to the main office. Pipe in hand, he charged through the corridor towards the sounds of robotic footfalls.

***

Ryan was not exactly new to the job, but he was no expert either. The animatronics had become even more dangerous than he had feared, their anger spurring on their deadly motives. He had kept them locked in well enough, but that only made them move towards him instead. This time unfortunately, he was caught off guard.

He had never even heard Chika walk into the room, and her cold metal hand had almost brushed the back of his neck by the time he had thought to check behind him. A second later and he would have had his spine snapped, but not quite. Instead he cursed in surprise and pushed himself away from her, the wheels of his chair rolling him out of her reach. The avoidance seemed to aggravate her, as she let out a piercing shriek of outrage which deafened him, knocking him off his chair and sending him stumbling across the room. As he heard her advance quickly towards him, he fumbled around for a weapon. His hands found their way to the nearby emergency fire extinguisher, which he desperately ripped off the wall and swung with all his might against Chika. It collided with her outstretched arm, knocking it off course and into the metal wall next to his head. The force of the blow dented the metal, but her endoskeleton must have gotten torn up a lot as she backed away, cradling her hand as if it caused her pain.

Ryan lifted his makeshift weapon above his head and was just about to send it crashing down on her head as a colossal punch caught him on the cheek, snapping his head around and sending him flying across the room, slamming him painfully onto the controls. Gasping, he fell to the ground. Bonnie lurched towards him. Somehow, he had managed to enter the room without him knowing, and had ambushed him. Through bleary eyes Ryan gazed up at his impending doom, back against the controls. He closed his eyes fearfully as Bonnie reached towards him, murder gleaming in his robotic eyes.

And then, everything happened in a blink of an eye.

The next thing Ryan knew Bonnie was sailing across the room, crunching into the far wall. Towering above him was a new animatronic, one clad in black material and metal plates. He watched as the new animatronic spun around with a speed unlike anything he had seen in them before, catching Chika's flailing arm and tearing off her hand, knocking her away with a devastating left hook. From behind, Bonnie's jaw clamped down on his shoulder, his teeth biting deep into the fabric and metal. Ryan could have sworn he heard a cry of pain escape the animatronic's mask, but he must have just imagined it. The new metal animatronic shrugged off the pest, knife-like fingers digging into his mask. Then, with a terrible tearing sound, ripped off the bunny's face. As Bonnie backed off, he swung with a large pipe of some sort, catching him on the side of the head and apparently knocking him out.

Seconds seemed to take years to pass as the new figure turned towards Ryan. As the metal animatronic reached forward Ryan thought he was a goner. But then, the animatronic shot forwards, falling over the controls and through the window of the Monitor Room. Foxy had jumped him from behind, and the two had plummeted down into the storage area below.

***

Blood. Blood everywhere. Pooling onto the floor around him and running down his face, over his eye and dying his red hair darker.

Jace groaned in pain as he rolled onto his back. Above him, he saw the shattered remains of the window overlooking the Maze. He must have fallen at least five metres, and with his heavy armour he had only fallen faster. As he tried to roll onto his front he was met with an excruciating pain which racked through his body. He realised that his back was pierced with hundreds of glass shards, which was now slick with his blood. A few minutes passed before he managed to summon the strength to rise, and when he did he barely made it a single step before he stumbled down to his knee. The pain wasn't waning. Instead, it was worsening. But through the pain and tiredness he saw a dark figure approach him, its body large and bulky. He could only glare up at it as the animatronic stepped up to him, his armoured hand clamped over his bleeding wrist, the artery severed. Before the animatronic took another step, Jace leaped forward and punched with all his strength, aiming for the head. The strike missed, flying over his attacker's shoulder.

And then Freddy killed him.

Jace never saw the incoming weapon, and before he even realised it his own metal pipe was already halfway through his torso. He stumbled forward, the pain gone, replaced by a cold sensation which flooded his body like a wave. He clawed at the wound desperately, trying to stop the drastic bleeding but only managing to slice up his body further with his own clawed fingers. He fought his way through the thousands of terrified thoughts filling his mind, realizing that dying here would be the worst possible outcome. Dragging his feet, he retreated away to the pointless safety of the saferoom, and as he rounded the final corner he felt Freddy's glowing eyes pierce his very soul.

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