A/N This was my outtake for fandom for TwifanG, a fandom friend who lost her life at Comicon this past summer. Alternate ending. Beta'd by mac.
My bed is block of ice. There is no warmth here, no soft crevice into which I can curl. Yes, something is missing. Something that should be tangible taunts—an idea floats just below the surface of my subconscious.
"Help," I might say; I don't know if It's audible.
So cold ... why can't I speak?
And panic charges through my veins like electricity or maybe a sanguineous rampaging bull. My blood vessels are rabid, and my chest tightens, my back arching off the surface on which I lay. Panic, cold and electric, keeps my heart racing, rattling in the the cage of my ribs.
Inhale and exhale. Just keep breathing.
But it's not right. I can't breathe. My mouth opens, and I need to communicate my situation, even though I don't understand it myself.
"Can't breathe," I might say.
No one replies.
Maybe I didn't speak, or maybe I'm alone. I'm not sure.
My tongue is metallic—and still, a distant memory continues to taunt, all shrouded in fog and blood. It dissipates when my mind tries to touch it. It billows and rolls like smoke, and I want to inhale. I taste it, all metal on metal ... why is my tongue made of metal? Is it a robot tongue? Am I a cyborg?
I'm turning and churning and becoming something I don't recognize.
My foreign tongue won't form the right sounds against the roof of my mouth. It slides like steel; I can't control it.
So I scream and scream and scream until a needle punches my skin.
No, I'm not a robot; I'm a snow woman, frozen. The needle is an icicle in my vein, and fluid like liquid nitrogen pours through the tributaries of my body, branding me in ice.
"Bella," an anxious voice says. A hand—colder still—encircles my arm.
"Help me. I can't breathe."
The voice chuckles like an douche. "You can breathe, love."
"No, I can't, motherfucker!" I insist.
"You can speak. If you couldn't breathe, you wouldn't be able to speak. And your heart rate is a calm eighty-four beats per minute."
My lids part like they'd been glued together and reveal the speaker's face. The cold of his hand transforms into fire. I'm burning, melting, and oh god, I want to burn in him.
I want him to consume me in every way, but I don't tell him this.
"Where am I?" my voice croaks like a frog.
I want to lift my head, but it's an iron ball.
"Edward?" My voice raises an octave.
"Bella," he replies, his lip curling in an awkward grin.
Screams and screams and screams. They're coming from me; I know this even though I can't feel them tear out of me.
I'm her again.
I'm sucked back through the vortex, an unwilling Alice in Wonderland raped by the white rabbit.
Let's see how deep the hole goes this time.
"I thought we'd been through all this before. I'm not her."
Golden eyes— - three pairs of them— - stare at me in the dim room, having the audacity to look Stephenie-Meyer-vampire-canon against the pale sheen of the faces they are attached to.
"Bella," Edward says, his voice pinched in pain, "please believe us."
"No. Dude, I'm not trying to be a cunt here, but I'm not Bella Swan. My name's Isabella Flanagan, I'm married, and Canadian. Stop fucking with my mind." I manage to sit up on the bed and point. "You guys don't exist, like at all. I'm essentially arguing with myself."
Carlisle smiles, his face a picture of patience. I wonder if he makes the same face while he's tongue-fucking Esme.
I have no clue why I just thought that. I don't really want to picture him in the throes.
"I assure you, Bella, we're as real as you." Carlisle smiles, teeth glistening in the fluorescence. Alice hands him a penlight, and he shines it in my face.
"Truefax." I'm not real, either.
"Do you remember why you're here?" he continues, shining that goddamn light directly into my pupil.
"Do you remember the last time you gave Esme head? It's a little off-topic, I know, but I'm all kinds of curious."
He sputters and glares before finally declaring it's none of my business.
"He did it yesterday," Alice supplies.
"That's highly inappropriate, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't use your gifts to spy on the family."
"Oh, pooh. Don't be such a prude. And it's not like I have any choice in the matter. Every time anyone in the house gets amorous Jasper absorbs the ambient lust like some sort of sex sponge. And then he directs it at me. And then Edward is forced to experience it through our minds. See? Psychic, empath, mind-reader—it's a vicious cycle, really."
I really like this Alice. She's so non-canon in a canonesque kind of way. "I'm really turned on right now."
Edward groans, shifting in his chair like he has to take a dump.
"We've been through this before." I pout, chewing my lip as if it's a particularly tough piece of steak.
"We haven't," Edward assures me. "Please, Bella, I have so much regret. I've a been a fool."
