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Chapter 3 – Funeral Marches to the Grave
Art is long and time is fleeting
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
-From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's A Psalm of Life
Cold sunlight spritzed in from the dormer window, skipped across the hardwood, and landed on my skin to play across its blinding surface in a dazzling Technicolor spectrum. Senses honed in on the colors, not the mere seven shades of your everyday rainbow, but an infinitesimal compilation of a million varying hues, arranged in nature's order. They rippled when I twisted my hand, before settling still once more.
Light was actually struggling to keep up with my flicking movement.
I turned my gaze out the window and saw a bird flying by.
What an instinctual hunch told me that my old eyes would perceive as a flicker and a flutter of wings, these new eyes could dissect and analyze.
I could distinctly see the boundaries of each feather, more succinct than the borders of large countries on a map. They were gray, but tinted with a slick navy sheen. Obsidian eyes, set into the sides of his face, looked out about him with glassy ignorance. I heard the whoosh of his wake and a tantalizing thump, thump – fast.
A heart, I realized, one that pumped delicious, warm life through the bird.
My hunger, that was nearly forgotten in the flood of detail, suddenly returned to my throat with a vengeance.
A hand lightly brushed my shoulder. "Bella..."
There was an unwarranted edge to my voice.
A dim phantom of pixies and shopping malls flashed through my brain, before another swallow flew by and with its thumping heartbeat, erased all traces of civility.
Instinct consumed me in a tidal wave, a burning desire more powerful than anything I had ever known swept through the depths of my soul, filling it to the brim with a primal bloodlust.
Meek doubts attempted to step in the way of this onslaught, but they were a few men facing an army.
I could've killed my own family.
Blood wasn't thicker than water, but it sure was tastier.
I heard a crash, and then what sounded like wind chime pieces tinkling, before realizing that my need had taken control of my legs and sentenced by body to hurl itself out the window.
Glancing down, I felt that the ground wasn't approaching my feet fast enough.
Gravity wasn't nearly as strong as I wanted it to be, couldn't hold a candle to my strength. Nothing else could either, in fact.
I was powerful and majestic, an immortal goddess who dangled the world from a string hung between iridescent fingers. I was powerful, raw with a fresh ardor for existence. I could drain the sea, draw up continents, touch the sky and fling flecks of crumpled star around like pebbles through the night.
I was vicious.
I was grand
I was... narcissistic.
I was running, much much more swiftly than the wind rocketing through my eardrums.
Glancing over my shoulder I could see a wake of air streaming out behind me, twining coils of wind I was making. It sent the forest shuddering. Whenever it touched the trees they would tremble, leaves blown back white recoiling in fear.
But there was no reason for their terror. There was no thumping in the trees.
I was hunting smaller, richer game
Thought and time ceased to exist. The universe unraveled, slowed and dimmed, revolving around this spotlighted elk and its beating heart.
All else was meaningless.
And the smell. God the smell! It was sumptuous and inviting. Caught in its web, I felt more fly than spider.
I couldn't control my feet or my thought process.
Crouching... gaining... advancing.
Closer, closer now.
Peeking through the brambles, I saw a large brown elk, a scruffy mane hung round her neck. Beside her stood her calf, very young. His forelegs stuck out to either side as he bended over to gnaw on the shoots of grass, just a tiny blip of innocence and compassion in all the chaos of the woods.
This calf struck... something odd inside me, but I brushed the feeling away.
I stayed still just a second longer, only until the mother raised her head and perked her ears to attention, and then I leaped. I flew in one graceful arch, slicing effortlessly through the air, landing just in front of the beast.
The steps of the process came easy.
Snap the neck.
Thump thump thump thump... thump... thump......thump.........thump....
Sink my teeth into butter soft flesh.
The fluid was heavenly, warming my entire body.
Hot chocolate on a cold winter's day.
I didn't know where those words came from, or where exactly lay the meaning behind them, but I felt them to fit the scenario, so I closed my eyes and took long ecstatic gulps.
When I was finished, I stood and wiped my mouth. The world went on.
The calf stood backing away from me, bleating in fury that I would do such a thing to its parent.
"Sorry," I said quickly, although I wasn't really, but the force that had taken over my body was less demanding now and that "something odd" inside me pushed the apology out.
The burning in my throat was diminished, true, but not entirely appeased. I wanted more, and the temptation to kill this calf, too, was nigh overpowering. When I tried to move though, I found I couldn't.
I just... couldn't kill this one.
So I moved on.
Turning around, I saw a figure hunched in the shadow of the trees.
The one I knew as Alice was standing there, her pale features in stark contrast to the dark evergreens. Her eyes were puzzled, and lost in a way, like she had misplaced something precious.
Some distance behind her, a hundred yards or so, Emmett was jogging towards me. He sauntered up smiling.
"Nicely done, sis," he cried, "And you don't look half as dirty as I did on my first hunt." He put up a hand. "Up high?"
