Hysteria: an uncontrollable emotional outburst, as from fear or grief, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etcetera, blah blah blah, and all that jazz. My throat and chest hurt from laughing and crying, but I was too far gone to care. That revelation of Book’s was positively the last straw. I screeched, drawing the attention of Sami and Kenzie, who came running back into the living room. Together, the two of them stared at me with matching expressions of alarm. My behavior had perturbed them, and they approached me cautiously, treating me with all the respect given to an untamed, injured animal. Book, on the other hand, snorted ungracefully in my direction, miffed, I suppose, by my reaction.
Kenzie was the first to reach my shuddering form. “Um…you okay?”
Sami snapped, “Oh course she’s not okay! She’s dead, and-and cloned and lost and wandering and-and-and this is all my fault! “ She smacked herself in the chest, and coughed. Her wince told me that she’d hurt herself with the action. Inhaling sharply, she expelled a loud whine. “I shouldn’t have taken this assignment! I don’t want to die! I don’t want to be haunted!”
“Will you shut up?” Kenzie barked, sending an exasperated glance in Sami’s direction. “It’s your fault; we get that. But you’re not helping.” A youthful face with ancient eyes peered into mine. “Kiera? Can I call you that? Should I call you Master? Is there anything I can do? Should I call the Headmistress?”
A low growling sound filled the air, and it took me a handful of disjointed seconds to realize that it was coming from me. I had backed myself into a corner; my lips were pulled away from my bared teeth, and I was probably two spit drops away from appearing feral.
“I have had enough.” I spoke in a low, dangerous voice. Sami’s wailing turned itself off without so much as a whimper, and Kenzie pulled back in a hurry, most likely in fear of losing a finger. “In less than two full days, I have died, had my power reduced, been infected with an overly talkative, self-righteous book, discovered that my apprentice–” I spat in Sami’s direction, “–was planted by my mother, learned the origin story of my craft, adopted some wayward child, and now am hearing that said child is somehow related to me!” My head swiveled; my gaze raked over each of the three beings standing frozen in place before me.
Kenzie scoffed. “You invited me, remember? I can leave when I feel like it.”
“Oh, no you don’t!” I snapped. “You’re stuck with this.” I waved my arm around. “This? This is all you will live and breathe for the unforeseeable future. Enjoy it. You’ve earned it.”
“All I did was–”
“You can see me.” My voice had gone flat, cold, and quiet. “No one should be able to see me, except the one I’m bound to, and maybe anyone powerful enough to read my energy signature in the ether, which explains why Atlantia could see me on the phone.” I stepped out of my corner, noting that Sami and Kenzie both took a few steps backward, away from me, and started pacing. I clasped my hands together behind my back and thought aloud as I meandered across the room, spun, then shuffled back to my original spot. “Additionally, both Sami and Kenzie’s signatures bear a resemblance to mine, which points to a commonality in our genetic makeup, like a-a shared relative within the last…hundred years or so.” I stopped, unclasped my hands, and threw them into the air. “I’m going to have to talk to my mother. Assuming that she’s actually my mother and not some alien life form sent to this planet for the sole purpose of brainwashing me and using me to take over the world?” I lifted an eyebrow in Book’s direction with my query.
“Don’t be absurd,” Book sniffed.
I shrugged. “Makes sense to cover all the bases, what with the way my life has been going.”
We all migrated to the kitchen after several moments of silence, the location having been decided by an unspoken consensus. It was time for a round table discussion, almost like we were a real club or something. Sami pulled out a chair for me, waited until I sat, then dropped into the seat next to me. Kenzie snagged the chair directly across from me, and Book, still wearing a parody of my face, chose to hover nearby. Sami sat her phone in the middle of the table with a thunk, leaving me to ponder what had happened to mine. In all of the confusion, I’d forgotten about it. That wasn’t like me. I wondered what else had fallen by the wayside in the last two days. Hygiene, for sure, though it wasn’t like I could stink without sweat glands and skin. I was, however, tired of looking down and seeing the same clothes I’d died in. I plucked at my shirt, twisting my mouth into a grimace as I considered spending eternity –or at least the next week or so– in this outfit.
“Yes, there is a spell for that,” Book muttered.
“Stay out of my head!” I snapped.
“I no longer reside in your consciousness, Kiera. However, I have been made as I am from your essence; therefore, I am still psychically linked to you. Additionally, it was clear what thought you were entertaining. Your emotions are very apparent.”
I looked askance at Sami, who nodded rather sheepishly.
“Fantastic,” I grumbled.
Kenzie piped up with a question. “So, what do we know, and what are we planning to do?”
“My mother is a manipulative witch, Sami is a cursed failure of a Hunter, you’re a liar and a kid, and my twin here,” I offered, counting off on my fingers, “is the embodiment of some ancient book that only I can wield, control, whatever. Oh, and some prophecy involving me and the end of the world as we know it is coming, except I’m dead and you, Kenzie, have some blood ties to my family, perhaps Sami as well. Did I miss anything?” I finished cheerfully, glancing from Kenzie’s gobsmacked expression to Sami’s more subtle terrified one. “Great. Now let’s call my mother. Sami, would you do the honors, please?” She reached for the phone, but I stopped her, remembering, again, one of my concerns. I looked over at Book. “How do I change my clothes?”
Seeing Book twist my mouth into a sneer gave me an unpleasant feeling. “Must I do everything?” the creature sighed in annoyance.
“You’re the one with all the fancy knowledge.”
“And I have just informed you that you and I are physically linked. Use your brain.” I sent Book a glare that would have withered most humans as Kenzie chortled. I turned my fiery gaze onto the kid instead.
“What?” Kenzie asked, turning away from me. “It’s funny to see you fussing at you, that’s all.”
“That…thing,” I stabbed the air with my finger, “is not me!”
Kenzie shrugged. My exasperation intensified. How in the world did I lose control of this so badly? Feeling extremely put upon, I slumped in my seat, closed my eyes, and tried to summon up the knowledge I needed to freshen up, so to speak.
I found a faint thread in the back of my consciousness, and tugged at it. It wrapped itself around my probing thoughts, and yanked me through the dimness of memories I didn’t recall making. Words and impressions flew by me at lightning speed. A now familiar tingle begin in my belly and, judging by Sami’s gasp and Kenzie’s “COOL!”, I assumed that I was also doing my lightning bug impersonation again. Oddly shaped words formed in my throat, and I forced them out, coughing. A blast of hot air slapped me back into full awareness, and my eyes popped open. I looked down at myself, and cocked an eyebrow.
“Well, this is nice.” I smoothed the ends of the bell shaped sleeves of the deep purple tunic I found myself wearing. Soft, black leggings encased my legs, and my feet were covered in fuzzy black and purple striped socks. A quick check of my neck and ears revealed a tight, choker style necklace and heavy, beaded, hoop earrings. My head was covered by scarf, wrapped into a large bun at my nape. “I think I can get used to this.” I motioned at Sami. “You can call her now.”
With a nod, Sami swiped at the black screen on her phone, waking it up. She pressed a few icons, then turned it toward me. We all leaned forward, listening to the loud beeps, waiting for the moment that Atlantia would answer, and we could possibly start solving these mysteries.
The call connected, mid-chirp, and Atlantia’s face filled the screen.
“Samilla? What is– Oh. It’s you,” she huffed, not sounding very pleased to see me again.
“Hello, Mother,” I responded pleasantly. “I think it’s time we had a little chat.”