16. Logic and reason will not help you in the dark.
The basement flooded with light when Sans hit the switch. Despite this, it still looked dim. It always looked dim no matter how bright a bulb Sans put in the fixture. The light never seemed to quite reach the corners.
There wasn't much down here. The machine was down here, obviously, lurking in the farthest corner of the basement. There was also a table, a couple shelves, a chair, a toolbox, and a cot folded up against the wall for when Sans wanted to take a nap. He never wanted to take a nap near the machine. Just working on the machine triggered nightmares for days which in turn triggered his insomnia. They were wolves in sleep's clothing.
Sans wasn't really sure how the cot had gotten down here. He would think that Papyrus brought it down here, but Papyrus never come down here. They had the spoken rule about no experiments in the house and an unspoken rule that Sans could do whatever experiments he wanted to as long as they stayed confined to the basement.
Sans picked up the flashlight on the table as he went by. The flashlight helped counterbalance the weird dimness in the room. When it worked. Sans turned it on then smacked it a few times to get it working. The light it produced was weak. He pointed it at the machine.
Yep. That was the machine. Looked just like it always did. A few months ago, Sans would have described the feeling as terrifying. That wasn't the case. The response he had when Red did something creepy was terrifying. It got his magic moving, filled his bones with adrenaline, and forced him to react. The machine was something else entirely. It was quiet menace and existential dread. The kind of thing that made him want to curl into a corner and just give up.
The machine had always been more Gaster's project than his, even though the theory of it was based on his thesis. Gaster's expertise was integrating magic and science. Sans was content to know just enough about magic to understand physics.
Sans had started working on the machine to try to bring Gaster back after the whole CORE incident. He was not throwing away six years of hard work just because his advisor was an idiot who science himself out of existence. Then he'd worked on it as a form of self-punishment. This was where science got him. Nightmares and reboots and a feeling of helplessness when it all went wrong. Did he really want to do that?
The answer was yes. Kind of. Sans still hoped to get the machine working one day just to prove that his theories were correct. Maybe he'd manage to bring Gaster back. Or at least a Gaster from a world.
Sans froze half way across the room. The flashlight in his hand fell to the floor and flickered off. He ignored it. A Gaster. Like a slightly twisted version of himself that just happened to appear after he last messed with the machine.
There was a theory there, a breakthrough that Sans could see the edges of but couldn't yet articulate. But more important than the why was the how. How had the machine started working? When had it started working? And why was it not working now?
With just a few steps, Sans was across the room and examining the machine. It was plugged in, but not on. It never came completely on no matter how many times Sans flipped the switch. Now it sat like a dead thing. No lights. No sound. Nothing.
What had he been working on? Sans walked back to pick up the flashlight, hitting it several times to make it turn back on. The beam picked up the back panel, which was missing two screws. He had been working on the wiring. There was a screwdriver sitting on the floor from he hadn't bothered to put in the last two screws.
Seconds and a few curse words later, and Sans had the panel off. The inside was covered in black soot. It didn't take him long to find the culprit. A fuse had blown.
Would a blown fuse be enough to cause two worlds to collide? Was that what really happened? Sans didn't think it was. But what if the magical fields were still in flux when it happened? He was so close to understanding but the details were frustratingly vague.
Not for the first time, Sans wished Gaster was still around. He knew enough physics that Sans could bounce ideas off of him, but not so much that he was set in his thinking. Sans could talk to Alphys, but Alphys could only listen. She couldn't contribute.
But... he could bring one edgy bastard who was him down here to look at it and get his opinions. Sans had caught Red reading his copy of "Introduction to Superstrings and M-Theory." So he had to at least know the basics of physics.
He'd have to hold Red's hand the entire time. Sans felt magic rise to his cheeks as he turned the flashlight off. This was ridiculous. He was ridiculous. There was no reason to blush. All he was doing was hold hands. He'd done a lot more and a lot worse in college.
Still, it would be a good excuse to get some more physical contact in with Red.
Yeah, he was definitely going to bring Red down here.