“It was great to meet you all and I wish I could just give you all a hug and give you all the time I could to personally talk to you, but I’m out of time. So for now, take it easy my gals and non-binary pals. Peace out!” Thomas said, smiling at the resounding cheers that came from this. He waved goodbye one last time and exited backstage, feeling like he was on Cloud 9. The entire room had been packed to the brim with beaming fans, each of whom had supported his work for the past few years and today he had got the chance to thank them. He just wished his friends could have been there since they were a huge part of the turnout, but they had other priorities. Thomas would have to send them all the videos and pictures he had gotten of what had just happened.
He collapsed on a random chair and ran his hands through his purple hair, a broad grin spreading across his face. No matter how many times he got on stage, no matter how often he looked at what his fans did in support for him, he couldn’t get over the rush and happiness it brought him. There were no words to describe how amazing it was, but if there was, he’d use it far too often.
“That was great!” Thomas jumped a little as Patton appeared next to him, sitting on top of a stack of boxes, legs crossed and eyes watery.
“Aw, Pat, are you alright?” Thomas asked softly.
“I just have a lot of feelings,” his morality replied, wiping his eyes on his cardigan sleeve.
“I must agree with Patton,” Roman said, popping up directly next to Thomas. “Those fans care so much about what we do and that was the perfect mix of drama, excitement and love. And must I say that your singing was on-point, Thomas.”
“Thank you, Roman,” Thomas responded.
“I believe that in approximately ten minutes you have a backstage ‘meet-up’ with some of your admirers who paid extra money to meet you,” Logan interrupted, popping up next to the exit looking as formal as ever.
“Yes, I know, Logan. I was just catching my breath,” Thomas said. “What’d you think of that?”
“It was something we rarely do so it was, of course, unpredictable, but I found it rather enjoyable,” Logan replied simply. “It was organized to the point that you knew what was going to happen next but had just a touch of creativity-”
“Yes, that was my doing.”
“… as I was saying, enough, how do I say it… well to put it simply, there was a certain element to it that was explainable and yet enjoyable,” Logan continued, glaring at Roman.
“Well I’m glad that you liked it. I know how much you like your organization so I tried my best to stay on schedule,” Thomas said. “How about Virgil, what did he think?”
“Oh, he’s a little tired right now,” Patton said.
“With this being such a new kind of performance, it took a little more out of him than it does with a normal theater production,” Logan explained. “He is currently recuperating in his room but he promised to be out as soon as his energy was back again.”
“Oh I’m sure he will. Can’t drag that ray of sunshine down,” Roman said. “I guess we’ll be there helping him recover until he’s ready to come out of his room. Cheerio!”
“Remember not to be late to the ‘meet-up’ in approximately eight minutes,” Logan said, sinking back into Thomas’s mind.
“I’ll be making baking and the cookie is out!” Patton said, starting to fade away.
“Not your best one, Pat,” Thomas said.
“Yeah I know…” Patton replied as he disappeared. Thomas sighed and leaned back, chuckling slightly as he imagined Roman, Logan and Virgil bickering as Patton tried to get them to eat chocolate chip cookies. Roman would try to pass them up in order to keep himself as healthy as possible but would give in eventually because even Roman couldn’t ignore cookies. Logan would have a very similar reaction and might even pull a Patton and steal a second one. Virgil would take one without question. Cookies always calmed him down after a live performance. He made a mental note to stop and get some after the meet-up… or did Logan?
Thomas sighed, knowing those types of questions wouldn’t be answered simply but he could at least rely on his Sides to keep him in check.
There had been more people than Thomas thought there were going to be and each one had more than one piece of amazing art. This unfortunately meant that he had to use a laundry basket to carry it all up to his hotel room, which earned him a glance or two. Not that he minded; if people were looking at him because of the art, that was fine. It was amazing to see the type of commitment each of them put into their art and if people saw it, that was more than anyone could ask for.
After a little struggle of getting through into his hotel room, he was finally able to relax. He set the artwork on the table and then collapsed onto the bed, his eyes stinging from tiredness.
“You should probably post on Snapchat that you’ve finished and that you have returned to your hotel room,” Logan said, popping up next to the table.
“Yeah…” Thomas groaned, grasping at the phone in his pocket clumsily.
“But first, I would brush that rats nest that you call hair,” Roman added, appearing on the arm of the couch already holding a hair brush. Thomas sighed and took the brush, using one hand to brush his hair and the other to open the app. Just before he started the video, he heard Logan give a little cough.
“You, uh, forgot to pick up a snack on your way back here,” Logan said pointedly.
“I will, don’t worry. Just let me get this posted and then… I can ask Room Service to bring one up for me including some dinner,” Thomas mumbled.
“That would just cost extra money. Just go down there and get the food personally,” Logan said.
“But he’s tired and needs his sleep. Going all the way downstairs for a cookie that might be there is pointless when sleep is so much more important!” Roman argued.
“Logan, it won’t cost that much so I’m going to order the cookie from Room Service because I’m too tired to actually go down. I won’t order any more food than that ‘cause I’ve got some extra food from yesterday’s meal. Roman, I won’t have it all. Like half of it or something. Sound good?” Thomas asked.
“I guess,” Roman replied.
“It is an acceptable compromise,” Logan said and began to fade away. “Enjoy your snack, Thomas.”
“Bye, Logan,” Thomas said.
“Thomas if you want to, go ahead and eat it all,” Roman said. “I’m sure that Patton will insist on you eating all of it no matter what the others say.”
“That’s true, sorry,” he said and waved as Roman disappeared. He sighed and called up the front desk. While waiting for the food, he took a quick Snapchat photo captioned ‘Panel and Meet-and-Greet finished! Thank you to everyone who attended and for all the support you all give!”
He smiled again and started taking individual photos of the art he had received. To him, every piece deserved to be in a museum but to others they would be deemed ‘childish’. He smiled as he photographed a creative picture of Joan made out of dyed macaroni. He could imagine Joan getting to hold it and jumping around happily, happy tears pouring down their face. He was sure that every time his heart soared as he looked through the art, that his Sides were cheering and critiquing it.
By the time his cookie arrived, all the art had been sorted, photographed and forwarded to his friends.
“No tip for you,” he muttered as he closed the door and took a bite of the cookie. He moaned in delight as it almost literally melted in his mouth, the bittersweet chocolate mixing perfectly with the sweet dough. “Okay… maybe there will be a tip.”
The cookie was gone within seconds and his tiredness had returned in full. Not even fighting it, he tugged a blanket over himself and instantly fell asleep.
Usually, when he fell asleep, he would float around in darkness for a while as his mind sorted everything that happened that day. Sometimes he could catch glimpses of the Side’s rooms or hear snippets of what was being said. After this, the darkness would form whatever his Sides had deemed appropriate for that night’s dreams. Most of the time, he could tell which one had created the dream (most of the time it was Roman) but others it was an obscure mess of color with no meaning. Those were usually the days where the events had taken more of an emotional toll on all of them. They were becoming rarer but they still happened.
Tonight, none of this happened. There was the darkness but it lasted barely a second before it was replaced with a physical setting that was far too detailed and perfect to be real.
Thomas looked around the strange living room, unsure of what was happening. Everything was detailed to perfection- when he bent down to study the carpet, he could see the stray strings coming out of the lumps. The room was set up similar to his own living room but it was far more spacious. The couch was larger and newer-looking, the kitchen had two stoves, a large refrigerator and an alcohol cabinet. There were multiple shelves covered in vinyls and toys but unlike his house, there were multiple characters from more mature video games than he had. They contrasted heavily against his Steven Universe plushies. It was strange…
“Guys?” he called out, his voice echoing strangely. It was exactly how his mind-palace sounded before he got the echo fixed.
He sat down on the couch, wringing his hands nervously. “If this is some new type of dream, I’m not really liking it!”
There was a thump from upstairs and multitude of yells of shock. Thomas recognized those yells as his own and raced upstairs. Sure enough, his Sides were all in a tangled mess in his now expanded bedroom.
“Guys, are you alright?” Thomas asked and helped Patton to his feet instinctively. The all realized the same thing at the same instant. Thomas had just touched Patton and they had all been physically touching each other without an illusion.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Virgil whispered. Even Patton couldn’t hide a look of fear as he cautiously helped Roman to his feet. Thomas noticed Virgil was now sitting on the bed, his legs curled up to his chest and his eyes closed as he breathed in the 4-7-8 method. The panel had already taken so much out of him and now this was happening; it was too much.
“Patton… can you help Virgil?” Thomas asked softly. Patton nodded and immediately sat next to Virgil, whispering to him softly and talking to him in a calming tone. Thomas jerked his head towards the door and Roman and Logan followed him out.
“So this isn’t your doing? This house?” Thomas asked nervously.
“Of course not!” Roman replied, offended. “I was actually trying to recreate the feelings you got from the experiences today but with puppies o-or cats.”
“But Thomas is allergic-”
“I know, Poindexter! I would have allowed him to be with them without reacting,” Roman replied.
“Well then what’s happening?!” Thomas asked. They all jumped at the clattering that came from downstairs. The three men looked at each other and then rushed downstairs. Where Thomas had woken up there were now seven identical men, the only thing distinguishing them being their clothing, skin and voices.
“Ah, get off me, Chase!” one said in a heavy German accent.
“Sorry, brah! Ow! Robbie, that was my dick!” ‘Chase’ groaned to which a groan was received. Thomas and his Sides shared a look as the group of men untangled themselves with a slew of swear words. It seemed to be quite difficult for them since there were so many and they didn’t seem to understand how to properly escape. There was a low growl from somewhere in the pile that sent a shiver up Thomas’s spine.
“Such language!” Roman commented. Thomas wasn’t quite sure whether he was impressed, offended, or both. He and his friends had never been ones to swear so hearing this amount of swearing in one place with one word being said more often than the others was strange and almost painful to hear. But there was something familiar about it all. Many of them had the same voice but Thomas couldn’t put where he had heard it.
There was a crash and a loud scream. Patton burst through the door, looking shaken and pale. His glasses were askew on his face and he was gaping like a fish.
“What is it, Patton?” Logan asked. “Is it Virgil?”
He shook his head and opened the door wide. Inside, Virgil was curled up against the headboard, staring at the person who had just appeared with wide-eyed. Thomas looked at the man and felt his heart drop when he realized that he knew this person. Newly died brown hair, a scruffy beard a little bit redder than his hair, and an Irish accent weaving through every curse word spilling from his mouth.
“What the shit is happening?!” Jacksepticeye yelled and then looked up. His eyes flickered between the three men, then to Virgil, and back to Thomas.
“Yup…” Thomas agreed softly.
The four men stared at each other in disbelief, two humans and three Sides, one of whom was too startled to move. Jack was sitting on the floor, unsure of what to say or do.
“Uh… you’re Jack, right?” Thomas asked slowly.
“Yeah, and you’re Thomas,” Jack replied. “Are you all Thomas or…”
“No… they’re my… Sides,” Thomas said. “Speaking of which, I think yours are downstairs.”
Jack’s eyes furrowed and he mouthed back what Thomas had just said before realizing what he meant.
“Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit,” he said as he raced past Roman, Logan and Thomas, almost running into a wall in his haste to get to his Sides. Patton came into the room, looking shaken. Thomas immediately knew something was wrong. Patton’s eyes were wide and his breathing was shallow. He looked a little like Virgil whenever he had a bad day.
“Are you alright, Patton?” Logan asked.
“… His language is horrible!” Patton commented, his familiar smile returning once more.
“Thank you for that comment, Captain Obvious,” Roman said.
“That’s how he is,” Thomas said and then turned to the one Side who had barely gotten any attention from him in all the confusion.
“Virg, you doing alright, bud?” Thomas asked softly.
“Yeah just had a long day,” he replied, stretching and rubbing his hair. “I’m fine though but before we get going, I’m just gonna say that you should be cautious of whatever this situation is. Whatever’s going on allowed all of us to physically touch and then someone else into our dreamscape with their own Sides.”
“I agree with Virgil,” Logan said. “We must be cautious so I suggest that we organize ‘Jacks’ Sides so that we can all figure out what is happening together.”
“How’re we going to do that?” Thomas asked.
