This is for "056 Breakfast" of the 100 fanart challenge (see FanArt100 on DA). I actually wrote a different fic for Breakfast, but I took it down the same day. That one had been based more on the literal meaning of breakfast ("break your fast") by having an older Jillian as a doll and contemplating on whether she could eat now. This one, if you can believe it, was inspired by the "I'm a god" scene from Groundhog Day when Doris the waitress says that the special for the day is blueberry waffles. While this fic features pancakes, for some reason "blueberry waffles" made me think of how breakfast could be turned into something sinister, and so this fic came to be.
As always, honest feedback is appreciated, even if you don't like it. :)
"Dawn's coming," the dummy holding Jillian's hand rasped. "Would you like breakfast?"
Jillian's stomach felt like bricks, but in the short time she had known Slappy - which actually included a few weeks from two autumns ago and then meeting him again in HorrorLand the evening before - he had rarely showed much in the way of empathy. His suggestion made her temporarily forget her tired legs, the cool summer night that chilled her exposed skin, the mosquitoes nipping her flesh, and the sounds of werewolves prowling in the distance. She rose one thin black eyebrow carefully. "What is there to eat?" she asked softly.
Slappy paused in their trek on the dirt path through Wolfsbane Forest, and he spun his head to look up at her. "HorrorLand's the oyster of Slappy's bride," he said with an impish expression that sparkled his dark-blue eyes. "You can have anything you like - as long as it's low-fat," he added.
Jillian blinked at him blankly. He said the words as if they were somehow significant, but staying up all night in a malevolent amusement park while an evil dummy guided her by the hand as if they were old friends had made her mind sluggish. She tilted her dark head. "Excuse me?"
"Sure, you're a toothpick now, Noodle," he replied, stressing her father's nickname for her as he tapped the side of her waist, "but I'm not gonna marry a hot-air balloon. Consider yourself on a strict diet until we're at the altar, sweetie." He tugged her hand, starting their walk again.
Jillian clenched her teeth and tugged back - Slappy might be the only thing keeping her alive in HorrorLand at the moment, and he might be stronger, but that didn't mean she would take his rudeness without resistance.
Slappy laughed at her without turning his head and dragged her along the forest path - literally - as if she were just a bag of feathers.
She swallowed against her thirst and shooed away a bug buzzing around her head. Her heartbeat pulsed at a mostly normal pace now, but she could not escape the feeling of dread that lined the edges of all this social interaction. She didn't need to put a coin inside Madame Doom to know Slappy had no intentions of letting her go back to her family. But he also hadn't said what he exactly planned to do with her either.
After he had saved her from those monsters who had tried to catch her as a midnight snack for their nocturnal litter, Slappy had introduced her as his slave to the other Very Important Villains (or V.I.V. as they were called). To the Horrors who honored the shiny V.I.V. token he flashed for line-cutting privileges, he announced that anyone who injured his property would make him upset - and bad things happened when he got upset. All through the long evening, he hadn't mentioned how they knew each other or that he had once tried to marry Jillian two years prior. Even when he had pulled her through the woods for a quiet walk after all the thrills and chills of the park, she had dared to think he might have given up on marriage, but those hopes had now been squashed harder than a bug under falling bricks.
Jillian clenched her teeth. Slappy would have never even been her friend under normal circumstances. He was a rude, malicious little terror wrapped up in a dark-gray suit, and if she knew how to sneak out of HorrorLand with her family in one piece, she would have dropped him in the nearest bottomless pit hours ago. Despite his insistence that she was his bride forever and a day, Jillian knew his interest in her wasn't exactly that of Bowser for Princess Peach. Slappy thought she was pretty, and he wanted her to be the mother of the puppets he hoped to build somebody, but he didn't actually regard her as a person. Anything resembling kindness was considered a poorly delivered joke by the mannequin built from a stolen coffin, and marriage was just another form of slavery in his hollow head.
I escaped him once. I can do it again, she told herself, but her knees knocked a little as she walked.
"Ah, here we go," Slappy said, breaking into her thoughts. He pointed to a short, purple building up ahead, just outside the treeline. A sign on the leaf-strewn lawn read The Long Pig Bust-a-Gut Breakfast Buffet Test Kitchens. Horrors Only.
"Only place open at this hour," Slappy said cheerfully. "And by 'open,' I mean 'wanna watch me bust into this joint?'"
She bit her lip. She doubted the V.I.V. treatment extended to trespassing. "Is that such a good idea?"
"C'mon! It'll be fun," he declared with a conspiratorial wink, towing her forward. "A real bonding experience for the two of us."
