you'll always be an outsider in this new world of lust
Written for round one of the Twilight Swap community at LiveJournal.
1. you'll always be an outsider in this new world of lust
Rating 4/5 Word Count 3824 Review this Chapter
"What is your name, sir?"
"Thomas. What's yer business?"
"I only have a few questions, Thomas." Carlisle took a deep breath. This whole thing was foolish. "Do you know anything about...vampires?"
Thomas eyed Carlisle's smart white shirt, crisp black pants, and clean leather shoes. He also noted the accent: perfect pronunciation and grammar to befit this very polite and obviously pious young man. And obviously out of place. Thomas turned his head sideways and spit through his rotten teeth, then looked back at Carlisle. His old eyes narrowed as he spoke.
"Yeah. Got cause to know 'em, right. My grandson, little Billy, was kidnapped two nights ago. I'd say it was the work of a vampire, 'cause what else could it've been, mister?"
Carlisle's eyes were soft and kind. "May the Lord be with your grandson. I hope to rid the city of these foul creatures, and so spare such a fate to other children. Would you take up the call of God's work and help me in this endeavor?"
"What do ye want me to do?"
Hesitating, unsure if he should go on or not, Carlisle lowered his voice. "I need names."
A sly grin spread over Thomas' old, wrinkled face. He leaned in conspiratorially toward Carlisle, as though preparing to share a great secret.
"Yeah? Well, this is, o' course, kept between you an' me?"
"Of course. Doing the Lord's work is the most important thing you can do in this life, Thomas."
"Yeah. Well. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I know this particular bloodsucker's name. But my old mind, see, it's a bit addled sometimes, an' I can't remember the simplest things. Mayhap you've got somethin' to jog my memory?"
Carlisle sighed. He'd expected as much, after all. But his father had told him to go to any means necessary, so he reluctantly passed a silver coin into Thomas' waiting hand. It disappeared with a flash, so quickly that Carlisle had no idea where it went. Up a sleeve, perhaps, or in a pocket?
"Ah, yes, I remember now." Triumphant, Carlisle thought. "Her name would be Elizabeth. Right common name. But she's got the scariest eyes, y'see, they're all black and devilish-like. Scares the wits outta any God-fearin' citizen. She lives three houses down the lane, there, y'see it?" A gnarled arm lifted and pointed, then dropped.
"Thank you, Thomas. You have been of invaluable service to the Lord and his helpers on earth."
The old man dipped his head, then shuffled back into his one-room house. Carlisle turned in the direction that Thomas had indicated and set off, for the eleventh time that day.
When Elizabeth opened the door, her eyes went wide with shock. That brought attention to their deep black color, the pupils blending imperceptibly with the irises, creating a frightening effect. Carlisle reached for his knife and pulled it out, holding it to her neck. He didn't like to do this, especially since the woman hadn't proved she would harm him. But his father had insisted it was necessary, and Carlisle didn't want to disappoint his father. His father meant more to him than even he knew.
With a shaky voice, he spoke. "Lead me into your house."
When she did, Carlisle could instantly tell he had threatened the wrong person. A total of fifteen wooden crosses hung on a wall opposite a window. He could actually see a thick, dusty Bible laying on a kitchen table. He slid the knife back into its place at his belt and stepped back from the woman. His voice was apologetic.
"Forgive me, madam. I mean you no harm." With a bewildered expression on her face, Elizabeth watched as Carlisle walked out of her home and into the twilight.
The eleventh time today, he thought, frustrated. This was getting him nowhere. Those immoral creatures were hiding out somewhere, according to his father. But the fact remained that even if they did exist, Carlisle didn't know how to find them. It seemed like townsfolk were eager to accuse someone who was completely innocent. The whole adventure was hopeless, he thought dismally as he walked back home.
Pastor Cullen was a older man with thinning blond hair and serious blue eyes. Those blue eyes turned on him when he walked into the front room of the house. Carlisle's father was sitting in his favorite chair before the fire, the night sky peering through the opening in the curtains. The man's deep voice was intimidating as ever as he spoke.
"How many heathens have received justice this day?"
His father stared into the distance, a wistful look on his face. "The Lord is our savior, Carlisle." His voice was infused with so much passion that Carlisle had a hard time resisting the urge to fall to his knees in humility. Pastor Cullen continued, his face still frozen in a mask of longing. "Our calling is to rid the world of the spawn of Satan. The Lord knows I intend to do his will on earth." Suddenly, his voice dropped to a pained whisper, but his eyes still watched something far away. "We owe everything to him, Carlisle. Our lives, our souls, everything. Can't you just do this one thing, this small insignificant task, for Him?"
