Author: OCDindeed PM
March 16/06 the world the Cullens knew ended. Faith, hope & love are powerful things. Edward finds out how powerful they are when he loses the one person who made his life worth living. Not just an E/B story. Entire Cullen clan is here, each with their own hardships. Set during a post-apocalyptic nuclear war. Try the Prologue before passing judgment. You might be surprised! NM/AURated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Romance - Edward & Bella - Chapters: 39 - Words: 325,178 - Reviews: 6,286 - Favs: 3,978 - Follows: 3,118 - Updated: 03-24-12 - Published: 03-24-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4946176
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
-:- That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger -:-
2016 -:- Present Day
We had all gathered in the living room again, waiting like school children outside of the principal's office. Everyone was afraid to speak. We knew by the tone of Esme's voice that she was beyond angry, and it was always wise to let her have the first words when she was like this.
I was looking at the floor, because I couldn't look anyone in the eye, besides there was no need. I knew exactly what everyone was thinking, they were blaming me for Esme's mood, and every one of them wanted to have a word with me and hold me accountable. Esme had beenhappy … earlier. We had just spent an incredible afternoon with a person, whom we never thought we'd see again, and a new friend we hoped that we could keep. None of us had ever truly had a friend outside of the family. Bella had been the exception and we had done well to keep relationships to a minimum since the bombs. We never stayed in one place long enough to garner friendships, and I could tell my family wanted this to work, and they wanted to share themselves, all of themselves, with these, for the most part, strangers.
Esme's thoughts were a mix of pity and exasperation. She wasn't sure where to start, but she knew that all the animosity was centered around me, and she was through with all the secrets. I decided I would take a risk and start the conversation, and try to redirect the hostility away from me. I didn't have anything to lose at this point.
"No, Edward." She steeled herself for the long evening ahead. "You don't get to speak right now. I've had enough of your deception lately. Between you and Emmett, Jasper, and now Rosalie, I won't have it anymore. We do not keep things from each other in this family. We can't afford to." She glared at me across the room.
I nodded my head afraid to say another word. Everyone was a little surprised at her castigations, each of them only knowing a little bit and not the full story behind each of her accusations. I quickly glanced to Carlisle, wondering where his thoughts were in all of this, but, surprisingly, his mind was relatively blank.
"And don't think I haven't noticed that the two of you have been avoiding each other, either." She waved a hand back and forth between me and Carlisle. "Or more importantly, that you've been avoiding him." She pointed a finger at me. I had a feeling the discussion this evening was going to involve a lot of finger pointing.
"I'm not sure where to start, but no one is leaving this room until it's all out on the table. Are we clear? No more secrets. We have a chance here in this house, and we all know that half-truths in this family only lead to trouble. So, who wants to start?"
The room was jarringly silent as everyone looked to me, pretty much 'throwing me to the wolves.' There was no avoiding any of it now, they were all infuriated with me, that much was apparent, and I was too exhausted to care. I stubbornly sat in my chair, refusing to speak first, partly because I didn't know which would be the easiest to discuss.
Jasper cleared his throat, and broke the awkward silence.
"Edward and I have a theory about the South," he slowly drawled out. I'll do what I can to help, but brother…you are on your own after that. I breathed a sigh of relief for Jasper's deflection—definitely a brother a man needed.
"We think that someone is creating an army of newborn vampires, that these newborns might be what the humans are referring to as the Ravagers. We can't be certain, but the signs are there."
"An army," Alice whispered. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Esme sat down next to Carlisle and took his hand.
"Why in heaven's name would someone do that?" she asked, taken by surprise at the turn the conversation was taking.
Carlisle had finally perked up, listening carefully and now completely engrossed in the theories we had come up with. Everyone was intent, eyes locked on Jasper's face as he continued.
"We don't know the motivations behind it. We can only speculate, but we think that without the Volturi to keep them in check, the surviving, southern covens have nothing to fear, really.
"There have been more and more reports of Ravager attacks over the last few years. Before, it was just random acts of violence, stories of travelers disappearing, and so-called witnesses telling stories to scare children in their beds. There's never been any concrete evidence as to what was happening out beyond the walls of the Districts. We know how it is out there; it's not easy on the outside. People are killed for fuel and supplies all the time, just look at how we traveled. We kept up the charade of a militarized convoy and carried guns for crying out loud."
