In a cellar, on a farm, a little baby boy who went by the name of Erik sat on the floor, playing with an empty wine bottle. Unaware was he that he was being observed, by a power greater than even his young untouched imagination. His aunt called him to the kitchen for dinner and he left, at the same time as another, one and the same yet completely different to him. It watches itself giggling happily, as his aunt sings to him and scrapes the food off his doesn't see this child again until thirteen years later. He hasn't aged but Erik is now fourteen years old, handsome with brown hair, blue eyes and a smile to die for. He was well trained in the art of avoiding housework as he sat in the cellar once again, this time with a bottle in his hand not quite so empty. . . .
"Erik!" called Collette, bustling around her small kitchen (as much as a petite bird-like woman can bustle), all the while muttering under her breath "the next time" and "when I get my hands on that lazy lump" and similar empty threats. Erik appeared in the doorway, shameless and cheeky as ever.
"Yes Auntie?" he asked. His smile faded as Cole shoved the massive cast- iron pot into his hands and pointed out the door.
"You know where to go," she said, getting back to her work. "And be quick about it!" she called after him as he left, dragging his feet on the ground.
There was nothing Erik hated more than getting water. He wasn't really lazy, it was just that he thought it would have made more sense to build the house closer than a mile from the only clean water supply. He made his way to the pond, kicking an old can about as he went and as he got there, he stopped short. He was close enough to see his reflection but he didn't. He stepped closer to look properly and nearly fell in with shock as he saw the reflection of an old man! He glanced behind him but no one stood in the empty field. The long grass blew in the slight breeze, the bees flew around to the flowers, but no one was there except for him. He shook his head and leaned over again, determined to see himself in that pond. Again, he was disappointed when he saw the old man staring back at him. He couldn't figure it out and he was thinking about it all the way back to the house. He walked into the kitchen, still thinking and got a smack off his Aunt Cole for
"being careless and nearly spilling half of it." Erik ate his dinner in silence, despite constant conversation attempts from Cole. Finally, she gave up and they finished the meal without a word between them. Cole did not object when Erik went outside, she guessed he wasn't in the mood for his usual chat while she cleaned up.
He wandered across the field, in the direction of the pond. He was desperate, desperate to find out that the world did make sense and what he had seen earlier was just his imagination trying to chase away his boredom. He knew it was a stupid, small thing, he was overreacting but he just needed to prove that to himself. He reached the pond for the second time that day and sat on the bank. He stared into his own eyes, realising that the old man he was seeing yet again looked a little like him. Erik sat there for what seemed like hours, staring at the strange reflection. He saw his eyes in the mans, he saw his nose, his mouth, even smiling the same smile. He knew the man was him, somehow but he also knew he was fourteen and about to get an explanation from his Aunt Cole.
He walked in the door, marched straight to Cole's room and went in without knocking. She looked surprised and exhausted at the same time. "What is it Erik?" she asked, looking concerned. He held a mirror to his face and looked at the same old man.
"Explain this" he replied. He showed her the reflection and she stood there for a minute, before grabbing the mirror out of his hands, throwing it out the window and leaving the room. Erik followed her, hearing the mirror shatter on the ground as he left. He found her in his bedroom, packing things into a bag. She thrust it into his hands and said
"Erik, go out to the forest, I'll meet you there in a few minutes"
Before he could protest, she had hurried him out the door and waved him in the direction of the dark forest. He ran into the shade of the trees. It didn't take long as the forest was right next to the house. He had come out here as a young child and he knew it like the back of his hand. He sat against a tree, waiting for his Aunt to appear. He knew Cole would explain and trusted her to come as she had promised. For this reason, he was worried when almost two hours had passed and there was no sign of her from any direction. He left his bag in a nearby bush and made his way to the edge of the trees. Everything seemed normal but as he got closer and closer to the house he noticed that the windows were smashed in. He carefully walked around to the back door, worried about what he might find inside. He entered the same way he had a million times before, into the little kitchen. He turned to the left and saw that the basement door had been torn to pieces.
Erik peered into the gloom of the basement, terrified of what he would find. He walked shakily down the stone steps and glanced around. There were broken bottles and splintered pieces of wood everywhere. He then noticed a crumpled shape at the very back. He ran over and knelt, sobbing beside the body of his Aunt Cole. He stayed like this, crying, shaking, and wishing that this all might be a dream. He still didn't know how or why it had all happened. However, there wasn't much time to figure it out, as Erik was shocked to his feet by a burning torch crashing through the only window. He stood frozen in fear, willing himself to leave or do something, but his legs wouldn't listen. He heard banging from outside. He was panicking, getting dizzier and dizzier; it was harder and harder to breath as the basement filled with smoke from the flaming piles of wood.
