Featuring CHARLIE SWAN, chief of police in the town of Forks, ISABELLA SWAN, his daughter, THE DOCTOR, an unconcerned parent, EDWARD CULLEN, a boy Doing Time, and JASPER, an unexpected hero...
The cell was damp and tiny. Water dripped noisily in through a window left open, where the constant rain of Forks' sky was beginning to gather more inside, it seemed, than out. The two jail cells in the basement of Forks' police station were nothing awe inspiring, but, on nights when Forks was particularly miserable, it didn't take much cowardice to shiver in fear when looking in on them. They were used only for petty crimes which resulted in overnight detainment, and, should the occasion ever arise, to hold hard criminals for a single night before taking them to some larger municipality.
Because of the rarity of use, the cell was mostly ignored and comfort within was minimal, if at all existent. The single bench sat directly beneath the gaping window, and water rolled of off its surface at the same rate it fell from the sky. The patter of drops hitting floor, hitting the window pane, the pavement outside and the brick walls of the station was constant. The cells beneath the station were not heated, and the air was chill. The bars were covered, on one side, in a thin layer of frost. It was two o'clock in the morning, and light in the cell was virtually nonexistent. The dim fluorescent bulbs above head had gone out in more than one spot, long ago.
Forks' jail cells, supposedly, were haunted. Rumors indicated that they had been built over the grave of a man who had killed himself after seeing his wife die. It was claimed that to stay overnight was to be driven insane or at least to the brink of insanity, to feel the same loneliness that had marked this place so many years ago. On this particular night, the cell's haunting would have seemed real to anyone who glanced through the open window– the presence of a tall, lean youth made the entire place darker than it really was, for his skin was paler than seemed natural, and his eyes, dark, deep and somehow animal, were framed by long, needle-like lashes and sat above black, bruised-like skin. His teeth were so white it was almost as if they were a painted illusion, and his hair had the cast of a bronze statue.
The cell was outdoing itself tonight. A very brave man would not take a dare to enter them this night.
The boy, though, seemed quite unaware of the fear he would have inspired in others, had they seen him, and in fact didn't even look upset at being in jail. He leaned casually against the wall on the eastern side of the cell, watching with a bored expression as the rain ran in rivulets down the stone across from him. Every now and then he would examine his nails, or his watch, or run a hand through his hair, sighing and perhaps a little tired, but, clearly, not distressed.
Edward Cullen had already used his one phone call to contact his father and demand to be bailed out, but that had been little less than an hour ago, and he was still holed up here. He had been caught speeding, really speeding, sometime, he supposed, just before one in the morning and had been brought immediately to the cell. Since then he had stood just where he was and had tried, mostly in vain, to contemplate the rumor of a ghost within the cell.
Edward did not know whether or not he believed in ghosts. He believed in more than most people walking down the street, for various reasons which were all quite sound, but had so far not encountered anything that could make him believe in specters. Edward was not doing a good job of sorting out his beliefs. His mind wandered often to the predicament he had gotten himself into. Though he was confident that he would be released without any issues, he still could not fathom that he, Edward Cullen, he had been caught speeding!
He was in a daze as to how he had let that happen, but acknowledged with a cynical smile that his eagerness to get to his destination had probably been what led to his rash thinking, and, of course, his arrest. And now, here he was, in a haunted, wet jail cell, missing out on his plan for the evening and waiting to be bailed out. How ironic, he thought, as he heard the basement door open and the fall of heavy steps on the stairs. Edward Cullen knew that the person approaching was not his father.
Charlie Swan had awoken no more than twenty minutes ago when he had been called by one of his men, telling him "Uh, Charlie, I just arrested a kid for going over a hundred... It's, uh, Edward Cullen." Charlie had dressed quickly, not waking his daughter to tell her he was leaving and had headed to the police station as quickly as he could.
Edward knew all this, and was, more or less, prepared to be leered at by the chief of police. Charlie smiled amiably at him, leaning against the bars.
"Well, Edward, this is quite unfortunate."
"Ummm, yes sir." There were a dozen things Edward could say, but none were appropriate, not in conversation with this man.
"140 miles per hour." Charlie whistled. "That's awfully fast. You know I hate to be the one to tell you this, but under the circumstances, we may end up keeping you here for up to 48 hours." Charlie hated having to break the bad news to Edward so much that across his face was the widest grin the boy had ever seen there.
Edward sighed, but said nothing. He could not think of a response, and that was strange for him.
Charlie coughed. "Now, Edward, I wonder where exactly you were going that you were moving that fast."
Edward said, "Home. I was in Seattle all day having repairs done on the car." He said, "It was one in the morning, and I was, I guess, just... Eager to get back."
