Chapter 1: River On Snowdin's Edge
The pain in his skull was still there. The searing sensation was like nothing he’d ever felt before. His head ached for such a length, that it started to make the skeleton feel distant, lost in his own surroundings, lost to the thundering ache building up near his temporal bones. The more he tried to think, the more everything around him felt eerily unfamiliar, the shock of his surroundings had him panicking at random intervals, his composure not very used to being broken. The town he had spent the last few years in was alien to him. He was a stranger, an outsider, this feeling was not new. He noticed the more the days went on, the more pain built itself up. It had started about a month ago, right around the anniversary . The headaches, the feeling of separation. Some semi-familiar monster on the street would give him a strange look sometimes, but he rarely crossed the streets anyway. So he did well ignoring those sidelong glances, and the curious or concerned ones that sometimes strayed around his sentry station.
The icy crisp air whirled around him, drawing quicker breaths that swirled visibly past his teeth. The poor air quality, and the chill were more pronounced than usual. Though his body was not usually prone to such things, the wind wisped right through him today, causing his whole body to shake and tremble. The raw air made him wheeze. It was freezing. The only explanation Sans could assign to the way his body was rattling, the way the pain was growing in the back of his skull, but he was starting to doubt it.
Sans shivered, it settled in his ribcage and creeped up his vertebra. He let out a few quick breaths of distress and confusion, panic overtaking his pain-addled mind. They billowed out in a steady stream, dissipating before more could take their place. A sharp pain tore through the base of his skull, sudden and jarring, leaving the skeleton reeling. Sans’s breath darted out of him now, coming in sharp gasps that he could no longer control. The world is collapsing, the world is collapsing on me! His hearing became mute with static that danced across his vision, clogging his senses with white noise. He could scream, but the noise wouldn’t register. He couldn’t even tell if his scream had erupted through the foggy deafness.
Cold wet slush pressed against his knees and hands, the only indication to him he had fallen over. He could feel hard boney fingers scratching against his skull, willing the torment to stop, he didn’t know whom the fingers belonged to, they felt disconnected. The phalanges dug and scrambled helplessly, the pain the action should have caused drowned out by the intense pressure flooding his skull.
He didn’t know how long it took for the fog to let up, it left him in such a daze he hardly remembered. He couldn’t recall when he’d transitioned from curling up on himself, to laying spread across the snow. His chest heaved, he watched as it extended and contracted, a dull throbbing rang through his mind as an aftershock, toll-toll-tolling as he tried to focus on the gentle sound of the river flowing.
Chapter 2: Bloody Phalanges
I'm trying to writhe in agony here, wouldja stop calling me?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It had gotten worse. Attacks had become as frequent as Papyrus’s old lectures, practically crippling him with each recurrence. He had crashed in his room to help ride through the pain and static. It didn’t get better, it hadn’t since it’d started less severely a month ago. Sans tried to hold onto the likelihood of it getting better now --but it was hard to think sometimes. As far as he could decipher it had been at least three days since he’d even left his room, not to mention the unknown amount he hadn’t left the house for. Pretty soon, the attacks became too intense and drawn out for him to call into work, or to reply to the ever-growing list of texts accumulating on his phone. He had tried to call Undyne, but he couldn’t get his voice to come out without a scream tagging a ride.
He was in a daze, punctual as always, as customary along with the aftershock pulsing through his skull as his latest torment subsided. His phone was ringing distantly, but he barely registered the noise in his state. He blinked, trying to snap himself out of the haze, little mint colored globs obscured his sight flashing in time with his attempts at semi-coherence. He let out a long drawn out groan as the phone rang out, only for it to pick back up as the caller retried. On the fifth attempt he forced himself to roll over onto the floor with a painful thump! That reverberated through his bones. He felt the phone’s painful ringing spiking up the beginnings of another headache attack. Sans clenched clammy phalanges around the phone, only meaning to turn the thing off - for the love of Christ - but managing to crush it as he let out a muffled hiss through his teeth. The pieces broke apart in his hand like shards of brittle wood, bloodying his shaking phalanges and sending stinging pains through his arm to join with the rest of his steadily inclining agony.
