Flesh & Blood

Chapter 18-Decay

A/N to follow chapter

"Ignore their faces. Remember, they aren't who you think they are. Not anymore."

It was a reminder to Emmett and Rose. As soon as we approached the clearing where the bunker was located, we heard the groans belonging to those who had been infected. I felt Rose's worry spike and knew she was concerned about Bella. Hell, we all were. She had been trapped down here for weeks, and although we knew she had plenty of supplies, we had no way of knowing just how well she was fairing. We had no choice, however. The town had needed us more than she did.

Bella had never been one to actually hide from danger, and we all knew it. She was more the type to run straight into it without a plan now and consequences be damned. We all hoped she had kept safe in the bunker, but knowing Bella - after being this isolated with no news - it was likely she tried to leave in order to help her father or any one of us.

We circled around, thankful that we were still faster than the majority of the infected. It seemed that only Edward and Charlie were as fast as us, with Alice coming in third. Carlisle wasn't sure why that was, but he was working hard in the lab to try and figure out how to stop this thing. When we reached the tree line of the clearing, I saw the Vanquish still sitting outside the little metal building and relief flooded me. If the car was still out here, it was likely that Bella had stayed put. It also meant she'd be safe until we cleared out the threats in the vicinity.

I couldn't see who was banging on the metal door to the bunker inside the building, but my heart fell when I spotted Alice mindlessly pounding her tiny fists on the little grate that perched on top of the shelter. I knew Em had spotted her as soon as he let loose a string of profanities under his breath and looked my way. We skidded to a silent halt at the edge of the trees, just as he turned toward me, eyeing me carefully, and then looked down at the newest crescent-shaped scar on his arm. One I had given him the night that Bella had entered the bunker.

He hadn't blamed me. Alice had been my wife and companion for decades. I knew I would mourn her once this was all over and done if Carlisle couldn't find a cure, but that wasn't something I wanted to think about just yet. After everything I had witnessed lately, I needed to hold on to any sliver of hope I could find.

When we rushed out of the house after Carlisle informed us that Edward was showing signs of the contagion, we were all full of the same disbelief. I had never heard of any illness or virus afflicting a vampire, and I had hoped that Carlisle's concern was overshadowing his reason. Even after we reached the woods behind Bella's house and caught the strange scent - of what we would soon learn was Charlie - and saw Alice standing there cradling her arm, I had trouble grasping the situation. I remembered that Emmett and Esme headed straight to Carlisle to get a better understanding of the situation while I tended to Ali.

I remembered how obvious it was that she was distressed. I couldn't wait to go find that brother of mine and literally rip him a new asshole for laying a hand on my wife, but that would have to wait. I sent Alice a good dose of calm and she looked up into my eyes, full of gratitude. But, there was still a river of sadness running through them.

"I'm fine, Jasper," her voice matching the uncertainty I could feel rolling off of her as she looked down at the wound on her arm.

"What? You're the empath now?" I had joked, trying to mask the worry she saw clearly in my eyes.

Shaking her head, she looked back up at me. Her eyes were wide, scared even, but there was so much more hidden there than just fear. "No, but I've known you long enough to know that look. I'll be fine," she said.

I didn't believe her.

"What have you seen?" It seemed like second nature to always ask what she had seen of the future. He visions, although not always concrete, were always helpful in guiding our decisions. We would need them now more than ever.

Her eyes glassed over, just like they always did when she slipped into the future, but she immediately started shaking her head. She did this for a few moments before they cleared and she focused back onto me, "Nothing."

"Nothing at all?" That was unusual.

"Just random, hazy images. Nothing definite or helpful," she trailed off, lost in her own thoughts, as Esme and Emmett approached us. "Nothing makes sense."

We were interrupted by our phones buzzing, all of us receiving a text from Carlisle. Charlie had escaped from the hospital and had managed to bite, and possibly infect, more people. It was imperative for us to find Charlie, Patient Zero, if Carlisle would have any chance of reverse engineering a cure. We had two monsters out there that we needed to round up, and the town was ripe with humans for them to infect. We needed bait. But I wanted to spend as much time with Alice as I could, so I formulated a plan while I sat and talked with my wife.

"Emmett, you and Esme go see if you can find scent trails for Edward or Charlie. If you find something, call or text immediately. If you don't, return back here. Make sure to stay together and be vigilant! I'll stay here and look after Alice. If anything changes, I'll let you know."

They both gave Alice a forlorn look and headed off to find any sign of Edward or Charlie.

I knelt down beside her and examined the damage to her arm. It looked like a savage bite mark; her skin was brutally mauled. If she were human, I would have compared it to a lion eating its prey. I hadn't seen damage like this to a vampire since the wars, and I couldn't help the worry that rolled off of me as I noticed the discoloration of the skin.

"Jasper?" The shaking of her voice pulled my attention away from the bite and back to her. I knew something was very wrong as I realized just how unwell she looked, which is damn near impossible for our kind. I focused more on her emotions and realized she was more scared than I had originally thought, and that terrified me.

"I don't know what this is or what is happening to everyone, but after seeing Charlie and Edward, I know that this isn't going to be good," she said, as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

I wrapped my arms around her and she leaned into me, clutching my shirt tightly. "It's going to be alright, Ali, you'll see." I wasn't sure if I was trying to convince her or myself, but it didn't seem to be working either way.

"You didn't see what happened to them, how... lost they were. It was like they didn't know who they were," she whispered, her voice still shaking. "I don't want to end up like that, but I know it's coming. I don't need a vision to tell me that I'm going to end up just like them. It's common sense. Charlie bit Edward, and then he bit me. I'm going to..."

"Alice, don't talk like that! You don't know for sure what is going to happen," I interrupted, trying to calm her.

"I have to tell you something, and I'm not sure how much time I have to tell you," she said as she lifted her head from my chest. I was startled to see how dark her eyes were, even though we had just hunted. Her skin was turning an odd green color and her eyes seemed out of focus.

Fuck, this can't be happening.

"Alice, I..."

"Just listen, Jasper, please," she begged, and the urgency that was now in her voice made me shut up and listen. If my heart would have still been beating, it'd be pumping a million miles a minute.

"You have to take care of them," as soon as the words were out of her mouth, my head shook back and forth. I didn't want to hear this right now, but she wasn't stopping.

"Especially Bella. Edward and I are unable to, and I know she'll need you. Please, take care of her." I watched as she pleaded with me, and although the words echoed through my head, my sole focus was on her face.

The whites of her eyes were starting to turn black, and her skin looked like it could crack open at any second. I was so overwhelmed with the site before me, I wasn't capable of responding properly. I didn't know what to do or say or think or... what the hell was happening?

"Alice," I started, trying to find the words to say but coming up remarkably fucking short.

