Other Lives is a fan fiction written by ElectricFire 169.
Author's Note Edit
Many people have tried before me to portray surrounding the early years of Gregory and the events surrounding his disappearance and subsumption by the insane alter ego Jimmy Casket, and his later rehabilitation and rebirth as paranormal investigator extraordinaire Johnny Ghost, with varying results. This is my own version, which incorporates elements from a few of the previous attempts blended with more recent information and my own not-coming-soon story Business Unusual. I hope that this story compliments what little canon we have on the subject and all previous and subsequent attempts to add to it.
"Why's she not responding? You don't think-"
"Stay here. I'll go check."
Leah begrudgingly nodded as Johnny Toast took hold of the bannister and made his way ever so quietly up the staircase.
"Cheryl?" he called again. "We have to get going, Cheryl."
A loose step creaked noisily beneath Toast's shoes and he winced at the sound, even holding his breath for several seconds. There wasn't any point in doing so - if he was there he would already have heard that - but the deeper minutae of rational thought had already long passed them by.
He turned at the top step and came up to more steps to the landing. Four closed doors greeted him.
"Do you see anything up there?" Leah asked, tension apparent in her voice. Toast raised a finger archly to his lips. Presently she pursed her own lips as he stepped forward towards the first door, out of her view.
Johnny took a deep breath and, for what seemed to him an eternity, weighed up his options. What would he find beyond each? Would he find them alive and well? Would he find that- that monster - carving them up? He didn't know what to expect.
Again, Leah called up. "Johnny?"
Johnny almost jumped at this. "I'm fine. Look, can you go make sure Ben and Norberg are out of the house?"
Leah's eyebrows dropped at this, and the time of her voice as she replied "fine" reflected this. She didn't appreciate him treating her like she wasn't as capable of dealing with whatever might happen next than he was, which was part of the reason that she was closer to Ben than to him. In fairness she had known Ben a little longer, having travelled across the country with him on the way specifically to find Toast. The fact that he didn't seem to consider her an equal was something she found infuriating to the nth degree.
Beyond the chauvinism Toast's manner seemed to imply, however, he was in fact deeply concerned for her wellbeing, having lost his own wife only 8 months prior.
Of course, none of that had happened yet. Mary was still out there, somewhere. She wouldn't meet him for another 6 years, and they wouldn't marry for another 5 after that. Katrina's still alive, Pit and Roast and Donnie and Barricade and all the rest are all still going to school with him and Jo-
No. His name's still Gregory, isn't it?
Of course, now really wasn't the time to think about all the nuances and peculiarities that their situation had foisted upon them - there was time enough for that when the immediate threat was alleviated.
A hand came down sharply on Toast's shoulder, startling him.
It was Leah.
"The others are all outside. What are you doing?"
Johnny held up his finger again as he fought against hyperventilation, before wheezing "don't... Scare me... Like that."
Leah faintly smirked at this. "Really Toaster, you're gonna jump at anyone just tapping your back?"
She liked calling him 'Toaster'. She was well aware he disliked the nickname and he was well aware she used it in jest rather than in mockery.
"I thought I told you to check on the others."
"I am. Two me's, remember?" She was referring of course to her younger self that Ben was in charge of looking after.
Toast eyed her disapprovingly. "She's 18 months old. What's she gonna do, fill up her nappy and throw it attim?"
"She'll be fine, Ben and Norbert are with her. Look, never mind that. This could be our last chance to change what happens here."
Johnny shook his head. "No. We e already discussed this Aleah, we can't change anything. We have no idea of the consequences if we do-"
"We have a fair idea what'll happen if we don't! Shes gonna be sent away again, he's gonna run away, it's all gonna start again. We still have time, it doesn't have to go the same way." She paused, partly for effect. "You don't have to lose her, Johnny."
Toast didn't reply, so she shrugged and pulled down the handle of the second door to the left.
"Don't you think we should-"
Toast didn't get to finish his sentence before she pushed the door to an ajar position.
"Oh, thank god. Mom, we have to get out of here, he's about to-"
The words stuck in her mouth as the figure on the bed turned around.
It was her brother - no, it wasn't her brother, she had to tell herself, it's Jimmy - sat on the bed, wearing his mother's clothes. He grinned at them, eyes wide with a dangerous, manic glee.
"Aw I'm sorry, your princess is in another castle!" He let out a terrible rattling cackle like a hyena and pounced at them. Leah slammed the door and there was the resounding thud of skull meeting wood.
For a moment all seemed quiet. Too quiet. Had he knocked himself out? Leah wondered for a moment.
Then in a moment that would stay with her for a long time after, the knife blade forced its way through the wooden panel just inches from her head. Johnny pulled her away from the door and help it as firm as he could despite Casket's incredible grip.
"What's wrong? Don't ya wanna play?"
It took all the strength he could muster to stop the door opening. The knife thrust through the door again, dangerously close to his hand.
"I'm gonna be killed by Norman Bates!" Toast grunted. "Find them! Take the roof! Go!"
Leah opened the first door; nobody in there.
Then the third. Nothing again.
Finally, she opened the fourth.
"Oh god." was all she could say.
Cheryl was sat on the floor, sobbing lightly, purple bruise marks all round her head and neck. Peter lay face up on the floor, eyes wide and lifeless, a crimson stain spreading across his chest from a hole in his shirt. Stood over him was Gregory, knife in hand, eyes just as dead.
Leah realised with absolute horror that they hadn't changed anything.
It was all going to start again.
And there was nothing they could do to stop it.