I wrote this as a way to get into Edward's head while I was writing Prelude. It's too dark for Prelude, but I like it. If you do too, check out Prelude at: .net/s/5153962/1/Prelude.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
I took the faded list from my pocket. One hundred and eight names on faded yellow paper. I never looked at it; I didn't need to. My mind kept track better than a piece of paper ever could. I always carried it with me nonetheless. Tonight I forced myself to read the names. One by one, remembering each face. Forcing myself to recount everything I knew about each of these people.
I always found out their names. I looked in the papers the next day. If there was no mention of it I would visit the morgue. Later, when I had more control, I would grab their wallet.
The first name was Robert Bessler, 1927.
Carlisle, Esme and I rented a cottage on Fire Island for the winter. The vacation community was deserted for the winter months, and it was close enough for Carlisle to either swim or sail to his job as night physician at Bellevue Hospital. The whitewash on the windswept cottage was peeling, revealing gray wooden planks underneath. The waves were gray, and cold sleet often fell from the gray sky. Gray faded into gray. With nothing to shield the wind, the sand was omnipresent: in my hair, in the fabric of my clothing, on the floor of the house. I would lie on my bed and count the grains of sand on the floor, and then count them as they blew in through the cracks in the window frame.
While food was plentiful it was monotonous as well. The island was overpopulated with deer. They had nowhere to run. They tasted of salt and iodine. It was revolting.
To divert my attention I would travel to Harlem and spend my nights at jazz clubs. I loved the improvisation that I could never predict, the unfamiliar chords and harmonies, the freedom I hadn't known before in music.
That night I went to hear Duke Ellington's orchestra at the Cotton Club. I sat alone, ordering a single drink that remained untouched, lighting a single cigarette that went unsmoked, never removing my hat from my head. I was restless. The grayness of the beach and the New York winter had settled into my body and the music could do nothing to lift my spirits. I would have to leave Carlisle and Esme for a while. I could rejoin them after their lease ran out in early spring.
As I considered leaving I heard commotion near the front exit. Venom flooded my mouth, fire consumed my throat, and I was on my feet. A woman had fallen and hit their head. She was walking back to her table; blood trickling from a small cut over one eye. She dabbed at it with a white linen napkin and was laughing the episode off. I was at her side, the salty earthen smell of her blood so close I was suffocating. I closed my eyes and saw my teeth at her temple, crushing her skull and then breaking the necks of those at the table.
Carlisle's face flashed through my mind and I was gone, walking as fast as I could toward the back of the club. I rushed down corridors, past doors, knocking over humans. The smell was receding and the fire was ebbing. But before I could relax new sounds and smells assailed my senses.
"You said you'd wait for me. I was gone two weeks. Two weeks, Dotty. You couldn't wait two goddamn weeks."
"No, no. I waited. Please God, no."
"I'll show you. Don't pull away from me girl. Maybe you'd want it more if you waited."
"Please no, stop."
"Shut up, shut up and take it."
A woman screamed in pain.
I heard the sound of silk ripping, and could smell whiskey, sweat, sour breath, and endorphins indicating either human fear or desire. But it was the blood that made me open the door and step into the alley.
A woman was pushed up against the brick wall of the building next to the doorway, clutching at her ripped gown. Blood was streaming from a wound over her eye, mocking the small scrape I'd seen inside. Behind her, the man was forcing her up against a wall, pushing against her, hurting her. Blood, whiskey, and tears intermingled. I hated him for hurting her. I hated him because I could as easily have tortured the woman inside the club like this man was torturing this woman in the ally. Except that I would have enjoyed it more.
I grabbed the man by the shoulders and threw him against the bricks. He fell to the ground and I stepped over him. His eyes met mine, wild and drunk.
"Hey fella, this is none of your business. Just turn around and get the hell outta here."
It was the smell of her blood that did it. Otherwise I might have left. I was at his throat. The warmth and dizzying power that ran through my veins was like the sunshine, it was like water after a drought. I had never felt the force of life like I had at that moment. And a new awareness was born. This was who I was.
It was over too quickly. I dropped his lifeless body. The only sound in the ally was ragged breathing. I smelled her blood and heard the uneven beat of her heart. I turned. I could have handled screaming. I expected it, welcomed it. But the quiet horror and revulsion that registered on her face was mirrored back at me in her wide, chocolate brown eyes. Reflected there I saw my bright red eyes, and blood staining my mouth and dripping down my chin. I licked the blood reflexively. The woman and I both shuddered at the site.
The venom was flowing again. I looked down and saw a growing puddle of blood at her feet. She looked down too. That's when she began to sob. I wanted to go to her and stop the bleeding, and I wanted to go to her and drink all of the life out of her. I wanted Carlisle here to help, and it was the last place I wanted Carlisle to be.
She looked up at me. There was no thanks in her eyes. She tried to shrink back into the dirty corner of the ally. I took a step in her direction and she screamed. That's when I knew that my step was not to help, but to take her life. She saved herself. I was gone.
I found a hotel room. I wouldn't go back to Carlisle with these eyes, and I didn't want to. I felt better than I ever had. I tried to fool myself that I had saved her. The next day read the story in the papers. The woman and the man were found dead. I didn't save anything. He was Robert Bessler, she was Dorothy St. Denis.
Enclosed please find this settlement for the wrongful death of your grandfather, Robert Bessler, in New York City, 1927. I deeply regret your loss.
Credit Agricole Suisse, Geneve
One by one at night while Bella slept, I traced families, found surviving relatives. One by one letters were sent, simple. Each night, many of these notes were written. I regret your loss, with a donation, something to help them through this lifetime at least. Large sums of money were liquidated. For the names with no living relatives, a foundation was established in their honor, one that would fund a halfway house for rehabilitation. If a monster like myself could be rehabilitated, then certainly any changeable human could.
When I was done I took the list and burned it to ashes. While those names would be etched in my mind for eternity, I felt lighter, for I no longer carried them with me. I didn't know if there was a god, and if there was any absolution for something like myself, but I had finally made my penance. I deserved Bella just a little bit more.