Raw disappointment was evident in his father's voice. He couldn't bear to hear his father like this. He felt compassion for the man in front of him -- he knew how much he wanted to please the Lord, and how his own son was dishonoring him. Carlisle didn't want to lose the trust that his father had so carefully placed in him.
Even though Carlisle had little faith in the existence of mythical bloodsuckers, he felt the urge to be a good son, to bring pride to the Cullen name. It was his father's dream for him, after all.
Pastor Cullen refocused his gaze on his son. His voice was suddenly menacing. "You will not fail me again, Carlisle. Prove that you are loyal to me, and that you fear God, by not resting this night. You must be constantly vigilant in this world of evildoers." He paused, then continued in a hiss. "Go find the vampires."
Carlisle ran out of the house and into the night, fueled by the heat in his father's words. There had to be something new he could try, something that would make his father look upon him in some light other than disappointed. Perhaps he could even set out some bait --
Just then, a horrid stench made him gag reflexively, stopping him in his tracks. It smelled like rust and salt, an odd combination that made him think of only one thing: blood. Rounding the nearest corner into an alley, he saw that the paved ground was covered in the thick red liquid. Sick to his stomach, Carlisle looked further and noticed a bloody body lying limply in between two buildings, and by the looks of it, she seemed to have had a very messy death. Before he could turn away and flee, however, three pairs of coal-black eyes flashed at him from the dark shadows of an old building. Then a part of a face moved into the light, and judging by the glimmer of sharp white teeth, now was not the time to hesitate.
He couldn't believe this was happening, almost. This was an actual vampire -- and it was thirsty. He knew it instinctively, if only because his every muscle tensed in anticipation of running away. His own body was warning him to avoid this creature like Satan himself. His father, Carlisle thought in wonder, had been right. But even he knew there was no time for such thoughts.
Screaming, Carlisle rushed forward, trying to catch the creatures before it was too late. They dashed away, eyes wildly searching while they sluggishly ran through the alley and into a street, stumbling over their own feet. He didn't know exactly why -- after all, he'd been taught that vampires had amazing speed and agility. He could only guess that since he'd caught them before they'd had a chance to devour the dead woman, they were still very, very hungry.
"Kill the vampires! Kill the vampires!" Carlisle yelled hysterically, hoping to attract attention.
Some neighbors nearby opened the doors of their houses and poked out their heads, trying to see what the commotion was all about. A few men were worried enough to join in the chase with Carlisle. He knew that they were too far behind, and that these vampires were much, much faster than him -- even though they seemed to be weakened, somehow. If they continued to run, however, he knew he wouldn't be able to catch them.
Gradually, he noticed that one of the vampires, the smallest one, had been lagging slightly behind. Carlisle rushed forward to try to jump on it, but it was too fast. It spun around and backhanded him across the jaw, breaking it with a sickening crack. Blood gushed from his wound, and the vampire's eyes grew impossibly darker. It sunk its teeth into Carlisle's shoulder, causing him to cry out. His vision swam as he fell to his knees, dizzy with pain.
He was barely able to think through the pain seeping from his shoulder and down his arm, through his chest, around his neck. It felt like his skin and bones were burning. Why was there a fire?
Looking up through the tears, he saw that there was no fire. The vampire was gone. That didn't make any sense, but it was true. His agony-filled mind had a hard time grasping the concept: why wasn't it still here? Then, the answer hit him in a bolt of lightning -- or more precisely, in a roar as loud as a pack of lions. The townspeople were coming. As he looked back, tears flowing when the broken fragments of his jawbone grated against each other, he saw that they were no more than thirty seconds away.
With cold and frightening certainty, he suddenly knew what was happening. The spreading agony was unbearable -- and he knew what it was: poison. He was in no shape to run after vampires. If he sat there, the people would run over him and crush him. He'd seen that look in their eyes before: it was blood lust, and they wouldn't cease until they caught the vampires.
With grim determination, Carlisle knew there was only one way to save himself from death by stampede. Something in the back of his mind muttered that if the angry masses didn't kill him, the poison would. But his survival instinct wouldn't let himself give in to that pessimistic prediction; he would have to do what he could. He clenched his teeth, only to realize from the flash of pain that his jaw was still broken. Carlisle crawled back to the wall of the alley, trying to hide himself in the shadows as best he could, bracing himself against a rotting barrel. Before the mob could get too close, he pulled a large wooden plank over his body, hiding himself from view -- mostly.