Sans suppressed another scream, refusing to lose any more of his dignity. Rolling over on his front, and curling into a nevertheless undignified coil, twisting and thrashing until he could ground himself, hugging knees against sternum, backing into his wall with another thump! “j-jesus…” His breath came thin and weary as the briefer wave passed. He felt the lightness overtake his soul again, dizzying him back into a morbid daze until he forgot about the bloody phalanges altogether.
Chapters will be short and updated once or twice a week.
Chapter 3: Lazybones
You shouldn't sleep on the floor, you might get a cramp.
Sans’s fingers were clammy and shaky as he fumbled through the basket of supplies in too much of a rush to find anything useful. The skeleton’s breathing came light and fumbly too, shuttering out and sending chills crawling down his spine, lifting then starting again. His searching hand closed around a plastic bottle of sealed medicine. Sans brought it up to eye-socket level to check the label, only it was shaking too hard in his grasp to make out the dosage amounts. He let out a shaky breath of distress, taking several tries to twist the cap off, shaking a handful of pills out and downing only a few of them, the rest sifting through his metacarpals and rattling against the tile of the bathroom, along with the bottle seconds later.
Sans fell on his way out.
It went still in the house, as if it was shocked into silence by his sudden weakness - though he probably hadn’t noticed the quiet in his preoccupation - it still felt all too achingly familiar. A different kind of ache. The kind that couldn’t be cured with pills or sickly thick liquid. He let the hush settle around him, blanketing him with itself. Suffocating him. Sans laid there for longer than his mind could right keep account of, but the artificial light of the underground had long since wilted away. The ticking of the wall clock was the only constant interruption, his breathing had tapered off into near silence. Tick, tick, tick. His shoulders finally began to hitch, as the clock marked the time ‘8:30’ and Sans could almost still hear the sounds of red rubber boots tramping loudly through the house, the smell of freshly burnt spaghetti wafting from their kitchen and a lively voice booming up at him to “GET UP LAZYBONES!” But it never came.
Chapter 4: Sloth
You shouldn't sleep on the stairs either, that's rather irresponsible.
All the food in the house had gone off, Sans had no idea how long it had been that way - he thought monster food wasn’t supposed to spoil - but if the smell that followed when he opened the fridge was any indication… Sans ate untoasted brittle bread, chewing a few bites noncommittally before deciding it wasn’t worth it, tossing the bread in the bin with a shard of phone he hadn’t realized was still lodged in his hand. The amount of pills he had downed had been several or one too many, and he hadn’t thought that many would be over the dosage recommendation, but maybe it was different for monsters with more that one HOPE. For all he knew, he’d been suggested to take the dosage of a newborn and downed that of a boss monster. Either or, the pain had subsided a great deal, only extreme drowsiness remained. He tried to ignore the rotted spaghetti at the bottom of the bin, deciding he would utilize his relief for an actual wink of sleep, ignoring whatever else he should have been doing. Because his bones felt heavier than a full body of armour over a bed of lava.
Sans stumbled a bit, his room and his bed would have been a great relief, but he collapsed unexpectedly on the way up the stairs, his body trying to haul itself back up in mild panic before he realized he couldn’t move. There was a distant clamour in his mind, and the pills tried to suppress it. Before the minor headache could crash, he fell asleep. On the inside it felt more like a hole was swallowing him up, into unawareness that he had no control over, no choice in the matter. Frantic wracking sensations pulsed through his ribs, protesting the unholy nature of the sleep, but Sans forced it down, forced it all down, falling into unconsciousness regardless, his sockets slipping closed as the wracking intensified the deeper he fell. Finally, the reflex soothed itself, leaving only a slight burn in his chest cavity.
And he lay dazed, collapsed on the middle of the steps leading upward, his breath coming all too shallow, if at all.
Chapter 5: Doorstep
Enter: angry fish lady
The door of his home was old and worn, the rusted metal of the doorknob showcased years of winter wear humbly. Undyne knocked a gloved hand against the wooden surface, glad for the cloths protection. She had spent far too long dressing for the weather, subconsciously aware of her dread of the cold, modest town. She wonders if it will be this cold on the surface. Undyne was suited for only one climate, others made her feel out of her element. Ha. ‘element’. Sans would have liked that one. Undyne knocked again, feeling slightly uneasy as the lack of response seemed to stretch on a little too long.
