In The Beginning
"In the beginning, though…Why did you even think to try a different way than the obvious one?"
-Bella Swan, New Moon p. 35
Pain. There was no beginning in memory and no end in sight of the ever-increasing agony. It echoed through his skin, reverberating inside his bones. It resounded from every nerve, amplifying them as it traveled up and down his quivering body. Like fire, devouring his insides; like needles, forcing its way through his flesh from within. It obliterated all else. It was turning him inside out. It was all that he could imagine Hell to be.
He struggled in its iron grip, fighting to form a coherent thought. He had little control over his violently jerking arms and legs as he crawled and stumbled through a pair of wooden doors leading into the ground. A fitting place for him, down into the dark – a grave; the first place they should look and the last place anyone would. He knew he was dead now, to his father at least.
His flailing hand touched something that rolled in the darkness; he grabbed it and brought it to his mouth, wedging his teeth into its putrid, slimy flesh – the stench of rotting potato filled his nose. He didn't care. He couldn't let himself scream, had to stifle that involuntary response to purely concentrated pain. He must not be found. He must not be found.
If anyone stumbled across him, some Good Samaritan attempting a good deed by following the anguished shrieking of a fellow being, he didn't know what they would do to him – and he didn't know what he was capable of. A vampire had bitten him – he knew for sure the identity of the creature; the piercing black eyes that somehow glinted red and the snarling bared teeth were all he remembered preceding the pain. And now there was something wrong with him… something was changing. He had to stay away.
And he must not be found.
Muted screeches echoed around the cellar for three days, though time for him passed unaware in the hellish pit of his own mind. The muffled sound did not pass through the solid, wooden walls of the cellar. His wish was granted. No one heard.
Carlisle slowly uncurled from a fetal position; sodden potatoes rolled from the heap, dislodged by his movement. He sat up carefully, inch by inch, and finally removed the remains of the almost disintegrated potato from his mouth. The crippling pain that had gripped him for so long had grown to an agonizing crescendo and then disappeared, fading away. He remained tense, dreading and somewhat expecting its return. He had assumed punishment for his foolishness would continue until he lost all semblance of sanity.
After sitting, unnaturally motionless, for an uncertain period of time, he decided that the pain was not returning. It was finished with him, perhaps moving on to a new victim. Now that he had escaped its clutches, his agile mind was free to concentrate on the idea of why it had happened, and what it meant for him now.
But he didn't. He had just been through the worst physical agony he had experienced in all his twenty-three years. He was not yet ready for an even greater mental ordeal.
Instead, he studied the place he was in. The smell of rancid vegetables overwhelmed the small, dank pit. The only illumination was provided by a crack of light beaming through the doors set at a diagonal above his head, shining on a slimy set of descending stairs. He was in a cellar, Carlisle remembered now. It was the place he had found refuge, but it was not a restful place. It stank of decay, of dark things never exposed to sunlight, forgotten to an uncaring world. It was curious – he had never noticed how much one could gather from smell before.
Water dripped from the low ceiling of the place, trickling to form a shallow pool in the shadowed recess by the stairs. The "drip-plunk, drip-plunk" reverberated, too loud, around the tiny space, one echo finishing just as the next drop fell to begin the cycle again, giving the cellar a decidedly gloomy, sepulchral feel.
The cellar was almost as depressing as the sinking feeling in his heart. The dreadful, gut-wrenching sensation was the first thing that made him realize – something was definitely wrong. The drops of water were too loud, the echoes continued for too long. The stench of the cellar was far too strong, enough to cause his eyes to water; yet they were dry, and his vision remained clear – too clear. Should one crack of sunlight reveal so much of an underground room? No, not sunlight… He studied the white strip of light that illuminated even the individual fibers of moss in the corners of the cellar. White? Was not sunlight yellow, and moonlight white?
He didn't dare to open the door to check the source of the glow, fearing what he might find, and as the horrible realization came to him he found he didn't need to. He was sure that the light was moonlight, revealing more to him now than sunlight once had, and that it was night; as sure as he was that he had been changed. The light falling into the cellar started to weaken as the first too-loud sounds of sprinkling rain began to fall outside – an ironic symbol of his deteriorating self-control.
This was real. Not a nightmare, not a demented, paranoid plot cooked up by his zealous father to persecute and slaughter innocents. Instead, it was his own brilliant plan, aimed at the capture of genuine beasts and thus at the good of mankind, that had been turned on him.
