Disclaimer: S. Meyer owns Twilight. I do not, but I like playing around with her characters.
Thank you xInfinity to Scooterstale (beta), Legna989 (pre-reader), and BilliCullen (pre-reader)
Dark Games & Twisted Minds
March 13, 2009
Somewhere in the Catskills, New York State
He could feel his prey. He could taste the sweet blood in the air, feel it scouring his throat as he stalked silently through the trees, concealed in the darkness of the undergrowth.
Stealth was unnecessary; it was more of a habit, a game he played. There would be no escaping this hunter. His prey was a poor match, weak and infantile. But it would do, at least for now. The hunter had gone too long without satiating his thirst, and his irises were small, hard rocks of black coal. A low, feral growl rumbled in his chest as the scent pulled him through the trees to the small clearing.
He paused at the edge of the space to assess his surroundings. Long used as a campsite for the most dedicated hikers and climbers, the small, flat breach offered a degree of protection from the howling winds of the east side of the mountain face. A nearby stream gurgled through broken and melting winter ice, rattling in his ears.
The fire had burned down long ago; only the reddened remnants of the hardwood logs remained, and a thin tendril of smoke rose, twirling and whipping in the wind. The acrid odor of the burned cellulose tainted the sweetness that drew him to this place. The hunter shifted position upwind, and allowed the delicious blood-scent to guide him.
His eyes drifted to the small, one-man tent. His senses were assaulted by the prey within. It was sleeping; its heart rate, slow and heavy, was thundering in his ears. Its smell was maddening, musky, and salty. Venom pooled in the hunter's mouth, coating his razor sharp teeth.
In a low crouch, the hunter padded over to the tent, and silently pulled the flap back. Despite the blackness of the night, the hunter's eyes took in everything. The prey was of medium size, dirty from its days in the wilderness. Its leg was settled outside of the old, ragged sleeping bag, and wrapped in a blood-tinged bandage. No wonder, thought the hunter as he realized how he'd been drawn to such inferior food. With no other option, it would suffice. It would hold him over until he returned to civilization, until he could be more selective.
The hunter stood over his prey, debating on whether to take him in his sleep or to wake him for sport. Deciding that the prey was sickly and would provide no challenge, he lowered himself to the ground. His eyes trained to the familiar point just below the jaw, noting the transparency of the flesh over the pulsing artery beneath.
In one swift motion, the hunter grasped the prey's shoulders, and jerked him up. The hunter saw the man's eyes open in terror as a thin, wheezy yelp left his mouth. Before the prey could lift his arms in defense, the hunter plunged his teeth into the flesh, feeling the spurting of blood as it coated the inside of his mouth.
The prey thrashed wildly, flailing his arms, attempting in vain to remove the iron-like grip of the hunter. The hunter took his time, savoring each pump of the thirst-quenching liquid, allowing the prey's heart to push the fluid through the small tears in the skin. As the blood drained from the prey, its movements slowed, until eventually its palms lightly settled on the hunter's arms, and it whimpered. When its heart became too weak to pump, the hunter finished the prey off in long, strong pulls, draining it completely.
Temporarily satisfied, the hunter stood, leaving the man's carcass spread across the small tent floor. He turned on his heel, and sprinted from the campsite.
The wind whipped through his hair, and he felt the tingling sensation of mist droplets as they smacked against his bare chest. Where he passed, there was silence but for the soft sounds of his feet touching the forest floor as the lesser creatures could sense the danger moving through their world.
As he ran through the thick brush, he felt the strength returning to his limbs, and felt his muscles stretch as his long strides propelled him toward civilization. Satisfied, but not full. He would need to hunt again, soon.
March 14, 2009
Binghamton, New York State
The hunter had been fortunate. As he had approached the town earlier in the day, the sky had been covered in ominous gray clouds, effectively blocking the sun, and allowing the hunter to walk unhindered through the streets. He had efficiently made his way to a low rent hotel where he could change his soiled clothing, and wash the forest debris from his hair. He needed to look presentable for tonight's fun.
This evening's hunting would be a far cry from last night's meager sustenance. Tonight would be for pleasure, for the thrill of the chase.
He strode out of the decrepit building, not bothering to inform the proprietor of his departure. Mid-way through the door, he heard a scratchy voice call out, "Hey, hey you there! Where the hell do you think you are going? You owe me thirty-five dollars. I'll call the cops on you. You watch me."
