Roaring Twenties One Shot Contest
Title: Judge, Jury and Executioner
Your pen name: EmmaleeWrites05
Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to S. Meyer, This plot belongs to me.
To see the other entries of the Roaring Twenties One Shot Contest, visit the C2:
http://www [dot] fanfiction [dot] net/community/The_Roaring_Twenties_Contest/75957/
When you have lived as long as I have, or will live as long, you have your different stages in life. Some are better than others, but then there are some you just rather not even mention. When I told Bella I had killed before, I was leaving out a fair bit of detail. Killed was a disgusting understatement; desecrated would be more fitting. Judge, jury and executioner was my appropriate title back then, self-loathing came unequivocally with it. I did what I wanted, when I wanted and to whom ever fit the bill. Looking back on it now, I was never entitled to do that. It was never my place to judge those I deemed unworthy or unfit to continue their life. Who was I to say that, because he killed someone, he was mobster and so forth that he shouldn't be allowed to go home to his family? It was turbulent times back then. Everyone had to fight for the privilege to live. Prohibition, organized crime and other social tribulations made up the 1920's, the roaring twenties – my dark age.
I remember the decade as if it happened yesterday because in my ever clear vampire mind, it was yesterday. It was yesterday that I found myself roaming the streets of New York City late one July night. I had been a vampire for a decade now. A decade spent in solitude. Though, that wasn't honestly true. I had Carlisle. He was everything to me; my mentor, my father and my friend. But things have not been the same since he changed his mate, Esme, nearly seven years ago now. Don't get me wrong, I love Esme. She is an extraordinarily compassionate woman. However, this life doesn't come without its vices. I can hear every thought that passes through every beings mind; including Carlisle and Esme's, or as I called them 'the newlyweds'. You could call is jealously if you would like. But I hated intruding on their thoughts, their love, knowing I would never have that for myself. Just by walking through the streets of New York I could tell you why I would never have what they have; because by hearing every person's thoughts, I know the true nature of every individual. And in the near 3700 days I had been 'alive', not once has any mind ever captured my attention. Not one has ever stuck out from the crowd.
But I still kept to myself no matter the allure of companionship. I roamed the city streets at night, the Tin Pan Alley. I listened to the ever changing white noise of my city. The sound of the automobiles chugging down the overcrowded road way, the new cinemas exploiting their latest technology and showing films to the masses willing to pay. The Jazz clubs fronting the speakeasies hidden down dark alleyways away from the law, those were always the noisiest. That was the place I was more inclined to travel; the hidden alleys where the stench of the bootlegged alcohol was beyond nauseating. The smell of the aged wine, the fermented sour grapes, the yeast and hops from the lager they consumed. I don't know how they do it, how they stomach it.
Nightly I would find myself wandering down these alleys, hiding in the shadows. I would usually find a fire escape up the side of the building, hidden in the darkness so I could listen and view the buildings uninterrupted without being noticed. I was not hunting, not in the literal sense of my kind. Carlisle nurtured me to be a 'vegetarian' and even though it was difficult to adhere to those rules, I did. But no, my hunting tonight did not have to do with my thirst, though it was ever present. My hunting was some unknown force in me to protect the innocent. I would like to blame Carlisle for that. His need to help the vulnerable, his compassion and care for those 'weaker' beings, has shaped me into the protector that I am.
I would watch every night as the flapper girls would enter the jazz clubs dressed in short dresses and shorter hair styles daily, the business men with their mediocre suits trying to look like they were worth more than they really were. There was the occasional haggard street criminal looking for a warm body, stiff drink and roof over their heads for a night. And then there were the ones that owned the speakeasies. They were the easiest to spot with nicely tailored suits, matching hats and smug looks across their faces. They always had two or more men to their sides, body guards to protect them. They looked wealthy and the exuded crime too. It was them and the street criminals I would watch and pay more attention to on most occasions. The depraved things they thought in their minds about the ones around them were repulsive.
I remember the night it happened, the night that my world came crashing down around me. I'll never forget the look on that woman's face. Her innocence was nearly lost and if I hadn't intervened when I did…I still shudder to think what would have been, what could have been. I prevented her death but in the process, I took another.
