The crescent moon shined almost as bright as daylight, its strong luminescence in white quietly descended upon the mountainside. The night was clear and in the silhouette of the trees, I scarcely saw the snowflakes still fluttering in the air around me from the impact. My stomach was churning inwardly and my mind was pulsing so violently, I briefly mistakened it for my own heartbeat.
Who'd have thought right? Who'd have thought it was such a bright idea to hike up a mountain by yourself in the middle of dead fucking winter?
There was a pain searing up my leg where I was certain I broke the bone that meets below my knee because even with the padded pants covering any sight of an injury, moving would put me in further agony.
It took from me every bit of resolve to muffle any sound. There was nothing more distressing than the sound of my own scream and in a moment like this, even though I was only eighteen years old and I didn't know shit yet about shit, I wanted to remain as calm as my situation would allow it.
My teeth caught my bottom lip nearly breaking the skin and the tears streaking down my colorless cheeks left cold trails that were kissed from the wind. The whimper that escaped my lips was the sound of someone who was just beginning to realize the potential depths of her aloneness.
My mother was a nurse so naturally she knew how to apply first-aid quickly. I was beginning to regret all those times I wasn't interested enough to ask her about it. Maybe it could have helped me now.
I hissed as I tried to readjust myself. Snow crunched underneath me and I immediately got the disturbing idea that I was sinking into my grave.
I read before that when adrenaline was coursing through the body, you could fool yourself from feeling pain, let the wound numb for a short while before your brain tells you to stop being a dumbass and demands that you tend to your dying self. If I wasn't panicking, I'd laugh at the irony of everything. In the back of my head, I could almost hear my mother nagging in that native tongue of hers. She told me this was a bad idea, and even on the phone, on the way here, she proceeded to point out the absurdity of my trip.
There was a critter. My ears picked up its shuffling in the trees. Is it a squirrel? Am I fucking dog now? I began looking around instinctively, not because of the squirrel but because I had this urgent need to find my travel pack which slipped off during my fall. In it, I had my phone and since I'm 5,000 feet above sea level, I better damn well have excellent cell service. But, who am I kidding, reception in the mountains was questionable, and it didn't matter what phone plan I had because nature fucked all equally.
Damnit. Even as I turned my head, somehow the slight movement made it down to my leg. Eclipsed by the shadows of the evergreens, there was nothing of mine I could salvage but tree roots peaking atop mounds of snow.
In that moment, I made two observations: I couldn't walk and I couldn't find my phone. I was such an idiot and as I admitted this, my breathing hastened.
I wiggled my cold fingers unconsciously as I leaned back into the snow. With so little light, it was so easy to spot the stars in the black void. I had spent nights star-gazing with my father; I never did so again after he died. At least until now.
With my heavy eyelids, I had trouble staying awake. Drifting in-between faint exhaustion and faint distress, I somehow closed them in the midst of possibly freezing to death and dying.
It felt like a few seconds of warm darkness when I awoke. I had hoped it would be daylight by the time I opened my eyes or even heaven...dying in my sleep sounded much more preferable to being mauled by a bear. But, either way, I wasn't very upset to be alive. I mean, it wasn't like this could get any worse.
A branch snapped from beyond an underbrush several hundred feet in front of where I laid, shattering the quiet of the forest.
It was with sickening clarity that I discovered I was not alone.
While it didn't sound like a wolf, I was certain it had to be, otherwise what other animal could be out here? A bear? That even sounded worse. What with me attracting the worst possible luck, it could just turn out to be something that could kill me.
I had only blinked when the figure emerged in plain sight several yards away ahead of me. My breathing had died away upon the ear because what I envisioned of a deadly bear or ravenous wolf, I saw instead the silhouette of a man stalking forward, closing the distance between us in quick strides. And yes, it was another human being, I should've been relieved but there was something...not right. The type of not right when the forecast might say there's a twenty percent chance of rain but you just know it's going to downpour. The type of not right when you're father tells you you won't even notice he'd be gone as he leaves the front door and you get that feeling you'll never see him cross through it again. There was nothing else that could explain it. That nor my sudden desire to flee even with the broken leg.
