OLD VERSION OF ATR – PLEASE READ CHAPTER ONE NOTES FOR THE EXPLANATION ON WHY.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, they belong to Stephenie Meyer. I am simply borrowing them for my own enjoyment.
A/N:This longish chapter is a continuation of the story All That Remains. Bella burns, she thinks she is in hell but hell could mean many things.
All That Remains
Chapter Six – Hell and Back
There is a moment everyone goes through when you wake up. It is that acknowledgement of conscious thought. Nothing is said usually, just the awareness of your 'self'. After that your mind goes through the process of connecting to all your senses. It should be called the awakening.
The moment I realised I had a conscious thought, I knew something was wrong. I became fully aware that I didn't have access to my senses. Bizarrely, my mind was desperately trying to prevent me from accessing anything past thought. None of this made sense, I was feeling alarmed but as yet I was not panicking. So I had no sense of smell, taste, sight, sound or touch. My mind was locked in the darkness. I was trapped in some kind of void of nothingness.
Oh, OH! Crap, I am dead! I cried
Of course I am dead, what other explanation could there be. The last thing I remember was Victoria torturing me and I was certainly glad to be free of that. It was what I wanted and here it is. I am dead and floating in the dark with just my thought. So this is the afterlife huh. I tried to settle myself into this new existence, the initial shock had worn off and being away from Victoria was a dream come true.
I had a different kind of image of what the afterlife would be, I imagined bright colours and happy people, no death no stress and Edward. Edward, he was all that ever mattered to me. He was the air that I breathed, the sound angels made, the touch of heaven that I always needed, what my soul needed. I had nothing of him with me, just memories. I will always love Edward, but those words would never really cover how I felt about him. Love was lacking in so many ways, it didn't even begin to express or portray the depth of what he meant to me. He wasn't my world, the world was small. Even the universe could not encapsulate to amount because there was no end no beginning. If there was something that was infinite I could match it to I would say it. To try and relate my feelings in to anything else would seem like an insult to its meaning.
It didn't seem fair to endure a life, short as mine was, and to connect to another being so spiritually and without end to only be left in thought now. What was the whole point of all that. I felt so empty, so alone. My thoughts started spiralling as I realised that I would spend eternity without ever seeing Edward again.
There was a section in my mind sobbing at the very thought. One by one different pockets of my mind opened up a full range of emotions. I felt rage, disbelief, mourning and countless more. Each emotion screamed its pain. I couldn't stand the thought of never seeing Edward again. Had I not accepted this before?
A resounding echo of No reverberated in me. I always had hope that someday he would return but now I was dead, here I was alone in the absolute finality of this reality. Never before had I felt the true meaning of what ripping me a part meant, it engulfed me so completely. As I fell apart so did my soul. I saw it shatter before me into countless splinters, forever broken, forever gone. I could see the beautiful glistening silver pieces of my soul leaving me like tears escaping a body. Once shed they would never return, lost into the abyss of everything but seeing nothing. They drifted away from me so slowly, blindly searching for what they had just lost.
I could hear this faint odd crying. It didn't come from me. There was something familiar about it. My mind drifted to Edward, I could believe in grief he would sound like this but why I would hear him cry? I had no idea. His cries of rage, of pain, of love and everything in between got louder and stronger. So loud now, that it was painful, not in volume but in intensity. It raced to me rippling with urgency, the desperation concentrated and extreme. I waited for the full force of its impact to hit me, I didn't care, nothing could hurt me now, I was beyond pain. It was so close that it had no chance of stopping; it would go straight through me. At the last moment it leapt over me with the grace of a lion. I watched as the energy engulfed the scattered soul shards, wrapping itself tenderly around them lovingly pulling every piece back into me, mending and healing, making me whole once more.
I could feel everything now, I could feel . . .
Owie!What the hell is . . . A shrilling scream burst into every corner of my mind, then another and another, I couldn't stop screaming.
My mind and body had made the connection that I thought I had lost. But now I desperately searched for a way to close it again. What was worse was to realise I had no movement, no voice I could only think and feel. What I was feeling made no mistake of what was happening to me. I was burning alive!
