A/N-I did actually have this first draft done 2 Saturdays ago but tragically the fan on my computer broke the next day and I only got it back from the repair shop last night. I'm leaving tomorrow to spend the next two weeks on vacation in Ireland with my family, so I did a bit of a rush job on the editing…hope there aren't too many mistakes. Luckily I did do some while I was writing this.
You may have noticed I like to confine my notes to the bottom of the page, but I feel bad for making you wait extra so I thought I would do you guys a favor. I often find myself struggling to remember just which story is which, so here's something to help you out. It doesn't include every significant detail, but hopefully enough for you to be able go, "oh, right…that one."
The Being Sane in Insane Places official refresher:
This is the one that starts with Alice as a small child, having her first vision. Her mother is terrified of her and eventually sends her to an insane asylum. There she pretends there is nothing wrong with her and refuses to co-operate with the doctors. She begins undergoing electro-shock therapy and Alvis Everton, her doctor and resident vampire, helps her deal with the memory loss. Alice gets a vision that Stella is dead which causes Alvis to realize that she is not crazy but rather extraordinary. He is fascinated and they become friends. We learn that Alvis is a recruiter for the Volturi and has a peculiar talent: although he is physically very weak for a vampire, mentally he is very strong. He is able to turn off his thirst (and other senses) at will. James stalks Alvis for awhile before coming to the asylum and starting a fire. Alvis saves Alice from the fire and changes her and promises to try to save the other patients. Inspired by visions of the Cullens, Alice decides not to eat humans. Alice has visions of Jasper and realizes that they are meant to find one another and searches for him. Alice attacks a student in a photography class she is taking and faces her first human casualty.
If you think it would be helpful for an updated version to accompany all future chapters, let me know in a review. Without further ado…
Saints and Angels
Chimayo, New Mexico
Alice is 19 years old.
I did not attend school again for a very long time. Between the strength I had built up over my years in the forest and the forewarnings of my visions, my self-control had never truly been tested before. I realized that it was something I had taken for granted. I thought of all the men I had charmed out of their wallets and shuddered at the realization that had any of them lacked the manners to be so forward in public, this sort of incident might have come up much earlier. This was going to be something I would have to get used to; times were changing and customs weren't what they had been. The incident stood as a jarring reminder that time had not frozen along with my body those many years ago. It was also the first time my visions had ever failed me in a big way. I had not seen it coming and when I did they had served to further enrage my bloodlust. I was greatly perturbed that the visions I had trusted implicitly had turned on me. I spent the next several years wandering, keeping mostly to myself, shunning social situations unless it was entirely necessary.
It was not long after I made the move to New Mexico after deciding that my self-induced isolation had lasted long enough and set my sights once more on finding Jasper. I settled down in yet another boarding house and quickly set about learning Spanish. Not that I couldn't get by well enough with English, but the small town I had settled in did have a large Mexican population. And as soon as I had moved to the town, a sprinkling of my visions started coming to me in Spanish and it irked me greatly that I couldn't understand them. That more than anything was what really peaked my curiosity. I was also curious as to how easily I could learn a language with my photographic memory. I quickly discovered that the answer was quite easily indeed.
The next day I dropped by the bookstore and picked up the largest and most comprehensive English-Spanish dictionary I could find as well as several grammar books. The next day I returned the books, their contents memorized. Although the vocabulary was easy, I discovered that foreign languages have something of a feel to them that cannot be captured from a textbook. Speaking them properly relies on gaining certain instincts that can only be learned through practice. I checked out several novels in Spanish from the local library and took to spending my afternoons lurking at La Tortuga (The Tortoise), a café owned by an old Mexican couple that seemed to serve a crowd of solely Mexican-Americans. I would order a cup of coffee that went untouched, pull my hat down over my eyes, and absorb the conversations around me.
