Chapter Eight


How could this happen to me?
I made my mistakes
I've got no where to run
The night goes on
As I'm fading away

Everybody's screaming
I try to make a sound but no one hears me
I'm slipping off the edge
I'm hanging by a thread
I wanna start this over again
"Untitled" by Simple Plan

"Hey Cody," The angel greeted smiling warmly at him. He had to squint his eyes in order to better see as he was nearly blinded by the golden light. Almost as if reading his mind, the angel's light greatly diminished so that Cody could see him better. There were no wings or a halo, just an ordinarily dressed young man with a soft glow of light around him. What he was seeing…it just wasn't possible.

"Cody?" The angel repeated his name, stepping into the room and stopping a few feet away from him. Cody just stared at his mirror image, not comprehending what he saw until a sheepish grin spread across the angel's face. His heart beat faster and his spirits soared.


"It's really me Codes," Zack reassured him. Before he let his logical mind get to work, Cody stepped forward and embraced his twin brother, surprised at how warm and real he felt. His heart ached from the pang of hope that he felt, knowing that that hope would most likely be crushed.

"But you drowned…" Cody whispered as tears of shame ran down his cheeks at the thought of how he had let go of Zack in order to save himself.

"So I did, and yes Cody I am very much dead…" There it was…The hope Cody had felt for a few brief seconds that his brother might somehow be alive was crushed. Zack's tone conveyed no blame either which only further increased Cody's self loathing.

"Then how…?" His logical mind suddenly took over and he broke away from his dead brother, peering at him curiously.

"I came back like this to help you," Zack answered gesturing at his body, the soft golden glow surrounding him briefly flickered brighter in response.

"Help me?" How could Zack, who was dead, help Cody? Why would he want to? Cody was the one who had sealed his fate after all… That was when he was shocked to see Zack's face morph into an anguished expression and tears begin to form in the corners of his eyes.

"You're dying Cody."

"No I'm not."

"Yes you are Cody. You're drowning even now." Zack looked away and out the window. Cody followed his gaze and saw a deluge of rainwater racing past outside. They must be in the thick of the storm now.

"What?" Cody was baffled by this…How could he be drowning if he were right here safe and dry on the twenty third floor of the Tipton?

"Your mind refuses to let go of life and it has created this illusion in which it can live in."

"No, no that's not possible." It went against everything Cody knew about death. He had heard of people seeing their life flash before their eyes just before they died, but he had never heard of anything like this. Zack was trying to tell him that he was dying and his mind had constructed a fantasy world for him to live in?

"Always my rational little brother," Zack chuckled softly before returning to his serious tone, "Think about it, the dreams you've been having, the depictions of your own death entering your thoughts at random, everyone vanishing and everything in the world growing dark around you. Your life is almost gone and your body and mind are shutting down from the lack of oxygen."

"NO!" Cody stumbled backward and sat down heavily on the floor. He didn't want to believe it, but the more he thought about it, the more it seemed that Zack was telling him the truth. He had no other explanation for how everyone else had disappeared. Zack sat down next to him and hung his head.

"Our lives are over Cody…"

"Does it hurt?"



"Not really. It's just like going to sleep after a really long day." Zack explained thoughtfully from where he sat on the couch with Cody beside him, leaning his head on the older twin's shoulder. Cody had suddenly found himself becoming very tired and he felt worn out. It was also getting harder to breathe…probably a sign that his real body was starved of oxygen.

"Zack I'm so sorry I let go of you…I wanted to save you,"

"You couldn't have saved me. Stop beating yourself up over it."

"Okay…So what happens now?" Cody dropped the subject by asking the one question that he wasn't sure he wanted to hear the answer too.

"We wait for the end." Zack said simply.

"Will you stay with me?"

"I've been by your side for your entire life. I'm not about to leave you now…"

Minutes passed in silence, Cody felt like several hours had gone by. He decided to talk again as he was now fighting to stay awake, his eyelids were growing extremely heavy.

