SM owns Twilight and its characters. I own this story. 2010.
Thank you to BilliCullen and Scooterstale for pre-read/beta duties. You guys are awesome and wonderful!
I Know I'll Wake from This Dream
Mr. Cullen? Sir? Can you hear me?
It felt as though I were dreaming, dreaming a surreal, terrifying nightmare, a dizzying world of mangled and contorted sounds and colors and smells. I had no idea where I was, what time it was. I had no idea how I'd ended up in this purgatory, this suspended state of blurred reality, strung somewhere in the gray area between wakefulness and sleep.
My mind kept spinning around and around, spiraling through a jumble of thoughts, images, and flickering sensations. Everything kept fading to black, only seconds later, to come charging back like a raging bull, flooding me with too-vivid awareness.
I had no idea how to escape the nightmare, or even if I could. I was absolutely powerless to stop it, to regain control of myself, because I couldn't even move.
I was frozen and held captive by my own body, a stuck, unwilling prisoner. All I could do was wait, fighting with myself, hoping no, begging that it would all pass, that I would wake up and find myself lying in my bed at home. Surely, this is some dream, I repeated, trying to quell the rising panic.
Wake up, damn it! I demanded, trying desperately to bring myself out of the maelstrom.
In a brief flash of lucidity, I noticed that something wet and sticky coated my skin. I knew it was there only because I could feel it gathering and pooling; every time the wind whisked by, the chill and the dampness made me shiver. Or at least I thought I shivered. And there was a smell to the wetness, something coppery, which mingled with other smells that I couldn't quite identify. Confused, I thought I could smell freshly turned earth and the pungent odor of soggy leaves. And something else, something sickeningly sweet and aromatic drifted on the breeze. It smelled familiar but its identity eluded me.
But for all my wants and wishes, my body remained a useless and unmoving pile of flesh. I felt detached from it, like it wasn't really mine. All I could feel was some unidentifiable pressure holding me down. My body would not move; no matter how much I willed my limbs to respond, they refused to obey. Frantically, I tugged at my muscles, trying to make them do something.
It felt as though I were wading through concrete; everything was just so heavy. All my efforts were to no avail; I could do nothing but be and wait for some change. And I was so tired, so exhausted, that I could not protest as I drifted back down into the gray, foggy depths of my mind.
Jimmy, get over here! Now! Bring everything. We have to get him out.
Another flicker of alertness told me that I couldn't really see, couldn't make out anything recognizable. I thought my eyes were open only because instead of darkness, blaring yellow lights blinded my vision, and colorful splotches floated and pulsed across my line of sight. Flittering in and out of my periphery, I noticed strange and misshapen shadows looming over me, black cutouts with indiscernible features framed by the halo of light.
Mr. Cullen? Sir, we're going to try to get you out and move you. Please try to stay calm.
I couldn't speak or respond to this odd, disconcerting voice. Like the rest of my body, my lips denied me relief. Inside, however, I was screaming in both frustration and fright, because while I couldn't speak, I could hear. It was so loud, a cacophony of disharmonious and confusing sounds. Horns and motors and screeching metal pierced my consciousness. Somewhere, some high-pitched noise, something mechanical, buzzed and grated. And there were voices that sounded hollow and echoing in my ears, none to which I could put a face or name and none of which I could really understand. It was all just a garbled hum of clamor and noise. Nothing, none of it made sense.
How can I be calm? I yelled. What the hell is going on?
An abrupt, wrenching crash of glass and metal jerked at my awareness, interrupting my train of thought as I suddenly felt a tingling sensation ripple through my body. The pressure that I'd felt before vanished and it was instantly replaced by… pain.
I choked as a dozen knives cut through my body, slicing through my flesh. Unyielding, they twisted and buried themselves deeper inside. Waves of nausea swept over me, and I fought to maintain what tenuous measure of cognizance I possessed. I could hear the blood sloshing and chugging in my ears, pulsing with my stuttering heartbeat. My lungs gasped for air, only to release it in shallow, wheezy and gurgling pants.
Make it stop! I pleaded, feverish from the onslaught.
Sir, stay with us. We almost have you.
A final shriek of steel rending rang out, and what I thought was pain turned into sheer agony. The knives cut deeper, ripping me apart, tearing my body in two. It felt as though I were on fire, burning at the stake. Yet still, my body refused to obey my commands to move and to escape the blaze and the torment.
For what seemed like an eternity, I waited, for what I didn't know. The pain had almost numbed me. It was so sharp and so excruciating that my mind couldn't seem process it coherently. For that I was thankful, acknowledging that I could not bear the level of suffering that I was experiencing.
Delirious, I slipped back toward oblivion. Blackness blanketed my vision, replacing the kaleidoscope of light and color, and sounds faded into a dull, background whine. Some part of me felt what I thought were hands pressing against my shoulders and back, and then I felt myself floating through cool, damp air.
A second later, I awoke. This time, everything was different. Instead of grayness and confusion, there was clarity. The fog that I'd experienced had lifted, and I briefly imagined that everything had been a dream, that I was lying in my bed. I could even feel the starched sheets covering my body.
A rhythmic beeping pinged clearly and loudly, and the low whir of electronics told me that I was not in my home. The air was drier and warmer, and it smelled of chemicals. Tinges of propanol and cheap air freshener were mixed in, creating the stomach-turning odor I knew well.
My eyes shot open, immediately glancing around. The walls were pale yellow and oddly cast in the violet overhead light. Along one wall were drawn aluminum blinds, completely blocking the window and thus, leaving me no sense of time of day. Along another wall, bulky beige machinery with bright LEDs and buttons dotted the walls, and thin wires and tubes ran from them to me.