A week later I decided to test my newfound skills. I had forgone my usual hat in an effort to appear more approachable. I perused the menu for a moment and figured I might as well start by ordering,
"Me gustaría un café con leche, por favor." They were the very first words I had ever spoken in the language, yet they rolled off my tongue in a flawless Mexican accent. Sometimes being a vampire paid off. The man behind the counter looked startled for a moment before retreating to bustle with the mugs.
I carried my drink over to one of the brown, sagging couches in the corner, blowing on it as I walked to keep up the illusion that I was actually planning to ingest the brown liquid. I felt the couch shift beneath me and hot, young blood assaulted my senses. A teenage boy had taken the seat next to me.
"Hola, señorita, ¿en serio habla español?" (Hello, young lady, do you really speak Spanish?) I laughed at his disbelief. Though his question was totally warranted, why would some white, American girl know Spanish? I was far too pale to ever be confused with a Mexican. How had I overlooked this glaring problem? I was so concentrated on learning that I never stopped to think that learning another language just to see if I could wasn't a particularly human thing to do. It seemed that every time I tried to integrate myself into society I messed it up. Maybe I could get away with being from Spain…well, partly from Spain. I was still very pale.
"Sí, es verdad. Vivía en España con mi abuela por muchos años. Hace dos años, vine a los Estados Unidos. Pero ya sé ingles también. (Yes, it's true. I lived in Spain with my grandmother for many years. Two years ago, I came to the United States. But I already know English as well.)" The boy laughed good-naturedly and stuck out his hand in greeting,
"Soy Javier. (I'm Javier)" I shook his hand and opened my mouth to introduce myself, but the boy jerked back and withdrew his hand, his mouth open in shock. "Pero su mano… es tan fría. ¿Está bien, señorita? (But you're hand…it's so cold. Are you alright?)" Shit. The hand I had just offered him had been wrapped around my steaming mug moments ago.
The café had gone silent. Double shit. Then it was filled with the low murmur of suspicious muttering. I tried desperately to take it all in, to see how bad the damage was.
"¿Qué ha dicho él? (What did he say?)"
"¿Su mano? (Her hand?)"
"¿…en ese café caliente? (…in this warm café?)"
A tiny child threw his arms around his mother's middle and cried out in terror, "¡Es una fantasma!"
I tried very hard not to laugh. Me, a ghost? Surely I was much too tangible for that. But this was no laughing matter. And the child's guess had come a far cry closer to the truth than anyone else. I concentrated very hard on keeping the deer-in-headlights sensation that flooded my body from showing in my face. I remembered belatedly something from my reading, that Mexicans were very spiritual people. They were much more likely to believe in ghosts or claim to have spoken directly with a Saint. But somehow I doubted they believed in vampires. Still, I couldn't be discovered. I made a rash decision and quickly let it play out successfully in my head before going through with it.
I clasped my hands in front of me and tried to look mystical,
"Soy la Santa Alicia de Francia, de los ciegos y los paralíticos. Tengo que desaparecer ahora… (I am Saint Alice of France, of the blind and the paralytic. I have to disappear now.)" And with that I disappeared.
Or rather, I ran so fast out of that café that no human eye would have been able to detect the motion. To them it would seem I had winked out of existence. It was an incredibly dangerous move, one I never would have risked without seeing the successful outcome beforehand. I slowed to a stop behind a deserted shed and then pulled my hooded cloak down over my face in case one of them should see me. I had no idea if any of them had even heard of Saint Alice, but she was the first one who had come to mind. The name had stuck not only because it was my own but because a very strange coincidence: Saint Alice was known for having visions.
But whether they had heard of her or not, I saw comforting images of them regaling their grandchildren with stories of the day a Saint had revealed herself to them. And for a moment I felt like a secret agent of espionage, forced to keep my identity hidden.