“Simple. Show them that we hold the power here and they will follow us!” Roman said, summoning his sword and holding it up high.
“Now, now! There’s another way that doesn’t include!” Patton said. “Thomas and Jack can just ask them nicely to calm down. Than Logan can be there to tell them the reasons why we should calm down and work together!!”
“Only plan we got that hopefully doesn’t include fighting,” Thomas said, looking pointedly at Roman. “Let’s go.”
They exited the room and were immediately tackled by Virgil.
“What the- Virgil what are you-”
“Do you not see the bird?!” Virgil growled, letting them all look up to see a pony-sized parrot flying around the room with a red-jumpsuit clad man riding its back.
“Ride ‘em, cowboy!” the man yelled, trying in vain to keep his blue domino mask from slipping off.
“Uh…” Logan stuttered, unsure of what to think of this unreasonable and unexplainable situation. “Roman, this wasn’t you, was it?”
“Of course not!” Roman replied. “I would never summon something as ridiculous as that?”
“Other then a Dragon-Witch?” Virgil muttered.
“I heard that,” Roman said but Virgil ignored him.
“Well we can’t get down until we get rid of that thing.”
“Roman, you can do that, right?” Patton asked.
“If you let me up, I could! You feel like a soaked rag!” he said. Virgil rolled off them and Roman hopped to his feet.
“Begone fowl creature!” he yelled and snapped his fingers. They all expected the bird to disappear but it continued to fly around the room, the man on his back still yelling with joy.
“What now?” someone yelled and for once, none of the Sides had an answer. Instead, someone from downstairs did.
“What the hell, Marvin?!” one of Jack’s Side’s yelled. They looked at each other and peered through the railing down to the scene below. The men had all untangled from each other and now the original Jack was yelling at a version of himself wearing a black cape and a cat mask decorated with card suits while holding a cheap-looking magicians wand.
“I just wanted to see if my magic still worked… where ever we are!” ‘Marvin’ responded.
“Vell it vorks!” a Side wearing a full surgeon’s outfit yelled. “Now make it go avay! It is very loud and annoying!”
“Like you,” Marvin said dully.
“Marvin, don’t be rude!” Jack said angrily, holding Surgeon back by the collar of his coat as he spewed insults and tried in vain to grab Marvin’s neck.
“Come on! Chase is getting one of the best videos he could ever hope for right now, Jackie is having the time of his life and Anti is getting a kick out of it!” Marvin replied, gesturing to the parrot, then to a man wearing a backwards baseball cap and filming the entire scene on his phone, and then to a man sitting on the couch, holding his stomach with laughter. Thomas heard Virgil draw in a sharp breath at the sight of the last man and he couldn’t blame him. The way his body seemed to be in constant motion due to the strange glitching aura around him made Thomas feel uneasy. The cut on his throat was still oozing blood and his laugh was almost like the music played during a suspenseful scene in a movie, making Thomas’ stomach clench.
“Marvin, I know that but we’re not in a situation to be fucking around!” Jack yelled, his voice angry. Even Anti stopped laughing at the tone in his voice, his attention turning from the bird to Thomas and Sides crouching at the balcony.
“Besides,” Anti said, his voice uneven and high-pitched, “we have an audience.”
All of Jack’s Side’s looked up at them.
“Our cover’s been blown,” Patton whispered. Thomas felt Virgil shift uneasily, not comfortable with having so many eyes trained on him. Logan waved curtly and Roman yelled down, “Your bird is quite impressive!” Marvin’s face broke into a grin and spread his arms wide, his cape blowing out in an invisible wind.
“Welcome one and all to the-”
“No! Marvin, stop it!” Jack yelled. “Make the bird go away and we need to all calm down and figure out what the fuck is going on!”
Marvin sighed, his cape drooping. “Fine. You got a point.”
He flicked his wand once and the bird vanished, causing Jackie to drop onto the ground rear-first.
He sat up and spit some feathers out of his mouth. “Ow!”
“Jackie, come on,” Jack said. “Seriously, we need to get this sorted out.”
“Come on, guys,” Thomas said and they all went down the stairs into the parrot-free living room. Jack’s Sides took the couch while Roman summoned a bunch of bean-bag chairs for his group to sit on, each one corresponding to their main color.
“Uh… so how should we do this?” Thomas asked. “Introductions first or figure out the situation first?”
“Ooh! Introduction game!” Patton instantly said and then gasped. “We should play the Name Game!”
“Patton, now is not the time for games,” Logan said. “But I suppose we should introduce ourselves as to understand each other more and as to not get confused as to who is who and, quite possibly, understand what is happening here. For example, I am Logan, Thomas’ Logical side. I help him reason out situations and I hold all knowledge he’s ever cared to remember plus some more. I had absolutely no had in what is happening here because I believe in following the rules to a point and the rules included not tampering with the mindscape to this degree.”
“Thank you for that, Logan,” Thomas said. “So, who’s next?”
“Ooh!” Jackie said, raising his hand excitedly and bouncing in his seat. “I’m Jackieboy Man! I’m a superhero who can fly and I’m always ready to save the day!”
“What do you do for Jack?” Roman asked. “Are you his chivalry, perhaps?”
“No, I’m just a superhero although I am very chilvalrous!”
“I don’t think they’re the same as you guys,” Jack said. “They’re more my alter-egos than my… aspects of personality.”
“Well that’s something we should probably touch on as soon as introductions are finished,” Roman said to nods of agreement. “Well, I’m Roman, Thomas’ Creativity so I help with ideas and performing! And like Jackie over there, I love to save the day.”
“I’m Patton! I’m his Morality but you can call me Dad. I help decide between right and wrong.”
“Anx-… Virgil. I’m Thomas’ Anxiety and I think that’s pretty self-explanatory,” Virgil said. Thomas couldn’t help but smile at the fact that he used his real name rather than his first known-name.
“And I’m Thomas, my own person but also with a hint of all of them!” he said.
“We’re also all gay!” Patton said simply. Thomas winced, expecting some sort of reaction from Jack’s egos but was happy to see that this fact didn’t seem to bother them.
“How about you guys?”
“I am Dr. Schneeplstein!” the surgeon said. “I am the greatest doctor in ze world so if you ever need treatment, call my number. It is 1890-485-”
“We’re not going through that, too long,” Marvin said and then jumped to his feet, his cape blowing in the wind. Logan opened his mouth, probably to tell him that they had gotten to know him plenty but Schneep beat him to it.
“Marvin, zey know you plenty. I believe you did just summon a giant parrot in zeir living room.”
“Party-pooper,” Marvin whined, plopping back down on the couch. “But still, I’m Marvin. I can summon things, I’m magic. I’m fun!”
“I’m Chase Brody, nice to meet you brah!” the one in the cap said, giving a quick dab that brought groans from almost everyone. “Follow me on Twitter and sub to me on Youtube at Bro Average!”
“This is Robbie,” Jack said, gesturing to a Zombie in a prison uniform. Robbie let out a soft groan and waved slowly. The Sides waved back cautiously, unsure of what to think.
“This is Jameson!” Jack said, patting the dapper person on the back. Jameson waved and then signed ‘I am mute, sorry.’
“Oh!” Thomas exlaimed and then signed back slowly, ‘It’s nice to meet you. This is Logan, Patton, Roman and Virgil’
Jameson’s eyes lit up and he signed ‘You know sign language?!’
‘A little. Logan knows more.’
Jameson grinned, gave a thank you, and turned to Logan, instantly firing up an active conversation with him. Jack smiled happily, probably gald that his mute Ego finally had someone to talk to fluently.
“And last but not least, Anti!” Jack said, trying to keep a happy face as he held his arms out to the glitching man.
“Hi there,” Anti said, waving with a creepy smile. “Nice to meet you all.”
They waved back with some muttered hellos. Patton tried to give a little more with a smile but Thomas could feel his unease.
“Now, let’s we figure out what we’re doing here, shall we?” Logan said, signing the translation to Jameson. Patton then held up his hand as if he were a child in class.
“Before we continue, can we not have that much swearing?” Patton said. “It’s just… we don’t really like swearing of that level.”
“So damn, crap, bull, ass, and hell are fine,” Roman said. “Not the… other ones.”
“What about dick?” Jackie asked.
“That’s fine too.”
“Sparse use is fine.”
“I think that’s it, so alright.”
Logan sighed and continued. “This is our dreamscape, so what are you doing here instead of your own? Is there anything you could have done to make something, uh, impossible, possible?”
“Marvin may have done something,” Chase suggested. “He’s always doing that weird magic bullshit-”
“It’s not bullsh…” he faltered at the glares from the other egos. “… It’s not bull, Chase! It’s real magic and it’s only for summoning things and illusionment! That’s it!”
“So that rules out magic,” Logan said. “Anti, from what I know you are a glitch of some sort? The dreamscape’s are a type of system. Maybe-”
“No, I only affect computers and true, physical technology,” he said. “And bodies, if I want to.”
Both Schneep and Jack instinctively reached for their throats but tried to ignore it as Logan said, “Then how did this happen?! I don’t understand!”
“Calm down, Logan,” Virgil muttered. “Deep breaths man, that’s it.”
“Well I just fell asleep. I was at PAX all day then I fell asleep and ended up here,” Thomas said. “You weren’t there, were you.”
“No. I’m still in Brighton; so you’re ruling out closeness as a possibility,” Jack explained. “I fell asleep normally and boom.”
“So what do we do now?” Chase asked. “Interact? Try to break out of here?”
“I think since we don’t know what’s going on we should just take advantage of each other’s presence until one of you wakes up or we find a way out,” Logan said. There was a second of silence before Roman called out to Jackie and Marvin, “Why don’t we talk a bit about what we all can do.”
“No giant animals!” everyone called after them as they raced into the other room. Jameson moved to take Roman’s empty bean bag and began signing with Logan. Schneep walked over to take Patton’s seat as he went to talk with Robbie and Chase. Virgil stayed behind, grabbing his headphones as they appeared in front of him and putting them on. Unfortunately, this caught Antis’ attention.
“Little Virgil scared? A little anxious perhaps?” Anti asked, smirking even wider. Virgil pursed his lips and pushed his hands deeper into his pockets. Thomas instantly leaned closer to Virgil protective, a glare marking their normally happy faces.
“Anti, stop it,” Jack said sternly.
“Just having a little fun, Jack,” Anti said but even as he relaxed into the couch.
“Virgil, you going to talk with anyone?” Thomas asked.
“I might it’s just… I mean…” he glanced at Anti who seemed just as unattached from the rest of the groups conversations as he did.
“Hey,” Jack said, squatting down next to him. “I get it; Anti may seem really evil and stuff, and he is. When he first showed up he wasn’t… he was dangerous, but since he’s gotten used to the company, he’s been getting better.” Jack grimaced but smiled softly. “If you don’t want to talk to him, that’s fine, but if you want to talk to someone and he’s the only choice other than us two, I can convince him to be reasonably civil.”
Virgil blinked and gave a nod. “I’ll think about it.”
“That’s his way of saying ‘thank you’,” Thomas said. “Let’s go into the kitchen and we can talk.”
Thomas was surprised to see that the kitchen was now almost half the size of a high school classroom with a table large enough for all his Sides, his friends a few others. When he looked into the fridge, he saw all of his favorite foods including raw cookie dough.
“Yum,” Jack said, grabbing a water bottle as Thomas took the cookie dough and sat at the table. “So how was PAX?”
They got into a full conversation that went from PAX to how Youtube treats its user, to video ideas, to their Sides, or Egos as Jack called them.
“They’re a little much, but they always end up helping,” Thomas said. “I remember when I first met them after I officially made them characters once Vine was taken down. Logan was much more of a know-it-all then he is now. Roman was the extremely egotistical, Patton didn’t take anything seriously and Virgil… he was more of the villain than anything. He’s come a long way from that.”
“Well character development is always isn’t it?” Jack joked. Thomas smirked. “How about yours?”
“Well it started with… Jackie, I think- it’s been awhile, but I’m pretty sure that’s right. But I actually created him in an old video I did but that night he showed up and I thought it was a dream but then he kept showing up so I accepted him,” he explained, smirked as he remembered his first encounter. “When Schneep showed up, I got an idea of what was happening and realized I really couldn’t stop it. Jackie, scheep, then Marvin, Anti, Chase, then Robbie, and then Jameson showed up last October.”
