Dr Carlisle Cullen has spent nearly three centuries alone. The only reason he could even live with himself all those years is his uncanny ability to save people and even touch their lives. However, when he meets that strange widow in the ward for the dying, could he have found something else to live for: a son? The birth of Edward from the perspective of an angel.
Second story in the series Afterlife.
Rating 4.5/5 Word Count 1557 Review this Chapter
By Marauder by Midnight
I glance up from my reading at the clock then at the curtained window again. From the angle the sunlight filters through the thin material, it would take a good fifteen minutes before night threw itself on this godforsaken place. Frustrated, I run my hand through my hair. The stench of the dead has strengthened since I first slipped back into the safety of the apartment. It is during times like these that really test my willpower; several times I had grabbed my medicine bag and was halfway out the door.
Determined to keep myself occupied for a mere fifteen minutes, I walk into what the landlord had called the bedroom. Being what I am, I found no reason to purchase any furniture. I highly doubt I would ever have the pleasure of entertaining guests here, and the time I spend alone in this home is used waiting for the sun to go down.
I pull out another medical book from one of the numerous piles littering the floor of my otherwise empty bedroom. My sharp eyesight allows me to read the miniscule text perfectly well without light, but I instead leaf through the pages, distracted.
It is during times like these where I wouldn’t mind not hearing the loud tick-tock of the clock in my living room or sitting blissfully in the sunlight without my glistening skin a reminder of what I am. I try to block out the sounds of misery down in the city below, but my compassionate nature wins. I drop the book and exchange it for my medicine bag as I make my way out the dreary apartment.
As I step outside, I see that the sun’s rays will still stain the earth for a few minutes more. However, I needn’t fear being discovered; the streets are empty. These days, people shut themselves in their home, not daring to step out for fear of the deadly strain of influenza that had plagued the city for a month now.
I walk to the hospital a few blocks away without any trouble. The few individuals I had encountered on my way were too preoccupied, ready to get home, to notice a humble man who glistened dimly where the sunlight hit him. By the time I reach the marble-white building, Mother Darkness has snugly covered the city.
The rusty smell of human blood envelopes me when I open the door. Two hundred years ago, it would have made my purposeful steps falter and my strong-willed mind wander. I would be lying if I say my knees still do not shake at the effort of controlling myself, but after years and years – eons, really – of training, I know these mortals have no reason to fear me.
I make my way through the hospital, greeting the weary nurses and doctors who have finished their shift. As always, the head nurse offers me a mask, a flimsy guard against the virus, and as always, I refuse. I am one the silent killer can never claim.
As I head toward the waiting room, one voice, out of the myriad that finds its way to my ear, makes me pause.
I recognize the voice immediately. Every time I hear her speak, she says the same thing in the same wispy tone. However, this time, the simple request is stronger, more compelling. Something is happening.
I change the course I take and walk to the fourth floor where those closest to death lay as they await for their final rest. As I approach, my mind concentrates on that singular voice, always repeating, always urgent.
I am practically running to the woman, my heart just screaming out, “Hold on. I’m coming.”
I could have run to the room with my eyes closed; the smell of death leads me to the precise location. I enter the room and stare astounded.
Due to the pandemic, there has been barely any room to place the dying. During my absence, the doctors and nurses had worked hard to rearrange this small ward into the room for the dying. Rows and rows and columns and columns of hospital cots lay before me, arranged neatly. Some are ominously empty while others provide little comfort to those suffering.
As if knowing I am near, the voice is more urgent. I hear it even better in this darkly silent room. I follow it, tracking the sound until I find myself before her.
A small young woman lay helpless in the hospital bed. Her skin glistens with a sheen of sweat, and her hair frames her pale, sunken face limply. Her hands are balled into fists, clutching the covers. The dark circles beneath her eyes are comparable to mine.
Her eyes, a shocking green, glare daggers into mine. “Help,” she commands through gritted teeth.
Silently, I open my bag for my stethoscope. I prepare to place the drum on her chest, but with surprising ferocious strength, she pushes my arm aside as I approach her.
“No. Save him,” she gasps out. One of her arms lifts shakily, and I catch her falling hand. As I predicted, she did not shudder from my unusual touch.
I muster my most assuring smile. “I promise I’ll do everything I can,” I say, though I do not intend to keep such a vow.
She seems to have read my mind, for she now grips my hand with both of hers. For a dying woman, the power exuberating from her is promising. Her next words, however, shock me. “You must do everything you can. What others cannot do, you can. To save Edward!”
For a moment, I panic. This human, one who may survive, knows who I am. How many others suspect? What precautions have I failed to take? Will the safeguard I had spent centuries to build finally fall and leave me ruined and as despicable as the one who had turned me?
My thoughts, however, are fleeting, as the woman before me succumbs to her fever, her defenses sapped from extracting that sacred promise from me. Her captivating green eyes roll upward, and she sinks deeper into the pillows. I carefully remove my hand from her grasp but continue to stare at this woman, the only mortal who knows my secret.
Her precious son is a few beds away. He looks serene, at peace, as if Death has already claimed him. Save for the shallow movements of his chest, there is no indication that he is alive.
As I take her to the morgue down the hall, her vital signs become fainter and fainter, something wild takes a hold of me. Suppose I honor my promise to his mother. What would that angelic boy look like?
He would lose the emerald eyes he has inherited from his mother. His cheeks indicate that he is at the stage in life where he straddles boyhood and manhood; the thin layer of fat would disappear should he become like me. His body, now wasted away by disease, would harden with muscle.
Millions of questions rack my mind. Could I ever do what the creature had done to me almost three centuries ago? Can I ever condemn another to the solitary lifestyle I lead? Does his mother have the right to command him to become something he might not want to be?
Then, the image of my desolate apartment thrusts itself out from the back of my brain. Truth is, I realize, my life is just as miserable as that of the apartment and every other place I have lived: shabby, dark, and feebly hiding the greater picture. An immortal life is nothing if it is empty and lonely.
Not giving myself the opportunity to change my mind, I race to Edward Masen’s hospital bed. Unlocking the brakes on the wheels, I begin to cart him out of the room. As I leave the misery of the ward, I remind myself to compose myself; now is not the time to accidentally display my supernatural speed, no matter how much of a hurry I am in.
None of the floor’s nurses notice anything strange. Edward’s breaths has become shallower and harder differentiate from the regular jolts of the hospital bed as I navigate him through the hallways. Taking him to the same morgue his mother now lay in, I open his hospital gown and stop.
I don’t even know how to transform this boy. I roll up my lab coat sleeve and look down at the bite mark on my arm, a constant reminder of who – what – I am. Not knowing what else to do, I glance at Elizabeth Masen, laying on the stainless steel table, and make the same bite marks on Edward that I have. As the venom flows from my mouth into Edward’s veins, I try not to think about the possibility that I could be wrong.
As I pick the unconscious boy up, I whisper a quiet, “Thank you” to Elizabeth Masen. Then I sprint out the room and up one floor to the roof.
If I were still alive, I would describe this feeling as an adrenaline rush. Being who I am, I can only say I feel like a blessed angel as I bound from roof to roof with the precious boy in my arms.