The Root of all Evil is a short story by Aldrasos. It is the first installment of The Redd Herring Trilogy. It explains the very beginning of Five Nights at Freddy's from the perspective of Jace Redd, Head Engineer at the time, as well as the fateful encounter between him and 'Ponytail'.
Chapter 1 - The Red Guy
24th April, 1987
Another animatronic shut down today. Foxy, this time. One moment he was walking around just like normal, and then suddenly he just stopped, looked down and froze. My assistants had to drag him back to the maintenance room quickly before the children noticed, which isn't easy considering how heavy he weighs. All those electronic components cost a small fortune to replace, and the manager isn't happy with me ordering new parts. I need to figure out what is happening with them soon, or else I might be next up to the chopping block.
I shake my head. No, that's not quite right. They can't afford to lose me. I've been working here since day one. I made those suits all those years ago, and no one else knows them as well as I do. That small thought alone gives me hope enough not to bother worrying about it.
I draw out another cigarette and lean back against the wall, feeling a light breeze blow against my face as the spring wind blows through town. I like standing here when on break - the fresh air clears my mind, allowing me to organise my thoughts more clearly. Flicking open my lighter, I raise my hand just as the door next to me opens suddenly, the outside handle smashing into the bricks of the building. Glancing over with mild curiousness I watch as a tall, average-looking employee steps out, hands in his pockets and a scowl on his face. His short brown ponytail hitting the back of his neck as he descended the steps. He didn't seem to notice me as he walked forward towards the chain-linked fence of the parking lot, and after staring at it for a moment kicked it several times while muttering illegible curses.
'What did that fence ever do to you?' I ask, eyes half closed from mid-day drowsiness.
The man stopped what he was doing and raised his head, apparently startled. He turned around to meet me, his face as dark as his foul mood.
'Those damned kids won't shut up! Seriously, they're everywhere and I can't escape them!'
I smile. Yeah, I've heard all this before. Front-line employees tend not to last too long, especially the guys. I relish the blessing of being an engineer, and not having to cater to the kids. I'm not an animatronic, after all. Or an unskilled worker, for that matter.
'It's a family diner. Did you expect it to be filled with old people?' I respond in a sarcastic but jokey manner. The man seemed to appreciate the attempt, offering a faint shadow of a smirk in return.
'So, you out here for the fresh air or what?' he replied, walking towards me.
I raise my hand, showing him the lighter. 'I'm not sure 'fresh air' would describe what I'm doing very well.'
The man smiled again, wider this time, revealing surprisingly well-kept, gleaming white teeth. 'Mind if I have one?'
I flick open the packet again and offer one to him, which he accepts gladly. We light up and as I breath out the numbing smoke I throw a quick glance at my new companion as he stands next to me, smoking the cigarette quietly. He seems the withdrawn type, who doesn't really fit in well with the crowd. His downcast eyes indicate that he feels regretful, or perhaps disappointed with something, or someone. In that single second, I think I gather a pretty accurate profile for him and come to a final conclusion barely a second afterwards.
I don't like this guy.
He seems troublesome. I know these low-paying jobs don't always attract the best of people, or bring out their good side for that matter, but this guy seems to be more than just undesirable no. 1. I have the sneaking suspicion he will get into trouble with the law later in life. Serious trouble.
For the moment, though, I simply take in the welcoming coolness of the natural world from within the confines of this restaurant. Thinking about it, I don't feel like I've seen this guy before. A new employee perhaps? Maybe I just haven't seen him before, and being in the back room all day doesn't exactly promote interaction between employees. Not that I care, I'm fine with just Freddy and co for company.
'I haven't met you before. What's your name?' the man asks suddenly, snapping me out of my thoughts. I turn to see him looking at me out the corners of his eye.
'Redd. Jace Redd. I'm the head engineer here, and have been for over 10 years.'
'Redd, huh? Seems fitting, considering your hair and eyes. Those contacts?'
