“A soul contains the culmination of one’s very being—what makes them who they are.
“Humans and monsters both have one, though it’s questionable on what a soul is truly made of, as the theorized answers are all debunked by the cruel and apathetic nature of humans. Obviously, the source of one’s ‘soul’ can’t be that of love or kindness or mercy if humans are capable of slaughtering millions and trapping them for centuries, no matter how you try to spin it.
“How, then, does one define a ‘soul’? Is it developed over one’s lifetime or the moment they are born? Are some naturally evil, rotten from their very core, or is such a thing learned? Does it have something to do with genetics? A difference between blood and magic?
“How do people grasp the idea of what makes them themselves when such an idea is easily discarded?
“And what about things without souls? Are some born without one? How does one survive without a soul, if a soul’s purpose is to hold their personality, their beliefs, their ideas—their very conscious? Certainly, not having a soul would be a death sentence…
“Or, in the rare occasion it happens, when a human and monster soul combine, creating something entirely new—is that also considered a soul? How would a ‘soul’ be defined then? Is it counted as the two individuals, or as someone new entirely? How would this mergence effect either party? What would it entail?
“Can something without a soul, or one with multiple souls, be considered a person? Or would that make them nothing at all? Just a shell holding the mockery of a life?
“…Oh? Is this starting to bother you…?”
“…Heh. Well. I suppose that’s a question for another day. Let’s talk about something else for now.”
White. Cold. Wet.
Footprints trail behind them in the snow, riddled with dust from fallen friends and family. Lights flicker off in the nearby houses, abandoned just mere minutes before the massacre, signaling the fall of a friendly—now empty—town. Now, all that remains is a snowy graveyard.
Blue. Tingly. Aching.
Water grows still as the echoing of flowers falls silent, the dead’s wishes stolen with their final breaths. A tiny hum fills the glowing chambers as a small form skips on stones, covered in monster remains, smile growing wider with each murder. They no longer hesitate—they have no reason to. Their sole purpose is to rid this world of life; nothing more, nothing less.
Red. Hot. Burning.
The impressive, thundering building that looms over the volcanic lands near the end of the Underground powers off as the last of its residents are eliminated, leaving nothing but a hollow husk amidst magma and fire. The child twirls, pan pressed against their chest, kicking over the remains of a broken robot before heading to the elevator.
Their smile widens when they remember who’s next.
Gold. Warm. Empty.
They have to skip through the flower’s dialogue as they make their way to the castle, but that’s fine. They found the poor thing’s story humorous when they first heard it, telling of its woes from long ago, referencing the first fallen human and calling this child “Chara.” Ironic, how the flower fails to realize how calling the possessed child by its dead sibling’s name only strengthens the dead one’s hold, bringing to light their true intentions. Intentions that, though it won’t admit it, scare the flower into hiding.
Not that the human cares. Whether they be the first or last human to fall, or something else entirely, doesn’t change their current predicament. They are the anomaly, after all; one that sees no value in lives that don’t exist.
In fact, the idea that any consequences could come from a game, or even a story, is laughable.
Black. Electric. Stifled.
They reach the hallway, stopping to save. They sort through their things, casting a glance down the hall—shouting out a taunting “Heya, Sans!” as they prepare.
The blue-hoodie clad skeleton leans against a pillar, usual carefree smile poisoned with exhaustion. Funnily enough, he waves, however dismal it is.
This cycle that they’re trapped in, repeating over countless timelines, paralleled by the same scenes, the same people, the same words and phrases—it does nothing but break them down, make them nothing but remnants of the people they used to be. Admittedly, memories from these repetitive worlds come back to him in blurry montages, interrupt his train of thought with mere snippets, maybe a few whispers—always eluding him of the past reality. A better life, stolen from him by a murderous, greedy human.
Some things he remembers clearly—shaking the human’s hand, going to dinner with them, saying the same old jokes to the person behind the door. Watching people die.
The more he remembers, the less appealing remembering becomes.
It’s a tiring thing, going through this never-ending hell. And, standing in the golden hallway, bathed in light, staring down the human as they walk towards him, he comes to a startling conclusion.
No, he’d rather not exist at all, if existing means living through a loop of death and misery for the rest of time.
He unleashes his first attack, giving it all he has, but of course, the human dodges it, having gone through this countless times before. They give him a wicked grin, and, just to get things started, leads with a weak attack—
They freeze. Their eyes blow wide, knife held tight in their fist, arms falling slack at their sides.
Sans stumbles, hand held over his chest and coughing. His clothes are stained
a nasty shade
Something in the timeline
leaving in its place
yet another anomaly.
“…Heh.” Sans laughs it off as he usually does despite the soul-wrenching pain, nausea already tearing through his invisible stomach and causing him to gag. “Guess I wasn’t fast enough this time, huh?”
He meets the kid’s gaze, and within their eyes he tries to spot a shred of the person he used to know, some flicker of kindness, love, mercy. Regret, even, if it’d be enough to lead them back onto the right path.
Instead, all he sees is confusion—excitement. Some slight annoyance, but mostly a dark, repulsive glee, the child bouncing as they stare down at his kneeling form, eyes dyed the color of blood.