It was true … when we first became mobile it was hard not to draw attention to our vehicles. We knew we were targets, people thinking they could easily take on four unarmed men and three women spread out between four vehicles. Our convoy was a jackpot of sorts, especially the fuel truck. In the beginning, we were constantly defending ourselves and the vehicles, and it was hard to maintain the human façade. Emmett had decided enough was enough and mounted guns on to the Humvees, as a warning of sorts. We only ever used them to fire warning shots, but they were very effective, and we were usually left alone.
"These 'Ravager' attacks were nothing more than thieves and thugs, but these new reports are … different," Jasper said gravely. "The last few Districts we visited, spoke of raids, people being stolen at night, from their homes. Which doesn't make any sense. These thieves or—what we assumed were—Ravagers would never approach the Districts. They know they are well defended, but yet, this time, the Districts couldn't hold them off. And they were taking hostages, these bandits would never do that, they have no need, they just kill outright and take what they need.
"Something has changed. Someone or something is taking human prisoners," he finished quietly. They all sat in silence, not sure how to process what Jasper was trying to explain.
"Jasper thinks it may be a vampire trying to build an army," I continued. "And I agree with him."
"Wait. Hold up. Ravagers are vamps?" Emmett asked, raising his hands in confusion, his eyebrows furrowed.
"Maybe not at first, but we think they are now," Jasper answered, looking at me to further explain, hoping to gain me some sympathy from Esme.
"The thing is, the way the Districts are set up, they aren't exactly conducive to the vampire, nomadic lifestyle. It worked for us, our diet differences made it much easier to go unnoticed. But for others, they are seriously lacking in a food supply, especially if they want to remain undetected. The travelers outside of the Districts they would normally have to prey on, are usually the sickly, weak ones, the ones cast outside, possibly infected by the radiation. We remember what the blood of the infected animals tasted like. The tainted blood sustained us, but never truly left us satisfied. Vamps who feed on humans will have no reservations about finding healthy human blood by any means necessary." I looked around the room to my family, each one of them processing what we had revealed differently.
"Of course, we need to confirm our theory. Someone needs to go and find out for sure," Jasper said.
"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go." Emmett clapped his hands together rubbing them furiously.
"It's not that easy, Emmett," Jasper said. He rolled his eyes, but still tried to ease everyone's worries in the room. "We need to be careful about this. We can't just show up in a vampire's territory in numbers. They'll kill us all."
"This is serious. The last thing we need is to start a territory war with a vampire building an army of newborns. I know about this stuff, and that's why I have to go … alone," Jasper finished glaring at Emmett and then at me.
"No way. Jasper, we decided this. I'm going," I said, squaring my shoulders for the argument I knew was coming.
"Nothing was decided. I've experience with this, and most likely the vampire is aware of me and my past, possibly someone I've crossed paths with. It's not just any vampire that can control a newborn army. They'll have had firsthand knowledge of it. I can go under these pretences, a 'consultant,' if you will."
"I can't let you go, and you know it," I disagreed. I was standing in front of him defiantly and he slowly stood up, facing me head on.
"You will, and you know damn well why you're not going," he shot back.
"Oh, yeah? And why is that?" We stood inches apart, glaring at each other, the room crackled with our energy. I could feel his anger rolling off of him and he struggled to gain control of it. "Enlighten me," I mused.
You want me to say it out loud? You want everyone to know of your death wish? His thoughts were full of bitterness as we stood toe to toe.
"Enough! Edward, you're not going!" Esme shouted in desperation.
"What?" I turned on her, my anger boiling over. "Why is that?" I growled through clenched teeth.
"Because!" She stood up raising her hands to her face. "I know you won't come back," she finished in a whisper, and the sound of her voice was muffled through her hands. "I can't lose you … any of you."
"That's exactly why I need to go. I won't let one of you go through what I have. Can't you see that? It has to be me, I have nothing to lose."
"And that's why you're not going," Jasper agreed with Esme. "You won't fight to come back, I will."
The family's shouts erupted all around the room, everyone arguing for or against me. We stood in the middle of the living room yelling at each other trying to get our points across. Only two people remained silent, sitting in opposite corners from each other, and one was reserved and pensive, the other was desperately clinging to her husband's hand. I heard her voice in my head over top of everyone's shouts.
Edward…it has to be Jasper.