“About Anti… when he talked about affecting physical forms, you and Schneep both reacted; and I don’t mean to be rude but don’t hide it. I spend enough time with them to recognize physical signs of secrets,” Thomas said. “If you need to talk, it’s fine.”
“Oh it’s noth- a little more than nothing,” Jack said, “Uh, I didn’t create Anti as a character, the fans did.”
“What?” Thomas asked, setting down his bowl of dough.
“I know, that’s why I was confused at first. What we all guessed was that their contribution to them and to my content was so connected that it must’ve created him and that kinda explains why he’s more… how he is rather than fully physical like the others. Like a bad data transfer or something,” Jack explained. “We never really figured that out and Anti doesn’t know either, so we leave it alone. Anyways, he was really unstable when he first showed up… and he was affecting my videos, making his presence known and he was building up strength from the transfer so did what you saw..”
“I remember that,” Thomas said. “Long time to take.”
“He was always a drama queen…” Jack reached for his throat, his face going pale. Thomas didn’t understand until he looked over at Anti and saw the still-bleeding cut on his neck.
“He killed you?!” Thomas choked out. “And then Schneep in that one video where you played-”
Jack shook his head. “No, he didn’t kill me, just pushed my presence to the back of mind so he could say hi. He and I fought for control for a long time but then during that one other video, he pushed me out a little too far because he felt like he needed more attention since he shot my popularity up during that time… Schneep managed to get some control and transferred my mind into the game to save me and he did, I didn’t die, but Anti killed Schneep, made his point then brought us back. We’re fine now, but it was annoying. Not a huge deal cause he just wanted some attention and recognition, which is understandable.”
“Oh man, I can’t… I don’t know what to say,” Thomas said. “How do you stand him?”
“Because I know that he just wants some attention, that’s it. He’s not evil or anything, just ambitious as all hell,” Jack replied, starting to laugh. “I don’t know why I find it so funny but it is.”
“What about your neck? He cut it and it was bleeding and… I’m sorry, I’m just trying to find the differences between my Sides and your Egos.”
“No, it’s fine,” Jack said. “Let’s use Anti’s takeover as an example. In an instance where one of my Egos take over…” he paused, trying to think of a way to think of how to put it. “Imagine an invisible cover around my own body: that’d be Anti and I’d be inside with everyone else. Whatever he does to my body in that instance, his own body takes the damage instead of me. Understand?”
“I think so,” Thomas said. “That’s a lot different than Sides; I wonder if you have your own Sides.”
“If I do, I really don’t want to meet them, my mind is crowded enough. Sounds confusing, is confusing, and I’m good with what I’ve got,” Jack said, causing them to both laugh. Suddenly, Thomas felt a twist in his stomach and his eyes began to burn. He hunched over and when he looked at his body, he realized he was fading away.
“Thomas, you alright?” Jack asked.
“Uh, yeah,” he replied. “I’m waking up, I think.”
“Aw, man, we were just getting to the good stuff! Thanks for listening though!” Jack said. “DM me on Twitter and we’ll continued the conversations there if this doesn’t happen again.”
Thomas smirked, the room starting to go black. “Yeah. See you there, dude.”
Jack gave a final smile before disappearing into the darkness. Thomas floated in the darkness for half-a-second before shooting back into his body with a gasp. He looked around and saw that he had returned to his hotel room. He grasped at his head and remembered what had just happened. Was it a dream?
“Guys?” he asked, summoning his Sides into the room. They appeared, all looking shaken and surprised. All were in their normal clothes rather than pajamas and each had the same expression of confusion.
“That happened, right?” Thomas asked. Each nodded in turn and he sighed. “How about we talk about this later… with Jack, at home, alright? Get some rest.”
Even Logan was too shaken to say anything as they nodded again and disappeared without question. Thomas sighed and ran his hands through hair, shaking slightly. It had happened… and he had enjoyed that so much… nothing seemed to be wrong with it other than the strange crossing of their dreamscapes…
So why did he feel as if there was more to this than met the eye?
“Please fasten your seatbelts as we begin our descent,” the pilot said, the plane tilting slightly. Thomas had already buckled nearly ten minutes ago, on agreed suggestions from Logan and Virgil. His only regret from listening to them was that the seat belt had been cutting into his waist for the entire time and all he wanted to do was unbuckle and stretch. He checked his phone to check the progress of the art that was currently being shipped to the house and was happy to see that it was currently in flight and would arrive in about two days. Thomas gave a small smile but it faded quickly as the ding announced that the seatbelts were now mandatory.
As the runway came into view, his grip involuntarily tightened on the seat rests and he shut his eyes shut. He tried to take deep steadying breaths and it seemed to help. He knew that it would be alright, the person flying this plane was certified for a reason. He tried to keep his mind on the more pressing issue: the recent visitors in the Dreamscape. He had decided that it would be best to tell Joan and Talyn about it since they were always helping him with the Sanders SIdes videos, so maybe they’d have an idea of what was going on. It wasn’t likely that they did, but maybe they could help sort everything out.
A small jolt in the plane brought him back to reality, his heart pounding and hands tight on the seat rests. He leaned his head against the headrest and closed his eyes, trying to ignore the painful pounding in his chest.
“Calm down, calm down,” he whispered, keeping his breathing as even as possible. The plane wheels squealed as they touched down. He let out a breath that had been caught in his chest as the plane began to slow. If he could comfort Virgil right now without people seeing something strange about two near-identical men talking to each other, one of whom appeared out of nowhere. He relaxed in sync with the plane slowing down and when it had finally stopped, he rubbed his hands against his legs, glad the worst of it was over.
When the seat-belt light finally turned off, Thomas could barely leave the seat fast enough. He grabbed his carry-on and tried his best not to shove his way out of the plane. His legs were wobbly as he walked through the tunnel and when he finally exited, he saw Joan’s famous beanie and Talyn jumping up and down to find him. Thomas waved his arm, catching both of their attentions.
“Hey, Thomas!” Joan said, giving him a hug. “How was the flight?”
“Uneventful,” Thomas replied, hugging Talyn. “You’re still so short!”
“It’s been a week, Thomas!” they complained. “How was PAX?”
“Great! Uh… we have something to talk about, but not here. It includes the Sides.”
Both their faces darkened but they tried to stay happy.
“Alright,” Joan said. “We’re parked over this way, so we can talk in the car. In the meantime, tell us about the panel!”
“Oh, it was great!” Thomas said as they made their way to the parking garage. “Someone made you something for both of you. I saw one for you, Joan, that will make you very happy.”
“Oh, pray tell what is it?” Joan asked.
“I’m keeping a secret. Besides, I sent you a picture, didn’t I?”
“Maybe. We definitely didn’t get anything,” Talyn said.
“Well then I’m definitely keeping it a secret until it arrives,” Thomas said.
“Show us, show us,” Joan started chanting, their eyes bright with excitement.
“No! It’s a secret!” Thomas replied, hauling his bag onto the escalator. “I’m not telling! It’s more fun to keep it a secret!”
“Aww,” Talyn said. “Uh… see anyone interesting?”
“Yeah, uh… that has to do with the Sides thing so that’s also going to wait a bit.”
“Got it,” they both replied. Unfortunately they had run out of topics to talk about so the rest of the walk to the car was in awkward silence. Once Thomas was settled into the back seat, Talyn asked, “So… should we get one of them in here?”
“Uh… yeah, hang on.” Thomas reached inside himself and concentrated on any knowledge he had learned. In a heartbeat, Logan responded to these thoughts and appeared directly next to Thomas.
“Hello, Joan. Talyn,” Logan said, pushing his glasses up his nose.
“Hey, Logan. How’re you doing?”
“As of now? I am doing perfectly fine but as we all know, there are more important matters than knowing about our current state of mind,” Logan said.
“That’s not necessarily true, Logan,” Thomas said, “but we’re not getting into that sort of stuff right now because you’re right: there are more important matters right now.”
“Then spill like we’ve been asking you to!” Joan said as they pulled out of the parking spot.
“Thomas, you go ahead,” Logan said. “I will simply be here for clarification and any answers that I have.”
Thomas gave a thanks and told his friends about what had happened in the Dreamscape. He told them about how it had seemed a little stranger then normal for a few seconds before going down the rabbit hole when Jack and his egos arrived. Joan tried to keep his concentration on the road and on the story but eventually they had to pull over into another parking garage in order to keep attention on one thing. Thomas finished the story with his waking up and waited for their responses.
“Uh, you guys alright?” he asked cautiously. Talyn’s face was unreadable but Joan looked like they were about to scream in delight.
“Why’re you so excited, Joan?”
“Well, this means something doesn’t it?” Joan commented. “Nothing like this has ever happened before - obviously - but something is happening! It’s kinda exciting!”
“Talyn? You alright?”
“Uh, yeah,” Talyn replied. “Just… wow. Logan you have no clue or theory as to what happened?”
“We’ve been talking about it,” Logan said, “and the top theory so far is that one of us or Jack’s ‘Egos’ did something to connect our Dreamscapes.”
“You keep saying ‘Dreamscape’. Isn’t that the same as the Mindscape?” Joan asked. “Just for clarification.”
“This is exposition though,” Logan said. “I thought you-”
“Humor us, Logan,” Talyn asked.
“But I do not know humor. That-”
“Just go ahead, Logan. Tell us the difference please,” Thomas said calmly.
Logan sighed and started. “The Dreamscape is where the dreams are created and Thomas’ mind goes through the normal stages of sleep so that we, the Sides, can organize everything from that day. The Mindscape is essentially the same but more complex; it is where the memories and thoughts are stored, essentially the Mind Palace. But it is your own mind and the only way in or out is mere fantasy.”
“Well you are literally a part of Thomas’ mind and yet here you are in the Physical Plane, Logan,” Joan said. “Nothing is fantasy in this situation.”
“Well in this case it is. The only way to do that is to switch minds, which ends up with the Sides taking the form of the Switched but opens a doorway between the two minds that cannot be closed,” Logan said. “Like I said, fantasy.”
“You’re right, so for now we’re answerless,” Joan admitted, rubbing a hand under their beanie. “So did Jack give any clues to what may have happened?”
“Uh… not that I remember,” Thomas said. “I mean, we didn’t really talk about it cause we figured that we’d need to work together on figuring this out so we’d have to get to know each other. We spent a majority of the time getting to know each other while the Sides and the Egos did the same. Logan, did you learn anything from Schneep or Jameson?”
“Not particularly. I spent a lot of time teaching Schneep simple sign language to help translate for Jameson. Interesting fellows,” he commented.
“So in short, not much learned?” Talyn asked.
“No. When I return to the Mindscape, I can ask the others what they learned and let you know if any of them have any useful information.” Logan sighed quietly. “I doubt Virgil will have any; he spent a majority of the time alone, although I believe he tried to strike up a conversation with Anti.”
Joan choked and looked at him. “Anti was there?!”
“Yes, I believe we told you that.”
“You told me Jack’s Egos were there, not which!” Joan said, their face pale.
“Why are you… reacting like this?” Thomas asked.
“He’s not known to be, well… safe,” Joan explained.
“He’s not but he just wants attention,” Thomas said. “He did what he did so he could be seen at last, that’s it. He’s not going to hurt us and if he does, he’ll regret it.”
“That he will. Well, I better get going. Farewell,” Logan said and disappeared.
“Well that was… something,” Talyn said.
“No kidding,” Joan said. “Well, Thomas… we’re going to help you as much we can.”
“Thanks guys,” he said. “So… how was your weekend? Anything exciting happen?”
“Nothing that exciting but we beat your highscore in GTA,” Talyn said with a smirk.
“What?! No fair!” They all laughed and chatted happily as they drove back home, trying to ignore the nagging thought at the back of their minds, each one telling them that what had happened with Thomas wasn’t over.
“Ordering some pizza!” Talyn yelled up the stairs. “What do you guys want?”
“Breadsticks!” Patton yelled from the corner.
“Don’t forget the cinnamon sticks!” Roman added.
“Soda,” Virgil said.
