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The sky was dark, the stars twinkling, winking down from above. As I walk, the dark outlines of trees lining the road lean over the street lamps, their shadows reaching down. It was almost an hour before midnight, the headlights in the mostly empty road dwindling. I look up, eyeing the icicles dangling from the telephone lines above. My breath mists the chilly air, the warmth settling over my face. Nothing disturbed the silence, save for my cloak trailing behind me, crinkling over the fresh carpet of snow.
My mind wanders, replaying the events from last week, my little fall into the lake still fresh. My head still pounds with each step, the wraps on my head and over my eye chilling with the cold. Then, the wraps on my right shoulder shift, a stinging ache accompanied with each slight movement. I shiver as goosebumps break across my skin, the memory in my head becoming more real.
I was leaning forward, mesmerized by the black swirl in the still water of the lake. It didn’t split, didn’t break away, it just- floated there. I was leaning closer and closer, until my nose was a couple inches from the surface, the cold air from the lake soothing me. I felt a push from behind me, and I fell in, headfirst. Something pulled me down; whip-like vines tied to my limbs. My lungs filled with water as I screamed; my head hit the bottom, and I blacked out-
Before I fully lost consciousness, I remember opening my eyes underwater, and seeing the silhouette of a- child? They were standing, and a smile was stretched across their face, dripping red-
W-wait. No, don’t think about that now, a voice chides me from the back of my head. I nod, huffing as the memory fades. I nervously untuck the hair behind my ear, letting my bangs fall over the right side of my face, over the wraps. I don’t need any more attention on me after that-
I keep walking, solely focusing on the bar I always walk by, but never go into. Tonight, I’ll try and find some comfort in a drink, something besides Papyrus’s encouraging words, saying that I’ll get better. I still remember him wrapping me up with his scarf, since him and his brother didn’t have any spare blankets. Awfully nice, but not really what I needed.
Just need to get outta the house, walk a bit-
I look up from the ground and spot the bar, the lights from underneath the closed door suggesting it was open. I step up and listen intently; I couldn’t hear any voices, besides the humming of the heater in the back of the bar. Sighing, I push the door open. Finally, I’ll get to talk with Grillby. Maybe he’ll want to chat about something, other than my accident everyone else seems interested in-
A small smile lifts the corner of my lips. A blast of warm air hits me hard-
Woah. “What the hell?” I squeak, bewildered.
They were drunk. They were both drunk.
Grillby was dizzily swaying his head, looking down at the half-empty glass in his hand, swirling the remaining whiskey. His flaming orange hair falls into his eyes as he chuckles, clearly somewhere else. His bow tie was undone, tuxedo wrinkled, and his spectacles were cracked.
A whoop comes from next to him, making me jump. I snap my eyes on Sans and groan, tilting my head back to look at the ceiling before looking at his sorry state again. A bottle of ketchup was gripped in his hand, with other empty bottles at his slippered feet. He was laying on the counter, still downing a bottle. His usual sunglasses slip down his face as he hics and groans, intoxicating himself. His white hair was a mess, sticking up in all directions.
“Ketchup, how I love thee.” He says dreamily.
I force a laugh and facepalm myself.
What am I gonna with these bastards?
Balancing on the tips of my toes, I find the door behind me and crack it open. Grillby tosses his head up and lowers his glass. “Serrae! Don’t let the draft in. Come and sit with us.” He grins, gesturing to the barstool between him and Sans.
I croak, letting the door shut behind me. “Uh, Grillby. H-hey. I was just-” I hesitate, darting a glance at the both of them. “I was just heading out. Seems like you two are busy-”
“Oh no no no, Serrae. It’s alright. Two makes me feel lonely, anyway. We’re- uhrpp- fine. Come sit, you need to relax after all that bad sh-”
“Okay, okay fine. I’ll have a drink.” I interrupt. I gulp and shuffle reluctantly over to the barstool and sit, folding my hands into my lap. I glance around at the empty tables and chairs, trying my best to look like I wanted to be here. Grillby reaches underneath the counter finds a glass, slamming it down a bit too hard. Sans is still laughing like an idiot. The bartender then holds his glass over mine.
