Disclaimer: Meyers owns the characters. I own the rest.
The believers, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians—all those who believe in God and the Last Day and do good—will have their rewards with their Lord. Qu'ran 2:68 trans. M.A.S. Abdel Haleem
"What the—?" Edward woke with a start, and looked around the tiny plane.
Where the fuck was everyone?
The small, dark space was crammed with suitcases and duffel bags. Edward could hear the loud drone of the engines, and felt his stomach drop as the plane shuddered. Turbulence.
Groaning, he remembered.
He'd lost a bet. A stupid coin toss. And as a result, Edward Cullen had been consigned to the tiny cargo plane carrying their luggage. The rest of the senior class was currently enjoying the luxurious (by comparison) accommodations of the passenger airplane meant to carry them on the last leg of their flight to Denali, Alaska, where the class was supposed to spend Spring Break saving the planet.
At least, that's how the student body sold the trip to their parents. Really, it was just an excuse to get as far away from their families as possible.
Unfortunately, there was a mix-up with the airline, and there wasn't enough room for everyone on the passenger plane.
It was a given that Isabella Bahari would end up on the cargo plane.
They didn't even have to ask. She just stood up, duffel bag in hand.
In fact, they wouldn't have asked. They would never have singled out Fork High's sole Muslim student by sending her to the cargo plane.
But Isabella seemed to get off on the idea that she was some sort of pariah. It was like she enjoyed being alone. Like she derived pleasure out of the notion that she was being shunned, when that was only half the truth, because she did a fair amount of shunning herself.
The other seat in the cargo plane would have gone to Tyler Crowley, but for the flip of a coin.
Thus, Edward found himself ensconced in this flying tin-can, the plane rattling and shaking like it was about to break apart any moment.
He had managed to fall asleep only because he was exhausted from the all-nighter he'd pulled the night before. But he still had a headache. And he felt queasy, either from the hangover or the ride, or both.
Edward tried to stretch legs, only to find a duffel bag in his way. Annoyed, he kicked the bag, and was rewarded with the sound of a crack.
Huffing, he scanned the tiny space, and spied his co-passenger, Isabella, sitting in the far corner of the darkened cabin.
She didn't move.
"Hey!" he shouted.
Edward pushed himself up and staggered across the aisle, but then stopped, catching sight of the girl's headphones.
He didn't know the rules. But he was pretty sure that he wasn't supposed to touch her.
So he just waved a hand in front of her face.
"Hey," he said when she glanced up. "Why aren't we there yet?"
She pulled off the headphones, taking care that her scarf remained in place, but didn't reply.
Edward glanced at his watch. "We should have landed an hour ago."
But Isabella just looked down at her book, like he was wasting her time.
Probably wouldn't even care if we crashed, Edward thought darkly, not because he associated Muslims with plane crashes—he wasn't that much of a boor—but because he truly detested that Ophelia-girl from Shakespeare's play, and for some reason, Isabella reminded him of her.
Well, Edward wasn't going to stand idly by while some idiot pilot flew them around in circles.
He reached for the ugly green curtain behind the cockpit just as the plane lurched.
Edward stumbled backwards, ripping the curtain as he went, the little hooks snapping one by one.
Trying to brace himself, Edward felt the plane lurch again, and this time he fell forward, right into Isabella's lap.
Fan-fucking-tastic was his last conscious thought before the burning started.
At first, Edward's mind refused to accept the reality of what he was feeling.
When that didn't work, he tried to reconcile himself to the sensation. Figure out how to accept the searing agony.
"So what're you doing this weekend?" Jessica asked slyly, playing with her ponytail.
He smirked at her. "You."
She giggled, but then hesitated.
"What's that sound?" she cocked her head to the side, eyeing the door.
Edward couldn't hear anything. And the closet was locked. "Who cares?" he whispered.
"No, I think someone's screaming."
And Edward realized that he was the one screaming.
Edward didn't understand how the burning could possibly go on for so long. He tried to wrap his mind around it, as if sheer reason could somehow help him master it.
He remembered his sister telling him about something she'd read, how in hell, the dead never become habituated to the pain. They burn and burn and burn.
Was Edward dead?
He couldn't be, because it still burned.
Please God, let me die.
Maybe he was dead, and this wasn't heaven.
But he just a kid. He didn't belong in hell.
They were all sitting in class, about to start a test, when they heard the screaming start.
Edward was on his feet a second later, but Mike was already running to the door to see what was going on.
"Back to your seat, Newton," Banner said.
Mike ignored him, and peered out into the hallway, Edward joining him at the window as the screaming rose in pitch.
There she was.
She was crouched in the hallway, with her hands over her ears, as though to block out the noise.
But she was the one screaming.
Screaming and screaming and screaming, rocking back and forth, banging her head on the lockers behind her.
Edward had never seen anything like it.
Another tongue of flame licked its way up Edward's leg and he gasped, only for his throat to catch fire once more, the taste of cheap liquor filling his mouth right before he passed out again.
There was a soldier in the hallway, staring down at Isabella, with an awful expression on his face, like he was staring into the mouth of hell.
And yeah, Edward laughed out loud, because he was a dick. Because Isabella was such a bitch, always acting like she was better than everyone else. And for a split second, Edward had let his worst prejudices come out to play.
"What the hell's wrong with you?" Mrs. Cope hissed. "Her father's been killed."
Gradually, Edward returned to his senses.
His throat hurt too much to keep on screaming.
His leg hurt too fucking much for him to pass out again.
And whoever had been pouring the liquor down his throat had obviously decided that he was better off suffering.
"You're awake," the bitch said.
It was the first thing anyone had heard out of Isabella Bahari's mouth since her father's death, three months ago.
AN: Rating is for language. Not content.
My knowledge of Islam is limited to what I know from Muslim friends and to my minor in Middle Eastern studies. Please let me know if you notice any mistakes.
If your one of the ones who thinks that all Muslims are terrorists, I dare you to read me.
I DARE YOU.
To everyone, thanks for reading.
I don't have a very good track record when it comes to posting/finishing stories that aren't prewritten. So I'm not sure what my schedule will be when it comes to updating. But I feel a burning need to publish this now, and it has been sitting on a backburner for a while.
To the one reader who recognized Corrupting Influence, this too was previously published, pulled before it was finished, and is being drastically revised for republication.