Scorched Earth, Melted Candles and Missing Time
By: Chaos Blackwing
Based upon the character Keith from "Dangerous Lunatics" by Alex Reynard.
Keith looked about nervously at his surroundings. He himself barely believed why he was here, and he most certainly didn't want someone wandering by and asking what he was doing. He still didn't know if he was going crazy or not, but after the little episode with the burned book, some things he'd heard in the past started coming back to him. Little things, things that on their own really didn't make sense. Like how his parents had told him one of his plushies had caught fire when he was a little kit, or how sometimes the air around him would get really hot all of a sudden. It was only all-together and with the most recent occurrence that they started to form any sort of picture. Keith, it seemed, could create fire with his mind alone.
'I can't believe I'm out here doing this,' he thought to himself as he looked around him at the clearing in the trees. It had been the most secluded spot he could find within a decent distance, and he definitely felt the need for a little privacy for his little 'experiment'. Though he'd originally considered telling his parents, Keith had figured it to be just too risky. He'd seen enough tv and read enough books to guess what would happen if it the knowledge of what he could do ever got out. Goodbye comfy house, hello government laboratory.
No way was he taking that risk.
Checking once again that the bucket of water he'd brought along just in case was next to him, Keith set out to make some fire.
Only one problem: he didn't have a clue about how to go about it. Well, maybe if he concentrated hard enough. Straining with all his might, Keith concentrated on one thought and one alone: Fire. At first it seemed that nothing was going to happen, but then Keith noticed something. There was a strange sensation, like something was just out of reach, that if only he could concentrate in a different manner, he would have it. Changing tactics a little, the fox kit focused instead on tracking down that elusive sensation. It was like trying to hold onto a greased ball when your paws were covered in mittens. Every time he thought he had it, it slipped out of his mind, just out of reach. Closing his eyes to concentrate better, Keith took a calming breath and started again, methodically clearing his mind of all distractions and went after that slippery little thought. Finally he seemed to be getting something..
Suddenly he had it! He could feel it, and it was almost like holding a little fire in his paws. He could feel a warm glow suffusing him, as the energy that had so long appeared at random at last came to rest in his control. Opening his eyes, he wasn't terribly surprised to discover that the little pile of twigs he'd brought to practice on was burning merrily away. Looking around him, he saw patches where the dirt had blackened as though a fire had attempted to start, but had been frustrated with a lack of fuel, and he was very glad that he'd had the forethought to clear away the ground around him beforehand. Keith quickly put out the fire in front of him and then gathered some more twigs for another try.
It looked like it was going to be a long day...
After a few months practice, Keith found that it was getting easier and easier to call the fire up. He still couldn't really do much more than make something burn, but he was gradually getting better at it.
Today he was going to try to work on his finer control, and to this end he'd brought a box of birthday candles that he'd bought with some of his allowance money to the little clearing he used to practice in. Setting a few of them up a few inches away from each other, he concentrated on just lighting a single wick, but was frustrated when instead the whole candle, as well as the ones next to it, melted. 'Must have concentrated to hard' he thought as he turned his gaze to the next one in line. This time he only melted one candle, and with this success he continued on to the next.
By the time he was done, Keith had emptied the box, and was sitting in front of a veritable lake of melted wax from all the candles he'd burned. He wasn't too discouraged though. Towards the end he'd gotten to the point where he only melted part of the candle instead of the whole thing, and he was sure that with just a little more practice, he'd be able to direct the flame as accurately as he wished to.
As he began to pick up all the pieces of melted wax, Keith thought to himself that all he really needed was time and practice and he'd have this mastered.
Four months later...
'All right, this is it. The big test,' Keith thought as he arranged the candles as closely as he could to each other. As he set down the last one, he gave the arrangement one last once over to make sure that everything was ready. Seeing that all was ready, Keith sat down and began.
This exercise was something he'd thought of one day when practicing. It called for him to light all the candles of a particular color before moving on to the next. What made it difficult was that the individual candles were less than a half-centimeter from each other, so too much heat would light the nearby candles, and he'd half to start all over. Making sure that the cushion that he'd brought wasn't sitting on something hard, Keith began.