“Hold up-” I stop him, leaning forward. “I don’t want whatever you guys drank. Just give me some water.” Grillby raises an eyebrow, pushes up his glasses, and bends over again.
“Alright, the House Special Water. With a dash of whiskey, just for taste.” I roll my eyes. Of course, late night is alcohol night. Forgot it was Drink-Till-You’re-Dumb Friday.
Pulling out a tall glass bottle of water, he pours some into my glass, then tops it off with the rest of his whiskey. The liquid brims to the edge and spills out onto the counter. I chuckle nervously as he slides the glass over to me, more of the mixture spilling over the lip of the glass. I eye it cautiously. You came here for a drink, so go ahead and drink, a cruel sounding voice rasps from the back of my head. I reach over with a trembling hand and pick it up. Bringing it to my lips, I look anxiously to Grillby, who nods his head. I glance at Sans, who lays his head back and sighs.
“Come on Serrae, tipsy is the only way you’ll feel tonight. Not as bad as two drunks like us. That glass right there ain’t got enough whiskey in it.” He lifts his head and looks at me, his once sharp blue eyes dulled down to a stormy grey. “Grillby’s doin’ ya a favor. Just take a sip and join us.” He flips a hand before settling his head down again. Looking down my nose, I stare at the liquid. Pressure, pressure- great. I’ll probably regret this buut-
Shutting my eyes, I take a sip and down it. It isn’t as bad as I thought; the whiskey wasn’t as strong as some people say, it being diluted by the water. It slides down my throat and- my stomach feels warm. I giggle, my mind fogging over a bit.
Sans and Grillby start laughing. “There ya go. Minor or not, you’re okay Serrae.” Sans says, holding up his bottle. Grillby bangs the counter three times, hooting.
A flash of red from the lights makes Sans look up sharply. Getting onto the counter, a gun appearing in his hand, aimed at the ceiling. The bottles clatter to the floor, some shattering. He cursed and fired off a shot, yelling incoherently. I yelp and almost drop my glass. I slam it onto the counter and jump up. Grillby runs over to him and tugs harshly on his blue hoodie, his spectacles slipping down his nose.
“Sans, get the hell down from there! What do you think you’re doing?!” Grillby yells, tugging harder.
“Sans please, quit it, you don’t look so hot. Sit in a damn chair and relax.Why the hell did you do that?” I say a bit desperately. What is wrong with him-?
Sans pants, growling. His shades hide his eyes as he grit his teeth, mumbling. I groan and slam my foot down, roaring up at him. “Damnit, Sans, talk to us!”
Sans takes a deep breath and looks down at the both of us, his voice grave. “The kid’s here.”
I stop short and settle back onto my heels. What…? “S-sans, what do you mean? Who’s the- the kid?” Grillby stands back, letting go of his hoodie. He nods, looking up at him now, all ears.
No one notices the shattered glass, or the spilled ketchup.
“Alright, I’ll talk. Just don’t mind the ceiling dripping blood.” Sans says quietly. He jumps down from the counter and turns toward us, his hood casting a shadow on his face. His shades slip down his nose, and his eyes start glowing a sharp icy blue, no longer that stormy grey.
“I didn’t tell you guys about it, huh? Welp, might as well tell ya.” Sans takes a deep breath, shutting his eyes. He then gestures for us to sit, then shoves his hands into his pockets. Grillby climbs over the counter, sweeping the shards onto the floor; they can be cleaned up later. I climb into the stool I was in before, and Grillby sits next to me. With our faces level with him, and full attention on him, Sans speaks.
“A couple weeks ago, I was working in one of my sentry stations, here in town. It was late at night, probably midnight, when the wind started picking up. I couldn’t help but feel goosebumps- the lights started flickering, snow started swirling down the path. It was starting to freak me the hell out, y’know-? Then, right next to me, sitting by one of dead trees in the forest, there was a- a kid. They were real short, even shorter than me. They had a striped sweatshirt on and a little yellow flower in their hand. I couldn’t see their eyes-
“But, what creeped me out the most was…” Sans trailed off, closing his eyes as he remembered. His whole body was trembling. My god, I think anxiously, if Sans is that afraid of it-
Sans went on, rubbing his forehead. “Oh man, oh hell… The kid was talking to the damn flower. I couldn’t really hear what they were saying, but I caught some things, like ‘We’ll get to those people sometime this week,’ or ‘This isn’t the first time we do this kind of thing. Quit being so nervous.’ Then… I moved. I was watching them, crouched behind the station- and I moved. The kid looked up so sharply, right in my direction. Their eyes were still covered but- oh damn, their smile- it dripped red- th-then, just like that, the flower glowed, and they disappeared-” His voice cracked, and he looked at the both of us, actual fear in his eyes.
