By: Marie Masen

Contest Host Review:

Wonderfully written. Although Carlisle describes these events in New Moon, to see them come to pass from Carlisle's POV and through Marie's writing, really gives them dimension. What a wonderful fic. Amazing job of keeping Carlisle in character. The momentum, the dialogue, the description were all magnificent

Congratulations Marie Masen!!!



By Marie J. Masen

Carlisle's point of view, 1918

I rounded the corner, making sure that I was walking away from the setting sun and into the gathering dusk. A streetlight flickered on above me, forcing me to walk closer to the buildings on the sidewalk, deeper into the shadows. Even the dim, unnatural light would cast sparkles off my skin, making me stand out in the gathering twilight, and revealing me for the monster I was. I could already smell the disease and death emanating from the hospital; the stench of infected blood was repulsive, even to my vampire senses.

It was difficult to keep myself from being exposed, now more than ever. I truly resented myself for having to go home at daybreak, imprisoning myself and waiting out the daylight hours, mourning the countless lives I could be saving. The feeling of helplessness was unbearable as I waited, the death toll creeping upwards with every minute. But I knew that I, and my patients, must be thankful for the work I could do. I cannot help but think… what if I hadn't been changed? Who would be taking my place in the hospital? Would there be another doctor willing to take the night shift if I were not here? I walked on, my pace quickening, my footfalls silent in the deserted street. If I saved someone's life today, would that make it worth being immortal? If I made it possible for one more person to walk out of the hospital – healthy - with a future, another chance at life…something I would never have… If someone survived because of me, would that make it worth the centuries of pain, the solitude and loneliness, the self- denial I had been forced into? And if I could, eventually, save as many lives as I had taken, could I be forgiven for being the monster I was, regardless of the fact that it was not my fault I had been changed?

I winced as the dreary, colorless hospital came into view, my instincts telling me to turn away from the disease, contamination, and death. The building was too small, a washed- out grey color, the paint chipping, the windows cracked. With every penny of the budget going to medicine and research, we couldn't afford to pay for renovations, and I couldn't afford to answer the questions that would inevitably come up if I donated the money I'd collected during my time in Italy.

I pushed through the door at the employee entrance, the frame groaning as it spun to let me through. The chair behind the secretary's desk was empty; she was probably running an errand for one of the doctors. I found the sign-in clipboard and quickly added my name to the list of weary signatures.

Sounds of the sick, of overworked doctors discussing cases, and monitors beeping, flooded my ears. I worked to block out the suffering, forcing myself to accept the fact that not even I could help all those in need in one night.

I found Dr. Giorno, who had the shift before mine, in the locker room preparing to leave. His aging face was lined with sadness and despair, and I knew that by the time I left, my pale face would be creased with the same grief and anxiety.

"How are they?" the anguish, worry, despair, that I was feeling manifested itself through my voice. Dr. Giorno and I were responsible for the patients in the lower section of the west wing. It was the part of the hospital with the worst cases, the patients who had the least chances of surviving. He sighed, keeping his back to me as he fidgeted with his locker.

"Agatha is doing better, but her temperature has been up and down in the past few hours. Victor and Mary Clerval are stable; they probably won't need much attention tonight…. Elizabeth and Edward are the worst right now. His condition is deteriorating quickly, and she's ruining her chances by worrying over him." He cleared his throat. "I already said goodbye to them before I left. I don't know if they'll still be here in the morning." My breathing stopped, I could feel my heart sinking in despair. It had been a mistake, getting so attached to them, and now I'd have to suffer the consequences. Dr. Giorni turned to look at me, sadness and pity plain in his eyes, and I forced myself to move, breathe, blink, attempting to look human. He cleared his throat again, picking up his bag and stepping out of the room. "I'm sorry," he whispered as he walked out.

It took me a moment to clear my brain and start breathing again, pushing the stagnant air in and out of my body, past the lump in my throat. Squaring my shoulders, I walked out of the locker room, going straight to room W103, where Elizabeth and Edward Masen were lucky to have the tiny room to themselves. Elizabeth's eyes fluttered open as I walked in; her head, facing Edward even as she rested, searched for signs of life in her son's body. His eyes were closed in a fitful sleep, his chest rising and falling, his breathing shallow as his body fought the fever. Once she was convinced that he was still alive, she turned to me, her bottomless emerald eyes locking on my ocher ones. I could tell immediately that she had gotten worse. We both knew that she had only hours left. Her fingers twitched, she raised her hand weakly, and I quickly gave her my hand. Her body was burning hot, and I could detect the weak pulsing of blood behind her skin. Yet when her fingers closed around mine, her grip was strong, and I wondered how she could muster up so much strength when her body was so weak.