"Zack…I love you."

"I know Codes, I know. Rest now, I'll be here when you wake up. Zack said softly, his voice was so soothing to hear that it nearly put him to sleep by making him completely relax. He yawned for several seconds, his eyes closing.

"What happens when I…?" Cody never finished the question as his voice trailed off into an incoherent mumble and his body completely relaxed against his brother's. Zack sat there for a moment longer as Cody's reality collapsed, the storm destroying everything around him, and watched as he drew his last breath in the fantasy world before lying still. The warm tears that had been threatening to fall from his eyes for what seemed like forever finally washed over his cheeks as Zachary said goodbye to his baby brother in the instant before everything vanished into darkness.

"Hey wake up!" Cody opened his eyes slowly, expecting the light to blind him or wake up feeling groggy. Neither of these things happened though as he sat up in a warm and comfortable bed. Before he had an opportunity to look around and figure out where he was at, Zack came into his field of view looking completely normal now without the golden light around him. In fact he looked ready to hit the beaches judging by how he was dressed in swimming trunks, a colorful red Hawaiian shirt, flip flops and a pair of sunglasses resting just above his forehead in his hair.

"Zack?" He rolled his eyes as though Cody had said something stupid.

"Get dressed sleepyhead, it's time to leave." Zack instructed. It was time to leave? Where were they going? Cody was deeply confused…Was he dead now or was this just another one of his fantasies? Then the other part of Zack's instructions registered as Cody realized that he was fully naked under the bed sheets and looking around the spartan room he saw no clothes.

"But there's no clothes…" Cody replied, looking around the room again thinking he might have missed seeing them. Zack rolled his eyes again and grinned sheepishly from where he stood in the doorway.

"You can wear whatever you want, just visualize it. How about the blue Hawaiian shirt like mine that mom sent you and your favorite pair of swimming trunks?" Cody immediately remembered wearing that attire the last time he had gone swimming in the pool on the S.S. Tipton. Instantly he found his favorite beach clothing on his body. Intrigued by this he got out of bed and found a pair of comfortable sandals waiting for him on the floor and a pair of expensive cool looking sunglasses on the nightstand beside the bed. Cody put them on and turned to Zack.

"How do I look?"

"You look like a dork," Zack replied, using the same inflection in his voice as he used to when he was twelve and that was his favorite thing to say to his twin. Cody grinned and followed his brother out of the room. It was just like old times.

"So where are we going?" Cody wondered aloud as Zack led him through a modest looking house and out the front door, "Better yet, what is this place?"

"This is the real world Codes, no more fantasies. We're in California right next to the beaches," Zack explained, gesturing off to his left where Cody saw the vast expanse of blue-green water that was the Pacific Ocean. He stood there a moment taking in the view of the waves crashing against the beach where all manner of people crowded enjoying the afternoon under the sun. Eventually Zack tapped him on the shoulder and motioned him to follow. Cody soon found himself standing in front of a payphone.

"What are we doing here?"

"I thought you might like to say goodbye to mom."

"But it's been two months since the accident!" Cody protested, partially amazed that even dead he could make a phone call and also horrified at the thought of what he would put his mother through if she suddenly picked up the phone and talked to the son she had grieved over for two months. Zack simply shook his head.

"That was your mind's fantasy world Cody. The ship just sank and we just died a few minutes ago in the real world," Zack contradicted him before picking up the phone and handing it to Cody.

"Are we allowed to do this? I mean we're ghosts right?"

"Allowed? No, but when have we always followed the rules?" Cody shrugged and dialed the number for his mother's cell phone. Zack touched his shoulder gently as the phone started ringing and he looked back questioningly at his brother.

"We're angels Cody, not ghosts. Ghosts are people who left behind unfinished work and are unable to let go of their old lives. Angels are good people who lived life to its fullest and have no regrets about dying." Cody processed this information for a few seconds before he heard the phone pickup.

