C H A P T E R :: N I N E :: C H A R L I E

..

I am not a psychic. So when I start having dreams in which Angela plunges some form of metal shank (the actual weapon changes every time I close my eyes) into my heart, my first reaction is that the thermos from Tanya is spiked.

..

It's Tuesday. It's been a week since I murdered Angela's father. It's been a week since Ben died because of me. I haven't been drinking blood fresh since then. Before, I'd alternated between fresh and stale blood. Now, I only drink it if blood if it's from a bag.

The thing is, when you're alternating between the two, the differences aren't as severe. But drinking out of a bag alone highlights the differences. Mainly that fresh blood, even from someone suffering from anemia or AIDS, couldn't compare to the shit that came from a bag. Most of the draw to eating humans was that their emotions scented their blood. After blood has been removed from the host, the longer it ages, it loses that human touch that makes it so delicious. It loses the salty taste of fear and the sugary sweet taste of arousal.

I often wonder why the human's bother to classify the blood under different types. Once it's been removed from the source there isn't any difference. There's no personalization. There is no spices or flavors.

If you asked twenty different people to make you a steak, you'd get twenty completely different steaks. Maybe some have Johnny's seasoning salt or thyme. Some might have lime or lemon. Some are rib-eyes or t-bones. Steak is just about the least descriptive thing ever. 6oz or 8oz? A1 or no sauce?

This is what blood is like. It's a bunch of different flavors and ingredients, a bunch of different combinations. They're never exactly the same, and some taste better than others, but every carnivorous human being loves steak. Blood and steak, there's another similarity, one that is perhaps more important. You can only refrigerate a steak for so long before it tastes like shit no matter what spices or sauce were used to cook it.

I briefly consider heating the blood up in a coffee mug and add the thermos contents into the mixture like it was sugar or creamer—the same way that the vampires do it in romanticized novels or movies. But blood never tastes good second hand, regardless of its temperature. It's the same way that McDonald's fries last years before decomposing but were completely inedible. Blood was kosher for months after it was taken from the source, it just tasted like shit and made you want to vomit the entire time it descended down your throat.

So instead I tear open one of the packages of blood I've stolen from a variety of different hospitals in Washington and latch my lips onto the cheap plastic, sucking the blood from the bag.

If I concentrate hard enough, I can try to fool myself into believing it's fresh from the source. Whenever I'm feeding from a bag and not warm flesh, I always imagine the Edward look alike from Port Angeles and how salty he was.

I let the memory overtake my mind. And it's almost like I can feel the warmth of his body against my own. Feel the way that his blood seemed to be ambrosia from the gods as it gurgled in my mouth and gushed down my throat.

It's easy to forget you're eating shit if you can keep the mental block up. If you can concentrate without fail. Blood streaks down my throat, the package is half torn, and blood leaks down the flimsy plastic container and onto my carpet, but for all I know I'm standing in alley Port Angeles. I couldn't care less about the v-neck tight as hell shirt that Roman bought me that's now stained red. I couldn't care less about how my snow white carpet is fairing against the thick cold liquid.

The sound of the front door slamming shut breaks my concentration. I hadn't even realized that my dad was home until he'd shut the front door. It's why I've been drinking at home these days. The intense concentration it takes to manage to swallow the disgusting substance means that I'm not aware of my surroundings. At all.

And as quickly as the mental block has shielded me from the taste of the stale blood, it's gone and I start heaving. Now that I'm not in that alley in Port Angeles and my body is well aware of the substance it's ingested, it begs me to vomit the substance back up, and I can feel the black bile rise up in my throat in response to its plea. My body caves in on itself and I barely manage to chase down the vile substance with a swig of the mystery blood from the thermos in time to avoid vomiting.

"Bella," Charlie shouts from downstairs. He always waits to call me until he's shed his work clothes in the laundry room and put on a pair of raggedy sweats and a comfortable cotton, scoop neck t-shirt. I'm thankful for the delay. I wouldn't have been able to respond if black liquid was shooting from my throat.

It took Angela all night to rid her linoleum of my vomit and I'd hate to be forced to find out how long the cleaning process consumed if the ruined medium was carpet. Blood wasn't easy to get out either, but Esme had given me several tips, in humor, even though she didn't think I'd ever need to know.

I do, and it's ironic to think of something so completely strange as entirely normal.

..

I spend the entirety of Wednesday at the only cemetery in Forks.

I have never properly grieved for the people that I've loved and lost. Since I am liable to have a plot amongst the graveyard soon, I figure it is time to make my peace.

There's a service for Angela's father at one end of the cemetery. I do not attend it.