Impossible flames roared through me like firestorms colliding and peaking continuously. As the burning licked and groped its way through me searing anything in its path, I could only hear my mind as it screamed and cried begging for me to die for someone to end my misery. I would take eternity in the darkness over this, I begged and begged. No one could hear my futile screaming pleas for help.
How long I burned like this I couldn't say. There was nothing I could use to measure time. I was trapped here in eternity as the flames excruciatingly continued its unrelenting destruction. There were no highs or lows, there wasn't any noticeable extremes of pain from this burning, it just went on and on, it was never ending. I didn't have the ability to move any part of my body, not one muscle; I had no voice to shout out for help. I couldn't do anything.
Eventually my screaming stopped which in ways offered me relief. It gave my mind space to try and think past the pain or around it, I wasn't sure. Anything for a distraction from what I could only describe as a living hell I was going through, was welcomed. Surely if I was alive, then being on fire this long my mind and body would have stopped working, my brain at least would have been fried. None of this made sense.
The word Hell sat on my mind for a moment. Why would I be in hell, what could I have possibly done to deserve this? It occurred to me if Edward was sent to hell, if his theory was right and he was not allowed into heaven, then that would make sense. I would have followed him without hesitation, but if I was in hell and suffering like this to be with him then surely I would have seen him or at the very least I would have felt him.
I heard a faint snarl in the back of my mind. The thought of Edward dead sent unbelievable new waves of flames racing through me. The love I felt for him would not allow my mind to accept this could be a possibility. And why shouldn't it. For one thing, why would he be dead? Two: What could possibly kill Edward? And three: I had to believe he was alive.
I could feel hurt swell within me as memories flooded my mind. Memories reminding me of Edward when he left me, his words telling me he didn't want me anymore. These memories ached through and through.
The more profound they came through in me the more rage built. Snarling to defend and protect, the most powerful emotions I have for Edward began to war with each other. Each was being equally protective of me. I could see them now crouched like vampires ready to spring. What was even crazier than the images of my emotions ready to battle was the notion that I didn't want either to lose or win. So torn did I feel, for my love for Edward and the hurt I still agonized with since he left me, that pain was as excruciating as the burning flames eating me now.
I pushed my warring emotions for Edward to the back of my mind. This was a battle that cannot be won or lost. I had to focus on trying to get myself out of this situation. My head scrambled to find other reasons why I would be on fire right now.
The last thing I remember was Victoria torturing me. Of course! She had to be the one who set me on fire, I thought. Think Bella, for someone with reasonable intelligence you are not thinking very well at the moment. I mentally slapped the middle of my forehead with the palm of my hand. Duh Bella, I chastised myself. If I had been set on fire by Victoria I would have died long before now. I had so few ideas, to let one go was distressing. I thought of another. What if she had bit me, to turn me into a vampire? No, this didn't fit either, it didn't make sense. Victoria wanted me dead so why would she hand me eternity to be alive. Double smack on the forehead for that brilliant piece of detective work! I ridiculed myself. This was driving me insane, who else would bite me?
My mind struggled to think rationally. I checked off what I felt sure of. I was trapped in this abyss of fire. I hadn't been set on fire or I would be dead. I can't be dead because I can feel the fire. Victoria would not have bitten me and turned me into a vampire, she wanted me dead not alive and kicking for the next however long vampires can live for. I had no movement. I had no sound. I had no ability to communicate verbally. Conclusions. . . Options. . . I had nothing. What I did have was time, endless time to burn. I remained silent. Time passed me by. I would have waved as it passed me by if I had use of my arms.
Sounds not from my mind began to enter into my consciousness. They were so faint like in a dream state; like tones you pick up on. Frustrated I tried to concentrate harder. Cold air softly brushed up against my ear like a gentle breath on a winter's day. It burned but not anything over the pain of the fire in me.
The sensation brought on another snarl, but again it was only in my mind. I felt the need to protect myself yet I had no idea what I needed protecting from. My body was still unable to move; I couldn't make a sound or open my eyes. I began to feel very threatened not having any senses useable to aid me in working this out. There was another faint sound with the cold against my ear. It didn't sound threatening. More importantly, and certainly waking up my sense to hear was the stark realisation of someone next to me.
