The lights were off, the curtains drawn. If anyone had walked in they would have thought I was asleep. But the weak rays of light that managed to seep through the flimsy curtain illuminated the movements of my body on the bed. My hand kept clenching and unclenching on the rumpled coverlet. Stress had been building inside me for days, and now, finally, it threatened to explode, taking me with it. The cool pillow did nothing to relieve the suffocating heat of my body. With a sigh I changed my position for what must have been the fortieth time, vainly searching for physical and mental solace among the folds of my blankets.
Finally admitting to myself that I wasnt going to be able to even catch a few winks, I dragged myself off the mattress and took a turn about the room. I passed the mirror once, then twice, and as I passed it a third time, my heart leapt in fear. I had seen someone other than myself in the reflection! My mirror hangs on the wall directly opposite the door to my room, so that when a person enters, they immediately see themselves reflected before anything else. Thinking a stranger had somehow entered my room, I whipped my head around to look at the door but it was closed and locked against intruders, as always. Feeling a shiver run down my spine, I slowly turned once more towards the mirror. And there she was. A girl, seeming to be about my height and age, and dressed in a style similar to mine. But, the last and most forceful thing to register in my brain was that not only did she look exactly like me, but was also standing behind me. No, this was no mere reflection. In fact, my reflection was looking back at me as dumbstruck. This girl, on the other hand, had on her face a lazy, sardonic smile, which seemed to say she had been expecting my reaction.
I turned around to face the intruder. But I turned to nothing; no one was standing there. When I looked back at the mirror, the trespasser was leaning casually on the doorjamb and had raised her eyebrows at me. By then my hair was standing on end. My face had gone pale, my hands and feet had gone cold, and I was fighting a losing battle not to scream. Before I could do anything, however, the figure brought her hands down on my shoulders, and smilingly steered me to the small stool in front of my dresser. My legs, having turned to jelly, mindlessly obeyed. She sat me down and then, to my added surprise spoke.
Yes, I know you want to scream, and I know you think Im a ghost, and no you havent lost it yet. She ended the sentence with a wolfish grin. I hadnt even realised that I could look like that while grinning, and let me tell you, this female was a carbon copy of me. She was also right in that I couldnt decide if she was a physical entity or some spirit come to haunt me from the astral plane.
Needing to know if she was actually there, I slowly brought my hands up to confirm her grip on my shoulders, and to my amazement, they were there two proper hands, replicas of my own, warm and alive. I inhaled to scream, only to have one of her hands clamp itself over my mouth.
Before you start screaming your head off, let me explain. Creating a ruckus in the household is a bad idea for no one will be able to see me but you. I am not an intruder, as you first thought, nor am I a ghost, as you just found for yourself. The truth is a little more complicated: I am the fire elemental that has lain dormant inside of you since the day you were born. Your body and mind had finally ripened far enough for me to gain a material body of my own, and I must say, I am quite glad that Im finally to be free
By then I knew for sure that I was hallucinating, dreaming, or stark, raving mad. Smiling, I nodded to whatever my double was saying, certain that I would snap out of this delusion soon enough. She seemed to know what was I thinking for at that instant she gave me a resounding slap on the cheek. I was so startled, that all I could do was press my hand against my stinging face.
I hope that assures you that you arent dreaming all of this because I dont like having to slap my likeness! she snarled, with a fearsome glint in her eye. Now that you finally seem to understand that I am real in most senses, I hope I can finish explaining the situation.
Following this extremely undignified treatment, I was subjected to a lecture on elementals to which I paid rapt attention.
Elementals, she barked, are a physical manifestation of a particular element within a person. A small percentage of people in the world are born with dormant elementals within them, and most of these people live out their lives and die without ever realising this power and potential. A chosen few are able to discover and unleash their elementals, if they dont damage or destroy themselves in the process. Those who do manage this are able to ascend to the pinnacle of fame and fortune established by Mankind, all with the help of their elemental, of course. Upon uttering the last sentence, her voice almost seemed to gain a haughty tone.
When she had finished her very basic explanation, she raised a single eyebrow at me, inviting me to ask any questions that I might have. Now that I had accepted the reality of the situation I had many queries waiting to burst forth from me. So what are elementals based on? What are the elements? And how do they affect the people theyre attached to? I fired at her, impatient to know.
Smiling indulgently at my curiosity, she continued with her lesson.
Elementals are normally of the basic orders of the elements that form Gaia: those being fire, water, air, and earth. But every now and then in special circumstances, one human being can contain a rare elemental embodying a solar or a lunar aspect, or even possess more than one elemental inside them at once, which is extremely exceptional indeed. The elemental had a spiritual form of its own, she explained, but its physical manifestation will always be a reproduction of the individual it has split from.
At first, to me, it sounded like a bunch of hocus pocus, but then she demonstrated to me some of the things she was capable of. Igniting my bedroom curtains with a mere flick of her fingers, for instance. That put the seal on it. I had no choice but to believe her. But I still had trouble accepting that I, of all people, had harboured an elemental within myself all this time. When I expressed my amazement, she just smiled mysteriously and said that I didnt need to worry my head about those things yet. She also told me that no one but me or any other elemental would ever be able to see her, so I didnt need to worry about explaining the sudden acquisition of an identical twin.
But then, how am I able to touch you
my voice trailed off as I realised from her annoyed expression I had probably asked a very dumb question.
Only you, or the elemental of another person can touch and feel me as a physical being. Everyone else will just pass right through me. She replied with a touch of asperity.
Then, much to my astonishment, she formally introduced herself. I have many names, of which you may call me Kehai or Blaze, depending upon the occasion. She said loftily, her arrogance apparent in the condescending manner with which she dropped her words on me. I was too busy comparing her appearance to mine to be offended, but I decided that later Id take her down a peg or two myself, if that was possible.