Her body shook and her eyes began to dart around. I could tell she was trying to focus on me, but she was having a hard time doing so. I put my hands on the sides of her cheeks to help her focus as I injected the air around us with calm, for both of our sakes.

As soon as my hand made contact with her right cheek, her skin split open across her cheekbone. I snapped my hand back just as she let out a wicked growl. That shit had to hurt. I watched in shocked horror as venom began to leak out of the crack and down her neck, and an awful smell filled my nose. It was coming from her.

"Oh god, Jasper! Please just kill me! I don't want this to happen," her voice was strained. It sounded nothing like my wife. I stood quickly and took a step back, just in case she tried to bite me. This seemed to be how Edward and she had been injected with this thing, and I didn't want to take any chances.

This shit is happening, I thought. It's really fucking happening.

I was frozen in complete dismay at the fucked-up-ness of it all. My wife was infected with whatever Charlie and Edward had, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Then, a scent hit my nose, carried through the early morning breeze just as it had been many times before: the scent of a human. It was faint, but it was there, and I wasn't the only one who caught it. Alice's head shot up and her nostrils flared as she moaned and stood. Her reaction snapped me out of my dismay and sent me into motion.

I grabbed her from behind, pinning her arms to the side and picking her up so she couldn't follow the scent. It was ironic. The Cullens—especially Edward and Alice—had spent so much time keeping me from attacking humans, and now the tables were turned.

Her strength had waned slightly, something I would have to inform Carlisle of, otherwise I would have had more difficulty controlling her. She was struggling like mad, but even when I had to rearrange my grip I wasn't worried about her escaping. The surreal feeling had returned. I could not remember a time I had ever had to restrain Alice from anything, except maybe running my credit card up. Standing here now as she fought against the restraint of my arms, made me feel like I was having an out of body experience.

I don't know how long I held her struggling body against mine before I heard Esme and Emmett's return. They must not have found Charlie's or Edward's scent. Although I was disappointed with that, I couldn't deny the feelings of gratefulness that washed over me at their arrival.

Esme's paternal instincts kicked in as soon as she saw Alice. She ignored the danger Alice posed and stopped right in front of her, trying to put her hand on Alice's face in order to comfort her.

"Esme, don't!" I yelled trying to pull Alice further away from her, but it was too late.

Before I could move Alice a safe distance away, she turned her face, snapping at Esme. My mother pulled her hand back quickly as she let out a gasp, shocked that Alice would attempt to bite her, and I caught a good look at her forearm where there was a glistening bite that was oozing venom and a black oil-like substance.

It was too much. My wife and my mother. One had changed into a mindless drone and the other was probably carrying whatever this contagion was. I didn't know how we were going to be able to look for Charlie and keep track of both without getting bitten. But if we didn't look for Charlie, there was no chance of saving either of them.

"Emmett, what happened?" My tone was accusing, and he immediately looked down at his shoes. Yes, the women of our family could hold their own, but it made no difference. The male ego was strong, and defending the females of our coven was still engrained in all of our psyches.

"Edward found us. He's a fast fucker. We'd been tracking him for a while - just watching him and trying to figure out a way to capture him without getting bitten. Dude, he's lost his marbles. We saw him picking his nose, Jasper. Edward. Mr. Propriety picked his nose, and then humped a fucking boulder. Of course, this was after he ate someone. We came across the body after the fact. There was nothing we could do."

Esme shuddered. Whatever he'd done, it must not have been pretty. But after having Alice change and still struggling in my arms, my priorities were getting Esme and Alice help.

"When we tried to approach him, he took off. We were able track him until he hit the river. We lost his scent after that. Fuckwad's probably humping fish now," Emmett seemed to look off thoughtfully, causing me to roll my eyes and focus on the important tasks ahead.

"Esme, we need to get you to Carlisle right away. The change happens fairly quick. I'd say within the next hour or so. Let's get you to the hospital, and maybe Carlisle can help us figure out what to do from here."

Alice began struggling again - moaning and snapping at everything. I was grateful I was able to get a hold on her where she couldn't reach my skin. She'd probably try to bite me too, and fuck if I wanted to be found humping light poles and sticking my finger up my ass. I shivered at the thought.

"Jasper, I hate to say it, bro, but we seriously need to do something with Alice. There's no way we'll be able to just hold her forever. We need to find Edward and Charlie as soon as possible, and we'll need your help," Emmett said remorsefully.

"We need to get her to Carlisle, Emmett. Maybe he can help her," I said, knowing Carlisle would know what to do.

"We don't have time! We need to do something with her now, before we lose their scents completely."

"What do you suggest? It's not like I can just chain her to a tree for someone to find!" I snapped. What the fuck good would that do?

"Look, she's still a vampire - albeit a smelly, crazed one - but we can just dismember her ass, leaving her Milano Blancs'—or whatever the fuck they're called— in place, and then put her back together later on when we have a cure. Simple." He said as if it was the most brilliant plan ever. It just pissed me off.

Before I could protest, he made a move to grab her neck. I couldn't help the feelings of possessiveness that took over me. Alice might have been a little fucked up at the moment, but she was still my wife. .

I swirled her around to my right side, securing both her tiny arms in one of mine, and growled, "Back the fuck off, dude. You could kill her if you do that!" I was furious that he would even suggest it. We didn't know what side effects this contagion had. Judging from her lack of strength, there was a possibility she had lost more vampire abilities; regeneration being one of them.

Emmett must have lost his fucking mind, because he tried to dart around me and grab her neck again, bringing his hands insanely close to her teeth. I wasn't sure if I was protecting him or protecting Alice, but I couldn't stop myself from sinking my teeth into his forearm as I gripped Alice tighter, trying to keep her as far away from his as possible.

"What the fuck, Jasper?" he growled, snatching his hand back immediately. I saw a good bit of venom oozing from the wound and realized just how much I must have injected into him. That was going to hurt for a while.

"Emmett, we know nothing about this shit that she's carrying. I've already noticed she's lost a good bit of her strength. Who knows what other abilities she could have lost, including the ability to regenerate."

Esme watched on horrified at the exchange, but I could sense her agreement. She was starting to look a little sick, and I knew we didn't have much time. We needed to move now.

Emmett glared at me for a moment before I could feel his understanding settling in too. He continued to rub the bite mark I left on his forearm and hung his head, "You're right. We don't know anything. We should take her to Carlisle before we do anything."

He glanced at Esme, obviously noticing the subtle changes in her already, "I'm sorry, Jasper, but maybe we can talk about this later?"

I nodded before securing Alice a little better in arms. She was still struggling slightly, but the moans had calmed somewhat now that we couldn't smell the humans anymore. I was grateful for that at least.

"Just...keep your fucking hands to yourself, alright? I don't want you to end up bitten. Let's get a move on." I left no room for discussion. I was anxious to see Carlisle.