But if I truly intended to keep that secret, I would have to leave in the morning. This brought on a wave of regret; I had only been in this town a few weeks and had been enjoying it immensely. However, it would be safe to resettle a few towns over; people didn't travel much here. And then I could continue perfecting my Spanish. Maybe someday I could travel all over the world, going from country to country and learning the language of each before moving on. It was one of those rare moments where the idea of forever excited me.
I checked my pocketbook to be sure I had enough to buy a train ticket. I did, and so found myself with an evening alone in my rented room. For half an hour I checked and rechecked my visions, making sure that each and every patron of that café believed my story if not completely, at least enough so that they were not planning to report me as a suspicious person to the authorities.
Then, finished, I flopped back onto the bed, and was yanked away again against my will into the first of what I would later call nightmares, though it would have been a more apt name had they featured in my sleep instead of interrupting my waking thoughts with visions of horror…
It is raining and the ground has long since turned to mud. A family huddles together. They are in a line, with guards on either side of them. The mother clutches her small son to her chest and he wails into the gathering darkness. An older woman, the grandmother, stands stoic and emotionless, her lips pursed together. The husband holds his wife's hand, his face milk-white with fear. The guards usher them along and just ahead of them the line forks into two. Husbands and wives, mothers and sons, sisters and brothers are torn apart and herded through gates, many of them never to see one another again.
The family sees this and the mother clings more desperately to her child. The guards bark at them in a strange, unfamiliar language and the little boy cowers in fear, his face dirty and wet with tears. When the mother refuses to let go of her child, the guard yells again and slaps her across the face. She stumbles to the ground, her face landing in the mud. The brown liquid soaks through her yellow dress. By the time she has pulled herself to her feet, the boy is beyond the gate and the guard is trying to lead her shocked husband away as well. He reaches out and grasps her hand in his, saying nothing aloud and everything with his eyes. And then he too is gone and she is left alone with the stoic grandmother.
They are led into a large warehouse with the other women and the guards yell something in their harsh language. The women begin taking off their clothing, glancing uncomfortably at the guards who watch unabashedly. The grandmother shields her daughter from their prying eyes; her own body is no longer of interest to anyone. A female nurse hands out pinstriped dresses as their old clothes are collected in cardboard boxes. The grandmother shivers from the cold.
The head male guard steps forwards and shouts loudly. The women begin to run laps around the empty room. The grandmother's breathing turns ragged after only a few laps. No one knows why they are doing this but it seems imperative that she succeed. She tries desperately to keep up but soon her pace slackens and she is at the end of the group. She tries to ignore the horrible pain in her lungs. Then she stumbles. She falls. The guards pull her roughly from the floor and throw her against the wall. As the series of physical tests continues, seven others join her against the wall. They have been singled out as the weakest of the group.
The guards yell again and the women scramble to their feet. The grandmother looks over her shoulder at her daughter and for just a few seconds, her stoic mask falls. But then it is up again and she is being led outside. The rain has ceased, but the ground is just as muddy and unpleasant. The guards yell a command and the women file into a line and silently follow the uniformed men to the other side of the camp. They are at the very edge now, by the tall fence topped with swooping curls of barbed wire. They enter a building and the male guards bark another order in harsh words that Alice cannot understand. The women slip off their clothes and fold them into neat piles. The grandmother reaches behind her neck and unclasps the gold star-of-David necklace at the guards command. The naked women sit on the benches and ten uniformed nurses enter with scissors and walk down the lines, chopping the women's hair to chin-length.
They are ushered through a narrow hallway and enter a large, communal shower room. Some of the captives relax at this, while others become even more panicked. Who is right?
There is a loud thud as the heavy metal door swings shut followed by a less distinct click. A few seconds tick by as the naked inmates look around in confusion; the showerheads don't have any knobs. Then there is a harsh hissing noise coming from the ceiling and the room starts to fill up, not with water, but with mist. For a moment, everyone is confused. Then the gas reaches their lungs and they begin to scream.
