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Pneuma Rot

Chapter Text

*****

Frisk sat at the edge of the bathtub, staring down at the numerous veiny cracks that weaved through the tiled floor. Slowly sinking down to the ground, she wrapped her knees into her chest and gently traced her index finger along one of the larger fissures. How many times had she sat in this very bathroom, counting these dang cracks? Too many. She let her chin rest upon her knees, staring blankly at the bathroom wall, taking notice of just how grimy and gross the section was where the wall met the floor. She could hear the other girls just outside the door, talking loudly as they got ready for bed, chatting freely about their day and homework and simple, petty arguments with friends.

“Shut up…” Frisk muttered under her breath followed by a strained sigh as she slowly rose up to her feet once more, trying to block out the voices beyond the bathroom.

She stepped up close to the sink, her hands falling heavy on either side of the yellowing basin. Frisk's eyes met her own reflection in the mirror. She examined her features idly. Those dark eyes, heavy-lidded and sporting dark circles underneath them both. She lifted a hand and brushed back her chestnut hair. It was starting to grow out a bit, now touching the tops of her shoulder blades. Her bangs fell over thick eyebrows. God, she looked miserable. Frisk forced a weak smile at herself in the mirror. It didn’t help. The smile faded and she tried it again, this time flashing a grin. That was a bit better. See, she can be happy too, just like all those girls out there.

Just like everyone else…

Frisk brushed her hair behind one ear, the fluorescent bathroom light flickering once overhead as she gazed at her reflection for what felt like a long while. As she stared, her thoughts turned sour. How pathetic can you get?… She lowered one hand and reached into her pocket, pulling out a dark and worn-out box cutter blade. She placed it onto the edge of the sink.

How many times are you gonna just sit in this bathroom and stare at this knife? Just do it already! Her thoughts started to race along.

She grit her teeth together and quickly snatched up the box cutter in one hand, her fingers pushing the small rigged lever upwards, revealing the segmented blade. The blade slipped out from its metal sleeve. The ceiling light bounced off its side and for a moment. Frisk held the sharp edge to her right wrist. Her pulse was racing now… and she could hear her own heartbeat pounding in her ears. She blinked back at her somber reflection in the mirror. She would have chuckled at the morbidity of the sight had she not been so desperate for the end. Her mind bounced around in different directions. Every time her thoughts would reach a dead-end and a final decision to just disappear and end it all. It won’t be that bad, Heck, anything is better than this. She held on so tightly to the utility knife that her knuckles began to turn white, hand trembling slightly as the blade pressed against her pale wrist, but still not enough to cut flesh. Come on… come on… She inhaled deeply, holding the breath in her lungs as her eyes closed, praying for the courage to do it. Maybe in the next life, if there was such a thing, things will turn out better… just maybe.

Frisk waited for the strength to come, to pull the blade across and put an end to it all… but that strength never came. After some long minutes she opened her eyes, staring back at failure… at herself…

“Dang it…” she ‘cursed’ under her breath and roughly shoved her long sleeves up to her elbows, revealing thin arms decorated in dozens of horizontal cuts. Some were healed and just faint scars, others were red, fresh and still stung to the touch. None were deep enough to do too much damage except leave some shallow marks and bleed a bit. But nevertheless, it was not a pretty sight. Frisk shook her head at herself. I guess tonight is not the night, she thought, and slowly lead the knife up to her inner forearm. She cut into her skin, disappointed and hating everything in that moment, hating it all even more than she had before she stepped into the bathroom… but hating her own weakness most of all.

 

 

 

Frisk winced while she rinsed her bleeding arms underneath the faucet until the water ran clear. She washed off her box cutter as well and retracted the blade back into its sheath before pocketing it. Then haphazardly placed some band-aids on the cuts before tugging her long sleeves back down and stepping out of the bathroom into a large dormitory bedroom. About 20 bunk beds lined the walls. Some of the young girls were already in bed, while some sat clustered around, chatting quietly with friends.

A few of the girls eyed Frisk as she walked down the middle of the room. She stepped over to the back corner, avoiding all eye contact and finally reaching her bed. It was a bottom bunk and it pressed up against the wall where a large window overlooked the forest that surrounded the orphanage. Guarding the outskirts of the forest was a tall iron-bar fence. It surrounded the whole building except for a few entrance ways. Izzy, Frisk's upper bunk-mate, was already fast asleep and buried deep in a pile of blankets.

Frisk sat atop her mattress. She kicked off her sneakers and pulled her shirt up over her head. She shivered in her undershirt and quickly slid down beneath the bed sheets before any one of the girls caught sight of her arms.

