What if Bella lived in 1918? Would the story of Bella and Edward change or remain the same? "It was naïve of me to have thought that, even with their bodies racked with a horrible disease that was killing millions across the world, they would still somehow make it. Even with all of the pessimistic doubts I'd had before, I wasn't prepared for it when it really happened."
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Ten months earlier
I had never quite thought that, when I did finally die, I would go to hell. Not that I considered myself to be a perfect person, but I had always tried to keep away from any major sins.
But the pain I was currently entrenched in surely could not be allowed in heaven; unless heaven was a very different place to what I had been taught about. So it had to be hell then.
There was, however, no doubt that I was dead.
This seemed natural. My body had been raging with the influenza for weeks. I did not remember much of that time; most often I had been in some kind of delirium, not really aware of my surroundings. And then, when the blood had started flowing from my mouth, well, that had been a pretty good indicator that my time was up.
I was not usually the type to give up; most especially I did not want to give up for my mother's sake. But things change when you are hours from death and you very much know it.
All in all though, death was not how I always imagined it to be.
First of all, there was no singular moment when my soul had left my body- when I actually died. Or at least I was not aware of it. The last thing I could remember was being alert in the hospital before the fever took over again, but I must have been unconscious for quite awhile after that. It was hard to tell what was fever-induced illusion and what was real, or perhaps, what was the afterlife. I did seem to remember a hard wind blowing suddenly, like the sensation of flying, and if that were the case, that had to have happened outside of the hospital.
Who knew one flew down to hell?
The first memory after that had been the start of the pain. I had become fairly accustomed to pain over the last few weeks- there really is nothing quite like the feel of all of your blood spewing from your lungs.
Or so I had thought. This new pain made my time in the hospital seem like a pleasant dream. If I didn't know with utter certainty that I was already dead, I would be begging for it now.
It started with what felt like razor sharp knives along my chest, arms and throat,
creating huge gashes in my flesh. My eyes had flown open at the pain, but I could see nothing. Wherever I was, it was pitch black. Another indicator that I would not be seeing St. Peter anytime soon, I supposed.
Which reminded me- why was I not getting at least some kind of trial? Wasn't that what I had always been taught in church- that first comes the judgment and then the consequence? Was I really so bad that they simply knew in advance to send me straight to hell?
I couldn't actually recall any sins I had committed. Well, perhaps I had told a fair amount of lies on occasion- but usually only for the good of others. Did that really merit an eternity of painful burning?
But then, of course, I found it hard to remember anything at this time. The pain had spread from my torso to every portion of my body, till even the tips of my fingers and toes felt like they had been torched to ashes. That's how they should be anyway, but I was blisteringly aware that my body was still somehow completely intact and that there was actually no part of me that was not in all-consuming pain. All of these things rather took the lot of my attention.
I could just barely recall the faces of my mother and father. It galled me that I had not been able to save them from death, especially my mother. But, at least I could be assured that they were not here in hell with me.
This image and thought comforted me slightly- if there was any way to be comforted whilst one's body was being burned to dust. I could not concentrate on much else beyond that and the pain.
Interestingly though, at times an unbidden image flashed through my mind- a pair of chocolate brown eyes. I knew that they were familiar, that I had seen them somewhere, but at the time I could not remember the face to which they belonged, much less the name of the owner. It was almost a little frustrating, especially as it was unconsciously done.
It was all very confusing- perhaps that was the real torture of hell. Everything was dark around me, yet I could so very clearly feel a fire blaze every cell of my body. There were the expected screams of torture that one usually associates with the underworld, but I was not entirely sure that they did not come from my own throat.
And most confusing and unexpected of all, I continually heard someone apologizing. Why exactly was the devil apologizing for torturing me?
It seemed endless, this dark hole of hell in which I was situated. But eventually the darkness lightened, bit by bit. I could see that I was in a type of room, which begged another burning question:
Why were there beige satin sofas in hell?
And then I saw him, the man who must have been apologizing the entire time. But he could not be the devil. There was an innate goodness coming from this man. I realized after a few- well, I really could not determine whether it was seconds, minutes, hours or days, but after an amount of time, I could remember that I knew him. It was the doctor who had worked on my family in the hospital. Cullen, I believe his name was.
