Chapter 1:

We Begin

Purgatory's Gate


The sun was setting. Maria had gone home a few minutes ago, leaving me and Bridget to sit on the swings, watching the sunset. A...sort of queasiness forms in my stomach as I look over at the girl next to me. Her pretty, long red hair. Her shimmering golden eyes. Dressed in that summer dress, I...feel my heart race. I look away, blushing.

"Something wrong Yuki?" She asks softly.

"U-uhm..." Dang it! Now I feel like I have to say it. Gulping, I carefully turn my head back to meet her gaze. With my cheeks burning red, I say,

"I-if I were a guy, I...I would wanna protect you no matter what!"

"If you were a guy?" She cocks her head.

"R-right?"

"Why can't you do that now?"

"C-could I?"

"If you wanna." Her smile is gentle and sweet.

"S-so can I be your girlfriend?!" The question hangs in the air as I feel as though I've completely dropped the ball. She sits on her swing for a moment, before...giggling.

"Dummy." She calls me. "If you wanna."

...

In the name of some ungodly being, a world of vile sickness was born. A ground soft and rotten, oozing puss and red. A sky pink and misty, the air tainted by the taste of metal and scent of sickness. A moon black and shining, forever staring down on the unfortunate beings given life here. Oh, and those unfortunate beings, so different from each other, yet in solidarity in their suffering. Grey skinned people, dressed in cloths if they're lucky, different only in hair and eye-color. Unnaturally shaped beasts, made up of meat and connecting strings of pink. Massive humanoid mannequins, standing so tall that no creature could hope to see the vacant holes that sit where faces should be, their wings quivering but never stretching out.

This world of sickness and cruelty is known only as Purgatory.

How do I know this? Who even am I? Those answers don't seem eager to come.

A scream. I open my eyes to a scream, somewhere in the distance. Sitting in a tree, it's oak colored veins pulsing against me, I see my grey hands sitting against the branch. Looking up, I can see an endless expanse of trees. I grab onto the branch, swing down, and land on the ground. Wetness pushes up and between my toes as I focus in on the direction the scream had come from. I begin my walk in the opposite direction, eyes scanning around for something to eat. Unfortunately, nothing edible appears in sight, leaving me to groan.

"Damnit..." I squat down, running my fingers over the ground, feeling it swirl about, tearing and squelching. I...have to. I tear some of the ground up and bring it into my mouth. A rotten taste imbued with the stench of trash overwhelms my senses, but it does the job of staving off the growing hunger just a little. "Ngh..." I bite my tongue to keep from vomiting as I stand up, when I hear it again. That scream. I look back. It sounds closer. I turn back ahead and begin moving faster. If I keep going I should reach the crossing and be relatively safe. It's probably just a Goring Dog. Cowards outside of their territory. I gulp, feeling myself instinctually start to move from speed walk to run. The scream, again. No, Goring Dogs don't sound like that. I don't...what is that?

No no, I don't care, if I get out I'll be fine. Just keep going and I'll be fi-

Something shoots through my leg and sends me tumbling to the ground. So fast. When the hell did It get in range? I grunt, trying to stand, but my leg won't move. Shit shit shit shit! I turn and see something in the distance, watching me. Through my leg, something large and sharp has penetrated my knee. I grit my teeth to keep the pain from paralyzing me. My hand reaches out, grasping the thing. A pull.

"Gah!" I grunt. I can hear that thing starting to move again. I try to pull again.

"F-fuck!" A whimper courses through whatever word escapes my throat. Through my teary gaze, I see something. Shiny, silver, and tight around my ring finger. Seeing it sets my heart straight. Feeling my face scrunch, I scream as I tear the obtrusion out from my knee, in time to push myself forward and stab through the creature that's mindlessly charged its way towards me. The feel of its teeth as it desperately bites into my shoulder means nothing as I watch my new weapon push through the things body. The harsh whimper it lets out tells me I've hit something fatal. I wait through the pain as its jaw eventually slacks, and it falls to the side.