“…Well.” He collects himself, wincing as another wave of pain washes over him. He feels the beginnings of the end approaching; pieces of him falling away, turning into dust. He doesn’t have much time left. “Can’t say I’m surprised. How many times’ve we done this now? Gotta be going on…twenty? Thirty times?”
“Eight,” the child corrects. “I’ve only beaten you eight times.”
Sans blinks, genuinely caught off guard by that. It doesn’t feel like that many, for sure—as far as Sans is concerned, a thousand timelines have been destroyed because of this horrible excuse of a person. “…Oh. Well, whatever.”
He pushes passed them, and for once, the human doesn’t stand in his way, letting him pass. He offers them a dismissive wave as he makes his way to the exit, shaking and struggling to keep his footing, “See ya in the next one, kid. Just keep what I’ve said in mind, alright?”
“But you didn’t even do your speech yet!”
“How many times do I have to tell it to ya for you to get the hint?”
The child shouts something else down the hall, voice echoing around them, but Sans doesn’t hear them, world spinning around him. He manages to make it through the archway before collapsing, arms wrapped around his bleeding middle as darkness attacks his vision. All feeling drains from his body.
As the last of his soul crumbles away, one final thought crosses his mind:
When he opens his eyes next, he expects to see his bedroom, welcomed by drafts of bone-chilling air creeping through the cracks of windows and floorboards. He expects to hear the familiar call of his brother from downstairs, shouting his name and informing him of a human reportedly sighted outside the Ruins, a story that they just have to investigate right away, lest such a dastardly beast escape them and Papyrus misses his chance of achieving his dream job. He expects to be welcomed by white, blue, red and gold, emotions a miserable, muted mess as he crawls himself from bed to face yet another end at the face of a ruthless murderer wearing a human child’s face.
He sees none of this, however, upon waking. In fact, he sees nothing at all, at least at first. Darkness, growing stronger and stronger, invade the empty space around him, swallowing him whole. He’s empty, devoid of all emotions, all thought. All personality. He hears the echoing of voices; screaming, crying, muttering, whispering—it doesn’t matter what they do, they are present nonetheless, filling the void with their noise. It reeks of rot and decay.
He floats as a blank slate, drowsy, lost in a sea of black, losing himself to the nothingness.
There’s no way to measure how long he stays there. He knows it’s long enough to change his body; long enough for his bones to char, darkness clinging to him and seeping into his very being. His eye-lights glow purple instead of blue, red instead of white. His clothes, ragged as they are, transform, textures becoming rougher, colors darkening. His very soul, destroyed in life but remaining in death, pulses a sickly, slow beat, poisoned by the very thing keeping it alive.
Held captive by its comforting, agonizing embrace, Sans forgets everything, save for the name written into his programming.
His old self would have shivered at the thought, but…now, losing such meaningless memories has no effect on him, not bothering him at all. Instead, he’s content.
But then, after dozens of timelines continue without him, he stirs from his extended slumber at the sight of a glowing light above him.
A white, buzzing star sparkles over his head, barely a pinprick at first but growing over time. The darkness recedes, the star clawing its way through the dark. Its spindly points reach out into empty air, into Sans’s direction, pushing back an inky void in order to reach him. It hums a small tune, one he thinks he recognizes, though he’s not sure from where, having let go over things he considered to be unimportant a long while ago.
The star stops when it rests just above his hands, twinkling against his fingertips. A warmth emits from its center, warming the skeleton for the first time since his passing, consuming him and releasing him of a cold, cruel chill.
Sans studies the strange item in his hands, turning it over and floating around it, trying to better understand it. Trying to wrap his empty brain around what he’s looking at and what it means.
The voices fill in the blanks for him:
A gift from another world,
an lost timeline,
with few inhabitants.
Belonged to a human,
doesn’t matter who now,
saved their journey along the way.
Used to use this
to manipulate souls
but now it’s just
And, being the fool he is, Sans obliges,
filling the world with light.
On the other side of the save star, a young child reaches out to open it, having changed her mind on leaving behind the only world that treated her with kindness, left to ruin by her cowardice.
She startles when it lets out a startling scream, much like it first had when she started to use it at the start of her journey, horrified when she finds it a black, hollow, howling disaster, presenting glitched numbers and stats. She goes to close it, to step away, but something reaches out, grabbing onto her wrist.
She screams when she realizes the grip is made up of bony, spindly fingers.
The child tries to pull away, yanking and tugging and thrashing, but to no avail. The corruption pulls her in, trapping her much like it had so many others.
The being holding onto her, made up of shadow and whispers, wastes no time in attaching itself to her, sinking itself into the very culmination of her soul.
It’s not until this process is complete that they’re released of the save star’s darkness,
spat out in a world unfamiliar to the new creature birthed from its depths.
They wake to snow and ash falling on their head, mind clear and body light. They sit up, finding themselves surrounded by trees and burned debris, alone save for a single star glistening in the dim lighting of…wherever they are.
Hesitantly, investigating the star with a curious, cautious hand, they give it a tap.
File SAVED. HP Fully restored.
FRAN – LV?? 00:02
* You feel like something is off, but don’t know what. It seems you don’t remember your own name…or anything else, for that matter. Exploration seems like your only option right now.
* Perhaps someone might still be around…?