No, he could certainly not be the devil; he looked much more to be the embodiment of God.
But if he was here, had I really died after all? It did not seem likely that the doctor could have died the same night that I did.
I was dead however, so perhaps this was a figment of my imagination. Was I imagining the doctor who had not been able to save me and my family apologizing for his mistakes as a way for retribution? I hadn't thought I blamed him for our deaths... not too much anyway.
Interesting the things they allowed you in hell. You'll be tortured beyond the brink of comprehensibility, but you get the chance for anyone who has ever wronged you to make amends.
It was hard to concentrate on what he was saying. The few times that I opened my eyes, as they were usually tightly shut in agony, I could see his mouth moving and heard the words as a soft murmuring, but it was as if my mind could not make sense of it. It was first and foremost enwrapped in pain, which was rather distracting, to say the least, and then, my mind would occasionally falter at words he used like ‘creature' and ‘blood'. What on earth was he talking about?
The lights dimmed once again and I was encased in blackness.
Another problem which made me almost think that perhaps I wasn't dead after all was that my heart was still beating. True, it was beating more rapidly than it ever had while I was alive, but there could be no mistaking that it was indeed beating. Of course each throb of my heart was incredibly painful, so that could be the only reason as to why my heart was still pumping at all. It was merely another medium of torture.
I hoped I was dead. My mother and father were, so there was really no point in living after that. Suddenly it all made sense. Ah, that was how I had earned my way into hell- I hadn't been able to save my family from death. That was quite understandable.
Though I agreed with the punishment, I had to say, it wasn't for lack of trying. I could remember trying any means necessary to do something for them while in the hospital, even if they wouldn't work. And they hadn't and so I deserved to be here.
Yet, this lighting and darkening of the room made me wonder. Was I in some kind of interim period- purgatory, as they called it? Perhaps they hadn't reached a decision yet on the welfare of my soul. Or was this a test? If I withstood the pain would I earn a better place in the afterlife?
It continued like that for an amount of time that I had no way to measure. The fire in my veins burned on, regardless of any other thing. The light and dark went off and on, that was the only way to try to account for the passing of time.
After the third time that I was plunged in darkness, the pain- incredibly- started to dissipate. I could no longer feel it in my hands or feet. This bewildered me more than if the pain had continued on.
It had, of course, felt like an eternity that my body had been ravaged by searing flames, and yet I had the sense that it had been too short to really be an eternity.
Really, the details of the afterlife needed some greater clarification for those who had not passed through it yet. Perhaps I could be allowed to haunt some priest and update him on the new information.
After all, if I had earned my way into hell, shouldn't that constitute that I remain tortured for the rest of eternity? Was I getting a second chance after all? Were they giving me a short rest before a new torture started?
The latter seemed much more plausible as my heartbeat increased rapidly and the scorching heat seemed to be drawing itself into my chest.
The man- Dr. Cullen- seemed to notice it too, though how I had no idea as he didn't have any of his medical instruments on him. Then again, my heart was so loud with its laborious beating that it surely could not be missed by anyone. He moved closer to me.
Just a little longer. I clearly heard him say it, but I would swear that his lips never moved. Hell was such an odd place.
A shocking image flashed into my mind then. I saw the room I was in, but not from the perspective I was accustomed to seeing. It came from further back, about where the doctor would be standing, though I did not see him in the picture at all. Most disturbing of all, though, was the person lying in the bed where I should be. It could not be me though. The copper-toned hair was the same, I had to admit, but that was where the similarities ended. His skin was bright white, paler than the moon. The features on his face were different, like the carving of a statue of Michelangelo, and yet there was something almost like me in them. But its eyes- the eyes were a terrible blood red. That thing could not be me.
I would have liked to ponder more horrifyingly over this, but the heat in my body was centering deeper in my chest. The pain had left my legs and arms now, they felt amazingly cool and comfortable. But I could now feel a change in the pain in my throat. At first it had burned just the same as every other part of my body, but now, in addition to the burning sensation, there was a thirst. Like every molecule of moisture had evaporated and my throat was suddenly as barren and dry as the Sahara Desert.
Somehow, the beat of my heart increased, as well as the heat surrounding it. I was fairly certain that it would exactly match the temperature of the sun.