"Ngh...hah...hah..." I fall to my side, feeling my skin wriggling and numbing. Cell by cell, I can feel the torn meat and skin beginning their regeneration. In an hour or two, I'll be completely healed. Thankfully, the bleeding will stop before then. If I had a bit more nutrition in me, I probably would already be in tip top shape, but there's only so much ground I can consume before it becomes too much for my senses to handle. Groaning, a thought suddenly comes into my head. Maybe...I can eat this thing? It's not like Goring Dogs are the worst things in the world, and surely this couldn't taste any worse than them. Plus, anything's better than the ground.  Mmm, yeah, you know what? I should really dig in. 

Rolling myself over, I grab onto the thing's corpse and pull it toward my face, pushing my teeth into its raw body. The taste and smell are just a bit better than the Goring Dogs after all. Lucky me. I feel it fill up my mouth, first the rancid metal taste of its red, then the rotten texture of its meat, sending relief through my tired muscles. Oh god, already the pain in my body is starting to fade. Tearing through it slowly, with each bite, I begin to feel my body's regeneration quicken. Ah, yes yes yes~. Once I've managed to eat just a quarter of its smaller sized body, I can finally move my leg again. Wiping my lips, I stand up, grabbing the limp body. I should continue to the crossing regardless. If I'm lucky someone with a better weapon will be there waiting for me.

As I try to move, however, I realize I can't. That's odd, now why could that be? Actually, something rather painful is occurring in my chest. Guessing that my time is finally up, I look down, and see what looks like a fleshy finger poking through me. Blood seeps through my lips and pours down my chin, while something else drips in the corner of my vision.  Something clear and viscus. Looking up, I see a mouth full of stained teeth just above my head.

Trying to move, I find it impossible to even get my legs to start going, as that mouth, without hesitation, closes around me and-

...

"Yuta!" Hearing my name jolts me out of my nightmare, leaving me screaming as I rise up in my bed, gripping my chest. Looking all around, I scan my surroundings. Rather than some gross hellscape, I'm in my bedroom, all the posters and bookcases and desk still exactly where they should be, nothing out of the ordinary...save for the annoyed girl standing at the side of my bed, her blonde hair hanging just in front of her right eye, leaving only the left to stare me down with it's intimidating green gleam. I gulp, both in relief that my dream was a dream, and terror at what I can expect from this intruder I know all too well.

"Hey, Maria...what's, uh...whatcha doin here?" I chuckle, knowing exactly what she's doing here and cursing myself for sleeping through my alarm.

"Get up before you're late. You're already stuck with detention, and after the not showing up schtick last week, don't give those guys any more reasons to be pissed off with you." Maria explains before throwing some clothes at me I had set out on my desk the night before. Ugh, she's too damn pushy for someone my own age. I grumble under my breath as she leaves my room for me to change, though I do notice her taking a quick sidelong peep. Pervert. I begin pulling on my clean clothes, specifically grumbling as I try and get on this tight ass undershirt, thankful I took a shower the night before so I don't smell too awful. A feeling of sickness wells up in my throat as visions of my nightmare flutter through my mind. Just the imagined taste is enough to overwhelm me. I try to shake them out, barely succeeding, before moving in front of the body height mirror leaning against the wall. Black tee, khakis, short white hair still suffering from just out of bed syndrome, and tired, tired red eyes.

"Perfect." I sigh just as sarcastically as I speak, grabbing a black hoodie off my door and my bag. Hoodies really are the best. They're great at keeping these bundles of fat hidden, and make it impossible to be perceived, which is the last thing I need after the hell that was the last day I was at school. All because of that prick. I bite my lip. That fucking asshole...no. No no, you can't try staying home again. You'll just get more detention for it. Feeling perfectly protected in my oversized hoodie, and very unenthused to be alive, I adjust my bag's straps on my shoulders and walk out to meet Maria, who's annoyance seems to have replaced itself with excitement. "So, what am I not on the in's on?" I ask. She wraps an arm around my neck and shows me what she's looking at on her phone. Oh shit! Right, the new Time Change Infinite releases today! I feel a goofy look forming on my face. Oh BloodHeavenStar, you know just how to make a day good!

"We're stopping by on the way back, yeah?" Maria asks, me giving her a no-duh face in return. Walking down the stairs, I find my mother sitting on the living room couch, drinking from a heart mug and staring blankly at the news. 