"I love you," I whisper into Roman Duda's grave.

And just as quickly as I'm there, I'm gone.

..

There's something about visiting a cemetery, despite being a succubus, that's so completely depressing the only logical follow up is to drink myself into oblivion.

"Abduction and adduction, right?"

I pour my blood into one of those BPA free water bottles, because the last thing I need right now is cancer on top of everything else, and I really don't want to spend four hours scrubbing maroon pools out of my carpet. I don't heat it up, there's something equally as fucked up about the texture and consistency of hot blood.

"Inner and outer."

It's a double edged sword. The warmth makes it easier to imagine it's come from a human being in the last decade, but as soon as you microwave it, the consistency mutates beyond what's expected from a human source.

I find the texture of cold blood to be less offensive and keep it at a cooler temperature to try and choke it down.

"But you know what's really important?"

My back rests against my headboard, my leg warmer encased legs are sprawled out on my bed, and I'm twirling a soft curl between my fingers and occasionally sucking the strand between my lips to get it wet.

The thermos and the water bottle sit on my end table. Some exercise paid advertisement blares from my speakers.

"Hurdle or sprint. That's huge."

"Say I wanna do just my hip flexors or my buttocks even more. I do what's called digging. I use this for a lot of swimwear models."

I'm not sure if it's mystery blood or the stale blood I've been drinking lately, but I have been having psychic visions. I am not a psychic. So the prophetic dreams start haunting me when I close my eyes, it's my first clue that something is wrong.

"Very, very, very important."

Tonight, I can't help but think, will be my last night on this earth.

"How about Butt Squeeze?"

I want to go out with a bang. I choke down my bottle of O neg. It's as flavorless and disgusting as one would expect food to taste after months of being refrigerated.

"Yeah, I see you wanted to touch."

After the bottle is gone, I toss it somewhere in my closet. I don't even care where it lands. I know, deep inside of myself, that I will not live long enough to care about what happens to that dirty water bottle filled with blood.

"Not this show! Not touching this show!"

I grab the thermos from my nightstand and take slow gentle sips before blood lust takes over and I devour the container in a single gulp. The thing about this mystery blood is that despite having spent only God knows how long in the fridge, it tastes wonderful, at least in comparison to human slushees. It's not nearly as good as a happy meal on wheels, but after drinking down a glass of pure shit it's pretty damn close.

"Okay. And of course-"

I turn off the TV and groan. I just want to lie in my bed and enjoy the complete and utter bliss of being filled to the brim with something that my body isn't rejecting.

The thing about feeding, is that it shouldn't be prolonged. It's why James and Victoria got into so much shit. They liked to play with their food. Blood is public enemy number one. It distracts you. It keeps you from noticing what's really important.

Like Angela Webber. In my room. With a box cutter.

"Best friends forever, huh?" She seethes. She's practically foaming at the mouth. "You killed my fucking boyfriend, you goddamn monster!"

I'm shocked. I really, really, shouldn't be. I've had these feelings for a while now. But feeding takes the edge off everything and dulls the senses. I should have heard her coming a mile away, but I didn't. Honestly, if she manages to kill me than it's Darwinism.

"You dumb bitch!" She screeches and attacks me on my bed. "You know what this is for? Huh?" I'm shit when it comes to rhetorical questions so I convert the sloshing in my stomach to defense techniques instead. Angela momentarily stills, her body straddling my own. "It's for cutting boxes."

"Do you buy all of your murder weapons at Home Depot?" I question.

She doesn't answer, she's too shocked to form words. Sometime during our conversation we've began hovering five feet over my bed. She recovers from her shock quickly, much quicker than I do.

In the back of mind, a nagging sensation over whelms me and I can't help but wonder if I've been waiting around for her to put me out of my misery. I haven't done much to stop her. I haven't created any preemptive attacks. I've been lounging around all week, except for my detour to the cemetery.

She yanks my BFF locket from around my neck. My locket falls, taking hair in its wake. The thing is that Angela got me that locket when we were five. She found it in the sandbox. I guess the phrase is finders keepers though.

I don't even fight as she attempts to pin me down. We are hovering five feet over my bed and she is unsuccessful. She is successful, however, in sending our bodies spiraling towards my mattress. We hit with a thud, her shank ruining the purple comforter Charlie purchased for me as a Welcome to Forks present. I don't even like purple, but my first reaction is to bite the hand with the shank in it anyways. The blood I consumed earlier does nothing to quell my thirst when Angela's hand starts leaking.

I only manage gulps of fluid before she is yanking her arm back and stabbing me in the chest.