"No doubt!" I snort, unbuttoning my hospital gown. "It's not your fault, buddy. Stephenie Meyer wrote you like an emo douchebag. I suppose it's part of your appeal. Although for reasons I'll never understand, you're sometimes portrayed as a wealthy CEO in fanfiction who's into sado masochistic sex."
"I certainly thought so. But the unwashed masses seem to dig it."
"What exactly are we talking about here, Bella?"
Nothing. I'm lost in a tangent.
"And who is Stephenie Meyer?"
"God, kinda sorta. She created you and Bella. Not me, though. Unless Swan created me. Then I suppose Meyer would've been my creator too. Except, if Swan's real, then I'm not and neither is Meyer."
"I'm confused," he said, and I grabbed his hand before he could pinch the bridge of his nose.
"I'm sorry, Edward. My psychotic episode must be very confounding for you."
"Do I detect sarcasm, Bella?"
"Not very well, Edward."
I'm in group, sitting with my fucked-up peers, and it's deja vous all over again as I recount the story of the pink elephant.
What's my point? Reality is subjective. The other patients don't really exist except as manifestations of my subconscious.
But try telling them that shit, and they freak the fuck out. No one likes to be told they're not real. It's a blow.
People have big egos or whatever.
And now I'm starting to wonder if I'm real at all. I've pink elephanted myself.
Sometimes I feel like I'm under water, like I can hear voices calling to me from the surface, but I can't reach them. I've developed gills and can no longer breathe.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
My story was supposed to be over; why am I here again?
Why can't I wake up?
I'm not sure I want to.
And now I'm thinking about Finding Nemo—my son's favourite movie—and I want to cry.
But I don't. I keep my eyes close and just float in the calm of the unknown. The silence.
Golden eyes stare at me from under the bed.
"Hey," I say.
"Hello," they reply. Well, the voice isn't actually coming through the eyes, but there's something vaguely Cheshire Cat about the way they glow.
"Whatcha doing, Edward?"
"You, Bella. Always you."
"That's not weird at all."
"I apologize. Does this make you uncomfortable?"
"A little...I mean, it's strange."
"You're so proper and fucking contrite. Sometimes I wish you'd be more real … less two-dimensional."
"I am real."
"Liar," I say and crawl under the bed to join him. Real or not, I want him wrapped around me. I want to disappear within him.
Sometimes I think life would be easier if I became Bella Swan.
There's a far off room at the end of this hall. I'm afraid to venture in, knowing what I'll see in the bed. But still, I peek inside, blonde hair falling against a pale, bruised face.
It's her … me. Flanagan. I'm looking at myself as if through another dimension. It makes no sense but few things do in this universe.
But I'm fixated, staring at all the medical equipment she's (I'm) tethered to.
I'm still broken. Hadn't I healed?
"Who is she?" Edward whispers, placing a hand on my shoulder, cool breath tickling my ear.
"The truth," I reply. I want to turn around, but he places his hands on my hips and pulls me flush against him. Hard, so hard against my soft. I imagine I can feel every part of his body, a distinctive bulge against my butt.
"There's only one truth," he counters, pushing against my behind.
"Your cock? I mean, it's nice, but it's hardly the meaning of life. The number 42. Jesus or Santa Clause."
"I beg to differ."
"You don't have to beg."
I reach behind me.
The mirror is cracked, the fissure in my reflection apt. The pieces don't match, and if God is jamming a metaphor down my throat I'm gagging on it.
The blue of my eyes transforms in the glass, brown ink spilling over the iris. Now the voices at the surface of my mind can barely be heard.
Who am I?
"Do you remember nothing?" Edward asks. I turn, watching how the sunlight dances on the prism of his body, light refracting into its spectrum.
"I remember. Those are pearls that are his eyes."
He smiles, but it's sad. "You're quoting T.S. Eliot."
"I remember T.S. Eliot."
"Do you remember me?"
"Yeah. But I'm not sure how much of it was written by someone else."
My reply makes no sense.
"I can't live in a world where you don't exist," he says.
"I know. I'm not sure how long I can stay this time."
"No measure of time-"
I cover his mouth. The line was written by someone else; I don't want to hear it.
"There are forces beyond my control here."
"Please," he begs.
I look into his eyes and think about how the universe is bottomless. I can see forever. Unfathomable.
So I make a decision that I'm not sure I can unmake: if I'm at the bottom of the rabbit hole, I won't claw my way up to the surface.