I gave him a slow high five. "You're my brother?"
"Well, yeah, ever since you ma..."
"Emmett," Alice hissed.
"Oh right," he said, "yeah, Bella, you sure are." He seemed to be looking everywhere except in my eyes. I tilted my head, trying to catch his gaze. "Sorry," he admitted," the eyes still freak me out a little bit."
He seemed genuine, nothing but true sincerity, but for a brother, he was being very wary.
"Why don't I remember you?" I asked.
"Don't know. I wish you would though." He grinned. "You're hurting my feelings. I thought I was pretty unforgettable."
Alice rolled her eyes.
A bare whimper of a smile touched my lips. These people knew me, that much was certain, and I had known them. It was infuriating that I couldn't remember exactly how.
Emmett called, "Alice, come over here! She won't bite..." then added, "you."
She bit the edge of her lip, before doing as he'd said. I noticed that when she moved, it was fluid, even more so than my leaps and footsteps. Hers seemed to have a flow and a rhythm in time to some music only she could hear.
She was little too, I noted, when she drew close enough to stand in front of me. Short, petite, and sylph-like, with expressive features.
"How are you?" she asked, dark eyes still searching.
"Wishing there were more elk," I said.
She laughed three short bell chime laughs, before saying, "You better take it easy."
"Yeah, turbo," Emmett said, smiling. "You've already ran almost sixteen miles. A few more, and then how about we go home?"
The word tasted funny to me.
"You know," Emmett continued, the place with the walls and the roof and your hus..."
"Emmett!" Alice yelled at him.
I blinked. Their chatter was beginning to fade into blurred clips and phrases. That delicious smell that had so enraptured me wafted to my nose, and the familiar thumping compelled me to sprint away back through the coagulated branches to find the source.
A group of elk, northwest, three from the smell of it. One was bigger than the other, a male.
I didn't waste any time with these, taking only a mere second to end the life of each, and then pouncing on my prey.
Only when they were all three lying on the ground cold and drained did I rise. The need still throbbed through my body, but it was manageable. The entire circulatory capacities of four fully grown elk had helped.
However, no matter how I tried to justify the hunger, the calf's bleating ricocheted through my memory in unadulterated clarity, and presently, a new emotion arose, the first to come anywhere near to challenging the need.
I was disgusted with myself.
Something about this 'life for life' bargain was deeply unsettling. I took off running again, this time with no target in mind but escape from the three carcasses I had made vulture meals. I had devoured all their sweetness and they were beginning to faintly smell revolting.
My hair flung out behind me in a tangled mass. Dried blood and dirt had congealed the locks together, also smudging my skin and clothes.
With the precision of a reaper, I had killed so utterly mercilessly. How had I done that?
Of course, I had to.
That's what I kept telling myself. It was necessary, part of life, and if I hadn't killed those animals something else would have.
But the calf that I had left alone in the world wouldn't leave my head.
How could I be so full of energy and carnal joy one moment, and so regretful the next?
I was different once I knew. This was proof. That different part of me, human part of me, was scolding and sorrowful. She and the calf were intertwined, screaming at me each.
Emotions were fickle, I realized. It would be easier if I hardened myself to them, to this dual presence in my body who hated me. If I could have reached down in my insides and ripped her out, I would've, but still, some part of her beckoned me to listen. She was here first, after all.
I warred with myself for miles and miles, until I ran right into a thundering rainstorm.
The drops pelted down on me as I flew, making a steady, beating rshhhing sound on the forest canopy.
One part of me was entirely unacceptable of the new being I had become, the other wanted to embrace it as a wild creature of its own.
The human voice expected better of me. It was all full of compassions and feelings. It insisted that I do more, that I stop making everybody worry, that I turn around this instant and go home, which was a concept that it was entirely too willing to accept. Mostly it urged me to open myself up, and was brimming with images of the strange bronze-headed boy called Edward. This was the part I had woken up with, the one that first compelled me to ask about him.
The trees ended suddenly, and I burst out onto an expanse of flatness, a field of grasses that rolled onward forever up to the mountain peak in the distance. I was sopping by now, and the rain was not so loud here, but I could hear the thunder shake the air around me like the bellows of an angry god. And it was here that I found the one thing that could keep up with my speed – the lightning. It split the sky in brilliant branches of burning fire glorious to behold, as wild and as wicked as the second part of my nature.
This contender, equally as convincing as the first, urged me to break all ties with my former self and with 'home'. It was sneering, but containing in its depth an untamed madness that was frightening to wield. But it was electrifying, too, like the lightning. A terrible greatness glowed bright within it, and I saw what I would become if I were to grasp this side. I would be terrifying, true, but powerful beyond measure, savage in my beauty. A Diana, huntress of the wind.
I smirked in spite of myself.
The lightning struck again, this time just feet away. I could feel its heated sizzle graze my impervious flesh. I dodged it barely, exhilarated.