We headed off toward the hospital on foot, slower than we would normally have, but Alice had started to struggle again. If I had help from anyone carrying her, they would've run the risk of getting bitten and infected. I would rather be slow than worry about her harming someone else. I also didn't trust Emmett to get close enough to her at this point.

When we were halfway to the hospital, we heard someone running toward us at vampire speed. Both Esme and Emmett crouched, ready to attack if necessary. I loathed the fact that I had Alice in my arms because I was more battle-ready than both of them combined, but my fears were almost instantly allayed when we caught the scent of Rose approaching.

Emmett's relief cascaded over me at seeing his mate, and he gave her a huge hug before asking her, "Where the hell is Bella?"

Rose pulled away from him, narrowed her eyes and growled back, "She's fine! Safely locked away in the fallout shelter. We heard you fighting over the phone, and I couldn't bear the thought…" Her voice cracked and her features softened as she finished, "Are you okay?"

She was not only speaking to Emmett, but to me as well, eying Alice with a sadness in her eyes and looking at Esme with concern over her obviously ailing state. I could feel her despair. Rose would always fiercely defend her family - just as I would - but this was something that left both of us feeling helpless.

When Rose had been quickly filled in on the night's activities, we all headed off to the hospital in order to receive guidance and help from Carlisle. Esme was looking worse and slowing down, so Emmett picked her up and carried her in the same hold I was using on Alice. We hadn't made it another fifty meters before the sound of branches breaking under swift feet reached our ears and we stiffened once more. I could feel this person and their emotions told me they were frenzied.

Emmett quickly sat Esme on her feet and turned toward the threat, but Edward had already come out of the darkness, barreling directly into me. I lost my hold on Alice as Edward's jaw snapped millimeters away from my nose. I managed to push my knees up and flip him over me. I heard Emmett curse and felt a stab of pain from him, but I was too focused on Edward to pay attention to Em. I couldn't see any of my family, but I could feel them. They seemed fine at the moment, except for the fear and concern.

I focused on my target, and put the concern for my family out of my mind. I couldn't allow myself to get distracted since Edward was the greater threat at the moment. His features were more vampiric than Alice's, but he had a milky look to his eyes and his skin was slightly greyer. His speed was still there, which was my main concern at the moment. Unlike Alice, his emotions were strong. Whereas Alice's had become nothing but a dull hunger, Edward was focused, but rage with a touch of underlying fear was his dominant emotion.

I could see him eyeing me closely, but his eyes kept darting over to where Emmett, Esme and Rose were. I waited until he was distracted again, looking at the other three, before I lunged toward him, trying to get my arms around him.

But it was obvious that his mind reading abilities were still functioning on some level, because he managed to sidestep me at the last moment before taking off into the forest - his fight or flight instincts taking hold. I started to take off after him, but Rose called my name. I felt her urgency.

I waited until I could no longer hear his footsteps in the distance before I turned to my sister. She was bent down over Emmett, who had a fresh bite mark on the same hand that I had bitten him earlier. He looked up into my eyes and said, "Alice. She got away, bro. I'm sorry. I was focused on her, and then she bit me, and I fucking froze. Rose chased her for a bit, but circled back. And Esme's in no state to do shit right now. Fuck, she's not even yelling at me for my potty mouth."

He was right. Esme looked like shit. She was propped up against a tree. Her skin was grey and mottled already, and she looked so weak. I nodded once, irritated that Alice had escaped, but I planned to make her my number one priority once I reached Carlisle.

My eyes darted to Emmett's hand and noticed he was holding what looked like a piece of skin. He saw where my gaze was focused, and opened his hand, "Oh, that's gross," he said before I realized it was a piece of Alice's face. " A piece of it must have came off while I was trying to grab her."

I closed my eyes to focus. Although I could feel my undead heart breaking at the thought of her running loose, Alice would have to wait. If she was herself, she would be insistent that I tend to Esme and Emmett first, so that's what I planned on doing. Esme was the heart of our family. I didn't think any of us could bear the thought of losing her.

I could feel Rose's panic as she eyed her husband's bite mark. I flooded the area with calm, hoping it would be enough for her to focus. If Em started turning, we'd be in a world of hurt due to his strength, so I knew our only option was to keep our heads and find Carlisle.

"Come on. We don't have much time," I said, focusing on Esme, who was looking worse by the minute.

Fuck! I'm going to lose my whole family to this shit.

Rosalie was filled with worry, but it was manageable. I picked Esme up and continued on to the hospital. We were there in no time. We entered the front room, noticing it was filled with people. There had apparently been a four-car pileup just outside of town, so they were extremely busy. I wondered if it had anything to do with Edward or Alice, but my main concern was Esme and Em. We'd worry about Edward's destruction later.

The whole hospital smelled like death; the blood was most prominent. I could feel my bloodlust skyrocket, and stopped breathing immediately. I did everything I could to focus on my task to keep the thoughts of blood from running rampant.

No one paid us any attention as we entered. Since the staff was overwhelmed with others, we just made our way straight back to Carlisle's office, hoping to find him there. It was easy enough to recognize his voice just outside the intensive care unit.

"...get a good sample of his blood, I might be able to find a cure for this. It's the only way."

"We need you here, Dr. Cullen. If you haven't noticed, we're overrun with cases..."

"I understand that completely, Dr. Gerandy. However if we don't find the source of the contagion, then there will be no one left to look after the sick. I am an expert tracker and camper. I have the skills necessary to hunt him down. Finding Charlie Swan should be our top priority."

I could hear Carlisle's voice rising as we got closer, so I sent them both a wave of calm. He was going to need it when he figured out I was carrying his infected mate in my arms.

I knew he heard our approach, but he pretended not to notice us as we rounded the corner and came into view. I could also tell the exact moment he realized something was wrong with Esme. His shoulders stiffened, and his anxiety skyrocketed.

"Dad!" Emmett said to gain his attention, even if it was only for Dr. Gerandy's sake.

Carlisle spun around almost too quickly, and his eyes found Esme in my arms immediately. His eyes widened and a strangled gasp left his lips as he saw the state of his wife.

"She doesn't have long, Carlisle. I'm so sorry," I told him, too low for any human to hear.

"Esme..." was all he seemed capable of saying. I couldn't blame him. After seeing Alice going through the same thing, I understood all too well what he was feeling, even without my empathic abilities.

Esme moaned and started to twitch slightly in my arms. Carlisle's watched her thoughtfully for a few moments before hardening his expression and turning to Dr. Gerandy, "Fire me if you must, but my sole objective is to find a Charlie Swan and hopefully a cure. If you'll excuse me, Dr., I'll be on my way now."

