Gates Of Hell Breaching

() Phan found himself encaged within purple bars. He was lying there, leaning against a wall of bars. He knew it was a dream from the start. He tried to get up, but there was a purple ceiling above him. Then he realized he didn't have his wings either. He looked around, feeling helpless. The room they were in was dark dungeon; nothing could be made out clearly. He shouted out, "What do you want with me?!?"

The response was too quick, too calm, too understanding, "I want you to die. I want to take back this soul realm. It's mine to destroy as I wish." The voice was so cold and piercing… and familiar. It was Phan's voice… in a colder tone. It was tone he hadn't used since he met Shem. Phan looked up to see himself with dark skin and purple eyes glaring back.

"No! I have a reason to live now! I have friends that actually care about me! I won't let you take it all away! If I have to destroy my past to keep moving, I will! Don't think otherwise!" Phan knew this other side of himself whom he was talking to. He was self-destructive and overly so. He needed to be stopped. Phan just didn't know how to do that, especially when he was encaged and wingless. His wings held his power.

"I'll leave you here to rot for a bit and think about granting me your power over this realm. You see, it's useless as long as you're within my bars," he paused, as if sensing a change in the wind, even though they were in a dungeon, "Farewell for now, I must take care of some pests that have entered the realm." And then it got dark. It seemed as though time might have stopped for the length of time it took for a light to return.

Suddenly, as if the entire world moved below him, he was suddenly floating above a battlefield of sorts, still encaged. Below him were Chip and his dark self, facing eachother in a way that wasn't exactly kind. The battlefield was barren of plant-life, or any life for that matter. It was a desert terrain, full of sand and dunes. The occasion spots of dirt were cracked and dry.

His dark self spoke up in Phan's cold tone, "Fine, it's set. If you defeat me, then I'll let Phan go. However, if I beat you into submission, you'll kill Phan yourself." Then the evil-Phan gave Chip a glare that would have chilled Phan to the bone.

"No," Chip stated, "I'm not giving up on Phan. You'll have to defeat me for me to give up. So I'll never be alive to kill him for you."

"We'll see, won't we? I find I'm rather good at forcing people's hands," The damned Phan spoke with a roguish grin. Then the evil Phan got into a fighting position and spread his wings. The wings hadn't been there before; they simply grew from his back. Phan felt a snag of pain of seeing someone else with his wings.

Then in a blur Chip and dark Phan were fighting. Phan sat in his cage and looked down on the fighters. Chip, his friend, was fighting for Phan's very survival against a dark part of Phan himself. He felt in debt to Chip. Phan was fast in attacking, swipe after swipe, almost relentless. Chip was barely fast enough to dodge them and kept getting hit. "Stop dodging and get on the aggressive!" Phan yelled down from his cage to Chip.

It wasn't much, but give advice was all Phan could do. He knew his own self anyhow. His dark self was self-destructive and wouldn't bother much with defense. It was suicidal attacking, hoping to defeat Chip before Chip could even attack. That wouldn't work, though, because Phan understood. Phan could tell Chip and Chip would understand.

"Shut-up!!!" the dark Phan shouted up to Phan as a surge of pain overwhelmed his body, crippling him to the floor where he couldn't see the battle. He heard a smash, then, and accompanying it was a blast sound. Phan's best guess as to what happened was that Chip had surged energy through his fists as he punched dark Phan. He crawled back over to the edge to see dark Phan lying on the floor, groping to get back up.

It was only a moment and then dark Phan had jumped back up. Chip needed to be as relentless as dark Phan. Another blast-punch from Chip and dark Phan was blown into the air. Unfortunately, dark Phan just flapped his wings and flew back to Chip, attacking aerially. Chip couldn't defend against that unless he used an actual energy blast. That would hurt Chip too much, eating away at his own health. He was defenseless against it. Chip needed a new strategy.

Phan thought back to his previous fight with his inner-demon. How had he beaten it then? He had become one with it. He couldn't do that because strong purple bars were between him and the phantom of himself. But was he still connected? He thought positive thoughts, thoughts of friendship and camaraderie between himself and his new friends… the only friends he had ever had. He believed in his friends. Maybe he could get his other side to see that. Then, like a squall of wind, nearly pushing him over, he got a response from the mind of the phantom. Thoughts poured into Phan.