That sort of freedom, entirely liberated from consequence, was devilishly alluring, and the only thing that stopped me from taking hold of it was the annoying human part of my psyche incessantly yelling at me that that course of action was wrong.
Diana would counter that she could not be defined by rules. Right and wrong were futile, laws that she decided.
Then the compassionate voice would say that I couldn't give in. Giving up was cowardly.
I ran faster, pushing my legs to limits not defined in terms of exhaustion, but of actual physical capability. It was physically impossible for them to go any faster. I thought that maybe I could flee the voice that called me a coward, that crying calf and his dead mother.
I couldn't shut my memories off though, no matter how hard I tried. It was like trying to dodge these raindrops. My footsteps slowed.
No longer a blur bulleting through this vast landscape, I became visible and finally, just stopped altogether, meshing with the interminable wilderness. I was alone. One dark sprout on an eternal plane, no longer towering over the world.
I was shrunk down to an ant's size when I considered in my scope the expanse of the universe. A gray sky roared its wrath, still sending down jagged messengers of light all around me – exquisite chaos.
And I realized suddenly that I wasn't the hub of it anymore, I was just a speck swept up in its swirling whirlpool.
Just then, the two sides of me were in perfect agreement, a ceasefire. Without a doubt, it wouldn't last forever, but right then, although I didn't know exactly who I was, I knew what I was and was satisfied.
A voice, velvety smooth, loud as the thunder. It was his voice, Edward's.
I pivoted, calm, and saw him slowly approach me through the haze of rain. His movements were authoritative, stoked with purpose. Topaz eyes seemed stern.
"Bella," he said, no longer needing to shout. "This is much too far. Even Alice and Emmett couldn't catch you."
He saw the blood stains, wet now, and blooming through my blouse. Leaning forward slightly, he took a deep gulp of air, before mild relief passed over his countenance and his shoulders drooped.
"What was that for?" I asked.
"Elk..." he noted.
"You thought I had murdered humans?" It was obvious from his look.
"You're sixty-three miles from the house. God knows what you could have done." He hung his head and shook it. "I'm sorry, Bella, I should have accompanied you, but I was so, so regretful. You looked at me like you didn't know who I was..." He looked me in the eye and frowned. "You still don't know who I am, do you?"
"Edward," I said.
"Yes," he urged, drawing forward to take my hands in his, "But who am I? How do you know me? Tell me you remember."
I bit the edge of my lip. "Not entirely." There was another kind of need flowing through my body, a lust that had nothing whatsoever to do with blood.
Water ran down Edward's angular cheek bones in rivulets, snaking around the corners of his full, frowning lips and falling in little cascades from his strong jaw. His eyes were burning gems. Hair tangled over his forehead in a shaggy mess.
Then, both of the beings inside me demanded something of him. "Kiss me."
Edward appeared baffled, whiplashed from this conversation's change of direction. Nevertheless, he slowly leaned forward.
Too slowly for my tastes. I closed the gap and crashed my lips against his with startling ferocity.
In a struggle to remain chaste, he was hesitant in his movements, lightly wrapping his arms around me and barely touching his lips to mine.
"No," I said, pulling back. "Not like that. Hold me tighter. Kiss me like... like you want me. I won't break," I begged. "Kissed me like you've waited you're whole life to do it."
At that, he swept me up in his arms, a vice that pulled tighter and tighter, until I knew he was at the limits of his strength. Being in his arms was riveting. So this is what the human side of me had meant by home.
The next time he pressed his lips to mine, it was earth-shattering. What started out as gentle touches soon progressed to a battle of tongues and of bodies to get closer. I ran my fingers through his tousled hair and he lowered me to the ground. His weight pressed on top of me.
We rolled around in the grass, fighting for control. He won, but only because I let him. Edward's hands enclosed my wrists above my head, my legs wrapped around his.
Then, suddenly, he jumped away, a feverish look in his eyes, two candles burning low against his alabaster face.
"This isn't right, Bella. Not until you know who I am..."
I sat up in a huff, very near whining, but the haunted shadows playing across his demeanor stopped me, and the human Bella took control, running just behind him when he took off sprinting towards 'home'.
A/N: Alright, so sorry. I was taking a small vacation to become unobsessed with fanfiction, mend some fences, hang out with friends, and work on my own works. In the last one, I learned a lot more about writing. And, if you haven't noticed, I'm trying to make it richer now, choosing more meaningful vocabulary. Symbols, yaddah yaddah. Of course, she thinks with more flow and poetry now, until the hunger hits. Bella compares herself to many different things in this, a goddess, an animal, a fly, with flickering instances of the "old Bella". Can you say Identity Crisis? Sorry if you were disappointed that she is a bit different now. Edward warned her she'd be like this for a while. And I was sorely disappointed Meyer skipped over that hitch for renesmee but whatever. I'm taking her advice and writing my own ending. So, here is my version of newborn amnesiac vampire Bella. You all know how much I enjoy invading the disturbing psyches of my characters...