With that he turned and scooped Esme out of my arms gently while whispering sweet, loving words. I cautioned him to be careful of her teeth; after all, the last thing we needed was for Carlisle to be changed. He was our only hope, but I knew better than to try and part him from his mate. We made our way to the parking garage and to Carlisle's Mercedes. I offered to drive so Rose could take care of Emmett. He wasn't showing signs of the change yet, but I knew it would be a matter of time. Emmett filled Carlisle in on all that happened as we made our way home.

I drove as fast as I could as Esme's moans grew louder. It broke my heart to witness her suffering. She was the closest thing to a mother I had ever had - well, at least that I could remember. She deserved this pain and suffering the least out of all of us.

I pulled into the garage quickly. We all piled out, entering the house in silence with the exception of Esme's moans. It wasn't long after that she began thrashing wildly in his arms. I could feel his sadness and heartbreak, but also his determination as he held her tightly against his chest. He would find cure, if for no other reason than to save Esme. I was sure of it.

We all stood quietly in the living room watching the man we all looked up to, the head of our family, trying his best not to break down. We knew he needed a little time to come to terms with what had happened and we gave him that. I had to give him credit. He was the epitome of calm on the outside aside from the heartbroken expression he wore, but on the inside, he was a mess. I kept monitoring Emmett's emotions and demeanor because Carlisle was too preoccupied with Esme to pay Emmett any notice - not that I blamed him.

I sent small doses of calm toward Carlisle to help with his grief. I knew the stoic head of our family was having difficulty wading through all of the recent tragedies, but we needed him here if we were going to survive this. At the same time, I didn't want to push him too hard, so I kept quiet and waited for his instructions. After several long minutes his emotions shifted, matching how he normally felt when he was in his lab, and I knew his head was finally in the right place.

"It was the cure," he nearly whispered, even for our hearing.

"What do you mean?" Emmett asked hopefully. "You know what will cure this?"

"No, I mean it was the venom research I was conducting to return Edward to his human self. I'm absolutely sure of it… When Charlie arrived bleeding, my first thought was to staunch the blood flow so none of the family would be tempted by the scent. I was cleaning up in the basement and wiped my hands on my trousers, but it wasn't enough. This is my fault," he closed his eyes and gripped Esme a little tighter.

"You can't..." Rosalie said, but you Carlisle cut her off.

"Rose, please, I know there is no point in placing blame now, but this helps me understand this a little better." He wasn't leaving any room for argument. He was going to take the blame on himself, and there was nothing we could do to prevent that.

We waited patiently for him to continue his line of thought. His emotions made me hopeful, because he was feeling like he was going in the right direction. He started to move towards the basement stairs while he continued.

"I'm hypothesizing here, but I believe that the contagion is diluted with every bite. Charlie has the most potent contagion in his system, and Edward is the next potent. It is quite possible that the amount of contagion in his venom did not have time to regenerate, or the contagion has a very short half-life. I will have to do more study. Thankfully, Esme is weak enough to detain."

Carlisle looked upon his mate with unshed tears of venom in his eyes. Emmett and I helped him carry her down to the basement, and neither Carlisle nor I protested since Em seemed to be doing fine. As we entered the area where this fucking mess all started, Rose went upstairs and carried down the mattress and bed frame from her room. We quickly assembled it while Carlisle restrained Esme. Once it was all set up, he placed her on the bed and we used some of Rose's tow cable from the garage to tie her to the mattress. As painful as it was to see her like this, at least she would be safe. Hopefully, Carlisle could study her and find a cure for this shit.

Once she was as comfortable as we could make her in her current state, Carlisle turned to Emmett who was standing to the side, feeling depressed and helpless as he waited for the change to take hold on him. Carlisle examined him thoughtfully for a moment before asking him how he felt.

"I feel fine," Emmett answered in confusion.

"I believe if you were infected, the contagion would have shown some signs by now. I would like to take a venom sample and have Rosalie keep an eye on you for a while to be sure, but I believe it's safe to say that you dodged a bullet, son."

Relief flowed through me. Some of it was my own, and the rest belonged to Em and Rose. If Emmett wasn't infected, we could only hope that this contagion would run its course once we had Charlie, Edward and Alice under wraps, somehow. Right now, I didn't see a way - other than final death - to control them. They weren't like Esme. Unless we could trap them somewhere…

As for any others that had become infected, if they were weak, it would be best to keep them away from the uninfected and round them up. As Carlisle took swabs and samples from Emmett's mouth and around the bite Alice had inflicted, I started formulating a plan of attack.

"I think I have a way to round up some of the infected, Carlisle. I would suggest that Emmett and Rose go to search for Charlie, Edward and Alice, while I gather intel."

He opened up his mouth to argue, so I sent him a good dose of determination. We had to find out more, and the only way we could do that is if we gathered information while searching for the others. He finally nodded, agreeing to my plan.

"Rose and Em, stay together. If you come across Charlie or Edward and you think they're going to turn on you, run. Don't try to take them down and run the chance of getting infected. You've been lucky once, Em, but we need you both."

Carlisle piped in, "I took tissue samples from those that were bitten at the hospital, but I need as many as possible to come up with a plausible explanation as to why some show vampiric qualities, yet others' abilities and bodies are decaying at an increased rate. Be prudent, but if you can procure samples without putting yourselves in harm's way, then please do so. We must contain this contagion, so I shall call Dr. Gerandy and insist on a quarantine order. The uninfected can stay in their homes, and hopefully be escorted to a safe area soon."

We all agreed that this was the best course of action, so we headed out with a last warning for Carlisle to be careful with Esme. We couldn't risk our only hope getting the contagion. If anyone was to figure out a way to reverse this thing, it would be Carlisle.

As soon as the metal shutters were down, and the house was as impenetrable as it could get, we separated. Em and Rose set off to run a perimeter around Forks, trying to locate the general vicinity of the three menaces that were running loose. Once they were off, I began searching for Alice. I remembered the amount of bloodlust Alice feltwhen she caught the whiff of human earlier, so I figured she'd already killed by now. I decided to follow her scent and see if I could find any casualties. It didn't take long. Alice was running off of the need to feed, so she hadn't ventured far before finding her first meal.

It was Mrs. Cope. She was spread eagle on her kitchen floor with her throat ripped out and her right arm completely detached from her body. Tiny bits of skin had been flayed off of her cheek when Alice had bitten into it, ripping out a large chunk of flesh. Her arm was discarded near the door; the meat had been ripped clean off.

Even as the smell of blood hit the air, I noticed my bloodlust was minimal. The smell that emitted from her rotting flesh was enough to make me want to gag if such a thing were possible. I was thankful for that, but it was the realization that Alice was no longer partaking in just blood, but eating the flesh of her victims that made me want to vomit.