~ It was all an illusion. Phan didn't just land in a cave. He had died. He landed in the water, split his skull on jagged rocks… Chip and Shem got into an accident; Chip's car went over the bridge after going through the window shield of Shem's truck. She was crushed to death in her truck on the bridge and Chip's body went over the bridge with his car. They had all died. The only way the three of them had become friends was through some sort of after-life: that which they now lived. It was all an illusion. ~

Phan gasped for air even though there was plenty. The thoughts that just went though his head were horrible and he couldn't believe them. He wouldn't believe them. He wanted to believe that everything was okay. They were alive… they were all alive. REM powers were real. They had to be.

Then Phan realized why his phantom couldn't believe that they were friends. It was totally against everything he had previously believed. He had thought there weren't any decent people left. There were, though: all the people Phan had befriended. They were all more than decent. They were all nice.

No, this phantom had to be destroyed. He was close to destroying it before when he decided to become one with it. What had he done? He had been using a sword made out of Shem's energy. That was it. Phan couldn't go up against weapons. That was his weakness. He could trust Chip with his weakness. He could tell him.

"Chip!" Phan shouted down to the battlefield, "A weapon! That's my weakness! I'm not fast enough or agile enough to fight off a weapon when I've got nothing but fists and claws!" Pain surged through his body from his phantom captor. He had to explain it to Chip, though, "You have to form a sword or something with reach out of your energy!" Pain crippled Phan, his phantom was truly pissed off at him now.

His phantom was shocked, too, though. Phan could feel it now that they were sort of sharing emotions and thoughts. His phantom had never suspected that Phan could ever trust anyone that much to reveal their weakness. Perhaps Phan's betrayal of his dark self and trust in a friend would hurt the phantom more than the sword. Phan wouldn't get a chance to find out. The pain paralyzed him on the floor as he blacked out. ()

[] Chip didn't quite understand what Phan had said. He looked over his shoulder to Bill for support. It seemed that neither Phan could actually see Bill, perhaps because Bill wasn't really in Phan's dream. The battle hadn't been going well. Whenever Chip tried to adapt to Phan's attack Phan would then shift strategies. Chip was panting and Phan didn't even seem to be tired, so it seemed hopeless. Except that Phan had given him a new tip that he didn't even understand.

Bill nodded to him and spoke, "I know what Phan was trying to say, but I can't explain it. If we let our souls become one for this fight I believe we just might win and save Phan. Will you allow it?"

Chip was just getting more and more confused. He trusted Bill, though. He stuck out his hand to him. He said, "Whatever needs to be done to save Phan, I'm willing to try it. I just don't understand what…"

"You will," Bill said quickly and grabbed Chip's proffered hand. Everything seemed to fade away. His control was getting distorted and he wasn't sure which was right or left or up or down. "Don't fight it," Bill told him. So Chip let go. He let everything that was to come, come.

* Thoughts and memories surged into Chip. They were Bill's. He remembered making snow forts and playing with his uncle in the snow. He remembered being lectured by his parents who understood nothing. He remembered feeling like it was the end when the guard dog leapt at his uncle, Oscar, and he had clenched his eyes shut, just pretending for a moment that he could understand why the man had been so mean to the two of them. He remembered the moment when he realized, not only that they were in a basement and not dying because of the dog, but also that he could understand that the mean man had just had a divorce and was drunk and confused.

Chip fell to his knees. He suddenly understood why he was having these memories. It was because his soul was one with Bill's. He was Chip… but he was also Bill. He needed to sort out control and everything, but it seemed he had already done it. The bill part of him understood what was going on. It was taking care of everything. Now Chip understood what Phan had been trying to say exactly.

The Phan with purple, glowing eyes looked surprised to see Chip, but continued attacking. Phan swung his fist at Chip quickly. Chip didn't bother to doge it, he grabbed the fist out of the air and sent a surge of electricity through his own arm into Phan, using it as a conductor. Phan jumped back and snarled. Now to try out what Phan had advised.

Chip concentrated on the image of a sword in his hands. He wanted a broad sword, something strong to take out Phan but agile enough to swing it fast. There, before him, was a sword, shining yellow and glowing with a brightness he had seen only once before, when Daisy had emitted a flash. It wasn't completely solid, really, it was just energy. Though it would be more than enough to defeat this menace that calls itself Phan's real self.

The best part about it was that he hadn't felt any pain. Always before when he used his power it had hurt him. This new idea was genius. He looked to Phan, who was still scowling. He saw in his mind exactly how Phan would move, as if he knew what Phan was thinking. Well, he did. He leapt into the fray, swinging his sword exactly across Phan's back, managing to swipe off both wings in one swing. The power he now held was amazing. Knowledge was surely power, and raw energy didn't hurt either.