There was an unbroken howl of anguish filling the room. Only after some time did I realize that it was mine.
The heat was only in my heart now and my heart was beating faster- faster than should be possible. My body, which had been writhing in agony all this time, now held still in a straight, tense line.
Then finally, finally, my heart stuttered before giving out at last.
There was utter silence in the room. The screams had stopped. My breath had stopped. My heart had stopped.
So it was official now. I was truly dead.
But, when I opened my eyes, I found that I was still not in heaven. I was in that same room. I was very sure that it was exactly the same place and yet I knew that I was seeing it as I had never seen it before.
I had never noticed, for example, the tiny, microscopic cracks in the ceiling. I could see them in detail, just the same as if my eye were pressed against them, though I remained in the bed I lie in, twelve feet and four inches away. Very strange that I could calculate the distance to the ceiling, as well. Actually, from my peripheral vision, I could calculate that the room I was situated in was eight hundred and forty-five square feet. Very odd.
It was light again now- I could see the individual strands of sunlight beaming through the windows, not to mention every particle of dust and spore that danced in its light.
My mind seemed to be making a catalogue of nearly everything in the room, noting things I would have never noticed before. And, just the opposite of when I had been burning torturously before, I had a remarkable sense of time now. I catalogued and interpreted my surroundings all within two-thirds of a single second.
I could also, astonishingly, hear things outside of the room. We were in a country area I assumed from the sounds I heard. There were no sounds of the city or people in general, but rather the wind whipping lightly through a cluster of oak trees, and the calls of nine or so birds in the flora. There was a creek thirty-two feet away from the room where an animal, a doe I guessed by the light tread of her hooves, was taking a drink.
It was marvelous, and all so distracting that I had no thought to question how or why it was all happening. I was quite content to continue taking in all of these things until I heard the creak of the floorboards as someone placed their right foot forward cautiously.
It looks like everything is alright. I didn't do anything wrong. A rush of distinct relief accompanied the image that flashed into my mind once again. It was the same as I'd had before- the one of the room and that- creature- from a different vantage point than my own.
I raised my head a little to see Dr. Cullen standing there. I had almost forgotten of his existence at all, so captivated was I by all of these new sights and sounds.
How could he still be here? His presence reminded me of all of my earlier frustrations and utter confusion. The emotion flooded me and my body reacted before I could even think.
My feet pressed into the soft bedding with enough force to propel the rest of my body upright on the ground, standing before the doctor. Within the space of one-sixteenth of a second my hands were wrapped around his throat and I had shoved him against the wall. It was rougher than I had anticipated and there was now a clear outline of the doctor's frame embedded in the wall.
A very small portion of my brain told me that this was a bit of an overreaction, but the rest of my body was not listening. It was like an actual physical need- I had to know one thing before anything else.
"What is happening to me?" Was that my voice? It came out low and frightening, even to my ears, and yet somehow... musical, smooth and supple. It did not sound like any other sound I'd ever heard.
Amid this, I realized that, though I was crushing his throat with the same force as a boulder crashing from a sheer cliff, the doctor was not choking. He wasn't breathing at all actually, that was for sure as I felt no air passing through his lungs. Yet, he did not look to be bothered by that fact.
He stared at me calmly, but there was anguish coming from him as well. I wasn't sure how I could know that as his face was still as stone, yet I could feel a distinct sorrow emanating from the man.
Well, not as well as I'd hoped, I suppose. Why? Why had I allowed this to happen? Once again, I heard the words clearly, yet his mouth had remained closed. He seems to be normal though. It worked after all. A wave of relief fell over me once again, not from my own emotions, and I could see the slight relaxing of his features.
"I promise I will tell you everything," this time his mouth did actually move and his voice was just as calm as his expression, "but I would prefer it if you released my throat first."
He barely sounded strained from the chokehold I had around his neck. His voice was so calming and soothing that it abated my sense of danger. I was able to release him and take a step back.
He took a deep breath. This will be harder than I had anticipated. "You might want to take a breath too. You don't need it anymore, but it might make you less... anxious," he explained.
