From dehumanization to arms production,
To hasten this nation
Towards its destruction.
It's your choice,
Your choice,
Your choice,
Your choice.
Peace or annihilation?

Annihilation, A Perfect Circle

The gentle pushing of ivory keys creating a melody was a constant sound weaving through the Cullen household. Esme Cullen sat in the spacious living room of their wide home in Minnesota, residing within a small city near to the border to Canada. The hunting was prime, the sun minimal. All the requirements to live with humans and allow Carlisle to practice as a physician. Esme closed her eyes in appreciation of the music her talented first son produced regularly. Music was his vice, his obsession. It filled the hours.

"That was lovely," Esme murmured when the song came to its last, lingering note, dissipating in the air after several moments. Melancholy, but beautiful, she thought. Like Edward, was the thought that immediately followed and she regretted it, knowing that he could hear. She didn't enjoy pointing out his solemn disposition, especially to him, feeling this only made it more concrete.

Edward made no outward acknowledgement to his (for all intensive purposes) mother's last thought, his hands still resting lightly on the keys, head bowed over them. "Thank you," he responded quietly. Just as his fingers flexed to begin playing again he paused, and then turned as his petite sister zoomed into the room.

"It's Saturday, it's cloudy, and nobody has anything crucial to do," Alice said to them, grinning. "Will either of you accompany me and Jazz to Minneapolis for a little shopping?"

"I'd been planning on spending the day with Carlisle since it's his day off," Esme declined warmly. "But Edward dear," she continued, turning to him, "Why don't you go with your sister and brother? It'll do you good to leave the house."

Edward glanced at Alice, who was vibrating excitedly. "Oh yay!" she cried, now positively beaming at him. He had obviously made up his mind to go. It had been over thirty years since Jasper and Alice had joined their family, and they were very used to never needing to answer a question; only needing to resolve themselves to an answer where Alice was concerned. "We're leaving in five minutes. See you in a while Esme." Alice smiled at her adopted mother and pranced from the room.

Edward stood and smiled his good-bye to Esme as well, but it was small and disappeared as quickly as it came.

All the Cullen siblings had decided to go, and it was only a few hours before they reached Minneapolis. Edward's mind-reading ability and Alice's psychic visions allowed them to navigate roads and speed limits more effectively than any human. These were the perks of their vampirism.

Most of their day was spent at the largest mall in the area. "But I do want to stop by some boutiques before it gets too late to devote enough time to it," Rosalie said to Alice in the parking lot. "Come find us around five."

"Make it six. We're going to find more things here than there."

Rosalie shrugged and took Emmett's hand, heading off in another direction.

Edward began walking in his own direction too as the bombard of human voices filled his ears and human thoughts attacked his mind. "Uh-uh Edward!" Alice cried, grabbing his hand. "You're not going to be alone today."

I'm always alone, he wanted to say but thought better of it. Jasper winced slightly at the peak in his grim emotional palette.

"Sorry," Edward murmured and made an effort to perk up. "Where to then?"

"Just follow me," Alice said happily, and lead along her favorite brother and her husband.

The shopping excursion did not turn out to be as wasteful as Edward had thought it was going to be. Jasper and Alice even got him to laugh once. But mostly he was trying to tune out the thoughts of people around him.

"I know I should be appreciating the ridiculous nature of this decade's fashion," Alice said wistfully as they walked back to Edward's car to go to a street with some French clothing store she wanted to check out. "But I keep getting flashes of nineties fashion and it's definitely an improvement." She grinned at Edward in the rearview mirror as he backed out of the parking space. "We're going to get mobile phones next decade too. Less bulky ones. It's going to make things so much more convenient for us, just you wait."

"That definitely does sound like it has its advantages," Jasper murmured thoughtfully, imagining it in his head. "Like when we're hunting, or for other separation purposes…"

Edward hummed in agreement, thinking how that would make things easier for Esme and Carlisle when he went off for days at a time on his own. Maybe he could do that more frequently without worrying them so. Esme had really never gotten over the time when he had left for a few years to live in rebellion of Carlisle's ways, hunting human criminals.

He felt himself darken at the thought and Jasper shot from the car when Edward parked alongside the road. He sighed as Alice exited the vehicle. "I'm just going to stay here," he told her.

"Okay," she agreed ruefully, seeing there was no changing his mind.

Edward closed his eyes and leaned against the vinyl of his car seat, trying to relax.

Suddenly there was an image of a girl with pale skin, pale hair, but vibrant blue eyes kneeling in front of a body that was not his own, his lower half naked. Her face was terrified, tear tracks staining her face, eyes rimmed red. Her arms were bound behind her back. "Please stop," she sobbed, and a man's hand smacked her before forcing her mouth back on him. That felt good came the accompanying thought. Similar thoughts and images whirl-winded in the mind Edward was reading, the images dim and murky as human thoughts were, seen and experienced through their weak eyes.

Edward's body stiffened and his eyes flew open, looking around wildly before landing on the rapist walking back to his car, a small smile on his face. He played with this girl, Sara, often, because he was very good at clearing his tracks. Though she had gone to the police the first couple times he had attacked her, he had done a thorough job of erasing evidence from her body. Unable to find even a lead on him, the police had given up. And so had Sara. Flashes of other victims occasionally emerged in his rampant thoughts.

Rage boiled under Edward's skin. This was the kind of scum that he had once fed upon. He had killed these men and saved girls like Sara from their demented urges.

But he had figured out long ago that it wasn't his place to decide who deserved to live and who should die. He was not God, he was not the police, he was not Justice. He shouldn't use that power.

Though he had it.

It would be very easy to follow the male back to his house and dispose of him without leaving a trace of evidence. Sara or any other girl would never fall victim to him again.

Edward sat there as the man drove away.

There was only one thing he could do.

Well, that wasn't true.

There was only one thing he would do.

"This is the best way," Alice comforted in the car ride home. "You don't want to go back to that life Edward. You're doing the right thing."

That was debatable.

Once home, Edward dialed the number for the Minneapolis police department. "I would like to report a suspected rapist," he said, his teeth gritting around suspected. The man's own name had never cropped up in his thoughts, so Edward could only give the license plate number on the car the criminal had been driving. And then he hung up.


A few weeks later, Carlisle sat on the couch with his arm around his wife, watching the nightly news. Edward played the piano softly on the other side of the living room, focusing both on his playing and the television.

The reporter switched to another story.

"Last night, college student Sara Macberry was found dead in her apartment by suicide. Sara had reported being raped on more than one occasion, and Sara's parents are now filing a lawsuit against the Minneapolis police department for never stopping Sara's attacker which, they say, was the cause of her taking her own life. The police argued that they had taken in suspects before, but were unable to find a perpetrator to stop."

The reporter switched to another story.

Edward had stopped playing when the report started, and it hadn't been necessary to turn around. He'd seen the picture of the girl in Carlisle's mind and recognized her. Honestly, Edward had just been waiting for a report such as this. He had hacked into the police's files a week after his tip-off to find that the criminal had been released from custody after no evidence could be found against him.

Edward had been frustrated but there was nothing else he could do.

Well, no.

But there was nothing else he would do.

Edward rushed back up to this room, focused only on listening to music and trying to get away from the television and sympathetic thoughts of his adopted parents. Alice met him outside his door.

"It's not your fault you know," she murmured to him. "Because we live in their world, in some ways, we're just as helpless as humans."

Edward looked at her evenly. "No. We're not."

An idea that came to me. Let me know what you thought, please! It's always such a reward to hear from readers.

- The Romanticidal Edwardian