Sans’s eyelights flickered into existence as he woke up, but he couldn’t see anything. He was leaning back against—it felt like cardboard. He stretched out one arm and found cardboard to his side as well, but more alarmingly the motion made him realize he couldn’t feel the sleeve of his jacket. He clasped at his ribcage, realizing he was naked. Feeling around frantically at his surroundings he discovered cardboard in every other direction. Where—what had happened?
As he was weighing the risks of calling out to any monsters who might be nearby, the ground below him shook, and he had to cling to the cardboard to remain upright. Someone nearby cried out—it sounded like another Sans, which wasn’t as surprising as it would have been before he’d met the versions of himself from several alternate universes. A sliver of light sliced through the darkness, and then the wall in front of him disappeared. As he adjusted to the light he found himself staring at a huge skull, not unlike his own, aside from being pristine and unscarred with flat teeth and, oh yeah, fifteen times his height. Once his mind unfroze he recognized it as belonging to Blueberry, a version of himself from another universe. But how had Blueberry grown so enormous?
“WOW PAPY, HOW DID YOU KNOW? IT’S JUST WHAT I WANTED!”
The volume of Blueberry’s voice was even more intolerable at this scale. But as he addressed his brother, Sans realized he could see the taller, orange-hoodied skeleton looming in the background, and he was just as gigantic as Blueberry. Maybe Sans was the one who had shrunk? Who knew what had happened to him while he was being stuffed in this box?
Sans grasped the edges of the cardboard to either side of him and risked leaning forward to get a better look at his surroundings. On his left was the other Sans he had heard, blinking disorientedly, also naked and confined similarly in cardboard. Without clothes it was hard to tell exactly which Sans it was, but Sans thought it was the one they called Classic or Tale, or sometimes Blue, when Blueberry wasn’t around to make that confusing.
Sans looked to his right and saw a large shiny red … human? No, it wasn’t alive. It was some kind of statue, slightly taller than himself, of a red-garbed man with a white beard sitting in yet another enclosure of cardboard. And beyond it, the cardboard walls continued, though he couldn’t see inside the other cells of their paper prison.
“Don’t eat too many or you’ll spoil your dinner.” Papyrus’s voice—not his Papyrus of course, but Blueberry’s brother—drew his attention back to the giant skeletons.
“OKAY, PAPY. SHOULD I START FROM THE LEFT OR THE RIGHT?”
“They’re all the same, aren’t they?” Papyrus grinned unpleasantly.
“THIS ONE!” Blueberry plucked the other Sans out of his compartment.
“Wha— Blueberry, is that you? What are you—”
Sans watched in horror as the other skeleton dangled in the air for a second only to be unceremoniously shoved into Blueberry’s mouth and disappear as the huge teeth snapped shut behind him.
“You’d better savor them,” Papyrus chided. “I’m not getting you more until next Christmas.”
“MM!” Blueberry replied, unable to speak with his mouth full. He parted his teeth again, and whether deliberately or not, gave Sans a clear view of the torture the other small skeleton was undergoing as Blueberry’s tongue rolled him back and forth, never letting him recover enough to gain his feet and make a bid for freedom. He gasped as he saw Sans still in the box and with a supreme effort managed to scrabble to the front of Blueberry’s tongue, reaching out toward him. “Fell! Help me!”
Sans started to reach back, still keeping a solid grip on the edge of the cardboard to his right, but Blueberry’s teeth closed with a crunch on the tiny radius and ulna, eliciting a muffled yelp from the Sans inside. Sans half expected the portion of the arm that was left outside the teeth to fall away completely, but when the teeth mercifully opened again, the arm was drawn back intact. The unfortunate Sans cradled it against his ribs, hissing in pain and dripping glowing blue magic.
Blueberry seemed content for a moment to let the tiny skeleton sit there unmolested, but then suddenly his tongue rose up and toppled him over backwards, deeper into his mouth. Blueberry shut his mouth again before swallowing.
Sans could only lean against the cardboard wall as his legs threatened to collapse underneath him. He couldn’t believe what he’d just seen. Most of his thoughts were occupied with debating whether this was actually happening or not, though one analytical corner of his mind calmly wondered where the other Sans was now. Had he just been absorbed instantly, or was he being stored somewhere inside Blueberry? Was—was there still a chance he would survive this cruel ordeal?
Sans desperately didn’t want to find out the answer to his question, especially not with first-hand experience, but it looked like he was going to. Time seemed to slow down as Blueberry’s huge phalanges reached for him next.
“Don’t you think one is enough for today, Sans?” Papyrus chided.
The phalanges withdrew. Sans let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. The situation was still grim, but if Papyrus’s scolding bought him a reprieve, he might at least have a chance to attempt escape.
“AW, PAPY. JUST ONE MORE?”
“Will you still be hungry for dinner?”
Sans’s marrow froze as he hung on every word of the conversation.
“OF COURSE I WILL! IT’S CHRISTMAS DINNER! BESIDES, I HAVEN’T EVEN STARTED COOKING YET.”
“Well, okay then.”
Sans felt his soul drop.
“But I’ll choose which one.”
“THEY’RE ALL THE SAME SIZE,” Blueberry protested, but he angled the box to give Papyrus access.
Sans’s soul fluttered with the hope that Papyrus would choose one of the foil-wrapped chocolates. His motive must be to prolong Sans’s torture—but he didn’t care, if it gave him a little more time to think of a way out of this.
Papyrus’s phalanges hovered over the Santa to Sans’s right before darting in and grasping Sans by the ribcage. After a moment of shock, Sans fought back, clawing and biting at whatever part of the finger bones he could reach, despite the huge drop below him as Papyrus lifted him out of the box. When Sans finally looked down, he saw Blueberry’s gaping maw below him—where the other Sans had so recently disappeared. He let out an uncharacteristically high-pitched screech as Papyrus let him fall.