A rush of confusion filled me again. I didn't need to breathe anymore- yet I still could? I felt the turmoil bubbling inside of me again and I took a deep breath before my bewilderment got out of control again and my hand crushed his throat once more.
The doctor was right. It wasn't the same as when I had been alive; I did not feel the need to breathe out of necessity. It did not bring the sense of physical relief as it had when I was alive, but rather mental relief. With the addition of scent, I could once again take into account my surroundings and reconfirm that there was no danger present.
I felt slightly calmer. Calm enough to ask the question I needed an answer to more than anything.
"So... I am dead then?" I had thought that I was calmer and yet my voice - musical intonations and all- still sounded threatening to me.
He deliberated for a moment. How to answer? I can't rush things- he's already barely in control of himself. "It's difficult to say. In a sense- yes, you are dead, or perhaps no longer alive is the better term- alive in the way that you are accustomed to, anyway. But, in another sense, you can actually no longer die- not easily anyway- and will live for the rest of eternity."
That explained nothing, only increased my confusion. My eyes narrowed and a sound erupted from my chest. It was a ferocious snarl, better accustomed to coming from a lion or bear than, well- a person, and much less a dead one. Yet, there I was- snarling. "What do you mean?" I said through clenched teeth.
He paused and looked away from me. He seemed to look, and I could tangibly feel, an incredible guilt coming from him. "I truly, truly had not been planning on this happening. I had thought about it for years, centuries actually," this puzzled me greatly, but he continued on before I could ask, "But I never thought I would actually do it." He looked up from the ground into my eyes steadily. "Your mother was the one to make me decide. She begged me to save you. She knew that I was different. She died shortly after making her request."
To my utter astonishment, I could see it all happening in my head. Not just what I might imagine it to be, but clearly, precisely, I saw the hospital room. When I tried to remember any memories of my own of being in the hospital, they were murky, as if I couldn't see them properly. And yet, with this new image, there was my mother, her face contorted in anguish and pain, clutching the doctor's wrist, begging him to save my life.
As I marveled, the doctor continued, "And then, I saw you lying there." I somehow saw it too, again with the clear precision. "I'd always had a bit of fondness for your family- too much probably. I had worked very hard to save all of you, but, by that time, it was out of my hands. But, after your mother's request, I knew there was one thing that I could do to save your life. And if I hadn't known without a shadow of a doubt that you would die soon, too, I would have never done it." His eyes were pleading at me now. "Please know that, Edward."
I was abruptly bewildered by the fact that he knew my name. I knew of course that he should know it, but it almost felt like we were strangers now, meeting for the first time. Yet I too could feel his sincerity and truthfulness in telling me this. That was the only thing that I had understood from his explanation. Everything else was completely incomprehensible. "What did you do?" I asked warily.
"I did what your mother asked of me- I saved your life," he said in a low, guarded voice. "But, it is a very different life than the one you knew."
The snarls were building in my chest again out of my confusion. There was an electric pulsing in my veins like adrenaline that had me yearning to crush the doctor's throat again so that he would give me answers finally. The utter necessity for that boiled over and I reacted before I even had time to think about it.
I lunged at him, so quickly and with such strength, he could have never blocked me. I hurled him to the floor, pinning his arms down and ignoring the sound as the force of it cracked through the oak wood, leaving large gaping holes in the otherwise smooth paneling. I brought a knee to his torso to further immobilize him, and felt the sudden desire to shove it straight through his chest. And yet, as I noticed for the first time how hard his body was, I felt like that might not work. Something in me was telling me to use my teeth, to rip them across his skin like a razor blade till it sunk through all of it, that that would finally do the trick...
"Just tell me." I spat each word slowly, trying to gain control of my frightening rage.
He made no attempt to defend himself or fight me. Though his skin was hard, just as mine was, I strangely realized, his body felt weak, vulnerable almost. His eyes were agonized as he looked into mine. When he spoke, it came out as a hollow whisper. "I turned you into a creature like myself."
What did he mean? He looked just the same as I remembered him, well, perhaps I was seeing him slightly different, but I was seeing everything different. I remembered that I occasionally heard him use this word while I had been tortured, or whatever that had been. I saw that image once again that was consistently popping into my head, and there was no other word than he had used for whatever I was seeing. But it was not me.
