I know that many of you are probably horrendously mad at my lack of updates for so long a time, but rather than make pitiful attempts to explain myself that you most likely will care less about, I'll state the simple fact: my life is busy, like all of yours, and so time for writing is often hard for me to scrape. For that much I apologize to all of you who have continued to support and review my posts here on fanfiction, no matter how infrequent they may be.
On that note, I'll so be updating my stories of A Place Called Gethsemane and the series And Then He Took My Hand (of which there is a new poll on my profile, if you'd be interested in at all to check out). Again, I apologize to all of you who have been patiently waiting for the next chaps. Hope this regains at least a little sympathy for you Peter/Charlotte fans out there.
I love you all so much! Happy reading!
"Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man." ~Friedrich Nietzsche
The burning. It was all I could do not to scream as it trickled down, into the farthest reaches of my being. My entire body felt like I would explode any second. But maybe that was exactly the kind of thing I wanted; it would stop the pain, would it not? It would make this purgatory end.
My pulse beat faster, wildly banging inside my head into much more than a migraine. At least it meant I was alive. I had to have been, otherwise my heart would have given up on me long ago.
I tried screaming again, but no noise came out. My throat was raw, too worn down from my fits before to produce any kind of an inkling of sound.
It annoyed me. I wanted to scream. I wanted to beg someone to put out the fires.
Only I couldn't. Don't suppose it really mattered though. I had before, while I was still capable. No one came then. No one would come now.
I was in hell.
The devil didn't waste room on things like mercy on this accursed ground.
My fingers clawed mindlessly at the floor, my head flinging back further into the ground.
I was still alive. Then how could I be in hell? I thought hell was a place for the dead. Unless judgment day had come whilst I was sleeping. I don't know what I did to end up here though. I went to church each Sunday, didn't I? I obeyed my parents. I hardly ever swore, which in my town, stood as a huge feat on its' own. I gave weekly offerings. I'd helped strangers before. I never stole anything. I may have coveted a few different things along the way, but who hadn't? Surely God wouldn't be too mad at me for that, would He?
The wave of fire that overpowered the rest, flowing easily down my veins, seemed to answer the question for me. Happiness, freedom, peace, mercy, pity…no. They obviously didn't dwell here. Not in this place.
My breathing automatically sped as the flames lapped deeper into my chest, and I struggled to choke down enough air into my lungs. I tried to think—tried to get some logical sense back into my head…
It came out as a blank. All there was was pain. Nothing else. A huge, black abyss in which I was the center of.
The heat grew worse; a coarse, cruel, invisible food fueling it into greater intensities. It was like touching a hot surface, only you couldn't pull back. As much as you may have wanted to, you couldn't let your reflexes work when the source was inside of you.
The flare traveled further, ripping its' way through my torso; traveling my bloodstream, moving closer towards my heart. My body began to convulse even further, the burn scorching at my skin. All control I had had over myself was quickly pouring out of me in a mad rush. In that second, I learned what it was like to be paralyzed.
I couldn't move. I couldn't scream. I couldn't think, remember, smell, see, breathe, feel anything but the torture.
The warmth spread under my breast, and I began writhing as it simmered there. The pulsing in my head increased its' speed, although how that was even possible, I was at a loss for.
It began dancing away from my limbs, but I didn't have a chance to feel grateful for that dimming. The pain in my chest made that impossible. My teeth grinded together even more tightly, collapsing in on itself. I was shaking under the consuming pressure of everything, when it became overwhelming.
My spine arched defiantly as everything contracted to my heart in that one moment.
And then it burst.
The blaze ignited, flaring hard as if they had just been dunked in a sulfuric acid. I felt the bombing as the pain erupted.
And then it stopped.
I held my breath as I waited for my heart to beat again, the silence consuming me as the seconds ticked by.
Nothing but silence.
That didn't make sense. I was already in hell, wasn't I? Why would I have died just now? Or was that all just purgatory? Some distant memory that I never had to relive, now that I was one of the afterlife. It seemed the only explanation my perplexed mind could retrieve.
Hesitantly, I inhaled slightly, choking on the air as soon as it entered my nose.