“Hello? Sans! Hey! Answer the door already!” Undyne shouted, banging on the door a third time, at this point practically pounding at it. “Hey!” She bit her lip. If he hadn’t heard that, he definitely wasn’t home. She pounded a torrent of punches into the wood to be sure. Nothing. “Sans?” Nothing.
Undyne huffed, drawing her arms to her chest to warm herself up. She hissed out a breath of annoyance, resolving to check that pub down the street, if she found him there she’d have a talk with him. Weeks of ignored calls and shirked shifts were starting to grate on her nerves. Half of the guard stations in the underground were manned by that guy, she cursed that she hadn’t noticed immediately.
Hell, half the guards in Snowdin hadn’t said anything. Undyne made her way through the well-trodden snow, adding her set of footprints to the flurry that was the path. The establishment looked warm and welcoming from the outside, but seemed less so on the inside when Undyne entered. She looked around unsteadily, confused when she didn’t see Sans among the patrons.
Doggo lifted his head from the poker game he was playing to peer at her through his glasses. “If you’re looking for Sans, you’re in the wrong place,” He commented. The whole atmosphere seemed to plunge.
Undyne snarled, her patience fleeting. “Than where is he!” Undyne demanded.
“He hasn’t been in here for months, in fact, nobody’s seen him for days,” Doggo said uninterested, apparently not bothered enough to tell her sooner.
“I haven't seen him man Papyrus’s old station in a couple days either, I hadn’t thought anything of it. He’s got a lot of stations,” Dogamy said, breaking eye contact with her.
“(You know how he is),” Dogaressa barked her agreement to her boyfriend’s statement.
“None of you have seen him?” Undyne asked incredulously at the lists of accounts from the regulars.
“Sansy hassan’ come to drin’ wit’ me in foreeeever! Havn' seen im’ out of his house in aaagees...” An intoxicated bunny from a booth slurred, but her words did nothing but make Undyne more irked.
“That doesn’t make sense!” Undyne objected, shaking her head, and tapping her fingers on the wood of the bar, falling into a stool. “I just checked, he wasn’t there,” She frowned.
“Grillby says: ‘Didn’t answer’” The monster in the stool adjacent to her said. “Wouldn’t surprise me, that kid sleeps like a rock. Did I ever tell you about the time I caught him drifting off in the middle of a snowstorm?” He chuckled. “He apologized and said that he would never ‘snow drift’ again!” The overgrown bird slapped his knee, breaking off into loud ugly laughter that the bum of a fish monster beside him reciprocated, making Undyne wrinkle her nose.
Undyne pulled at her ponytail, unraveling the tightly bound hair and causing loose strands to skirt her frustrated face. “Why doesn’t anybody tell me these things!?” She exclaimed, ignoring the musings of the tipsy ‘translator’, and shooting the table of sentries a scrutinizing glare.
Indifferent shrugs were passed around by the small cluster of sentry dogs, a few of them refused to look at her. “Sans can take care of himself,” Doggo replied gruffly, his ears twitching.
Undyne snorted, taking a sip of the drink Grillby had set by her without her asking. “Maybe he used to,” Undyne commented. The words seemed to slice into the hearts of everyone listening. “But I’m not here for Sans, I’m here to find my sentry, and make sure he does his damn job!” She slammed the drink down on the bar, eliciting several flinches. “Maybe if any of you cared about Sans, you wouldn’t have waited for someone to come along and do something about it for you!” She accused, leaving the bar with a great distaste of their guts.
Doggo ditched his seat, following after his captain and earning several looks off his poker opponents and their unfinished game. Followed by more indifferent shrugs, and a discarded poker game nobody cared to finish.
They walked at a brisk pace back across town, Doggo receiving no acknowledgment besides a small nod from the captain. He remained a few paces behind her when they reached the skeleton sentry’s home. Undyne didn’t know what had possessed him to come - maybe he wasn’t as indifferent as he presented himself - but wasn’t bothered by his presence. His fur puffed up against the wind, a strong gust invading her warm clothes protection too. She shivered, not at all averse to busting the door down just to escape the cold.