"Carlisle," she choked. I could see pain, desolation, agony, conflict in the depths of her eyes, but most of all, there was intense worry, and I knew it was for her only son. Both our eyes turned to Edward, his face covered in a sheen layer of sweat as the flu ravaged his dying body. "Save him!" she commanded, her voice cracking. I looked at her face, the pallid skin, bronze hair, the determined set of her lips – all contained a unique beauty, even minutes from death.

"I'll do everything in my power," I assured her, gently rubbing my thumb across her palm to soothe her. I could feel her temperature rising slowly.

"You must," she croaked, tightening her grip on my arm. Her unwavering eyes locked into mine again, and I felt like she was looking right into my soul, reading all the thoughts going through my mind. "You must do everything in your power. What others cannot do, that is what you must do for my Edward." Her voice rose, determined, but her already shallow breathing became sporadic, and her eyes closed as she lost consciousness. I held her hands as her breathing slowed, gliding my cold skin against her feverish arms to comfort her. I could feel her slipping away slowly, until eventually, she stopped breathing, and her arms became limp as I held them. I stared at her face, my eyes stinging with unshed tears. I turned to look at Edward, tossing restlessly in is sleep, and my grief doubled. He had no one left now. Both his parents were gone, and even if he could survive, he had no future to look forward to. His mother's final words rang in my head, my thoughts swirling. How could she have known what I was? Had she known? And could she really have wanted me to make her son a monster? Did she think it was easier never to die than to suffer a lonely, painful death? I stood, grief weighing down on my shoulders, sorrow constricting the air in my lungs, and lifted her lifeless body onto a cart, rolling her through the hospital to the morgue, where I whispered a final goodbye before leaving her. She would be buried hastily, without ceremony, and the world would go on without her. I returned to the west wing, checking each of my other patients methodically as I tried to make sense of the maelstrom in my mind.

How could I do to Edward what had been done to me, so many years ago? How could I force him into this unnatural existence, when I resented the vampire who had decided to change me? Yet it had been his mother's dying wish. Was it right for her to have made this choice for her son? How could anyone, faced with the decision of immortality, make such an irrevocable choice? It was impossible. And to have to decide for someone else, for someone whom you loved more than yourself? I completed the doctor's note for Victor Clerval, moving on to examine his sleeping wife.

Elizabeth had been sick, dying, almost delirious with worry over her son; yet she had asked me. Her words rang in my ears. You must do everything in your power. How had she known? Could she really have suspected me to be able to make her son immortal, a monster? What kind of mother would want that for her son? For him to be immortal, to never leave the face of this earth, to never join her? Could she really want me to do that to him? I left the Clervals' room and headed down the dimly lit hallway to check on my last patient.

The image of Elizabeth's face, dead, was etched behind my eyelids. She had not looked peaceful. Even in death, she was worried about her son. It had been her dying wish. But could that justify what I would do to Edward, in his eyes? Going through the pain of the transformation, knowing that he would have to kill to survive. How could he not hate me after he discovered what I had done to him?

Yet at the same time, I could not keep the other thoughts from entering my mind. I was dying of loneliness. What I wouldn't give to have just one other vampire with whom I would not have to pretend, someone who I could become attached to without having to worry about them knowing what I was? It was so selfish of me, but the thought of having someone who understood me was too tempting.

I found myself striding back towards room W103 to check on Edward. The idea of creating a companion for myself was like a weed, spreading through my mind and suffocating my other thoughts. If I was going to eventually change someone for myself, then it might as well be the one who was dying anyway. The dying young man whose life was being taken away before he had a chance to do anything with it. The boy whose mother had begged me to keep him alive. But there was still so much doubt, so much that could go wrong. I had not tasted human blood in centuries. Would I be able to restrain myself, once I had started? If he survived the transformation, would he hate me for doing this to him? How could he not? And on the slim chance that he would forgive me for fulfilling his mother's dying wish, would he agree to my vegetarian lifestyle? Or would he leave me and go off on his own? He had only minutes left, and I could feel him begging to slip away. Either way, I knew his heart would stop beating soon. I had little time to act left, yet the choice I would make was irrevocable. I found myself moving towards his cot, lifting him gently and carrying him swiftly through the gloomy hallways and towards the back exit.

I could feel his hot, limp body in my arms, his head lolling into my stone chest, his pulse slowing with every breath he took. A cool breeze wafted against my cheeks, blowing gently through his bronze hair as I walked out onto the empty street. I could sense the venom pooling in my mouth. And still I stood, undecided. I glanced up at the midnight sky, a million stars winking back at me. I knew that the stars were truly eternal, otherworldly, more immortal than even I was. They had been created long before I had, and would continue to shine after I was gone, unaffected by my extended presence on earth. This knowledge brought a quiet serenity to my mind. The raging battle in my mind died down, one side standing victorious. I knew what I had to do.

I ran.


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