It raged down my throat, leaving it completely dry; begging for something to drink. The back of it burned mercilessly on, my mind crying out for some kind of relief as the stinging continued, down into my lungs. The smells hit me like a sledge hammer, traveling down and doing nothing but emptily filling the spaces it could. My clenched eyes burst open as I jumped from the ground and into a low crouch, frantically looking around me for some sign—anything—of what was going on.
The sight only made things worse; only made me more baffled.
It was pitch black, as if I was in a hole or some sunken well, and yet everything was so clear. The rough canvas of the tent I was apparently in was a very obvious dark tan, each slight tear in it as pronounced as if a sign was being held up to them. The small, square table in the corner opposite me was slanted by a few degrees, the right side hanging a little lower than the left; a marble would roll across it. Every single splinter of wood was clearly visible, as if I had been viewing it under a magnifying glace. The small pile of clothes sitting next to it on the dirt ground, completely torn, no longer usable for wearing; each and every thread stood out in a concise order. I could see the lines where the seamstress made a mistake.
That's when I realized they were mine.
I expected the heat to rise to my face as I realized I was standing naked, but the sensation never came. Instead, there was just numbness. No temperature. No heat. No cold.
I looked wildly around, the taste of ash on my tongue making my nervous edge balance further over the cliff.
There was fire.
I could smell the smoke.
I could taste it.
The complete silence began to scare me. If nothing else, there should be screams in hell, shouldn't there? There should be the sounds of pain and suffering. All I could hear was the undying mute of the dry air, the hollowness too out of place to be understandable.
I forced my heavy breathing to stop. It wasn't like it was making any sort of a difference, anyway. All it was doing was passing unused air through me.
It didn't bring the comfort I desired.
I held perfectly still, hating the feeling that was coursing through my body.
I wanted to run; wanted to move. Wanted to do something.
I shouldn't have. I was dead. I should've been tired. I should've wanted to collapse right there, falling asleep on the foreign ground and never wake up again. Instead, I felt more energized than I had in years. Ever, even.
I couldn't really remember.
I really was in hell. There was no denying it now. I wouldn't find rest here. I'd be eternally damned to stay awake. There wouldn't be any peace gained from unconsciousness. Just an everlasting blackness of…this.
My muscles stiffened as I heard something in the distance. Hardly anything more than a faint whisper, but still undeniably there. Straining my ears to pick it up again, my body automatically lowered itself into a more prominent crouch, my lips curling up slightly as the sound became more distinct; footsteps racing across open land.
They were barely touching the ground.
They raced on, somehow—impossibly—growing steadily faster as they came closer. My eyes zeroed in on their direction, my hands clenching into tight fists.
Then they slowed.
I shifted slightly, my bare feet digging hardly into the ground, planting myself firmly as they moved closer to the tent, unhesitant and unwavering.
The mouth of the tent flew open, the towering figure of a man filling the doorway. I backed away slightly as I caught sight of the marring of his dark skinned face; his cheek was grotesquely twisted upwards towards his eye, as if it had been clawed at. The other half would have been perfect—beautiful, even—had it not been for the thick crescents that covered each inch of it. His thick muscles were covered in a cloth that looked to be of the same material of some sort of sack, his massive hand balled around a matching substance. He smelled the exact same; like a thick burlap cover, only in a living version.
His eyes were the thing that caught my attention though. They flamed red in the night, a glowing, evil torch.
His full lips pulled up into a smirk at what must have been my bewildered face, not looking at all surprised to see my defensive, exposed form.
"It's about time," he began, his smooth voice, heavily laden in a Mexican accent, startling me. He didn't seem to mind my shocked silence, nor my posture.
Actually, he seemed to be ignoring me period, talking more to himself than anything else. "Took long enough. I kept telling her it wouldn't be done yet, but what did she do?" He threw his hands wildly in the air as he stepped inside.
I backed away.
"She sent me anyway. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous that I had to run this God forsaken strip of lands over and over just to see if he was ready yet." He threw the cloths he held in his hand over towards me, and it was only out of reflex that I caught them. When I didn't move, just kept staring blankly at him, he made an impatient noise. "Hurry up. Get dressed, and then we'll leave."
