Author's note: I've never read the books and I don't plan to, so this is solely in the movie universe.
More Powerful Than A Locomotive
1938. It had been twenty years since Edward was transformed, twenty years of being a monster and a Cullen. Two decades of being distanced from humans. And though he couldn't feed on them, Edward still liked to ride the Chicago trolley. He simply drifted around the city, staring out the window, listening to thoughts.
Can he fly? thought one young boy of about eight who was sitting across the aisle. Wait, no, he can only jump really far.
Edward's head snapped up. The boy wasn't looking at him – he was looking at a pulp magazine in his lap – but he stared anyway, golden eyes shining. The boy shifted uncomfortably away from him, towards the window.
And look! He's faster than anyone!
The boy's voice was now buzzing in Edward's brain. He hadn't listened this hard to thoughts in years, since wonder of his powers died down. But this was too strange.
He's so strong – he twisted that metal with his fingers.
Edward looked down at his hands. They were so soft, so white, so delicate, so cold – all side effects of the transformation. They didn't look like hands that could bend steel.
The boy turned a page in his magazine and Edward saw that it was some kind of funny book, dotted with bright colors. There was a costumed man in blue and red tending to a brunette woman. The boy's eyes were wide with delight.
His mind-voice chimed in Edward's ears. Superman!
Edward rang the bell and left the trolley at a quick – but human – pace.
He went to the nearest newsstand that had a rack of funnies.
"Excuse me," he said to the vendor. "Do you have something called 'Superman'?"
"Why, I sure do," the man said, tossing Edward a strange smile. "Say, aren't you a bit old for these kinds of pulps?"
Edward's blood would have run cold, had he any. "What?"
"I usually sell books like this to boys half your age." The man laughed heartily as he searched the rack for the right magazine. "But something tells me this one might be different than the others."
Edward shuffled his feet and looked away. He didn't like to talk to humans as closely as this. It reminded him that he was hungry, that he was different. Carlisle said it would get better, but Edward didn't quite believe him.
"Ah, here it is," the vendor crowed, straightening back up. "Found one of the last ones. Action Comics #1." He handed Edward the magazine. The cover showed the man in blue.
"Uh, thanks," Edward said.
The vendor pointed to the cover and let out a low whistle. "Can you imagine? Being able to lift a car like that?" He moved toward the cash register and motioned for Edward's nickel. "If I could do that, I wouldn't be selling papers, that's for sure."
Edward paid the man tersely and stuffed the book, rolled lengthwise, into his back pocket. He shuffled uneasily down the street, toward the nearest movie house. He heard it was going to be sunny later anyway.
The movie was something about a wolf-man, but Edward hadn't really been paying attention. He had read the Superman part of Action Comics during the newsreel and then spent the rest of the picture thinking about it. It was a kids' story, all right, but he couldn't get it out of his mind.
It turned out that Superman was an alien. He disguised himself as some faceless reporter, but he was actually from some distant planet of other supermen. And even though he wasn't human, he still decided to dress like a loon and use his powers to fight gangsters and wifebeaters and crooked politicians.
Edward wondered why he set his sights so low. There was a war going on in Europe, after all.
And alien or no, the whole thing was uncomfortably familiar. One of these Jewish writers – kids, no doubt – had to know something that they shouldn't. How else would they have gotten the brutal strength just right? The rush of speed in the simple black lines? The weightlessness of leaping over buildings, bounding toward God-knows-where?
Superman was a vampire without the hunger, and so he was a hero.
Edward would give anything for just the opportunity.
But he couldn't have it. He hadn't had a good meal – a truly good one – for decades, since before the fever, and that had been a steak. Now Edward wanted human blood so badly that he could taste it between his teeth. A city like Chicago made him feel like a loaded gun.
Despite his hunger, he liked humans. He used to be one, after all, and they didn't seem to be much different now than they were in 1918. His family frowned on the idea, but he didn't want to leave the mundane population behind forever.
Superman wasn't human, either, but he was raised among them and spent his days helping them – or the innocent ones, at least.
On the other hand, Edward thought, the man wears a big red cape. Clearly, he's not completely right in the head.
He walked back through the bustling streets of the city, shoving past human after human, catching a million unique scents. Crowds made him nervous, so he listened in on thoughts to calm down.
Sex. Money. Money. Got to get there soon. Sex. Hope she remembers me. The Nazis. Money. The Depression.
And then, more distant, there was a more frantic mind-voice, shrill above the others.
Oh no, he has a knife! I don't have any more money and he's going to kill me. I'm going to die.
Edward, bizarrely, felt cold. He raced toward the thought, which was coming from an alley two blocks up. He was there in the blink of an eye, in time to see a young woman clutching her purse, backing away from a dirty-looking man and his shiny, sharp-looking blade.
The man's thoughts were lecherous and disgusting, so Edward blocked them out.
"Run!" he shouted at the woman, and at the sound of his voice, the man whirled around.
"Now's not the time to be a hero, kid," he said, his voice like sandpaper to Edward's sensitive hearing. "But at least now I'll be able to see what color pretty-boys bleed."
Edward couldn't help but smirk. He loved being underestimated. "You know," he said, "there's a lot more to me than my pretty face."
The man opened his mouth to respond, but Edward didn't give him the chance. In a flash, he shoved the man hard – really hard – against the side of the building, almost-too-sharp teeth bared, the hunger consuming him already. He felt feral and strong, and the scent of the man's blood, spilling through his lips and his nose, was almost too much for Edward to take.
"I could undo you," he growled.
The guy's thoughts were pounding in his head, silent prayers to a god that Edward no longer knew. "Please," he said out loud, words garbled through split lips, "don't kill me."
"I could," Edward whispered. He had the man by the throat and raised him, slowly, up the brick wall. It was effortless, like there was nothing in his hand at all. He flexed his fingers. "It would be so easy."
The woman's thoughts broke through the throbbing of his hunger, his bloodlust. She was still there, behind him, watching in fear – how had he not heard her before?
Don't kill him, it would be wrong, please please please don't kill him.
Edward looked up into the frightened eyes of his victim, slowly losing their light as his grip held fast. He realized: he could kill this man and be a vampire, or he could spare him and finally, at long last, be a hero.
He let the man drop the four feet back to the ground, bruised and bloody but alive. The woman looked at him with shining eyes. Her mouth moved silently, but her thoughts said the words. Thank you, sir. Thank you, whoever you are.
He should probably take the man to the police, he thought, but the sun would be rising soon, and he had school in the morning. He turned around and left the alley, shoving his bloody hands into his pockets and holding his breath.