She was a beautiful woman. I had seen her several times and she was one of few women's minds I didn't mind listening to. She worked in the jazz clubs to earn a living and try to make something of herself. The woman's suffrage movements were in full swing and she was what one would call a liberal thinker back then. She had short crimson hair that came to just under her ears. She was all dolled up that night in a short little black sequined dress coming to just about her knees, far more risqué then anything I was accustomed to in my time. Her heels made her a statuesque beauty, even when she was smoking a cigarette to impress the men, the nasty vile things that they were. The cigarettes, not the men, though back then most could be lumped into the same category.
I watched as she turned from the door to start her slow walk home. Even at one in the morning it was slightly warm out considering. I examined the goose pimples that rose on her skin as she walked down the alley with her head down, just trying to not draw attention to herself. I was captivated by her beauty as she gracefully walked in her heels. To be honest, she was probably my first crush of this cursed life and I never did find out her name. But it was what happened next, in that split second that shifted the world on its axis.
'Such a pretty little dame…' I heard the depraved criminals mind think. I didn't like the picture in his mind. The images he was picturing were starting to burn into my eyes. He was looking at her in ways that men shouldn't look at a woman outside of a bedroom, ever. 'Wonder where the doll is going? Not likely she has a daddy or a dapper working in this place.' I watched as the street criminal started towards her. He was covered in probably week old grime from working down on the docks. His basic upkeep on hygiene was lacking fiercely and the perverted thoughts going through his mind were making me see red.
I moved swiftly from my perch on the side of the building, jumping from one roof top to another. I had to make sure she would be alright. I would not intervene unless help was absolutely needed. I couldn't give my secret up without provocation. Even then, I didn't know if my ability to control myself would withstand the hatred for men like him. The bloodlust was a powerful emotion.
I jumped to the roof of the last building on this alley. I looked over just in time to see her turn the corner right into another darkened pathway. I listened intently to her thoughts to see if she had noticed the man following. I could hear her heartbeat accelerate, the smell of her perspiration as her body sensed the danger that was near. Whether it was in regards to me or the man stalking her would be the question. Then I saw the fear in her eyes as she glanced around the alley looking for a quick way out as the man advanced upon her. The fear in her eyes was motivation enough for him, he liked it, and he wanted to see more of it. He wanted to see her beg and plead as he pinned her against the wall, ripped her pantyhose from her body and showed her 'a real man'.
I felt my control slip as I watched him chase after her. The constant strain I had on the ability to rein in my anger was cracking like a broken dam with water. I dropped down from the ledge of the building, landing softly a ways behind the man. I saw the woman ahead of us turn and glance back briefly. I quickly ducked into the shadows so she wouldn't spot me. In that infinitesimal minute, I heard something very distinct in her thoughts. She recognized him. She knew him from the club and she figured she could reason with him. I hoped that she could, but in my mind's eye, I saw that nothing was going to stop him and I would have to intercede at some point.
"Leonard? Is that you?" she slowed her pace and asked carefully. "What are you doing out here? I thought you would be at the juice joint for the remainder of the evening? Mary was keen on your company earlier." She shifted on her feet. 'This guy gives me the heebie-jeebies, why did I stop?'
'What a dumb Dora' he thought. "No doll, that was not in the cards for me tonight. Mary is a moll, a gangster's girl, the real McCoy, you know that. I was left holding the bag." He answered as he walked up to her. I quietly skittered closer in the shadows, listening intently but remaining unseen.
"Oh, I am sorry Leonard. I did not know…" She snapped her mouth closed as he answered. I saw the fear spike in her eyes again.
"Pipe down." He moved forward positioning himself in front of her, still about two feet away. If she backed up any more she would be against the wall. 'Pushover...' He looked down the alley way making sure they were alone. "Everything is copacetic. She was not worth being bumped off. You however…." He trailed off suggestively and she took an automatic step back, her body coming in full contact with the dirty brick building behind her. I saw the shutter rip through her body. "What's eating you baby?" He asked as he pushed up against her, pinning her to the wall. I snapped my mouth closed desperately trying to keep the growl from issuing forth. "I am stuck on you, surely you have noticed?"
"Horsefeathers!" She spat back at him. "You are razzing me aren't you?" I could see the determination cross her face, but inside I could read the fear and uncertainty of her situation. She was a strong willed woman and would do her damnedest to get out of this situation unharmed.
"Now, now baby, I'm being on the level with you. Don't be a bluenose."
"You're drunk Leonard. Go home, rest it away. I'm sure you will be swell in the morning." She leaned back and studied his eyes when he didn't answer. His intention was apparent and easy to read in them. She shook her head frantically as she figured it out. "Don't take any wooden nickels Leonard. Just go on back to the juice joint and have some more hooch. You don't want to do this."
