Edward Masen has led a charmed life. As the son of a prominent Chicago attorney he has grown up in the highest circles of society. The Spanish Influenza of 1918 cared nothing for social standing, however, and treated everyone equally. Now Edward must adjust to a world he never imagined after becoming a victim of the epidemic. This is the story of Edward's first six months as a vampire, as told by Edward himself. This story is 100% in canon. Come get reacquainted with Edward and Carlisle.
Altered Reality is a companion to my first fan-fic, New Beginnings, which is available on Ramblings and Thoughts. I would have never had the courage to tackle this story if Alphie had not challenged me to write it when she reviewed NB.
3. Chapter 2 ~ Consumed
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The minutes drifted by. How many or how few were irrelevant. I was alone. Where was Mama? I knew that as much as she did not want me to die, she would not let me die alone. Please, just let me stop breathing. Let my heart stop beating. It hurts too much to hold onto this life.
Cool hands were touching me again. I felt the gown I was wearing being gently pulled from my shoulders. The cool air kissed my feverish body. If Dr. Cullen’s cold touch was the last thing I ever felt, if his soothing voice was the last one I heard, I would be grateful. It was time for the battle to be over.
PAIN! Searing pain sliced deep through my shoulder. I could feel the scream rip through my ravaged throat. More pain cut across my arm. What new brand of torture was this? I thought that I had known pain for the last two days, but that was nothing compared to this. This . . . this was pain in the purest sense of the word. Whole. Complete. Absolute.
The searing pain brought me back from the sweet oblivion of death to acute awareness of the moment. Dr. Cullen had been leaning over me. As he sat back I could see blood staining his lips. My blood!
Terror flashed across Dr. Cullen’s face. He ran from my side into the next room. I could hear water running then the sounds of gulping, gagging and spitting.
No, none of this could be right. It had to be more twisted hallucinations brought on by the fever. I should not even be conscious. This could not be real.
An eternity passed before Dr. Cullen came back into the room. By now the burn - because it was so much more than pain - was traveling from my arm and radiated into my chest. It seemed to be moving into my lungs first, the most compromised part of my body from the influenza. If I thought I had known agony before, it was nothing compared to this. Each breath blazed, but I found I could breathe where I had not been able to before.
Gradually, I became aware that Dr. Cullen was sitting on a chair next to me. He was saying something. The expression on his face was compassionate as his lips formed familiar shapes but I could not hear him. The pain demanded my full attention. Nothing could cut through it. I cried out in anguish.
The agony was so intense I was sure I should have lost consciousness. It was unfair that I should endure the full impact of this torture, that I should be cognizant of each part of my body as the blazing fire within consumed it. My mind was alert and failed to protect me from the torture. If my mind was able to protect me and give me rest at any time, I could not tell.
At times, Dr. Cullen would reach out and touch my arm or forehead. Although his touch was meant to be gentle, wherever he touched, the burning intensified - if that was even possible. My whole body was consumed with it. In the midst of this there were times isolated limbs or organs burned even hotter, as if they were being incinerated. I’d thought that I had known pain; I had not until now. Please, please, just let me die. Let me turn to ash and blow away with the wind.
I must have spoken that last thought. Dr. Cullen’s voice cut through some of the agony. “You’re not going to die Edward. You are being changed. Would that I could ease the pain . . . but it will end.”
Change? How? Why?
He continued to reassure me, but accompanying his words were strange images that were disturbing at best. Images dominated by vampires. A vision of Dr. Cullen in a cellar huddled in a heap of rotting potatoes and in the same kind of pain I was in now. It had to be a mad nightmare brought on by my fever, because when his pain stopped he had become a vampire; god-like in appearance with eyes that glowed a luminescent red.
I felt his desire for human blood as he tried to stave it off. I saw every attempt he made to destroy himself, rather than give in to the natural desires of a vampire. I felt his relief after feeding from a herd of deer. Feeding? What a strange word to use for eating. No, this was not real.
My very bones were consumed by the blaze that coursed through my body. Instinct told me to run from the fire - but where do you run to when the fire burns within you?
Other images came into my mind. These were not so strange as those that revolved around Dr. Cullen. There was the ordinary likeness of a mother fixing a meal, children playing, fathers returning home from work - and many, many more. These apparitions did not carry the despair of those that included the vampires - perhaps because they were so common. I could understand these images; I could understand the thoughts of the people in these visions.
Dr. Cullen’s quiet words were ever-present. They offered reassurance. He spoke of change, and that he would be present to help me - but I also heard uncertainty in his words. He wondered if we would be friends, or more like brothers. He was concerned that I would not want anything to do with him when I learned that he had made me into . . . a vampire.
I understood none of it. Dr. Cullen was my physician. There was no reason for me to be a friend or a brother. Amidst the burning physical pain was the pain of knowing I was not only losing my battle for life in the most painful way imaginable, but that my mind was lost as well. Vampires were not real but mythical. Dr. Cullen was not a vampire and I was not becoming one - but the dreams were as consuming as the fire that raged through me. The thought of blood, human blood, became all-absorbing.
More images of Dr. Cullen accompanied my suffering. He was with other vampires who appeared to be of some renown. These vampires, Aro, Marcus and Caius, enjoyed a sophisticated lifestyle. The only burden to him was that they believed his chosen diet to be peculiar. They wanted him to feed from humans instead of the wild game he preferred. They offered him what they considered to be the most succulent mortals as temptation. I felt his natural craving ignite and battled with-in him as he resisted after the vein of a terrified victim had been opened and her blood spilled in an effort to seduce him.
The nightmares were as heavy a burden as the physical pain. I was sure now that the pain and the dreams would never end. Salvation was not to be mine but rather, hell.
- Heart Song
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