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|Grizzly led the way into the building with me following close behind. Soon as I enter, I’m hit by the scent of sweat and men. It’s almost overpowering, so intense that I know this is an extremely hardcore gym and tent up almost immediately. It takes a good bit of concentration to will myself soft. As Grizzly walked up to the main bar, the guy behind it looked up and started beam a smile.
“Grizzly! How have you been man?”
“I’ve been doing ok Jasper. I’d like you guys to meet someone. Where’s Armstrong and Sam?”
The guy stood up and leaned slightly around the corner, “ARMSTRONG! SAM! SOMEONE’S HERE TO SEE YOU!” The guy’s voice reverberated through the gym and soon after, I saw two huge guys walking towards us. They were almost as big as Grizzly, but where Grizzly was a powerlifting bear, these two look more like off season bodybuilders.
The duo was shirtless. They had a light covering of hair across their entire front, less than Grizzly, but enough to be noticed from a distance. Their chests were barreled, tapering down to a slim waist and a soft six-pack. Their arms rivaled Grizzly’s massive cannons and their shoulders look like they were armored. They had amazingly thick necks, and on upward, a crew cut and goatee. The two massive guys walked up to Grizzly and gave him a giant bear hug, one right after the other.
“Sam, Armstrong, this here’s Gabe. He’s our muscle bear cub in training. He’s tagging along with me for the next two weeks.”
“Pleased to meet you sirs,” I said as politely as I could.
“Aw, he’s a cute one. And he’s so polite. Your parents must be so proud,” the taller one without glasses said to me. I blushed and smiled as he bent over and picked me up in a bear hug. I returned his powerful embrace with what I had as he introduced himself as Armstrong. I enthralled myself in the feel of his thick muscle and hairy chest. The slighty shorter one with the glasses grabbed me afterwards and called himself Sam.
“So guys, before we start working out, I have a favor to ask,” Grizzly started after Sam had placed me back on the floor. “Gabe here is having some troubles that our crew can’t figure out. I was hoping you guys would be able to figure something out.”
The mood instantly turned somber as the two giant guys looked at me. Sam started, “So, you wanna talk about it here or in the back?”
I point to the back and we head off that way. I look around as we walk, noticing the other big guys that are working out there. I think to myself that this place has got to be famous with the results that it gets. Plus the atmosphere seems light and cheerful, as if everyone’s enjoying the hard work they’re performing.
We enter the locker room and Sam motions for me to sit. I sat on the bench while Grizzly stood behind me. Sam and Armstrong sat across from me and started, “Well, why don’t you tell us what’s been going on, and we’ll see if we can help.”
I took a deep breath and began the recount of recent events, from the first time I snapped, to the totem pole, to my doppelganger and everything about the second time. Everyone listened intently to me as I rambled on, trying to remember every detail, no matter how small.
After all was said and done, my story told, I looked at Grizzly, then at Sam and Armstrong. Grizzly smiled at me and put his paw on my shoulder while Sam and Armstrong looked lost in thought.
“Hmmm, very interesting,” Armstrong said. “Sadly, this isn’t my field of expertise. But Sam on the other hand might be able to figure some stuff out. He’s been doing some Oneirology study and hypnosis training lately.”
I looked toward Sam. He seemed very concerned about something, so I waited patiently. Finally, he looked at me and said, “I have some thoughts, but I would like to try some hypnosis before I make any assumptions. Would you be willing to try?”
I looked back at Grizzly and said, “If papa bear here is in there, I’m willing to try.”
Sam stood up and said, “OK, let’s head to the main office. It’ll be more private in there and easier to put you under.”
We walked to the main office after Armstrong let the guy behind the counter know we were borrowing it for a while. Once inside, Sam shuffled some chairs around into a circle and directed me to one. I sat down with Grizzly to my right and Armstrong and Sam across from me.
“Now Gabe, what I’m going to need you to do is relax. Hypnosis isn’t some magic or anything, it’s simply me getting you to relax and let your subconscious come forth.” I nodded as he continued, “I want you to pick and object in the room. Something, anything you can stare at. Just something to help you to relax.”
I picked out a book on the shelf as he kept speaking in a calm, soothing tone. “Now, I want you to just look at it, it doesn’t matter what it is, and relax. Listen to the sound of my voice as you continue to look and relax.”
There was something about the sound of his voice that made me feel comfortable. “Feel yourself relaxing. Feel your feet slowly relax as you listen to me. Now feel the relaxation flow up your body. Feel it flow up your legs, your calves, your knees and your quads.” As Sam spoke, I could feel myself stretching out in the chair, slowly and willingly relaxing.
Sam continued to speak slowly and soothingly, “Now feel your torso. Feel it getting heavier as you look at your object. Feel the relaxation coursing up your body and your heart rate slow down as your breathing gets deeper.” My eyes started to droop as I felt myself succumbing to his induction. I could have fought it, but I wanted to do it badly so we could get our answers.