I saw the evil glint in his eyes. He pulled his arms up next to her body and held her arms to the wall. "I think I do, doll." I waited. I couldn't strike yet. I was afraid I wouldn't stop. But when I saw him move forward to take what wasn't his or given to him freely – I snapped.
"You don't want to do that." I hissed out as I took a step out of the darkness that was concealing me behind him. The criminal, Leonard spun around quickly to see me. 'Who is this bimbo?' he thought as I glanced around him catching the young ladies eyes. "Go. Now." I insisted. As I said this he spun back around and pushed her hard into the wall.
"You will stay. I am not done with you." Her growled into her face. That was all the motive I needed. I sprung forward and wrapped my arm around his chest and one around his neck. I roughly pulled him from her and without a second thought I cocked his head to the side and sunk my teeth in. I heard the shrieking scream from the woman in front of me and her late lamented footfalls as she quickly ran away crying. I couldn't care at that point. I felt the tender flesh slice under my unyielding teeth like butter. I could taste the dirt, sweat and alcohol on his skin but it was faint in comparison to his blood. The rich velvet flavor of his blood tasted like hops and barley with iron and salt with just the right mix of tangy succulent flavor of blood. Blood. Human blood. Undeniably luscious blood. Rich, real and soul shatteringly human. It was incontrovertibly delicious.
At that point, I could have cared less what was going on around me. I know I exposed our kind to a human and I didn't change or kill her. I let our secret be known. But at that moment, the only thing that mattered to me was this man. This disgustingly sick perverted man that deserved what he was getting. His hands were scratching feebly at my arms trying to get me to stop. It was a lost cause. I could feel his blood penetrating my body, radiating through it. From the tips of my finger down to my toes, I could feel my body coming back to life. I felt alive again. The most I have felt in more than a decade. And I wanted it. I wanted to feel like this all the time. Powerful and strong; controlled and thriving. It was my calling. I was meant to rid this world of the revolting humans that did wrong unto others.
I was starting to grasp what Carlisle meant when he said Aro did what he did 'for the greater good'. I could do this for the greater good. I could put my gift to good use; rid the world of the perverse men who preyed upon helpless young women. Take out those who choose to kill thy neighbor's instead of honoring them. I could go to Chicago and take care of some of the organized crime there. Make my way south and deal with some of the Ku Klux Klan members. I could do this world a whole lot of good with my gifts.
As I finished my last drop of blood from the delinquent I came to my conclusion. I would set off into this world and become judge, jury and executioner. I would do something useful in my life time. But first I needed to dispose of this man's body and say goodbye to Carlisle. I owed him that much. As quickly as I could in the shadows of the darkness, I made my way to the Hudson River and quietly disposed of his body. In a few days time the authorities would probably find it floating on a beach nearby. His death will probably be chalked up to the many deaths of this tumultuous time, mob death or accidental drowning. I felt little to no guilt in disposing of his body. I had seen inside his mind seeing all the sick things he had done and the intentions he had of doing more. He deserved his fate. It was liberating.
I made my way through the city walking at a humans pace, no longer hiding who I was. I didn't skirt the outlines of the streets taking the coward's way out. There was no harm in walking down the roadway in the dead of night when I have come to the acceptance of what I am, who I was meant to be for now. Before too long, I was walking slowly up the steps to our home. We lived in the heart of the city in a three story brownstone. Carlisle was still a doctor in the city and we had more than enough money to suit our fancies. He liked to spoil Esme with anything and everything she could want.
I heard the footfalls before I even reached the door. It wasn't as if he couldn't hear me coming, though tonight I stayed out far later than I normally would. I heard in his mind that he was worried about me, wondering what I had been up to for the evening. The door in front of me creaked open yet I kept my eyes glued to the ground as the light spilled forth. I could not look my father in the eyes and see the disappointment so clearly written in them. I knew it was coming. 'Edward, come in son…' his thoughts echoed in my head. I could tell he was holding back, trying to censor himself from all the questions threatening to spill forth. I have never not looked him in the eye and yet I knew tonight they would be different. I had sated myself with human blood, thus they would be a highly visible crimson color tonight. 'Edward, what is wrong? Why won't you look me in the eyes?' his thoughts echoed in my head again.
I heard Esme walk up and take her place at her mates' side. Her eyes curiously roamed my body, taking in my haggard looking appearance. When she gasped my head shot up. "Edward, you didn't?" She asked in astonishment.