"I'll see you tonight." I say, waiting for her to respond. She gives a little nod, before giving a half hearted response.

"Try staying out of trouble." She mumbles. Staring, I can't bring myself to say anything in response, instead following Maria outside onto the sidewalk. The walk to school is unremarkable. It turns out, keeping your head down is a good way to not get involved in things you don't wanna be involved in. Thankfully, it's far from boring. Maria is always good for conversation, with her love of talking about what she found while exploring an abandoned building with her brother and their friends, or how she managed to avoid the police during a particularly long chase. It's amazing she's managed to stay out of trouble this long. Of course, the stories run dry eventually, and I'll pitch in by mentioning a 4chan post or particularly interesting video I found on YouTube.

I know she couldn't care less, but she still pretends to be interested. I really am lucky to have her. Maybe I'll tell her that the next time I get my hands on some vodka. Memories of drunkenly slamming my head into my desk while watching old Ultraman shows still hangs heavy in my mind. Fun times...I need help. Changing my minds tune, I look up in time to see the bookstore, halting where I stand. Maria does the same, us both staring intently at an event announcement.

"Book signing with Time Change Infinite's author?" I whisper. Me and Maria both share a look, before pushing up against the glass. At 6:00 PM?! How convenient...I shrug my shoulders with a gleeful grin. "Looks like today really is gonna be awesome." I chuckle before backing away, Maria slapping me on the back with a laugh.

After a bit more walking we arrive at the school's front entrance. Students all around. Some faces I recognize, for the better or worse, but regardless I continue on, eventually making it up the steps and into the building. The sounds of chatting and echoes of sneakers against linoleum assures me that, yes, I'm exactly where I don't wanna be. Turning my attention to Maria, I see none of the annoyance or reservedness I'm feeling in her features, forcing me to at least bury all the reservations for now and just try to act like I'm fine with this. Waving goodbye to my friend, I begin my journey through the maze of halls as my homeroom grows closer and closer.

Stepping inside, I feel as though the air has instantly grown thin. The sense of being watched forces me to zone in on my desk and ignore everything else. Sitting down, I can hear the sounds of whispering

"Isn't that the chick who punched Chris?"

"Pretty ballsy to show up."

"The bitch is insane. Imagine punching someone cause they won't let you suck their dick."

"Hey I wouldn't mind giving her a shot if that's all she wants."

"I bet she's a fuckin biter if she's that unstable."

I shove earbuds in my ears, turning on whatever song is waiting in my Spotify before placing my head in my arms on my desk. God, please, just strike me dead. The images of that moment play back in my head. Again and again. I feel my teeth gritting. You dicks. So easy to lie to. You don't know anything...you don't know anything. I feel my hands clenching up.

Please, god.

...

"Alright, everyone, that's lunch!" The call from the teacher as the lunch bell rings sends every eager soul out the doorway as I linger behind, waiting for a certain someone to show up. As opposed to actually eating, I have a much better time talking about random nonsense in the library, to the librarian's chagrin. Now if only Maria would hurry up. What's taking her so long exactly? Ugh, wait, I bet she got into a spat with Julia in her science class. Those two seriously have no clue how to not be at each others throats. Memories of having to near pull one off the other fill my head.

Deciding I should probably head down and help that girl, I notice someone walk past the door that makes my heart jolt. Short green hair, with vile eyes that I have a hard time giving a color to, dressed in a black tee and unbuttoned blue long sleeve and jeans. His name immediately clears all other thoughts from my head.

Chris. Chris Laurence.

My eyes follow him as he passes. His right hand is gripped tight onto someone's arm. I can only get a good glimpse of the side of their face. It's wet. Her lips seem locked tight.

A memory. For a moment, the sense of barely luminated cleaning supplies fills my mind. Sounds of shuffling as my ears started ringing. Ringing and ringing and...

"..." I feel my feet start moving on their own. Through the growing crowd of people as they all make their way opposite me. My eyes stay locked on them. I can feel my chest tightening, my legs getting heavier, as if begging me to stop. What exactly do I gain from doing this? Do I just wanna feel like a good person? Adults should be dealing with this.

But you know they won't.