It was not until I heard the loud knocking on my door that I realized I too had screamed. I lurched back into a sitting position, my eyes wide with horror and my stomach overcome by a confusing compulsion to vomit. I composed myself, and then changed my mind, mussing my hair and slumping my shoulders. I swung the door open and looked up at my landlady through lidded eyes and mumbled sleepily,
Her eyebrows furrowed together, "You…you screamed. Just now. Is everything all right?"
I let out a yawn for good measure and rubbed my eyes, "Screamed? Must have been a bad dream…you woke me just now. Must'a drifted for a bit. Sorry 'bout that." I gave her a half hearted wave and then shut the door before she could respond. As soon as I was alone again, my mind shifted abruptly back to what had just happened. I had never had such a long and detailed vision about humans. And if the unfamiliar language was any indication, humans who were nowhere nearby. It didn't follow the usual pattern of my visions at all. I had to consider the possibility that there had been a vampire present whom I had lost in the crowd. Unbidden the image of the prisoner's final cries of desperation flashed before my eyes and I did not see anyone unaffected by the gas. They could have been feinting though. Hmm. One of the guards? What language were they speaking anyways? It was very harsh, completely different than Spanish. I'd figure that out later. Once I had gotten out of this town.
My sense of urgency was only fueled by this newest development, as if follow-up visions might be avoided by a change in location. I highly doubted that. I often had certain… senses about my visions that helped me interpret them. And right now I knew this wasn't an isolated event. Something big was coming in the human world. I had no idea what, but something horrific that would result in this atrocity. Probably many more atrocities. It wasn't going to happen tomorrow or next week but it was coming soon.
I felt like I ought to warn the country, the world, that something was coming. But what on earth could I possibly say? Who would I even approach? And how could I possibly do it without exposing myself? They would never take me seriously until it was too late. The half-formed visions were already flashing before my eyes, runny and indistinct, but their outcomes were quite clear. I would be locked up, studied. Other vampires would be furious; they would come for me. Three men in black cloaks. I had no idea who they were, but they looked very old and very dangerous. I had said my goodbyes to the human world a long time ago, this was only another confirmation of that.
I sighed and began the ridiculously short process of gathering up my few belongings. They had multiplied over the years, but not by much. I had bought many dresses but few I felt enough attachment towards to keep after moving. I took my time folding them into a wood and leather valise, keeping out my long black traveling cloak. It was one of the few things I still had from my very first shopping expedition. I planned to leave long before sunrise, but it was always good to have, just in case. On second thought, I tossed a pair of elbow-length gloves aside as well for good measure.
I changed into a blue, plaid dress with a wide belt and then there was nothing left to prepare. Ordinarily I was accustomed to having a lot of unfilled time on my hands, but I had also noticed that my visions seemed to come more easily when my mind was unoccupied. And right now the idea of another vision was thoroughly unappealing to me. The humans had traumatized me enough for one night.
It was strange, that I found myself so affected by the vision. The things I saw were often fraught with the violence of my kind. But there was something wholly different about this. This wasn't a matter of natural instincts; this was cold, calculated, unnecessary cruelty. Yet I had seen humans kill and murder and rape and do all manner of horrible things to one another…but I had always regarded them as having a certain brand of innocence that was barred from the world of the undead. Now, I wasn't sure what to think.
I pondered this for quite some time. But not long enough; there were still several dangerous hours to wait out before the trains started running again and I was running out of distractions. And then a felt it: the tell-tale tingling somewhere behind my eyes, the flickering at the perimeters of my vision. And then I was sucked away to somewhere entirely unexpected.
It is late, past midnight, and the clouds obscure the moon. A lone figure walks down an otherwise deserted street. The businesses on either side are boarded up for the night and the wind whistles through the trees that line the street. It is an eerie night but the figure walks down the street with the utmost confidence. After all, he is assuredly the most dangerous thing out there tonight. Something flashes in the alleyway but he does not turn to investigate. The air around him blurs and then three shapes appear behind him. He is taller than all of them, but they have him on weight and numbers. He sighs loudly but does not turn around.