'His eyes…they are so red.'
I cut off their internal monologue and issued my answer. "I am leaving." I looked down when I heard Esme shout 'no' in her mind and start sobbing internally. We may not be able to actually release tears in our frozen state, but I have learned in these last few years with Esme, a vampires mind when they want to cry is not a pleasant place to be. I glanced back up and looked Carlisle in the eyes.
"You don't have to leave Edward. We can work through this."
I shook my head. "No. I can't look at the disappointment in your eyes every day. I am a failure to you. But I am doing this for the greater good. I didn't just mercilessly kill tonight. I liberated the streets tonight of a harmful rapist." I heard Esme gasp again and I looked over at her. "I saved a life. I am not going to be ashamed of that." I looked back over at Carlisle again. "I assume I can find you here whenever I feel I am done with my mission?" He nodded his head.
"I figure we will be able to stay here another five years or so before we have to move on again."
"I am going then." I could see the disapproval in their eyes but also the acceptance in their minds that they would let me go and live my life as I pleased. They loved me too much to hold me back from my decisions, no matter the outcome.
'Be safe son.'
'I love you Edward'
I turned around and quickly made my exit. I couldn't stand to see anymore of the heartache and hurt in their eyes. I did that, I caused them to be upset and I couldn't stand the sight anymore. Not when I knew I was doing something good. Something that would help rid this world of its unnecessary evils, even if I technically belonged to that group too.
I didn't stay in the city for long. I took one of the vehicles Carlisle had bought me and drove. I didn't have a destination in mind. I wanted to get out and leave, find another place in this world for me. I stuck to big cities, figuring there would be more crime in the cities than in the rural country. The first night I did real hunting, looked for and stalked my…prey. I was overcome with guilt. I couldn't fathom the thought that I was directly disregarding Carlisle's wishes. I was killing humans. But I wasn't doing it to feed, no matter how much I argued with myself. I was cleaning up the streets; getting rid of the ones that the authorities couldn't because I had the advantage.
I made rules for myself while I was at it. I didn't want to overindulge myself nor garnish unwelcome attention. I would only kill two a night unless circumstances dictated otherwise and only rapists and killers. Regular theft did not warrant a death sentence. And I would only stay in any given city for two nights tops before I moved on. I would no longer kill in front of another human being no matter how bad my bloodlust was. After that night in front of the redhead in New York, I promised myself I would never expose anyone to that kind of horror again.
A year passed by faster than I would ever have imagined. I found myself in California sitting watching the clouds pass by the moon, lost in contemplation. I glance out into the San Francisco Bay at the little island in the middle. It housed the local military prisoners. I wondered to myself if going to the rock in the middle would be worth it. I decided not. I had noticed lately that I often found myself running a litany in my head of the hundreds I had killed over the last year. Some I had names for, most I didn't. Most I had scared frightened faces for that would forever be burned into my brain. I could run every one of their final thoughts through my head on repeat and as clear as day. I could pinpoint every hoarse voice, every frightened cry to a face in my head. Only a handful of them asked for redemption before their last breath, praying to their gods. Most struggled against me thinking this was an unjust way to die, calling me the angel of death. But not one of them apologized for the unjust acts they had done unto others, even if I had caught them in the act.
I had been too late for five people. Those five people I regarded with my life. Two were a husband and a wife walking home from an evening out. The low petty criminal that accosted them was looking for jewels and money. The couple handed it over, no questions asked and he shot them anyway. I was not merciful with him. I would go as far as saying that I was downright cruel. I never killed unless there was blatant intention to kill. If he had taken the jewels and money and ran, he would have lived. I didn't see until the last minute, when the husband muttered under his breath, that the villain decided to shoot and kill. It was unwarranted and he too deserved his fate.
I was broken out of my reverie by the sound of a distance car coming up to the vacant look out spot I was currently sitting at. I could hear the two distinct heartbeats over the dull roar of the engine. One man wasn't thinking anything further than the images of him navigating the road. The other man, by all accounts, was terrified. His thoughts confirmed his erratic heartbeat. 'Just taking me for a ride. I should have known. Torpedoes don't last. All I am to them is a hired gun. Trust no one. What am I still doing here?'
