The Newborn is a series of one-shots which will follow Edward through the early years of his life as a vampire.
1. Chapter 1
Rating 0/5 Word Count 4098 Review this Chapter
My mind had slipped into the depths of crazed insanity after days of my body knowing nothing but pain; each weakly pulsing beat of my heart pumping molten lava through my veins, ensuring that not an inch of my body was spared from the excruciating torture.
But finally, as the pain eased and I emerged from madness that my feverish mind had resided within for past three days, separating itself from the physical agony of my body waging internal war upon itself, the very first thing that I saw was a pair of warm, amber eyes peering down upon me.
I could see a mixture of anticipation, curiosity and apprehension within their depths. The apprehension was most familiar; I'd noted it in the eyes of those tending to me here at the hospital. When you are as sick as I am, one inspires a certain fear in those who are forced to suffer your proximity. I was a grim and unappreciated reminder of their mortality, of how death hangs over everyone; ready to claim even those who are young and strong, like myself, who by rights should have had many more years to look forward to. And so they subconsciously hated me, and were repulsed by me, even as their compassion and sense of duty overcame their initial distaste for what I represented to them.
I had long ago taken that slightly stricken expression, directed at me by the nurses and doctors charged with my care, to mean that my death was inevitable. So I had resigned myself to it. My only regret; that I must cause my mother sorrow through the end of my existence. But all of that self preparation now appeared rather premature and unnecessary, as I was currently holding on to my life admirably well. I was still breathing, and my body felt solid and substantial under my exploring touch. I allowed my fingers to fan out over my bare chest. My skin felt cool—a startling departure from the blistering, radiating heat that the fever brought down upon me. So severe had it been at times, that I'd felt as if I were slowly roasting from within.
The only thing currently causing me discomfort, which I tried to ignore for the time being, was the sensation of something attempting to claw its way out of my stomach. I was hungry, and that hunger was strong enough that it almost overtook my most immediate and pressing concerns.
The eyes that I woke up to continued to examine me in a clinical manner, travelling over my face, watching me closely as I pulled myself up to a sitting position. Their owner was clearly waiting for any signs of pain that this would bring—but there was none.
Moving was far easier than I expected it to be. The screaming ache within my muscles and joints, something which had been my constant companion ever since the fever first held me under its sway, was gone. Replaced now by a tension that spoke of a need for me to move, to test my muscles like a healthy yearling that had been cooped up within the stables for far too long, now being given free reign to run.
But for how long exactly have I been lying here, immersed in my fever dreams? I remembered those strange dreams of blood, of pale teeth coming towards me, of an unbelievable tale of horror and madness being whispered in my ear as my body was ripped apart bit by bit, only for it to reform anew, allowing the agony to begin over and over again, taking the pain to a greater threshold each time until I was sure that I would die, until I wanted nothing more than the blessed oblivion that death would bring me. Those fever dreams had been filled with the image of a strangely familiar, though shadowed face, encased in skin so white and pale that it was given the appearance of being a physical manifestation of the moonbeams breaking through the darkness of the night sky.
The realization that I'd lost my foothold on time was both startling and frightening. It jarred me enough that my raging appetite was forgotten. The room that I lay in was shrouded in semi-darkness, which was odd. The hospital ward that was now the centre of my world, was always flooded with light, as if the relentless brightness would somehow keep the encroaching shadows of sickness and death at bay.
"Edward? Edward, how are you feeling?"
My focus moved from my self-examination and the steadily rising swell of my fear, to the lips that formed those words. They were full, with an attractive shape that was not ruined by the slight downward tilt at their corners which suggested that their owner was currently frowning. They were also an extremely pale shade of pink that caused them to almost blend in with the surrounding skin. Overall, the effect of the translucent, bloodless colouring was not entirely unpleasant—just unusual... ethereal, almost.
It was strange how I now noticed such little details when I had never been one to dwell on such trivialities before, in what now seemed like another lifetime. I was being given a second lease on life, and it was as if I was looking at everything in the world with a newfound sense of appreciation. Objects appeared more sharply detailed when I set my eyes upon them, even the darkness did nothing to dull my sight. The smells lingering in the air were stronger, the sensations more intense. Why, I even imagined that I could distinctly feel every single thread woven together to make the clothes that I wore as they chafed against my skin.
"How are you feeling?" the voice persisted.
"Better than I have in days..." I answered, finally tearing my eyes away from those lips and taking in the face of my companion for the first time. I recognized him instantly. The face from my dreams: "Dr. Cullen?"
