I wasn't sure if I wanted to hug her or hit her. I'd been so scared, so lost out there in the middle of the ocean. I thought I was going to be eaten by a shark! I realized I'd stopped shaking though and the worst of the shock was over. Being around danger, around vampires, had toughened me up a little it seemed. But when I looked at her, her slight figure that never really seemed small at all, but strong and confident, all I saw was fear. She was the one who looked as if she'd been drowning. Her eyes were dimmer. There was something horribly wrong. I couldn't be mad at her now.
Not even trying for words, I took her around the shoulders and led her inside the stranger's house. Something that might have concerned me before. But I'd had enough. There was a fire lit, probably for me seeing as neither of them could feel the cold really. I sat the two of us down on adjoining chairs and took her face, meeting her eyes.
"Alice," I said as calmly as I could. "Tell me what happened."
She only shook her head as if she didn't know.
"Try? I've got nothing here. One minute we were running... and then-"
"No, Bella, I can't. I can't."
She pulled from my hands and turned to the fire. She looked older than I'd ever seen her before. Not exactly old, but as if all her life were weighted on her all at once. I was about to reach out again when I heard the man who'd saved us come inside.
Not knowing what to say now that this stranger could hear us, I asked his name.
"Burk. At least that's what she insists my name is."
Alice gave a little shrug.
"I am Doctor Roderich-"
"That's not your name. You told me your name was Burk," Alice interrupted. "When we met before."
He smiled, shrugged and began to head in the other room which I now noticed was a huge but empty kitchen. The whole house did seem quite expensive. High vaulted ceilings and dark wood and leather furniture contrasting with a striking cream and silver theme. It must have been a vampire thing. Expensive home with nothing to really fill them.
"What kind of doctor are you?" I followed him into the kitchen.
"A neurologist primarily. I dabble in other sciences too."
I had to decide quickly if I wanted to trust him. But Alice needed help and he had saved our lives.
"Maybe you can do something for her. You see she has this... gift."
"She tells me she can see into the future."
"Basically, yes. But lately she's been having these other kinds of visions. They're really hurting her. I think more than she'll tell me... But she'll pass out and see the past. I don't know what it means."
"She reminds me very much of a friend I had back home. It was when I was still human, a very long time ago. He said to have a similar situation. In fact, very similar..." He trailed off, thinking deeply. Without warning he sprang into action and left into another room, then another. I hadn't been invited to follow, but still I felt that I should. I glanced back at Alice who was sitting calmly on the couch. She looked worried but okay to be left alone.
Inside a large study, a sort of work room, Roderich was sifting through piles of neat papers on a table. I turned on the light switch and joined him. Odd instruments, curious artifacts in glass cases, shelves packed with books. Blueprints, legal sheets, what looked like every type of paper in the world was there in that room, and he scavenged through them all before emerging.
"Ah!" he shouted, something like glee showing on his face. "Here it is."
"What is it?"
He seemed to notice me for the first time. "My friend," he put his hand on my shoulder. "I think I recognize her problem. I believe I have seen it before. I want to help her. Will that be acceptable?"
"Of course. If you can, please!" I hesitated.
"Nothing. It's just..."
"I am stranger to you."
He went back to the table. "I understand. You should not trust me with your dear friend right away. But I must warn you, I do not think she has much time."
He paused to light a cigar he withdrew from his suit jacket. "Do you mind?"
"No, go ahead. But what do you mean? How is she running out of time?"
"About three hundred years ago I was with my friend when he was bitten. He was a very strong and brave person. The only reason I was not bitten too was because my friend and I killed the vampire, who was badly injured already. She had been in a fight with an entire clan just hours before and had not had time to recover. I cared for my friend as best I could but eventually he started craving blood. I insisted he turn me too so I could share his grief but he refused. Then the dreams started occurring."
"Dreams like Alice's?"
"Yes and no. They were dreams of the future. At first they were small. He would dream of the time he would awake for example, what someone would be wearing. Then he dreamt far far into the future. Into this time. Of jets and submarines. It began to hurt him so it was hard for him to wake up." His face grew grim. "He warned me not to wake him anymore, that he awoke feeling threatened and frightened, that he might hurt anyone who woke him from one of his prophesies. I knew, but still I did this. I wanted him to turn me into a vampire you see. I knew I could not solve his problem in my lifetime, not with such little technology. So he bit me. He was so furious he didn't speak with me for fifty five years."
"I'm sorry. Did you end up figuring out what was wrong?"
His face brightened. "Yes. I did! I managed to help him... oh, maybe it was seventy years ago."
It had taken him over two hundred years to figure out what was wrong with his friend then. I tried not to let my doubt show on my face.
"I had to adjust to the new lifestyle, if you will, before I could start my research."
"When I found him again he was in a sort of coma. As I'm sure you know it is not usual for vampire to sleep, not ever to be in a coma. I later learned that all this time he had been in the future."
"What do you mean?"
He pulled out a silver pocket watch and looked at me curiously.
"What do you know about time travel?"
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