I suppose there is always another night, there’s no need to rush it. It doesn't even matter anyways. Frisk thought and rolled over to face the window as she rubbed along one of her arms. She tapped at a band-aid, feeling the damp, small bloodspot at its center while she lazily gazed out into the darkness. There were a few wall lights above the window which illuminated the grass below. The ground sparkled, covered in dew from the night air. It was September and the nights were still as hot as the day. The light that radiated off the crescent moon smoldered gently in the sky. But the moonlight and the wall lights were not strong enough to cut through the heavy darkness just a few feet out past the fence. It was eerie. Frisk could see a thick row of pine trees swaying in the wind. She never liked walking too close to that fence, but despite her unease she felt a strong curiosity about the forest. She had been at this orphanage for 3 years now, and not once had she ever been able to explore beyond the gates.

The voices of the girls around her started to die down as they went to bed one by one. She heard the clicking of light switches and the gentle breathing of her sleeping bunk-mate above her. Soon it was pitch black in the dormitory. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness, allowing her to see outside with ease. It was getting late, but like most nights, sleep did not come easy.

Frisk lazily relaxed and tensed her toes underneath the sheets, trying to not think of anything as she glanced out at the forest with heavy-lidded eyes. She was just starting to grow drowsy when… wait… what... what was that? Something moved out there, and it wasn’t a tree.

Every muscle in her body tensed as she shot up from her pillow suddenly, leaning into the windowpane. There was something large and dark moving behind the front layer of trees in the forest. The fence obstructed the view, but it was there. Frisk pressed her forehead against the window, squinting at the figure. It moved slowly, almost like it was gliding and weaving through the trees. Could it be one of the teachers? No… No way! This figure was much too big. It was hulking! Maybe a bear? It seemed to be standing upright. She had never known creatures to move in such a manner. As Frisk pondered, the figure would disappear into the thick foliage only to return a few minutes later, almost as if it was pacing back and forth just behind the tree line.

The figure continued its constant stride for a good while, the movement hypnotizing. But then, almost as suddenly as it had appeared, the figure stopped dead in its tracks. It made Frisk jump and sent a wave of shivers up her spine. The way it stopped so suddenly… it was almost as if the creature had sensed Frisk's gaze. What the… She pressed hard into the window, her forehead and tip of her nose flush with the glass. What was that… what in the world was that thing?! It now stood right in the center of her view, completely still. If Frisk had not just witnessed it pacing, then she would have thought it was just another dark patch of trees.

The dark figure started to grow larger, and its coloring lighter and more defined. Frisk realized it was moving forward, towards her! Her eyes widened. Whatever it was was moving towards the iron-bar gate, out from behind the trees. A dynamic instinct told Frisk to shut the blinds and dive down underneath her covers, but an even stronger impulse steadied herself. She couldn’t move, paralyzed with fear and curiosity. The hulking creature was coming into view now. It was… It was like nothing Frisk had ever seen or heard of before. It was almost human, but it wasn’t. Off-white patchy fur seemed to cover its whole body from head to toe. A dark and tattered mantel draped from the creatures shoulders down to its legs, revealing huge canine-like paws with sharpened nails for hands and feet.

The creatures face… it was like the face of a goat and a wolf combined. Large white drooping ears framed its features, a long snout, short black horns atop its head and two massive, green, empty saucer-eyes staring back directly. Frisk felt her heart pound faster and faster in her chest as the creature took a few more steps forward. It stepped out from behind the trees fully, now standing behind the fence. It could have been someone in an extremely elaborate costume, but there was no way, it was too real. Its ears and paws twitched all the while staring back, unblinking and terrifying.

Frisk wanted to cry out but no sound came. The aberrations eyes were fixated, gazing directly at her, into her soul, piercing and almost painful. Then the creature grinned revealing rows of sharp dog teeth with two pointed canines at either side, and then… it vanished.

It vanished.

In the blink of an eye, the monstrosity was gone.

W-what?

Frisk scanned the forest foreground frantically, desperate for another sight. She couldn’t believe what she had just seen. She wouldn’t believe it! She must be dreaming, she had to be.

It felt like an hour and Frisk was still glued to the window, but there was no more movement. Only the soft swaying of pine trees. Reluctantly, Frisk propped her pillows up against the headboard of the bed so that she could sit up and lean back at the same time while still watching the window. She could not take her eyes off the forest… she had to know - had to know what the heck was in there, what that creature was. And as she leaned back into her pillow, the vision of those empty saucer eyes lulled her to sleep.

*****

Coming up: Frisk enters the woods and has a bad time.