This was his only chance.
Closing his eyes, he felt the rumble of feet shake the ground. As the wave of people passed him by, oblivious to the shaking form hiding inches away, Carlisle's body was wracked with pain. The fire kept spreading from that tiny wound on his shoulder -- and even though he knew there was no actual fire, it felt as though his whole body was ablaze with the heat and agony of hellfire. His sense of time dimmed, so that he was unable to determine how long a second was, much less a day. During his rare lucid moments, he had given up any hope, only wondering dimly when he would die. How long it would last before it was all over? He hoped it would be soon.
Carlisle had no idea how long he'd been writhing there, but suddenly, the pain lifted and he was able to open his eyes. He reached out to push the wooden plank off of himself -- instead, his hand went right through it. Carlisle gasped, only to find that he was choking on the old blood blocking his airways. Coughing produced more blood, and as much as he was hacking up, more was ready to replace it. A feeling of desperate helplessness overwhelmed him, and he finally just stopped trying. Was it really worth all the effort of trying to clear his throat when it was obvious he was going to choke anyway? When he stopped breathing, his body calmed.
Baffled, he dimly wondered why he was still conscious after five minutes of no oxygen, but that feeling was quickly replaced by wonder and fright. Through the hole his hand had made in the wooden plank, sunlight streamed through, landing on the skin of his chest and arms. But the light didn't settle there -- it refracted, bouncing off and creating beautiful diamond sparkles the likes of which he had never seen.
What had that poison done to him? What was he?
With a sickening feeling of dread, he understood. The realization hit him like a blow, and he staggered with the force of it. He was not human. The venom in those glistening white teeth had spread through his bloodstream and created...a monster. His mind struggled with the concept, but one thing was absolutely clear. He would never drink from a human. Ever. People had too much potential, and too much love in them to be slaughtered selfishly.
As soon as the thoughts of humans crossed his mind, the terrible ache in his stomach grew. Horrified, Carlisle, still huddled behind the wooden plank, recognized the feeling. It was a gnawing hunger that left his mouth dry and his body weak. Suddenly, scents overpowered him, and it seemed that from every corner, he could smell the delicious aroma of fresh, thick blood pumping through living veins, just waiting for him to sink his teeth through and --
He cried out with the effort and stood up, knocking the wood off of him and crushing the barrel in the process. He needed to get away from the city, somewhere far enough where he couldn't smell the delightfully tantalizing blood of humans. He vowed to never kill a person, ever.
As the distant edges of a forest approached at an alarming rate, Carlisle realized he was running much, much faster than he had thought. Rocks and bushes flashed by in less than a second. Also, the midday sun was glittering off of his hard, pale skin -- he could see that now, in the light -- which frightened him. What if a townsperson looked out of their window and saw him, shimmering and sprinting along at inhuman speeds?
Soon, he reached the gloom of the forest. When he judged himself to be far enough within the semi-darkness, he clutched at his pained stomach and sat down against a large oak tree. The tree cracked and fell beneath him, crashing to a halt on the leaf-covered ground. Carlisle stood up, alarmed, then cautiously settled down on the dirt, hugging his knees.
A low moan escaped his throat at the unbearable agony he was in. He needed to eat, or drink, or something, something to fill his stomach and stop these horrible aches. It was a fact: his control was weakening. The worst part was that he knew he had the ability to rid himself of the pain. He knew exactly what he would have to do, and the whispers of the demons inside him said that if he drank from a human, he would feel bliss like he never had before.
"Hush, Satan," Carlisle muttered, before a spasm in his abdomen ripped through him.
As the sun sunk in the sky, it was getting harder and harder for the young vampire to resist his thirst. This, more than anything, lead him to a startling conclusion. He knew that if this went on for long enough, he wouldn't be able to stop himself from killing someone. That was a fact. But he couldn't let himself be a danger to mankind, a threat to society. He couldn't let himself do that. If he had to die to protect his fellow man, he would, without a doubt.
So Carlisle stood up, and, bent over slightly from the pain, drew his knife from his belt. It was the very same knife he had almost used on that girl Elizabeth. A mirthless laugh escaped his lips before his mind was brought to the task at hand. Gripping the handle so hard his knuckles turned white, Carlisle said a quick prayer, then slashed it with all his might against his own neck. Surprisingly, a brittle snap accompanied that motion, along with a sudden lack of pressure in his hand. Glancing at the knife at his hand, he was startled to see that it had shattered in thousands of pieces from his incredible strength.
