The Thing that Feels
The whispers travel swiftly throughout the city: vampyre, vampyre. There is a vampyre in our city. Carlisle has reluctantly been an unwiling spectator of his father's vengeance and obsession for years, watching countless innocents being hunted down and put to death. But no one is prepared for the hunts to reveal a horrifying truth, one that will change Carlisle's life forever and begin his descent into hell...
This is my first fic in the Twilight universe. I hope you enjoy it! I've been a fan of the books for quite a while, since Twilight first came out, yet it only occured to me to try my hand at writing fic now. Heh. The story title is taken from the song The Thing that Feels by Hannah Fury.
1. in the name of the father, the son, and ?
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one: in the name of the father, the son and -
This is how it always ends, in flames, blood and screams. We are ridding the world of sin and doing God's work, according to my father. Always the same excuses, always the same lies, and since my father believes them with almost a madman's fury, so, too, do those that follow him.
I suppose I, too, believed him once, in the beginning.
Truthfully, I no longer know if he loves me as much as his ideals, his passion in his work as he hunts down the latest poor soul accused of being a witch-hag, a vampyre, a beast-man – anything that can be claimed as a servant of Evil, a follower of God's eternal enemy. Perhaps, also truthfully, I find myself no longer particularly concerned about my father's love for me.
There can be no love for a man with so much blood on his hands.
I arrive home to the servants' anxious whispers. They immediately fall silent as I close the door, one of them hurrying to relieve me of my cloak and hat. They carefully avoid my gaze until I ask, "What is wrong?"
They glance at each other, deliberately looking away from me until my patience begins to wear thin. Just as I am about to demand an answer, the hoarse, sharp voice of my father's cook comes from the kitchen:
"A new witch has been discovered and convicted."
By claiming she is convicted, then she is already dead.
I frown, walking into the kitchen to look at her directly. "Who was it?"
The cook glances up at me, a plump, grizzled woman with a weathered face and work-weary arms currently dusted with flour up to the elbows, before she looks down at the dough she is rather viciously kneading.
"Mrs. Black's daughter, Annabelle. Your father apparently found signs of Old Scratch in her room. No one knows who gave him her name, or no one is admitting to it – yet."
I stare at her, my stomach dropping. This is the woman who had as good as raised me, teaching me the letters and arithmetic which my father had once taught her when he hired her, while my father shouted and encouraged crowds to follow him in carrying out God's will. Through living with us, she gradually lost the rough, quick accent from the area she had been born in, her tones becoming more like ours. In her, I am reminded that my father was once a good, just man, before his quest to rid England of sin had overwhelmed him.
I remember Annabelle also, a girl two years younger than I, the daughter of our old housekeeper before my father had become suspicious of their family and thrown them out. She had been a kind, sweet girl – I had indeed liked her very much – and she had most definitely not been a witch.
This is when I suddenly begin to lose faith in my own father, and the ideals he preaches.
Oh, the change comes slowly within me. I do not suddenly disagree with everything he endorses – to do such a thing would be the same as inviting his rage and accusations upon me. To him, now, anyone and everyone, once our friend or still our friend, can be revealed as a doer of evil... even his own son. Selfish as it may be, I have no desire to be drowned, hung, or burned.
I will not end up as those already caught in my father's trap.
I visit Mrs. Black the next day, keeping my head down and my face hidden. The house is empty, save for the family, when I am admitted, and they all look up in astonishment as I step inside. No one ever visits the family of a convicted witch, following the trial and death; my father's influence is vast and his vengeance strong, and we are all, ultimately, too fond of our lives to defy him.
Their astonishment turns to anger when I lift the brim of my hat and they see my face.
"Why are you here?" they demand, full of fury and fear at the same time. "Have you come to deliver yet another sentence of death upon our family? Has not your father done enough? Leave us!"
For a moment, I am tempted to do just as they say, my fingers tightening around my hat. Then I remember Annabelle, her large eyes and her gentle smile, and I square my shoulders, looking straight into the eyes of her mother.
"I am here of my own accord," I tell her quietly. "My father is ignorant of this and will hopefully remain so. I come to offer my condolences for Annabelle. She... she did not deserve such a death."
I have as good as told them that I no longer believe in my father's doctrine, have as good as admitted that I think him blinded by his own truth. I have admitted that I think he is wrong.
In my father's eyes, I have just damned myself for eternity.
I do not stay for much longer, accepting their reluctant thanks and fleeing as quickly as dignity will allow me. I return home to the servants' sympathetic gazes and the cook's silent offering of fresh stew and warm bread, but I can only force myself to swallow a few mouthfuls before I retreat to my room, heart-sore and weary.
This, I realise, as I lie on my bed and stare at the opposite wall without truly seeing it, is the beginning of the end.
The years pass slowly. I follow my father's wishes and begin to study theology earnestly in the idea of following in his footsteps as a pastor. In truth, I have very little idea of what I wish to do, and this is as good a choice as any. I like learning and I enjoy helping people; I can do this easily enough as a servant of God.
I ignore the insistent accusations that this is not the true path for me, seeing as I do not believe that I can follow through in all of His work. God is good, God is love, and I refuse to believe that He would truly accept all that my father does.
The hunts increase, spreading throughout the country. Reports trickle in from the surrounding towns and villages, of foolish young lads apparently taking up the cause simply for their own amusement, ransacking the food stores of those they dislike and hurting the daughters of townsmen who do not approve of them. The rest of us become more and more sickened, while my father takes from these reports only what he wishes to hear.