I stopped in mid-sentence, taken completely by surprise at her words and turned to look at her.
"Alice, you can't mean that," I challenged her. Everyone stopped shouting and followed my gaze.
"Think about what you're saying," I said. "Look," I turned to face the rest of my family, "I appreciate all of you thinking you want to save me, but maybe I don't want to be saved. I'm going because it's the right decision and you know it. I'll do everything in my power to come back, but if for some reason it doesn't go as planned…" I didn't finish that sentence, not wanting to add fuel to their argument. "Let me do this, please."
"Jasper has to go," Alice said stubbornly, while rubbing his arm, and I saw him squeeze her other hand and smile warmly at her. They had already silently made their decision in the short amount of time this discussion had come about, but Alice wasn't thinking this through clearly.
"Alice…" I waved her off, "don't be ridiculous. You don't know what you're saying." I shook my head scoffing at her and dismissing her ludicrous plan.
"Don't tell me I don't know what I'm saying, Edward!" she yelled as she stood up, all four feet and eleven inches of her. She was in front of me within seconds, drilling her finger into my chest. "You are my brother! But Jasper is my husband! Don't presume to ever think I would sacrifice him for you. Ever! You arrogant son-of-a-bitch!" My eyes widened in surprise, as she continued in my head.
He is my life. Just as Bella was yours. So for me to say Jasper has to go, it means, he has to go.
She stabbed me in the chest again. "Got it?"
We continued to stare at each other in silence, and I felt a soothing calm surround me as Jasper cautiously walked toward us.
"Alice…" He reached his arms out and tried to pull her away from me, but she shrugged him off, a little annoyed that he was interrupting.
"Whoa! The pixie is fierce." Emmett laughed. "And here I thought Edward should be afraid of me."
I smiled a little at her determination.
"That's why I have to go, Alice," I said softly, placing my hand on her cheek. "I couldn't bear it if you lost what I did. None of you should have to suffer through that. This is why I must go in his place." I let out a deep sigh, running my fingers through my hair.
She shook her head, completely frustrated with me.
"You're not listening to me, you pig-headed fool. It's different this time. This is the only way, I feel that it's right. This is a strong one, stronger than anything I've felt in ten years. I would never agree to let Jasper go unless I was certain. I know he'll refuse to let me come, even though I'll still argue anyway." She chuckled. "But I'm confident this is the right choice."
I turned from her, walking toward the window, and I stared at my reflection and at my family's faces behind me, watching. To me, this was the simplest decision to make, and I couldn't understand why they were fighting me on this. Had I not done all that they had asked of me? Had I not done more than my share for this family? Couldn't they grant me this one last thing?
Edward, this is the strongest it's ever been. These feelings are right, I just know it. It's like my visions are trying to find a way to break through. You know I would never risk his life. Alice's thoughts pushed through my own self-doubt.
Placing my hands on the back of my head, fingers interlocked, I stared out the window thinking about my options. How could I let him go in my place when I was the one that needed to go? If she lost Jasper, I couldn't bear to think about that. I knew exactly what would happen to Alice, she would be no different than me, and that would just compound my guilt further if that was even possible. I wanted to die when Bella had, I had no plans on surviving without her, but it was Alice and Carlisle who eventually brought me back and kept me going when I no longer had the will to live. My love for them was what kept me around. Carlisle's remorse and Alice's love. They had everything to live for, everything that I didn't, and I couldn't stand to sit by and let it all slip away for them like I had. I had kept them together all those years ago, through my guilt and determination to set things right. As I stood staring out the window, I was doing my best to block my family's thoughts, as I remembered those early years. I had done what I had set out to do. I had saved my family from a fate similar to mine, and now Alice was willing to risk it all again. I couldn't let that happen.
Edward, you know this is right. Trust Alice. Trust me, Jasper pleaded silently.
He couldn't go on this own. Carlisle would agree with me, he would be breaking the only family rule, and Carlisle would never let one of us separate for that long, over that distance. After all, that rule was in place because of Jasper.
"Fine. Then I'm going with him," I said, resolved to this idea.
"Ah, I don't think that's wise, Edward," Rosalie piped up. What about what happened earlier? You're going to have to stay here to be accountable for your actions. If the Quileute's are still holding to the treaty and they think you ran…they'll come after us all.