She grimaced at the building, but despite her reserve, her dry throat urged her to find something to quench her thirst. Then a light bulb sparked in her sleepy mind, and a new hope flared. Trying to sound as reasonable and as natural as possible, she suggested, "The Stagger Inn has round-the-clock Doom Service. Maybe we could go there and - "
"And you'll try to run to your parents' room?" he demanded. His smile vanished as if his wooden features were made of flesh. He jerked her arm about, making her shoulder crack. "You can't lie to me, Jillian. I used to live inside your head." He tapped his own red-brown hair for emphasis.
She looked away, sucking air against the ache in her arm.
Then Slappy stilled and patted her hand with his free one. "I'm the only one you can count on here, Jillian," he taunted. "Without me, your whole family could conveniently disappear off the face of the earth."
She tightened her jaw, but she didn't contradict him.
He tapped her skinny belly and spoke in a mocking baby voice, "You'll be less cranky once we get something in your tummy, sweetie."
She scowled and deliberately dragged her feet as he pulled her up the path. With a quick use of his magic, the door swung open. She knew from their time together that he prided himself as a wooden Houdini; he had shown her quite a few memories of escaping sewer drains, trunks, crates, trash cans, and even old wishing wells that his former "slaves" had tried to use to end his life.
The still air of the building offered relief from the chilly forest, and Jillian once again wished she had changed out of her shorts and into jeans last night. The wonderful smell of fresh pancakes filled the silent hall that met them, and they followed the scent, looking for a staff member. Slappy patted his right jacket pocket where he kept the token the Horrors had given him. "As a V.I.V., I can order the cooks to whip you up a vegetarian omelet and chopped bananas on the side with a glass of orange juice - that's your mother eats to maintain her weight, right?"
Jillian didn't acknowledge him. Instead she pointed to a pair of swinging doors ahead. "That looks like a dining area." Both doors had round windows, and artificial light shone in the room. Large dark windows stretched in the limited view, reminding Jillian of a cafeteria. She pulled her hand free from Slappy's hold, striding forward. Although tall for a soon-to-be eighth grader, Jillian had to stand on her tiptoes to use the windows meant for a towering Horror.
She peeked through the glass - and let out a gasp. "Whoa!"
"Let me see," Slappy demanded, siding up to her. He held out his arms for her to elevate him.
However, not wanting to hold him, Jillian opened the door a crack. The two peered inside.
A long banquet table had been set up, stretching from one end of the dining hall to the next. Several platters, each stacked with its own mountain of blueberry pancakes, decorated the checkered tablecloth, as if the Mad Hatter's Tea Party had swapped its teapots for a breakfast buffet. It smelled delightful but unusually sweet at the same time. Despite having all the tension of the previous night to steal her appetite, Jillian's mouth watered at the welcoming image.
At one end of the table stood a female purple Horror with a white chef hat over her blonde hair. She was in the middle of speaking to one or more diners. Her large bulk blocked them from sight, but their smacking lips were audible over her voice. "When you finish every last bite, you'll be ready for breakfast. Now, you stay here while I check on tomorrow's entrées in the stockyards. Ciao, my little piggies," she cooed affectionately.
She moved toward the door marked Exit - but in doing so, she let Jillian have a clear view of the two bodies that sat at the table. Jillian grabbed Slappy before she realized what she was doing and gripped him tightly.
The dummy looked at her in surprise and amusement. "You lookin' for a kiss, sweetie?"
Jillian ignored his hopeful question and sputtered out, "Slappy - I know them!"
Once the Horror disappeared, Jillian spilled into the room with the puppet wobbling after her. With wide eyes, she strode toward the two little kids sitting at the end of the banquet table. A boy and a girl, siblings around her sisters' ages.
She recognized them by their Halloween T-shirts. Marcus had a smiling off-white mummy on a dark-purple background; the mummy's arms stretched out in front, but it had an overflowing trick-or-treat bag dangling from its bandaged fingers. Anita had a pumpkin-orange shirt dotted by cute little black bats with blue Bambi eyes. Yesterday afternoon, the siblings had played with Jillian's sisters, Katie and Amanda, in the Werewolf Village. Marcus and Anita each had dark brown hair and big gray eyes, and both had been lean and hyper, riled up by cotton candy and the Zinman twins egging them on. Now they looked like miniature pink Violet Beauregardes, dribbling blueberry juice over their extra chins.
Jillian touched their soft arms. "Marcus? Anita?"
They ignored her - or maybe they couldn't hear her. Both stared as if in a trance at the platters of pancakes in front of them, reaching for the next flapjack.