"Cross out Bella Swan," she shouts, the box cutter piercing deep into my flesh.

It turns out Angela Webber wasn't as quite as she thought. Charlie walks in the moment I start gargling up blood. His uniform is half on, half off. He's still got on his wife beater, but he isn't wearing the FPD regulation navy blue shirt. His pants are unbuttoned, but the zipper is all the way up.

Charlie waiting until he's out of uniform before checking shouting "Bella" up the stairs, is the absolute worst thing that's ever happened to me. What's worse is that I didn't even hear him come home. I am the most terrible succubus ever.

For all the succubus powers that fail me in my final moments, there's one that threads me to reality steadfastly: the ability to ignore everything that's happening in the present and transport myself to some other memory.

Angela yanked the box cutter out of my tit. My wound, its gushing blood the way that all punctures do when you yank out the object that plunged into your body.

The problem is, that my succubus powers are somewhat flawed. I can only maintain the grasp when I have firm concentration.

It's enough to rid the pain, but it's not enough to take me someplace else entirely. I'm still here. I'm still watching the blood gush from my wound.

I tell Angela that I love her anyways. I tell her how we always kill the thing we love. I tell her how badly I wanted to kill her when I met her. When the new me met her.

She might be a bitch and my BFF necklace might be strewn somewhere in my room along with that damn water bottle, but she was my best friend. We're all victims of circumstance and I know that I can't blame her for this. I can't blame her for her actions.

I understand. Truly, I do. I'm the one that murdered her father.

Charlie yanks her off the bed, sending her flying into my floor length mirror. It shatters. Gargling up blood, all I can think is that's seven years of bad luck over a stupid little mirror.

Charlie is hovering over me, shaking my shoulders. I admire the way his hair looks. He's using the eighty dollar shampoo I bought him for Christmas. I tell him I love him. I tell him what I told Angela. I admire the way the blood I gargle up makes the tips of his shiny hair look tinted red. It's a good color on him.

Charlie's grasping my hand. Charlie has resigned himself to comfort. Charlie knows that I will not survive the chest wound inflected upon me, his eyes gleam with threatening tears.

Something that helps, to ignore the pain, to ignore this reality is to concentrate on seemingly insignificant things.

Angela peels a piece of glass out of her face. The thing about head wounds is that they don't stop bleeding. Red streaks down her face, her neck, her blouse.

I tell her I know a guy. I tell her Carlisle would have stitched that up for her. But that the hospital he works at in California have never heard of him. I tell her his phone number has been disconnected.

I tell her I know a girl. I tell her Alice would know how to remove the blood from her clothing. But Alice's number has been disconnected as well. Alice forgot to give me her new email address when she stopped using her old one.

Gargling and choking up blood I tell her how we always kill the ones we love.

Charlie, he's looking at me. Charlie with his streaked cheeks and gleaming eyes. Charlie he's telling me that it's going to be OK. Telling me to stay with him, to stay here. To stay in this moment. Because all it takes is a second. All it takes is a single blink of my eyes not to open them again.

I tell Charlie to tell me a story. I tell Charlie to distract me.

Charlie's looking into my eyes and telling me the story of how he and my mom met. How he was a rookie when it happened. How my mom was held at gunpoint; how my mom was almost raped. How he stopped the guy before he could lay a finger on my mother. How he carried my mother to the hospital in his arms.

Charlie's looking into my eyes and telling me how I'll finally be with Roman Duda. How he knew we'd be together forever when he found me in Roman's arms at Forks General. How he knew I'd be safe when he saw the look on Roman Duda's face. The same look he tells me was sure to have been on his face when he laid eyes on my mother.

I smile at him, a big toothy smile. Blood running down my chin. Gargling up blood. I smile up at my dad. He's smiling back.

You can swallow a pint of blood before you get sick. I think that I have bigger problems than swallowing a pint of blood.

Angela is wailing into her chest. Flailing her arms. Flinging snot and blood and tears with every swipe of her hands.

My dad is smiling at me, telling me it's going to be OK. Telling me he loves me. Telling me my mom loves me.

And I just smile at him, a big toothy smile.

And I blink, and I never open my eyes.

..

AN: So we are at the end. Only the Angela POV epilogue left. This was the first chapter that I finished for this story, so it's a little weird reading it now… I did add a lot to this chapter to bulk it up, because Salty was pretty short in comparison to the other chapters (except for maybe the prologue) and I didn't want this chapter to be short as well. This was going to be posted yesterday, but I added a lot of new content since then. Hopefully the differences in writing styles between the older and the newer stuff isn't too distracting to read. Thank you to everyone who reads and reviews. I love you all! :D