"Leave?" I half jumped in surprised at the pleasantly chorused tone my voice had taken, audible even in my broken attempt at a whisper. I stood up straighter, falling slightly backwards.
I waited for my head to start spinning, just like it always did when I became overwhelmed.
"Of course, leave. You don't believe we're just going to stand out here, in the middle of nowhere for the rest of time, do you?" He glared towards me, seeming to get angry that I wasn't doing anything. "Get dressed," he repeated, growing more irritated. "She doesn't like it when she has to wait."
I was going to ask who exactly 'she' was, but decided against it when his eyebrows lowered into a deeper scowl. Snapping my mouth shut, I hurriedly pulled on the sad excuse for pants and a shirt, my hands beginning to unsteadily shake as I tried to button them.
His intolerance was making me nervous, and I had a feeling that he wasn't going to put up with any more lost time than he had to.
The second I was somewhat decently covered, he walked over to me. Before I had the chance to defend myself he was flinging me out the door, letting me fall to the ground outside. My face pressed against the sand as I landed roughly, the smell of desert cruelly welcoming me.
My body never started aching, like I expected it to.
I stood as quickly as I could, wildly looking around as he emerged from the shelter I had been in moments ago. "I'm not dead," I clarified, still a hoarse whisper. "This isn't hell."
He snorted, walking over to me again. Every cell in my body screamed at me to lunge at him—to fight. I didn't have time to make any sort of move though when he pushed me again, this time harder, egging me to get a move on.
Only I didn't know where he wanted me to go.
"Of course you're dead. And of course it's hell." He pushed me again, increasing his walk behind me. "Just not the kind you're thinking of."
He gave up on herding me, and instead passed by me, breaking out into a fast-paced run.
I stared after him, blinking in astonishment at how fast he moved.
It was nothing compared to the astonishment at myself.
I followed hastily, not wanting to give him reason to touch me again. Only I went faster than I had expected. My feet carried me with ease, eager for the impulsive exercise. They barely touched the earth as I lithely sprinted on, catching up to him within an instant too short to count.
I fought to slow down; to stay behind him.
I heard him mumbling to himself again, his speed picking up as he glanced behind his shoulder, finding me there. "Ridículo," he ground out, turning back ahead and shaking his head in disapproval. "Es una pérdida de comida rica. Completamente absurdo."
Tuning him out, I glanced uneasily around, trying to make out where we were. The desert, obviously. The flat lines of sand went on for miles, the only breaks in them being the occasional chunks of rock and low mountain line to the far west. Other than that, there was absolutely no kind of marking to signify where we were.
I wasn't as concerned about that though.
It was where we were going that had me scared.
The fact that I wasn't getting tired had me even more fearful. I was dead, he had confirmed it. Shouldn't I be wanting to sleep, then?
The quiet pressed on, the only noise being his quick mutterings. I waited for him to say something directed to me; something that would explain where I was. What exactly was happening. What exactly had happened. Where we were going. Anything.
I was greeted with disappointment.
The sand steadily began to turn into a more dense terrain, replacing itself with dirt and gravel. I waited for it to cut the soles of my feet.
I felt nothing.
The mountains in the distance disappeared after a few more minutes, leaving nothing but a flat surface of land.
It only made him run faster. He dashed ahead, kicking up small pebbles behind him as he went. I ducked easily out of the way, clearly spotting each one in the dark night as it came at me.
The faint smell of asphalt suddenly appeared, growing with each meter further we went.
That seemed to make him happy.
He sped on, seeming to forget about me completely. Either that, or he just stopped caring. Didn't really matter.
I was too apprehensive to really care.
Apparently, fate wasn't giving a damn about what I wanted, because it was only a matter of a hundred steps later that I saw our target. Or, what I assumed to be our target, anyway. Well, more appropriately his target. I wanted nothing to do with any of this.
The two tall stone buildings seemed to rise on the horizon from out of nowhere, blatantly visible against the light of the full moon. It took less than a minute for us to reach them.
I wished we hadn't.