I run my hand through my hair instinctively. My hair is a dark red. Dyed, obviously. My red eyes, though, are quite natural.
'No. I have a medical condition which causes my eyes to be the colour that they are. Blood vessels, or something.'
'That's pretty cool. Is red your favourite colour then?'
I scowl, but turn away so that he doesn't notice. I don't like how this guy is trying to act all friendly with me. I seems fake in an unnecessary, unwelcoming way, like he's trying to pull cotton over my eyes for some reason.
'I guess. What's yours?' I reply through gritted teeth.
The man seems to ponder the question for a moment, before turning to me with gleeful eyes and a deadly grin.
'Well, I guess if I had to choose...it would have to be purple.'
Chapter 2 - Ponytail
25th April, 1987
I frown as I examine the wiring inside the new animatronic which was brought in today. It's name hasn't been decided yet, and frankly I've haven't the faintest idea what it is. A lizard perhaps? I failed biology class, so that's as far as I'm going to narrow it down. What I know for sure, however, is that it's being a real bugger to start up. Every time I try it just deactivates again, and frankly I'm pretty close to just scrapping it for spare parts right about now.
Leaning forward I inspect the complex mechanics inside the suit, marvelling at how far technology has advanced since I first created the originals. I haven't been left behind though. The head mechanic needs to know his animatronics inside and out, or else he will be replaced by someone else, and that's no good. The job pays well, and I've grown attached to the company, as strange as that sounds.
'Hey, John, take a look at this would ya?' I call behind me. A second later I hear the janitor finish leaning the mop against the wall and walks towards me.
'Yeah, what's up?'
I pull a few if the wires out for him to see. 'Think the reason for it malfunctioning being the wires being dirty?'
He lifts up his light blue golfers hat and peers at the wiring. 'The only way to find out would be to remove the endoskeleton and clean the individual parts.' He glances at me. 'May take a while.'
I sigh, wiping my forehead with my sleeve. 'That's what I thought you'd say. Mind giving me a hand with this?'
He nods in agreement, and half an hour later we successful dismantle the last limb of the lizard's metal frame. I pick up the suit's head and look at it, noting the strange blue markings on the sides. I rotate it slightly, until a small line of black text catches my eye.
Animatronic MK. 1V4N
'The product number, it seems,' John says over my shoulder, causing me to jolt in surprise.
'Christ, you scared me!'
The janitor just grins. 'Sorry about that.'
Before I could respond a third voice fills the room.
'I wouldn't apologies for something like that. After all, there are far scarier things in this restaurant...'
We turn to the sound of the voice behind us, and I frown as I see who it is.
'You.' I say
'Me.' Ponytail replies, smiling sharkily with his perfect teeth.
'Who's this guy?' John asks, eyeing the purple guy suspiciously.
'He's part of security. I forgot to ask his name, though.' I too look at the man warily, but he only smiles again and walks towards us.
'How rude of me not having introduced myself yesterday. My name's Takaya. Started working the day shift a week or so ago 'cause I'm broke, but I'm already thinking of going back to the night shift.' His gaze switches from me to the janitor. 'I've already met you, Jace, but who might this be?'
John steps forward, offering his hand. 'I'm John, the janitor. We haven't met yet, it seems.'
Takaya's smile wavers as he glances at the hand. John's a pretty solid guy, taller and more muscular than Takaya, so it's no surprise he would be intimidated slightly. Luckily, John's about the most peaceful guy I know, not that I plan to tell Ponytail that.
'Nice to meet you, John.' Takaya shakes the hand after a moments hesitation. Then his attention seems drawn to the suit lying on the bench behind us. 'Ah, that's the new one, is it?' He starts walking towards the suit, arm outstretched. Just as he is about to reach it, however, I grab his wrist and it pull it upwards, forcing him to look at me.
'Unless you have a reason for being in here, I want you to leave. We're pretty busy right now, so if you don't mind...'