"Why not?" Esme said, her voice full of concern, not knowing the reason behind Rosalie's plea. "I'd feel much more comfortable if the two of them were going together. I don't like the idea of Jasper going alone, anymore than Edward does."
Damn it. Rosalie was right. I couldn't leave the rest of them to deal with the mess I had made. I turned around to face her.
"We could wait until that's been taken care of," I said directly to Rosalie, avoiding Esme's question.
"Until what is taken care of?" Esme stood up from Carlisle's side. "This is what I've been talking about! No more secrets. Out with it. What has to be 'taken care of?'" she asked, infuriated and expecting answers.
"Well, genius here, crossed the treaty line. That's where Rosalie found him earlier," Emmett said dryly.
My family's thoughts were filled with shock and outrage and they all yelled silently in my mind, but no one spoke aloud. Jasper was fuming and I could feel his tension as he thought about this unexpected turn of events.
Carlisle had been unnervingly quiet, and I could see out of the corner of my eye that his face was filled with disappointment. His silence wasn't going to last that much longer and this news was definitely something that would put him over the edge. The two of us had been through so much more than the others. We were connected him and I. I was his 'first,' and we knew each other better than any of the others, including Esme. My actions over the last few months had put a distance between us, that neither of us was ready to face. But breaking the treaty that we had set up over eighty years ago was not going to sit lightly with him.
"Edward? Is this true?" he said in a commanding voice, finally speaking his first words of the evening. What on earth would possess you to break the treaty? Are you trying to…
Turning my face to avoid the others, I looked him in the eyes imploring him to understand, and not to speak out loud of his assumption.
I see. That's it isn't it? You want to go in Jasper's place in the event there is a danger. You broke the treaty to tempt the Quileute's into a fight. And I can only imagine what you've asked of Emmett to have him tied up in knots like this, and why you've been avoiding me.
I nodded my head slightly, confirming his thoughts. I didn't want it to come out like this, but he was bound to figure it sooner rather than later.
"Carlisle…" I said softly, "we can discuss this after. Just you and I, I'd like that very much. But right now, there are a few other things we need to address."
Esme was about to interrupt, she wanted to know what Carlisle had been saying to me and was about to say as much when Carlisle reached for her hand. His solemn look, made her pause in mid-thought. She searched his face lovingly and was met with an expression of melancholy which must have spoken volumes to her. Sitting down slowly beside him, she allowed him the opportunity to speak his mind without any more interruptions. She had done her part this evening, and had gotten the family to speak, but it was up to Carlisle now to bring us all together under one common resolution.
He patted Esme's hand and affectionately smiled at her before turning to the rest of us.
"I've sat here patiently this evening, listening to each of you and your opinions, and now I ask you to hear mine. And then perhaps, as a family, we can come to a decision together," he offered to us all.
"Jasper, what you and Edward have said about the South, is very interesting and quite probable. I'm curious to know who would be able to manifest such an army, and the reasoning behind it. Rather than just for mere sustenance, I would think there is something greater behind it. Which leads me to my next thought. The Volturi. After all of these years, we still have yet to hear from them. The Volturi are alive, I'm sure of it. If Aro took our warnings seriously enough to investigate ten years ago, he would not have left himself vulnerable. He, and his brothers, would have survived at all cost. What we don't know is what they stand for now. Rosalie is right, the rules havechanged, and we don't know who or what is building this army, and more importantly what this will mean for our family and Tanya's." The world has been through enough. We cannot allow this to happen. He internally voiced the rest of his thoughts, so I was the only one privy to them.
Turning to me, with a serious expression, he spoke resolutely, "Given Jasper's history, he is the better choice." There is too much at stake here, and for the first time…I don't trust you to not be reckless. I'm sorry, but that's how I feel. It's wrong of me to think this way, considering all you've done for this family already. But if you want to end your existence, this isn't the way.
I wasn't shocked at the conclusion he had come to. He knew me all too well, as I did him. I looked at him with understanding, and he knew I revered him, and would listen to him above all the others.
"I understand." I nodded my head. "But that doesn't mean I shouldn't go with Jasper."
"That's where I have to disagree. Carlisle, you know as well as I do if there are two of us, whoever it is down there, will view us as a threat," Jasper said stubbornly from the corner where him and Alice sat wrapped in each other's arms.