I dreaded the moment he was close enough for me to barely distinguish his face in the gloom. Terror turned my blood into ice as I saw him. He was young, very young and his skin was extremely pale like the hair framing his face. The man's jaw was caked in blood, at least, that's what I fucking made it out to be with so little light. At his sides, he kept clenching and releasing his hands as though they wanted something to crush and tear into.
Someone normal wouldn't act like that.
My mouth had gone dry and I hadn't noticed I'd curled my fingers into fists. There was a maniac in the woods, right here and I was at the mercy of him.
When he began sprinting forward, I'd thought it was too late to scream until something just as quick as it was dark intercepted his path. There was a collision which may have involved the two ambiguous figures and the trunk of a tree. Sprinkling chips of bark hit the ground, and it was as though a veil had fallen around me to silence any sound.
I hadn't realized how hard I was breathing until I felt the vapors of my breath hit my face.
Did that just happen?
Am I going crazy?
Because when you question if what you saw was reality, you might as well question your sanity too. Had I bumped my head in the fall? I'm pretty sure I would've felt some kind of pain, or hardly as alert as a person with a concussion would be.
Suddenly, a ray of intense light hit me from up the incline of the hill.
"Are you injured?" That voice belonged to a man and while gentle, I could hear the urgency laced in it as he called out.
I shielded my eyes with my fingers, grimacing at the voice cutting through the cold air. Was it a ranger?
"Fuck yeah," I replied.
His footsteps sank into the snow to mid shin as he approached me to a kneel by my side. I felt his hands lightly travel down my thigh searching for the wound.
"I can't walk. I think I broke my shin. I might even be suffering from a concussion? I don't know. I don't know," I said.
"What's your name?"
"N-Nalani Reyes. Who are you?" And did God send you? I added silently.
"I'm Carlisle Cullen. Now take deep breaths and lay still."
It was dark as hell, but I wasn't idiot enough to miss the glint of a knife pass over my face. At that, I was not taking deep breaths and I was not lying still.
"What are you doing?" I raise my head only for his hand to gently push my forehead down. My hand shot out to grab his foreman. Jesus, he was wearing less layers than me and I'm freezing my ass off.
"What are you fucking doing?" I snapped.
The man glanced at me, I could see his eyes glitter just barely, as he lowered the knife in some attempt to quell my distress. Though I noticed he hadn't removed his hand from it.
"Nalani, I'm a doctor. I'm going to ask you to invest your trust in me so that I can save your leg."
"Can't you just take me to a hospital? Can't you just call an ambulance? I want to get out of here!"
I had a broken leg and I don't know what the hell I saw, so I hope this Carlisle Cullen had enough patience to handle my delirium.
"The nearest hospital is an hour away. You can be transported there but you have to let me help you first."
He could've been that maniac I saw earlier. Shit, he could've been anything, maybe a hallucination. Or he could've been what he claimed to be and I didn't like the prospect of dying. I wasn't going to give up an opportunity that could save my life either.
"Did you see it?" It didn't sound as bewildered as it did in my head, but, whatever.
"The…" It was so uncomfortable swallowing with a dry throat. "The man." My skin broke into goosebumps just referring to it aloud as though he would come back again.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he replied rather flatly.
I didn't believe him, but maybe that was because I didn't want to believe I was hallucinating.
"Just…" I released his arm and shook my head, surrendering my skepticism because I could see that it wouldn't do me any good if I kept it up. "...please get me out of here then."
He got the gist of it and started ripping up the fabric of my pant leg.
And in the midst of it all, I lost consciousness.
AN: I only know where to go with this for the first few chapters. Let's see where this takes me, because I absolutely love the lovely Carlisle Cullen. Also, welcome to those who've stumbled upon the first chapter of this new fic!