I took off running to hide in the trees. I needed to see what was going to happen. I needed to see if the driver was a methodical killer or brainless hoodlum following orders. I watched as the car rounded the last corner and came into view. It came to a slow stop and shut off. Both men got out, the smaller one, the scared one, rushed over to the bigger man. He was going to attack before he got attacked first. I watched as they struggled. It wasn't my place to intervene yet. The little guy carried no weapon in which he could use to kill with, the bigger guy had a gun but he didn't pull it. Truthfully, other than pushing the smaller guy off, he didn't do much of anything. He didn't think much either. It was almost as if his brain was mute to me, except for the fact that I could still 'see' what he was witnessing through his own eyes like a silent movie.
I was so intent on figuring out why I couldn't 'hear' but only 'see' in the bigger guys mind that I nearly missed the end of the scuffle. The little guy lunged for the man's gun, but before he could pull it all the way out of his holster, he pulled it and took aim. The resonating shot echoed off the surrounding hills, deafening in my ears. The bigger guy was back in his vehicle and tearing down the road before I could intercede otherwise. I walked up to the bleeding man lying on the ground. He was gasping for breath, still hanging onto life. He would die a slow painful death if he was left out here alone to bleed out.
"Please…" I heard him whispered up at me. 'Help me.' I stepped up to him and gently took his head in my hands, looking him directly in the eyes.
"You chose the path to darkness, killing others on an order without sparring one's life; never taking a moment to appreciate the finer things. For that, your death is inevitable. But I am not as cruel and careless as you. I'll spare you the pain and I'll be quick…" I swiftly snapped his neck and gently laid his head back, "…and you will never know."
I turned quickly and started running down the empty dirt road. I knew I would have a much easier time catching up with the bigger man in the vehicle if I was on foot rather than driving my own vehicle. I caught his scent as well as the smell of the gun powder resin and closed in. I found his car minutes later when he pulled onto a city street, heading down a densely populated neighborhood. I slowed my running and darted into the shadows once more becoming the ultimate creature of the night. I slowly stalked his car amongst the neighborhood, careful to stay out of the light of the passing vehicles or the windows of the houses I stalked past. I watched as he pulled up in front of a humble little dilapidated home. The roof shingles were coming off, the paint was chipping, but most noticeable of all was the children.
I watched stunned as two little girls and one little boy came running out the front door towards the bigger man. He grinned widely as they approached yelling daddy, scooped two of them up in his arms and started tickling them. I still couldn't hear any sound in his thoughts but pictures of his children talking to him. It all made sense as I listened and watched his little boy. He started making hand gestures at his dad, asking in his mind 'How was work daddy?' It dawned on me – he was deaf. That's why I only saw images in his mind with no accompanying sound.
I sat down next to the tree I was hiding behind and closed my eyes. I listened intently to the little children across the road talking to their father in the yard. The bigger man I was so intent on following and killing because he took a life, was these children's most depended on person. Their livelihood, their world, came from this man. He provided food in their stomachs, a roof over their heads, and his 'job' though not agreeable by me, was the reason these children were still living.
How many countless other fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons had I taken? How many sole providers for a family had I greedily snatched away because I judged them unworthy of living or breathing? Some of them, yes, deserved to die. They were nothing but killers for the sake of killing, dependant on nothing and providing for no one. But these organized crime syndicates, no matter how disgusted with their line of work I was, they were doing their 'job' to provide for a family of their own. In their warped frame of mind, they could be thinking that what they do is for their own form of a 'greater good'. What makes me any better than them? What makes what I do any different? Who was I too judge who deserved to live, who deserved to go home to their wife and kids or deserved to be met with my harsh teeth against their jugular?
If I could have cried at that moment of revelation, my moment of clarity while I listened to the happy family across the street – I would. I was wrong in my mission to be judge, jury and executioner. It was not my place to point a finger and decide. Carlisle had been right all along. The 'vegetarian' way of life was the only way of life. We should not interfere with the humans like we are gods. We aren't gods. We may have god like abilities, but we should never think ourselves as greater. The Volturi, Aro, with their way of thinking is not how I want to live. And unfortunately, for the better part of the last year, I had been. I was not proud of the things I had done. I learned my lesson the hard way, which I knew for certain, was not the way Carlisle wanted me to see things. But now that I know, I am not god and I do not have the right, I can move on. I'll only ever intervene from this day forth if it is absolutely necessary. But first, an apology to Carlisle and Esme is in order. Their disappointment in me cannot be any worst than my own self-loathing.
A/N: This one shot was actually incredibly hard for me to write. This Roaring Twenties Challenge really pushed me to open up and step outside of the box, outside of my normal limits for stories. That being said, a review enlightening me to what you thought would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!