My jaw was so strained it made it hard to speak through. "A creature?"
"There are many names for what I am- what we are. There have been stories for- we don't even know when they began, but for many millennia. Each time it is different and not one of them is totally correct." Here he paused to take a deep breath, then looked at me with determined eyes. "But the name you would probably understand best is...vampire."
If I hadn't been filled with a murderous frustration and confusion, I would have laughed. What was he playing at? Though I could sense no dishonesty from him, my mind was not willing to accept this answer. The surprise of his answer lessened the fury I felt and I let go of him, standing once again.
"Vampire?" I asked, a slight edge of sarcasm in my otherwise frightening voice.
He stood up as well, in a single, quick graceful movement. "Yes. A creature of the night, the immortal dead" - he paused for a second, then said in a lower, more sorrowful tone- "the eternal damned."
I still wasn't buying it. "So, that's what that was all about- all of that pain? Because I'm in hell, I had to transform into a monster that belongs there as well?"
He looked almost upset. "Some might consider it that, however I do not. What you went through was the transformation process for becoming one of our kind." He looked away and shook his head slightly. "I should apologize. I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing- how to do it right. I only copied the wounds I had been given, and I have a feeling now that it may have been more than was necessary."
Perhaps from the goodness and honesty coming from this man, his explanation was starting to get to me, touching at the edges of my understanding. But if what he was saying was true, that image of that monster that kept creeping into my head would have to be me, and I could not accept that.
"And so, now I have to stay away from sunlight and garlic and crosses, right?" My voice still had that touch of irony in it, apart from the undercurrent of danger.
He shook his head. "No, those were part of the myths; humans wanted to believe that they had some kind of protection against -our- kind, so they created them.
"I discovered these things for myself. I was born in London in the earlier half of the seventeenth century." Once again, an uncalled for image flooded my head of exactly what he was talking about, though these images were much hazier than the ones before. I could see a small English village and a parish with a pastor and what looked to be this man, but in very different clothes. It couldn't be from my imagination though. It had to be something that the doctor was doing. I could not take this any longer.
The image abruptly ended and the picture of that creature with red eyes filled my mind again. His expression looked murderous.
What happened? "What's wrong?" Dr. Cullen asked cautiously.
"How are you doing that?" My voice had translated my anxiety and confusion into a very lethal tone.
"What?" he asked, looking as confused as I felt.
"I just...I just saw it in my head. Exactly what you were talking about. The rows of white cottages with straw-thatched roofs, the parish on the left corner of the road. And then, when you were talking about my mother and me in the hospital, I saw it all in my head, too."
Dr. Cullen continued to stare at me. How can that be? Is this some kind of...?
"And how do you keep doing that?" I exploded.
"What do you mean?" he asked slowly, probably trying to soothe my obvious rage. I was very close to attacking him again.
"Talking without moving your lips- it's driving me insane." I pressed my fingers to my temples, my mind so utterly confused it was almost painful. "Don't do it again."
"What did you hear?" he asked cautiously, but with a hint of curiosity.
I repeated the words, feeling like perhaps the doctor should be institutionalized. Or perhaps myself. If they had sanitariums in hell, that is.
Dr. Cullen now looked at me appraisingly, with a look of wonderment in his eyes. Ah, he has a gift. He can read thoughts.
He gave a strained chuckle. "This is going to take some time getting used to."
"What do you mean gift?"
He considered thinking his answer- I did hear it and it seemed obvious then that it was coming from his thoughts- then upon seeing my expression decided to speak it aloud. "It happens some times with our kind. My theory is that whatever characteristics and traits we have in our human life are strengthened in our new life. You must have been very aware of the thoughts of others and now you can physically hear them- and see the images that go with them."
Well it was one way to explain it. Probably the only way. Things were starting to make sense to me, but I didn't want them to. Not yet.
"Do you have a gift?" I asked, wanting to distract my brain from understanding.
He smiled and looked down. "Not in the physical sense that yours is. But I do think I am very different from others of our kind. Which brings me back to my own story..." he paused, "But I suppose we should leave that till later when you are more at rest. I think we have waited as long as is possible. We should hunt."