“I’m fine without food,” Logan commented, sorting through the many papers on the table. Each one represented a different theory or idea as to what was going on. He seemed to be the only one truly interested in it at the moment as Roman and Patton sewed up multiple holes in Patton’s cat-onsie, Virgil helped Thomas write a message to Jack and Joan scrolled through Tumblr. They heard Logan’s comment and looked up for the first time in nearly twenty minutes.
“Logan, just cause you’re a physical figment of Thomas’ imagination, that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to get something to eat,” they commented. “Besides, you’re more than willing to eat Crofters Jam directly out of the jar.”
Logan shrugged. “I like Crofters, not pizza.”
“Okay, so I think I’ve got it,” Thomas said.
“Why’re you working so hard on a simple message?” Roman asked. “It’s just asking ‘Hey, did this actually happen?’”
“That’s exactly why,” Virgil said. “He’s bigger than us in terms of popularity and of course that’s intimidating. We have to word it in a way that isn’t too stalkerish and at the same time serious enough to grab his attention if it didn’t happen.”
“Well you can stop stressing about it,” Thomas said. “He messaged me.”
“What?” There were a two groans as both Roman and Patton tried to approach Thomas but hit the invisible wall that kept them separate.
“You guys should know better than to that,” Virgil said, smirking ever-so-slightly.
“Oh, hush, Emo-Zoid,” Roman said, fixing his hair as quickly possible. “What’s it say, Thomas?”
He cleared his throat dramatically and began to read. “‘Hey, sorry I couldn’t get to you sooner. For some reason after you left, my Egos and I were stuck in the house but it transformed into my place, so that’s something. Anyways, if you wanna talk out loud rather than just over texts, go ahead and Skype me. Be warned though, my Egos liked the idea of being out for extended periods of time so they’re out right now; somehow they’re separate maybe cause of what happened? See you later.’”
“One question after another,” Logan said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Way too much to figure out… how this is happening, why it’s happening, the repercussions of this on both of your bodies and minds…”
“Deep breaths bud,” Virgil said without looking away from the screen. “We probably should call him, get this all sorted out, shouldn’t we?”
“Yup,” they all said at the same time and Thomas responded with a simple, ‘Calling now’.
As he loaded up Skype, Roman kept trying to convince Thomas to brush his hair.
“You need to make good first impressions!” he insisted as the call loaded.
“Roman, we’ve met before, I don’t see why I really need to,” Thomas said.
“Besides, Jack is a nice man, he wouldn’t judge Thomas on his looks,” Paton said. “I for one think he is a very nice looking man.”
“Thank you, Patton,” both Thomas and Roman said at the same time. The two glanced at each other and started siggering which eventually led to everyone laughing. They were so busy laughing at what had just happened that they didn’t even notice when Jack picked up until one of the Egos yelled, “Hey!”
They looked at the screen and saw Jack surrounded by a multitude of identical faces, each one grinning broadly.
“Hi!” Thomas replied, ignoring his Sides as they tried to fit into frame with the invisible walls keeping them apart. “So… it happened, didn’t it?”
“Yup…” Jack said, pushing the other Egos out of frame so he could breathe. “We got some stuff to talk about.”
So… how’s it going with you? Flight back home alright?” Jack asked.
“Yeah, it was fine. This is Joan,” Thomas said, gesturing to Joan.
“Hi, nice to meet you,” Joan said, waving their hand.
“You too!” Jack replied, waving back. “I’m guessing you know about all this?”
“Yup,” Joan said, their face calm but their voice obviously saying ‘This is crazy help me’.
“Cool, one- Robbie! Chase! JJ! No cookies!” he yelled over his shoulder in response to the sudden clattering in the distance. There was a groan that brought a smile to Patton’s face.
“You know, you shouldn’t deny them cookies, especially if they’ve earned a second one,” he said.
“Well, they didn’t,” Jack said. “They’ve been stealing cookies all day and it’s giving them a slight sugar high which is making it near-impossible to control them.
“Still should get some cookies,” Patton muttered making both Virgil and Roman smirk.
“So they’re one hundred percent physical now?!” Logan yelled, unable to get into frame.
“My missing cookies, random-sized animals, and a few other things say yes,” Jack replied. Suddenly the screen glitched out and Jack’s face was replaced with Anti’s glaring eyes, a broad grin stretching his face to the maximum. Joan yelped and jumped backwards, the Sides tried to close in around Thomas to protect him but Thomas just tried to keep a calm face as Anti’s body glitched across the screen.
“Nice to see you boys again!” he said, his voice screeching and broken. “Virgil there? Had a nice chat with him last time and I just wanted to start a new one.”
“Get the fuck outta my computer, Anti! You’re going to break it again!” Jack yelled from somewhere in the background noise. Anti laughed and disappeared. Jack growled at something near him but then turned back to the screen. Behind him, Thomas heard one of the Sides whispering to Virgil but he decided to ignore it.
“And that is another piece of proof I don’t need,” he said. “Should we get right to the point or what?”
“Definitely,” Logan said and beckoned Thomas towards him. He got as close as he could to the wall so the two could talk to Jack. “So, I have a medium-sized list of questions that need answering.”
To most people, medium-size was comparable to half-a-page of questions. However for Logan, a medium-sized list was two pages of questions in size 11 font. He had to hand it to Thomas who than had to hold it centimeters from the camera just for Jack to see it.
“Uh… I do to but they’re more to the point,” Jack replied, rummaging around his desk.
“I don’t understand, this is to the point, isn’t it?” Logan asked the other Sides.
“Not really,” Roman said.
“Nope,” Virgil said. “That was to the point.”
“What they said, but with a bit of encouragement. It doesn’t mean your questions aren’t important, it just means that they have, less,” Patton said.
“What Patton said,” Joan added.
“Well, I can think of one question that should be asked first, no matter how long the list is,” Jack said. “Why are my Ego’s physical?!”
A loud crash in the background and than the beginning of an argument cemented his question as most important.
“Give me a second,” Jack said and ran out of the room, screaming, “Chase, what did I say about touching Marvin’s hat?!”
“Uh, I may know the answer to that,” Roman said. “Why all of his Egos are physical, you know.”
“Why?!” everyone asked at once.
“Well, Marvin was talking about how much he liked being able to see all his friends at once in a place like our Dreamscape,” Roman explained, fiddling with the ties on his coat. “So I may have… well…”
“Roman, whatever it is, we won’t be mad at you buddy,” Patton said.
“Well… Imayhavegivenhimabookofspells,” Roman blurted out, almost too fast for them to hear, but nevertheless, they did.
“Why would you do that?!” Logan yelled.
“Seriously, that tops you creating the Dragon Witch on list of ‘Stupid Things Roman Has Done’,” Virgil said angrily.
“Roman, I don’t know what to say. I trusted you,” Patton replied.
“What all of them said,” Joan added. “Listen, this seems like a you problem, Thomas. I’m going to go help Talyn with dinner.”
“Alright,” Thomas replied, not taking his eyes off of Roman. Once Joan was out of the room, he asked, “Roman, why did you do that? Especially without telling us!”
Roman sighed, his face flushing as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Well… he wanted to perform, not just inside Jack’s mind or for the camera. He wanted to be out on the street performing for a live audience and I couldn’t deny him his dream! So I gave him the book, but I never expected it to actually work! It was something I made up based on my general knowledge of magic!”
“Alright, well… that’s a little bit of forgiveness right there, I would say,” Patton commented. “He didn’t mean it.”
“But he didn’t tell us when he did it or when he decided to do it,” Logan said.
“How about this: Roman, you tell Jack about this when he comes back and if he forgives you, we move on. If not, we discuss it later,” Thomas suggested. The others nodded in agreement, both Logan and Virgil doing so reluctantly. Jack returned a few seconds later looking disgruntled.
“Sorry, where were we?”
“We were discussing why your Egos are physical and while you were gone, we found the answer,’ Logan said. “Roman?”
Roman sighed and told Jack everything.
“In short, I am truly sorry that I didn’t tell you,” Roman said. Jack blinked but cracked a smile.
“It’s alright. If I am angry, which I’m not, I wouldn’t take it out on you. You only did what you thought was right so I’ll take out any anger on Marvin,” Jack said. The Sides sighed slightly, both glad to move on and upset that Roman didn’t get what he partially deserved.
“Moving on to our next question,” Thomas said, unable to hold back a smile. “How is this all happening? We’re sure that none of my Sides did it and none of your Egos have that ability to do something like this, so what’s doing this?”
Jack shrugged, unsure of what to say but than Logan snapped his fingers.
“Anti can affect bodies, correct?”
Jack nodded, his hand twitching towards his neck again. “Yeah, but only when he wants to and that’s only when he wants attention.”
“Has he been utilized lately?” Logan asked. Jack’s brow furrowed and then a look of realization crossed his face.
“He wouldn’t. If he wanted attention, he would have told me somehow but he definitely would not do something like this. It’s too… not him,” he said. “I’m sorry, but our problem is elsewhere and if you want to blame Anti, go ahead, but I won’t help you.”
The screen glitched again and Anti appeared behind Jack, his face plastered with a look of smug appreciation.
“Aww, you care about me,” Anti said than looked at the screen. “And to you guys, once again, I didn’t do it.”
“Shut up,” Jack said, waving his hand without looking away from the screen. Anti laughed and disappeared.
“I talked to Anti last night. He didn’t do it,” Virgil said, bringing all eyes to him. For a second, he froze but then relaxed slightly “That’s what we were talking about, what was going on. I asked if he did this and he said no. Like Jack said, he’s focused on attention and this is not a way he would get it.”
They continued to stare at Virgil, unsure of what to say now that the blame on Anti had been moved to an unknown source of all this confusion.
“Uh… anymore questions?” Jack asked. “I mean, out of those that can be answered now?”
“Not that I can think of,” Thomas said, which was then echoed throughout the group.
“So what now?” Patton asked. “Do we hang up or do we talk?”
“We actually have pizza coming in a few minutes, so we should probably go so we can get the correct amount of sustenance,” Logan said.
“Ooh! Pizza!” Patton said happily, clapping his hands.
“Pizza does sound good,” Virgil admitted.
“I am rather famished after that flight,” Roman said. “The food they serve on those flying contraptions are so expensive and yet nothing!”
“I’ll leave it to you. Give my best to your friends!” Jack said.
“I will. Be careful with the Egos!” Thomas replied. Jack smiled and hung up. Thomas laid back on his bed, taking slow breaths and looking at his Sides out of the corner of his eyes.
“You alright, Thomas?” Roman asked.
“Fine, just… this is happening,” Thomas said, rubbing his face. “A lot in… what’s it been, four days?”
“Two days, Thomas. This is the second day,” Logan clarified.
“Sure…” Thomas said and hauled himself to his feet. “Why don’t you guys take a break? Logan, you’ve got to be tired, you’ve been out all day. Go to sleep and I’ll see you guys in the Dreamscape.”
“Toodles!” Patton said and disappeared.
“Have good dinner, Thomas,” Logan said, joining Patton in the Mindscape.
“Try not to eat too much,” Virgil added, fading from the physical realm so that only Roman and Thomas were left behind. Roman pursed his lips and tried to sink out without being noticed but Thomas just summoned him back up.
“Roman, they’re still mad at you, at least Virgil and Logan are. Patton and I, we’re more disappointed than anything,” Thomas said.
“I know and I truly am sorry that I didn’t tell you all earlier; it would have saved us so much trouble if I had,” Roman replied.
“Yeah.” Thomas sighed. “Just go back and keep that smile, alright? We’ll talk later.”
For a second, a hint of Roman’s normal, dazzling smile flashed across his face before he disappeared. Thomas relaxed, for the first time all day completely alone without anyone to bother him or bombard him with questions about this situation. For the first time all day, he had a little clarity and a little hope that they would figure out what was going on.
“I am so glad we ordered pizza instead of… well, anything else,” Joan said, wiping their face clean of any sauce.
“I know,” Talyn said. “Remind me to save that place in our good books.”
“Yeah,” Thomas replied and yawned, stretching his arms and hearing a pop. “Well that… hurt.”
“You go on up to bed, Thomas. We’ve got cleanup,” Joan said.