"As much as I hate to admit it, and I don't want to separate any one of us, but he's right, Edward. Besides, you may have to answer to the Quileute's if they decide to challenge the treaty. Hopefully, that won't happen. From what Charlie tells me, everyone is living near the shelter, in a compound of sorts, including the Quileute. There's a possibility they'll never even know you crossed the line. I can't imagine how they would know. But you'll need to be here if they do."
"And Charlie needs you too," Esme said warmly, smiling, interrupting Carlisle.
"Yes, there's that too."
"You're going to let him go by himself? We all know what happened last time." I saw Alice stiffen at my words and her expression fell as she remembered all too well.
"That was different and you know it. Don't go bringing that up into this," Jasper seethed. Do you really want to go there now?
"I'm sorry, you're right, that was out of line. I guess, if—if this is the family's decision, I'll have to live with it." I sat down in my chair running my hands through my hair, making it stand on end.
It was a six to one vote in favor of Jasper travelling to the South on his own. It was decided he would leave the following day, at twilight, running under the cover of darkness. After the family had finished up the discussion of what our next plans were, Jasper silently asked me for a word and we went outside, back to the dried up creek bed.
"Look, I'm really sorry for bringing that up in there, I shouldn't have, and I'm sorry," I apologized whole-heartedly.
"That's not what I want to talk to you about. It's about Alice…" His eyes searched out mine in the darkness. "I need you to make me a promise, two actually, that you will stick to no matter what."
"I need you to watch out for her, protect her. I need you to be here, while I'm gone. You feel me?"
"She'll be protected. I can wait for you to come back."
"I know she's okay with the idea of me going, but I honestly don't know how long it will take. It could be a week, it could be months. I need you to promise me, that no matter how long I'm gone, she's not to follow me down there. None of you are."
"Jasper, you know I can't—"
"I promise I'll stop Alice from following you, but I can't make that promise for myself or the others."
"You have to."
"That's not fair and you know it."
"All I ask is that you trust me enough to know I will come back to her. I'll not leave her alone in this world. It's all I'm asking of you." We stood in the darkness both stubborn in our resolve. Edward, trust me as I have trusted you over these years.
"You ask the impossible, you know that, right?"
I could make out the nod of his head and the gleaming white of his teeth as he grinned at me.
"Alright. I promise," I said sighing.
He clapped me on the back. "Thank you, and I'm holding you to this."
"What are you holding him to?" Alice asked from the darkness of the back porch.
"Edward's made me some promises is all, and I expect him to honor them."
"Mm-hmm. I think I can guess." She was walking toward us and we started in her direction, meeting her halfway. "Edward, Carlisle's looking for you, I'm sure you're aware of that though and that's why you're out here making deals with my husband to avoid him, again."
"How observant of you, Alice. You sure you don't have 'the sight' back?" I laughed and Jasper hit me in the stomach as he tried to stifle his own laughter.
"Very funny." She stuck out her tongue at me. "Oh, and just so you're aware, I know what you've been planning, I think Esme's the only one who doesn't, and count yourself lucky for that. So, I'll be watching you," she said in a sing-song voice. "With Jasper gone, I'll have all this free time on my hands, so you better get used to having me around, all the time. We'll have so much fun." She emphasized each word carefully.
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, I can't wait for the slumber parties and all the girl talk," I said mocking her, and rubbed my hands together, as I turned to walk back toward the house.
"You have no idea what you're in for, Edward Cullen! Speaking of girls, I do have a feeling one is coming your way! And she'll knock you on your proverbial ass!" she yelled back at me.
"Whatever, Alice. Whatever." She could poke and prod all she wanted about me finding someone to share my life with, but that ship had sailed long ago. There would never be anyone else, and I never believed there would be. I just wished the rest of my family would get that through their heads.
It's true. About the girl, her thoughts floated back to me as I walked back to the house remembering that day in Phoenix all over again.
2006 -:- Past Memories
Edward, can you hear me?
I was vaguely aware of a female's voice. It couldn't be her, Victoria took her from me. But why could I hear her voice? She was here? Nothing was making sense.
Edward. Look at me!
I smiled, but very slightly. My angel was here with me. Maybe this was it, and Victoria had killed me instead. I looked up across the alley at my angel, and she was standing there with sun gleaming down around her. A halo of light surrounded her hair, and I could just make out her face. She wasn't smiling though, a look of terror and pain crossed her face.