Suddenly, a surprisingly strong punch connects with my stomach, making me lose my grip and lurch forward, winded. As I did so my nose explodes in pain as a knee shoots up and crunches into my face, throwing me backwards and causing me to stumbling into the table behind me.
'You want to try that again, you lowly grease-monkey!' Ponytail snarles, his smile gone. He advances towards me, leg preparing for a kick. Fighting through the dizziness I feel around behind me for a weapon of some kind, a pipe or something. Relief floods through me as my fingers run across the cool metal of a large wrench, which I lift up and bring it towards me. My relief turns then to fury, and as my attacker releases his kick I swing the tool with all my strength, smiling to myself in approval as it connects successfully with his left knee, to which a sickening crunching sound fills the room.
Takaya howls in pain and retreats backwards, dragging his limp leg across the room as the purple of his trousers begins to darken at an alarming rate. As he backs away I climb to my feet and lunge forward, catching him directly in the side of the head with a ferocious left hook. Takaya's head snaps backwards and he crumples to the floor, just as John grabs hold of my arm and pulls me away before I could hit him again.
'Jesus, man, hold off for a moment! I think you shattered his kneecap!'
The red mist in my vision begins to fade as I watch the janitor pull Ponytail to his feet, wincing as his left foot skims the floor. He glares at me with utter hatred, and I return the stare with my own icy venom.
'You'll regret this, Redd! You don't think you will, but believe me you're going to wish you quit this job years ago!'
Chapter 3 - A Special Guest
29th April, 1987
It's been four days since my fight with Takaya, and I feel like he's come off worse. He hasn't turned up to work since, so I presume he must still be recovering. A part of me regrets using a weapon, but deep down I'm still convinced I was in the right.
John took him to the hospital afterwards, and that's the last I heard of the incident. Since then nothing has changed - not the job, not the restaurant, nothing. Well, I like it that way, so I'm not complaining. I finished cleaning up the new animatronic, and it seems to work fine now. It should be ready to be used out in the main area in a few days time, apparently. Hopefully it will not freeze like the others, in which case it may just be a result of the models being out of date. Just in case, I've started working on a new endoskeleton frame utilising state-of-the-art technology. I can't be sure, but if my theories are correct it will give the animatronics a sort of...sentience...which will allow them to cater to the customer's needs more effectively than the current programming I have installed. I'm considering using this new technology for the lizard suit as a prototype, which should make it even more popular with the children. That is, of course, only if it works.
As I mull over my thoughts I hear the door to the room open suddenly, causing me to look up. I straighten up slightly as the Boss walks in, cheap suit buttoned around his fat stomach like it's about to burst open from the strain.
'Redd, you know where Nobles is?' he asks, glancing around the room in case the purple-clad pyscho is lurking about in the shadows.
'No. He hasn't been in here. In fact, I haven't even seen him for days.'
The Boss looks at me with a hint of suspicion. 'You have any idea where that young fool might be?' he continues. I fake a look of thought, before shrugging.
'I heard he hurt himself a few days back. Perhaps he's at the hospital or something?' I eventually reply. I smile in the full knowledge that the half-lie is harder to detect than the full lie, and it looks like my act paid off, as the Boss turns to leave. However, just as he stands in the doorway, he swivels round and looks at me again.
'Oh. Rick and David aren't here today, and I'm hearing complaints from customers that Foxy is acting up again. Get it sorted, huh?'
I politely nod my head in understanding, but when his back is turned I curse in frustration. Foxy again? And without my assistants, I have to go out myself! Damn...why today...
I storm out of the room, and after walking through a short staff corridor I emerge into the main restaurant area. Everywhere I look, children mile around, chasing after the animatronics as their tired-looking parents look on with defeated looks on their faces. The sight causes my frown to sink into a dark scowl, and I press on towards Pirate Cove before someone - heavens forbid - starts talking to me.
'Umm...Mr Red Guy?'