"I felt you coming six blocks ago. You people never learn." The man on the left straightens up at these words and takes a step forward. He is clearly the leader of their little gang. The lone man lets out another sigh and finally turns to face them. The one on the left crosses his arms and his lips curl up into a sneer,
"Long time no see, Major." He spits out the title like it tastes bad coming out. Jasper chuckles,
"Not something I particularly regret, Rosario. But I see that hasn't stopped you from tracking me down. Which was a useless effort, I might add. I'm not coming back."
"¿No, Jasper, estás seguro? (Are you sure?)" Jasper's face remains completely composed as he stares straight into Rosario's black eyes.
"Si, estoy seguro. (Yes, I am sure.)"
Rosario's voice is several decibels lower when he replies, and all traces of friendliness are gone as he hisses, ¿Qué estás haciendo, Jasper?¿Tu vida tiene un gran propósito ahora? ¿Es mejora en una manera u otra? Ya sabes su propósito, Jasper. Tienes un talento precioso. (What are you doing, Jasper? Does your life have a grand purpose now? Is it better in some way? You already have a purpose, Jasper. You have a precious talent.)"
Jasper's red eyes burn with intensity, but when he speaks his tone is even and calm, "Si, tengo un propósito y es algo más grande de eso. No sé que es, pero existe. Y lo buscaré. (Yes, I have a purpose and it is something greater than that. I don't know what it is, but it exists. And I will find it.)"
Rosario stomps his foot, sending a spider web of cracks across the pavement. Jasper laughs, "Temper, temper."
"¡Véngame! (Come with me!)" Rosario commands.
Jasper spits on the pavement at Rosario's feet. Then looks directly into his eyes, "¡Vete a la chingada! (Fuck off!)"
Rosario stares at Jasper as if he has been slapped, all signs of machismo gone. Without another word Rosario turns on his heel and walks back towards the alley he first appeared from. One of the other vampires turns to Jasper and says, "That's our final offer." Jasper spits on the ground again. The pair lope after their leader and disappear into the night.
When they are gone Jasper's shoulders slump and he kneels down on the pavement. He rubs his palms against his eyes and then runs both hands roughly through shaggy, blonde hair. He begins to mumble quietly, almost incoherently,
"Could you possibly hurry up? I have been waiting very patiently for something to happen but nothing has. I know you're out there somewhere. Is a hopeful sign too much to ask?" There is a very pregnant pause, as the night fails to produce anything miraculous. He lets out a low sigh and then swallows loudly. His shoulders sag with defeat. "Stupid vampire, talking to no one. You're loosing it Jasper, you really are. Better luck next decade."
He lifts his face skyward, "Well… if you do feel like showing up anytime soon, I'll be waiting for you in Angel Fire." The moon shifts from behind its cloud cover and silver light glints off the planes of his face. And for a moment he looks like he might be an angel.
The transition back into reality was not nearly as harsh as with the last vision. Rather, the image before my eyes slowly began to run like wax and ever so gently I felt myself drifting and settling back into the tangible world of the present. My dead heart ached for my lonely vampire and I longed to reach back into that vision and somehow respond to his cries, to tell him that he was not speaking to no one. For he was speaking to me; it was almost as if he knew it without knowing it. I almost had to laugh. After all these years of fruitless searching, of visions that never quite revealed his location, he told it to me so easily and simply. As if the solution had always been there, lurking just out of sight.
Angel Fire. I fished an atlas out from the bottom of my valise and began meticulously scanning each page. I fully intended to search the entire book—I had plenty of time—but luckily that proved unnecessary. As I began scanning the page for Alaska, a vision came before my eyes. I recognized my own hands holding that very atlas open to the page entitled 'New Mexico' and my own pale finger pointing at one of the black dots. How convenient. It would never have occurred to me to circumvent my search by previewing the outcome but now that the idea had presented itself, it seemed obvious. Hurriedly I flipped through the pages to the one that had appeared in my vision and took a few moments to find the black dot that marked the city. But then, there it was, just as I had seen it: Angel Fire. Why it couldn't have been much more than 50 miles from Chimayo, high up in the mountains.