I remembered him, of course. Dr. Cullen shone bright, even through the haze that occluded my memories during the worst of my illness. In my mind, he was the image of the dashing young doctor who could do no wrong. His cool self-assurance, flawless composure and the timbre of his cultured voice immediately inspiring faith within me. The only complaint I had ever had with him were his exceptionally cold hands, which used to burn against my feverish skin every time he set them upon me.
One of those hands rested briefly upon my cheek, before Dr. Cullen allowed it to fall on top of the bedsheet, right next to where mine lay. They didn't feel so cold against my skin anymore, but the flesh of his palm was hard and unyielding as he had carefully cupped my face within his hand.
"Dr. Cullen, where am I? Where are my parents?" A quick glance around had confirmed my suspicion that I was no longer in the hospital. I was in a room with wood-panelled walls, and I was quite alone. There were no other patients with me. The mattress that I lay upon was far thicker and more comfortable than the one that had been on my hospital cot, and the bedding was as sumptuous and opulent as the dark-finished furniture and thick drapes which outfitted the bedchamber. But perhaps the most jarring indication that I had not woken up where I was supposed to be was that my mother was no longer beside me. She would not have left my side, not willingly.
"Edward..." Dr. Cullen began. The stunning eyes which had greeted me as my pain had finally lifted were unable to meet mine now. And I could guess the reason behind his inability to maintain eye contact.
"No..." I shook my head, refusing to believe. Once I realized that I had gotten over the worst of my illness, the possibility that my parents may not have been so fortunate had never occurred to be, for what good and just God would spare the son, only to take away the parents?
It seemed to me as though Dr. Cullen was apologizing for much more than his failure to keep my parents alive. After all, it would not have been fair of me to expect him to carry the burden of their deaths upon his shoulders. His hand unclenched and clenched convulsively upon the bedsheet. His jaw was set, and the expression on his handsome face betrayed an inner conflict so severe that he could not bring himself to go on speaking, or even to rest his eyes upon me.
Finally he took a deep breath and seemed to steel himself for his next attempt at making explanations. "It is clear that you have not remembered as much as I had hoped you would. I suppose that is only fitting; I did take the coward's way out by attempting to explain everything while you were in no condition to comprehend what it all meant for you. Edward, you are in my home. Your parents, as you have already guessed, were unable to recover. I did all that I could for them, employed all the medical measures available to me, and yet..." his words trailed off.
I bit down hard upon my lip, but this did not result in the physical pain that I was anticipating. Why weren't the tears coming? I had loved them, and would miss them dearly, so why was I not reacting in the way that I had expected? I could feel a tightening in my chest that was almost as painful as the raging hunger within me that was beginning to get too urgent to ignore.
The tears ought to be coming! I told myself, furious that I could not even properly express my sorrow in the way that I desired. I was making such awful, animalistic sounds of pain in their stead. Sounds that tore forth from my throat so that it now felt raw and much abused, sounds that should not have been coming out of me. I had never thought it possible for my voice to reach such volume, such ferocity and mindless abandon! And yet, I knew that no amount of this keening could ever fully express the profoundness of my loss, which was why I wanted so desperately for the tears to come...
Eventually, after a long while in which Dr. Cullen sat silently beside me, my grief settled into the center of my chest and made itself at home. I knew that I would never be able to shake it, and doubted that I would even want to. The grief was something to hold on to, to keep me strong against the violent shudder that suddenly wracked my entire being. Pain suffused every nerve cell in my body, radiating outwards from my abdomen.
Perhaps I was not out of danger yet, as I had initially thought.
I cried out, then doubled over, clutching at my abdomen. I was sure that at any moment, my innards would come bursting out through the delicate flesh of my stomach, so I kept my arms wrapped protectively over it.
"How much do you remember of what I had told you?" There was an urgency to Dr. Cullen's tone now, as if it were crucial that he finish his explanations before something undesirable happened. "I was talking to you all throughout the change. I thought that it might help if I kept you grounded with my voice. Do you remember anything at all of what I spoke about? This is important, Edward. You must tell me!"
"I was delirious!" I pointed out. I thought that I had imagined everything that had been whispered in my ear, but Dr. Cullen was now admitting that he had said every last word, that he was the originator of the nightmares that had plagued me as I had lain upon this bed!