I...I know...

Then who will?

My feet keep...moving...

Just because no one helped you? Is that the excuse you're gonna use?

...and moving, and moving...

What will you tell yourself tonight to make that okay?

I...I grab his shoulder. He halts, and I can feel my muscles shivering. His head turns, and that stare of his is fully focused now. On me. Again.

"Welcome back, Yuki." That name. That single fucking word. I feel my teeth grit behind my lips.

"L-let her-g-go." I say, unable to stare  directly at him. I can feel his gaze boring into me, making my breath short.

"I don't believe what I do is any of your business? You realize you're on thin ice, right? I'm sure my mom would be maybe to hear that you caused another incident with her son. Maybe she can up that detention to a suspension, huh?" I know he's right. This is stupid. I'm stupid. Why am I doing this? I don't wanna do this. I don't, I shouldn't, I should turn around and hope he won't say anything. Who is this chick anyway? What do I know about her? Why would I assume cause he messed with me he'll do it to someone else? I look over at her and...

Yeah. She's crying. She's terrified.

It happened without me even registering it. Suddenly, I can see this piece of shit under me, holding his hands over his face. My knuckles. They're red and...dripping. Shaking. My uneven breathing doesn't help with that.

"I...I..." I force myself up. Looking around, I can see everyone staring.  Fear is written on their features. Some seem entertained. Some are recording with their phones. No, no, no, no. My eyes lock onto the girl I had seen. That had caused me to...do this. That terrified look has only gotten more intense. Terrified of me. 

"Y-you crazy bitch!" I look down, seeing Chris's bloody face. "Do you have any idea how fucked you are?!"

"I..." I can't take it. Pushing through the crowd of people, I run to the staircase and race down to the first floor and through one of the exits. I don't know where I'm going, but I can't, I can't stay. I can't be seen, or heard, or noticed, or anything. I wanna die wanna die wanna die, I just wanna disappear. 

I'm gonna be suspended. My mom's gonna hate me more than she already must. I can't take it can't can't I can't! Die! Just let me die! 

"Agh!" I trip, slamming my head on the concrete. I sit up, rubbing the blood from the small cut I've received on my cheek, suddenly noticing a woman in professional clothes staring down at me. "I-I'm sorry!" I accidentally yell at the woman before forcing myself back up and racing down the sidewalk.

How long I ran for, I have no clue. It felt like hours. I just know that eventually, I gave out, sitting on an empty bench left at an awkward angle on the sidewalk. Panting like a tired dog, I let my head rest against the bench, staring up at the sky. The passing clouds. The bright blue. The calmness of the early fall sky. Slowly, it saps the adrenaline running through me, letting my muscles relax. That is, before the stress sets in. Gritting my teeth, I move my head forward, into my hands. A desire to cry fills me. What the hell...is wrong with me?

"I can't stop fucking myself, can I?" I whimper to myself. Running away so easily, acting like that'll fix everything. That's not how life works you stupid fuck! Ngh...god damnit all...raising my face, I look down into my hands. Something silver and slender, wrapped around my ring finger, catches my gaze. Gently, I let my thumb rub over it. The feeling of the cold silver lets me smile despite the overwhelming storm in my mind. "I know you wouldn't understand. You'd tell me to keep going anyway, right? Maybe that's what I need to hear...of course, I'd want to hear it most from you." I whisper. "Why...can't you still be here?"

I close my eyes, bringing the ring up to my lips and giving it a soft kiss.

"Hey." Jolted out of my own head, I turn around to see Maria, holding my bag in her hand with a worried look in her eyes.

"Hey..." I stand up, shakily, reaching out to grab my bag.

"Still don't feel like telling me what happened?" She asks as I throw my bag back on my shoulders.

"...no." I say, earning me an even more concerned look.

"But what they said isn't true, right?"

"Right." She lets the questioning end there. Thank god. Wrapping an arm around my neck, she offers for us to go get lunch. "Better than going back. It's already over for me anyway."

"Yeah, this is definitely a lot. Ah well, you know I ain't leaving you behind no matter what." Her words put my stress at ease just a bit. Still in her arms grasp, we make our way to wherever sounds best to our whimsy, myself doing all I can to ignore what I know is waiting for me sooner rather than later.