Someone was next to me, someone was talking to me. Someone, someone, someone. I was giddy with unmeasurable happiness to know I was not alone. I was not dreaming. I was not dead. I was not burning in hell. Someone was watching over me. I cried out these words in my mind.
I wondered who it would be. Charlie? I thought. No, it couldn't be. Charlie loved me I knew this, but he always kept a distance, there was no way he would be so close to my face. For some reason my throat was dry and closing in on itself, I was parched, I felt so thirsty. Ugh, another thing to endure, fantastic! My sarcasm was still intact at least.
What about Jacob, he wouldn't hesitate being this close to me. Yes, that would work. I knew he wished we were a lot closer than friends. I loved him but not in the way he wanted me to. If I could I would have wrapped my arms around him. I didn't care how he came to be there, I just was so happy to not be alone.
I stayed in the thought of him there with me while I burned. Alarm bells started going off in my head. I was burning, I had been burning for a very long time, and it could have been hours or days, possibly weeks. I didn't burn in one spot; I burned all over, inside and out. The only thing that would do that would be. . . Say it Bella. . . A vampire bite! But how, who?
The only conclusion I could come up with is that Victoria had accidently bit me. That couldn't be right. If she had tasted my blood, surely she would have gone into a frenzy and drained me dry. It didn't make sense. Someone would have had to of stop her. I searched my memories, I saw my final moments. The flash back of huge giant wolves, they were the last thing I saw before I closed my eyes. But the last thing I heard was Victoria being attacked by them. I was waiting for the wolves to turn on me then everything went black. Maybe a hunter or someone had come along and they scared the wolves off and then brought me to the hospital.
Almost convinced this must have been what happened. I was comforted to know I was now in a hospital being treated for my injuries. I would have received painkillers. I would have morphine in me in high quantities and it would be this reason why I couldn't move. I burned because of Victoria's bite and I loved it when all the pieces fell into place. I felt a huge amount of relief.
A wave of fear doused my joy instantly. What was the worst possible place for a newborn vampire? My saviour had saved me but in doing so he had condemned everyone here at the hospital. I was turning into a vampire, a newborn vampire. As soon as the morphine wore off I would not be able to control my thirst, the uncontrollable thirst for human blood.
NO! JACOB, CHARLIE my mind screamed. All those innocent people I was about to kill. None would hurt me more than taking lives of Charlie and Jacob. I screamed in my head at the thought of this, I knew I wouldn't be able to stop it happening, the bloodlust would takeover and I would be powerless to stop. I wished I was dead, anything to protect those I loved and the innocents.
Think Bella! I tried to come up with some sort of plan to save them from me. I didn't want to become a monster but I knew the bloodlust would be more powerful than my will power. I felt like I was falling into the pits of hell, I could see my name light up like on a neon sign as I was welcomed into there.
"Bella, I love you" My mind froze at hearing those words, was I hallucinating? The words were so clear, the voice belonged to Edward, only he had a velvet voice so perfect, so heavenly. Had I just imagined it?
The voice spoke again. "I am sorry, I'm here, I love you." Had my angel saved me, am I dreaming? I was burning, but hearing those words it felt like heaven.
I felt lips gently press into my forehead. My cries swam in my head. Edward's lips! Edward was truly with me. I felt his breath as he moved next to my ear. His heavenly tortured whispers wove through my body bringing the only thing that ever mattered to me, Edward. "I'll never leave you again, I promise you. Come back to me Bella, come back, I swear I will always protect you, just come back to me." His voice broke while he made this oath to me.
His voice – he is distraught. I could feel the desperation and fear in his voice. I couldn't bear to hear Edward this way, I could feel the burn inside me escalating like I had thrown oil onto the fire. I didn't want him to suffer, not Edward. I desperately wanted to be able to wrap my arms around him, to take away his pain. It sickened me to know how he suffered. It didn't make sense for him to care but I still couldn't endure him suffering.