I freeze. Turning my head, I groan silently in annoyance as I young 6-year-old looks up at me, his hand tugging the end of my shirt. I force a friendly smile and crouch slightly so I'm more his level.
'What can I do for you, little guy?'
The kid lets go of my uniform and points towards my destination. 'Foxy is acting funny.'
I put my hand on his shoulder in an attempt to comfort him, the beginnings of tears in his eyes impossible to ignore. 'Don't worry mate. How about you and I pay Foxy a little visit, eh? You see, I'm actually Foxy's best friend, since we both wear red.'
The kid nods. 'That makes sense,' he says, almost making me feel bad for lying to him. Almost.
Together we walk over to the small stage. The pirate fox is not in sight, indicating that he must be waiting behind the curtains until the time is right for his emergence. I look at my watch. 3:50. Almost time for Foxy's spotlight. I open up the curtain and wave for my young companion to enter. He gawps and looks around, probably the only one of his friends to have gotten to see his favourite animatronic's hiding place.
'Wow! I never thought I'd see this.' Then his eyes light up. 'Foxy!'
The kid runs over to the animatronic, who is standing perfectly upright in the middle of the room, head bowed and waiting for showtime. The kid runs up and wraps his arms around the animatronic in a tight embrace, staying like that for a good ten seconds before I lightly pull him off.
'Hold on now. I just need to wake him up first. Stand back, Foxy doesn't like getting woken during his nap.'
The child obeys. I step forward and feel around for the switch on the back of Foxy's neck. After a few moments I find it and flick it on, nodding to myself as I hear a quiet hum begin to radiate out from the suit. The light's in the animatronic's eyes light up, and I smile as my creation raises its head to look at me.
'Arrr...well, if it isn't Capt'n Redd, my old friend. Time for adjustments?'
I shake my head. 'Not this time, Captain Foxy. I wanted to introduce you to someone, actually.' I wave my hand to the kid behind me, who is practically quivering with anticipiation and joy. Foxy turns to his fan, jaw opening to reveal rows of sharp grey teeth.
'Yarrr! Welcome, matey, to Pirate Cove! Why don't you have a look around?'
The kid exclaims in joy and dashes off, much to my surprise. This wasn't in Foxy's programming! Before I can stop him the kid disappears around a corner, and before I can run to catch him I feel a cold, metal hand clamp around my arm. I turn to see Foxy looking straight into my eyes. Souless, and yet I seem to see a faint glimmer of intelligence behind them.
'Time's up, Capt'n Redd. Time to pay a visit to Davy Jones!'
And then he bites.
Chapter 4 - Blood and Sparks
29th April 1987
I curse loudly in pain as Foxy’s sharp teeth clamp around my forearm, each canine puncturing through the skin and into the muscle beneath. I try and withdraw my arm, but the resulting wave of agony stops me immediately. Foxy shook his head violently, the metal edging every closer to solid bone. I position my free hand underneath Foxy’s mask and push upwards with all my strength, trying to force apart the jaws and withdraw my arm, which is now quickly becoming slick with blood. Just as I feel the teeth beginning to retract out of my arm, Foxy’s hand suddenly swipes down and knocks my hand away with his amazing animatronic strength. The result causes his jaws to snap back down, causing me to stumble as I writhe in pain.
‘Damn...it....Foxy...GET THE HELL OFF ME!!!’ I bark through gritted teeth, pushing with all my might against his metal frame. With a burst of adrenaline I manage to throw Foxy back, and I cradle my wounded arm as I begin to back away.
Foxy doesn’t give me a chance to recover, though, as he suddenly leaps towards me with ferocious intent. His shoulder collides with my stomach and we both go flying backwards. My back hits the brick wall, forcing the wind from my lungs and causing me to keel over in pain. I barely manage to raise my arms in defence as Foxy is on me again, swiping with his hands at my face. I block the swipes, but I feel each mechanical finger tear the skin raw with each strike, until I feel a surprisingly cold stream of blood drip down my arms and onto the floor.