...

"She still hasn't called." I mumble, staring down at my phone as the time reads 5:30.

"Wouldn't you rather that?" Maria asks.

"...it's just making the stress worse." I say.

"She may just wanna talk in person. Your mom is pretty traditional." Maria declares before turning to the bookshop window behind us. "Man though, this is still sick." Inside, the table is being set up by employees while another is setting up the banner that'll hang behind the author. "Surely this makes you feel a little better." Maria questions. With a grumble, I pocket my phone and take a deep breath. No matter what, I'll get what's coming to me. Best to have a good memory before that. I nod with a small smile.

"Yeah, this is gonna be awesome." I say with a smile. Maybe a bit nerve wracking. Meeting the author of a book series you've been reading for five years isn't exactly easy to swallow. Not to mention when it feels so out of the blue. Ahhh, but still, I'm actually gonna meet them! I feel my cheeks turning red. Maybe I can ask them about volume 25's foreshadowing and how much longer the heaven's invasion arc is gonna last. Actually, no, I wanna know why he introduced the series shift in volume 14 with the introduction of god. Sure it ended up being just as good as before, but it's not like the original premise of kids trying to recreate their own universe wasn't interesting already. I should only ask one question, they won't have an infinite amount of time, but....gah, what do I even say?!?!

Looking down at my phone, I see only five minutes have passed. Damnit, come onnn...well, I don't really wanna keep waiting outside anyways. After consulting with Maria, we both enter and begin simply roaming the shelves to keep from seeming conspicuous. The rows of different sized and colored books sets me at ease completely. If only I could own so many books. That idea of being surrounded by so many words is almost beyond just a desire. Maybe the word obsession is best.

If I understood why such an idea was so beautiful, maybe I would be better off, but, oh well. We'll just throw it at the top of my mountain of issues. Eventually stopping our stalking about in the comics section, I decide to pick some Alien trade off the shelf and begin half-heartedly reading through as the time passes. Maria, meanwhile, seems absorbed by someone messaging her. Oh yeah, right, her and her brother were considering going through a massive building they found while hiding from the police during their last exploration. It sounds interesting. Perfect plot for some kind of horror novel. I mean, I'd read it, but I guess I'd read anything, hehehe.

Eventually, I feel Maria pat me on the shoulder. Looking up, I see a man with white hair tied up in a ponytail and black sunglasses. Dressed in an anime pop-tee and ripped jeans, I consider for a half second if I'm staring at a customer with a fair dose of swagger. That proves incorrect as he walks up to the table, sitting down in the given chair as a pile of books is placed next to him on the table. Oh god, this guy is the author of Time Change Infinite. He's...huh. You know, thinking about it, this is probably the exact guy I'd expect to have a pen name like BloodHeavenStar. I smile smugly, as if all were going according to some celestial plan, before taking the Alien trade to buy after buying this man's new book and meeting him.

Arriving just in front of him, I feel my cheeks burning even more than they had been before. Oh god this is really happening! Meanwhile, he seems almost unnaturally relaxed, giving me a friendly wave.

"Huh, I was worried no one was gonna come. It's a pretty awkward day to have an event on. Who purposely chooses to have a signing on a Tuesday? Hopefully not an idiot, or I'm gonna have to look at myself differently." He laughs as me and Maria pull out ten dollars each, placing them in the cashbox on the table before each grabbing a copy and hold them out to him. Taking them and pulling out a strangely handsome pen, he scribbles a signature on both book's title page. "Haha, I apologize, it is a little sloppy. My editor is always sure to remind me of that." A little blush appears on his cheeks. "I guess that's a bit embarrassing. I hope you're not too disappointed."

"N-not at all!" I assure him, giving a nervous laugh. "U-uhm, actually, if you don't mind I, uh, wanted to ask you a question." He seems to perk up.

"Well, I doubt anyone else is gonna show up for a while. Go ahead, I'm all ears." Ah, damn, now what? Do I ask him about the shift? Volume 25? Augh, there's so many-

"How could I write something with this much love in it?"

