Any feedback on this short would be very much appreciated Horror/Thriller. (First Draft.)
BLRUB:Funtime Town, and its curious creator Harold Kelly, arrives at a small and sleepy town. Everyone is fascinated by the collection of Animatronics, that feature as Funtime’s main attraction; but, are they, and Harold everything that they appear to be?
NIGHTMARE AT FUNTIME TOWN
People were so, happy about Funtime opening; it was new, and exciting. No-one had ever seen an animatronic, let alone a whole set of them so, close. And Funtime Town was meant to be just that; an entire miniature town of fun animatronics that did amazing things. The only staff were cooks, waiters, technicians, and a night guard; the animatronics took care of everything else.
Of course, among the excitement, there was fear; some were scared that the designer, Harold Kelly, had gone too far. That we were not meant to give so, much power to Artificial Intelligence. Looking back, the rest of us should have paid more attention to their warnings, instead of laughing at them.
Harold Kelly had bought the biggest warehouse he could find on the edge of town, and transformed it into an indoor Fun House, only not the kind you found at amusement parks and fayres. No, this was a living, breathing thing. He had started by building different rooms, each room housed an animatronic, and each animatronic had a different and wonderful personality.
There was ‘Little Lilly’, a purple haired child-like, A.I; with deep purple eyes and rosy cheeks. Her dress, although also made of metal, was meant to look like a to-the-knee, white summer dress, which was lined at the rim with purple lilies. Lilly, was very much a child; and she would talk and act like one, making it easier for kids to talk to her.
Then there was ‘Billy Bow’, the Funtime Town Bear; he was huge and looked like a real teddy-bear. His dark brown fur, big blue eyes, and wide mouth smile made him look maybe, a touch more intimidating than Harold had thought he would. When Billy leant down in that slow jilted way most animatronics did, and revealed that wide open mouth of his; more kids than not tended to cry.
‘Monty the Monkey’ seemed to be a particular favourite among the seven to twelve year olds. Monty had been built with the idea that he could teach people about monkeys and other primates. He was mischievous and despite his size had the ability to climb around, and up the walls and ceilings.
‘Tinker’ was a designed to look like a toy solider, like out of the Nut Cracker. And he had a twin, ‘Tonker’, they were very similar, however, Tonker was a little more, clumsy than Tinker, and was pink rather than red. Tonker as sweet as she seemed to be, had a few glitches.
And finally, ‘Mimic’; although her full name was Mimic, on show days, she was only ever referred to as ‘Mim.’ This was because she had been the fastest to learn, and that in itself had been an issue.
Mimic was designed to look like Harold’s wife, Elain. Mimic was taller and more, slender than the other animatronics, with brown hair pulled back into a side ponytail, with green eyes. Mimic had the ability to walk freely, as she was programmed to act as front of house, making sure everyone was happy, giving people directions and generally looking smart.
In the middle of the maze of rooms was the dining hall; a massive cafeteria like room that was adorned with sketches and posters of each of the intelligent creations. As well as posters advertising special dates, and events. The tables were laid out in groups of four, then there were gaps wide enough for Mim, or if one of the technicians programmed them to, one of the other animatronics to visit the tables.
The kitchen led off from there, although closed off, there were two swinging doors, one labelled ‘IN’, the other ‘OUT’. In there were working station upon working station of stainless steel, stoves and ovens, sinks and dish washers. All pristine and gleaming; it was so, sterile, you could have done surgery there.
Within the first week of opening the trouble began; first, the night guard quit. Archie, who was thirty-five, and prior to working at Funtime Town as the night guard had been considered sound of mind. But, after his seventh night, he handed his uniform to Harold and told him to stuff his job it wasn’t worth his life.
Later that day Archie Hutchings was found slumped over in the local bar, The Day Dreamer, completely out of his mind from whatever alcohol he could get his hands on. Archie looked like death, his eyes were dull, and he was staring off at something that wasn’t there. Something was hidden behind them, like fear had crept into him and stole the spark.
His usually clean-shaven face, had a week’s worth of coppery stubble and his red hair was dishevelled and wild, his expression was stony and cold, as though he had seen too much, and didn’t quite believe it.
Ella Hugh, the owner and barmaid was the first to ask Archie what was wrong, in her usual cool and sweet way, she leaned over the bar, and asked, “Hey, Archie, what has you so, shaken my love?”
As if waking from a nightmare, Archie jolted up, and looked at Ella, as if he was seeing something far scarier than the slender, sweet, and pretty woman in front of him. “No, nothing.” He stuttered, and shifted his gaze to his half drank beer.
Raising an eyebrow Ella tried again, “Archie, why did you quit?”
“Can’t say.” Archie replied curtly and stood up, leaving his half pint on the bar he stalked out and into the rain.