The next thing he knew he was lying against a tree on the forest floor, head throbbing and bones aching. He heard slow breathing beside him and looked over, hoping with all the hope left in him that he would see his Aunt. Maybe it was all a dream . Erik looked over to see the old man from his reflection. He was both devastated and intrigued by this. He turned over to face the man and asked, as politely as he could manage,
"Excuse me, but who the hell are you and why did I see you in my mirror?" The man replied,
"I am your appearance." Erik was very confused and soon to be twice as confused as the "appearance man" pointed to the left where a neat, nice looking young man was sleeping against a log and said "that over there is your personality." Erik could have screamed at the man, so much was his nonchalant tone annoying him. He was shaking as he said through gritted teeth,
" Please. Explain. Right. Now."
"I suppose I owe you that much", replied "appearance man", calmly. "You see, Erik, you are a very rare type of person. You have what we call multiple characters. As much as it sounds, it is not a mental disease. It is all real. Your Aunt is dead. We wish it wasn't true, but it is and all we can do is prevent the same from happening to you. So, I shall begin to explain. You are you. I am your looks and Aaron is your personality. My name is Arthur. Clearly, I am not what you look like now but one day I will be. It is not the easiest thing to explain; how this came about but let us try." Erik leaned in, listening attentively as Arthur said, "we'll start with your mother." Arthur rubbed his beard, as old men tend to do when they are about to begin a good story. And as usually follows the beard rubbing, he began.
"It all happened in Xeriadner. Your mother, Anita was a young woman, barely twenty and your father, only twenty-one had left to fight in a war. A few days after he left, Anita discovered she was pregnant. Needless to say, it was you inside her. She kept it a secret for a long time; she had your name in mind and all, set to do it on her own. It had been seven months and she hadn't heard a word from your father. She assumed him dead. She stayed inside, fearful of what might happen if she showed that she was expecting. You see, Erik, this multiple character business runs in your family. Your mother had only her personality, Rosa left. Her looks, Lila had died a few years back. So Rosa tended to Anita, every day, making sure she was safe. I cannot call this completely selfless, however as if the soul dies, so do the looks and personality. So it was mainly to keep herself alive. Anyway, I shall continue. The danger to Anita was you. If anyone found out about you, another soul they would kill her, along with the growing child. It is not anything other than fear, we are not dangerous, and we do not have special powers or anything, although under certain circumstances, we three together can do things that others cant. No one but us knows this, so it was simply the fact that our souls and we were different. I say were, Erik because you are one of the last, if not the only soul left alive today. She kept you a secret for a long time, but sadly she was caught and captured to be burned the next day. They did not, however realize that you were due to be born that very day and were born in the night, with Rosa delivering you. She was with Anita at all times, as she flatly refused to leave. They assumed it wouldn't matter; Rosa would die as soon as Anita's heart stopped anyway. Cruel times were these and sadly, there are people after you. This is why we are here now. Your Aunt is gone and we are here to stop you from going the same way. We will go south, to Bosmera and stay there for a while. Then we must leave the country.
"Wait, mr. . .Arthur, what about my father? And Aunt Cole? How did she get me?" Erik asked, confused.
"Oh, yes, your father, he doesn't even know you exist. And as for dear Collette, why Erik, the man who brought you to her is telling you this story!" replied Arthur, with a chuckle. Erik admired, yet couldn't quite understand Arthur's cheeriness in this situation. "I came to exist the moment you were born, and as soon as I could I climbed out the window and brought you here, to this farm. I used to come and visit, but Cole never knew and I doubt you remember. You used to play with the empty bottles in the cellar. . "
"I remember," Erik said quietly. They sat in silence for a few moments until they heard movement from the log. They looked over to see Aaron, waking from his long nap. Arthur smiled and went over to talk to Aaron. He waved Erik over, and he followed, but nervously. He got the feeling of someone watching him, and began to think that maybe the noise wasn't Aaron.
They talked for hours, about everything. Erik enjoyed it thoroughly; he felt there had been a piece missing from his life, or rather two pieces and now he had them back. But he couldn't shake the feeling that someone, or something was watching them. After a while, Arthur rose and walked towards the bush where his bag was hidden. Erik watched him and as Arthur reached the bush, something moved behind it. Erik sat frozen, barely breathing as he watched a shadowy figure moving through the trees.
"Who's there?" he called and the figure disappeared as soon as it had come. Arthur and Aaron exchanged worried looks as they saw the petrified look on Erik's face.
"What is it?" Arthur asked.
"You didn't see that?" Erik replied, confused.
"See what Erik?"
"There was a shadow, in the trees. It disappeared," he answered softly.
"We didn't see anything, are you sure you weren't.." Aaron trailed off as Arthur said, "I'm sure he's telling the truth, but whatever it was is gone now. Lets eat." Aaron nodded in agreement and he and Erik joined Arthur around a now crackling fire.
That night, they settled down and Erik lay thinking about all that had happened. He longed to meet his mother and he missed Cole so much. He wondered why it was all happening until he finally drifted into a shadow filled sleep.