Sans didn’t answer the door again, Undyne wondered if he really was just sleeping in there, the possibility seemed ridiculous at this point. If he had been, Undyne might even be impressed. That must mean the little squirt was intentionally keeping her out. “Alrighty sans, you asked for this, and I’m not going to pay for the damages!” Undyne hollered, colliding with the door so hard it creaked on its hinges, bending inwards pitifully. She pushed it aside, walking in like she owned the place. Doggo stepped up behind her, resting a paw on the door frame but no further. He looked impressed, but the look quickly faded.
“Shit…” He muttered. Undyne actually jogged a bit, falling to her knees in a crouch. She shook him a little, but he didn’t wake up. She shifted onto the stairs next to him, lifting him gently to lean him up against the railing. Sweat beaded on the skeleton’s forehead, and his breath was uneven and softer than it should be. He doesn’t look too good
Chapter 6: Business
(Business as unusual.)
“Hey, Sans…” Undyne attempted softly, shaking his shoulder lightly - like it would help anything. Doggo’s aloof attitude waned a little, guilt became more obvious in the sentry’s shifty eyes through the glassy material of his glasses. His eyes wandered, taking in the reserved skeleton’s home. It was clear that it had not been cleaned for months, dust coated the furniture and the corners of the floor. But it was also apparent the house hadn’t been dirtied either, everything was left mostly untouched.
Doggo’s eyes narrowed sadly, the house seemed so empty, so lonely , so big Sans didn’t know what to do with it.
Undyne picked him up gently, guiding him over to his couch, laying him on it with a flurry of complaints from the crummy dust-seat. Doggo wanted a smoke. Sans hated to show weakness, He hadn’t even let Papyrus pick him up like that. Undyne joined him, sitting down with another more violent protest from the couch. She was shaking him, murmuring for him to wake up. He could tell the captain was spooked. She had only ever been this gentle when guards were seriously wounded in training accidents, or when monsters had fallen down.
Doggo left her to it, wrinkling his nose as he passed the kitchen on his way up the stairs. Something smelt god-awful over there, no way he was setting paw near. He was planning to grab Sans a pillow or something - he didn’t look like he was going to wake up soon -, but something else caught his eye as he entered the hallway. The bathroom door was open wide, a light flickering dimly from the room and filtering through the hall. He poked his snout in, sniffing madly at the slight smell of hospital. It was coming from a woven basket, leaning halfway out of a built-in cabinet on the wall. The thing had been ravaged, its contents were spilling out onto the tile. The primary being medical supplies, but there were miscellaneous rags and soap packets sprinkled in too. One of the liquid medicines had been cracked, a thick pink substance oozing from it and onto the floor. That accounted for the smell of hospital. Or perhaps plastic. The two were both sweet or clean scented in nature. But in his experience, it was too clean, to the point of smelling saccharine, like it was covering a stench that must have been far worse.
What was most troubling was the trail of pills billowing out of a lone container like a river, spread out across the floor haphazardly. He picked up the container, examining the label. Some sort of pain relief, they were scattered all over the floor…
A horrifying thought crossed his mind. Sans couldn’t have…?
Doggo heard talking downstairs, his ears perking up. He set the bottle down, apologizing under his breath as he trespassed Sans’s room to grab the pillow he had come for. When he returned downstairs Undyne was shaking Sans again, but his eye sockets were drooping, blinking in confusion when Undyne refused to let him rest.
Doggo neared, lingering a few paces back from the couch. He really hadn’t meant to invade Sans’s home like that, he’d only come because Undyne had guilt-tripped him. Doggo had always been one to reckon that one’s business is their business alone. And he firmly believed everyone deserved to be respected in that regard, a person’s pride is theirs to relinquish, and nobody else's. --But then again, if they hadn’t checked on him, would he have stayed collapsed on the stairs for possible days?
If so, would anyone have ever bothered to find out what was causing the skeleton sentry’s absence?
Doggo didn’t want to think about it.
Chapter 7: The Beast
What a fever dream!