"Don't be afraid, love. I'm here, we're together now." I reached my hand out to her, beckoning her to me. I was still on my knees unable to move. "Amazing," I heard my voice, it was strange and distant and full of wonder. "Carlisle was right."
"Edward…" I heard her gasp. "You've got to get back into the shadows. You have to move. We have to move!"
I laughed mocking her silly words. There was no need for shadows where we were, we could be free here. I could be free with her.
"I can't believe I didn't feel any pain."
My angel slowly walked toward me, the halo of light still surrounding her. I reached a hand up to her trying to touch her, caress her as I spoke softly.
"She was quick, I thought I had killed her, but I was wrong, she must have killed me. It was all I wanted, to be with you."
She took a step toward me, and I realized I longed for her touch.
"I would gladly die another death, if it meant this. If it meant I could be with you again." The halo of light followed her as she walked closer. Her hair was soft and light, a honey-color which confused me. As she moved near me, she bent down, grabbing me by the shoulders, squaring me off and giving me a shake.
"Edward! You're not dead!" she yelled, as she shook me again. I felt as though all the breath was knocked out of me. I closed my eyes, trying to make sense of her words. She wasn't making sense.
"We have to move! There are too many people around. We need to go. Now!"
Comprehension must have flickered on my face, because I could feel her trying to pull me to my feet and even though I resisted she was still able to lift me.
I shook my head as I listened to her pleadings. No. No. No. This was not right. She smelled different. She sounded different. Something was wrong. I opened my eyes and my world shattered.
"Come on! Emmett will take care of Victoria. We have to go!" Rosalie demanded, as she dragged me back into the shadows of the alley. No! My mind screamed in silence, and in that moment everything fell apart, I wasn't aware of anything around me, only bits and pieces.
"Where's Bella?" she asked. "Did you find her?"
I heard sounds coming from her mouth and only the odd word made its way through to me. Words such as: Bella, Alice, bomb, vision, and Phoenix registered vaguely, but nothing else that I could comprehend. The only word I could mutter in response was, "Dead."
"How do you know?" Did you see her?"
She asked all the pertinent questions, but I was in a fog, and there wasn't anything I could do to break free from it. It surrounded my every thought, my every action. I tried to speak, I tried to explain what had happened, what I saw, and I was aware of some things around me, but the fog was drowning me. I watched in horror as I felt myself slipping away. Was this what shock felt like? Was it even possible?
The only thing that I was conscious of was Rosalie dragging me with all her might away from the gruesome scene that lay behind us. And all I wanted to do was go back there, curl up and die along with Bella. The scene played over and over in my mind. Bella's silk-like, pale neck stretched, welcoming that vile wretched woman. What was she thinking? Had I ruined her so much that she was willing to give in, to accept death? I knew the answer to that, for now I understood why she would be willing to give it all up. I wanted to join her because there was nothing left for me now. I just wanted to lie down and accept my fate. The world was going to end in less than twenty-four hours and I would end with it.
I struggled against Rosalie and managed to choke out a few words.
"Leave me." I broke free from her grasp and sat down in the alley against the recess of the brick building refusing to go anywhere else.
"Go." My voice was strangled and broken. I laid my head against the asphalt, closing my eyes, and my head was pounding as the fog threatened to envelope me again. But this time, I welcomed it. As my world spun out of control I wished and prayed for death to come and take me. It was the last thing I clearly remembered of that day.
Static. I could hear static and voices I didn't recognize talking as I floated in and out of a lucid state. I was not aware of time or space, just the fog and it would come for me over and over again, dragging me under, enveloping me in the blackness, and still the voices played out in my head.
The Department of Homeland Security and the Attorney General's office raised the nation's terror alert
to the red level, indicating a "severe risk" of terror attack.
Joining us now, live, from the White House, is Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.
"American intelligence picked up indications of a Russian Nationalist terrorist network in
possession of a 'Mark 15 hydrogen bomb,' off the southern east coast of the United States.
"Recent intelligence reports indicate an increased likelihood that an attack may be attempted on
American soil, well-known active terrorist factions have emphasized planning for attacks all over
the country,targeting key cities, and locations necessary for the running of this country.
"Since September 11, 2001, the United States has substantially improved its capacity to disrupt,
deter and prevent terrorist attacks—terrorist attacks against innocent Americans.