More and more people flood to the cities in the false hope that they will be safe there; beggars and the homeless occupy more and more of the streets until there is hardly space to walk. The poorhouses are fit to bursting, and yet still they come. Disease runs rampant, spreading like wildfire until the dead and the dying fill up the cities. It seems like Hell has come upon us; my father proclaims this to be God's vengeance for not wiping out all those who follow the path of Evil.
It is not difficult to see any of this as the actions of a furious God, but not for the reason which my father believes.
I pray for an answer, for guidance. None comes.
And then, one morning, an answer does appear to come, one which tells me that, truly, God is simply laughing at us all.
My father glares at me. His hair is completely white now, his skin grey and aged until he seems almost like a walking corpse, bitterness and hatred deepening the lines on his face. "You will take my place," he says, and I stare at him.
Just those five words. No questions, no explanations, only a curt order. I will now lead the London hunts. I will track down the monsters and deliver a swift execution. I will be God's Executioner.
My father is truly mad, I realise, continuing to stare at him while hoping the expression on my face is not turning into a growing horror.
"I see," I say. I do not call him father; he does not call me son. We have been long past those foolish titles.
I lead the hunt now.
But it will no longer end in bloodshed.
My father soon regrets his decision when the death-toll from the London hunts begins to slowly decrease. I try to bring reason to the hunts, try to turn them more civilised, and this does work slightly. We do not simply kill every person turned over to us, now, not without a good reason, but I cannot control all those involved in the hunts. There are always reports of people killed in a hunt I had not participated in; those involved are almost always punished.
It takes me a horrifying length of time to realise that I am becoming sickened by what my life has turned into. It is a dreadful effort to open my eyes in the morning, never mind actually rising and preparing for the day. I stare at my hands and am sometimes convinced that the blood I see upon them is real. I can never cleanse myself; I am unclean, damned.
I must stop this. I simply cannot yet see a way to do so.
The arguments with my father escalate until he threatens disinheritance, damnation – death, even, in some of his wilder moments. But he is an old man, now, his body ageing more rapidly than his mind, and he is turning helpless. There is nothing he can do, yet he does no realise that I am in exactly the same position.
Of course, everything changes when we stumble across the vampires in the sewers.
It is a most dreadful irony that we finally – finally! – encounter true servants of the Devil, true monsters, right when my despair has reached its peak. The deaths, remarkable only in that they are violent and messy, have been ongoing for some time, and little attention is given to them in the beginning. So many are dying, by disease, starvation or betrayal, that no one can claim one set of deaths are of more importance than another. People are regularly turning upon one another, friend against friend, family against family, and most betrayals end in death, sadly enough. If I am being honest, I almost expect to awaken and see my father standing over me with a dagger in his hand and murder in his eyes.
However, gradually, we realise that these particular deaths all follow a similar pattern, suggesting a curious sort of vendetta indeed. We finally see that we have a very different sort of monster on our hands when a poor soul stumbles across one of the murders, witness to the crimson eyes and the glistening, sharp teeth in the bloodstained mouth of the demon. He barely escapes with his life, his screams alerting friends of my father's who happen to be walking by at that precise moment, and they also bear witness to the creature before he flees.
Later, I would realise that this was a recently turned vampire, turned so mad by his thirst that he makes the foolish mistakes which lead to his being seen. Little more than a child, really, in vampire terms. But that is not until much, much later.
I turn speechless when this is repeated back to me, trying my hardest to ignore my father's smug smile and triumphant glance at me. It is difficult to stomach the realisation that he had been right all along, that if there were such creatures as that one out there, then it is not such a stretch to imagine that the others – the witch-hags, those who are more like beast than man – are also real.
I close my eyes as the thought rises, unbidden, in my mind: it is a vampyre. We have a vampyre in the city, perhaps even more than one. How many of them have they killed, protected by the bloodshed of the hunts and the raging of the diseases as they slaughtered. How many of our people have they killed, whose corpses we have so unwittingly dismissed as nothing more than horrifying murder or a dreadful, yet natural death? How many? Even an estimation of the numbers makes me sick enough to almost retch.
I open my eyes. "We must hunt them," I say, my stomach churning as I realise the horrifying truth before me. "We must kill them all. They are an abomination."
My father's eyes gleam with righteousness, and I cannot stand to look at them.
The whispers travel swiftly throughout the city: vampyre, vampyre. There is a vampyre in our city.
And so the hunt begins.
It passes in a blur. I lead many parties, there is shouting, screaming, far too much blood. I can smell the flames as I am surrounded by chaos and desperation. The creatures are fleeing for their lives and being literally hunted down. Some of them die, I think, and they are most likely the youngest ones. And then I turn and find one of them running straight towards me.
He is not one of the young ones.
Truthfully, I do not know if he means to maul me or not. I will never know if any of them remember their own transformations, or know exactly how they pass the damnation on. They are all half-crazed with panic and fear by now, doing the only thing they can think of when outnumbered such as they are: they run.
I am an obstacle in the path of this vampire and so I must be destroyed. I will never know if he meant to change me or not; I will never see him again.
My mind is curiously blank as I watch him come towards me; I am strangely calm, as if I know right then and there that I will not be able to move away in time and there will be no escape from this. I do not make any sound as he slams into me and we tumble to the ground. He is dreadfully hard and terribly cold; it is as if a large, icy rock has collided with me.
I do not make a sound until he sinks his teeth into my shoulder and begins to dig in, his jaws tightening. His long nails rack against my arms and chest as he bites again and again. It is icy-hot, spreading through my veins faster than my body can react, and I scream, and scream, and scream, until I can finally make no other sound.
I remember little of the time that follows, except for the agony. Then there comes a time when I awake and the agony is gone, only to replaced by a thirst which I believe will kill me if I do not sate it.
I open my eyes.