Rolling his eyes at the offensive noise, he turned, baring his teeth and snarling. His now crimson eyes, bright from fresh blood, glowed unnaturally.
The old man's hand froze on the telephone handle, and his body shook in fear. His voice quivered as he said, "Now, now mister, I don't want any trouble. Tell you what, you just, you just go on now. We'll forget this ever happened."
"Yes, I will forget this ever happened," the hunter replied in a deep bass. "You will, as well."
The hunter slowly stalked toward the old man, angered by the delay to his recreation. This old fool was not worth the effort. He was too easy, and his blood smelled sour with age and medication. The hunter would not take this man's blood; it was unworthy, and he was not desperate as he had been the night before. Instead, his hand shot out rapidly enough that the old man did not even see the movement. His fingers gripped the man's fragile neck, and tensed, immediately snapping the bones beneath the skin.
Tossing the body to the side, he left the building, not sparing a glance.
As he exited, he scanned the street to his left and to his right, taking in the sounds. Two blocks away, he could hear the laughing and screaming of children playing at a nearby playground. Too easy, and their size required that he take two or three.
To the right, he tuned his ears to the ruckus noise from a sublevel barroom. Ah, he thought, there would be worthy victims in there. He imagined there to be large, burly men, the angry type, who would undoubtedly weigh the hunter's size, and attempt to fight. Such men were arrogant, and were amusing to play with.
But no, the hunter wanted a chase tonight, not a fight. A woman.
He slowly paced the streets as the last evidence of daylight waned. Camouflaged in the unnecessary thick coat and hat he'd taken from an unsuspecting passerby, he blended with ease. There was too little light for anyone to notice the fiery red of his eyes, nor the chalky white complexion of his face. No one he passed looked at him with a second glance.
He followed scents of cheap perfume to a darkening street three blocks to the south. There, he saw them. Two women, one seemingly intoxicated, and the other attempting to shoulder her drunken companion's weight, were stumbling toward a dated blue four-door. The sober one was his mark.
She was delectable; her skin was the pale brown of a mixed race, and the smell of coconuts wafted toward him. Aided by the scant clothing she wore, the hunter could see that she had an athlete's build, suitable for running. Her strong, steady heartbeat reverberated through the hunter, rapidly drawing him closer to her. The hunter's tongue darted out from between his lips to taste the air. Ah, yes, she will be fine sport, he thought.
Knowing that his kind was always alluring to their intended prey, he slowed his walk to an inconspicuous, human speed, and called, "Hey there. Do you need some help with your friend?" The hunter was skilled at feigning; she would assume him to be nothing more than an attractive male offering his assistance. She would smile at him, and take him up on his offer.
The woman's head shot up in surprise, but within a moment, her eyes gave away her assessment. Yes, my lovely, you see me. You will be mine, he thought darkly.
"Oh, um, I didn't see you there," she breathed as she looked up at him from beneath her long, black lashes. The hunter heard her breathing hitch as he stared down at her and smiled.
"My apologies. I didn't mean to scare you. You just looked like you could use a hand. Rough day?" the hunter asked casually, pointing at the drunken woman.
She laughed nervously, and replied, "Oh, that's just Leann. She lost her job, so I offered to help her forget the world for a little while. I'm Cynthia, by the way."
The hunter took her proffered hand, and brought it to his lips as his murmured seductively, "I'm very pleased to meet you, Cynthia. My name is James." He held her hand to his lips an extra, inappropriate second as his tongue slipped out, and lightly traced the skin over her knuckles, tasting her.
The woman's eyes lidded with desire, and the hunter could hear the staccato of her racing heart. There it is, he noted. "Cynthia, come with me, my dear. Let us drop your friend off by the bar around the corner. My friend owns the place, and he will be more than happy to let her sober up there, out of this cold wind. Meanwhile, perhaps, we could get to know one another?" he asked in a low, suggestive tone.
The woman nodded dumbly, and followed the hunter, who had taken her companion by the waist in support. The street was now dark and empty, with the only sounds coming from the nearby railroad tracks.
As they rounded the corner into a blackened alley, the woman's eyes widened in realization. There was no street there, and there was no bar. The hunter witnessed her sudden distress, and crooned reassuringly, "Cynthia, do not fret, the bar is just down there," pointing to a burgundy painted door in the corner of the alley that the woman's human eyesight could only barely make out.
"Um, I don't know James. Maybe I should be getting Leann home now," she stuttered.
The hunter turned to her, and clutched her shoulders, pushing the drunken, passed-out woman to the ground. "No, dearest Cynthia, I cannot allow that."