“You guys sure? It won’t take me that long to help,” Thomas asked, not feeling comfortable leaving his friends with all the work.
“Yeah, go on,” Talyn agreed.
“Cool. Sleep well guys,” he said and went upstairs. It wasn’t even that late -10 pm wasn’t that late, at least for him- but he was so tired. That flight must have taken more out of him that he realized. He was so tired that he didn’t even bother changing into his pajamas before collapsing back into bed, allowing sleep to overtake him.
Once again he stayed in the dark for barely a second before he appeared in the larger version of his house. The only major difference between what it looked like the one other time that he had visited it was that it was much, much larger than before, large enough to hold multiple families if he wanted to.
“Guys?” he called up the stairs, hoping that his Sides were already up there waiting. There was a few seconds of pure silence before the crashing of multiple bodies sounded from upstairs.
“We’re here, Thomas!” Patton called down. “Ow, Logan, please don’t step there!”
“You guys get untangled, I’m going to wait for Jack, alright?” Thomas called up and than sat down on the elongated couch. Not even two seconds later, his Sides came spilling down the stairs.
“I truly hope that after this we can come here without falling over each other,” Roman said.
“Aw, you fell for me,” Virgil said with a smirk.
“No, shut up,” Roman replied. “Patton is upstairs waiting for-”
There was another crash from upstairs, this time louder that came with a lot of swearing. At the same moment, Jack appeared in the center of the living room looking disoriented. He blinked a few times and when he saw Thomas, nodded incoherently.
“We’re back!” Roman said, doing a strange mix of jazz hands and the hand-jive.
“What was that?” Logan asked.
“I don’t know it’s been a long day,” Roman replied exasperatedly and turned his attention to the stairs as Patton and the Egos came down the stairs, each one of them talking animatedly.
“Hey, Virgil!” Anti screeched, glitching and appearing next to Virgil, an arm thrown around Virgil’s shoulders. At his touch, Virgil stiffened, not used to contact of any sort.
“Anti, stop it,” Chase said. Anti put his hands up and backed up but when Virgil didn’t relax, Patton started talking to him in hushed voices.
“Hey, Marvin!” Roman said, high-fiving his mischief-friend. “They go off at you too?”
“You wouldn’t believe how much they did. Be glad there’s only four others and not this huge group,” Marvin replied, groaning as JJ slapped the back of his head.
Without any prompting, the Egos and Sides began to split into their groups again, talking and chatting about the days events. Jack and Thomas were just about to strike up a conversation about the Adpocolypse when a loud crash, louder than the arrival of the Egos, sounded from upstairs. Everyone went silent and looked up the stairs as yells of confusion echoed down incoherently.
“What the hell?” someone asked but the attention was quickly drawn from upstairs to their current location as a muscular man about Thomas’ height appeared, falling to the floor and swearing loudly.
“What the fuck?!” he yelled, looking around. His eyes widened and he went silent as he took in the near-carbon copies of Thomas and Jack. Thomas instantly recognized the man and knew exactly what the crashes upstairs meant. Logan seemed to realize this too and instantly began muttering to himself about the melding of three minds and Egos.
“Oh… shit,” Mark said.
No one moved, no one said anything but everyone was thinking the exact same thing: What in the world was happening?
Schneep was the first to move, not to help Mark but to grab Anti and hold him to the ground.
“Schneep, what the fuck?!” Marvin asked.
“Get the hell off me!” Anti growled, trying to escape but Schneep’s strong, steady hands kept him pinned down.
“What are you doing?!” Roman asked.
“Vell if Mark iz here and his Egos are upstairs,” Scheep said, not even flinching when Anti kneed him in the groin. “Who else iz here?!”
All of the Egos, Jack and Mark seemed to understand, some of them helping contain Anti while the others rushed upstairs to bar the door.
“What the heckity heck? Five abs and one pec,” Patton asked.
“Hey, that’s my line!” Roman complained. “But I must agree with that statement of confusion.”
“What’s going on?!” Virgil asked to no one in particular. Everyone was either upstairs trying to keep Mark’s Egos in the bedroom or trying to keep down a screeching Anti. Thomas noticed that now Anti seemed to be yelling at both the Egos holding him down and someone upstairs.
“Come on ye’ bastard! Come down and fight me or are ya too afraid to fight again?!” he yelled, struggling to free his hand that now held a large knife large enough to cut a throat in one swipe. Thomas shook the thought from his head. Robbie groaned from Anti’s dog pile and fell off, his arm falling to the floor and trying its best to crawl back to the body. Patton squealed and literally jumped into Roman’s arms Scooby-Doo style.
“Calm down, Patton,” Roman said, stroking Patton's’ hair.
“It w-was like… a spider…” Patton murmured.
“So Mark’s Egos are here…” Thomas whispered. “And Anti wants to fight someone…”
Logan suddenly gasped. “We need to help right now. Mark’s alter-ego, Dark, is upstairs; and from what Thomas knows from the few videos he’s watched from him and the fan base online, he and Anti have a bit of a feud.”
“O-Oh, you call this a feud?!” Roman asked, gesturing to the crowd of Egos around the door and the dog pile next to them. “This is more or a war!”
“Well what do we do?!” Thomas asked.
“We should get them down here so they can talk it out,” Patton suggested hopefully.
“Patton, even you know that won’t work!” Logan said angrily.
“Don’t get mad at him,” Virgil said. “He just wanted to help, Logan.”
“I know, I’m sorry Patton,” Logan said. “There is just so much going on right now! Mark’s sudden appearance as well as this entire situation is getting out of hand! I’m having trouble putting it all together!”
“It’s okay, Logan, just take deep breaths, alright?” Thomas said.
Roman snapped his fingers. “We need to get them to focus on the bigger picture. Stop their pointless fighting for one minute so we can get situation and then once we know that none of whoever is up there didn’t do this. Once that’s done, they can resume their fighting in a place that won’t possibly damage Thomas’ mind.”
“That’s a pretty good idea, Roman, but how do you plan on pulling it off?” Virgil asked.
“We don’t have enough time for dramatic build-up, guys!” Marvin called from the pile. Anti was starting to glitch even more violently as an intense pounding sounded from the door. The group upstairs yelped as the door literally bent under the force of Dark’s attempts to escape.
“Alright, so my plan is for Virgil here to use his powers of getting people to focus on what they are currently doing, like getting Thomas to check everything twice,” Roman explained.
“What?!” everyone asked. Virgil stared at Roman, unsure of what to do and fear clouding his eyes.
“I can’t do that to a group this large!” Virgil said.
“You have to!” Logan yelled, the pounding punctuated by a crack of wood.
“Guys!” someone from upstairs yelled.
“Virgil, you can do this,” Patton said, grasping Virgil’s arm tightly. The two locked eyes and all the other sides took the queue to grip Patton’s hand, adding their supporting weight to Virgil. Thieir friend took a deep breath and nodded.
“I need all of you to think of anything about this situation, and only this situation, that makes you anxious,” Virgil commanded. “This won’t affect you as much as it will them but you will still feel something so be prepared.”
Thomas and Sides stepped back, bringing anything fearful to mind, which wasn’t difficult in this situation. Virgil took a deep breath, feeling their fear giving him power and than yelled, “FOCUS!” just as Dark broke through the door, his face livid and glowing with red and blue power. Virgil’s power rippled through the room, and Thomas grit his teeth and tried to keep his breathing normal as all his fears and worries about this situation soared to the surface again, taunting him maliciously. He saw his Sides wince or choke back a sob as they experienced similar thoughts, but they did their best to ignore it as whatever Virgil did seemed to be working.
Everyone stopped where they were and filling their minds with Virgil’s current fear of the present. Every single Ego and human stopped fighting against Dark and Anti to realize that there was something bigger at hand. Dark and Anti glanced at each other, both knowing that if their situation hurt their human, they’d be affected as well. Everyone tensed up at every thought but relaxed when Anti and Dark stopped fighting. Thomas was going to ask how long it was going to last but than Virgil groaned and dropped to his knees, grasping at his head. The Sides instantly rushed forward to help their friend.
“Good job, kiddo,” Patton said soothingly, stroking his hair.
“You did great,” Roman added.
“That was a truly impressive amount of power, Virgil,” Logan commented.
“Yeah, I’ve never seen you do anything like that,” Thomas said. “I guess you’re a Ravenclaw now.”
“Why’s that?” Virgil croaked.
“Cause you solved the problem,” Thomas answered.
“You sure did,” Patton said. “Be proud of yourself, alright?”
Virgil smiled at them all. “Thanks, guys… glad I could be of service.”
“What the hell was that?” Dark growled from upstairs, his ringing voice hurting Thomas’ ears.
“It was a warning, Dark,” Logan said, standing up to his full height and putting on a very Roman-like voice. “Either you and Anti stop this silly debacle for 10 seconds so we can sort out this new development or there will be consequences.”
“Ooh, kinky!” someone behind Dark yelled.
“Bing, I swear,” Mark muttered.
“Anti, are you going to attack if we get off of you?” Chase asked. “Cause I for one don’t like having your knife so close to my dick.”
“I won’t attack if he doesn’t,” Anti growled, still glaring at Dark.
“Well I for one now see the foolishness in your fight,” someone behind Mark yelled.
“Shut up, Bim,” Dark said but sighed. “I guess you are correct. I will not attack.”
The Septic Egos sighed in relief and literally rolled off of Anti but no one else relaxed just yet. Dark was still staring at Anti mutinously and Anti was returning the glare in full.
“Why don’t you all come on down here and we can get introductions done and questions answered,” Patton said. “I’m sure that you are all just as confused as the rest of us.”
The Septic Egos upstairs came running down the stairs and as soon as their way was clear, the Mark Egos entered the scene. Each one was remarkably different than the other with outfits that clearly defined each personality. Many of them had bright colors and goofy expressions on their faces while some like Dark were in more muted colors with no sign of emotion. Beside him, Virgil shifted uncomfortably.
“Thomas, I don’t have a good feeling about these guys,” he muttered.
“I know, Virgil,” Thomas replied. “We’ll get through introductions and then you can go back to your music, alright?”
He nodded slightly as Mark’s Egos stopped at the bottom of the stairs behind Mark himself, who still seemed confused, dazed and unsure of what to think of everything and everyone around him. He looked exactly how Thomas had felt when he had arrived just last night. Just last night seemed so long ago…
“So… any of you mind explaining what the hell’s going on?” a Mark Ego in a suit in tie similar to Darks but with slicked back hair and a kind expression.
“Uh, we don’t know either,” JJ said. “We were hoping you did.”
“Nope, JJ! We are just as confused as you!” one in a pastel shirt replied, his pink mustache swaying back and forth with every lisped-word.
“Well this is just perfect,” Logan murmured. “They don’t understand, we don’t understand-”
“Logan, we will,” Roman reassured. “Like last night, we’ll go through introductions and hopefully answer some questions along the way!”
“Ooh! Round two of introductions!” Patton squealed, clapping his hands.
“And what if we do not want to participate in this survey?” an Ego with a shirt embellished with the Google ‘G’ that shifted colors between blue, yellow, red and green.
“Then we’re going to stay confused, continue doing this every night and eventually die,” Anti said, his voice in a growl. Thomas noticed that his eyes were still locked solely on Dark and his fingers were tapping impatiently against the hilt of his knife. Dark glared back, his aura shifting slightly.
“No let’s calm down,” Jack said. “Anti’s right. If we want any hope of figuring out what’s going on we need to work together. That means that all of us have to answer each others questions and make sure that we all know each other.”
“Guys, let’s sit down, alright?” Mark said.
“Here, have a seat,” Roman said and snapped his fingers. Another couch just as large as the one the Septic Egos had sat on the night before appeared on the floor next to the newer group. A majority of them actually took the offer; one with a cheap king suit and peanut butter smeared across his face, the pastel-wearing one, the one in a suit that wasn’t Dark, another Doctor-looking character and a man wearing a shiny, skin-tight shirt that also shifted colors. The only ones who stayed standing were the more hostile looking ones, Dark, a man with a bloody bandage over his eyes, and the Google character.
The Septic Egos followed lead but spaced themselves away from Anti, who was still on his feet.
