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Through Shattered Glass

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Chapter 1:
Bad Dreams

They were everywhere.

Coiled up on the floor like deathly serpents. Draped across the dank, rotting walls, like virulent poison ivy. Suspended from the low ceiling, swaying languidly in the cold, dead air of this neverending, forgotten labyrinth.

Putrid neon green stabbed into their vision, burning into their retinas, forming an indelible imprint in the darkness behind their eyelids. As the young knight picked their way through the tunnels, the strings – Wires? Vines? It was impossible to tell what they were actually supposed to be – seemed to sway and lean in towards them, as if beckoning to them.

Don't struggle, they seemed to whisper. Accept it.

Kris resisted the impulse to slash out at the vile things, though it took everything in them to do so. Goosebumps covered their pallid skin. Their feet ached. How long had they been walking for, now? Far, far too long. These tunnels seemed to stretch on with no end to them, and yet they knew they couldn't stop moving, not even for an instant.

Something smiled at them from the darkness.

They kept looking forward, always. Not daring to glance down at their arms and legs, mortally afraid of what they'd see coiled around them. Like the fingers of a possessive lover, gently squeezing and pinching, Kris could feel them there already. Perhaps they'd always been there, from birth, and it was only now that they'd been made aware of them…

KRIS… said the darkness.

A light came on at the tunnel's end, twinkling a bright yellow. They strode towards it, not knowing if it heralded salvation or damnation. Whatever it was, it had to be better than this.


Another light joined the first, this one a vivid, unnatural magenta. The two lights danced around each other in the gloom, swirling and spiralling together in a joyful, sickening waltz.


The voice seemed to boom throughout the entire space, reverberating throughout Kris's bones. Its jaunty, manic tone so utterly at odds with the horror of this situation. Each tinny, synthesised word dripping with quiet, hopeful desperation.


The twinkling lights came closer, and as they did, a bone-white face loomed out of the shadows underneath them. Gaunt, angular, eerily lifeless, it leered at Kris from its mismatched eyes, its painted-on smile a hideous caricature of cheer and bonhomie. It dragged its crude, beat-up body behind it, arms, legs and wings juddering and sparking as they scraped against the tunnel's walls.

But it was the strings that terrified Kris most of all. Curled across the puppet's face, they seemed to thrum with life and power as they throttled this man-turned-monstrosity, forced him to dance to their sinister music.

His mouth opened wide.


It kept opening, wider and wider, swallowing the tunnel, swallowing the very darkness, until nothing was left but this gaping void. Kris wanted to run. Kris couldn't run. The strings had complete hold of them now, driving one foot in front of the other, driving them deeper, yet deeper, into the maw of madness.


Jittering, broken laughter echoed through the emptiness, ringing through Kris's head.


The laughter grew louder, sharper, as it veered through uncanny pitches and tones, at times sounds more like pained screams. Screams echoed by Kris as they were overcome and subsumed by the dark. The strings tightened around them, preventing any resistance, any escape. And the voice kept calling, calling, like a broken record...






They awoke lying face down on the classroom floor, arms held steady by a firm grip. Still not fully emerged from the nightmare, Kris yanked and fought against the force restraining them, yelling incoherently.

'God dammit Kris, get ahold of yourself!' said a voice from somewhere nearby. The force yanked them upright, and Kris found themself looking straight into Susie's face, framed by a cascading curtain of unkempt auburn hair. Her yellowed teeth were bared in a pained grimace, and her eyes were wide with concern.

'…Susie…' they murmured.

Once upon a time, seeing that face bear down upon them would have been a terrifying experience. How strange, then, to think that in such a short space of time, this vicious bully of a girl would become such a treasured ally, so much so that the sight of her could so effectively quell the panic in Kris's heart.

Had… had she always been so…

'Kris, you back with us?' she said, her voice low. 'You were screamin' and thrashin' around… we didn't know what was—'

Kris threw themself at her, arms clutching at her robust frame, face buried deep in her mane. A great sigh wracked their trembling body as the last of their terror faded away. The warmth emanating from her was boundless, enveloping and comforting, like holding out your chill-bitten hands before a cosy hearth…

…and then, all too soon, it was torn away from them as Susie stood up, dragging Kris to their feet. Now her expression seemed more bemused and irritated than concerned.

'Yeah, good to see you're alright, then!' she said, a little too loudly.

'A-a-are you sure, Susie…?' said Ms. Alphys behind her, wringing her hands. She had always been a bit of a bag of nerves, but neither Kris nor Susie had ever seen her this bad. You'd have thought she was the one who'd had the terrifying nightmare.

'Hey Kris, say somethin'!' hissed Susie, giving them a nudge.

The human blinked. 'Uhh… yeah. Just… had a bad dream, that's all. I'm okay now.'

'Oh, that's… thank goodness,' said Alphys, sagging into her chair. 'Wh… when you started, uh, screaming… I didn't really… luckily Susie was just outside… really quick-thinking of you… s-so well done… yeah...'

She spluttered to a halt mid-sentence. The two students nodded.

Alphys did her best to crack a reassuring smile. 'J-just so you know, Kris, you're… not in trouble for sleeping through class… a-again. B-but I should ask, as your teacher… is… is everything alright? Back home? Outside of school?'

