Ash didn't sleep at all that night. She stayed up, pacing her room, throwing fire around until the room was so full of smoke that she finally had to open the window. The black ragged curtains hung in smoking shreds that danced in the warm spring breeze. Tired, Ash leaned against the window frame and looked out. The full moon made the bare landscape seem covered in silver. Ash ran back to her door and checked the hallway. It was empty. Ash closed and locked the door and ran back to the open window. She nimbly leapt on the windowsill and jumped out the window, landing on an awning. She knew she had to get away from her room for awhile. Ash ran. It was the only way she could think of to clear her mind. Feet pounding against the hard earth, Ash ran. She ran to the edges of the facility. Twenty foot tall gates topped in barbwire surrounded everything. Ash fought the urge to scream. There was absolutely no way out of here and she was going to die. Ash threw herself against the fence angrily. The electric shock was absorbed in her body, extra energy taken in by the fire.
Ash whirled around to see Blaze. "What do you want?"
Blaze didn't break eye contact with her. "I wanted to talk to you."
Ash shrugged. "You're talking to me. Happy?"
Blaze smiled. "Ash, tell me about your life."
Ash wasn't sure why she did, but she walked closer to the silver-haired scientist. They walked side by side into his office. Ash sat on a leather chair by the fireplace.
Blaze came over and sat across from her. "Ash, tell me about your life."
Ash looked into the fire, watching the dancing colors. "I don't remember much of my life. I look back, but I don't remember anything before this fire that happened when I was little. All I remember about the fire was that it ate everything. My mom, my dad, even my little brother. I was the only survivor."
Blaze nodded. "So you've been on your own since then?"
Ash shrugged. "More or less. At first, I remember this woman I stayed with. But then her house caught fire, too. She survived though. Everyone thought I had died, and then a firefighter pulled me out of the house. I didn't have a single mark on me and I wasn't affected by the smoke or anything. Everyone was shocked I was alive because I was in the room where the fire had started. They all said I passed out and it was a miracle I was alive."
Blaze leaned forwards. "And do you believe in miracles?"
Ash shrugged. "I guess I have to. I was the only survivor of The Fire, and then I survived another fire without a single mark. The fireman that pulled me out said I was surrounded by a huge ring of fire. He said he thought I was dead and then my eyes opened and I looked at him. The fireman's arm was fried, but I was fine." Ash shook her head. "I just don't get it."
Blaze picked up a shot glass from his desk and twirled it on his fingers. He got up and walked to a safe across the room.
Blaze pulled a large bottle of whiskey out and walked back to his desk. "Ash, I want to show you something."
Ash tilted her head and leaned back, her hands behind her head. Blaze poured whiskey in the glass and looked up to make sure Ash was watching. He pulled open a drawer and grabbed a needle. His eyes closed, he pricked himself and a red-black drop of blood fell into the liquor. Ash watched, suddenly transfixed as a small flame grew at the bottom of the glass. The flame changed from red to white and grew, consuming the whiskey. Ash could feel the heat across the desk and she smiled in the familiar warmth. Papers around the glass started curling and turning brown. The shot glass finally exploded. Glass flew everywhere as the flame grew. Blaze held his hand over the white flame and it leaped into his skin as he reabsorbed it.
Ash leaned forwards. "You're like me."
It was a statement. Not with surprise, but matter of fact.
Blaze nodded. "I am like you."
Ash leaned back again. "But then why are you trying to kill people like us if you are one of us?"
Blaze looked down. "Because I killed my daughter."
Ash sat up straight. "You what?"
Blaze grabbed the bottle of whiskey again. "I didn't mean to. She was like me, and she got her powers early. She started a fire and she and I were the only survivors. I am a scientist. I made a serum that erased memories. It was too soon, I hadn't tested the serum yet, I just knew that I had to erase what she had done, or she'd never forgive herself." Blaze put the bottle to his lips and drank. "She was only five, Ash. Five! The serum was too strong. Her brain forgot everything. It forgot how to function. It forgot how to keep her heart beating. She died in my arms." Blaze looked at Ash, tears running down his face. "Ash, do you know what it's like to watch someone you love die and know it's your fault? I killed her. My only daughter and I killed her!"