The woman began to squirm against his grip, and her mouth opened as if to scream. The hunter clamped his hand across her lips, and leaned into her, inhaling deeply, "Cynthia, you smell delicious. I'm going to enjoy drinking you."
Horror filled the woman's eyes as she moaned against his palm. "Now, Cynthia, we can do this one of two ways. I can give you a sporting chance, or I can kill you now. Your choice. When I lift my hand from your mouth, I want you to calmly tell me your answer. If you scream, then I will have no alternative but to kill you. Do you understand?"
The woman nodded slowly as mascara-stained tears streamed down her face.
Loosening his grip, the hunter raised his hand, and said, "Which choice do you prefer?" He saw her eyes, and he knew that she would run, would provide him sport.
In a hoarse whisper, "Please, ple-"
"Cynthia. Do you remember what I asked? There will be no begging," he snapped sharply.
"I, I want to live," she cried.
The hunter smiled widely, showing her his slick, venom-coated teeth. "Excellent. I was so hoping that you would make the wise choice. The rules are very simple. You run, and I will chase you. But, the moment you scream, I will end the chase, and kill you in the most painful of ways. If you run, and keep silent like a good little girl, I will kill you swiftly when I find you. Do you understand me?"
The woman's face blanched to a sickening greenish-white as her forehead broke into a cold sweat.
"Cynthia?" the hunter asked.
"Yes, what?" he pushed.
More blackened tears streaked down to her chin, and she shook as she breathed, "Ye-, yes, I understand."
Grinning, the hunter released his hold on her arms, and laughed. "Then, go!"
Wide-eyed in shock, the woman froze. The hunter sighed exasperatedly, and repeated, "Cynthia, go. Run, now."
Stumbling in her haste, she darted down the dark alley toward the only streetlight in sight. Her high heels encumbered her, but the hunter noticed that she was quite fast, for a human.
Wanting to draw the chase out as long as possible, the hunter rolled back on his heels, and waited for exactly three minutes before casually walking toward the direction that the woman had run. He inhaled her scent, cloying coconut essence mixed thickly with adrenaline. It was intoxicating.
He listened carefully for signs of her running, as well as for screams. He hoped that she would not scream. That would end his fun too quickly. The hunter delighted in the chase itself, almost as much as the hot, heady blood that would soon be flowing down his throat.
Too soon, the hunter caught her trail. The woman was weakening, slowing. She had shed her high heels, and was now running barefoot. The hunter smelled the fresh blood that stained the sharp pebbles of the graveled path into the park. He smiled widely. In her terror, she had attempted to take the direct route across the park to the police station. He chuckled at her bravery.
Within seconds, the hunter reached the woman. Her head whipped around as she heard his dark laugh, and then fell to the ground when she turned back around to continue her escape. Her limbs flapped uselessly as she crawled across the half-frozen grass away from him, whimpering and pleading with him to spare her. She finally uttered a single, loud scream.
But the call of her fresh-spilled blood was too much for the hunter to remember the rules he'd dictated. His eyes were already glazed over in wild blood-lust, and everything but the pulsing of her heart was lost to his ears.
He crossed the space between them in one stride, and pulled her up to him. His teeth sank into her neck, slicing open her flesh, allowing her blood to flow freely into his mouth and down his throat. Unable to contain the primal need to quench the fire in his throat, he sucked her dry in moments, forgetting his intentions to savor her taste.
As the last drops of her blood passed over his lips, the hunter cursed himself for his lack of control. He also cursed the pathetic efforts of his human prey. They were too easy, too weak. Even the strong ones were wasted efforts. They were food, and little more.
I need new toys, the hunter thought. And he knew which toys he wanted to play with. His lips formed a wicked sneer as he recalled the date. It is nearly that time again; nearly two decades have passed. It is time to play with my favorite toy—Edward Cullen.
Fair Warning: This fic is rated M for more than sexual content. It's a darker fic and it will be fairly graphic in terms of violence. People will die.
Note: This is AU, meaning that some things will not be canon in terms of character background and such. For example, there are no wolves in this fic.
Note 2: When I initially posted this fic, I used to have little Q&As with folks reading. I've recently removed most of the author notes in this fic, including those Qs, for ease of reading. So if you're one to peruse reviews and stumble across comments that seem off topic, that's likely the reason why.
Finally, I always, always love hearing from you. So as you're reading, please drop me a line or two!