Screaming in the Silence
At the beggining of the story, Major Jasper Whitlock meets a beautiful but strange girl in an inn one night. When he discovers the truth about her, he gets drawn into a dark world of drinking blood and hiding in shadows. But when something happens to make him question his way of life, will he be able to escape the close network he has become part of?
in canon with Twilight and New Moon, but started prior to Eclipse.
2. The Battlefield
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That was the first thing I was aware of as I woke up. It took a few seconds for me to remember the battle. And then I wished I hadn’t.
It had been more like a slaughter.
I struggled to raise my head a few inches from the ground, and cast my eyes about. All around me, I could see the fallen bodies of my comrades. Hopefully, some were simply unconscious, as I had been, and not dead. For many, however, there was no hope.
Cautiously, I tried to move each of my limbs, in an attempt to assess the damage. I winced. A broken leg, and what felt like several cracked ribs. I would mend, then, but I couldn’t get up yet.
I put my head down again, trying to gather enough strength to sit up. I had to talk to the men, to put some strength in my voice to give them hope, so that they would pull through to live another day.
I felt guilt flow through me. It was my fault many of them were dead. I was their commander; it was I who had led them here. Why had I chosen to come this way? It had been a foolish choice, one I should have thought through more. Matthew had agreed with me over this route, but that didn’t mean the blame should be lessened at all.
I drifted back towards unconsciousness, drowning under the guilt and anger that pulled me down. I fought to wake up, to help my men, but the current was too strong. I closed my eyes as the pain and fatigue claimed me.
* * *
I picked my way across the field of bodies, searching for one that smelled unique, one whose flavor I could appreciate. Over the years, I had become well practiced in controlling my thirst long enough to come across a body which would provide a more unique meal. I exercised this control now as the smell filtered through my lungs, making the hunger rise within me.
My head snapped up and I sniffed at the air. That blood smelt stronger, sweeter. I moved quickly across the plain, letting my nose lead me to the broken body lying on the ground. I used the last dregs of my waning control to examine the human before me.
He was unconscious at the moment, and would probably recover if left to himself. I turned his face up towards me, wondering if it would match the eye-pleasing body.
My eyes widened as I looked at him. It was the man I’d spoken to a few weeks ago, at that dance.
“Major Whitlock,” I murmured, “what’s become of you?”
Seeing him now, I regretted not changing him when I’d had the chance. It had been clear watching him - and how everyone responded to him - that he was special. But I’d left him because I didn’t want a new vampire around when I was on my own. Now, though, with Samuel here…
But my thirst interrupted my thinking, leaving room only for the thought of blood. I sighed as I looked down at Jasper again. I ran a finger down his mud-splattered cheek, then bent my head to his neck and sank my teeth into his soft, warm flesh.
I closed my eyes as the blood flowed down my throat. The taste was exquisite, and I inhaled deeply, trying to imprint it on my memory. How could anything match this? I tried to slow my drinking, to savor the moment - it wasn’t everyday you came across blood like this. Had I not been consumed by the bloodlust, I might have again considered changing him. He would have made a good companion, but I was too far gone to hold on to such rational thoughts.
Suddenly, a snarl shattered the air around me, and I felt strong arms push me away. Samuel. I turned to face him, furious. This was my kill; mine alone to drink from. What was he doing, challenging me?
“What the hell are you doing?” I growled, moving so I was between him and the body.
“We have to leave, Maria,” he snapped. “There are people nearby. Lots of them.”
“And why should that warrant you interrupting my feeding?” I was still crouched defensively in front of him.
He drew back his lips, showing his teeth. “Maria, if we don’t leave now, the people will see us. Hannah still wants to feed, but there are too many of them. I will not let her endanger us, and that means we have to go!” He was yelling now, and I was loosing my temper.
“Samuel-“ I began, but then a cry interrupted me, and we both whirled to face the source of the noise, the man I had been drinking from. Jasper.
I gasped and dropped to his side. Now I was thinking clearly again I wondered if my venom would change him. Already it was beginning to infect him, but would his body be able to survive? I mentally thanked Samuel for interrupting me when he had – without him I would have killed Jasper. And now I’d had time to think about it, I desperately wanted the venom to work.
I wanted him to change; wanted to have him in my life. I felt hope rise within me as I watched him. His body was shaking on the grass, fighting the unstoppable venom as it was pumped into his bloodstream. I knelt beside him, trying to stop him from shifting too much. I would love to have him with me; to have his company, his thoughts, his body… Right now, however, that body was suffering, and I had to try and help him.
“Samuel, help me hold him,” I ordered as I secured his arms. “He’s going to hurt himself.” I placed a cooling hand against his fiery throat, then looked up again as Samuel’s mate, Hannah, came over. I remembered what they had said, that people were coming, and knew I needed to move.
I put my authority into my voice as I told them “You’ll help me take him back to the barn?” It wasn’t a question. I looked at Hannah’s expression and drew my lips back in a snarl. “I knew him, Hannah. He’ll be useful. People listened to him; he could persuade them of anything if he tried.” Was it a bad thing that I’d noticed all this about him in that one evening when we’d met? “Now, I’m going to take him back to the barn. Come with me or leave.”
She followed me when I began to carry Jasper across the meadow, heading home, and for that I was grateful, no matter how irritating Hannah could be. In truth, although I’d told them they could leave, I wanted others around me during the change. I didn’t want to leave him alone, and that would make me vulnerable. I could trust Samuel and his mate to guard the area and bring me something if I got hungry. I wasn’t sure how long it would take for Jasper to become one of us, because the venom was only entering his system from one place, even if it was a major artery. I would have sped it along a bit, but, knowing how little blood he had left, I didn’t want to risk the venom simply killing him.
It didn’t take us long to arrive at the barn we were currently staying in, and I placed Jasper on a pallet to wait for the change to finish. My vigil had begun.
If I had thought I was experiencing pain before, it was nothing to how I felt now. Fire burned through my limbs, threading its way downwards from my shoulder, or possibly my neck. It was hard to tell where the pain was coming from; it pushed all thoughts from my mind.
I tried to keep my mouth closed, to avoid screaming. An officer should never show pain in front of his troops. Where were the men, anyway? The last thing I remembered was lying on the battlefield. After that, I must have passed out again. But where had this sudden pain come from? What had happened to me?
The burning intensified as it made its way down the side of my body, obliterating all feelings save the pain. I heard screams, and knew that, despite my efforts, they were my screams. Was I dying, I wondered? It certainly felt like it. Despite my feelings telling me it was certain, logic fought against this idea. When the pain lessened enough for me to hold on to rational thought, I knew my injuries hadn’t been this serious. I was no medic, yet I knew for a fact that this shouldn’t be happening. But a fresh wave of pain meant I couldn’t ponder this any longer.
I threw my head back in anguish, wishing I could return to the bliss of unconsciousness. I felt a coolness against my cheek, and wished it could soothe the fire in the rest of my body as well. Somehow, I had to be able to end this. There had to be some way of reducing the blistering heat that crept through my veins. Why wouldn’t it stop? Why couldn’t I return to unconsciousness, where the pain couldn’t follow me?
The fire burned me.
That was all I could think of now.
I writhed in agony, held tight by its grip.
This had to end soon.
Why couldn’t it end soon?
The pain made me cry out, betraying my feelings to the world.