"Hello?" Carey Martin asked and Cody felt his heart ache, knowing that he would never again be able to see and embrace his mother again.

"Hey mom, it's Cody."

"Hi sweetheart! You guys must want something huh? You don't call that often and now both of you in the same day," Carey said in a happy tone. He knew that she wasn't mad at them, rather she felt loved by her children. Cody hated the fact that she would soon find out the horrible truth…

"Cody are you ok?" He realized that he had been unable to speak, leaving a long pause in their conversation.

"Yeah mom, I'm fine now."

"Did you need something honey?"

"I just wanted to call and…" What? What was he supposed to tell her? 'Hi mom, my body's dead in the northern Atlantic ocean, but I'm an angel now and I'm calling you from sunny California?' It sounded so absurd when he thought about it.

"I understand, you just wanted to talk to me right?" How did mothers always know? What he really wanted more than anything was to just talk to her, but he just didn't know what to say…

"Yeah…I just wanted to tell you that I'm doing fine now and I'll be alright because Zack's with me."

"What are you trying to say Cody?" Her voice became full of concern as she picked up on the way Cody had said he was fine and with Zack.

"I'm saying…I'm saying that I love you more than anything mom and that I wanted to tell you goodbye…" He felt like crying, but no tears would come.

"Cody what are you…?" Carey started to ask before Cody hung up the phone. He couldn't do it. He just couldn't tell her the horrible truth that her boys were dead and that they were calling her from their icy ocean graves. Cody turned to look over at Zack for guidance, but found none with his brother's back turned to him. He stood a short distance away looking out at the ocean, hands jammed into the pockets of his swimming trunks, shirt and hair rippling in the gentle breeze.

"Why don't I feel horrible about this whole ordeal?" Cody asked, deciding to join his twin and stand next to him.

"I told you Cody, angels have no regrets about dying. We lived good lives which were full of people who truly loved us. There's nothing for us to cry over."

"Seems kind of heartless…" Cody mumbled.

"Not really. Sooner or later those people will join us and we will all be reunited again. Speaking of reunions…" Zack trailed off, turning his head to look down the small road they stood next too. When Cody turned to look he felt his heart skip a beat, if that was what that was anyway, as his eyes gazed upon the beauty of Bailey.

"Zack?" Cody asked tentatively as she approached them.

"The Tipton is the worst oceanic disaster in history, few survived." So Bailey was dead like them…She made a really beautiful angel Cody couldn't help thinking.

"Cody Martin, it's about time!" Bailey teased as she came forward and wrapped him up in a hug before pulling back slightly to kiss him on the lips.

"I love you Bailey," Cody blurted out when she released the amazing kiss. She smiled in a way only women can.

"I know you do and I love you too you goof."

"So what happens now?" Cody asked, looking from Bailey to Zack and back again.

"Now we help other angels accept their deaths and we can also have a little fun together. When we're ready, we'll move on." Zack answered coolly walking down toward the beach. Cody and Bailey followed and soon they were walking in the warm sand, everyone around them totally oblivious to their presence.

"Move on?" Cody inquired as Bailey's hand found his.

"The next life Cody," Bailey explained softly, "We can stay like this forever or we can have another go at life." He was momentarily speechless as he came to grips with that piece of information. He could live again if he wanted to or he could stay with Zack and Bailey forever?

"You don't have to decide anything right now, just enjoy this beautiful day at the beach," Zack said, reading his twin brother's reaction. Zack was right, Cody thought, it was definitely a beautiful day to be at the beach.

Something went wrong aboard the SS Tipton during a ferocious storm in the northern Atlantic Ocean while returning from touring Europe which resulted is the worst disaster in the history of ocean going vessels. There were almost no survivors as the ship rapidly sunk, trapping hundreds inside and drowning hundreds more as those who were able to get off the ship in time were pulled under in the Tipton's wake. Many of the survivors who made it out and far enough away succumbed to the freezing waters before the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard rescuers reached the scene.