Seeming to realise the ineffectuality of his attacks, Foxy lunges forward for another bite, this time aiming for my shoulder and neck. I raise my arms again, managing to catch the rampaging animatronic beneath the jaw and snapping the two sections together so that the teeth crack sharply against the metal, the jaw dislocated. Still, he attacks relentlessly, and it takes all my strength to keep his head away from my head.
But the adrenaline which seemed to fill me only moments before seemed to disappear, and I feel my strength begin to wane. I can only watch as the teeth bite closer and closer, and I realise that I never really had a chance against the animatronic anyway. I close my eyes and wait for the inevitable bite.
I barely hear the voice in the background, but as soon as the word is spoken Foxy immediately stops moving. After a few moments of confusion, I open my eyes. Foxy is looking right at me, the whites of his electronic eyes staring into mine. Emotionless.
But then he withdraws, causing me to collapse to my knees in pain. I look up to see a young child standing behind the frozen pirate – the one I brought in earlier. Amidst the confusion I had completely forgotten about their being another person in the room, and its seems the presence of the child has calmed the rebellious fox.
‘Foxy...? What are you doing to Mr Red Guy?’ the kid asks, staring up at the animatronic with teary eyes. He seems to have grasped the situation, to an extent. Before Foxy has a chance to speak I reach up and flick the switch on Foxy’s neck again, sighing with relief as the sounds of him powering down fill the room.
‘Hey, kid.’ I say, rising to my feet. ‘Foxy and I just had a little fight, that’s all. He’s resting now, so I think you should let him sleep and go back to your friends, yeah?’
The child seems disappointed, but nods and starts walking back towards the curtain.
‘Hey kid!’ I shout just before he leaves, and he turns back. ‘Thanks.’
He looks confused, but nods again anyway before parting the curtains and rejoining the heaving mass of people flooding the restaurant. I stand there for a few moments, breathing in ragged breaths and trying to piece together again the events which just took place.
I open my eyes a little wider and look down. Oh yeah...I’m bleeding. I watch the droplets of blood run down my forearm and accumulate at the end of my fingers, before falling to the concrete floor. I notice that a small puddle was slowly beginning to form, and I stumble away before I let it grow any large. Looking around, I finally recover an old first aid kit from the back of the room. Company policy is that each room has such a kit, for reasons I was fully aware of, but never thought would happen to me. I open it and retrieve some bandages. Not the best, but a short term solution is needed to stop the blood loss until I can get to the hospital. I wrap the white fabric around my arms and growl in pain as it comes into contact with the teeth wounds. Moments later I admire my handiwork, but notice how to bandages are already starting to darken. I need help, and fast.
I wipe my forehead with weariness, realising a moment later it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, as now I have a thin smear of red across my skin. I pat my hair down a bit to cover it up and, catching my breath, step out into the main area again. I receive a few confused and worried looks as I step out, but I hurry away to the side where their gazes are less likely to cross me. I lean against the wall and look around, hoping to see the blue-clad janitor John anywhere. He could help me.
However, something catches my eye as I glance over the entrance. It looked like someone leaving – and in a hurry. I don’t know why, but something doesn’t seem quite right about it, with a painful heave I stride forward and push open the double glass doors, stepping out into the world beyond. I look down the pavement both ways, but see no evidence of the man – at least I think it was a man – hurrying away. Just as I turn to leave an old purple car drives past me and down the street, barely a metre from where I stand. It was a company car, and the driver behind the wheel:
A purple-clad employee.
Chapter 5 - An Unspeakable Crime
17th May 1987
Ring Ring...Ring Ring...Ring Ring...Beep...
I reach over to the phone and pick up the receiver.
'Hello?' I say in to the receiver. After a few moments, a voice responds.
'Hello, is this Mr Redd speaking?'
'Yes, that's me. Is this Michael?'
'Oh, yes it's me. Hey, I just wanted to make sure everything is fine for tomorrow.'