It was hot. Voices of varying degrees of pitches, but the same degree of desperate rose around him. Worn thin from wailing, crying out in shock and pain. The one at his side (he hadn't bothered to remember her name) pleading for him to give orders, delivering statistics that made zero difference to the escalating swampy heat. Sweat ran down his skull as the voices seemed to slowly fade away. The one which was crying out in pain had been cut short. The other three slowly joined him in silence. A grin of satisfaction was quickly snuffed out as the ground beneath him quivered.
The silence was hungry, and an unnatural roar erupted from the pit below, beckoning him to be devoured too.
His plan had been executed perfectly so far, but the experiment had turned up some unexpected results. All that he had counted on was rapidly deteriorating, and he was seconds away from being devoured by the raging beast below too. The tears on the edge of his being were proof, feeding into the hungry void, beginning to be sucked into a reality so torturous, nothingness was a better alternative to what was about to befall him now.
He had studied its nature and nuances for the large majority of his lifetime, and the way it refused to be defeated, even by him, should never have been crossed out of his small list of ways this could have gone wrong. You don’t temper the beast, you reason with it. It was too furious and wrathful to allow a mortal to lord over it, use its power for what could have been something wonderful!
He laughed, how naive and prideful of him to think anything less. That had been his true downfall, the thing that had held him back from achieving full control of reality itself. He screamed into the abyss, unable to believe his own shortcoming had led to this! It seemed to ripple with amusement, mocking him as the rest of his soul was preyed on. He refused to accept this! He refused! His body began to crack, as the rest of his life drained out of him, leaving the host empty. The reality around him shook with mirth, roaring and whooping at him as its walls swallowed him whole.
The last thought he could keep track of was sucked away into the silence. He screamed it over and over but nothing carried. He couldn’t even hear the raging torrent of soul sucking judgement around him. He was a tiny shred in a huge mass of nothing, his life double as insignificant now that he was only one in a million trapped in its massive confines. He continued to yell, two words on repeat as the void began to uncaringly discard his place in itself. The void itself found him insignificant, but he refused to let it, he refused to be forgotten in such a low place! He refused! He kicked its surface, yelling and screaming, kicking and thrashing at its walls.
Chapter 8: Clatter from downstairs
I forgot I was writing this.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Sans gasped, immediately coughing as the familiar feeling of air rushed through him, his soul battered in his ribcage, his body was in panic mode, but in actuality his mind was completely clear. It felt a little liberating, he had forgotten his mind could be this coherent. He sat up slowly, forcing his breathing to become calm, he used it to relax himself, tuning his pounding soul to slow equal breaths. It took him awhile to realize his eyes were open. After a few moments his eyes adjusted to the dark and he could see the outlines of familiar structures. His room. His bed, his sheets, a damp pillow, the door was closed and the lights were off. A stripe of light wafted from under his door, and he was surprised to hear noises coming from the first floor. His soul sped up for a half second instinctually.
He wiped his sleeve across his feverish forehead. His body was exhausted, but his mind didn’t have the attention span to allow it to rest any longer. He removed himself from his blankets, sitting on the edge of the bed. He spotted his jacket slung over the bed frame. Pushing his heavy bones off of the bed, he retrieved the cloth. He was dismayed to find it covered it scorch marks, and certainly unwearable at this point. He threw it to the ground, rummaging through his closet for something less recent, but unsurprised to find all of them were dirty, or in even worse condition. He abandoned the idea tiredly. His white pupils were glowing brighter than usual, illuminating the whole room as he crossed it for the door. He screwed them shut, rubbing at the sockets to distil the discomfort. With a few rapid blinks they dimmed back down, plunging the room back into darkness.
He cracked the door open, curiously poking his head out to see who had been making the sounds he heard from the bedroom. It was in such a familiar loud way it sorta made his soul race, just hearing it. It even smelled like spaghetti as he followed the scent through the hall and down the stairs. Uncertainly he turned into the kitchen.
“Oh my god!” He heard somebody gasp behind him, making him jump. He turned to the origin of the exclamation, finding the shocked face of Alphys as the phone in her hand clattered to the floor.
“uhhh…” Sans stared. “you dropped something.”
Chapters should be a normal length starting next update.