The part that concerned me the most was that the decaying odor that hung in the air was emanating from Mrs. Cope. She was changing. Even in her current state, I had no doubt she would become like Alice and Edward. She would be perfect for what I had planned. I stripped the sheet off of her bed and quickly dismembered the rest of her body and then wrapped her up and threw her over my shoulder.

I knew I would most likely be able to catch up with Alice if I followed her directly, but Carlisle had made it abundantly clear that he needed Charlie to fix any of this. I couldn't feel her hunger in the vicinity, just pain from the humans in the area. I weighed my options, and then continued on my path to set up a trap, knowing I could call Emmett and Rose as soon as I was done to try to round them up separately.

I went into her garage and gathered supplies that I would need, and then I checked the houses in the vicinity that had people in pain. Sure enough, I found more going through the change, so I gathered up as many victims as I could carry before heading deeper into the forest. As I ran, I discarded body parts to leave a trail of breadcrumbs. If they did crave flesh, then they'd fall directly into my trap. I found an area with Rose and Emmett's recent scent, but also faint trails from Edward and Alice. They had both been through here at least once; Edward multiple times.

I threw everything on the ground and got to work. I took a rope and hung Mrs. Cope's parts up in the trees just out of reach, then went and tracked a mountain lion and a fox. They were Edward's and Alice's favorites, so I hoped the smell would entice them if they still craved blood. I ripped the animals open and scattered their blood around the area, hanging their flesh from the trees just like I had done with the high school secretary. I laid the untouched body of another human—an elderly man I wasn't familiar with—on the ground in the middle of the circle. He seemed to be going through some sort of change and I wanted to witness it.

I called Emmett and told him where to meet me. If we were going to have a live one on our hands, along with the others I hoped to attract, then I was going to need help. As they approached, I could feel Emmett's and Rose's disgust as they took in the sight of my bait, but this was the easiest way to entice them to us.

"I didn't kill Mrs. Cope. I found her in her home. From the smell of her, she was starting to change, so be careful around her fluids. Did you find anything?"

The fact that I hadn't killed her seemed to placate them slightly. Of course, I didn't tell them who had killed her or that I dismembered her. I changed the subject because I wanted to know if there was a discernible pattern that those with the contagion were following, or if they were running around like newly-changed newborns feeding at will.

"No, man. We followed Zombie Edward's scent for a while, but he seems to be running around with no pattern whatsoever - not even toward the town - while Zombie Charlie and Zombie Alice are doing just the opposite."

I cocked my head at Emmett's use of the word 'zombie'. "Well, I haven't had contact with Charlie yet, but there's something different about Edward's emotions compared to Alice's. Alice is more…" I choked on the last word, "…dead. I know from our encounter earlier that Edward still had brain function and is pissed. But he ran off - either because his instincts told him we were a threat or because he is fighting whatever this is. Hell, if anyone could repress their instincts enough to try and hide, it would be Edward. He's had so much practice, which means he isn't our main concern. Or, he's off humping boulders again. Either way, let's focus on Alice and Charlie. Oh, and zombie, Emmett? Really?"

I could feel his conviction with a touch of amusement. Only Em could find humor in this situation. He smiled and crossed his arms over his broad chest. "Yes, Jasper. Really. They moan a lot from what I've heard. If you look at what's left of Mrs. Cope, it's obvious they eat flesh. They smell like death. All of the signs are there, well, except for dancing with Michael Jackson, Thriller style. They're zombies, dude."

I just shook my head at his last comment, but he was right. The description of zombies did fit. I thought back to the smell of Mrs. Cope when I found her and her current smell. It had changed. She smelled more like a corpse than the man on the ground, whose zombie scent was getting more pronounced by the minute. It made me wonder.

"Em, I'm sure Mrs. Cope was changing before I dismembered her fully," Rosalie cringed, but I ignored it. "I wonder if decapitation works like in the mythology?"

He shrugged, "Well, there's only one way to find out, bro. When wrinkled balls here wakes up and goes all Captain Cannibal on us, we can help him lose his head."

"Wrinkled balls, Emmett?" Rose crossed her arms and rolled her eyes at him.

"Yeah, if you haven't noticed, he's wearing a bathrobe and his old, wrinkled balls are hanging out the side of his boxers. Jasper didn't cover them up because he loves the cock."

As Emmett began chuckling at his joke, Rosalie swung her arm up quickly and whacked him on the back of the head. He cringed and rubbed the spot she'd smacked, while I stuck my foot out and covered up the man's genitals with his robe.

Sure enough, we didn't have to wait long before I felt a bunch of hungry fuckers heading our way, just as the man lying on the forest floor started to stir. Em pushed Rose behind him as the man's eyes flew open. He moaned as he sat up awkwardly. He fumbled until he was on his knees and began crawling toward me: his nearest target. Black ooze was pouring from his mouth, but he was moving slower than any of the others that I'd come across. He reached out tentatively and tried to grab my pants, but I stepped back out of his reach as Emmett pounced on him from behind and wrenched his head from his shoulders.

What we weren't expecting was for gallons of the fucking black substance to shoot out of him like arterial spray. All three of us ducked and covered to avoid ingesting any of the shit. After his tank was empty, I stood up first and gave the all clear. Emmett stood, shocked, and covered from head to toe in the black fluid.

"Hurry to the stream and wash that shit off, Em! Now!"

He and Rose dashed off into the forest toward the stream. I contemplated taking my shirt off since it had spots of the goo on it, but it wasn't too bad and from what I was sensing, more of the fuckers were heading this way. As fast as Alice had went through people in the town, I wondered if it would even be possible to stop the contagion from spreading, if there were any hope at all.

Charlie and Edward had both bitten others, but at the same time, they hadn't went on a feeding frenzy in town - that we knew of yet - so why was Alice so different? Why was she slower and hungrier? Could we stop these bastards before the contagion spread?

I couldn't help but feel that this was all my fault. If I would have had the courage to dispose of Alice when she was changing -when she begged me to kill her, Iadded in the back of my mind- this wouldn't have happened. I couldn't bear the thought of living without the one person who taught me to love, who taught me that there was a life for me outside of torture and killing, and it had cost this town dearly.

I saw the first zombies shuffling toward me, and I could tell that they were more of the same. Slow, decaying, and basically fitting the normal description of a zombie. There were seven of them. Two were children.

One thing was certain, if any of these things were in the vicinity, I better stay away from humans. Their overabundance of hunger was making my body shake with need. I heard heartbeats nearby and before I could register what I was doing, I took off in their direction, ignoring the zombies completely due to my overwhelming need for blood.

Thankfully, the heartbeats were a herd of deer. I drained three before being able to gather my senses enough to focus on my previous task: rounding up the zombies and finding Charlie.