A girl I know flashes through my mind. Without realizing it, my thumb had begun rubbing the ring on my finger once again. Looking him right in the eyes, I ask him with a bit of caution,

"How do...you write?"

"Hmm..." He places his chin in his hand, cocking his head. It takes him a moment, deep in his own mind. After a moment, he smiles. "Are you a writer?"

"Uhm, no, my...friend is. I'm an artist..." I say, suddenly feeling stupid for asking.

"Mmm...how do I write? Ehehe, I'm afraid there's not much to say." Leaning back in his chair, he gives his simple answer. "I just write."

"Huh?"

"The magic is all in editing. Someone who can take a tome of expression and bring it all to focus. A good writer is nothing without a good editor, but a good editor is nothing without a piece of art to edit. So, create, and worry about what it can be after you have something to work from. I hope that helps your friend. I'm probably not the best author to ask. I'm not all that popular after all."

"No...thank you, that helps." I bow, making him a bit uncomfortable.

"Uhm, well, yeah. As long as that's the case." He laughs. "Just, try and make sure you love it."

"Make sure you love it..." I smile. "Thank you sir."

"Ahh, go ahead and call me Yuta." He says. "It's kind of dumb, but BloodHeavenStar is just some stupid name I thought up playing some free rpg I found on a random subreddit." I feel myself freeze up.

"Huh? Yuta?" Maria looks from the man to me, before chuckling. "Oh shit, that's funny! You might not believe it, but that's this fella's name too!" Maria declares.

"O-oh, really?" He seems to give me a second up and down, before smiling. "Well, you have a pretty sharp mind. Sharper than mine anyway. Putting a good word out there for that name!"

"How do I exude any intelligence in the slightest?" I mumble too low for him to hear, but I can tell Maria heard, feeling an elbow to my back.

"Do you see yourself doing anything?"

"Huh?" His question pulls me out of my surprise.

"I know your friend is a writer, but as an artist, do you see yourself doing anything?"

"I...I've considered something." I say.

"Mmm...I see." He smiles. "Whatever it is, I look forward to the day it comes out, Yuta...?"

"Oh, uhm, Warrens. Yuta Warrens." I say.

"Yuta Warrens. I'm Yuta Morres. Let's see to it we both end up making some damn good shit." Holding out his hand, I take it. It's...strange.

It feels like nothing and everything.

I head to the counter and pay for that Alien comic, before both me and Maria head outside. Once the door closes behind us, I sigh.

"I'm sorry, you probably wanted to talk to him some too."

"Ahh, it's fine. I got to see something rather entertaining." With a pat on my bag, we both make our way down the sidewalk, the sun giving a warm orange glow as it finally reaches the horizon. As we walk, I feel my phone in my pocket, vibrating. Pulling it out, yeah, it's the exact name on there I'm expecting to see. Stopping, Maria turns back to look at me. Raising a finger, I answer the call, bringing my phone to my ear.

"Hey mom."

"Don't come home."

"I-" She hangs up before I get a chance to say anything in response. My hand droops away to my side. Looking back at Maria, I give a weak smile. "Do you...mind if I crash with you?"

"Of course not dumbass." With a smile, Maria stretches her arms. "But, I'd like to think if you were any more honest with her than you were with me, that she'd be a bit more forgiving." She suggests.

"I was." I respond.

"Oh...then...ugh. I'm not smart enough for this. How about we just grab some dinner?"

"That sounds great." I whisper.

...

"Tristannn!" After a moment, a boy dressed in a onesie peeks around the corner from Maria's living room into the foyer.

"Oh little sister, what brings your friend here tonight?"

"She's in a bad mood. Do you're thing." Maria demands.

"Hehee...sprinkles or no?"

"Of-fucking-course sprinkles." With Maria's statement, Tristan makes his way into the kitchen as Maria holds me where I am, supposedly for suspense, perhaps forgetting she's told me before about her brother's cheesecake ice cream supreme. Still, this is just more of her kindness I'm taking for granted, so the least I can do is play along. "Hey, you done in there?!" Maria calls out.

