Henry’s not far from walking away from the janitor’s closet before he’s suddenly snatched up from the back of his shirt. Panicking, he thrashes like an upset child being dragged away from the playground.
“HEY! PUT ME DOWN! YOU WON’T HAVE KNEECAPS AFTER TH- MMPH!”
Wally covers the toon’s mouth with a dirty hand, shivering at the chalky feeling. Squirming harder, Henry makes a futile attempt to escape the janitor’s grasp. Restraining the toon’s legs with his free arm, Wally dashes up the stairs to the projector room, proceeding to dangle Henry over the edge. Henry freezes up, curling into a ball at just how high up he’s being held.
“This’ll teach ya, y’little nutcase,” Wally sneers and hangs Henry from a protruding nail in the wall just below the window. Here in the music department, nobody will hear the poor toon scream.
“WALLY! YOU GET ME DOWN FROM HERE RIGHT NOW! HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF RESPECTING YOUR ELDERS?!”
“You’re funny, Henry.”
Cackling, Wally wanders off, leaving Henry alone, dangling forty-five feet up in the air.
… CLUNK… CLUNK…CLUNK!
… Scratch that. Henry’s been left alone, dangling forty-five feet up in the air… In the dark.
After everyone goes home, Joey makes his way downstairs to make sure everything is cleaned up and put away. He’s also subtly on the lookout for Henry, who had gone missing half an hour ago. Bendy, Boris, and Alice haven’t seen him around, either, so you can bet that the old man is getting a little worried.
Arriving at the main room, with the staircases leading to the projector and music rooms, Joey stops for a small break. He’s started to get winded from the slow panic that’s been building up ever since he got the news of his pupil’s disappearance.
Just then, a loud, high-pitched scream rings out in the dark, empty studio.
The old geezer springs up from his relaxed position, heading in the direction of the cry for help. Sprinting up the stairs like he just gained twenty years of his life back, Joey bursts into the projector room and looks over the balcony, where Henry is dangling by the back of his favorite sweater. The poor little toon is squirming, thrashing, whimpering, and yelling in hopes that it’ll get him rescued faster.
Carefully snatching Henry up from the nail in the wall, Joey cradles the toon in a protective and tight embrace. Shaking like a frozen chihuahua, Henry grasps tightly onto the back of Joey’s waistcoat, whining and sniffling. The old man does his best to soothe the poor guy, reassuring him in a soft, hushed voice that he’s going to be okay, and that it’s time for bed.
“Shhh, you’re safe, kiddo.. I’m not gonna drop ya…”
Henry slowly nods, burying his face in the crook of Joey’s neck.
“Listen… It’s time for little toons to go to bed… Let’s get you back to the first floor…”
“O-Okay, dad,” the little toon mutters, too terrified and exhausted to care that he just referred to his mentor as ‘dad’.
“Papa Drew, can I sleep with Henry tonight,” Bendy asks as Henry’s laid down for bed in Joey’s comfy office chair. “Pretty please?”
“Sorry, Bendy,” Joey starts. “Henry’s had a rough first day, and he needs his proper rest. Maybe tomorrow, okay?”
“Okay,” the little devil sighs, curling up on the couch next to Alice, favorite teddy bear in hand. Boris curls up on the floor at the foot of the chair Henry’s dozing off in. Moving Henry’s hair out of his face, Joey applies a small kiss to the little guy’s forehead before moving on to do so with the other toons.
“Goodnight, kids. See you all in the morning.”
The toons unanimously mutter, “G’night, Papa Drew…”
Henry seems to have gotten over his predicament pretty quickly! He walks along his normal path in the studio to fill his mug with coffee for the third time today with a slight smile on his face.
Suddenly, he trips on a loose floorboard, and the ground is a lot closer than before. The man raises a hand to inspect, but finds that three-fingered, white-glove that he’d dealt with all day. The toon stumbles to his feet, backing against a wall with his head in his hands.
“No.. No, not again.. I can’t be like this again!”
Starting to tear up, he shakes his head and drops to his knees, wrapping his arms around himself. He hears a loud clunking noise, accompanied by feeling the biggest earthquake he’s ever experienced. Panicked, the toon opens his eyes to see the studio’s floorboards crumbling from the other side of the room, though not revealing anything below- just a black, bubbling void. The holes in the floor grow closer, and closer, and closer still to the cowering young man as he once again rises, pressing tightly against the wall, frantically searching for an exit before he falls. The floorboards around him crumble away, leaving him on a small so-called ‘island’ of wood next to the wall.
A very familiar janitor stands not too far away, though his eyes are overshadowed by his hat, and he’s got a creepy, sinister smile plastered on his face. He holds out a hand for Henry to grab. The toon grabs Wally’s hand, though the off-putting janitor yanks his hand away before Henry can get a steady grip. He utters one phrase…
“You’re funny, Henry.”
Henry gasps as the final floorboards beneath him start to creak.