I remembered bits and pieces. I remembered his fluid, musical voice going on about nonsense, ranting about old, ridiculous legends of mythical beings who were gifted with superhuman strength and immortality. He had spoken of the call of human blood upon those beings, how there was a way to overcome the thirst, and how he could show me that way, if I so desired. It was all ridiculous—something that I would expect to come out of the mouth of a drunken, half-mad sod, rather than a respectable man like Dr. Cullen.
"Every word of it is true."
I was in no mood to be toyed with, and was not about to listen to him. My lips drew back over my teeth as I let out a low snarl. He leaned forward on the chair upon which he sat by my bedside, hands stretched out towards me, imploring me for my understanding. I flinched and drew away from him. "You are mad!" I accused him. I did not want him touching me.
His insanity was catching. It had already taken it's hold on me. The memory of all that he'd told me was creeping back to the edges of my mind, causing doubts, making me question the sudden cessation of my pain, my heightened senses, the pallor of my own flesh—and most of all my raging hunger; the hunger that was causing me to salivate, that was making all else seem trivial, even as I tried to concentrate upon the danger that this madman beside me presented.
There was a frantic edge to Dr. Cullen's eyes as he continued to speak. "I beg you to keep in mind that I had no other alternatives! You would have died alongside your mother—had I not intervened! There was nothing else that I could have done! I had to. Your impending death forced my hand!" But there was an uncertainty in his tone, as if he were now questioning the action that he claimed to have taken in order to save my life.
Dr. Cullen's conviction seemed genuine. The anguished expression on his face made that clear to me. He truly believed all that he had told me, of vampires, of his decision to turn me—of all people—into one such creature of the night in a desperate bid to save my life.
"You are nothing but a physician with delusions of grandeur!" I shouted at him. I threw aside the bedcovers that were still tucked over me. The thick fabric ripped, the loud tearing noise unbearably loud inside this room. I chose not to think about how even that simple movement of mine had managed to destroy such thick, well-made cloth. Anger has a way of lending to one's natural strength, I told myself, as I swung my legs over the edge of the bed in preparation for my departure. "You claim to have some twisted power over death? That you have used this perversion, this blood magic, on me? Ridiculous!" I spat out the last word with all the venom and scorn that I could muster, hoping that this would help him realize how absurd he sounded, that it would bring him back to his senses.
He frightened me.
I cast my eyes around the room, searching for clothing so that I could make myself presentable and take my leave of mad Dr. Cullen. I was clad only in a pair of loose pants. I found no other items of clothing, but shrugged this triviality off and made my way to the doorway of the bedchamber. Appearances be damned. I needed to return to the hospital. I had arrangements to make for my parents, and an official complaint to lodge against Dr. Cullen.
A hand clamped around my wrist, wrapping around it in what should have been a bone-crushing grip. But I felt no pain. My flesh didn't even yield within the hold.
"I cannot, in good conscience, let you go now," Dr. Cullen said, his tone low and urgent. "You are a danger to yourself and to others in your current state. You must allow me to educate you, to school you in the ways that will prevent you from giving in to your blood lust! Even now, you must feel your need to feed becoming more and more urgent! It will overcome you, and it will rule over you, turning you into the very perversion of nature that you fear! This will happen if you do not allow me to help you!"
I could no longer take his madness. I had to go. This was all too much! I shoved Dr. Cullen forcefully away from me. He went flying through the air. His body crashed against the wall but it did not stop there, in spite of the impact against the solid surface. The wooden panels splintered, and he went through the wall, leaving a large, man-sized hole in his wake.
I stood there, stunned, unable to believe that such a light blow could have caused so much damage. I knew with certainty that I had killed him. The meaty thump of his body against the wall before it had given way under the force of the impact did not bode well for his bones or bodily organs.
I was frozen, rooted to the spot by my disbelief and fear. I did not want to continue looking at the death that I had caused with my unchecked strength, so I looked away from the body slumped on the hallway outside the room. My frantic mind went over my options. I could plead self defence. After all, I had been taken without my knowledge from the hospital. People must have realized that I was missing by now, and that something was terribly wrong!
Something stirred out in the hallway where Dr. Cullen had fallen. There was the sound of footfalls, very faint and almost imperceptible, though I did not appear to have to strain my hearing at all, in order to pick it up. Then I listened in horror to the sound of the doorknob turning.
Dr. Cullen's corpse was coming to take its revenge.