Outside, they looked like nothing more than a few abandoned brick structures, sitting on the edge of some kind of invisible ghost town.
Only I heard the noise.
I jumped as we slowed to a walk, the ferocious growls emitting from inside making me cringe in terror of what kind of hell exactly this was.
I didn't have a chance to ponder as he noticed my hesitance. Roughly, he grabbed hold of my collar, half pulling, half dragging me along with him. Walking up to the deteriorating wooden door, he pounded, not bothering to release me, completely ignoring the booming crash that suddenly echoed from inside, along with the yelp that followed after that.
"Can't leave them alone for five minutes," he grumbled unhappily, before calling out more loudly, "¡Vamos chica! ¡Date prisa!"
I heard light, dainty footsteps coming down the stairs from inside, timidly coming to a stop on the other side of the door and opening it.
All I could do was stare.
A petite goddess stood adjacent to us, the dark brown hair that looked like it hadn't been combed in days still managing to perfectly flow in beautiful waves around the pale, tired face of the angel. The only thing that made her fit in with the dingy setting was the same ember eyes I had already seen. Her body was perfectly symmetrical, curves in all the right places. The blue dress she wore was old and worn, and yet it only exaggerated her bust line and hips.
My companion wasn't as caught off guard by the cherub. Gruffly, he pushed passed her, reaffirming his grip on my shirt and tugging me in along with him, letting me come tumbling to the concrete floor.
Neither of them bothered to help me up.
He scowled over at her in the pitch black, empty room, looking as utterly unpleased at her presence as he had been at mine. He nodded his head in the directions of the straight staircase behind me; the one where the low hissing was now coming from.
It made me shiver.
"I see you've been doing just an excellent job watching them for me. Just how many has the group killed by now, anyway?" Apparently, he didn't expect an answer, because he continued without one. All I could do was look up at them, wanting to come to the aid of the girl who looked like she was on the verge of tears at his harsh words, but unsure exactly how to go about that. Still, it made my blood boil, seeing someone talk to a woman with such little respect.
My anger went unnoticed.
His marred face twisted itself into a fearsome scowl, and she backed slightly away. "Do you have any idea how much trouble I'll be in if they got into trouble while she was gone? Well, do you?" He threw his hands up in the air, stomping lightly. "They're my responsibility. She expects me to make sure that her army's growing, not decreasing while she's away." He took a menacing step towards the poor woman, hunching over her. "Now, in five minutes, I'm going to go check on them. And if they're so much a lick out of line, you'll be taking the punishment. Do I make myself clear?"
She stiffly nodded. "Yes sir," she murmured, her voice laced in an accent I'd be able to spot anywhere.
She was from Louisiana.
He humphed, turning around and walking back outside. She breathed heavily, rubbing her hands over her face and appearing to try to get her bearings. I took the opportunity to look around me.
It was dark in here; even more so than what it had been like on our run here. The room had most likely once been a foyer, but anything that might have used to look like an entrance hall was gone. The wall paper—a sick, yellowing color—was peeling off the walls, the wood underneath it rotting, looking like it had been experiencing maggot problems for a long time. The concrete floor was empty, besides the few pieces of wood that were strewn here and there, if my guess was correct, the original covering for it. The two arched entryways that sat to the left and right of me led into two more rooms, the boarded windows on each side visible. On the one to my right, there was a dusted-beyond-belief rug and deteriorating, broken grandfather clock. Otherwise, it was empty, no more to it than the rotted oak stairs that stood behind where I was sprawled out on the ground.
After a long moment, she seemed to remember I was there, and looked back towards me.
Clearing my throat, I stood up, warily angling myself so that the noises were no longer behind me. I shifted my feet for a moment, scrambling to think of something to say. Still, my mind could only come up with one question.
What was an angel doing in hell?
I felt her guarded eyes on me, and finally settled on giving a typical greeting, no matter how dumb it may have been, considering the circumstances. "I'm Peter." I waited a long moment for her to respond, the only answer being the continued silence.
I heard a quick shuffling upstairs.
Then a yelp.
"What's your name?"