My gaze slid down to my arms, both lying motionless by my sides. An IV needle was embedded in the back of my hand, its tube filled with an almost clear fluid. A pale blue clip was affixed to one of my fingers, its cord leading to one of the machines.
White, gauzy bandages covered both limbs, and upon further inspection, I noted that my right leg was left uncovered by the white sheet, instead held in stasis by a rigid, black plastic brace. My toes stuck out from the black encasement, but barely moved when I so directed them. Everywhere I looked, my skin was blanched pale white and was riddled with cuts and gashes and dark, purplish bruises.
As I processed my surroundings and my physical state, my chest and abdomen began to throb and ache, and there was a dull twinge in my scalp. But it was all muted pain, not like the ripping, sharp agony I recalled, and I quickly grasped that the IV was probably responsible for my reprieve.
"I see you are awake, Mr. Cullen," a feminine voice called quietly. "We weren't sure when you'd come to."
I pulled my eyes away from my damaged body and glanced toward the direction of the voice. A young woman, short and plump of stature, stood in the doorway. She was pleasant-seeming, all clear pink skin and styled blonde hair. For some reason, I noted that she, like many of the nurses my father worked with, wore brightly colored and patterned scrubs. Hers had white daisies on a dark blue background.
I wasn't sure if my voice would carry. Hoarsely, I replied, asking the first question that came to mind. "Where am I?"
"Forks Regional. Your father will be here shortly. He's with your mother taking care of some things," she responded with a sad smile.
I realized I had no understanding or recollection of what had occurred or why I was strapped to a hospital bed. Something about her expression told me that I didn't want to know.
"What happened? Why am I here? What day is it?" I stammered.
"You were in a car accident, Mr. Cullen," she explained. "And they had to cut you out of the car. It was a very bad accident.
"Your doctor will go over all of this with you. But you suffered severe trauma to your mid-section. You have several broken bones, you lost a considerable amount of blood, and you sustained some internal injuries. When you were brought in, you were not conscious and emergency surgery was performed."
I could only nod, not knowing any other response.
As she replaced my IV bag, she continued, "It's Tuesday morning. You've been out for a little more than two days, and you really should be thankful for that. Your injuries were not pleasant. Right now, you are under a fairly strong dosage of Demerol. In fact, I'm surprised you are speaking so coherently."
Just as I was preparing to ask my next question, the nurse turned and spoke toward the door. "He's awake, sir."
"Thank you for calling me, Annette," another voice responded.
This new voice I recognized instantly and I couldn't help but feel relief. It was low and calm, a soothing voice I'd known for as long as I could remember. But something was off, was wrong. It was colored with an emotion that immediately caused me alarm.
"May we have some privacy?" he asked politely.
"Of course, Dr. Cullen," Annette returned. "Dr. Gerandy was called at home. He'll be here in probably thirty minutes."
"Thank you, Annette. My family appreciates all that you've done over the last few days," he sighed.
I watched as she offered another sad smile and then left the room.
"Dad?" I asked, trying to raise myself up.
"No, son. Don't move. You aren't ready for that yet," he gently corrected, as he walked across the room.
As he approached, I noticed how haggard and tired my father appeared. Dark circles framed his light blue eyes, and his clothing was rumpled and disheveled, as though they'd been slept in. His brow was furrowed and his jaw was tense, even as he reached out to grasp my shoulder.
"Are you in any pain?" he asked, studying my face. "Do you need anything?"
I shook my head, noting that doing so was indeed painful.
"What happened? I don't remember anything," I asked somberly.
His eyes tightened and his lips pursed. The hand that wasn't resting on my shoulder gripped the metal railing of my bed. I could see his knuckles white with strain.
"You don't remember?" he answered wearily.
"Nothing," I said quietly. "There were lights and smells and then so much pain I thought I was dying."
"What's the last thing you do remember? The graduation party?"
With his last words, my mind was flooded with images, flooded with sounds and people and words. It felt as though I'd just been punched in the stomach or kneed in the groin. Scene after scene, it all played out, one action leading to another.
I was so angry, not even thinking reasonably when we drove away. She begged and pleaded with me to stop, to turn around and go back. She was so furious with me, more so than she ever had been. Her nostrils flared and her shock of brown hair shook with rage. After she finished screaming at me, she threatened to jump out at the first light.
It was her night and her business with whom she spent it, she spat. And I was ruining it, tearing her away from her friends and from that damned boy.
That jackass I once called a friend. I'd told him to stay the hell away from her but he wouldn't listen. And she never listened to a thing I said anyway.
My breath caught in my throat and I strangled, unable to speak the words. The muffled pain in my chest sprung to life, and my eyes widened in terror. Fear clawed in my gut, and I suddenly felt sick.
"Where is she?" I whispered.
The hand on my shoulder stiffened, and I could feel my father's short, manicured nails digging into my flesh through the thin hospital gown. I watched him close his eyes and take a deep breath. When they opened again, his eyes gleamed with unshed tears.
"Your sister didn't make it, son," he replied, his voice shaky and beaten.
1. This will all be told from Edward's point of view. Also, this chapter is a little different as it occurs in the past.
2. Fair warning: This fic is rated M for more than sexual content. It contains themes and references that some readers may find difficult or upsetting. This is the only warning I will provide.
3. Back when I started posting this story, I used to do little Q&A sessions with folks reading. I've recently cleaned up the chapters' A/Ns and removed all those questions just for the sake of reading ease. If you're the type to peruse reviews, that's likely the reason for some of the interesting, perhaps off topic content you might stumble across :)
4. Reviews are like... candy. I always, always love hearing what you think. So if you don't mind, drop me a line every now and then.
Chapter title: Lyrics from Hello, by Evanescence