Pitch Madness Madness

Ever since I got the news about getting through to the agent round of Pitch Madness last Sunday night, my mind has been making a constant low-pitched AIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE sound. I’m excited. I’m terrified. Sometimes I like what I’ve written, but more often I’ve been telling myself I’m a fraud who’s written the biggest pile of slop ever, that the giant manure pile we drove by last week is better than my novel, and that I should really have the class to just withdraw from the contest instead of wasting everyone’s time.

My head! Such a fun, helpful place right now.

I wasn’t sure I was going to have the time or the mental focus to write a Weekly Knob story this week, but when I saw the prompt “Teddy Bear,” an idea started unfolding in my head. And it was a nice break to focus on something other than my novel.

As I mention in the Author’s Note, I’ve been playing the Five Nights at Freddy’s game series a little obsessively. The premise of the first game is dead simple: You’re a night watchperson on a midnight to 6 am shift, and you’ve got a bank of cameras and lights to keep an eye on Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, which looks like an especially nasty and run-down Chuck E. Cheese.

Except that the animatronics like to wander at night. And if they find their way to you, they will see you’re not wearing a costume, which is against house rules. And they’ll stuff you in an animatronic suit like theirs. Although you never actually see this happen, rumor has it that the suit is full of wires and crossbeams and (in later editions) something called a springlock that sounds especially unpleasant. You’re not gonna survive this, basically.

If one of those wandering animatronics shows up at your office door, you need to shut it fast or you’ll die. Why not just shut the doors all night, duh? Because you’ve got limited power, and shutting the doors and overusing the cameras and lights burns through that power fast. If the power goes out — and it will at some point no matter how conservative you are — Freddy Fazbear himself will show up at the door in short order, and all you’ll see are his glowing eyes and teeth as he plays “The Toreador Song” from Carmen and gets ready to stuff you in a suit.

It’s creepy and claustrophobic and tense and full of jump scares, and it’s also really hard.

And I think it’s soured me on the idea of cute stuffed animals for a long, long time. And this week’s Knob story was the result.

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