She whirled around. "Slappy, you gotta do something!" she cried shrilly.
Slappy shook his head. "This is the test kitchen for the Long Pig Bust-a-Gut Breakfast Buffet, Jillian - and they mean 'bust a gut,' haha!" He slapped his leg. "At this rate, these two could feed the whole park for Thanksgiving!"
Jillian stared at him. "You don't mean..." She gripped her throat, feeling sick.
"Believe it, babe," the dummy replied. "I'd make light of their situation - 'cause it's the only thing 'light' about them!"
"Shut up!" she snapped, waving a hand in front of Marcus's eyes.
"Hey, I don't sugarcoat things, Jillian - they'd only eat it if it was!" Slappy tittered. He gestured to the other chairs around the table. "Know why there's extra furniture here? Because they're gonna go through a lot of broken chairs, haha! Forget a bathroom scale. We'll need a trucker's weigh station for these pigs!"
Jillian tried to push the little boy out of his seat, but Marcus shoved her away, still munching. Jillian tugged on Anita's arm to pull her away from the table. The chair scooted back, but Anita wiggled out of her grip and slid herself back into place. Jillian's stomach flipped inside her. "Why would the Horrors do this to them?!"
"Same reason you fatten up a turkey," Slappy replied. "I hear the blueberries give the meat a unique taste."
"But they're kids!" she cried. "This is horrible!"
"No different from eating veal or lamb chops," replied the dummy, leaning against the table.
She spun back to him, heart pounding. "You gotta save them!" she begged. "Please! You know all those spells now - "
"No dice," he cut her off, holding up one wooden hand. "My powers are strictly for evil or my own gratification. I'm not gonna taint them with no do-gooder junk. No, ma'am!"
Her face fell. She pushed her black hair from her forehead. Never thinking she'd play this card, she whispered, "Not even as a favor for me?"
His eyebrows rose with his eyelids. "Are you trying to manipulate me, Jillian?" he laughed. "You got guts - but you can't make a guy with no heart feel." He thumped his hollow chest, empty as a vacuum. He glanced at the table, contemplative. "You know, now that I think of it, the cafeteria for the park employees will be opening for breakfast soon. I don't think I want you eating here after all. With all this enchanted nosh around, that chef might forget I'm a V.I.V. and try to fatten you up to be an appetizer. Let's go."
"But - " she sputtered.
"Let's go!" he ordered. He held out his hand.
No, she couldn't abandon them. Marcus and Anita were just little kids, and they didn't deserve to be some monster's breakfast. Their parents were probably sick with worry, and - and what if it were Katie and Amanda stuck in those chairs? No, she would not abandon them, no matter how Slappy glared at her right then with his cold, ugly eyes.
But what he said gave her an idea.
She picked off a piece of cursed griddlecake with a thick blueberry inside, soaked purple in a dark berry syrup. She held it out in front of the dummy with a flourish. Her heart quickened, and her hand shook with nerves, but she gave him her mother's patented no-nonsense look.
Slappy's eyes grew wide. "Drop that drop scone, Jill."
She raised the piece to her lips.
Slappy started forward. "Hey, you eat that, and we're through!" he barked. "I'm not going to marry a fat bride - "
But he moved just within range for her to shove it into his mouth instead. Before he could spit it out, she pounced on him, knocking him on his back. She tried to hold his mouth closed, but he wiggled and swung his arms, sending her on her side.
"Ow!" she groaned, but she scooted away from him, springing to the balls of her sneakers.
Slappy scrambled to his feet. "Thanks for the treat, sweetie," he taunted. "Maybe next we can try that egg on your face - " But then he stopped, swiveling his head toward the breakfast table, piled high with enchanted hot cakes. He took a step toward it. His smile faded. "Oh, no…"
A grin split Jillian's face instead. "Oh, yes!" she said as Slappy climbed into a chair. She wiped off her fingers on the checked tablecloth, unable to resist a snicker.
The dummy pulled a serving dish toward himself, not bothering with a plate, and he began to grab whatever flannel cake his little arms could reach. He didn't even need to chew, able to stuff large chunks straight into his mouth and scarf them down.
"I'm gonna kill you, Jillian," he growled around his syrupy fingers.
"You have to break the spell first," she replied. Her limbs still trembled, but if anyone could help the little kids, Slappy was currently their best bet.
Slappy glared daggers at her, but he managed to tear one arm away from his first breakfast long enough to point toward the kitchen. "Look for a cookbook," he grumbled.
