Sleep, To Rise Again
One shot. Bella and Edward at the end of all things. "The scientists knew just enough to determine exactly when the world was going to end, and not nearly enough to be able to stop it. Humanity had not dug its own grave, but opted for cremation."
1. Sleep, To Rise Again (One Shot)
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1522 Review this Chapter
Humanity had suffered greatly in the past several centuries. For decades they had been a shining example of innovation and achievement; they had stood proudly by their skyscrapers, their cars, their aeroplanes, and dared each other to go one step further. Like children, they had fought bitterly to be at the head of the pack, to win the never-ending race - and in the end, they had almost been destroyed by their own egos. One person pushed too hard, one person’s temper snapped too easily... and one billion, twenty six million, four hundred and ninety eight thousand people in the Middle East were killed.
Overwhelmed by the utter horror of their actions far too late, the humans turned upon themselves. All development came to a standstill, and for five hundred years they remained preserved in a state of hysteria. Technology that had once advanced so rapidly remained frozen, regressing where overcautious humans saw danger. For five centuries, the whole world grieved for what it had destroyed.
And then, like countless others before them, a new generation saw themselves far enough removed from the carnage to make strides forward once more. They forgot the repeated warnings of the past, so engrossed they were in the future laid out for them. They stretched, greedy fingers grasping at an unseen prize...
The last time humanity had become overconfident, they had killed over a billion people in the Middle East. This time, they were going to destroy the entire world. The scientists knew just enough to determine exactly when the world was going to end, and not nearly enough to be able to stop it.
Humanity had not dug its own grave, but opted for cremation.
‘Three hours, forty seven minutes and thirty seconds.’
Edward refused to believe the stilted, computerised voice that spoke from the emergency announcement broadcaster installed in every house. He had seen the humans reach such a panicked conclusion before, only to find it a false alarm. While he might have had some concerns the first time, he would not believe them any longer, particularly as Bella was worried enough for the both of them. His wife’s slender arm clutched at his own, her grip so tight he was reminded of her first minutes as a newborn.
‘It’s going to be fine, Bella,’ he soothed, reaching a hand out to hold her face, and pressed his lips to her temple. ‘They’ve predicted the end of the world before, and I’ll wager we live to see them predict it again.’
Bella shook, every muscle trembling with pure terror. ‘I’ve never once bet against Alice,’ she whispered. ‘I don’t plan to start now.’
‘What do you mean?’ Edward barked, throwing his mind out to the room at large. He encountered Jasper’s thoughts, his brother as panicked as Bella seemed to be, and... nothing.
‘Three hours, thirty nine minutes and forty five seconds.’
‘Look at her,’ Bella choked. Snapping his head around, Edward took a fraction of a second to grasp that his sister’s face was whiter than he ever thought possible, that her hands were shaking, and that her features were twisted into a mask of extreme pain. Shooting a very pointed beam of thought at Alice, he once more hit a huge wall of nothingness. It was like meeting Bella for the first time all over again.
‘Alice, what is it?’ he asked quietly, taking a step towards the tiny woman. Jasper moaned, clutching at his head in pain. Alice continued to stare straight ahead, her face a portrait of agony. He waited a moment more before he bellowed, ‘Alice! What do you see?’
Another torturous moment, one of the longest in his existence.
‘Three hours, twenty seven minutes and fifteen seconds.’
‘Nothing,’ Alice abruptly gasped. Every letter sounded like it was being ripped from her lungs with an iron hook. ‘I can see three hours and twenty seven minutes into everyone’s futures, and then they disappear. Everyone in this whole world is going to die.’
Shaking. The whole world was shaking, the colours of the room mixing together to make a pale, jagged mess. Edward fell to his knees when his legs gave way, and the whole world went brown as he stared at the floorboards. Bella sobbed, a dry tearing noise filling the air as her vampire body struggled to imitate a very human action. She ran to Alice and almost tackled her; the sisters wrapped their arms around one another and clung.