Blaze hit the desk and took another drink of whiskey.
Ash leaned back again, her voice harsh and cold. "I killed my whole family. I'm not sure how the fire started, but I know it was my fault."
Blaze laughed harshly. "Well then, we're just a couple of murderers. Let's drink to our health, may we keep living and killing every damn thing that means anything to us." Blaze handed the bottle to Ash. "Go on, drink. It helps the pain."
Once again unsure why she did, Ash grabbed the bottle and drank. The whiskey burned worse than fire, scorched her throat and blistered her chest. Ash coughed, not used to the harsh liquor.
Blaze roared with laughter. "First time with whiskey. Oh well. Stay like me, and this won't be your last."
Ash pushed the bottle back towards Blaze. "No, I'm good. I don't think I'll stick to drinking."
Blaze grabbed the bottle and smiled grimly. "Smart girl. Don't drink, it only worsens the pain."
Ash nodded as Blaze took another drink. "Blaze, this was nice…"
Blaze laughed. "What a lie! You would rather be in your room, or with your friend. What's his name? Bill? Phil?"
Ash shook her head. "Will."
Blaze nodded. "Well go on. Go do whatever you do at night."
Ash nodded and got up. She walked towards the door. Still not sure why, Ash turned and looked back at Blaze. Blaze was sitting in his chair, drinking.
He looked at a photo on his desk. "Vanessa, Arissa, and little Brett. Here's to you. Wife of six years when she passed. Son of six months when he passed." Blaze's voice cracked. "Vanessa. Sweet little daughter of five years when I killed her." Blaze took another drink. "Vanessa, my baby girl. I only wish that I could have one more day with you."
Ash turned and walked out. Vanessa. Why did that name sound familiar? Why did all those names sound familiar? Ash shook her head and walked back outside. The moon was starting to set. The sun was an orange dot far away. Ash looked up at the sky. She blew a kiss towards the sun and ran back to her room.
Blaze sat at his desk, fighting the urge to get another bottle. He looked at the empty whiskey bottle sitting on his desk. Blaze looked back at the picture. It had been two weeks before The Fire. It had been Vanessa's fifth birthday. They had surprised her and taken her to Disney World. Blaze smiled as he looked at the picture. He remembered one of the workers taking the picture.
Blaze looked at the smiling girl with black hair standing in his arms. "Vanessa. You were so young."
A tear trickled down Blaze's worn cheek. He looked at the woman standing next to him in the picture. His wife, Arissa. She had long brown hair, curly like Vanessa's. Arissa's smiling blue eyes went with her full pink lips that were always curved in a smile, as if the whole world was a joke that only she understood. The small blue bundle in Arissa's arms drew his eyes next. His son, Brett. The baby boy he would never know. The baby boy with the two colored eyes, one charcoal grey, like Vanessa's, and the other bright blue, like his mother's. The soon to be thick hair, silver, like Blaze's.
Blaze reached out and traced the picture frame. "Arissa, I'm so sorry I couldn't save you and Brett. And I'm sorry I killed Vanessa."
Blaze looked at the whiskey bottle. Why did he drink every night? It only worsened the pain and gave him a hangover. Blaze grabbed the bottle and threw it against the steel floor. The glass shattered and spun everywhere. Blaze pointed a finger at the shards of glass. The glass ignitited and sizzled, turning red. The glass melted into the steel floor, leaving patterns all over.
Blaze looked back at the picture. "I promise I'll stop drinking. I'll work on clearing my mind for you three."
Blaze looked away, and then quickly looked back at the picture. He looked at Vanessa. Her face was heart shaped, just like Ash's. They both had the same pitch black ringlets, the only difference being the charcoal highlights in Ash's hair. Blaze looked at Vanessa's eyes, already showing hints of orange-gold around the edges. He should've taken that as a hint that she would discover her power soon. Ash and Vanessa had the same eyes. Blaze looked hard at Vanessa's picture.
He leaned back suddenly. "I didn't kill my daughter! Ash is Vanessa!"