'Yeah, I've got everything arranged with the Boss. He's alright with it.'
'Good...good. Sorry to bother you with this...I'm just worried that's all.'
'It's fine, don't worry about it. I have a safety precaution set up just in case...'
'Sorry, what? I didn't quite catch that?'
'Oh, don't worry. Just talking to myself, that's all. See you tomorrow.'
I hang up and place the receiver back down.
'Who was that?' John says, standing on the other side of the room.
'Oh, a friend. I'm taking care of his daughter tomorrow. Ah, I'll introduce you, and if you wouldn't mind keeping an eye on her while I'm not looking that would be appreciated.'
I turn around and walk over to the table. Foxy is laying face down on top of it, revealing the metal endoskeleton at the neck where I update the software. I look down at it and reach for my tablet, but find it's not there. I think for a moment, and then look around.
'Rick, have you seen the maintenance tablet anywhere?' I ask to my assistant, who is sitting off to the side reading a book. 'Rick, you listening to me?'
'Huh? Oh, sorry...I was thinking about something...' he replies, looking up. I run my hand through my hair, a habit when I get irritated.
'My tablet. Have you seen it?' I ask again, and this time he shakes his head, looking back down at his book, deep in thought again. I sigh, stalking over to the supply closet to find the spare. A few moments later I'm looking back down at Foxy, plugging in the programming cable into the port in the metal skeleton inside. The tablet lights up in conformation, and I tap a few buttons until I get to the system control panel.
'Now then...' I say to myself, '...about that precaution...'
...The next day...
I look at my watch. 07:45. I still have 15 minutes until Layla arrives. May as well check on Foxy to make sure the programming worked.
I push open the door of the Maintenance Room and stroll into the main area. All around me young children are running around, laughing and shouting. The noise gets on my nerve, but not as much as it did when I first started working here years before. I ignore their cries of joy and walk straight to Pirates Cove, pushing aside the curtains and looking in. Just as I had hoped, there he is, sitting on a crate against the wall and looking at me with his glowing, animatronic eyes.
'Why...if it isn't Capt'n Redd again. What is it ya need?' he asks in a cheerful voice.
'Foxy. Remember what I told you yesterday?'
Foxy thinks for a moment, and then nods. 'Stop any suspicious purple individuals around the children.'
I shake my head. 'Not exactly, Foxy. I told you to protect Layla especially. I described her, remember?'
Foxy once again seems to ponder the question, and then nods a second time.
'Good, well then, you can't do that sitting here, can you? Follow me.'
Foxy rises from the crate and follows me out of the curtain. As I withdraw I suddenly here the distinct sound of ambulance alarms from the front of the restaurant. I look out the window, but don't see much. I don't seem to be the only person, as most of the adults and even some children are glancing worriedly out the window.
I climb down the steps of Pirate Cove and head towards the sirens, Foxy following all the while. Luckily, the children seem to fixated on the alarms to pay the animatronic any thought. I push open the doors and step out, placing my hand over my ear to block out some of the blaring noise. I walk over and tap one of the ambulance workers on the shoulder.
'Excuse me, can you tell me what's going on here?' I ask politely. The woman turns to meet me, her face grim.
'I'm afraid there's been a horrible incident,' she says, 'It appears...a young girl has had her throat slashed...by a man dressed in purple.'
This can't be happening.
It could be some other young girl, it is a family diner after all, a part of me argues. But I feel it. This...feeling of certainty, bordering on deja-vu, that I know who the young girl is.
As I stare ahead in shock, I hear the door to the diner open again.
'What's the matter, Capt'n Redd? Did something happen?' Foxy asks, and I can almost hear a hint of concern in his robotic voice. My hands instinctively rise to my head, and I grab blades of my blood red hair in tight clumps, clawing at it with a feeling of absolute rage I have never felt before.
'Yeah...something happened...that...bastard...just killed...my god-daughter!!!'