“Anti,” many of them muttered angrily. He growled something under his breath but sat down stiffly. Roman snapped his fingers again, summoning the normal beanbags for the Sides. Once they were all seated, Marvin clapped his hands.
“Well, I’m Marvin and-”
Jameson suddenly tapped Marvin’s shoulder frantically and then signed something to Schneep.
“He iz vondering if it vould be better for the Sides to go first since zey don’t know Mark’s Egos,” Schneep translated. “Ve von’t go because ve know Mark’s Egos and zey know us. It should just be them and the Sides.”
“That’s a great idea, Jameson. Less time spent there and more on finding out what is going on,” Logan said and received a beam in return. He turned to Mark’s Egos and began. “I am Logan. Sides are different than Egos, the Sides representing parts of a beings personality and you Egos being, well, alter Egos. For me, that means that I represent Thomas’ logic, all his knowledge stored in me to be relayed back to him and used when he most needs it.”
“Interesting,” Pastel said. “So you know how to make things? Like bombs and such?”
“Well, in theory, yes,” Logan said, startled, “but I’d never do that, it wouldn’t be helpful for Thomas.”
“I mean it could,” Pastel commented, waving his hands exuberantly. “Could have to fight something or other that could only be defeated by a bomb.”
“He has the right idea,” Roman muttered to Logan. “Well I’m Roman and I represent Thomas’ creativity! Every idea that he has related to theater or creating comes from me! I am also the Disney lover of the group so if any of you love it, we’ll be great friends.”
The one in the disco shirt started to raise his hand but it was pushed down by the one in Pastel.
“I’m Patton but you can call me dad! I’m Thomas’ morality and I help him make decisions between right and wrong. I also love myself some dad jokes! I help Thomas get through the process of becoming an adult, otherwise known as-”
“No,” all the Sides said at once, knowing exactly what he was going to say. Patton held up his hands defensively but turned to Virgil. “Your turn, V….”
Virgil glanced at them and just barely shook his head, his eyes fearful and untrusting. Thomas didn’t want to push him but this was important. They needed to know each other if they wanted to get through this. He nodded his head slightly and Patton rubbed his hand again.
“Everything alright over there?” Chase asked.
“Yeah,” Roman replied.
Virgil grimaced but looked at the Mark Egos, his eyes downcast. “I’m Virgil, Thomas’ anxiety. I make sure that he checks and double-checks everything. Too much of my help and productivity drops. Less of it and it drops so I keep it as level as possible.”
Everyone was quiet except a man with a bloody bandage over his eyes who seemed to be narrating everything around them.
“The author then turns the attention onto the Host who continues to narrate the situation and then turns the attention towards Wilford who-”
“That’s quite interesting!” Wilford said. “But it’s our turn now! I am Wilford Warfstache, host of the show Disc of Riches! Also I have never murdered anyone!”
Canned applause echoed around the room from an unknown source, making them all jump.
“Roman, did he just-”
“Control my Dreamscape, yes,” Roman replied quietly.
“Thank you, thank you,” Wilford said, giving a bow to Robbie and Jameson who were clapping with the fake sound.
“I’m Bim Trimmer!” the other suited man said, his voice cheerful and clear of any form of speech impediment. “I host another show but uh… I really don’t know…”
“S’uh dude! I’m Bing, the best search engine on the internet!” Bing said, holding up a peace sign. Thomas instantly knew that he was the most hated in the group by the rolling of eyes and even the Google character saying, “Be quiet, Bing. If you were what you say you are, your systems would be far more advanced than mine.”
“Oh suck it ya’ old fart,” Bing said and held up a hand which was pixelated, like in TV shows where they censored nudity or swear words. “They probably don’t even know who you are, cause yer’ so old and sad.”
“Bing, if you would shut up, that would be helpful to all of us,” Google replied. The bickering continued between the two search engines, not really helping the case.
“Who’s next?” Mark asked.
“No,” Logan said. “I’ve realized that this pointless introductions is simply exposition or filler! I thought that it would help us move along quicker but it is simply slowing us down and delaying our solving the mystery of our situation! It serves no purpose as to finding out who or what is behind our literal crossroad here!”
“Logan, calm down,” Thomas said.
“No, we have to get through this now!”
“But, Logan, don’t we have to know who they are?” Patton asked.
“Yes, we do, but doing it in this manner is slow and ineffective! Mark, could you simply tell us their names? Then we can move on to finding the culprit!” Logan said, his voice angry and determined.
“Uh, okay,” Mark said. “This is Jim, a combination of two reporters named Jim,” he pointed to the disco-man. “Dr. Iplier,” the doctor, “The Host,” the one who was still narrating the situation, “And you know Dark.”
They all waved and before anyone could continue, Logan clapped his hands. “Perfect. Now we can figure out what’s going on here. Do any of you have any special abilities that may have made this situation arise? For example Anti can glitch and disrupt mechanical objects or JJ can fly.”
“Well, Darky can do some fun things with your vision,” Wil said.
“Don’t call me that.”
“Host and I can break the fourth wall as often as we damn well please. King can talk to Squirrels, Bing and Google both have a great resource of knowledge that is most of the time bullshit from Bing. Jim can combine themselves into one guy who’s just as annoying either way, and Google can do the same with his colors. Bim and Iplier are boring and normal,” he said.
“I’m not boring!” Bim and Iplier said at the same time.
“You two can literally do nothing,” Bing said.
“Excuse me but I have a PhD and have helped diagnose over 100 patients!” Iplier said.
“You could not even tell me where the trachea iz!” Schneep chimed in.
“But I have still done doctor-like things!” Iplier said. Suddenly everyone was arguing with each other again, and the Sides, unsure of what to do, looked at each other helplessly.
“Logan, what do you think?”
“I think that they’re all children who need those monkey-leashes,” Logan grumbled. “They obviously have no self-control and if they keep acting like this then we will never solve anything!”
“Virgil, can you do that-”
“No, I can’t, Roman,” Virgil replied sharply. “That took more out of me than I’m used to unless you want me unconscious.”
“How about we just continue asking questions? And fast?” Thomas suggested, noticing that in the chaos, Anti was slowly creeping closer to Dark. “Roman, could you get some attention over here?”
“Gladly,” Roman replied and jumped up on the table.
“Ladies- no that doesn’t work… Lords! May I have your attention please!” he yelled, catching the attention of the room. “Our friend Logan has noticed that you seem a little unstable-”
“What gave you that idea?” JJ asked from atop the Host’s head.
“The Host kindly asks JJ to get off of his head before he does to his eyes what was done to the Hosts’.” JJ got off pretty quickly after that but the Host still continued to narrate everything which Thomas was starting to find very annoying.
“What needs to happen is that we need to have some organization,” Logan said. “We need to figure out a solution to this and your bickering is not helping!”
“So what sort of questions do you need to ask of us?” Dark asked. Thomas saw Logan gulp slightly but kept his composure.
“Well the most important question, what powers you each have, has been answered, but the next one is whether or not any of you would have this type of motive.”
“Well, I hate to break it to you, but using the word ‘motive’ implies that something evil is planned here,” Google retorted.
“Well who knows what might be behind this,” Logan replied. “For all we know this sort of crossover-”
“That’s a fourth wall break!” Wil shouted out.
“-as I was saying, this could be intended to literally destroy Jack, Mark and Thomas’ minds. It might have catastrophic results on them and all of us. So I’d like to know if any of you wish to do that,” Logan finished.
“Well it’s like you said, Logan,” Dark said. “It would affect all of us so why would any of us want to do that.”
“Because, and I hate to be brash, but none of you seem, well, stable.”
“Logan, stop it,” Thomas said, yanking him back. “I’m sorry about him, he’s a little… talkative. Logan, we can’t solve anything right now; we’ve gotten enough as we can out of them so we just have to wait and see if anything comes up, alright?”
Logan grumbled an agreement.
“So… what now?” Jack asked. “Like last night?”
“I guess so,” Roman replied.
“Wait, what happened last night?” King asked.
“Well since we figured out that none of us did this, we just hung around the house since there is more than enough room for anything we need to do,” Patton said.
“Sounds like fun!” Wil said. “Mr. Roman, I must talk to you! You seem like a great dude!”
It took a little bit of persuading but Thomas was able to convince his Sides to converse with both their new Septic friends and make new ones from Mark’s set of Egos, once again leaving Thomas with Jack, Mark and Virgil.
“Virgil, come on, go hang out with Patton or Logan,” Thomas whispered.
“I know, I know it’s just… like I said-”
“Virgil, was it?” Dark asked, approaching them suddenly. Virgil stiffened but nodded.
“Anti and I were talking-”
“What’s the difference between that and fighting?” Mark muttered. Dark glared at him in annoyance before looking back at Virgil.
“What you did earlier to, well, calm us down, that was impressive. Anti and I would like to discuss that sort of subject with you,” Dark said.
“Subject? Like how much power each us has or something like that?” Virgil asked.
“Precisely,” Dark said. “If you don’t want to, we understand but it would be quite… pleasant to have a chat with someone else who is always labeled the villain.”
“I’m not anymore,” Virgil muttered as Dark walked away, his gray aura following him wherever he went. “Thomas?”
“I don’t know… Mark, is he safe?”
Mark grimaced. “He won’t hurt you; he would never get his hands dirty so he makes other people do what he wants. But if he just wants to talk, that either means he truly does want to talk or that he wants something. And if he’s getting along with Anti in order to talk to you, then he wants something.”
“Virgil, if you don’t want to talk to him, that’s fine but I’m just asking you to at least hang out with Patton, alright?”
Virgil and left the room, heading for where Patton was hanging out with his Septic friends and getting to know Bing, Bim, Jim, King and Wil, although he was staying a bit of distance away from him. Thomas saw Dark and Anti purse their lips at this sight and then separated from each other slowly, keeping their eyes open in case one attacked the other.
“So, you’re Thomas Sanders,” Mark said, holding out his hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“You too,” Thomas said, shaking back. “So… what do you guys want to do? We can’t exactly control this place like they can.”
“Got any video games?” Mark asked and both Jack and Thomas’ faces lit up at the idea. Within ten minutes they were deep into an intense game of Mario Kart, each one of them filled to the brim with anger as they tried to navigate the cursed Rainbow Road.
“NO!” Jack yelled as he fell off the road inches from finishing his second lap.
“Nice try but I guess, I win!” Thomas declared, crossing the line and throwing his controller down as the game officially announced this.
“Whatever, man,” Mark groaned, slowly making a turn and then continuing on. Jack suddenly stopped grinning and put a hand on his stomach.
“Jack, you alright?”
Jack nodded, holding up a thumb but unfortunately, Thomas could see right through it to the other side of his body.
“What’s happening?” Mark asked, his questioned echoed by a few of his panicking Egos across the house.
“He’s just waking up,” Thomas replied. “See you later, Jack.”
“Bye guys!” Jack replied and faded away.
“So his Egos are gone too?” Mark asked. “It’s just your Sides and my Egos?”
“I would think so,” Thomas replied. “So… two player Mario Kart? Rainbow Road again? Winner chooses next map?”
“You’re on,” Mark said and restarted the match. However before either of them could choose their racer, Thomas felt a familiar turning in his gut and his controller slipped onto the ground through his fading hand.
“Aw man, how come I’m waking up so soon?” he groaned. “Well, have fun.”
“Thanks. I’ll DM you later, alright,” Mark said, his voice going quiet. Thomas nodded and watched as his dream house faded away.
He sat bolt upright in bed and was met with arguing between his four Sides.
“Virgil, why did you do that?!” Roman asked. “Wil and I were having an excellent discussion on performance techniques!”
“As were Bim and I, but we were discussing trade!” Logan complained.
“Virgil, what got into you?” Patton asked.
“Whoa, guys, what’s going on?” Thomas asked, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.
“Nightmare McGee over here woke us up!” Roman said, gesturing to Virgil who currently had his hood up and was looking slightly shaken.
“For good reason!” Virgil retorted.
“Well, would you mind sharing that reason, Virgil?” Thomas asked.
“I don’t know if any of you other than Logan noticed, but those Egos aren’t exactly trustworthy,” Virgil said. “More than once, and Patton can back me up, Dark approached me about talking about my power.”