She sniffed indignantly, looking more distrustful than I thought was really necessary. "Ya'll can forget your name. They ain't needed around here, and they ain't used. And with all due respect, I ain't fixin' to have a reminder of what mine used to be." Her mouth pulled up into a half smile before it quickly dropped. "Peter."
With that she turned and walked up towards the second floor, leaving me standing there, unsure what exactly I was supposed to do.
I jolted as there was another loud bang from upstairs, followed by a shouted curse. A woman shrieked something unintelligible.
Then there was silence.
I shifted uncomfortably under the even stare of the other man, trying instead to concentrate on what the other was saying.
He threw another blow to the little girl's face, making a sharp smacking sound that echoed through the cramped room. "And thanks to you, we have to go out and find another. You know what that means, don't you?" He gave another slap, this time harder.
I was waiting for the tears to begin to well up in her eyes.
They never came.
"It means another meal lost," he hissed, fists clenching at his sides. "Otra vez," he ground out, jaw clamped tight in frustration. "Again and again. Why can't you learn to control yourselves?" This time he punched the wall, his fist going through the brick.
I had had enough shocks tonight. They were too frequent to surprise me anymore. Why not add strength to the list? Why not? We're on a roll so far. Why on Earth would we ever want it to stop? Let's all make hell as fantasy as we can.
I expected the shaking girl to double over weeping, but instead she stood her firm ground, her red eyes blazing as she stared her punisher down. "I killed him in self-defense, simple as that. He came at me first, for absolutely no reason at all."
That earned her another hard hit, sending her flying back and crashing to the wall behind her.
It cracked under the force.
"It's true," she continued defiantly, brushing her dirty clothes off but otherwise ignoring him. "He lunged at me and I fought back. It's hardly my fault if he's dead or not; he made that choice for himself. I had absolutely no part in it."
The man growled, but said nothing, instead choosing to glower over at her perfect form.
I stood perfectly still, waiting for one of them to help her. She was no more than a teenager after all; she shouldn't have had to put up with that kind of abuse.
They were all silent.
Of all of the fourteen, grimy, young and beautiful others in the dark stone attic, none of them were willing to say a thing.
Actually, it was more than that. None of them appeared to give a damn about what would happen to her. They all seemed to be preoccupied in themselves. Either that or they were watching me; something that made me pull in closer into myself.
I didn't want to pull in closer though.
I wanted to kill them.
I wanted to rip each and every one of their throats out and yell at them to keep their eyes where they belonged.
I felt like I was born to kill.
The feeling scared me.
"Now," he started freshly, turning away from her and back towards the rest of us. "She'll be back soon. And until she does I expect absolutely no fighting. You've all done plenty of it in this past day, so you should be set for now. Then again, if any of you have the sudden urge then you know where to find me, don't you?" With that he turned, walking back down the narrow door we had come through.
The very few who hadn't been before now turned to take a good look at me as his footsteps touched against the stairs, but apparently newcomers were a common thing, because they soon became bored with giving me attention, and turned back to staring blankly into the dark.
I huddled closely against the wall, back into the furthest corner possible away from them. More than any other desire I had ever had, I wanted to be alone. I wanted to live out my afterlife in hell with privacy. I didn't want to have to feel this pain and suffering of unrest in front of these dangerous, perfect angels.
God didn't seem to care.
One of them—the small boy; thirteen, fourteen at most—shuffled his feet.
The one beside him growled ferociously, the sound echoing off the walls.
I cringed back further into my corner.
It didn't seem to perturb him in the least. He just folded his arms across his chest, gazing up at the ceiling as if he hadn't heard a thing.
I pulled my arms closer to myself, wanting nothing more than to just kill myself.
You're already dead, a stupid voice reminded me. You're already dead and you're already in hell. You don't have the option of suicide anymore.
I tried to close my eyes, but they seemed glued open, too afraid of letting their guard down to be capable of shutting. Instead they nervously darted around, taking in each action, each and every small movement that was made around me. I held my breath, trying to calm myself, though my instincts were screaming at me to run as fast as I could away and never even think of turning back.
I waited for my lungs to ache and my head to become dizzy.
The welcoming sensation didn't even come close to happening.