This made sense to me now. It would have been Edward that had bit me and turned me into a vampire. He wouldn't have me at a hospital and endangering humans. No, he would have me somewhere safe away from them. I had to be at the Cullen family home. I mused how quickly I had separated myself from humans, I was going to be a vampire very soon.
Why on earth I had to look deeper I don't know but I found myself asking questions. How he found me is a mystery but that didn't matter. The big question is why?
He had left me, so why would he bother? Doubt sunk into my rationalising of my situation. My mind warred with its self, I loved Edward and would wish for nothing more than to be with him, but he made it clear he did not feel the same way about me. The last day I saw him, he told me he didn't want me anymore, he said he was leaving and would never return. So why now, why did he come back? Alice! She must have seen what Victoria had done to me.
My heart ached through the burning. Edward had not come back because he loved me. He came back because he felt responsible. Snarls roared in my mind as I once again cried. For one fleeting moment I thought he loved me like he use to but he didn't, he only came back out of guilt. He was a compassionate man, he would do that. Edward's words he had just spoken echoed in my mind and confirmed my thoughts. He said 'I'll never leave you again, I promise you. Come back to me Bella, come back, I swear I will always protect you, just come back to me.' Those words said everything; he offered me life with him under his protection. He would pretend to love me as payment for what I had been through.
So quickly my reality just got turned upside down. I felt so many things right now. Pain, hurt, anger and love, it all swam through me.
I vowed to myself that I would never allow him to do this for me. The only thing worse than going through eternity without Edward, was going through it with him being there out of a misguided sense of obligation. I will set him free, the moment I became a vampire fully transformed is the moment I would release him. I would do that for him. My thoughts drowned in this knowledge.
Again, I heard Edward speak. "Bella, can you hear me?" The desperation in his voice to have me reply was excruciating.
My fingers twitched from the anguish I felt. I hadn't noticed the pain had gone from my hands and feet, I had movement. I should be elated by this knowledge, to know that I will be free from this pain. But what waited for me on the other side of it. Would that pain be any worse than what I felt now?
Edward didn't miss my fingers twitch. He squeezed my hand as he spoke. "Bella, Bella love, open your eyes for me please," he begged.
I thought about complying with his request but then I remembered he would see the pain I was in. He would know that I was in agony from the burning, what he wouldn't know is the torture I suffered knowing that he still didn't want me. But I loved him beyond this pain and I would not let him see a moment of what I suffered. I would rather endure a thousand deaths burning like this before I would pass that pain on to him. I could do that for Edward. My body locked down every muscle as I made that vow to myself.
It was touching how dedicated he was to his vow to stay with me. I felt his breath next to me, only breaking every now and then when he kissed my forehead, my cheek or my hand. He often whispered things in my ear. I tried to detach myself from this false outpouring of his 'affection' to me, and also from the passion I felt every time he touched me. Edward was a noble man but I would not keep him with me when he was not attached to me. I wanted Edward to be free to find love, the love that he once showed me but one that was everlasting.
The extra pain I was feeling was my heart, it was my soul. I had nothing left in me to die. The cries in my mind were the echoes of my soul wanting to burst through the thing that had just claimed it. I could see it in my mind, it caressed my soul lovingly. How meaningless this was now, why hold on to something that could never be treasured or loved. It was pointless.
My mind drifted to how my life would be now. I had to leave. I couldn't stay with the Cullen family. I loved them all so much but I couldn't stay with Edward there. I would not make his life uncomfortable with my presence. How quickly could I make my escape, I had no idea how to be a vampire. The thought scared me. At the very least I would have to stay away from towns and cities, away from humans. I didn't want to be a monster; I did not want to drink human blood. My throat burned more at the thought. I cried again. How was I going to stop the bloodlust from overpowering me?
The fire was retreating. I could feel the weight lift off my body more and more. I couldn't deny I was happy at this change. What I couldn't believe was the pain in my heart growing with more intensity. My heart sped up, faster, racing; it fought for power with the flames. The sound resembled that of helicopter blades.
"Carlisle" Edward spoke no louder than if he was in a conversation.
Carlisle had entered the room, I heard him speak. "Yes, very soon now."