“Feel your arms stretching out as the relaxation hits them. Feel the arms slowly loosen up as you listen to my voice.” By this time, I was fading in and out. I knew where I needed to go. As Sam counted down, I flew to a now very familiar spot in my mind.
I floated down to the totem pole once again to find my doppelganger standing there with a smirk on his face. “Sam and Armstrong are fucking hot, aren’t they,” he said.
“Yeah, they are quite the muscle bears. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re partners. Two bears that good looking would not be single.”
“So, why didn’t you say so earlier? Didn’t they deserve the compliment?”
I nodded in agreement as I wondered. It was such a simple question, but I didn’t have the answer to it. Even now, with such a straightforward statement, my alter has me thinking.
“Can you still hear them talking? I think they’re trying to ask something,” I said.
“Yeah, I can hear them perfectly clear. This is the part where I take over and explain everything. You can stay here and watch.” With that, my doppelganger waved his hand and the darkness cleared to show me sitting in the room with Sam, Armstrong and Grizzly. He started to fade from view as my body started to stir.
I watched as my body woke up and started to speak. “You know, you three bears are some of the hottest things we’ve ever seen,” I heard myself say. But it wasn’t my voice, it was my doppelganger’s sexy baritone that came from my mouth.
“Gabe?” Grizzly questioned.
“Yes…and no papa bear.”
“What do you mean?” Armstrong asked, slightly disturbed.
“What I mean is, I’m Gabriel, but not the shy cub that you’ve come to know. I’m not some evil spirit or haunting or anything as cliché as that. I’m something a bit more metaphysical. What I am now is what he wants to be, deep down inside of him. I’m the manifestation of all his desire and his aspirations, so hidden and repressed that he doesn’t even know what I represent. Right now, he’s going through a period of self-discovery, so to speak. We’ve chatted a few times and he’s trying to figure out the answer to the biggest question of all: Who am I.”
The bears looked at each other. They were confused, just like I was, but nodded for my doppelganger to continue. “Now, since you’ve hypnotized him, we agreed to let me come to the surface and explain everything to you to put your fears at rest. Sadly, Gabe won’t remember this conversation since he has to discover everything for himself, and I want you to promise me that you will not speak of what I am about to tell you.”
Armstrong was the first to respond, “Why should we not tell him? Why should we believe you?”
My doppelganger folded my arms across my chest and responded, “After you hear me out, you’ll understand completely why he can’t know.”
Everyone turned to each other. After a few moments, Grizzly relented, “Ok, but if we’re not convinced when you’re done, we’re telling Gabe everything.”
My doppelganger laughed and said, “Oh trust me Grizzly, you’ll be quite convinced when I’m done explaining.”
Then, suddenly, the window that I was watching dimmed and all the sounds stopped. I could hear nothing in the darkness and I couldn’t see anything besides the totem pole and my body not moving. Then, I saw the trio of bears reactions as I spoke, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. They went from shock, to sadness to anger. The full gambit of emotion was run. Grizzly even got up angrily and punched a corner of the desk off, splintering the oak beneath his fist. His anger was quickly cooled by my doppelganger and the other bears. Then, when it was finally all said and done after about twenty minutes of talking, I could see all three bears sitting there with huge beaming smiles on their faces.
The hole in the darkness that I was watching slowly began to brighten and I could hear again. “So, now you understand why Gabe can’t know. I assume I have your words as muscle bears and Gabe’s guides that you won’t speak of anything I said.”
The three nodded as Grizzly said, “I would have never guessed. You’ve told us a lot more than we could have ever guessed. I think we understand now. But, there’s one last thing. I presume it’s you that is the ‘berserker mode’ that Gabe has experienced twice.”
My doppelganger nodded, “Yes, when he is like that, it was because I was forced to take control for a brief moment in time.”
“We have to make sure Gabe doesn’t do that too much anymore. How do we handle it?”
“It’s not up to me. I only take over when there’s no other choice. Gabe will have to figure out why that’s happening. Since he can hear us now, I’m sure he’s pondering the real question and the answer.”
Of course, my doppelganger was right. Immediately I went to wondering why he had to take over in those two situations. In my gut though, I knew it had to do with the first conversation we had. But before I could continue my personal inquiry, my doppelganger said, “Ok, it’s time for me to go talk to Gabe before I return control to him. Remember, all you guys have a huge part to play, even you two Sam and Armstrong. Not just for yourself or Gabe. It’s important that he has your support and your protection because he WILL need it.”
My head fell to my chest and soon after, my doppelganger materialized in front once again with his grin on his face. “You are a cryptic son of a, aren’t ya,” I said.
A deep laugh from his chest resonated through the darkness as he responded, “Yup, I can be at some times. So, what did we learn today?”
I stared at him for a moment before I responded, “The only thing I’m sure of is that I don’t know anything.”
My doppelganger clapped his hands and said, “And that is the first step to understanding.”
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