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Altered Reality

Summary:
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. small banner


Notes:
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.


5. Chapter 4 ~ Discoveries ~

Rating 0/5   Word Count 1824   Review this Chapter

Carlisle was taking his notion of “fatherhood” seriously. Like any new father, he questioned and doubted himself but plunged ahead with what seemed to be the best options for my welfare. I seethed at the audacity. He didn’t even look that much older than me! Carlisle resembled an older brother much more than looking like my father.

Here I was, practically an adult in my own right, subjected to being treated as little more than a child. I had understood my world. I had had dreams and aspirations, most of them forgotten now. The only one that still remained clear was the deep desire to be a soldier, to serve my country with honor. And while that dream was still present, the ability to fulfill it had been snatched away and thrown into the wind as dust.

“Edward, please, please promise me that you will stay here. Don’t go outside. Don’t answer the door. Don’t even open a window,” Carlisle had pleaded as he put on his hat before leaving the house.

I nodded my agreement. What else could I do? It was clear that Carlisle felt that it would be dangerous for me - well, maybe not dangerous for me, but for the people who might come in contact with me, if I should go out. Fear and confusion held me firmly in their grasp.

Carlisle dressed carefully to conceal his skin so he could go out into the bright autumnal day. After witnessing how the sunlight had played on my own skin, I needed no explanation as to why he dressed as he did.

Before leaving, Carlisle had meticulously falsified my hospital record. He had taken it with him when he brought me here, and was now going to return it. From the hospital, he was going to my house to determine if it would be safer for me there, or here. I was hoping for there. Maybe if I were home my memories would return.

He also intended to bring back something for me to “feed” from. My throat had burned hotter as the morning had passed into afternoon. Seeing no reason to wait for him to return, I had insisted he at least give me a drink of water. Reluctantly, Carlisle agreed and then brought me a glass. “He’s going to regret this,” was his thought as he handed it to me.

I could feel every drop as it made its way to my stomach. Once there, the drops coalesced and conspired to churn my stomach until I was forced to return them to the world.

For some reason, Carlisle found it mildly amusing. Looking back, I suppose, a vampire trying to drink a glass of water was the funniest thing that had happened that morning.

“You could have told me,” I fumed. Without thinking, I crushed the glass in my hand. I stared in disbelief at the broken pieces.

“You would not have believed me.” Carlisle’s reply was mildly amused as he went to retrieve a wastebasket.

He was right. I would not have believed him.

Carlisle had pulled out some clothes for me before departing: trousers, suspenders, undergarments and a freshly pressed shirt. He had also given me a towel and some soap so I could clean up. Apparently, even vampires bathed. That was reassuringly normal.

When I asked Carlisle about a kettle to heat the water for my bath, his expression was blank. “Why would you need to heat the water? Oh,” he chuckled at his own shortsightedness. “There is no need to heat the water. It won’t feel cold to you now. I’ll explain it better when I return.”