The active cooperation of the American people—your cooperation— has been instrumental
in preventing major terrorist attacks. We are not recommending that events be cancelled,
nor do we recommend that individuals change domestic or work or travel plans. As we have
in the past, we ask that Americans continue their daily work and leisure activities,
with a heightened awareness of their environment and the activities occurring around them.
"As a result of the increase in the threat level, the alert going from "high" to "severe,"
specific protective measures will be taken by all federal agencies both to reduce vulnerabilities
and many of them actually will, we believe, serve as a deterrent. For individual Americans,
we ask you to remain aware and remain alert. One of the thoughts that I would just
simply share with you: It's probably not a bad idea to sit down and just arrange some kind of
a contact plan. It doesn't take a great deal of time, and I think it would make family members a lot
more comfortable if they knew they were able to get in touch with one another in the
event something happened."
Joining us now with more on this story is news correspondent, Eric Lichtblau with the New York Times.
"Eric, were the government officials involved in this briefing very specific about what people
should be on the lookout for? What kind of attack they want us to be worried about?"
"No, not really. That's been part of the frustration all along with these warnings as they've
gone out in the past seventeen months. There is sort of a feeling among local police
and the public that we know we should be worried but we don't know what to do about it…"
The fog continued. I tried as hard as I could to resurface, but there was only static and voices. More static and voices, and I couldn't make sense of any of it.
In other news, residents of Phoenix were in for a special treat today as onlookers witnessed
the very realistic filming and special effects of a scene for an upcoming moviebeing produced
by the Italian film company, 'VolterItalia Productions.'
A spokesperson from the production company had this to say.
"We want to apologize to the city of Phoenix. We were under the impression that we had all of our
permits in order for filming, downtown, in the city. It turns out we did not. Unfortunately, we were
unaware of this until after the first take, and we take full responsibility for all the damages ensued."
Publicity stunt to hype up the movie? Either way, city officials were not impressed by the damage
caused by the filming. Traffic was halted for hours while the city crews tried to restore order in the
downtown core. Onlookers were amazed to learn this was all a ruse, cooked up by a movie studio.
"No way, man! There is no way that was a movie! It was too real! I didn't even see any cameras or wires!
They were flying all over the place. Well, if it was real, I'm for sure going to see that movie.
It was so violent! That guy just ripped off this girl's head. It was so cool!
But there was no blood or anything, maybe they'll add that in digitally or something," said one on-looker.
While another had this to say, "Oh, I knew it was movie. I could see the wires, and the fall away wall was so
unrealistic and that sparkling makeup? Really? Who are they trying to fool? I would never go and see that movie."
I didn't know where I was, it felt different now, it smelled different, and I didn't know how much time had passed. I had hoped I was dead, and here I was sitting, waiting in purgatory, for judgment to be passed. This is what I longed for, but a part of me, the tiny part that was aware of the static and the voices, wouldn't let me go in peace. The static was constantly emerging, reminding me of the possibility that I was still alive, and then I would push it away and go back to the fog, welcoming it once more.
Riots erupted in major cities across the world overnight as breaking news of a possible global nuclear strike
was made public. Martial Law has been declared across the United States and many parts of the world. The
military is doing their best to evacuate the major cities at risk from an attack. Riots and looting have broken
out in many of the less affluent neighborhoods where people have been stranded without the means to leave.
In New York, one hundred and twenty-three people were reported killed as a bus traveling in the Lincoln Tunnel
collided with a semi-transport trailer, causing an extensive explosion involving more than one hundred vehicles.
The crash has rendered the tunnel useless for travel, and the Port Authority has closed the Lincoln Tunnel indefinitely.
Officials are urging everyone to find an alternate route for crossing the Hudson.
The President and his administration have been removed from the capital to an undisclosed location.
We have been assured the media that the government is still in full operation, and they urge everyone to remain calm and alert.
The air smelled so familiar to me, like a hospital, almost sickly, and damp, and the voices in my head were back, new ones demanding that I wake up. But I wasn't sleeping. Didn't they know a vampire couldn't sleep? But … wait … I wasn't a vampire. No. This strange dream of monsters and violence and blood-thirst was all in my head, my fevered-brain had imagined it all. I was in Chicago, in the hospital … on my death-bed. I wasn't a killer. I knew if I opened my eyes, my mother would be lying on the hospital bed next to me, both of us suffering, waiting to join my father in the next life.