"Gimme a break, this here is art!" He yells back, before making a satisfied sigh. "Alright, get your asses in here!" Feeling her eager pushing, I put a bit of pep in my step, as we both arrive inside the kitchen, where a bowl of cherry cheesecake ice cream lathered in cherry glaze and sprinkles is waiting for me. It looks like it's gonna kill me. God I can't wait to eat this shit.

A quick thank you to her brother before I finally dig in, Maria telling me all about her memories of that place her and her brother found. It sounds interesting, I admit, again. I try to visualize it in my head as I eat, but it's a little hard to stay focused on one thing when I can feel stress devouring me from one end. Regardless, just standing there next to her does make me feel a bit better. It...brings back some memories.

"You've been rubbing it a lot lately." Maria points out as, once again, my thumb has found its way to my ring.

"It's comforting." I reply.

"Fair enough...I hope you aren't missing her too much today."

"I miss her everyday." My voice falters a little as I look down into my bowl.

"I know." I feel her arms wrap around me as she says it, her face buried in the back of my hair. "That's why I won't let you go." She says it almost stubbornly.

"Geez, there's...no need for that."

"There is." She mumbles. "So you don't leave too." Slowly, I move a hand to touch her arm.

"I'm not going anywhere. I promise." I say it, and even as I do, it feels like a lie. It doesn't prove very comforting, her grip on me only tightening.

"Let me make sure." She whispers.

"Okay." Setting my empty bowl down, I stay in her arms, my eyes focusing in on the clock above the oven. 8:09. Nothing special, and yet, it causes a chill to go down my spine. As if something awful were bounding towards me. I feel my grasp on her arm tighten. "Maria, we should-"

Smash!

Something comes flying through the kitchen window. Pulling away, me and Maria stand apart, staring at whatever the hell is right in front of us. It's...the fuck is it? Long and sharp looking. Before I can get a good grasp, more of them start appearing, poking through the wall, though thankfully not making it all the way through. Sometime during this, I can see Maria going for her phone, ducking down as she calls 911. Her call with them is brief, just making sure they understand that something is shooting at us from outside. Meanwhile, more of those fucking things keep slamming through the wall, to the point I'm concerned it'll collapse. Maria grabs my hand, pulling me away to the living room, as another shoots through the window. Once in there, I can see Tristan pulling a shotgun off the mantle, before looking through a box next to it, pulling out an ammo carton.

"Didn't think I'd need to ever use this shit in my life. Lucky me." I can hear his voice quiver as he speaks, loading the thing up. I can hear the wall in the kitchen start to crack. Whatever's out there is about to have its in. Before I can panic, I feel Maria grab my hand.

"It's alright. We'll be just fine. Just focus on me ok?" She asks of me, trying to keep my eyes focused on her. I give a nod, doing my best to do as she says as I can hear the wall in the other room getting closer and closer to collapse. God please just stop. Stop stop, I can't take this! A violent crash and the sound of debris falling signals its arrival inside. Tristan shakily holds the gun higher, trying his best to not miss when it comes time to shoot.

He doesn't get the chance. One of those things shoots right through the gun, and nearly his head before he dodges, going for a fire poker as it comes closer and...I...

Through my leg, something large and sharp has penetrated my knee.

I turn and see something in the distance, watching me. 

This...this is a dream, right? Trying to blink it away does nothing. It's...the same beast...I saw in my dream. I feel my whole body start to quake at that. The inability to even guess at what's happening is too much for me. I stumble back, falling on my ass, causing it to change targets, staring straight at me. Feeling as if I'm staring death itself in the face, I feel the urge to perhaps cry. I see Maria trying to get in its way, but it shoots her in the leg once, sending her falling to her side as it keeps its gaze locked on me. H...help. Help me. Please, I...I don't wanna-

A screech. Something has slammed through the things head, causing it to convulse and let out a dying scream before it falls to its side, blood oozing from its head. Not...sure what to say, I feel my gaze drawn to the sudden, new figure that seems to have entered without my noticing. Dressed only in brown cloth, her short red hair and empty golden gaze draws me in almost instantly. This...is this real? My gaze, flowing down this person's arm, sees the sheen from something on her finger. A ring. A ring like mine. A name catches in my throat.

"B-Bridg...et..." I feel come out. 

In those eyes, I see a twinkle.

Purgatory's Gate