He looked down to Phan, who was sprawled on the sandy ground. He looked completely weak and useless. "Give me one reason why I shouldn't just kill you now and get it over with," Chip spoke as though he had the power of a god behind him. He very well might have in that moment. A muffled grunt came from above him. Chip looked up to see the cage where the real Phan was caged.

He couldn't get up there himself, but he could bring the cage to him. He swung his sword toward the cage and beckoned it to be magnetized toward himself. He knew he could do it and he did. The cage slowly lowered to the ground.

Phan gasped when he saw Chip, stuttering, "Ch-chip… what have you done? Your hair, your complexion, your face… Since when has your hair been red and long? And your face seems complex as though you're hiding the secrets of the world… how…?"

"This isn't just Chip anymore. This is also Bill. But you might as well call me Chip. We've fused our souls into one," Chip tried to explain, "And we've beaten your shadow into submission. Come on out." Chip swung his sword at the bars, expecting them to fall apart. Instead, though, the sword flickered and died as it tried to pass through the bars. "Hmm, it seems electricity isn't going to do the trick."

Phan stood up fully and responded, "Yeah, it's a cage, but… I think… now that you've beaten the phantom…" Phan kneeled and placed his hands on the cold, purple surface. It fell apart like slime and fell into Phan, seeping through his skin. Then Phan stood back up, now on the sandy terrain, and sprouted wings from his back.

"There," Phan spoke as he looked over to his other self, "Now, will you admit that you were wrong? I make a choice to trust my friends and that came through for me. Will you rejoin me with the hope that things just might work out?"

The other Phan spit onto the ground. "Never. All that's changed from this is that I now hate you more than all those other despicable criminals you call friends," the evil Phan retorted, "But I shall go away for now and not bother you until I have more proof that it is like how we both know it is." Then a shadow seemed to open up on the ground beneath the evil Phan and swallowed him up, pulling him under. Though it all seemed intentional.

"But…" Phan said, even though his other self was already gone, "It's not true. I'm going to keep living." Then he looked away from everything, as if ashamed of his other self. "I'm sorry Chip. I'm really sorry. And… thank you. Thank you so much. I haven't had much experience thanking people since nobody's ever really done anything for me before. So… thank you." A tear rolled down the side of Phan's face. Chip couldn't tell if he was crying any more than that because he really couldn't see the front of Phan's face. Then he felt himself drifting apart from himself, like a ripping feeling. *

"You're welcome, Phan, anytime," Chip and Bill both said simultaneously. Then Chip broke into laughter as he realized he was no longer fused with Bill. "Bill says you're welcome too."

Phan looked around, confused, and looked as though he were about to ask, but Chip responded by grabbing him around the neck and pulling him over to three beds that just happened to be there, waiting for them. "Goodnight," Phan said to Chip with a smile as they each quickly got into a different one and their world turned white. []

 {} Thoughts poured through Shem as she tried to figure out how to find James. She had already figured out that she couldn't even change anything in James' dream. She couldn't even get far away from Daisy. She'd have to do something in Daisy's dream that would carry over. She needed an image, a symbol. She needed something that could track down James. The first thing that came to her mind was a wolf. Wolves have keen tracking abilities; one would be the perfect dream symbol to track down someone or something.

She concentrated. She saw the image of a wolf and imagined it before her. When she opened her eyes she wasn't surprised to see a wolf, sleeping in front of her. She glanced over to Daisy, but Daisy just looked at her curiously as though she didn't see it. "Follow me," she told Daisy as she nudged the wolf.

Shem wasn't sure if the wolf actually ever got up. In moments Shem felt herself whirling through the city, only to find herself fall to the floor, exhausted as the wolf sat down peacefully before her and faded into the background. Gone just as easily as it had been summoned.

Daisy stepped around her delicately. Shem could barely move; it was as though she had just run a marathon without even pausing. Daisy, it seemed, had just come along for the ride. Shem looked up and everything felt as though she were merely a third person, watching everything happen. James seemed to not even be aware of her anyhow…

James stood up defiantly as Daisy closed in on him. He had been huddling around a bonfire in a trashcan like a homeless person. "Well, I congratulate you on find me, Daisy, but I must insist that you leave. I must say that I'm surprised that you knew me that well, but if you've only come to talk to yourself about how disgusting I am, then please leave immediately. I've been through too much," James said to her.

"No, Shem is here too, she was trying to tell me –" Daisy started.

"No one else is here, Daisy," James argued, "I'd know if anyone else was in my dream. Now leave before I really get mad at you!"