And with that, Carlisle glided out the door wishing that he could run because it would be so much faster. I heard the Model T in the driveway cough to life and sputter down the street. I wondered how running could be faster as I stared at the closed door.

~~~~~

The clock on the fireplace mantel chimed, alerting me to the fact that I had been standing perfectly still, staring at the closed door. I walked over to look at the time. Carlisle had been gone for forty-five minutes. Time seemed to have stopped when he walked out of the door. I had felt no compulsion to do more than contemplate my new circumstances. There was no reason to move forward or do anything.

The chorus of voices that surrounded me continued to flood my consciousness. It had been easier to ignore them while Carlisle was present, when I had one voice to concentrate on.

The very notion of taking some comfort from Carlisle’s company made me angry. Clearly, something had happened to me, something that made me dangerous to anyone I might come into contact with. Carlisle had been panic-stricken when he left that I would not stay. He was certain that if I were to get even a passing whiff of a human, a feeding frenzy would ensue. The little bit that I had been able to observe about myself convinced me that I had been through a significant change. Carlisle was responsible for that change and I was not thankful for it.

I supposed it was to Carlisle’s credit that he was concerned about how to help me adjust to this new life. He fully intended to guide me as best as he was able. I, however, was not sure that I wanted anything to do with him. What right did he have to dictate my life? None what so ever.

I felt like a hostage, even though I had only become aware of my unusual circumstances a few hours earlier. The problem was that I was not sure where I could go. I knew I had a home . . . somewhere. I had some vague memories of it, but I didn’t know where it was. It hardly seemed fair that Carlisle knew where my home was, and that he was going there now. It was almost criminal. Frustration and anger surged through my very being.

Sighing, I turned and walked back to the bathroom. When I got there, I filled the claw-footed tub with cool water. Much to my surprise, the water did not feel cold the way I had expected it would, just as Carlisle had said. I shrugged out of my gown letting it ripple to the floor and climbed in.

The water surged around me, caressing each part of my body. I let myself melt into the water’s embrace. This, at least, felt reasonably normal.

Working the soap into a lather, I rubbed it over my arms and legs and scrubbed it into my hair that was still stiff from perspiration. My senses were acutely aware of the soapy smell, the course texture of the cloth, and the lapping sound of the water as it sloshed against the sides of the tub and around my body. Had all of these sensations always been so unmistakably present? I did not think so.

Taking a deep breath, I slid under the water’s surface to rinse. I luxuriated in the sensation of being submerged, engulfed by the water’s welcoming embrace. If only I could stay like this and let the memories of this morning dissolve to nothing . . . no more shattered light, the doorknob back in its place and the voices silenced.

The droplets of water sparkled in the air with a newly realized radiance as I exploded out from under the surface. How long had I been submerged? I should have been out of breath but my lungs felt as relaxed as if I had been breathing normally. Experimenting, I held my breath . . . no reflex compelled me to breath, my vision did not go red from the lack of oxygen; my muscles did not feel weak. Breathing did not seem to be necessary. Hmm.

Heaving myself from the tub, I grabbed a towel from the hook on the wall and wrapped it around my waist. I had not paid any attention to how I looked after the initial shock of seeing my skin sparkling in the morning’s light. Now I looked at the defined muscles of my arms, at the distinct shape of my pectorals and I traced the patterns of the solid ripples of my abdominal muscles. This was not the body I should have. While I didn’t look like a circus weight lifter, no longer was I the average seventeen year-old I was sure I had been. If my body looked like this, what had happened to my face?

Cautiously, I took the four steps to the washbasin and looked in the mirror that hung over it. The face that was reflected back was familiar but also perfected. There were no blemishes; the texture was perfect, the lines refined. It was the face you would expect to find on a marble representation of a mythical god. Then there were the eyes that stared back at me. They belonged to another kind of creature; a brilliant crimson that seemed to glow. They were the eyes from my fevered dreams, the eyes of a monster. If I had been terrified by anything before, this was beyond words. The face that stared back at me was not that of a god, but of a demon!

Fisting my hand, I drove it into the mirror, not caring if the flying glass cut me. My hand did not stop as I expected, but drove through the wall, sending dust and chunks of plaster and splintered wood billowing into the air along with the reflective fragments of glass. Each shining shard of mirror captured those eyes as they drifted to the ground in slow motion, mocking my terror. Everywhere I looked, the scarlet eyes stared back at me tauntingly.

There was no place to go, no place to hide. I knew without a doubt that I had become the monster from my fever-driven dreams. Oh . . . they had not been dreams. The true nature of my dreams now crashed in on me. The dreams were Carlisle’s memories. He had been thinking about his own early days as a vampire as I had burned and changed. I shivered. In a flash of insight I understood his interest, his deep concern for me.

I left the scene of my revelation. The voices assaulted and mocked me as I wandered numbly down the hall, back to the room where it had begun: the place of my second birth. I cradled my hand though it was not injured or bleeding. I wished that it were because that would mean none of this was real. I wanted my hand to be broken. I wanted to bleed. Instead, I felt as if all of me was broken . . . like the mirror.

When Carlisle returned shortly before sunset he found me sitting on the edge of the bed, still wrapped in the towel.