Again, Kris nodded vigorously.

'Okay, just… just checking.' Then she turned to Susie. 'Perhaps you could… make sure Kris gets home okay? I'd do it, but there's just so much… err, marking to do! Teacher stuff, very boring.'

'…sure,' said Susie, affecting her usual air of indifference.

'G-great, thank you very... A… anyway! You two should probably… get going now! Class dismissed, and all that! Heheh!'

Alphys shot them both a thumbs-up, and it was all they could do not to collectively cringe. No-one ever really knew where she'd gotten the idea that she was the "cool" teacher – not even Toriel was taken in by the act. It was almost physically painful to watch her try to pull it off.

But on the flipside, Kris got to sleep through class again. So perhaps it wasn't so bad, on reflection.

As soon as they stepped out of the school, into the bracing autumn air, Kris let out a breath they weren't even aware they'd been holding on to. After those constricting tunnels, seeing the sky stretch out so high above them felt like freedom.

'So, uh… you gonna tell me what THAT was all about?' said Susie.

Kris tried to act nonchalant. 'I already told you – I was just having a bad dream. It happens.'

'Yeeah, no. Not like that it don't.'

The human shivered, linking the arms of their sweater together. This wasn't a conversation they wanted to have right now.

'I said I'm fine, Susie—'

'I've had bad dreams before, Kris,' she went on, like they'd never spoken. 'Real nasty ones, too – like you wouldn't believe. But I doubt I was ever… clawing at myself, the way you were.'

The human swallowed. 'C… clawing at myself…?'

Susie nodded slowly. 'Yeah. Like you were tryin' to get something off ya. And those noises you were making… Alphys thought you were dying or something.'

There it was again – that little flicker of emotion on the dragoness's face, just for a split second. Was she actually… worried about this?

'W… was it… really that bad?' they asked.

Susie shrugged. 'Musta been. I mean, you're still white from earlier. Whatever it was, it must've REALLY shook you.'

Kris looked away. They could still hear that horrifying laughter, feel the tendrils tighten around them, wresting control from their body… but it had just been a dream, hadn't it? None of that had really happened, had it?

But it had felt so real…

'…I dunno,' they said at last. 'I've always been a bad sleeper. Used to get bad nightmares, as a kid. Guess I had a relapse or something.'

'…yeah,' Susie replied. 'That… explains a lot of things, actually. Like how you can sleep so soundly through class so often!'

She cracked a grin at them, nudging them with her elbow. Kris tried to return the gesture, but the smile they forced felt hollow and meaningless. Susie sighed.

'…okay, look. Maybe this is just a one-off, freak event thing. Maybe you ate too much cheese or something before coming to class, I dunno. Like you say, it happens.'

Then, she leaned in close, one hand clapping their shoulder. 'But if it ever happens again… you don't get to brush it under the carpet so easy. You're gonna tell me what's going on. And then we're gonna fix it. You, me… hell, maybe Toothpaste Boy will have some spell or something that can help! Okay? Because I am NOT gonna watch you tear yourself to pieces in your sleep again, got it?!'

Her expression was stern, but still, Kris could see the worry there, plain as day. God, they hadn't imagined it, had they? When that perpetual scowl finally fell from her face, and the softness of her features could finally shine through…

Very slowly, Kris nodded, willing themself not to cry. 'Yeah. Thanks, Susie.'

'Yeah, don't mention it. Oh, and, uh, Kris?'

'Y… yeah?'

Susie leaned back, removing her hand from their shoulder, and flashed them a razorlike grin. 'Maybe warn me next time you decide to try and body-check me, arright? Might have a hard time trying to explain how I ended up suplexing a scrawny human into the dirt!'

'Noted,' they responded, looking away and hoping she couldn't see the blush rising to their cheeks. 'A… anyway. I'll see you tomorrow.'

'You sure you don't want me to walk you back?'

'I'm not dying or anything, Susie. I'll be fine.'

Well, they wouldn't pretend the offer wasn't tempting, but for some reason, Kris didn't completely trust themself to spend any more time around her than was absolutely necessary. Better to be alone for now. Figure out what was happening to them. Get everything back under control.

From somewhere behind their eyelids, the dark flashed them a little smile.

They almost cut their finger on it while walking.

Wondering what on earth they were carrying around that could be so sharp – the knife was tucked safely in its hiding spot back home – Kris dug through their pocket, grabbing something smooth between forefinger and thumb. Gently, they lifted it up to the light. It was glass – or at least, it looked and felt like glass. A jagged shard of it, just sitting there for god-knows how long. It was a wonder they hadn't discovered it sooner.

Perhaps it had once been a piece of some larger object? It must have been something indescribably beautiful, because this fragment was so clear, so pure, that if not for its broken, razorlike edges, it might very well have been invisible. And here it was, just… lying around with all their other stuff.

Kris lifted the glass to their eye.

…nothing happened. The world looked no different through it, no grand truth presented itself to them. It didn't split the light to make rainbows, it didn't make everything look all warped and misshapen. It was just a very clear piece of glass. It was almost… boring, in its perfection.

It was only when they accidently moved their finger across it while looking through it, that they saw something that made their blood turn to ice in their veins, and the goosebumps come roaring back again.

Because that finger had become nearly as transparent as the glass itself.