Jillian dove through swinging doors into a large kitchen. Several stainless-steel ran horizontally across the center, and a large door to a walk-in refrigerator loomed on the far wall. A picture of Christopher Walken stared back at her from the door, but she didn't stop to ponder over it. She searched through cabinets around the big prep sink on her left and opened every drawer until at last she stumbled upon a stack of laminated papers bound by a large silver ring in their left corners. Pictures of various dishes were on each page, followed by the instructions.
Jillian grabbed it with both hands and zoomed back to the dining area. The lower half of Slappy's face had been coated purple now, and he barely glanced at her as she slammed her find upon the table.
"Ugh, I wasn't made to eat, you know!" he moaned. "I don't have a stomach."
"Didn't stop you from barfing all over Eddie Simkin's birthday party," she shot back, propping the prep papers against a pile of flapjacks. She almost felt guilty for his suffering, but she had to remind herself that he had done a lot worse - he used to brag about his misdeeds when he had lived inside her like a Yeerk.
She flipped through the prep charts until she found the hot-cake section. Her eyes scanned the page - Makes 2 dozen pancakes; see back for Replication Spell - and read out the ingredients: "Flour, eggs, milk, sugar, enchanted blueberries."
Slappy lifted his eyes from his platter. "Anything about the spell on the blueberries?"
She flipped through the pages but shook her head. "Nada."
"Swell." He screwed up his face, thinking hard even as his hands continued to shovel the flapjacks into his mouth. He mumbled something, and Jillian had to ask him to repeat it twice before he forced himself to stop eating long enough to swallow and answer. "I said this is probably an addiction spell. Chances are, the spellcaster enhanced the blueberries natural qualities to make them irresistible. If so, we need something to counteract the berries' normal biology."
"How should I know?" he snapped, already grabbing another flapjack. "I'm not a berry farmer." He swallowed, looking nauseous.
Jillian did her best to think. "Fruits are made of water and - and natural sugars," she remembered. Mom was careful how much fruit Katie consumed because she was more hyperactive, and even the sugar in berries set her off. Whenever Katie ate too much of any kind of sugar, Mom always gave her - "Protein!" Jillian snapped her fingers. "Some meat could cancel out the sugar!"
"Hop to it," Slappy said with a full mouth.
Back into the kitchen. She lugged open the walk-in door and grabbed a nearby chair to prop it open - after all the real terrors she had encountered in the park thus far, she had no desire to add getting locked in a fridge to the list. She flew inside the cold space, sliding to a stop in the center of parallel rows of shelves, but a quick look at all the boxes made her heart sink like a rock.
Lettuce, potatoes, different kinds of cheeses, tomatoes.
"C'mon, c'mon," she moaned, surveying again. She moved the boxes to double check each label.
All produce or dairy.
Either the kitchen had run out of bacon and beef - or the Horror chefs had no palate for non-human entrées.
"Ohhh." Jillian trembled with disgust at that realization.
She ran back into the kitchen, swiveling her head for anything helpful. Then she saw a normal-sized refrigerator near one of the prep stations. She bolted toward it, nearly tripping as she swerved around the tables.
She flung open the door. Inside stood rows of gallons of milk, sticks of butter, and several cartons of - "Eggs!" she cried. Precious protein! Glad she had paid attention in science class, she pulled out three cartons and rushed back to the breakfast table.
She skidded to a halt by Slappy first, using him as her guinea pig. She tapped one egg against the table, denting the shell with a web of cracks. She grabbed his forehead and pushed him back against his seat. "Down the hatch."
He still had a large wad of purplish pancake mush between his teeth, but he swallowed enough to let her drip the yolk into his mouth. In moments it all disappeared.
Slappy slumped against the chair. "Another! I think it's working," he moaned. She obliged. After the second yolk disappeared, the puppet gasped and rolled away from her. He fell to the floor and collapsed on all fours, groaning like he had a belly ache.
She spun to Anita next, grabbing a third egg. "C'mon, this'll help - " She tried to tilt her head back gently, but Anita's enlarged arms pushed her away.
Jillian tugged on her shoulder, a little more firm. "Please, you gotta - "
Anita shrugged her off.
Jillian made a grab for her wrist, but Anita, still reaching for cursed flapjacks, shoved her with one arm, and the egg flew from Jillian's hand. It cracked on the tile floor, oozing out its white insides.
Jillian reached for the egg cartons and quickly moved them to Slappy's empty seat for safety. "Slappy, she's not letting me help her!" she cried.
"Then ditch her," the stuffed dummy snapped. "She deserves to be somebody's breakfast."