Zack and Cody Martin were among the trapped passengers inside of the ship, but unlike most they were lucky enough to have found an air pocket allowing them to breathe even as the massive ship rapidly sunk. The boys managed to get outside of the Tipton and made a break for the surface, but they don't realize just how far down they already were and with the Tipton's wake pulling them down, they never reach the surface. Zack drowns first and a minute later Cody starts to fade from oxygen deprivation himself.

People who have had near death experiences say that life flashes before their eyes, but in Cody's case his mind created a fantasy world that allowed him to live two months in that one minute between his brother's death and his own. Cody's world falling apart around him is just his mind's way of responding to how his body is shutting down and how he is getting closer to the end of his life. When everything goes dark he is visited by his brother, now an Angel, who helps him face the end.

With the twins now accepting that their lives are over, they are able to move on as Angels to help other good people leave their old lives behind and also enjoy each other's company. Carey Martin is absolutely devastated…Kurt Martin and Maddie Fitzpatrick, who put her college on hold, came to comfort her and be there with her for the funeral of not only her sons, but London and Moseby as well.

Carey left the Tipton soon after, unable to work at a place where there were so many good memories and feeling that the place was empty without all of the people she had loved. She got back together with Kurt, the only family she really had left, and they lived a peaceful life together. They made a memorial for Zack and Cody when they settled down in Pennsylvania, advocated better safety measures and regulations for commercial transports and eventually became speakers for child safety in addition to helping people get through the same grief that they experienced in the wake of losing a child.

Carey probably would never have gotten out of her depression if she hadn't noticed one little fact a couple of months after the accident. After the preliminary investigation was done, she knew the exact time that the massive ship had sunk. The Tipton had gone down at 6:15pm Eastern. Zack and Cody had both called her to tell her that they loved her and that they wanted to say goodbye at 6:19pm and 6:23pm respectively. How had they called her? Surely there was no phone reception out there in the middle of the ocean, especially when the ship was underwater at that time…

She could never figure it out, but she didn't care how it had happened. All that she cared about was that her baby boys had called her to say goodbye and tell her that they loved her. Something Cody had said always nagged Carey in the back of her mind though. He had said that he was fine now and that he would be alright because he was with Zack now. It sounded almost like he was calling her from the grave, but that was a preposterous idea.

Still, Carey wondered what had happened to Zack and Cody. Did they move on to the next life? Did they simply cease to exist? Were they still around in some way? She wondered because several nights when she found it hard to sleep, she could have sworn that there was someone in the room with her telling her 'good night' and resting a comforting hand against the side of her face which lulled her to sleep. Carey would awaken the next morning not sure if it had all been a dream or not.

A/N: Somnium of Nex (Latin, meaning: Dream of Violent Death)

Well there you have it, the long awaited ending to the story. It's tragic in a way that the twins couldn't be saved, but uplifting knowing that they are well and happy in their new existence.

I'm honestly not sure what exactly inspired this story, but it all started because I wanted to write an original tragedy in which both twins died, but wasn't immediately recognizable as such. I also wanted to give it a surprise twist which I accomplished with Cody's dream world and an uplifting ending whereby we see Zack and Cody in a happy setting with endless possibilities spread out before them.

I wanted to include an epilogue to bring closure to the story, but I didn't think it could stand on its own as a chapter, so I attached it to the end of the story and I think it fits there for reading everyone and thanks for reviewing! I love hearing from you all! I'm keeping my profile here updated with news about my travels in Iraq so keep checking there if you wanna see how I'm doing.

My next project is called "Truth Seeker", it's a prequel to "The Chaos Demons". Once Somnium has had it's final fifteen minutes of fame I'll start publishing it here. The prologue and two chapters are finished already, and it's really good if I do say so myself.

Until then, keep it real.

~ Kulmanari