I pondered the words: Angel Fire. It was a most peculiar name, but one that I felt a strange connection to. I shouldn't have; I was certainly no angel—though I had recently claimed to be a Saint. But I did have a certain ethereal beauty, a face that humans described as belonging to an angel when they thought I couldn't hear them. And I was so small, not even five feet tall, yet I could crush a steel I-beam with one hand and run faster than the speediest motorcar. I looked to be an angel but I was horribly dangerous. The name made me smile.
But then I remembered what would be awaiting me in that town and I couldn't stop the grin that spread across my face nor the excitement that flooded through my obsolete veins. I would take the train as planned the next morning, only now I had a destination…
The next morning! That was still hours away and this was the first time I had known exactly where he would be at a particular time. For I was sure from the solidity of the vision that it was to pass that very night; he might even be walking down that street at that very moment! The idea of waiting made me nervous. Screw the train. I was not going to pass this opportunity up. I was leaving now. I knew all too well how malleable the future was and I was absolutely not going to take a chance with this.
Jasper was completely right. He had been admirably patient—I had too, but at least I knew what I was waiting for and that I would eventually find it—and it was time to go answer his plea. Moments ago I had been dealing with excess hours to waste and suddenly I didn't seem to have nearly enough time. I slid my hands into the elbow-length gloves and pulled on the traveling cloak at vampire speed. I extracted enough money from the pocket of my dress to more than cover the bill. I paused for a moment to give the room one last glance for overlooked belongings, or possibly just to pull myself together before I rushed off to find this man who still didn't know I existed. I was so glad to finally have the chance to meet him in person. After every vision of Jasper I found myself further drawn to him and although I cherished each one, I had been hoping that I would not discover too much about him or become too enamored with him before I actually found him.
I walked silently down the rickety stairs and out into the moonless night. I squeezed my eyes closed and sent him a silent plea: Don't go anywhere, Jasper. I'm coming for you.
A/N- just so you know, I'm still doing my research….haha, I tried to have Alice learn off of tapes but then I realized they hadn't been invented yet. Also, the whole Saint Alice thing is a legitimate and very weird coincidence that I discovered. I was looking at lists of Saints, trying to find one that was appropriate and happened across our protagonist's namesake. I clicked the link and was totally shocked to find this other similarity (the visions thing). It was actually kind of eerie.
Are you beginning to see the Alice who loves to fabricate evidence?
And yes, I do actually speak Spanish…I didn't get this off a translator. According to the College Board, having passed my AP means I'm proficient… but I never claimed to be fluent. I definitely have some issues with the subjunctive still, but I tried to keep it simple so as not to embarrass myself. If any native speakers want to correct me, feel free.
ANNOUNCEMENT: So I'm in the market for a beta. Preferably someone who's read both Harry Potter and Twilight, but I'll consider someone who hasn't if I really like them (I'd just really prefer to work with one person instead of two.) You would be editing for grammar and flow/story development. I am very comfortable with grammar and pretty much have it down, so that would mostly just be for typos. The focus would be the latter category. It has been a long time since I had anyone else's opinion guiding what I write. And I'm going to have to put the limit at 16 or older. Anyone have any nominations or volunteers? (please only volunteer if you think you have something legitimate to add to my writing process) It would be a pretty laid back editing job considering the infrequency of my updates.
Also, I'll be without computer access for the next two weeks, so don't expect me to respond to any potential betas before then.
Oh, and if you need a good reason to REVIEW, how about the fact that this chapter is more than a thousand words longer than the previously longest chapter in this story!!