I waited for someone to start laughing; tell me it was all some sort of sick joke and I'd wake up soon, now that fate was done playing with me.
There was no laugh.
Not even a quick chuckle.
Somebody hissed at something, but I just forced my gaze down to the floor, not wanting to be involved in anything that had to do with these angelic creatures. That particular route hardly sounded very safe.
My muscles began twitching again with the want to run, but I clenched them tightly, hoping that they'd stop tempting me soon.
No such luck.
This was all a cruel joke. I knew it now. I could sense it. It had to be. I had done nothing to end up in hell. I was a God-fearing man. I respected the church. I hadn't done anything to make this happen. Sure, I had sinned once in a while. I took the occasional devil's way, yes. A lie or two now and then. A few girls that I probably shouldn't have touched and my hands got a little rambunctious. I had pushed a few kids on the playground when I was in school; even snagged a cookie before dinner every so often.
But I was a man.
What man hadn't done those things? Was our entire species going to end up here because of our ignorance of the apparent harshness of our Lord? There didn't seem to be enough people here to cover the world's population. Or was it just a select group? Maybe all of us had unknowingly sinned against someone important in God's ultimate plan and deserved a punishment more severe than the others. Hardly seemed fair, but nothing was completely just, was it? I thought it may have been in death, but I've been wrong before.
Somebody muttered something from across the room, but I couldn't make out what they had said.
The answer, though, was clear.
The handsome, black-haired man in the corner opposite mine gave a quick bark of a laugh, though his fiery, glowing red eyes glinted in the dark. "Hardly," he muttered, kicking at the ground in restlessness.
The woman with the yellow sundress hissed something quietly back to him, her top lip pulling up slightly. He ground out something unintelligible back.
And so it continued.
Five days. The seconds were recorded in exact precision in my head, a mantle clock inside me.
The searing ash within my throat festered on, feeling like the flesh was being enclosed in a coating of constantly new blisters.
The room smelled like death.
Gore loomed on all their tongues, though what it was from, I wasn't sure.
I wasn't sure of anything; what I was, where I was, what I was doing wherever it was.
What I was.
And then I met Jasper.
Maria. The name seemed harmless enough. The creature had seemed harmless enough, at first—black hair, was the only gothic thing really about her, that may resemble something of evil. She was a small thing; petite, an angelic face, young, barely more than a child, if that, with a lithe step about her, that singled out the definition of grace itself with her flowing walk and skip. And her eyes, though the same as the others, albeit a brighter formed red, wasn't as much of an omen. It was more of an enchant. It was my first impression. It wasn't until far later that I'd piece together the resemblance between her personality and the one I perceived when I'd read of Adolf Hitler in the papers at home.
The blond man hovering about her was of a different caricature. Tall and lanky, it didn't exactly fit that they'd match in a puzzle like frame, but somehow they'd fit when they fell into an even pace. He was younger than I, though not by an overflowing amount of years, only a few. His face was rigid, deeply scarred in angry white signs that shrieked at me to get away. His hair was always falling over the sharp angles of his face, the frown that he was always wearing fitting with the dark figure. His eyes were a cruel black, shaded by deep bruises and a silent voice. He hid so perfectly among the others, and yet something about him stood out. I wasn't positive, but it may have been the small bit of humanity and benevolence still lingering in those coal orbs.
He took me away. Made me drink.
Showed me I was a monster.
Showed me mercy.
Showed me truth.
I fought for the first time. I killed. I snapped his head and scratched the flesh from his arms, burning as I went. I was a murderer.
Her name was Charlotte. And she was beautiful.
Let me know if you'd like me to expand on this at all, or just leave it short, somewhat sweet, and as it is.
Sorry for my Spanish, I'm not very fluent. Let me know if you caught any mistakes, and I'll fix it as quickly as possible. Hopefully you'll hear from me soon in my other stories. Love you!
PS: If you haven't seen the new Eclipse movie, it's worth the money if you're a Twi-hard. I wasn't incredibly sure of their acting in Twilight, or even New Moon, but Rob and Kristen have finally begun to improve their portrayel of Edward and Bella, and the action and visuals are a must see. Congrats to all who participated in the making of it!