"No… she's in my dream…" Daisy couldn't seem to get up the strength to argue with him. "I just… came to… save you. It was my greatest wish last time you were so close to dying, to just be about to cure your wounds… so that we could embrace one more time… so that I could tell you how I really felt about you."

"You don't feel anything for me. I thought you did, but you didn't. I thought I did too. That's why my greatest wish was to get up, even though I knew I was done for. I wanted to walk even though I was soon to be dead. So that I could walk… with you…" James trailed off and paused before continuing, "But that was all false hope. I should have known. You liked who I was when I was fully alive. You liked who I was when I had flesh. But I don't anymore. I'm everything you despise."

"It's not true! I could get used to it!" Daisy stammered, "It's not your fault what happened."

"Ah, but it is! I've always been cold on the inside. Cold yet on fire. In ways I still think you don't understand. Now that I look back on it, I don't see any form I could have taken that would be different from this. I'm undead, it's just who I am. I can't die; I can't live. Now leave!" James concluded as he thrust he arm into Daisy mid-section, throwing her across the room and into a bed. Shem recognized it as the same bed she had used to escape dreams before.

"No!" Daisy shouted back, "I accept you, whatever you are! The good and the bad!"

James shook his head and his skin peeled away, his eyes drooped out, his muscles went limp, his entire body seemed to rot before Shem's eyes, changing color to neutrals like brown and gray as well as some yellows. Blood spurted out from various locations, but dried onto him immediately, darkening to brown on his rotting flesh. Flies swarmed around him from the nearby garbage bags in the alleyway, spots appeared on his flesh, and holes appeared at points in every part of him.

Daisy just lay in her bed, looking to be completely paralyzed. "See?" James demanded of her, "Even I'm disgusted by myself! The worst part is that it's hell to even control the different forms I take. Have you any idea how much self-control it takes to resist the urge to eat someone's flesh off or drink their blood? I know the feeling already, though. See, it's the same as the urge to stay alive. Devastating strong and yet can be avoided completely with the right subterfuge. Would you like to find that out? I could make you undead right here and right now."

Daisy was still completely paralyzed, just from the appearance of James. She was too naïve to defend herself. Shem had to do something. She stood up and ignored the pull to stay down. The gravity of the world didn't matter – she needed to save her friend. She lunged toward James, her hands already taking the form of cyan mallets. She thrust her arms across James' face, but her mallet-hands simply went right through him. Of course – she wasn't really in this world.

She looked over to Daisy. She could affect things, couldn't she? It was because she was in James' dream. So Shem had to do that. How, though? She could wake up and re-enter James' dream, but real-time and dream-time didn't seem to match up exactly. Besides, she'd have to find James and Daisy again. That would take too long. She'd have to somehow force her way into James' dream immediately. She didn't need to be physically touching him, she could just will herself into it. She reached out into and through James' body before her. It was all like air, nothing she could make contact with. Then she felt something; something that pulled her in. It was something more than just crossing over to James' dream. She was sort of… becoming James. She tried to fight it. She fought it with all her strength. There was just… nothing she could do to fight it. She was losing. Then she was lost. She fell into James, juxtaposing her own body into his. Then they were one.

* Thoughts and memories flooded into Shem as if she had been peacefully boating and someone suddenly let the floodgate of the dam down completely. She remembered being picked on by her big brother and being pushed off the ledge near her house numerous times. She remembered her mother being abusive to her and making her sit on the stove, burning – what? It didn't make sense. They were her memories though. She remembered being locked in the basement and forced to fall asleep to the sound of her mother beating up her brother. She remembered the moment of betrayal of the one she loved, Daisy, as Daisy pulled back out of the door and cried as the fire made contact with the alcohol sponges next to the table she was stuck under.

Shem felt an extreme anger in her she had never before felt. She fell to the ground, trying to sort everything out. There was extreme rage in her that she just couldn't control. Then it sort of made sense. All of these memories were those of James. Somehow they had fused their souls…  and now they were one person. That explained why she had remembered the burning of – She stopped mid-thought as even more rage took over. Why wasn't James taking control? James had the self-control to handle this. Though Shem knew even before she asked.

James didn't want to live. James didn't want to fight for control any longer. He was sick of it and everything to do with life. He just wanted it to end… for everyone. Then another thought came to Shem. If James didn't use his self-control… then all of this rage that was inside her would surface and break lose, terrorizing the ones she loved. Shem made one final move to spare her friends before she lost it completely. She snapped her fingers and willed Daisy out of her dream… and in so doing also locked the gate to her soul, trapping herself forever in her eternal dream of fiery rage. Then she lost all control. * {}