Edward had not been in Seattle all day. He had not even been in Washington. He had been on an impromptu trip to California which had been intended to last only a day or two, no more. He did not usually go on such trips alone. Regardless, circumstances had caused Edward to turn back early and head for Forks.
He was not going home. Actually, his idea was to desert his car somewhere it wouldn't be seen and then to circle back on foot to Charlie Swan's house, where he would then climb in through the window of Charlie's lovely daughter, Isabella. Edward, however, in his overeager hurry to be at Bella's side, had been careless.
Charlie shook his head. His smile was wide and his eyes twinkled. "You know, Edward, I can't tell you how much I regret having to keep you in here. But, I also would expect you to know better than to be speeding." Charlie tipped his hat towards Edward. "Have a good night."
With this goodbye, Charlie turned and climbed the stairs.
When the man had disappeared completely from his sight (his eyesight, at least), Edward muttered, "You have a good night, too, sir, I hope you trip and die."
Feeling frustrated, he slid down the wall until he was sitting on the floor with his legs outstretched in front of him. Edward supposed that he didn't really want Charlie to die. Bella would be terribly upset if her father passed away. Still, Edward wondered dimly if that would postpone the wedding or if maybe it would speed it up.
Aside from the sigh that left his lips and the rain drops against the stone, the cell was quiet. Outside, Charlie was getting into his police cruiser, thinking happily about the less-than-pleased look that had been on Edward's face. Inside, Edward was thinking that if the cell was really in need of a ghost, he would be more than happy to kill Charlie.
He raked his nails along the cell wall, leaving deep, white gashes in the stone. His nails, upon examination afterwards, were not broken nor minimally cracked, though they were a little dirty. He decided unconcernedly that he would take a shower as soon as he was bailed out. In his mind, this event should be happening soon, and he wondered vaguely where his father was. His head fell, almost against his will, against the wall behind him. He was not tired– he never was– but he was so desperately bored, and, he confessed only to himself, a little upset.
A tiny voice at the back of his head insisted that he had been abandoned. Why am I still in here? What's going on? Dammit, where is he! He knew his father was home. He knew his mother was home too; in fact, he was pretty sure his four siblings were there as well. The question was, why weren't they here? Why had they left him to sit in this cell? Edward had been in some unhappy places before in life. He had known worse loneliness than this– still, though, the thought that his family would leave him in jail was appalling (this, of course, is the mind set of all teenagers, and is also the mind set of any arrogant person who's been walking the earth for long enough to believe they have become the axis of its rotation), even if it was only overnight– possibly 48 hours, the cynical voice in his head reminded him, and an image of Charlie at least half-dead came unbidden to his thoughts.
Edward looked at his watch. It was now 2:23 AM, and he was becoming indignant. This was preposterous, ludicrous! he told himself angrily, just as he realized that his father was pulling up outside the police station. Edward could not make sense of one thing as he heard his father come inside the station, and as he realized what his father was here to do. That one thing was: what the hell was he here to do?
"Well, Edward," the familiar voice said as his father, the town surgeon, gracefully came down the dirty stairs. "This is entertaining, no?"
"No." Edward's voice was colder than his skin.
The doctor only chuckled. "Now, now." He cleared his throat. "As a responsible parent–" A single, perfect eyebrow shot up as he said this. "–It's my duty to impart upon my children... Life lessons. The realization that they are not... What's the word?" The doctor smiled. "Immortal, as it were. That's, you know, something almost everyone acknowledges is a fault of teenagers."
"Oh, good God," Edward seethed. "You are not honestly saying–"
"Edward," the doctor cut in good-naturedly. "You know how small Forks is. I can't bail you out. It'll be all around town tomorrow that the rich doctor just lets his son run wild, driving 140 miles an hour, doesn't discipline him a bit–"
"Are you mad?" Edward demanded, and the doctor gave him one of those reproving looks that only a parent can manage. In fact, there was little need to discipline Edward. Usually he was extremely well-behaved, meticulously polite and always eager to do something helpful. The doctor noted with interest the boy's foul mood. Edward continued, "You can't just leave me here! I'll– I'll–"
"What?" his father asked, gently prying his son's hands away from the bars of the cell door (for Edward had, since the beginning of the conversation, moved to stand at the front of the cell and glare angrily out at his father).
"We'll," Edward said, floundering for an answer, "I'll..."
"Starve?" the doctor suggested with a wry smile, and, apparently thinking himself quite the comedian, went laughing from the room, pausing to call down, "Tomorrow, perhaps, I'll bail you out. Not tonight, though; you really do need to learn your lesson," with such volume that there was no doubt the officer upstairs heard him.