As I hurried back to the bait, I wondered if it would ever be possible to find a cure for this shit. Carlisle wouldn't rest until he found a cure or everyone who had been turned by this contagion had found final death. But how long would it take? They were obviously decaying, so could their flesh be regenerated? I knew that if you were injured as a human before the change, a vampire's venom could regenerate the damaged tissues even if scarring had already occurred. But could anything turn rotted, decayed flesh into healthy flesh once more?

I wondered if Carlisle would be upset with me for the decision that was solidifying in my mind. Yes, we should save as many as we could, but if we removed the threat by culling the herd, then more people that were unchanged would have a greater chance of surviving. The hope for those changed was slim now as it was. Although I prayed that Alice and Esme could be returned to their vampiric state through regeneration, I didn't believe these humans had any hope.

Their slow, shuffling movements meant that none of them had made it to my trap yet, so I acted quickly, before Rosalie could return and protest. I could almost hear her berating me because every human life was precious, but at the same time, even she had to admit that these things were not human anymore and death would be a gift to them. I attacked the children first, hoping to have their remains disposed of before she returned. I killed quickly, removing their heads, grateful that their hunger was so strong they felt no pain. I went through the rest of them and had a fire started and the children's remains destroyed before she and Emmett returned.

I did a double take at Em as he entered the clearing, wearing nothing but a pair of briefs that had little pink hearts all over them with the words "hot stuff" embossed in gold over the hearts. I just shook my head.

"What? It's not like I was going to keep wearing the clothes with zombie snot all over them. I'll go pick up new clothes later so you won't be tempted by my sexiness, since we all know you love the cock."

Rose stepped forward, ignoring her husband's idiocy, and pointed to the fire as she sent me curiosity.

"These aren't much of a threat right now, Rose. It seems that the ones Alice has turned are all slow and barely functioning. The smell of death is so strong in them, they aren't healing, as you can see from Alice's bite marks, and they constantly ooze that black shit. I figured if we're going to try and contain this shit and save the people we can save, then burning the bodies in order to destroy the contagion is our best bet."

I could feel her sadness and revulsion. She didn't want to kill these things any more than I did, but she was thinking from an emotional point of view, where I was trying to come from a tactical perspective. At least she didn't have all of their deaths weighing on her shoulders like I did.

"Look, I take full responsibility for these deaths. We can take these samples to Carlisle, and he can tell us if I did the right thing or not. If he says there's hope for them, we can round them up and put them…somewhere."

"Jasper, I trust you and your judgment, but I would like to get Carlisle's opinion. I just think it's too soon - just in case Carlisle can find a cure. We should be out hunting down Alice since it's obviously her going on a killing spree in town at the moment. Then, we can find Edward and Charlie."

We ran off toward town, but before we even reached the epicenter of the attacks, I could feel the bloodlust slam into me full force. It was like a wrecking ball, and I was soon lost to the hunger. When I came to, we were in the forest, and there were half a dozen animal carcasses strewn around me. Emmett was nursing yet another bite from me, and Rosalie was disheveled: her shirt torn and her hair a mess.

"What happened?" I asked in complete shock.

Emmett still had his arms wrapped around my torso, not trusting that I was in enough control of myself to be released.

"You lost it, dude. I don't know what happened to you, but you started snarling and going fucking nuts. At first we thought you'd been bitten, but we didn't see any marks and figured you'd tell us if you had. Then Rose thought maybe it was bloodlust, so we brought you out here to get you a snack."

"Did I kill anyone this time?" Emmett finally decided that I was docile enough to release, so he let go and went to stand next to his wife. I crouched down and rubbed my face, trying to get a grasp of the entire, overwhelming situation.

Rose answered my question. "No. We managed to restrain you before you could, but it was close. What the hell happened back there?"

I looked at my sister. You didn't have to be an empath to see the concern and worry in her eyes. I hated that I had put it there after all we'd already been through.

"When they turn, they're only hungry. And it's a hunger that is so overwhelming, I just can't describe it, Rose. I lost myself to it, and I'm sorry. I think I'm going to have to feed before we head into a group of them, and if there are humans around, I need to avoid the area completely. I'm so sorry."

"Well, fuck, that complicates things a bit, doesn't it? I say we head back to Carlisle and tell him what's going on and regroup. We don't need you running around acting like the town's full of double-chocolate chips and you're the cookie monster."

Knowing we couldn't do any more right now, we headed back toward home, hoping that Carlisle might have found something while we were playing Rambo in the woods. It was easy to see that shit was quickly getting out of hand. Once again, I was the weakest link in the family due to my ability. I had to figure out a way to get my shit under control, otherwise I'd be more of a hindrance to them.


Alice had disappeared off of the grid, which was good because it meant she wasn't eating any townsfolk, but at the same time, we were concerned she'd pop up somewhere halfway across the country. The news reports didn't indicate this, though. There were no outbreaks anywhere but in our small county. Since there was a containment area surrounding it, we knew it was likely that this outbreak would stay contained if we could keep the fast fuckers under control.

We'd come across four that Charlie or Edward had fed from in the last week. Four fast fuckers, and that was four too many. All of them were still slower than Edward or Charlie, and although they resembled vampires, it was to a lesser degree. The only consolation was that it seemed that Charlie and Edward had to feed less than the others. It meant we had fewer fast fuckers running around. Working together, Rose, Em and I had easily been able to destroy them, but we still couldn't keep the shit from spreading.

The slow fuckers were breeding like mad before the containment. Now, most of the humans had holed up inside their houses, so even if the slow ones approached them, they weren't able to break in. The only problem stemmed from the fact that the slow ones seemed to latch onto a specific scent, and they wouldn't stop until they reached it. Since most of the humans were now confined to their houses, it meant there were a fuckton of slow ones in localized areas, unwilling to leave the scent of their preferred prey. It also meant that it was too dangerous for me to go into town without the risk of losing my shit. If we found a house that had been broken into on the outskirts, it was either Charlie, Edward, or the ones they'd spawned.

Carlisle hadn't protested when we told him that I destroyed some by fire. It was inevitable, and although I felt his guilt, he just asked us to use discretion. If they weren't a threat to a living being and they were not to the point of putrefaction, we should leave them in case he found a cure.

The zombies were slowing down even more, the stronger ones cannibalizing the weaker of their species. It looked like they needed the flesh as sustenance. Somehow it slowed the decay process. All in all, there were still about two hundred of the fuckers running loose, but until we could figure out a way for me to be unaffected by their hunger, we let them take over the town. Carlisle insisted it was just too dangerous to go into a concentrated area with just Rose and Em, since they didn't have the same "training" I'd had. He didn't want to lose any more of his family, and none of us blamed him. Thankfully, we had been able to help some of the families on the outskirts of Forks where the bloodlust didn't affect me as much.