“W-Wally, what are you-”
CRASH. The wood finally gives way under Henry’s weight, and he’s sent sailing into the hot, bubbling ink below. He cries out in pain at first contact, though he’s quickly sucked into the boiling liquid. The toon tries to escape, but to no avail as his body starts becoming part of the pool. Soon enough, Henry finds that he can’t move anymore, and that nearly his entire body has been devoured by the mass. He tries one more call for help…
Henry wakes up in the middle of the night, shivering and shaking like a cat that fell into a bath tub. Everyone is fast asleep…
Watching his step, Henry hops down from the office chair, careful not to touch Boris. He begins to carefully and quietly explore Joey’s dark apartment to calm his nerves.
“Joey’s not in bed,” Henry whispers to himself. “I wonder where he could be…”
The toon tiptoes around a corner and pauses to hide. Peering around the wall, he spots a soft yellow glow. He sees Joey sitting at his desk, reading a book by candlelight. The little toon dares not go any further, for fear of getting scolded for being up so late. Huh, that’s funny… He hasn’t been afraid of getting scolded since he was a teenager. Disregarding the thought, Henry remains silent, watching Joey read quietly. He can’t go back to sleep yet! What if he has another scary dream? Shivering at the thought, Henry wraps his arms around himself and slides down the wall, sitting on the floor with a huff.
Joey hears the quiet shuffling and pauses his reading, looking over at the hallway curiously. Standing up from his chair, the old man quietly approaches the hall, peeking around to see Henry, who flinches and tries to scramble away at the sight of his mentor. The toon is unsuccessful as he’s carefully taken by the arm.
“Just where do you think you’re going, young man?”
“U-Uhh, I, uh… Um… S-Sorry, Joey…”
Joey’s expression softens a little as he lets go of his underling’s arm. “No, no, it’s okay… What are you doing up so late, Henry?”
Henry glances away, rubbing an arm shyly. “Well, I, uh… Had a scary dream…”
The old man kneels on the floor, now sitting at Henry’s eye level. “Can you tell me what it was about? Maybe that way, you’ll feel better about it.”
Henry nods meekly, taking a breath to calm his nerves. “Well… It started with me being… Being human again, and then I wasn’t, and the floor started crumbling, but the music department wasn’t underneath it all. It was just… Ink. And lots of it. And I was trapped against the wall with nowhere to go, and Wally was there. He offered to help me out, but yanked his hand away, and…” Henry pauses, his high-pitched voice starting to sound choked up. “A-And I fell into the ink, and it was BOILING hot, and then I started dissolving and that’s when I woke up…”
Joey sighs, standing up and scooping the little toon up into his arms. “Yeah, that does sound pretty scary. I can assure you that nothing of the sort is going to happen to you here. I promise.”
Henry nods, twiddling his fingers idly. He feels a lot less scared, now that he’s in Joey’s comforting embrace. He replies with a simple, “Mmkay…”
“Come on. Let’s get’cha back to bed, kiddo. Tomorrow’s another day.”
At the sentiment of going to bed, it’s like Henry magically becomes exhausted as his eyes droop closed. He mutters quietly, “Okay, dad…”
Joey smiles. This is the second time Henry’s called him ‘dad’. And in his eyes, it’s the cutest darn thing. He begins carrying Henry back to bed, but the toon seems confused when they walk right past the comfy office chair. He doesn’t say anything, being too tired to speak. The old man carefully tucks his ‘apprentice’ in the bed, gently patting his head.
The little toon smiles a little smile and promptly closes his eyes, drifting off into a more pleasant sleep.
Cool so I actually really liked this, and it has no real tie to any universe, but I finally hammered out that scene inspired vaguely by Nothing More’s “Ripping Me Apart.” Good song, 10/10, would recommend.
It was hard to have dignity when his every breath rattled in his throat. It was hard to have dignity as he tried - and failed - to convince himself to push himself further than his hands and knees. It was hard, but Fax clung to it, assessing every ache and cut and burn that littered his form. It could be worse. Then again, he noted distantly, he was shaking pretty badly. That didn’t bode well.
The screams of unending agony that reverberated through the hot hallway could probably melt flesh. Well, that is if the coals that lay underneath the floor didn’t do that already. Blisters upon blisters made every movement you made painfully apparent and you couldn’t ignore it.
“Ready to talk today?” A pair of glittering black eyes emerged from the hall and stared through the bars at you. The man’s smile set an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach and a mix of sweat and blood trickled down your forehead as you looked up.
“Doesn’t look like it.” Another demon quipped beside the first and you glared daggers at both them. Every day started like this.
The clicking sound ahead of you indicated the lock being opened and squeal of the huge iron gate opening made you cringe. It mimicked the sound of nails being dragged down a chalkboard. A hand grabbed a fistful of your hair and pulled you into the hall, chaining you up easily since you had very little fight left in you.