The Twilight 25
Pen name: justaskalice
If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye.
I closed my eyes and let the words sink in, even as the wind whipped my hair around my face. Eternal damnation. In its simplest interpretation, Hell is merely the absence of God. No fire and brimstone, no devils or pitchforks. It is the absence of Love, just blackness and empty space, forever separated from the One who gives solace and peace.
But I had been living without love for quite some time, and I wasn't afraid. I thought I knew what it meant to be alone, but with the death of my son, his light snuffed out after only three days, the idea gained new meaning. The reverend who baptized him just hours after his birth had given me a solemn benediction, telling me that the Lord would be with me in my hour of need. Despite his reassurances, I felt no Divine Presence, and no touch of Grace. Alone.
For a second, I hesitated, opening my eyes to look at the surf crashing against the rocks below. I lifted my chin, gazing out at the horizon and taking in the sunset for the last time.
"Goodbye," I said to no one. Then I spread my arms and leapt.
It was dark in Hell, just as I suspected. It felt good to know that I was right about something. Unfortunately, I was wrong about the fire.
I screamed, suddenly finding that I still had a voice. I deduced that I must still have a body as well from the way the flames licked at my arms and legs. The fire consumed my heart and my belly. I howled and thrashed, trying to twist away from the heat, but nothing I did helped. Then, quite suddenly, I couldn't move at all.
The fire raged on.
I thought I was imagining things when the fire retreated, ever so slightly, from my hands and feet. It was around that time when I realized that there was someone else in my Hell. A demon, perhaps? I could hear him breathing, and I was aware of pressure on my arms, holding me down.
The demon spoke. His voice was silk and chocolate, a warm quilt on a cold winter night, sunshine and flowers.
"Shhhhhhh. It's almost over, I promise. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Hold on, Esme."
It didn't surprise me that this demon knew my name, or that he was offering me false words of comfort. He would want to foster hope, so that when the torture didn't end it was that much more painful. Almost as soon as I had the thought, the fire got impossibly hotter. I whimpered and twisted against the demon's iron grip.
"That won't help," he said gently. "But the fire will stop. It's already been more than two full days. Edward's change took just over three. I hope you can hear me. I'm so sorry."
Despite the newly intensified fire, I found I was able to think around the pain as my mind filled with questions. What did he mean by change? And who was Edward? Was time still really measured in days here in Hell? And why was it still so dark?
A new voice piped up then, a bit rougher on the edges than the first demon, but still undeniably beautiful.
"You're not in Hell. Not the one you're thinking of anyway."
"Edward," the first voice said in a warning tone.
"You don't think she deserves to know?" Edward asked. "You made the choice, but she's got to live with it. If you can call this living."
Fear bubbled up in my chest, coupling with the burning and surging quickly into panic. I kicked and punched, and even the demon's strong grip loosened a little as I flailed.
"Esme, you need to calm down. I know you're frightened, but I'll explain everything. The fire will go away, but you're getting stronger, and we won't be able to restrain you soon."
Would I really be stronger than a demon?
"He's not a demon," Edward said.
"What?" the first voice said.
"She thinks she's being held by a demon," Edward explained impatiently. "In the fires of Hell. Really, Carlisle, what did you expect? She was trying to commit suicide. Did you think she'd automatically realize you'd changed her into a vampire?"
The demon—man? Vampire?—named Carlisle made a miserable little groan and pressed down on my arms again. The fire pushed up my arms and legs, leaving them blissfully cool while scorching my torso in new, impossible ways.
"Leave us," Carlisle said sharply.
"I don't think that's wise, do you? She'll be waking up soon. You can't handle a newborn alone."
"So wait outside."
"I'll be able to hear you anyway."
"Then stay and be silent!" Carlisle's voice was raised for the first time, and it took on an authoritarian edge. "I won't have you upsetting her or scaring her."
My chest tightened and the fire flared again. I screamed in agony and the pressure shifted to my hand.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Carlisle murmured. "The venom is burning up your blood. It's heading toward your heart. This is the worst part. But it's almost over."
I clung to his words now, although I knew it was foolish to hope.
"Help me," I croaked. My voice sounded different, smoother somehow, despite being scorched. I felt my heart speed up in my chest, pounding like I had just run a race. Faster and faster it sped, meeting the blistering heat head on.
"Whatever you need, forever," he said. His voice was reverent. Sincere. It burrowed down deep, to a place in my heart I had thought destroyed long ago. Then the fire was in my heart, and all I could do was wail as my heart sped impossibly on. I almost couldn't distinguish the individual beats anymore.
And then... it stopped.
The fire—conspicuously absent.
But the pressure was still on my hand, and I finally realized that it was dark because my eyes were clenched tightly shut. Slowly, I opened them.
A young man leaned over me, his eyes wide, worried, and golden. "Esme?" he said softly.
I blinked and looked around, stunned by what I was seeing. Everything looked sharper, clearer, brighter somehow. I fixed my stare on the man above me. He was smiling hesitantly.
"It's alright, Esme. You're safe. And you'll never be alone again."
A/N: Thank you to Daisy3853 for reading this over before I posted. And thank you too all of you for reading :)