He was terrified. And his mind finally turned to the question his soul rejected with all its might: What had happened to him?
The chronic dripping gave him the idea, and he moved uneasily through the moldy potatoes to the edge of the dark, shallow pool. He was moving somewhat strangely, almost dreamlike, it seemed to him, but he did not dwell on that now – his apprehension was growing, he had to see himself. If he could just see his own face... He crept to the edge of the puddle and looked into it, peering through the diffused light.
He almost let the piercing scream escape from his throat, but swallowed it just in time, whimpering instead. The glowing red eyes of the monster in the pool glittered, mocking him; its unnaturally white face formed a reflective frame around them, emphasizing their deranged color. Carlisle fell to his knees in horror at the comprehension that the beast in the water was but a reflection.
"All that is Evil, or is in any way connected with Evil, must be destroyed. This is your commission; I trust you to do your duty."
He groaned, still softly, and buried his face in his cold hands, hiding those shameful, hideous eyes. That charge, that mission given him by his father rang deafeningly in his newly attuned ears, but they did not pierce his heart the way his own answer did:
"None of them will be left alive."
He had failed, failed utterly in his task. He had in fact gone in the opposite direction – instead of the eradication of the creatures, that night had resulted in the birth of one more. Another demon to swell the ranks of the true Evil that haunted the earth. He was a monster, a fiend of the dark whose only purpose was to steal human blood. At even this mere thought his traitor throat began calling for relief, demanding the life of an innocent. A thick liquid coated his mouth, sliding down his teeth as his… instincts prepared to hunt and destroy.
How the righteous fall.
He had devoted his life to protecting humanity, and now desired nothing more than to destroy it. This resulted in a conflict, a paradox within his own body. A war had begun between thought and instinct, one that would erode any impression of humanity, leaving nothing but an empty, lethal shell. He utterly rejected this outcome; it opposed every philosophy he had ever followed, whether adopted from his misguided father or developed from his own experiences. He refused to exist as what he had once abhorred. And so Carlisle came to a conclusion:
There was a way, yet, to fulfill a small portion of his obligation to his father.
Outside the pit the rain increased its tempo as a part of him – the analytical, calculating part that had led him to the cellar in the first place – began making plans. Plans of destruction, death, and then finally, God willing… peace.
He emerged from the cellar into the rain-spattered city slowly, but smoothly – the effortless movement a dramatic change from the last three days. He stank of rotting vegetables, the odor overwhelming all else in a nose that was too sensitive. In fact, everything on this side of the Change seemed sharper, clearer; but instead of enlightened, he felt confused and even unbalanced. He was aware that it was night, and yet he could see – quite literally – as clear as day. The pungent reek of the potatoes was a constant reminder of his heightened sense of smell. But for the moment, it was the things he could hear that threw him off guard, causing him to pause and sort the sounds into the mundane occurrences they had once been…
A rodent skittered through the litter in the alleyway behind him, away from him, its steps quick and terrified. Across the road, a hanging lamp fizzled out, extinguished by leaking rainwater. Streets away, a carriage driver clucked softly with his tongue and his horse began to walk, hooves a sharp staccato that echoed off of the walls of the surrounding buildings. And all around Carlisle, the heartbeats of humans – sleeping, defenseless prey – sounded a hunting call.
NO! NO. He had to get away, run far from the potential destruction and sorrow he could cause all too easily. He would not let that happen. I promise not to be what you were, father, and instead do what you have always wanted to: kill a monster.
He disappeared into a night that should have been dark, in a world that had become alien – a world he no longer wished to be a part of.
AN: So, I wrote this when I should have been writing Chapter 4 of "Unprecedented." For those of you who were reading it you know I haven't updated that in a while, but I had wanted to try a vampire story. I wanted to wait to post this until after Ch. 4 was up, but since it's being edited right now I figured that was close enough. It will be up soon! In the meantime, any comments would be appreciated. Thanks! I think a chapter 2 of this may be up at some point, hopefully soon!
Also, a very big thank you to bronzehairedgirl for the beta! Without her comments and help I might be too scared to post anything at all! :)
Disclaimer: I am not Stephenie Meyer, and do not own anything affiliated with Twilight. Unfortunately, Carlisle is also hers, although she can have his dad.