“It scared the living hell out of me. I… I’m sorry, I just-” Sans turned away, taking big breaths to try and stop his trembling. I stare at him, my heart racing. How could it be the same kid? How the-
“Sans, I got a question,” I say, getting up and walking to him. “Was… The kid- their sweater- was it yellow and green? Their sweater was colored yellow and green?” I couldn’t get the image of that red smile, looming over me as I fall deeper into the lake.
Sans shuffled, turning part way towards me. His pupil was dilated, and he nodded. I gasp.
“It’s the same kid that pushed me into the lake. Their smile- I’ll never forget what that looked like.” I turn towards Grillby, trying to read what’s going on in his head.
“Hey, man, you’re awfully silent about this,” I say, tapping his shoulder. Grillby looks up at me, and gets up. I step back, watching as he went behind the counter, not speaking. His spectacles reflected no emotion. He turns away from us and reaches behind an old wine bottle in the cabinets on the back wall. Grillby held, pinched between his fingers, a golden flower.
“This was a flower from the kid. I had my own experience with them too.” He puts it on the counter, the petals fluttering innocently. He touches it gently, turning over one of the leaves. “When I was locking up, last Friday, I felt like I was being watched. I kind of ignored it and focused on making sure everything was shut down for the night; the front lights, the lights in the back, the heater. Everything, off.” He paused, lowering his head.
“It was deadly silent, and just as dark. I made my way over to the next streetlamp, since the one to the left got it’s bulb busted in a recent surge.” This time, he looks up at me and Sans. “Looking straight at the streetlamp, I didn’t notice the flower at my feet. But, what made it catch my eye was that- It was dripping blood. The center of it. The petals were golden yellow, but there were stains of blood on the ground. It was growing through the snow, too-” Grillby shakes his head, attempting to rid his fear as well as the rest of us.
“The drops of blood in the snow… they somehow stayed in place, probably freezing solid in the cold. The drops… They- they formed a smile.” Grillby raised his voice. “Scared for my damn life, I ran for the streetlamp, trying not to look- to even glance at all the other flowers that sprung up with each of my steps. I stood there, panting under the lamp- gaping in horror at the sea of flowers surrounding my patch of light.” He then goes quiet, breathing heavily, as if the nightmare was too much to handle. Grillby waits, settling down for a minute, then continues.
“I didn’t know where to go, or what to do. I just- stood there. I knew something was coming. I didn’t know for what, or why. But… I knew, I didn’t want to stay there when it came. As soon as I stepped out of the light, crushing a couple of the flowers, the light above me flickered red. A crunching of boots sounded behind me. The things was...” He looks up sharply.
“I didn’t hear them coming. I whip around and find the kid, the kid you guys just described, smiling up at me. It was so damn disturbing. I- I stood there, and it reached up and tugged my pant leg, gesturing for me to lean down. No way in hell was I going to listen, so I stepped away.
Th- they jumped up at me, making me yelp. Holy hell, I swear they were floating. Their mouth grew wider and wider- they… they stopped, inches from my face. I couldn’t feel any warmth, or their breath. Or a soul. Then, it said, ‘All the monsters of this world will die by my hand. My knife. My flower’ Their mouth didn’t move as they said it… I couldn’t see their eyes…”
Grillby rubs a hand over his face and sighs. “Then just like that, they were gone. The sea of flowers, the kid, all of it.” Grillby looks at both of us, watching our faces as we absorbed his story.
I was speechless.
But not for long.
Something, out of the corner of my eye, wasn’t there before.
There was a tiny flower, growing through the floorboards of the bar. A message was dripped in blood.
Brother is Next.
Oh no. Sans looks up at me, deathly pale.