Edward could think of nothing but to kick the wall, which he did, leaving a sizable dent where his foot touched. Angrily, he plopped down in the corner of the cell, thinking that there had been no other moment in his life that he had felt so betrayed. He sat brooding for such an amount of time that when next he checked his watch almost three quarters of an hour had passed.
Edward Cullen had spent a full two hours in Forks' jail cell by the time Bella arrived. It took him longer to pick up her presence than in had his father's and Charlie's. In fact, he didn't know she was there until she burst through the police station's front door and came rattling down the stairs.
"Bella!" he exclaimed, sitting up straighter in his spot in the corner, and then coming to a complete stand and moving, with unnatural speed, to stand at the cell bars.
She stood just opposite him, her hands atop his on the bars. "Edward," she said in a low voice, "What the hell is this? How on earth did you get caught?"
"I was– distracted, Bella," he confessed, feeling a bit defensive. A light smile graced his lips. "Thinking of you, actually."
Though the compliment obviously pleased her, Bella fought hard to remain angry. She flushed, concentrating hard on the reason she came here.
"Edward," she whined. "Ugh! Do you realize what this is going to do? He will go insane! Insane. With power!"
"Who, Bella? What are you talking about?"
"Edward, he's going to have a field day with this!" This last sentence she said more slowly, emphasizing every word.
"Bella," Edward said, sounding angry himself this time. "You know I have no clue who you're talking about. This is frustrating. You need to say things, I can't just know."
"Charlie, Edward! Who else?" Bella countered, her voice rising. "You're in jail. For doing something illegal. He's going to go absolutely wild with this one, you know that? As if it wasn't bad enough back when he had suspicions that me breaking my leg was your fault. Now he actually has proof that you've done something wrong. He'll–"
"Oh, so what," Edward drawled. "I sped. A little."
"140 miles is a little?" Bella asked, prodding the inside of her cheek with her tongue. "Charlie hardly approved of you before, now–"
"Well if you're so concerned," Edward seethed, his lips pursed and his words coming out slowly, "Why don't you just..." He let out some air. "Go marry someone he approves of. There was about a 50/50 chance of that happening anyways, right?"
His voice was cold. Bella's face betrayed her feelings. Anyone could tell that within moments she was going to cry– Edward didn't usually speak so sharply with her, and when he did, at least he always felt guilty immediately afterwards. Though it felt sometimes like he was being extremely unfair, Bella admitted that, more often than not, Edward coddled her and treated her more or less like a Queen.
It seemed like she was waiting for his expression to become sorry, or for his face to show that he was shocked at his own actions.
"Fine," she said, clearly not believing this was happening. "I'll go home. Since you obviously don't want to talk to me right now." She blinked away tears. "I'll see you later Edward."
Bella turned to leave, hesitant, apparently still waiting for him to say something, to stop her and apologize for the things said. When she reached the top of the stairs and still had heard nothing, she turned to look down at him and found him in the exact spot she had left him, completely immobile except for his eyes, which had followed her to where she currently stood. His expression was full of anger, his eyes dark. He looked like that which she never liked to think of him as.
The change in his countenance was sudden and unexpected. He became calm and drifted back to the spot on the floor where she had first found him. In a strange tone of voice he said, "Have a good night," and she knew the conversation was over.
Bella stormed out of the station, and Edward knew, because the attending officer upstairs knew, that she was crying. Forget that he was undisciplined. By tomorrow Forks would be abuzz that apparently the speeding had caused a major fight between the two of them. The tiny voice in Edward's head had become a pioneer for justice.
That was cruel! it squeaked, but he was beyond caring.
Edward crossed his arms and muttered in a high voice, "ooh. Jacob Black. He doesn't speed. Why don't you marry him instead, Bella?... Why don't you go to hell Charlie." Edward glared resentfully at the floor. "How can she blame this on me?" he asked the cold cell incredulously. "This is ridiculous. Christ. Who cares if he goes on a power trip. Who cares if he thinks I'm not a good choice for her. What does it matter? We're just going to end up leaving this place and everyone here behind anyways... Especially Jacob Black."
This revealed a character flaw in Edward which was, perhaps, one of his largest. Aside from being very arrogant and very protective he was also, on most days anyways, completely, irrevocably, easily jealous. He wanted to kill Jacob Black. Most days he was content with ignoring that the other boy existed, but tonight, sitting on the wet floor in Forks' dark cell, he wanted to tear him limb from limb. It seemed like all his problems were Jacob Black's fault.