I noted there were only subtle differences between her look and mine. The clothes she wore were articles I had in my own wardrobe. But for adornment in her ears, she was wearing a pair of tiny ruby studs, and there seemed to be a similar scarlet crystal embedded next to her right eye.
After our initial encounter, she left me alone for a few days, giving me time to recover from the shock and figure out what I was supposed to do with an elemental on my hands. I wasnt inclined to using her at all. For some reason I just didnt like the idea of depending on her for anything that I was sure I could manage on my own. So, for a time, she slipped to the back of my mind and life continued as normally as possible.
About a week after her first visit, she came to see me again. I opened the door to my room to find her seated majestically on the edge of my bed, resplendent in a gown of dancing red and gold. About her throat and wrists, there were large links of gold crafted into the form of flames. Little sparks seemed to dance about her at random, giving her a mysterious, ethereal aura.
She had come to inform me that the time had come for me to pass a formal test before I could have access to her or her powers. If I failed I would lose her forever, and with her a part of myself. I was more than a little affronted by this explained to her that I didnt want to use her powers like that and that she was free to do whatever she wanted. She seemed to take a mighty lot of offence at this because the moment I uttered those words, she swelled in stature. Her eyes threw sparks and her voice boomed within the meagre confines of my bedroom. She literally roared at me to get my brains back from wherever Id left them, and informed me in an infuriated tone of voice that I had no choice in the matter and that the test could happen at any moment. After this, she whirled away in a burst of flames, leaving me bewildered at the sudden turn of events that had been thrust upon me.
After that day I was in constant fear of being tested in some unexpected situation and failing utterly. I was constantly on the lookout for strange situations or circumstances, hoping and praying that I would be able to avoid being caught in their midst. What I didnt realise was that the test would take the form of a perfectly ordinary, everyday event.
Throughout the strange happenings of the past week, I had continued looking forward to the school athletics tryouts that were approaching. When the day finally dawned, I felt confident and ready to take on the world. That is, until I met Candice, the star athlete of the college team, and the resident bitch as well. The moment she and her cronies noticed me in the locker room, they lost no time expressing their dislike. Fortunately, having been subjected to their taunts for several years, I had learned to tune them out when they started with their useless yapping. Candice, whose intelligence I deemed to be below average, finally seemed to realise that I wasnt paying attention to what she thought were jewels falling from her mouth. She laughed coldly, and commented that I didnt stand a chance of regaining my spot on the team, what with the new students being so superior to me. For some reason, that particular barb managed to make its way past my mental barrier and strike home.
When I stepped out onto the field and saw the number of people trying out, my heart sank, taking my confidence with it. I began to tremble slightly, my palms becoming sweaty. As there were such a large number of people trying out, everyone was divided into teams. My luck seemed to be on holiday, for I turned out to be in the same group as Candice. She took the opportunity to drop a few more jibes on my head, and I tried my level best to ignore her, but the day just seemed to be strewn with disasters.
We lined up for the 400-meter race. The moment the shot was fired, I released all my pent up anger and allowed my body to put forward its best. But within a few seconds I stumbled, losing the position I had gained. I had ample time to catch up, but instead of regaining my position, I only seemed to fall further behind. Despair was rapidly draining my bodys reserves, and three-quarters through the race I was in the last position.
Strangely enough, at that moment I saw the face of Blaze in my mind, and her scornful expression infuriated me. When I realised, that that was what I would have to face if I lost, something inside me gave way. My body drew on its physical reserves, and I began pumping forward ever faster, until I thought my heart would burst.
In addition, I could have sworn that some unseen force was pushing me along the track lending me even greater speed.
Within a few seconds I was catching up to Candice, who was leading the pack, and exhilaration flooded me. With a burst of speed, I passed her in the last seconds of the race and gained the first position for myself. As I stumbled to a halt beyond the finish line, I was so joyful that I would have erupted into squeals of delight if Id had any breath left. When I looked up, panting, Blaze, was standing a mere foot from me. She was dressed like me, in a pair of loose shorts and sleeveless T-shirt. When I grinned at her, she smiled back, a favourable gleam in her eyes.
Youve passed the test, she curtly informed me. Before I could respond, she continued, wash yourself before you infect me with your stink dear. With a knowing smirk she looked me over and then held out her hand for me to shake. Shivering with excitement, I grabbed it and shook it.
Chuckling, both of us left for the locker room, leaving Candice fuming and shrieking to her cronies about the injustice of it all, and the coach nodding approvingly over my performance. When I was done with my shower and the room was empty I took the time to question Blaze about the test.
Ok, so what was the test really? I was supposed to win the race? Was that all? I said, raising my eyebrows at her as I towelled my hair dry. Well no, not that alone. You were supposed to show me the determination and resolve to win, to be able to break the barrier between us. You managed both the tasks admirably. In fact, unconsciously you were even able to draw upon the dormant power that lies in you, through me she replied, examining herself in the mirror.
Feeling the glorious wave of success wash over me, I began to dance around the stalls with joy, when to my surprise; a small swirl of water rose from the floor and hung in mid air before me. It stretched itself out in front of me, and twirling about formed itself into a clone of me.
She was dressed just like Blaze, only instead of rubies she wore sapphire studs in her ears, and there was an azure crystal next to her right eye. For a moment she just exchanged a meaningful glance with my fiery twin, who, in turn, seemed to be extremely amused at the horrified look on my face. Before I could react, she stretched out her hand and with an easy smile introduced herself.
Hi! Im your water elemental, and I have a lot of names just like Kehai here, she piped, but you can call me Torrent, or Nirvei, depending upon the ocassion.
I only had time to give them both a bewildered look before, and I am ashamed to say this, ladies and gentlemen, I fainted.