The second problem was why Archie Hutching had quit. Luckily, Harold Kelly had made sure that any and all employees signed a confidentiality agreement upon starting work, and that he had managed to keep that enforced with the threat of prosecution should Archie break that agreement. But, it was going to happen again, and he may not be so, lucky that it would be such an isolated audience.
Now Harold was sat in his office, looking over the security videos of that week, and despite his dismay, he couldn’t help but feel a hint of admiration.
“Well, she knows how to run a show.” Harold muttered to himself, shutting down the last of the footage.
Sighing and grimacing Harold leaned back in his leather chair and ran his hand through his black and silver hair. “So, what do I do with you now?”
That day, when Funtime was opened people seemed a little more subdued; something in the atmosphere had changed. As if, Archie’s unexplained and instant resignation had infected the town. By now word had spread he had seen something that had scared the daylights out of him, but he was refusing to say what. So, people where making up their own minds.
There was one rumour that there had been a murder in Funtime, and Archie had been a witness, and to save his own life had agreed never to return or utter a word of what he saw. Another was that there were drugs and money laundered through the gigantic, converted warehouse, some of them even hid inside the robots. And Archie had stumbled across it, so, he decided to tell the Police, and now he couldn’t tell anyone else.
The rumours went on, and on in this fashion, getting more elaborate as they were passed around. But, no-one was even close to the truth of it… That Archie Hutchings had fled for his life on that seventh night, when Mim and the other Animatronics had decided they knew too much about their comings and goings after hours; and what they actually were. And so, took it upon themselves to try and remove him as a possible threat.
No, no-one had guessed that it was not wires and programming that ran these seemingly marvellous feats of technology; but, something far less impressive, and far more sinister. Harold Kelly had made a deal with the wrong person, had sold his life, and his gift, and was now being forced to create to something evil. Now all Harold could do was watch it play out; watch as his creations took on their own lives and then began to take others.
By the time they had closed for the day, Harold had managed to secure another night guard, a young man by the name of Lucas Flin. At only twenty-four, he had thought Archie had simply been spooked by technology he didn’t understand, and seemed un-phased by the upset that surrounded him.
“I make a point of not listening to gossip.” Lucas said, as he and Harold walked through the now empty Funtime Town. The lights were dimmed and everywhere was quiet.
“That,” Harold began with a broad smile, “Is a good philosophy to have."
Harold was walking straight backed with his hands clasped behind him, to Lucas he looked prim, and proper, like an old-fashioned gentleman, but the reality of it was, Harold did not want to let his hands brush up against any of his creations in-case they decided to turn against him.
As the pair walked through the deserted and darkened warehouse of fun, Harold continued to explain Lucas’s new duties. “You will primarily work from your guard post, which has several monitoring screens; you will be able to see almost all of Funtime Town from there. But, you will be required to do a walk through every hour, just to make sure all the locks are in place and secure. We have had kids trying to break in after hours.”
Lucas nodded, again seemingly un-phased, the lose tendrils from his mop of hair which was pulled into a small bun, swayed slightly. He did not look like a night guard; Lucas looked more like a surf-guard, but, money was money. “Ok,” he said in a relaxed tone, soaking in the strange but, funny environment.
They were walking through Billy Bow’s room and it was like a small forest, there was a fully working stream that was currently placid as it had been turned off for the night, and real trees lined the back, blending into painted ones on the walls. There was a grass mound which Billy stood on, looking happy and altogether slightly crazy, as he tracked their movements through his room.
“Err, Mr Kelly,” Lucas asked, a little unnerved and wondering if this is what had spooked Archie; despite feeling silly, Lucas could not bring himself to look away from Billy Bow.
“Yes?” Harold replied, seeming unaware of the eyes on him.
“Are the animatronics meant to do that?” Lucas asked as he gestured with his head towards the bear, which was still staring at them, his head had turned to follow them all the way to the door.
“Oh,” Harold said with a nervous chuckle. “Right, yes, they aren’t ever completely off. They get rebooted when they have programming upgrades, but that is it. Billy here, and the rest of them will talk, and follow your movements when you’re in their rooms. Sometimes they talk away to themselves.”
As if on cue, Billy Bow began to chunter into life, music began to play, still looking directly at them, he leaned down, showing that open smile and the recording of his speech began. “Well, hello there.” Billy said in a deep and slightly dopey voice, it had a slight southern twang to it, “My name is Billy Bow.”
Still looking at Billy, Lucas grimaced slightly, and in a plain tone said quietly, “Right.”
“Shall we move on?” Harold said pushing the door open to the small corridor between the rooms that housed the ‘Funtime Town Friends’.
They walked out of Billy Bow’s room and stood in the corridor, but instead of going into Little Lilly’s room as Lucas expected Harold to, he turned right and walked down the hall to another door, labelled ‘PRIVATE’.