“He did,” Patton agree. “It was very unnerving.”
“And Wil? While he was talking to Patton he talked about killing Santa Claus without batting an eye!” Virgil continued. “I felt completely vulnerable there and it was unsafe for us to stay there no matter what Mark or you did, Thomas. So I woke you up so you could stay safe.”
“What about Mark? Now he’s all alone there with those dangerous-”
“My job is to keep you safe, Thomas.” Virgil cut him off angrily, his power coming into play and making him focus on the situation. “Although that can involve helping your friends, that situation was unknown territory for all of us so I pulled us out. Mark will be fine; like Dark said, they wouldn’t want to harm their creator in fear of harming themselves.”
“He has a point and I, for one, forgive him,” Logan said.
“Oh you know I’d never be mad at you, you misunderstood, dark-souled teddy-bear,” Patton said softly.
“Well… it would have been nice to have a little warning but the reasoning behind your actions is understandable,” Roman agreed.
“Just remember, Virg, that we’re here to talk, alright? Feel free to pull us out of any conversation if you want to go,” Thomas said.
Virgil nodded and without another word disappeared into Thomas’ mind. All of his other Sides followed lead silently, leaving Thomas to wonder if the situation had not only become more confusing, but if it had also more dangerous.
“So what’s been happening with you, Thomas?” Mark asked as he digged through the Dreamscape’s fridge for something to eat, exiting with a large apple in his hand.
“In the past three weeks that this has been happening?” Thomas asked. “Well I met one of my Dark Sides, who thankfully isn’t here. He’s a jerk, he’s weird looking and, most unfortunate, he’s a smooth-talking liar. If he were here right now, he and Dark would team up against all of us and rule the Dreamsccape. We’d be miserable if he were here.”
“I bet. Saw the new video. He did not look very friendly at all,” Mark said through a mouthful of apple.
“That’s the thing! He was nice but in that ‘I’ll tell you whatever to get my way’ kind of nice. If you fell for it, it gave you a nice sense of… safety…”
“That’s his thing though,” Jack said. “You’ve seen those fan theories all over the place; they’re on the nose with the truth about some of them, but I’ve seen the ones for Deceit. My personal favorite is that his name is Dylan.”
“That is a good one, isn’t it?” Thomas chuckled. “I don’t think I’ll ever know and I’m fine with that. What else happened lately… oh yeah, we’re starting to collab together. Speaking of which, I got GMod installed so whenever you guys are ready we can do the video.”
“Sounds good,” Jack said. “I’m thinking Sandbox or Death Run. Ooh, no! Prop Hunt!”
“Prop hunt is always great,” Mark said. “Trust me you’ll love it.”
“I’m sure I will.” He snapped his fingers. “Oh yeah, and then there’s the fact that now your Egos and my Sides can visit each other via this connection and then come out into the real world! Side-effect of this and that spell that still hasn’t worn off yet!” He yelled this last sentence into the living room.
“I didn’t know it would last almost a month, I told you that!” Roman yelled back, bringing a laugh from everyone in the house.
“It’s honestly not that bad,” Jack admitted. “I mean, I have some extra hands around the house, I can be a little more diverse in my videos and it’s cool to be able to cook more than usual. I don’t have to deal with them trying to take over my body every day too.”
There was a sudden clattering and Logan came tearing into the kitchen.
“Thomas, I have two things to say and they are very, very important,” he panted, completely winded. “One: I heard exposition and would just like to let you know that it’s my thing to do that. Two: I may have figured out a way to solve the mystery of this place.”
Even though Logan was only talking to Mark, Jack and Thomas, everyone in the house someone heard and were crowded around Logan in an instant. Thomas’ ears were bombarded by three different voices overlapping each other with a slight change here and there, but all asking the same or similar questions. Why didn’t he tell them sooner? What was the answer? Where do babies come from?
“Okay, everyone calm down!” Jack said and at his voice, his Egos stopped but the Sides and Ipliers kept on talking.
“Guys, shut up,” Mark said, stopping his own which signaled the stop for the Sides. “Logan, what do you mean you solved it?’
“Well it’s so simple I’m surprised that one of the Jims didn’t solve it first,” he said.
“Well anyone can solve anything before those two bimbos,” Wil commented.
“Hey!” Jim said so angrily that he accidentally unfused and had to refuse before they took up more room than needed to.
“Yes, well anyways, I realized that there is literally a door right there,” he said, gesturing to the back door and then the front door as well as all the windows littering the walls. Everyone was silent and then Google said, “What makes you believe that these openings lead to the answers we seek?”
“I’m not sure but we have tried everything in this house but nothing out there,” Logan explained. “We don’t know what’s out there and for all we know, there could be answers.”
“But that’s the reason we shouldn’t go out there,” Virgil said suddenly, catching everyone’s attention. He recoiled at the amount of eyes trained on him but pressed forward. “We don’t know what’s out there. Maybe there’s a reason that every night we end up in here instead of out there. Maybe whoever, or whatever, is doing this is keeping us in here at night to protect us from some Beetlejuice-Sandworm thing out there.”
“Beetlejuice?” Wil asked.
“Don’t say it again!” Jim and Patton said at once.
“What?” Anti asked, smirking broadly. “Beetle-”
“Anti, stop it,” Jack said.
“Virgil, Logan’s right,” Thomas said. “The answers we need could be out there.”
“So could potential danger,” Virgil said.
“What, Virgil?” Dark asked. “A little scared?”
“Actually yes, I am. I don’t like venturing into unknown places for something that may end up being a wild goose chase,” Virgil said harshly.
“Okay, how about this,” Logan said. “All in favor of going out raise their hands when I say so. Those don’t do the same on a different time. Majority wins and decides what we do as long as Mark, Jack and Thomas are alright with it. It is their minds after all.”
“I’m good with it,” Mark said.
“If it’ll solve this,” Jack agreed.
“Sorry Virgil but I’m with them,” Thomas said but received a cold-shoulder response which hurt more than words. “All in favor?”
Every single available hand except Virgil’s raised and after a second Virgil sighed and raised his own.
“Great!” Wil said. “I say that Jims and Bing go first as bait!”
“Seconded,” Google said.
“Now, now, no need to be rude,” Patton said. “Why don’t we have JJ go first with Roman and the Googles; that way JJ can fly them out of there if there’s anything bad out there, Roman can fight something off, and Google can teleport them out of there.”
“That sounds like a great plan, but once again you’re stealing my thing, Patton,” Logan grumbled.
“I’m down,” JJ said. “Come on guys! Let’s get going!”
Everyone followed the three designated adventurers to the door and crowded around them.
“Well, are you going or not?” Iplier asked impatiently.
“Yeah, we are,” Roman said, “but I’m pretty sure that Mr. Makeup over there made us all paranoid.”
“Which one? Dark or Virgil?” Bim asked, bringing a snicker out of many of them; even Thomas had to cover his own smile.
“Your emotions do not matter,” Google said. “The only objective is to find answers and this is the way to it. So why should emotion matter?”
“It’s like lag, Google,” Patton said. “We are experiencing a lag that prevents us from reaching it.”
“I still do not understand. Unlike Bing, I do not experience delays.”
“Hey, I don’t-”
“You know what, we don’t have time for this,” Dark said and opened the door himself. Thomas later believed that his plan was to open the door and push the three out but that isn’t what happened at all. The instant the door opened it was as if a suction had grabbed ahold of him and everyone in the room, pulling them outside so forcefully, Thomas’ neck stung from the whiplash. He felt bodies being knocked against him as he was flown through the white space outside of the house, his scream lost in those around him. He didn’t know how long he flew or what happened during the time but suddenly he was thrown against a hard surface. He looked up and saw… nothing. Literally just white space around him, the only color coming from those around him.
“What the hell just happened?!” someone screamed to multiple shouts of agreement.
“Everyone calm down!” Patton said although his voice was equally panicked.
“Well, Patton, you explain why all of us were just sucked into a white void and thrown into wherever we are?!” Bing yelled.
“How about ve all calm down and then ve figure out vat iz going on?!” Schneep yelled. Everyone began arguing with each other but Thomas knew it was more out of panic and fear than anything. Thomas crept over to Mark and Jack, both of whom looked just as scared and confused as the rest but they seemed to be handling it easier than everyone else.
“So… how about we leave them to it and we just go explore?” Mark suggested. “We can’t really help this situation.”
“I can’t, guys, you know that,” Thomas said. “As much as I’d like to figure this out, until my Sides calm down I can’t go.”
“Alright. Jack and I’ll go looking around this place. You try and be a medium for them,” Mark said. Thomas nodded and turned to the still-arguing group of Sides and Egos. He pursed his lips and reached inside, pulling his Sides out of the fray. They appeared next to him, arguing with nothing. Logan was the first to notice and turned to Thomas, his eyes wide and full of panic.
“Thomas, we don’t know what to do!” Logan said.
“Calm down, Logan,” Thomas said. “I know this is a really confusing situation-”
“‘Really confusing’? This is a little more than tha, Thomas!” Logan retorted. “This has pushed us all over the edge and look at us now!”
Thomas realized just how much the argument had increased in such little time. The doctors were in each others faces, Google was arguing with Jameson and JJ, Wil was yelling at Marvin, Robbie was and Anti was getting dangerously close to Dark, his knife twirling between his fingers.
“Yeah… we need to get this calmed down,” Thomas whispered. “Virgil, can you-”
“Yup,” Virgil said instantly and without even the slightest twitch in his facial muscles, he sent out a wave of his power. Thomas felt only a tiny drop of fear that Virgil felt but it was enough for him to realize why he took this task so easily and so lightly this time around. This time, all his worst fears had come true and it was fueling his power to the maximum. Even when they had all turned their attention to them, he didn’t look drained in the slightest, his face steely and slightly angry.
“What do you want now, Virgil?” Dark asked, grabbing at his head as his auras spread out behind him.
“We want you to calm down,” Logan said. “Once again we’re in an unknown situation with no explanation as to how or why we are here, but we are here. I understand that this has pushed you all over the edge but it is necessary for all of us to work-”
“To work together?” Anti asked. “That’s what you said when us Septics showed up and then again when these fuckers arrived! We’ve tried, haven’t you noticed? Look where it got us! In the middle of fucking nowhere!”
“This is a point where all Logic has been thrown out the window!” Iplier added.
“Windows? What windows?” Jim asked. “And Logan is standing right there so we couldn’t throw-”
“Figure of speech, Jim!” almost everyone said.
“Guys!” Mark and Jack came running back, looking both excited and scared.
“Oh look at that! Our humble creators!” Dark growled.
“Hey no need to get all moody,” Mark said. “I don’t know what’s been going on here but whatever it is is no unimportant.”
“Why’s that?” Wil asked. “Is someone dead?”
“No!” Jack said. “We solved everything going on!”
Everyone went dead silent. Even the normal ringing in the air caused by Dark ceased momentarily.
“What?” Iplier asked.
“Yeah, and it’s weird, but… it explains everything!” Mark said.
“It’s a major fourth wall break though,” Jack said. “I wonder if they can hear us right now…. Maybe…”
“Fourth wall?!” Wil said. “Well Host and I are great at that type of stuff.”
“Which is exactly the point we were missing,” Mark said. “Everyone shut up and listen to Host for a second here.”
They all turned to the bandaged figure.
“The Host kindly wonders why everyone is now following Mark’s orders. The attention then turns back to Jack who-”
“Badabing-Badboom!” Jack said. “There’s our answer! Kinda!”
“What has he been saying the entire time we’ve been in the Dreamscape?” Mark asked.
“I don’t know, what has he been saying?” King asked but Logan snapped his fingers.
“Any time he narrates he talks about an author… for example the night day you and the Ipliers arrived he said, if I recall correctly, ‘“The author then turns the attention onto the Host who continues to narrate the situation.’ An author has been controlling everything that has happened in the Dreamscape! Or at least multiple authors.”
“I don’t follow,” JJ said.
“It’s actually more simple than it sounds,” Jack said. “Right now, we’re in a void that can’t be reached by them but… I’m not blaming anyone, but it’s Dark and Anti’s fault.”
“Excuse me?!” they both said.