He stood there in the doorway for an instant, a large spear of splintered wood stuck through his chest. He did not appear bothered by it, or at all impeded as he came towards me. Dr. Cullen's eyes met mine, but their intensity failed to hold my gaze this time. Instead I watched, captivated and appalled, as he grasped the protruding end of the makeshift wooden stake and began to slowly draw it out of his body. I watched his skin knitting back together, crawling and jumping as if his flesh had a life of its own, the edges of the gaping, yet strangely bloodless wound finally meeting, until there was nothing to be seen beneath the ragged edges of the hole on Dr. Cullen's shirt but perfect, unmarred white flesh.
It was as if nothing had even happened to him. But the hole in the wall was still there, and Dr. Cullen was still holding the large piece of wood in his hands, so I knew that I hadn't been dreaming.
"Do you see now? That everything I told you is true?" There was sorrow in Dr. Cullen's voice. He allowed the piece of wood to fall, and there was a muted sound of impact as it fell upon the thick carpet.
I looked down at my hands, and I knew that no ordinary human muscles could have stored such force. That no ordinary human man could have survived such a bone crushing impact against solid wood walls, or having such a large piece of wood go through his chest.
It was all true.
"What have you done?" I whispered, horrified. If all that Dr. Cullen had said as I lay in the throes of agony was true—and everything that I had seen tonight was making a very reluctant believer out of me—then this desperate, all consuming hunger rising within me could only be appeased by one thing...
My body was wracked in pain, and it was beginning to get so difficult to think and to focus. I could not hold on to my humanity this way, while my newly attained vampiric primal urges were asserting themselves so strongly. I wanted to, but already I knew that I would eventually give in to the pressing need to feed. Anything to rid myself of this agony. Anything.
My stomach rolled queasily at the thought, further adding to my discomfort. I would have to take a life in exchange for mine. Dr. Cullen had snatched me back into safety as Death's scythe swung over my head, and now Death would require a balancing payment, something that would appease Him for my loss. But it would not end with just one murder; I knew that my thirst would not be sated by just one feeding. Many will have to die, for the sake of my survival. But was I worth it?
"I did what I had to do." There was an almost pleading quality to Dr. Cullen's demeanour, and in the way that he searched my eyes for any sign of understanding. "You were so beautiful, even as you lay there dying. So young and perfect! It would have been a waste to allow you to die! I did it as a favour; your mother's last thoughts were of you, Edward! Her last wish was for your survival!"
"I doubt that she meant for me to become this abomination!" I pounded my fist against my chest, and then recoiled. I did not even want to touch my own body. The feel of my ice-cold flesh repulsed me. "I am an affront to God and everything that He stands for! You saved me, and then damned me in the same instant!"
With the assistance of the low, diffused light inside the room, I could make out the dull gleam of a mirror upon a dressing table. I approached it slowly, abandoning Dr. Cullen for the time being. I was deathly afraid of what I would find reflected back at me upon its surface, but my morbid curiosity drew me closer, step by step.
The face that I examined was not entirely unfamiliar. I could see myself in it, in my features, the shape of my lips and the prominence of my cheekbones. But something was noticeably different. It was like looking at a photograph, where one was represented in stark black and white. My cheeks had lost its healthy flush and had taken on Dr. Cullen's luminescent pallor. And my eyes...the eyes that my mother had passed on to me, as she had always delighted in reminding me, were a vivid red, taking on the colour of blood, the sustenance I craved.
I was Edward Anthony Masen. His memories were still firmly entrenched in my mind, but already I felt disconnected from him, as if he were a role that I had undertaken once during a school play performance. He had died, the moment that I was reborn as this...monster.
I searched in vain for any signs of my former identity, for my humanity within the cold red eyes staring back at me from the reflective surface of the mirror, and was unable to find any. At the moment, those eyes burned with the single-minded desire to feed.
"There is a way to sate your thirst...without your having to kill humans..." Dr. Cullen told me. He had approached, and was now standing directly behind me, meeting my eyes upon the mirror. "Will you listen to me, Edward? Will you try to take my lead?"
I nodded, unable to see what other choice I had. Suddenly my world had narrowed to contain only myself and Dr. Cullen. It was not as if I could I return to society. Out in the real world, surrounded by humans with their too enticing blood rushing through their veins, I would be like a wolf released in the midst of a flock of helpless lambs. I had nothing else, no one else to learn from. And even though my fury at what he had done to me remained, roiling beneath the surface of my bewildered thoughts, I was still grateful that I would at least have the assistance of Dr. Carlisle Cullen to get me through my ordeal.