Today marks a day in history I had never hoped we see. When I founded CNN, I made a comment for the history books.
I said, "We won't be signing off until the world ends. We'll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will
be our last event... and when the end of the world comes, we'll play 'Nearer, My God, to Thee' before we sign off." Well, it's
with my deepest, saddest regret I must inform you…that time has come. Rest assured, I will remain here at CNN, along with
a few of my colleagues and we will continue to report as long as it is humanly possible, until the bombs drop and the world
as we know it changes forever. I trust you all find comfort in your God, and hold tight to your loved ones in this dark time.
As promised, our last event before we sign off. 'It has been a privilege playing with each and every one of you.' Godspeed."
I heard my name again. Edward…Edward Cullen! Someone was yelling at me. But that wasn't my name. My name was Edward Masen, not Cullen, my mother is Elizabeth Masen, and she was lying beside me. We were both sick, and our doctor was Cullen, Dr. Cullen. If I opened my eyes I would see my mother, and she would smile at me and call me her "sweet boy." Oh, how I wanted this dream to end. I had enough of this nightmare of super strength and speed, this undeniable thirst, and the ability to read minds. No human should be able to do these things. It was preposterous, and this monster I was imagining I had become, was nothing more than a fever dream, because this couldn't be real. It was unnatural and ungodly. My mother's "sweet boy" was not a killer … I was not a killer! None of it was real, Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie, evil vampires and … Bella. My breath faltered as I imagined the idea that my Bella was not real. That my mind had cooked her up and the possibility that she was an angel coming to take me to the next life and guide me out of this nightmare I was living. She was my savior, not a human. She wasn't real. I would wake up and my green eyes, not gold, would focus on my mother next to me, and Bella would simply never have existed.
The idea overwhelmed me, and I started to panic. She was real, she had to be. I struggled and thrashed against the hospital sheets that tied me down to this world. I wanted to get back to her, I needed to. I heard my mother's whispers, "Edward, shh. It will be okay." I felt her hand at my brow trying to ease me in my restlessness as I fought against the fog. My mother or Bella. Who was real? I didn't want to choose, I didn't know if I could.
"You are where you're meant to be," her soothing voice comforted me, and I wanted to turn into her and give in to the swirling fog.
"No, I can't. I'm a monster," I cried.
"That's where you're wrong, my sweet boy. You're a pure and good man and your time is not finished. You need to help those who cannot help themselves, and you'll find the one that makes you whole."
"I won't. She's gone," I replied in anguish, trying to convince the achingly familiar voice.
"Perhaps there is another," she said warmly, and I struggled to recall the last time I had heard the sound of her dulcet tones; it was different than I remembered.
"But that's not possible, there'll never be another. Don't you see? I'm a killer. This is the body of a killer! I'm meant to be alone in that world."
"You're not alone, you never were…" the voice trailed off into the fog, and then, there was nothing but silence and the blackness again.
"Come back! I don't want to be alone," I screamed back at my mother. I twisted and turned in all directions trying to find her, and I felt two solid hands on my shoulders holding me in place. I heard her words. They broke me out of my fever-dream state, brought me to the surface, and the fog started to dissipate.
You're not alone, Edward.
My eyes gradually focused, taking in my surroundings. The room was very dark, with only one small light bulb in the middle of the large room and there was a strange humming sound off in the distance. The room smelled of dirt and concrete, and, what was that awful smell? It smelled like … a barn? My eyes searched the room, trying to focus on anything, and then I found familiar gold-colored, warm eyes staring back at me.
"Where are we?" My voice rasped from disuse. I was alive … the disappointment was palpable.
We're in Chicago, or what was formerly known as Chicago … her thoughts trailed off and the voice in my head was the same achingly familiar sound from moments ago.
I nodded my head processing the information, and processing the fact that all of this was real, that I was real, and I was in a world that should not exist. It was a bit disheartening. The idea that I was actually a human back in the hospital and not a vampire, had made perfect sense to me. This reality was not something I was prepared to relish in, especially when I was facing the truth of what had just happened.
"Where is everyone?" I said flatly.
She looked me in the eyes, and her tender, soft features and heartrending expression were painful to watch. She smiled sadly, pausing for a second and then her face crumbled.
"Edward," Esme sobbed, throwing herself into my arms. "We need you."