Those words were music to my ears. The pain from the burning will soon be gone. I rejoiced at the thought. Just as quickly, my mind pulled me back down with the thought that as soon as my transition into being a vampire was over, I would have to try and find a way to help Edward. To release him from the oaths he made to me, to stay with me always. I would have to leave straight away.
"Carlisle, why can't she open her eyes? Was I too late?" his words flowed so fast that I was sure if I were human I would not be able to understand him.
"No Edward, her heart sounds better than Emmett's did in his transformation. She will be fine, you did everything right son." Carlisle words were encouraging and I hoped Edward would listen to him, now and after when I had gone.
I couldn't think clearly, the pain of the fire in my heart ever increasing. Incredibly, my heart raced faster to its final beat before it would be silent forever.
I heard Alice speak. I hadn't noticed she was in the room. She told Edward it would be over in 10 minutes. "Thanks Alice" he sounded a bit more reassured now.
My back arched as the fire took on a new ferocity, it pulled me upwards, raging as it looked to escape me. Faster and hotter it burned.
"Oh god. No! Bella!" Edward cried but I didn't respond. My back was the only part of my body that broke ranks from the burning ripping out of my heart now. I could hear the agony in his voice seeing my body reach to the heavens. I felt his arms around me, holding me. I yearned to have him hold me always, to feel his touch and not let go. But this would not be my future, yearning would only make this harder for me to let go of him. I would never get over Edward, he was the only man I could ever love, but this is about him not me.
My heart skipped beats, stuttering as it failed. Two more thuds drummed as the flames escaped and released me from the suffering. With its last farewell, my heart sighed with its last beat. It seemed fitting the way it surrendered like that.
Edward helped my body lay back on the bed again. I did not move, I did not want to open my eyes just yet and meet the heartbreak I was about to put myself through in my effort to save Edward from himself.
I could hear other people in the room. I knew it could only be the Cullen family. I had dreamed to be a member of this family for so long. I loved them like they were already my family and it killed me inside knowing I wanted to be with them but couldn't.
Now what was to become of me? I was going to be alone, a nomad I supposed. No one would be there for me to stop the bloodlust hunting of humans. This thought still frightened me. I already felt alone, even with everyone in the room, I was alone.
"Alice?" Edward said.
"Patience Edward, she will open her eyes soon and she can hear you now." Her voice sounded a bit off, like she was annoyed. I dismissed Alice's tone. There were more important things to worry about.
I laid there in indecision but knew I had to open my eyes soon and meet my new destiny. I am sure anyone in my situation would be as reluctant as I was to begin a new life already doomed to be alone and without Edward.
I wondered how long it would be before I had to leave. Immediately would be kinder to Edward I knew, but I was also desperately afraid. I had no idea how to be a vampire, let alone being a nomad.
How ironic, I had always been at ease with being alone when I was human, I didn't need company of others and now I was going to have that for the rest of eternity. Solitude, what the hell was I suppose to do for eternity? I thought to myself angrily.
I knew I didn't want to go to high school for the rest of time, plus I didn't have anyone who could pretend to be my parent. This brought my thoughts back to Charlie.
How would Charlie survive this, he must be in so much pain now. I wondered if my funeral had been planned if Renee and Phil were here. They would support each other I was sure of that but what happened after. I hurt to know Charlie would be alone, if there was only some way to let him know I was alive without me killing him.
Maybe I could go incognito to my own funeral. That would be weird. The thought of my friends there, grieving, well I wasn't sure how much Lauren would. She probably wouldn't even bother attending.
Thinking of them made my throat burn and I began to feel overwhelmed. I could see in my mind the pull of their blood pulsing in their necks drawing me to them. I began to plan how I would lure each one away and while they were unsuspecting I would sink my teeth into their luscious necks and fell the flow of their pulsing blood in my mouth. WOAH BELLA, GET A GRIP!! I yelled at myself in my mind.
Mental note Bella, no contact with family or friends. This was going to be even harder than I thought. Maybe Carlisle would feel some pity for my situation and would be able to tell me of someone who could help me through this, away from Edward.
I took a deep breath, I knew I couldn't put this off any longer; I had to open my eyes.