Once again he was using words that seemed entirely out of context. And yet, something in the idea brought the ache in my throat from a dull pain to a flaming torch. "Hunt?" I choked out.
He motioned for me to follow him as he walked out of the room. I began to walk and found that the motion was incredibly different to what I was used to. My gait was much faster than before, I gauged that I could cover seventy miles in one hour at this same pace. We were out of the house, which consisted of three other rooms, and into the slightly overcast weather outside in the space of four seconds. The doctor led me out into the wooded area nearby.
"Not all of the myths were wrong, you see," he continued on with his explanation. "We do still need the blood of others to survive, but it does not have to be the blood of humans." He paused. "I suppose I'll need to explain more about that later."
I was almost so distracted by all of my new surroundings, and the precise way that I could see, hear, and smell them, that I almost didn't understand at first what he said. "Blood?"
"Yes, it's the only thing that you will need to consume from now on. You no longer have need for any other food or drink, "he smiled a little wryly, "and you'll find that nothing else is very palatable to you."
So I no longer needed food or water? Well, it made sense either way, whether I was dead, or... something else (I still fought against the idea and especially the name). I could still smell the cool air of the stream near the house and, though my throat felt much the same as a man locked in a desert for two weeks might, it did not appeal to me in the slightest.
With that though, I caught the scent of something else. It was large; I could hear its heavy footfall in the leaves sixty yards away from us. The beat of its heart sounded a little faster than it should be, as if it were slowing down from exercise. There was a whiff of another animal's blood in the air too; perhaps it had just come from its own hunt.
In comparison to the water of the stream, this animal did rather appeal to me. My mind would no longer allow itself to wonder why that was, so powerfully did my body long to have that animal's blood- to have something assuage my charred throat- that it no longer permitted any protestations.
The doctor watched me, taking in all of my reactions. When I looked at him, unsure of what to do, he nodded encouragingly. Follow your instincts.
I followed the scent easily. It was undoubtedly the largest animal in the surrounding area, and I found immediately that its blood was also more appealing than any others. I felt like an animal myself, with my body half-crouched, prowling towards my... my prey. It was not totally dissimilar to when I'd been hunting before when I was alive, but I had certainly never hunted like this.
It was twelve feet away from me now and I could see him. It was a cougar. Though I had not made a sound as I'd ghosted towards him, the animal stiffened and stopped in its tracks. He had sensed the oncoming danger. His blood was now pumping with adrenaline and the beat of his heart had amplified in tempo. It made a moist, squeezing sound that increased his appeal. Though my mouth was now filled with some kind of moisture, it equally inflamed the dryness in my throat.
He paused for a second, waiting for a sound or movement to betray his attacker. My own body tensed as it measured the correct amount of force to propel me to him.
Then I sprang at him.
He did not understand till my hands were already wrapped around his throat; my descent had made no noise. He tried to bolt, but my arms were already smoothly enclosed around his form, making escape entirely impossible. His claws rose as I pushed him to the ground and would have, at any other time, ripped the skin of my face off, but surprisingly, they had no more impact than a fan of feathers brushed lightly across my skin.
He stretched his neck back in a roar of rage, letting the tendons stand out. I didn't need any more direction or sign or instruction than that. My lips parted and my head lowered until my teeth slipped effortlessly through the folds of his fur, his muscles, all the way until it met with the large vein pumping along his throat.
In that moment, I knew.
I was a vampire.
I drank and drank, and even by the time I could no longer feel any more blood left in him, nor any more weak protests from his slackened body, I was still thirsty. I could tell, somehow, that, though it felt soothing along my scorched throat, the flavor of the blood itself was not what it should be. But at the moment, I only wanted to tame the burning dryness I felt that it did not matter.
I left the carcass on the ground, noting that I had much of his blood and claw marks down the front of my shirt. I turned back to the doctor, whom I had almost forgotten was there at all.
He watched me with a pleased expression on his face. That went better than I'd hoped even.
Did that? I was abruptly bewildered and astonished and frightened that I had just killed an animal with nothing more than my hands and teeth, and drank all of its blood.
And I'd liked it.
"You did quite well," he observed. "Much better than I did on my first time, actually. But I was in a different state of mind by that point," he muttered the last part. I couldn't tell if he had misinterpreted my expression or if he was simply trying to divert my attention away from the fact that I was now a killing machine.