Approximately half an hour later, Keith let out a large breath of air that he'd been holding for the last little bit. He'd been so close to the end that he didn't want to make any mistakes, so he'd been concentrating more than usual on the last half dozen or so candles. But in the end, he'd done it. Not only had he lit two boxes worth of candles without melting a one, but he'd also gotten all the colors lit perfectly, without even touching the nearby candles.
Letting out a mental yell of triumph, Keith couldn't believe he'd pulled it off. All this time, all this effort, and at last he'd pulled it off! Grinning from ear to ear, Keith began to pick up the candles and snuff them out before putting them back into the boxes he'd taken him from, all the while thinking about what he should try next...
As one year rolled into the next, Keith grew more and more proficient with controlling the flame. After he'd perfected his control and aim, he'd gone about reducing the amount of time it took him to bring up the fire, practicing until he reached the point where it took just a mere second before the flame appeared.
During this time he'd also discovered something interesting. If he tried to use his ability while he was in one of his rages, it seemed to both boost the power, making a lot more flame than intended, and drastically decrease his control. He'd found _that_ part out the hard way, and for a good few weeks afterwards had the scorch marks and burned fur to prove it.
At the thought of the near disaster he'd inadvertently caused, Keith's mind turned inwards. Back to that fateful day that had nearly cost him his life, and the costly lesson he'd learned then...
Though he hadn't known it at the time, the primary reason that Keith was still alive after that day was that it had rained the day before. Had it not soaked the woods so much, it is entirely possible that the whole forest would have gone up in flames, and him with it.
It had been a perfectly normal day as far as his life went. No hints at all what was to come. Wake up, get ready for school, get bored stupid, come home from school, listen to music for a bit, then, if he was in the mood, go out to the nearby woods for a little practice.
It was maybe twenty or so minutes after he'd started that the problem occurred. He'd been focusing on fire as he always did when he felt a very familiar sensation. His eyes started clouding over, as though the air around him had turned a red hue. His muscles started tensing up, and his breathing sped up. Keith was experiencing another one of his rages. What made it different this time was that instead of just aimlessly thrashing about, causing him to sweat and shake, this time his rage found an outlet.
Suddenly the small fire he'd been cultivating in front of him flared up as though doused with gasoline, going from a minor blaze to almost as large as him. The fur on his front was singed before Keith could throw himself backwards out of the way, but it seemed this wasn't over yet. The leaves near him, those that he'd cleared from around him started smoking, and in some spots even began to burn. Looking around franticly, Keith was further shocked to see that nearby branches were also smoking, appearing to be moments away from bursting into flame themselves. At the same time, he noticed that the air around him had shot up in temperature, going from the cool of the woods to practically oven hot.
'I've got to calm down,' Keith thought desperately, 'I've got to control this, or else this whole place is going to go up in flames, with me in it!' With a mighty force of will, Keith reigned in his rage, and with it, the fire. Bit by bit he brought the fires back under control. Opening his eyes back up, Keith saw to his relief that while the fires that were already going were still burning, those things that had been only smoking before appeared to be cooling back down.
Quickly getting up, Keith spent the next few minutes dowsing the fires with the bucket of water he'd brought. It was only then that he noticed how dead tired he was. It was all he could do to not collapse on the ground where he stood; instead he somehow managed to sort of flop not to gently down on the ground, sprawled bonelessly.
Looking around at the damage, Keith managed to get out a slightly strained 'That...was...WAY...too...close...' between breaths.
After a few minutes, Keith managed to prop himself in a sitting position and survey the damage. What had been a minor little fire in front of him was now a rather large burn mark in the ground, some three feet in diameter. Thankfully, it seemed to have gone out due to lack of fuel. The ground around him also fared badly, with scorch marks and blackened leaves all over the clearing. The few branches bordering the clearing that had been on fire before seemed to have survived the best, with only some minor darkening of the bark.
Then Keith looked down at himself and felt his blood freeze in his veins. It seemed that not all had escaped so lucky, and in the next second the clearing rung with a loud voice exclaiming:
"Jesh! That was my favorite shirt too!"
Given enough time, it is altogether possible that Keith could have mastered all the facets of his power, but unfortunately that was not to be. For not long after, his parents received a letter from someplace called 'King's Orchard Hospital For Troubled Youth' and Keith soon had to put his powers, and his will, to the test. But that is a tale for another to tell.