The urge to kick him into a wall arose within her, but she ignored him, studying the children. There had to be a way to get these eggs into them…
Then at once she remembered her friend, Harrison, and his family. His mother pampered an elderly dachshund in his teens. When Pookie needed pills, the Cohens wrapped the medicine in a miniature meatball, and Pookie wolfed it down with gusto. Jillian grabbed a pancake and a fourth precious egg, dumped a yellow yolk in the center, and wrapped it up like a burrito. She guided it into Anita's groping fingers, and the little girl shoved the antidote into her mouth.
Anita's absent expression contorted almost at once. She chewed awkwardly, as if her brain was trying to figure out what she was consuming. She swallowed with difficulty - and then leaned back with a groan of pain.
Yet her fingers still reached for the flapjacks. Jillian cracked another egg and helped her eat it. Now Anita's hands rested over her inflated stomach, and her glassy eyes began to scan her surroundings. "Where's my mom?" she moaned.
"We'll find her soon," Jillian promised, moving over to Marcus.
Two eggs later, he laid back in his chair as well, rubbing his swollen belly. "I'm gonna barf," he wailed.
"Barf outside," Jillian urged, taking his upper arm. "We gotta go before that Horror comes back. Let's find your mom and dad."
They struggled to their feet, grunting and holding their middles. Once they were on their sneakers, they leaned over the table for support, gasping for breath.
Jillian tried to be as patient as possible as she prodded them toward the door. "C'mon, the park will be opening soon. We'll be able to get you to the Stagger Inn if we hurry."
"They're slow, Jillian," Slappy rasped behind her, still on his elbows. "The Horrors will only catch you - and they'll add you to the menu since you know too much." He plopped his forehead against the floor. "Where's the ability to puke on cue when you need it?"
Jillian took an extra step back, having had her share of barfing dummies for one lifetime. "Maybe next time you'll learn a little empathy."
He sniffed. "I don't have a heart."
"You don't have a brain either, but that hasn't stopped you."
He raised his head. His wooden lips formed a frown. "They'll only come after them again," he said. "You haven't changed anything."
She locked her gaze on his blue eyes. "You can be a good guy and help out," she said quietly.
"You can be a good slave and obey me."
She stared at him for a short while - and then she darted to his side before she let herself back down. She slipped her fingers into his gray jacket pocket. He groaned but didn't seem to realize what she was doing until she had already snatched up his token and sprang back.
"Don't be a moron," he snapped at her, pushing himself up. "They know a little girl like you ain't a V.I.V."
"No," she agreed coldly, "but you've been telling everyone I'm your slave. If they try to stop me, I'll tell them I'm running an errand for you - and that these two are your new slaves."
His eyes bulged in shock - but then he glowered. "And what if they don't believe you?"
"Then - " Her voice cracked slightly, but she gritted her teeth to hide her fright. "Then I'll think up a Plan B," she declared.
"And you'll watch yourself become somebody's breakfast."
She went back to the two little kids. "We'll see about that."
Not the best solution with that protein bit, but, eh, the original HorrorLand book had pinching. At least there's some science in protein counteracting sugar by slowing it from entering your bloodstream. These writing prompts are more about staying in practice and challenging myself than writing 100 best sellers. In any case, most of the fun for me came in Jillian figuring out the solution and outsmarting Slappy in different ways.
V.I.V. - This is from the book Welcome to HorrorLand: A Survival Guide. While there's no mention of the Very Important Villains having tokens like the Very Special Guests, I wanted to do something with the idea anyway. (Artistic license - you can use it, even in fanfiction!)
Christopher Walken - One of my favorite real-life restaurant jokes. Around the time I started working at Taco Bell, my store had a picture of Walken on our walk-in (although it was eventually taken down). So, if you're in a restaurant that seems to randomly have Walken on their refrigerator within customer view, you're probably in an awesome store where the employees are allowed to laugh (and happy employees = employees who will give the customers quality products and service).
Also, if you're ever in a position where you need a good insult for Slappy to say, Pinterest and Google Images are my go-to for ideas, haha.
I wanted to go into more detail during the opening exposition section by having some original nighttime attractions which Slappy and Jillian saw in HorrorLand together, but I ultimately didn't because I had to "murder my darlings" to make it flow better. (The original exposition I wanted to use was about 819 words.) This is one line that would've been in that part if I hadn't followed my gut, and I'm sharing it here because it was my favorite:
"A few ghostly Vikings hosted a Nordic themed pony ride by the Coffin Cruise Canal, but the pretty white equines, which they dubbed bäckahästen, had rows of carnivorous teeth which made Jillian shudder."