"A different state of mind?" My voice came out a little strangled.
"Yes, which I will tell you all about, but I imagine you're still thirsty now. There's generally a few bears up a few miles or so away from us. They have a better flavor than anything else around here. Shall we?" He indicated ahead of us with a slight smile.
And, as though it were the normal and completely accepted thing to do, I followed him to drain the blood of some more animals.
We returned to the house after clearing the area of most of its largest animals. We'd spent several hours tracking down prey, but also the doctor had told me of his history, how he came to be what he was. I saw it all in his mind too, everything that had happened, his centuries of existence, the many lands he had been to, and most especially, why he was different from any other vampire.
I knew, in every word that he said, that he was telling the truth.
And he was right- the ache in my throat was still present but more in control now. I was able to concentrate on other things now, but more than anything I was unable to keep my own horror at what had happened at bay.
Because I believed the doctor now and I could no longer fool myself anymore. I knew that that creature with the white pale skin and the deadly red eyes was me.
I noted for the first time that the doctor's eyes were not red though.
"Please, call me Carlisle. If you don't mind, that is."
I suppose that was better. I knew him now as a completely different person, and it was best that he had a new name for that association. "Why are my eyes red, and yours aren't?"
"You still have much of your own human blood in your system, which you can see in your eyes. It also gives you greater strength than I do, or any other of our kind. But both of these will wear off after a few months, and will be gone completely after the first year. Your eyes will then turn to the same color as mine."
I nodded and looked away, staring at nothing. Now that my body was somewhat more in control, my mind was losing its hold and I felt once again immersed in turmoil.
Though I knew the doctor- Carlisle- could not read my thoughts, he sensed what I was feeling.
"When this first happened to me," he began gently, "as I told you, I considered myself to be a monster- the most vile thing that could ever walk the earth. I tried to destroy myself many, many times. Yet while trying, I found another way to live this life than had been wrought upon me- one where I wasn't so much of a monster. And because of this, I have been able to improve myself- my knowledge and talents- so much so that I am able to help humans in a way I couldn't have as a human myself.
"There are many that think we have lost our souls- certainly that is what my father thought. But, I do not believe so. Who knows but that this is what God intended for us?
"Am I glad that this happened to me? I do not know. I do not know how my life would have been without it. I've only thought to work with what I have been given- and in that case, I am happy with my life.
"I, of course, leave it up to you if you want to live this life- with me. I would not stop you if you wanted to go, because it is, of course, my fault that you are here in this situation." He paused and added more fervently, "But I hope you will stay, Edward."
I could feel in every part of me, whether from my new abilities or simple intuition, that I could trust this man. That he was honest, and good, and true. And I had no idea where else I would go, if I wanted to leave.
But it was so much to take in. I had no words to say to him.
Taking in my expression, he nodded slightly. "I'd best give you some time by yourself, to think things through." He walked quietly out of the room.
I walked over to stand before the window facing west. The clouds were gone now and the sun was beginning to set, and I was seeing each dazzling ray as it burst forth from the glowing orb in a way that I could have never seen before.
But what captivated my interest more than anything was the reflection of myself in the window. Wherever the bright sunlight touched, my skin sparkled as if it were made of thousands of jewels. This creature was not so frightening. It was almost... dazzling in its beauty.
Yet, all too quickly, as if the color and life were being sucked out of him, that creature was replaced in the window by the monster with bright white skin and red eyes. The glittering sun slipped behind the screen of hills surrounding the house, and all light was gone. Twilight. The ending of a day.
Was that what this was- the end of my life? The end of all light and goodness and the beginning of everything dark and evil? For most of the day, well actually, several days, I had thought that- known that my life was over. And thought that I was in hell.
Was this hell though? Had I lost my soul and become a monster?
I did not know.
I waited and waited and still my body would not tire, would not fall asleep. The moon rose high into the pitch night sky and I was still incredibly alert, like the feeling of exhaustion would never come to me again. I had been right- I was dead after all. Strangely though, the power trilling in my limbs, even while at rest, and the new capabilities of my mind, made me feel more alive than I had ever been. I had died and awoken to a new life.