It seemed like the world had turned its back on him. Bella had turned her back on him. She was choosing Black over him. He felt it– Everyday, he imagined now, everyday for the past few weeks he had felt her drifting farther and farther away. Though this was the first time the thought had even crossed his mind, it seemed convincing to Edward at that moment.
"I'd be better off alone," Edward stormed, feeling like he was about to cry but knowing that he couldn't. "I'm just going to end up that way anyways... Hell, I already have!"
The jail cell was Edward's vision of his future. Cold, dismal, and lonely, without Bella. Though the easiest solution may have been to wait to be bailed and then to go see her and apologize, Edward imagined himself skipping town, turning his back on his family and his fiancé and letting himself rot somewhere in the woods. Someday in a hundred years he might be discovered by some curious children exploring the forest, covered in moss, and cold, cold like a statue. They would think he was one. They would come close... He would eat them.
The voice squeaked, Evil! That's an evil idea! but Edward was growing fond of the vision. He would be an urban myth. A statue come to life and then disappeared. He would, of course, leave one child alive to relate the tale. That itself was obvious...
Edward's vision became a tiny dream that he played over and over again in his mind, tweaking every time he thought of it as the morning light shone through the window, Edward fantasizing it was the light peaking through the trees someday in a hundred years, a facet of his plan seemed to show itself to him as a flaw.
The loneliness. Oh God, to sit alone for a hundred years with nothing to do but think of Bella somewhere far away in Jacob Black's arms, or buried under a tombstone next to his; his family somewhere doing the same thing they'd always done, moving from town to town. No one would notice that Edward wasn't there. Not the people of Forks. Not the people of whatever town they moved to next. When Bella died, and when his family had forgotten him, he would just be a memory, and then a legend, a ghost lurking in the shadows, about to morph from statue to monster...
Edward's loneliness became a hole. The obvious– that he didn't need to leave Bella in the first place– didn't occur to him. It was like a wall had set itself up between himself and the world, like it blinded him. Edward couldn't see rational sense. He only saw the vast blackness that was life without Bella, and oh, how it hurt.
Edward didn't notice when his brother came to the station. He didn't hear Jasper upstairs joking happily with the officer there, "oh, I just thought I'd come rub it in a little... I remember getting caught speeding once. He made fun of me to the end of the world... and I just got a ticket."
What Edward did hear was the rain. He imagined it was falling on him. He imagined the rain fell forever around him and yet he remained, while the trees and the ground washed away, Edward stayed, floating amidst this great flood he foresaw. Even as he pictured the world around him being submerged, he remained, everlasting like the sun. He was permanently alone, forever, with no company, no Bella. Only the rain.
Edward didn't notice when Jasper opened the door and stepped out onto the first stair down to the basement. He didn't notice when the door shut behind his brother, who had frozen in place. Jasper's breath came raggedly.
"Edward," he called out quietly, moving at a slow pace down the stairs. Edward looked up to meet Jasper's eyes.
Jasper turned, looking at the walls, up towards the ceiling, and finally at his younger brother, though his eyes almost immediately wandered to the open window. He sat down on the floor. He said, "This place. Oh my God, this place..."
Jasper said, "It's like the walls are angry, Edward."
He didn't seem to notice that Edward was barely registering his brother's words, that the bronze-haired boy's expression was one of malice and immense loneliness. Jasper stared at last into his brother's eyes, and realized all at once that something was amiss.
"They said... You've been here since 1 in the morning... That's– what?– that's– that's eight hours. Edward? Are you listening? Edward get up."
Jasper reached through the bars, though Edward sat much too far away for him to touch.
Jasper dashed up the stairs, the movement from his spot on the floor to the door taking less than a second.
"I'll bail him out," his voice could be heard saying, even in the basement where Edward sat, unmoving. "I'll pay."
The guard tromped downstairs slowly, chatting amiably with Jasper, unlocking the cell door and not seeming to notice Edward's condition of mind. He talked almost to no end, and didn't protest when Jasper rushed inside the cell, helping Edward to his feet.
It was still raining when Jasper and Edward left Forks' police station. The drops hit Edward and he let out a small cry, seeming to flinch away from the wet. Jasper ushered his brother to where he had parked, murmuring soothing words while he tried to cheer him up. The process was slower than he was used to. It was as if the negative feelings he sensed coming off his brother had become part of his bones, his skin...
The car peeled away from the parking lot, the rain falling against the windshield. The sun was barely shining through the clouds, but it was there. In the morning light, Forks' police station seemed a normal place, with a normal basement, in a normal town. The birds, though quiet beneath the sound of the rain, sang proudly.
And the cell waited, cold, wet, dark, it waited for its next victim.