He waited for the pain, waited for the gush of blood. But nothing happened.
Feeling at the place where he had tried to cut himself, the skin seemed to be as hard as granite, no trace of a wound left on the stone surface. Carlisle felt cheated. He was doing this for a noble cause. He no longer wanted to live. And his knife was well-sharpened. His skin was simply too hard to cut through.
A growl formed in the creature, now closer to an animal's than anything because of his intense hunger. He would have to end this another way.
Dashing cross-country to find the nearby river, Carlisle smiled grimly. This would work, he was sure of it. He jumped in, not caring if his clothes were wet on his dying day. The weight of the stone-hard body caused it to sink to the riverbed. His mouth was clamped firmly shut, eyes squeezed and nose pressed between a thumb and forefinger to attempt to block any oxygen from reaching his system.
Frustrated, Carlisle lifted himself out of the river and onto the grass. What else could he possibly try if he was to succeed at his task? His need fueled his strides as he ran across England, at some point in time finding a giant cliff overlooking a woody ravine. Its height would be an excellent advantage -- just that much greater of a chance for Carlisle to die. In only a few minutes, he had climbed up to the top of the cliff. Steeling himself, he tried to tell himself that this was for the good of mankind, to try to keep at least some of them safe. With that noble thought in mind, he was able to master his fear.
What did he have to be afraid of anyway? He was already dead.
With no more than second's hesitation, he leaped silently from the top of the cliff, watching the canopy leaves of trees in the ravine below rush towards him at frightening speeds. He was detached, somehow, from his body, until the exact moment of impact. That was when he went crashing back into his body with full force, but hardly feeling the collision.
He knew it was all over. Carlisle couldn't think of a single way to kill himself. Damn this vampire body, he thought, and its superhuman strength. He was too tired to fight anymore.
Having landed in another wood, Carlisle stood and walked a little distance away. He was in a half-crouch now, because the pain in his stomach was almost impossible to endure.
His instincts made a promise to him, even if he refused to accept it. The next thing he saw, he would drink. It didn't seem like such a terrible thing, considering the horrible emotional and physical state he was in. In a feral, defensive stance, Carlisle issued a low growl in the direction of the animal that had made the slightest sound. This was hunting? Whatever it was, it was beautiful. Sneaking silently toward the animal, Carlisle peered through some trees and saw that it was a deer.
Immediately, poison seeped into his mouth unbidden, rolling around his tongue like a deadly saliva. He could smell its warm blood from here, the succulent aroma and the promise of its thick liquid already filling his senses.
Time ceased to exist for Carlisle Cullen. He sprang, leaping forward and catching hold of the deer's neck. With two amazingly strong hands, he snapped its neck and, an instant later, ripped apart its insides. Red blood poured out from the animal and soaked into the ground, but most of it Carlisle drank.
After finishing his meal, Carlisle could think. He'd had an idea -- that vampires could sustain themselves off of animals instead of people. Carlisle himself, after drinking animal blood, had felt new and refreshed. This thought elated him -- he wasn't a monster after all. Hadn't he eaten venison when he had been...human? This was no different, he told himself. He could now be content with himself. Carlisle was at peace.
x x x
"So, little vampire," said Aro, smiling in an odd way. "You don't drink human blood."
It was less of a question and more of a statement, sounding as though it expected a challenge. Carlisle only nodded, conveying both respect and pride in that simple gesture.
"You call yourself a vampire?" Caius cried, unable to hold his tongue. He rarely got so worked up, but this was an odd case. He'd never heard of a predator forsaking his food source in search of something less.
Carlisle could almost feel the disgust emanating from every figure in the room except Aro. In those eyes he only saw curiosity, a sort of fascination with a test subject. It made his skin crawl. The young vampire had the distinct impression that Aro was far more dangerous than his grandfatherly look implied. Something behind those burgundy eyes was menacing, and Carlisle resolved not to get on his bad side.
Aro was impressed. This young man -- for he still was young, being mere decades into his immortal life -- was willful. He obviously had spirit. He'd be a great addition to the Volturi, of course. At least they would never have to worry about any lack of control, the importance of which was usually hard to impress on newer additions. That was one thing that confused him. How did the boy have so much control over his thirst so as to deny himself the one thing he desired?
Fascinated, Aro smiled. Beckoning Carlisle closer, he said, "Come here, young man."
Cautiously, Carlisle did as he said. Without warning, Aro's old, papery hand reached out and touched his shoulder. All Carlisle saw was the blissful smile that spread through Aro's features...but Aro saw much, much more.