Summary: My version of Edward's human death and change - A quick one-shot of Edward in the hospital with the Spanish Influenza before he is changed by Carlisle, up to the time Carlisle bites him.
Disclaimer: All the Twilight stuff belongs to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm just playing in her sandbox.
Thanks to DK and Phoenix Rising for the Beta reading!
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. It seemed to be the only real evidence I had that time was passing. My body would burn and ache, and I would kick feebly at the sheets tucked into the hospital cot until they fell off. After a few minutes, the shivering began. My body would freeze and ache, but I could never manage to find the strength to reach for the blankets I had discarded and pull them back up to me.
A nurse in a little folded white hat scurried through the room, checking on the rows of cots for anyone whose condition had changed. She walked past one, slowed, stopped, reversed and took a closer look. Her hand reached out and touched the patient's face, then picked up his wrist with her other hand. She shook her head sadly and departed, returning a few minutes later with two orderlies, who picked up the cot and its burden and carried it away.
The nurse continued on her rounds.
She stopped at my cot, made brief, sad eye contact with me and pulled the worn sheet back up to my chin. I was immediately too warm, though her hand on my forehead was cold. I tried to speak, but there wasn't a sound to be found from my throat. I didn't want this woman's touch – I wanted my mother. I was no longer ashamed of this, as I may have been a few days ago. I was seventeen and nearly a man, but I wanted my mother and I no longer cared if that was somehow childish or unmanly.
Up until the previous day, she had cared for me, even here in the hospital where I could see her getting weaker by the hour. I told her to lie down – rest. She needed her strength for herself as well, but she would have none of it. She told me to hush and just concentrate on getting well. I wanted to do as she asked, but I didn't know how one could concentrate on good health. My body continued to burn and ache.
I had refused to cry when Father died just a few days ago. Now that I no longer cared how my tears would be perceived I wanted to cry for him, but I didn't have any tears. My sobs were dry, choking and pointless. They upset Mother, so I only cried when she was asleep.
The nurse righted herself, her touch no longer against my skin, and went to the next cot where my mother lay motionless except for slow, ragged breaths causing the blanket to rise and fall without any steady rhythm.
The night doctor was suddenly next to my bed, though I never heard him approach. Maybe I fell asleep – I seemed to be losing a lot of time now, which I thought was for the best. Being awake was pain. Sleep was oblivion. His frozen fingers pulled gently on the skin on my forearm. When he pinched, the skin didn't jumped back into place, but stayed in a little wrinkled mound for a few seconds before slowly smoothing out. He shook his head and told the nurse to bring water for me.
He smiled at me before sitting next to my mother's cot, taking her wrist in his hand. I couldn't hear what Mother said to him, only that she spoke in her harsh, no-nonsense tone. The same one that always made me hang my head down and caused silent tears to run down my face when I knew I wasn't supposed to do whatever it was I had just done. She didn't really use it on me anymore, unless I talked about the war for too long.
The nurse returned and put a straw up to my mouth, encouraging me to drink. I tried, I really did. I managed to swallow a few drops of water and wondered how long it would be before they came back up again. I turned my head back to the next cot. Mother was gripping the doctor's forearm with her slender pianist's fingers. He was speaking softly back to her, but his eyes kept darting over to me.
Her hand dropped from his arm suddenly, and her face turned back to the side, away from my view. The young doctor's eyes tightened slightly as they turned and bore into me.
I was surprised to see the pain there, in his light amber eyes, and I knew what it meant immediately. She was gone, just like Father. I was alone now. The water that had recently passed my lips hadn't been near enough to allow any tears to break through the dehydration. My eyes just stung, looking for liquid relief that wasn't going to come.
I heaved violently, and without the strength to lift myself up I began to cough and choke. The doctor's cool hands were on my shoulders, lifting me slightly and clearing my airway. At least I no longer had to wonder how long the water would stay down. My body continued to purge itself of nothingness. I figured it must be rejecting the air, since that was all I was able to consume. My arms and legs shook with the exertion until my body gave up on its futile task and I dropped to the cot on my back.
I must have lost consciousness, because when I opened my eyes the nurse and the doctor were both gone. I forced myself to turn back to Mother, hoping it had been nothing but another nightmare.
The sheet now covered her face.
My breath came in short, sharp pants, making my lungs ache with the effort. I wanted to cry for her, but I had no tears and no energy to exert in the effort. I wished I had cried for Father, but I was the man of the family then, and I had to be strong for her. Now I was just a boy without a family, unable to cry for them. When I was gone, there would be no one left to cry for me.