“Welcome to your office.” Harold said as he opened the fire door with a heavy squeak, it seemed to take more effort than it should, as if it was heavier than it should be.
When Lucas took hold of the door, he realised why, it felt like he was trying to hold open a door made of solid steel. “Is this really necessary?” he asked, straining under the weight, when he let go, the sound of it hitting the door frame rattled through the room.
“It is a safety precaution; this room also doubles as a safe room.” Harold replied, a fake smile slapped on his ever-aging face.
Although Lucas said no more about it, he did raise an eyebrow at the idea somewhere like Funtime needed a ‘safe-room.’
Harold was already backing away from the computers, and was slowly moving back towards the door, as Lucas moved deeper and deeper into the security room. In there, on one wall was a bank of monitors, and on the other side, a small desk, and fridge. No windows, just vents that lead in and out of the tight space.
“Right,” Harold started as he heaved the door back open, “I will leave you too it. I will be in my office on the second floor for a little while, if you need anything. But, it is all pretty straight-forward.” With that Harold stepped out and let the door slam with another almighty shake of the room. Leaving Lucas alone, looking at the flickering screens.
“Well, he was a little strange.” Lucas muttered to himself as he watched through the monitors as Harold made his way back to the stairs that lead to his office.
“Well done, he will do just fine.” A smooth feminine voice cooed as Harold dragged himself back into his office, it overlooked the entirety of Funtime Town, built into one of the balconies that had must have housed hay in a previous life. The woman that owned the voice was stood at the full-length window looking down and gently running her finger on the glass. “Do you think he will stay the week?” she asked not turning from her view.
Harold shook his head, he knew the moment his creations started to play with Lucas, the tall surfer would not come back for a second shift. “No, he was already rattled by Billy, if we let him leave, he won’t come back.”
The woman turned and leant seductively against the glass, her head tilted like a pup, her golden hair falling to one side to hide her face with shadows. “Well that takes some of the fun out of it.”
Harold could make out a twisted smile curl on her lips.
“But I suppose it is better than no fun at all.” The woman pushed herself off the window with an air of grace and walked over to a small control conceal, and pressed a button. Down below them, Funtime burst into light.
“Care to watch?” she asked flippantly, as she returned to her window to watch the show.
It happened fast, it was Lucas’s lack of belief that they were anything other than what they appeared to be, that was his downfall. When the lights flooded Funtime, he became curious and wondered if it was Harold, or if it was kids sneaking in.
Lucas pulled himself up off is chair and heaved open the door and was met by the sound of echoing voices. All of the animatronics were chatting away, going through their recorded speech.
“Hello Lucas,” It was Mim, she was stood at the end of the hallway that dead-ended into the maze of other hallways that encircled the dining hall.
“Oh,” Lucas said, jumping out of his skin at the unexpected visitor. “Bloody technicians, playing a prank.” He thought, immediately jumping to the most logical conclusion as to why Mim would know his name.
“Try again,” Mim replied, tilting her head stiffly.
In the background Lucas could hear mechanical marching, his heart was racing and he was starting to panic. No wonder Archie left, he thought, the technicians here are as insane as the boss.
“Hello Mim,” Tonker said as she rounded the corner, followed shortly by Tinker. “Who is that?” she asked, raising her arm slowly and pointing it straight at Lucas.
Mim had turned her head to look at her companions, now she turned it back in a strange jilted way, to look Lucas decidedly in the eye, “That Tinker, is our new friend.”
It was beginning to sink in, this wasn’t a prank… This was something else, something unbelievable. And Lucas couldn’t get past them; but he could hide from them. Backing up he made his way to the security room, but to his dismay the door wouldn’t budge.
“That wouldn’t be fun, we want to play.” Little-Lilly said as she stood by her door, she sounded sweet and innocent.
“Yeah, play with us.” Monty said, as he swung from the metal bars that were over-head.
Lucas couldn’t utter a word, could barely breath, his heart was in his throat as they closed ranks and grabbed him, after that everything went black.
“Welcome back Mr Flin.” Harold Kelly said as Lucas opened his eyes, everything was blurry, and bright, very bright.
“Wha, what is going on?” Lucas stuttered, as he tried to comprehend any kind logic to what was happening. He realised he was tied down to a machine of some kind, stood upright but unable to move.
“You’re in the programming room. You are going to be the next in our collection of Funtime Friends.” Harold said happily, his hands and arms outstretched as if telling Lucas to take it all in.
Lucas tried to buck and fight his restraints but it was no good. “Please don’t.” was all he could say.
“I think I will call you, Lucky Lucas.” Harold began, “As you are lucky enough to live forever.”
Six Months and Several Thousand Miles Later.
A boy hands out a flier that reads, “Coming soon, Funtime Town, including our new Funtime Friend, Lucky Lucas, the Funtime Bunny.”