‘I love you, Alice,’ Bella said frantically, tripping over her syllables in an attempt to force them quickly past a swollen tongue. ‘I love you more than I can ever say. Thank you for everything.’
‘Three hours, eighteen minutes and thirty seconds.’
Bella took the lead as Edward stumbled blindly behind her, completely unable to function now that he had accepted the truth. Somehow they managed to say their goodbyes to Carlisle and Esme, Emmett and Rosalie. They survived the emotional massacre of a video call to Renesmee and Jacob, who were somewhere in the Spanish countryside. An hour, and then there was no one left to say farewell to. No more people to grasp hold of and pray that you would still be holding on in four hours. They retreated to their bedroom and into each other, knowing that their hearts were safest in each other’s bodies.
As soon as the door closed, Edward groaned in pain, his face contorting as he crushed Bella to him, pressing as much of his skin as possible to hers. ‘I won’t lose you,’ he told her forcefully, shifting his hands to her cheeks so he could lock his eyes onto hers. ‘I can’t. Nothing can take you from me. Not even the end of the world.’
‘Two hours and six minutes.’
Bella raised trembling fingers to his eyebrows and stroked softly across them, running her fingertips all over his face in an attempt to calm him. ‘We’re going to be fine,’ she lied, not knowing what else to do. ‘Alice has been wrong before, and you know that a split second decision can change everything. Something else could happen. We’ll survive, and even if we don’t, I know we’ll be together in the afterlife.’
Edward laughed bitterly, the sound clawing against Bella’s skin. ‘That’s assuming that there is an afterlife. And if there is, we won’t be going to the same place.’ He dropped one hand to Bella’s waist, and the other caressed her silken cheek. His adoration broke through the screaming pain in his eyes as he marvelled at her ethereal beauty. ‘No one could send me to where you’re going.’
‘You know I refuse to believe that,’ Bella said calmly, strengthened by her faith in her husband. She could not be afraid. Not when she knew that something so wonderfully great awaited her love on the far side of two hours. ‘Come lie with me awhile,’ she suggested, tugging Edward over to their wide, firm bed.
‘One hour, fifty nine minutes and thirty seconds.’
At first they took turns to fall apart, one shuddering uncontrollably as the other comforted them, whispering whatever they could think of until their fears were dampened.
‘One hour, two minutes and fifteen seconds.’
They lay in each others arms and grieved for what they were going to lose. They inwardly wept for what they had not done and for what they now regretted. They held themselves together in the quiet of the other’s company until they could no longer be strong. They mourned nearly a thousand years of memories, even as they celebrated them. They cried out at the injustice of having to prepare for their end.
‘Forty five minutes and forty five seconds.’
They returned right to the very beginning. They talked of meeting, of falling in love. Of heartbeats racing, of scents overpowering all sense and logic. They recalled memories of moonlit nights where Edward hd held Bella, unwilling to be parted from her as she slept, and she had dreamed of him.
‘Twelve minutes and fifteen seconds.’
Edward couldn’t speak. He couldn’t scream. He couldn’t cry. He couldn’t even move.
‘We’re going to sleep now,’ Bella murmured. ‘Sleep for the first time in centuries. We’re going to be able to wake up to a new morning.’
He couldn’t sleep if he didn’t have his eyes closed. He refused to shut them.
They kissed desperately, passion fuelling their actions more than hunger or desire ever could. It was a scraping of teeth and tongues and a crush of lips so firm that all the colour was forced out and the tender skin turned white. It wasn’t a goodbye. It was a hold on. They kissed with their eyes open.
They pressed every cell of flesh together that they could reach, and almost screamed with the pain that accompanied the realisation that they weren’t close enough. That their physical incarnations never would be, and their souls might never meet.
‘Forty five seconds.’
They had not blinked in three hours and twenty seven minutes. If they were going to die, they would do so with their eyes wide open. They would not lose sight of each other.
They were just going to sleep. They would rise again when the darkness fled.
She was so beautiful in the morning sun.
Cocooned in one another’s embrace, Bella and Edward slept.