Mother lay there, unmoving for so long. At least, it seemed a long time. Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Even if I still had enough strength left, I wouldn't have bothered to kick at the blankets. It didn't really matter now if they were on or off. The cycle continued regardless. Please, God, please. End this. Take me now.
"No," I meant to yell at them when two men picked her body up off the cot and moved it to a gurney, but I couldn't really hear my own voice. They didn't even look in my direction. Then she was gone again, just like Father. "Please bring her back," I whispered, but there was no one left in the room to hear me. I closed my eyes, and tried to pretend I could still her hear raspy breathing next to me and feel the touch of her hand on my forehead.
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold.
I was being lifted off the cot by hard, cold arms onto a hard, cold surface. Then I was moving much too quickly, and the urge to vomit overtook me again. My throat burned with bile, but there wasn't enough to choke on this time. The wheels on the gurney rattled and bumped, and I squeezed my eyes shut each time the vibrations from the jolt hit my body.
A soft, whispery voice crooned in my ear. I recognized the voice and the cool breath of the night doctor, but I couldn't remember what he said his name was. I couldn't understand what he was saying through the throbbing pain in my temples. It was just too hard to concentrate on the words. I guess I knew he was just trying to sooth me. The words themselves didn't matter enough for me to bother with the effort until he started saying my name over and over and I opened my eyes to his.
"Edward, can you hear me?"
I tried to answer him – tried to speak, or even nod but my body just didn't listen anymore. I blinked and tried to focus on his eyes. He nodded slowly.
"Edward," he started again, "I'm going to take you out of the hospital. We won't be coming back, Edward, so this is your only chance."
I wanted to ask him what he was talking about. My only chance for what? Then he moved the rolling cot up next to another bed so we were side by side. He moved the sheet away from the lump beside me and I saw her, eyes closed, mouth open ever so slightly.
"Mommy," I croaked.
I wasn't a man any longer, not a potential soldier, not a provider or protector to be, just a little boy whose mother was gone forever.
I tried to reach my hand out from under the sheets, but again, my body just wouldn't do what I told it to do, and I only barely moved. The doctor's cool fingers took my hand and moved it for me. He pulled my fingers over to her face until they trickled over her cheek, and a dry sob came out of my throat.
I remembered a picnic. Father was out of town, so it was only the two of us. We went to Oak Street Beach, and I was allowed to swim in the water, and I remembered how the warm sand felt when I walked through it right before a sharp twinge against the side of my foot occupied all of my attention.
There was blood on the sand next to the slender piece of green glass near my foot. I screeched in that way only a four year old can really accomplish, and she was there. She picked me up and held me tucked into her neck where I could smell her soft, powdery perfume, and everything was all right again.
It wasn't ever going to be all right again.
I stared at her lifeless face until the doctor's voice made its way back to me again.
"I'm sorry." He took my hand and placed it back on my own chest. "We have to go now."
I tried to make the words come out, to give her a proper goodbye, but there wasn't enough strength in my lips or enough breath in my lungs. Goodbye Mother, my mind called out to her, and I hoped from somewhere she could hear me.
The cold, hard arms were back – lifting me and holding me tightly against the doctor's chest. I could tell we were moving, and moving fairly quickly as well, but my eyes kept closing and it was getting harder and harder to keep them open. I was carried through a dark stairwell with dirty white walls and a musty, wet odor. I was cradled in the night doctor's arms, and he was running very swiftly, taking multiple steps at a time, yet I was not jarred in the slightest. I felt almost as steady as just laying on the cot, and were it not for the wind in my ears and against my skin, I might have doubted we were moving at all.
A door clanged open, and we raced out into the moonlight on the roof of the hospital. I could have sworn we were flying then.
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. I was lowered and placed back down on soft, comfortable cushions, but their softness was meaningless to my sore muscles. We weren't moving anymore, and the air had gone from fresh and cold to stuffy and cold. I took a quick, shallow breath; it hurt too much to take a deep one anymore.
"I'm sorry, Edward," the doctor said again. "There isn't any more time." His cold breath brushed against my throat. There was a sudden ache there – different from the other pains throughout my flu-ravaged body. This was sharp, and it was excruciating. I heard myself gasp and my eyes opened.
His head was bent over me, his mouth against my throat. Is…is he biting me? My head screamed and dizziness overwhelmed me for a moment before everything went black. Death…finally. Thank you, God. But the pain didn't stop – it just got warmer.
Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot.
Burning. Screaming. Burning. Screaming.
I must have gone to hell.
Story End Notes:
Hi there! I've had most of this written since before I started Hide and Drink. I finally thought I'd put it out there. Hit review and let me know what you think!
For more information on my other work, visit the blog at http:/shaysavage(dot)blogspot(dot)com/
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