We were all concerned about Bella, but we knew she was safe if she stayed put. At first we were just too damn busy to go after her, and then when we realized the fuckers latched onto a scent, it was too dangerous to try and retrieve her. If we led one to her, they'd do anything to track her if they liked the way she smelled. All of us knew she smelled heavenly to our kind; with her luck, she'd be zombie catnip as well. The slower zombies didn't stand a chance of breaking into the bunker, but Edward and Charlie could.

We knew Edward wanted her scent. When Emmett and Rose had left to "procure" more weapons from the outfitters store, they returned with tales of Bella's house ripped apart. Edward's new scent was the only discernable one within the house, and we knew it was imperative to keep him away from her. I spent every hour I could tracking him - making sure he didn't wander toward Hoquiam. I ended up taking some of her things and leaving false scent trails all over the area, leading him everywhere but Hoquiam. It was all we could do until we found a cure. Unless we sent him to his final death, and I just couldn't do that to Bella. I knew what it felt like to lose a mate to this shit, and I'd do everything in my power to keep her from feeling the same.

Carlisle had taken to feeding Esme animal flesh, which sustained her, and with some of her vampiric abilities still intact, she was able to keep regenerating. It gave all of us hope, but it still wasn't enough.

Charlie was a fast and stealthy fucker, and he seemed to know that we were after him. Whenever we'd get close, he'd run into town where we didn't follow. Carlisle had ordered all three of us to stay out of the town at all costs for now. He'd called the Denalis to ask for assistance, but Tanya had politely refused, unwilling to risk her coven's demise.

Now that the town had made news worldwide, it was just a matter of time before the Volturi descended and ripped all of us a new asshole. Personally, I was surprised they hadn't shown up yet.

Although, we should be upset with Tanya for not helping us when we needed it, Carlisle came up with another way for them to assist us without endangering themselves. He suggested we retrieve Bella, so Rosalie could take her to Alaska until this was sorted out. At least she would be safe from the Volturi and from the zombies. His plan required him to leave Esme long enough to leave some fresh Bella scent trails, giving us some time without having to worry about Edward, but he was willing.

None of us liked the idea of Carlisle heading out on his own. We argued relentlessly until he stated categorically that he would not leave Esme behind and that all three of us would be needed to guarantee Bella's safe arrival in Alaska. He logically added that he had been left alone many times in the house with Esme and as head of the Cullen family, it was his decision to make. It seemed to be the only way.

Still grumbling, we agreed and began formulating a plan of extraction for Bella and how to get her out of the containment area. The last part was easiest. It was impossible for them to cover every inch of the area around Forks due to the mountains and forest, so it would be fairly simple for us to run her out of the area, and then procure transportation. But we had no clue on how to get her out of the bunker if there were unfriendlies around. Especially since they put me in a state of bloodlust where I wouldn't think twice about attacking Bella.

Carlisle seemed sure that since I thought of her as family, I wouldn't be capable of harming her, but I had my doubts. Em and I spent an entire day hunting and gorging ourselves, just to put my mind at ease. I couldn't help but blame myself for so much, and if I attacked Bella, I was afraid I'd never be able to forgive myself.

None of us had expected this turn of events, and every member of the family blamed themselves for one reason or another. Carlisle blamed himself for not washing his hands when Charlie walked up to our doorstep with fresh blood pouring from his wound. I blamed myself because Carlisle had just been trying to cover the smell of blood by immediately attending to his wound, since I was in the house when he arrived. Emmett blamed himself because we were supposed to be on a hunting trip, but he had backed out at the last minute because of a silly argument with Rosalie. Rose blamed herself because the research was initially meant for her benefit, although she had asked for it to be discontinued when she found her mate. Maybe the blame rested with all of us for allowing a human to become close to our family. No matter what, we were all suffering for our mistakes.

And Bella had probably suffered the most. Locked up in a shelter with no news, wondering how we were all coping. We had debated going to check on her a few times, but the fact that we could be leading anyone to her hideout was reason enough to stay away until we were ready to grab her for good. Not to mention we had been too damn busy chopping the heads off of people like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only with zombies instead of college students.

So here we sat, in the forest, ready to rescue her from her underground hell. I could feel the hunger of the zombies, but it was controllable at the moment. I scanned the perimeter as Emmett put the finishing touches on his small homemade bomb. It amazed me sometimes how Carlisle could use his vampiric knowledge for good as a Doctor, but Emmett used his to blow shit up.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked with concern. I didn't answer him. Of course I didn't want to destroy my mate, but there was no other way. Her face was merely bone now from all of the decay, and the rest of her body wasn't much better. Testing her emotions, as well as the others, I knew they were all dead inside. That was not my wife banging on the air shaft to eat Bella alive. I knew Alice better than anyone, and I knew she would not want to survive like this. Unshed tears of venom pooled in my eyes as I tried to convince myself that there was no other way.

"Let's do it," he said, as we started to make our way towards the shelter. Emmett lit the end of one of the bombs and handed it to me, just as he made quick work of the other two and handed one to Rose.

"Aim for the ones on the bottom. We can get Alice separately after these are taken care of," I ordered, knowing that it would fall on my hands to destroy her. I cleared my mind as I threw my bottle at the largest group of zombies near the door. They never saw it coming, and they were blown to bits by the explosion.

Emmett and Rosalie threw theirs at two smaller groups: one near a tree and the other clawing at the Vanquish, probably because of Bella's lingering scent. I felt Rose's horror as the flames from Emmett's bomb engulfed the Vanquish, setting off a secondary explosion as the car's fuel line melted. Emmett had a smile ear to ear on his face until Rose gave him a look that could kill, then he replaced his smile with one more fitting of a funeral.

It had not escaped my notice that Alice hadn't even flinched as each of the bombs went off. She continued to bang on the grate, her rotted skin and muscle peeling off from her hands more every time they made contact with the metal. We dismembered the remaining horde and tossed them into the Vanquish funeral pyre.

Once they were all taken care of, I quickly made my way to the grate where Alice was still trying to get inside. I didn't want Rosalie or Emmett to have this on their conscience. I would take sole responsibility for killing Alice. My Alice.

My chest tightened as I took in her appearance. This was the woman who had given me so much hope in a life full of darkness, but I knew we weren't meant to be, no matter how much I cared for her. It would be painful to let her go, but if she had been my true mate - that one in a million vampire that was made just for me - it would be physically impossible for me to grab her neck and twist her head off her shoulders.

And that's exactly what I did.

A strangled sob threatened to leave my lips as I threw her body into the fire along with the rest of the zombie clan, but I held that shit in, knowing it would do me no good to mourn someone who was no longer in that body. Alice had died the moment she had been bitten. I hadn't realized that I had already accepted that.

I stood watching the fire while Rose and Em gathered up all the small pieces that had been blown from the bodies during the blasts. As heartbroken as I was, I couldn't help but feel more peaceful from the lack of the zombie's bloodlust. At least I had one thing to be thankful for. I had always liked to be the guy who saw the glass half full or some such bullshit.