“We were walking through the place when we saw this like… image cross through the white space. It was an old fan art of the Sides during your Vine days, Thomas. Then there was one of Anti and Robbie, then one of Dark. We found the connection between them all and came back here!” Jack said.
“That doesn’t explain why you’re blaming us,” Dark growled, his aura flickering dangerously.
“You two, as well as the Sides and Robbie, are data transfers,” Mark explained quickly. “Made by the fans and so widely accepted that you became real. That is what is happening here! Us three have become such a big thing that it must’ve affected us and caused our minds to crossroad! Anti’s only like how he is because that’s how the fans designed him, so don’t ask about that.”
“I get it!” Thomas exclaimed. “Oh that is good! Jack, we actually talked about that the first night! Oh man, foreshadowing indeed!”
“Well that certainly was a fourth wall break if I’ve ever seen one before!” Wil said. “I must say that I am impressed, and I am rarely impressed!”
“So let me get this straight,” Roman said. “You three, and all of us, are so popular that, what, it made our minds meet. And now we’re stuck seeing each other every night unless we find a way to get them to stop or find a way to control it?”
“Basically!” Mark and Jack said at the same time.
“I love it,” Roman whispered. “Oh that is incredible! I would have never seen that coming! I thought there would be some big monster to fight, and although I am a bit disappointed that there isn’t, I am glad it is all solved.”
“I am too,” Logan said. “It finally makes perfect sense…”
The mood around them was lightening and soon there was a celebration. None of them were quite sure why they were so happy about it but Thomas figured it had something to do with the satisfaction of finding the truth. It was like they had finally found the last piece of a puzzle that had been unfinished for weeks and now the satisfaction and relief was making some of them literally fly into the air with joy.
They had figured it out! It wasn’t a grand scheme planned by some evil mastermind like Deceit who wanted to destroy them! It was just a mistake!
“It was all a joke!” Jim yelled happily. Thomas noticed that both Dark and Wil froze at these words but Wil shook them off as if nothing had happened. But Dark continued looking at Jim and Wil with an expression of anger, concern and worry until he caught sight of Thomas looking at him and averted his gaze. Thomas would have questioned him but his fear of Dark conquered his curiosity and he started hugging Patton excitedly.
“So what do we do with this new information?” Logan asked once everyone had calmed down a bit.
Mark, Jack and Thomas glanced at each other and shared an a grin as combined as their Dreamscapes.
Five Months Later
“You guys ready?”
Mark, Jack and all their Egos looked at Thomas and his Sides and nodded.
“It’s exciting, and nerve-wracking, but this should be fun!” Schneep said. Jameson signed something that made him laugh silently and Logan crack a tiny smile.
“Yeah, brah!” Bing said, crouching on top of a stack of bins with his skateboard tucked under one arm. “We totally got this!”
“Please do not do that sort of act on-stage, Bing,” Google asked, his shirt shifting to red momentarily.
“If you do,” Anti slid a thumb across his throat menacingly.
“No, Anti, that will not be happening,” Patton said quickly. “But please, Bing, we all love your personality-”
“No we don’t,” many Egos said.
“-but this is too important to mess up. So don’t do anything too exuberant, alright?”
Bing sighed dramatically. “Fine.”
“Wil, remember, no guns,” Mark said.
“I know, don’t you worry,” Wil replied but Thomas noticed his hand flick slightly and a flash of pink near the bottom of his pants.
“Are you going to be okay, Virgil?” Thomas asked his Anxiety. Virgil stopped biting his nails, looking nervous about the coming events, but nodded.
“Okay, it’s almost time. We should get going,” Iplier said. Jack, Thomas and Mark nodded, closing their eyes and relaxing. Their Egos and Sides faded away, rejoining in the minds of their creators. The three looked at each other, gave a nod of agreement and Jack hit space on the laptop directly next to them. The chatter outside died down as the video they had put together started playing, the silence quickly replaced by screams of happiness. Thomas heard his Sanders Sides music playing but in a partially acapella version starring his and Mark’s singing with Jack’s drumming. He glanced at the laptop as their three profile pictures combine into the PAX West logo.
The cheers increased as the lights went back up again and the three men looked at each other and nodded. In a rush, they ran onstage to be greeted with a wave of screams and applause.
“Hello, PAX!” Mark yelled, waving out to the crowd. Thomas waved to as many people as he could, a grin almost literally splitting his cheeks. To see this many fans here for them was incredible and he would never get over the feeling of stepping onto the stage.
“How’re you all doing?!” he asked, receiving even more screams in return.
“I think they’re ready for a panel, don’t cha’ think?” Jack asked.
“I do, but remember what we discussed,” Mark said. In unison, they all dropped their smiles as best as they could and turned to the crowd. “Alright, shh, this is actually serious.”
The crowd quieted instantly, sensing that he was telling the truth.
“Before we start the panel, we have something to confess,” Jack said. “At least Mark and I do. Thomas over here is a pure angel.”
“Aw, thanks, Jack, but I’m not innocent either,” he said. They stepped forward, facing the whispering crowd.
“We’re all thieves,” Jack said.
“We’ve stolen not money or lives, but ideas,” Mark continued.
“These ideas are from all of you,” Thomas said. “The characters you created from the content, we took and used to our advantage.”
“I stole Anti and Robbie.”
“I stole Dark.”
“And I stole the Sides.”
“Stealing another person’s is unforgivable, rude and something no one should ever do. Ever.”
The crowd started whispering louder, unsure of what was going on. Thomas had to hold back a smile. They were going to be ecstatic at what was about to come.
“So, as apology, we’d like to, well… we’d like to return them to you,” screams echoed across the hall, “and in the process, reveal a little secret that each of us have,” Mark said. “Jack, why don’t you start?”
He sighed and said,” Alright. Ladies and gentlemen, before we do this, we need you to be as quiet as you possibly can, and I am dead serious about this.”
“What we are about to do is something new and if you are too loud, it won’t work,” Mark said.
“So please, keep calm. We know you will want to react and you’re more than welcome to but try to keep it as quiet as you can until we’re done,” Thomas finished. “Do you all understand?!”
There was a chorus of ‘yes’ and Mark and Thomas turned to Jack, who took a deep breath.
“Alright, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I’d like to introduce you to my Egos.”
With a flourish, each one of his Egos appeared, eventually ending with Jameson and the crowd let out a muffled scream dotted with applause and unmuffled scream. Thomas was going to relax but then he noticed that Anti was missing. Everyone else seemed to have noticed too and were looking around nervously.
“Where is he?” Thomas mouthed to Jack who offered a shrug and panicked glance in return. Their fear was set to rest when the screen behind them glitched violently and Anti’s grinning face appeared. The screams increased slightly at the sight of his laughing face but Jack just sighed.
“Anti, stop being a drama queen, get the hell out of the mechanics and onto the stage, now!” Jack yelled.
“Whatever you say!” Anti said, his voice whining through the speakers and making them all clasp their ears. He disappeared and glitched onto the stage, still grinning.
“Everyone, you know who these are but I’d like to introduce them all the same!” Jack said. “Of course you know Anti!”
Anti bowed dramatically, his eyes flashing towards the cheering crowd.
“Hello! I am very much alive!” he yelled out.
He gave a wave, his eyes brimming with happy tears.
He groaned, also waving.
“I am here to save the day!” JJ yelled, flying into the air.
“Get down here, JJ,” Schneep said, yanking on the bottom of JJ’s onsie and pulling him to the ground.
“And last but not least, Marvin!”
Marvin waved his wand and summoned a puff of green sparkles around him that disappeared before it hit anything and stayed there forever.
“Nice to see you all!” he yelled.
“That was nice, Jack and Friends,” Mark said, “but I bet mine can do better.”
The cheers increased to a peak the instant that Mark’s Egos appeared in a flash of pink smoke, all standing on top of the panel table, the majority of them with their legs spread and fists on hips like how JJ normally stood. Google, and Host were all standing with their arms crossed at the end of the table. Once again, Thomas felt a shift of fear when he noticed that Dark was missing but Mark sent him a wink, letting him know that he knew what he was doing.
“Wilford Warfstache!” Mark introduced.
“Hello, everybody!” Wil cried out. Surprisingly, instead of screams of delight, there were a few sad sobs. Thomas looked at Mark who just mouthed, “Tell you later” then gestured to King. “King of the Squirrels!”
He didn’t really react or say anything, only continuously licking the peanut butter off of his hands and face.
Bim waved politely.
“‘Suh dudes?!” Bing yelled, holding up his hands like he was at a rock concert.
“Jim and Jim!”
The one man split into two, gave a bow, and then fused back into one, bringing louder cheers.
The cheers went a little quiet as Google unfused and then combined back into one but there were a few people who cheered for the homicidal search engine.
There was near-complete silence for him but the Host didn’t seem to mind, only continuing to narrate the entire situation.
“The author returns the attention to the stage as-”
“And finally, the man, the legend, the two minds of the operation, Dark!”
Dark appeared in the center of the stage, his arms behind his back and leaning forward, allowing his colors to spread evenly across the stage.
“Hello there,” he growled, his voice magnified through the speakers, actually managing to drown out the screams of delight. Thomas wondered why they took such fascination with someone so… creepy and threatening. He saw the appeal physically but looking at Dark mentally, it was strange that they seemed to idolize him.
“That was great and all,” Thomas said one all Mark’s Egos had taken their seats at the table with the Septics, “but you guys made a huge mistake.”
“And what would that mistake be, Mr. Sanders?” Bim asked.
“I’m a theater kid. You never get in a competition of performance with a theater kid,” he said and summoned his Sides. At his words, the lights suddenly switched off, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Music composed by his friends started coming through the speakers and four spotlights appeared, each one pointing to a different corner of the room. The sight of each Side in the light was too much for the crowd to handle and the screams broke out completely. Thomas felt Virgil’s fear seeping through him but the rest of the Sides sent their support flowing through him, helping calm Virgil.
“Please welcome my Sides!” Thomas said, unable to hold back his grin any longer. “Princey. Or as you know him, Roman!”
“Hello, PAX!” Roman yelled from his corner only to disappear and reappear on stage next to Thomas. He gave a flourish of his sword before tucking away. He waved his hand and summoned a puff of blue smoke next to him, timing it perfectly with Logan’s arrival on-stage.
“Logic, or Logan!”
“Greetings,” Logan said, stepping out of the smoke. Thomas was glad to see that despite Logan’s constant reminders that he was not an emotion and that he didn’t have any, there was a bit of a goofy grin on his face.
“My dad, your dad, everyone’s dad and Morality, Patton!”
“Hi!” Patton said. “Oh, I’m so happy to see you all here!”
“Finally, my Anxiety but a lot of us know him as the Sweet and Sour, misunderstood Shadowling, Virgil!”
Thomas felt Virgil’s uneasiness and wishes that he didn’t have to do this but with a surge of confidence, Virgil appeared on stage. Before he could even get introduced, the room filled with cheers and he was almost knocked back by the noise.
“Told ya’ they’d love you, you little ball of shadows!” Roman yelled over the noise. Patton gave Virgil a thumbs up, Logan gave a little smile and if Thomas could, he would have thrown his arms around Virgil and never let go.
“You win, Thomas!” Jack said once the noise ended.
“But yeah! This is our secret!” Mark said. “Any time you see these guys on screen, it’s actually them, not us in some cheap costumes. And with this new friendship and secret, you’ll be getting some interesting new content to enjoy! But no promises that they’ll be good!”
“Well they weren’t exactly cheap the first time,” one of the Egos said making everyone laugh.
“Okay, so the secrets out!” Thomas said. “Once again, even though we did it, we do not condone any sort of stealing from artists. It is absolutely horrible to steal art and we are so sorry…”
There were some mumbles of agreement but there was a lot of people who muttered just loudly enough for Thomas to know that they forgave him and his friends. What do you all think?!”
They were met with the loudest cheers any of them had heard from any form of crowd. Thomas felt his throat close up and tears began to trickle down his cheeks. When he looked at his friends, they all had the same expression of bewilderment and fascination on their face. This was happening. The secret of their videos was out and people responded as best as they could have hoped for…
He never thought anything like this could have happened. And yet here he was…
“Now, let’s get this party started!”