"Let's get inside and see how Bella is doing," Rosalie said, breaking me out of my thoughts. I had been so focused on the task at hand that I had nearly forgotten she was inside.

I made my way to the front door of the bunker and moved some debris out of the way to make my way inside. We descended the stairs to the actual shelter before reaching the large door that separated us from the small human girl who meant so much to our family.

I knocked and called out her name several times, but there was no answer. If it weren't for her faint heartbeat, I might have panicked, but Rosalie filled us in on how she informed Bella not to open the door for anyone until she returned. Thinking she might be scared we had turned into zombiepires as well, I decided to use the crowbar in the tool cabinet beside the door to pry it open.

It took some leverage, but I was finally able to pry the door open just enough for us to squeeze through. I almost wished I hadn't, because as soon as the door opened slightly, we were assaulted with a smell almost as bad as the zombies'. It smelled like a fucking porta-potty, only so much worse.

Holding our breath, we each made our way inside. I don't think any of us were prepared for what we found. Bella was curled up on the floor with a small smile on her face and an empty bottle of bleach in her hand.

"What the motherfuck..." Emmett gasped as he took her in.

Her neck had dried blood running down each side and her ears were swollen. It was obvious the blood was from the large wounds in her ears, but what the fuck could that have come from? I looked around quickly to make sure one of the zombies hadn't been able to enter, only to find the room clear.

"Bella?" I called to her, but she didn't even flinch. Her emotions gave no indication that she even registered our presence.

"I don't think she can hear us," Rosalie said, just as she held up a pen with pieces of flesh, hair and dry blood wrapped around it. "Did she do this to herself?"

"My God..." I couldn't wrap my head around why she would stab a pen through her fucking brain, "What would make her do that?" I asked as I knelt beside her to get a better look at her injuries.

"It's zombie warfare," Emmett said seriously, as he stared at his sister in shock.

After I examined her ears, I looked her over for any other wounds, trying to breath as little as possible the smell that swirled around us. It was coming from an old surplus toilet barrel that Emmett had stuck in here for only God knows what reason. Probably to keep up appearances when ordering the supplies so many years ago.

"What are you going on about?" Rose snapped, clearly annoyed that he might be making jokes right now.

"I'm serious, baby. It's a form of psychological warfare, even if it is done unconsciously by the zombies," he said in a huff as if we were just completely stupid. "Think about staying in a dark, damp, shit smelling, rat hole for weeks on end and having to hear the moans and bangs and... what the fuck else those things were doing up there constantly. You'd stab your ear drums out too after so long."

As Emmett continued to "school" us in "zombie survival", I noticed the smell of bleach was strongest on Bella's clothing. But the most noticeable thing about her was the cracking around her eyelids. Upon a closer look, I could see a white film forming on her partially opened eyes. It almost looked as if someone had poured acid...

"She poured bleach in her eyes," I gasped just as I realized what she had done.

"Fuck!" Emmett turned back towards the door as grief overtook us all.

"Why would she do that?" Rosalie sobbed and came to sit on the other side of Bella. We were both too scared to touch her out of fear of causing her more harm, so we just sat and listened to her steady heartbeat, lost in our own thoughts.

Bella moved slightly, breaking us out of our thoughts, and Rose, not being able to take it any longer, gently touched her arm. Bella flinched at first, opening her mouth as if to scream, but Rosalie's long hair had fallen over her shoulder and slid lightly across Bella's face as she leaned over her. It could have been the smell of her shampoo or anything really, but Bella barely mouthed the word "Rose", before reaching up to clasp her hand.

Rosalie knew Bella couldn't hear her, but that didn't stop her from dry sobbing as she asked her for forgiveness over and over and gently scooped Bella up in her arms to cradle her. Bella continued to clasp Rosalie's hand tightly, but otherwise stayed completely still. She seemed confused but also relieved by her sister's sudden presence.

I had been keeping tabs on everyone's emotions at the moment, but then, I caught the distinct feeling of… more. Anger, hate, rage in large quantities. It was either Charlie or Edward and we were all down in this hole in the ground with Bella - trapped. It wasn't a good position to be in. We could dig our way out, but if any rubble fell upon us, it quite possibly could kill Bella.

"Shut the fucking door now, Emmett!" My yell echoed around the tiny room, and he jumped into action, slamming the door and locking it just as the emotions stopped directly overhead.

I knew whoever it was could probably hear Bella's heartbeat and smell our scent, but if they tried to burrow down to us, we'd be prepared. Rose could shelter Bella and we could take down the intruder. But Rose and Emmett had seen Edward humping rocks, so it was quite likely that the intruder's reasoning skills were no longer completely intact, which meant they'd be less likely to find a way inside. I also started thinking about Carlisle. If it was Edward that meant there was a distinct possibility that Carlisle was hurt or bitten.

Whatever the case, we were trapped for the time being in a small, enclosed area. Three vampires and a human.

"If you have any ideas, now would be the time to voice them. We have Edward or Charlie directly above us. If they burrow down, we'll have no choice but to fight. Otherwise, we're stuck in here with Bella until one of us starts looking at her like she's the last twinkie on earth. If we try to run for it, Bella could get hurt even worse than what she's inflicted on herself. So, I'm plum out of ideas."

Rose looked at me from her position on the floor where she was still cradling her human sister. The sister that was running her hands up and down Rose's cold arms, relishing in the fact that someone was with her.

The words that came out of Rose's mouth shocked both me and Emmett, but the determination behind her voice was unwavering.

"We change her."

"Great idea, babe, but none of us has successfully changed a human before."

I cleared my throat and looked to my brother. "I have, Em. Many times when I was with Maria. I've fed enough that I think I can do it, but I want you behind me to pull me off if necessary. If we all agree this is what Bella would want."

The truth was that we had no idea what she would want because she couldn't communicate with us. But if there was any chance of helping her, changing her would be it. Her eyes and ears would be restored. Hopefully, her insanity was temporary. We'd have to worry about controlling a newborn, but she'd be the fastest and strongest out of all of us. It would definitely give us an advantage over Edward and Charlie.

Rosalie nodded once and looked toward Emmett. He looked solemn, but he nodded as well. I crossed the room and took a deep breath, filling my senses with the smell of her shit and piss, so I'd smell and taste that instead of paying attention to her blood.

Emmett put his hands on my shoulders as I leaned over, kissed her neck, and then sank my teeth into her jugular.

A/N: First off, thank you so much to everyone who voted for us in the Gem Awards. We won Best Overall, Best Cliffhanger, and Best Banner. You all rock. Thank you so much for your support for this story. We also both individually won some shit, and we thank you for that too.

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