A/N: Happy official one hundred chapters! If I haven't said it enough, I'll say it again, thank you all so much for the continuing support. I can't believe we have reached one hundred. This chapter is split into two, the main story and then there is a little extra tagged on the end. This extra, can almost be seen as a standalone. Like a flashback for you guys, the readers. But Bella still knows nothing. It's something I have been contemplating over for a while, bits written here and there. But I finally finished writing it….and decided to add it to another milestone. Hope you enjoy.
silverhawk88: Thank you very much! It's taken a while but we've finally reached it.
trit19: Emmett and school just go hand in hand. He's very laid back, most probably makes friends incredibly easily. Undoubtedly the jock type. The others don't quite have the skills to match Emmett. Thanks for the review.
vxgt: Thank you so much. I'm so glad my exams are over, I get my results next week…so that will be an interesting prospect. Hope you enjoy this chapter too!
viola1701e: Two years of unneeded school is just painful, while it does make small town living easier… I would hate to have to go back. Especially when you are the same age or older than most of the teachers. As part of the research I read an old home economics textbook from the fifties…it makes for painful reading. The roles of females at the time were so closed. Thanks for reviewing.
Guest: Ohhh, I can't possibly indulge the plot away. But George will be making a return… so if you read between the lines. But don't worry, she's still none the wiser about her past. So you've not missed anything. Bella does love Edward as much as he loves her; I blame my poor romance writing skills if it's coming off one sided. It's never been my strong point. Thanks for the review, hope you enjoy this one too.
Demon: Good to hear you enjoyed! I really liked secondary school… but I'd not go back. Five years was quite enough. And with such modern mentalities, I think we'd all struggle in a fifties school. I'd end up pulling my hair out. Thanks for the review.
TheVioletContradiction: The maths teacher was actually based on a maths teacher I had at A-level; people used to deliberately distract him so we could waste time. Unfortunately, I had to pretty much learn everything myself when it came to the exams. I love the idea of a student climbing out of a back window, how did the teacher not notice? That' so brilliant. Thanks for the review.
jkrowlinggrox: Thank you very much for the review. I'm really glad you liked that part, because it's something that I have considered re-writing many times. The idea is there, but I think it lacks the execution. So having such a positive review is really great and you are far too nice! Writing a character without a past posed a challenge, having to learn to understand other people's emotions, as well as her own. Alongside the friction it created. When I rather naively started this story, I never took into consideration the true psychological issues. It's such a learning curve. Oops, I've gone an rambled again. Thanks for the great review.
Lucy-Erza-Hearthfilia: Well, thank you very much, always nice to hear that. Hope you continue to enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to The Twilight Saga.
Chapter One Hundred: Human
"It's very dark in here," Alice said, clearing the low beam with no trouble at all. "Shouldn't there be a mirror shaft? Or at least electrical lighting."
"Maybe they didn't get around to it," I responded. "But it's terribly musty in here, surely they must have built a ventilation system. They'd have a hard time surviving without oxygen."
She jumped down from the second to last step, surveying the damp and dark bunker with a less than impressed gaze. Without furniture cluttering the room, the shelter was bigger than previously thought, going back quite a way into the side of the grass mound. Although one would hardly call it roomy.
The walls were bare concrete and quite sturdy in nature; but the lack of ventilation and permeable entrance hatch, meant the damp had gotten in. There were sodden patches in the corners, that infiltrated the air with a dank stale smell. Made worse by the growing mould that began to spread because of the humid summer temperature.
"Well, it doesn't look much like the one in the guide. That one was much nicer looking."
"Do you think we need to kit it out?" I questioned, examining the food tins that had been left behind on the single rotting shelf.
"I don't know," she responded, walking around the perimeter of the space. "What would happen if a bomb did drop?"
"Depends where it fell and the type. If you're outside the radius of the nuclear fireball, its fallout that you have to contend with. Something that wouldn't affect us. That's why they build these shelters."
"So there isn't really much point," she summed. "Although, it would be a shame to leave it empty, it would make a really nice den."
"Yeah," she chirped, "we could make it nice, thread the electrical lines through, get some furniture. We could even bring the sewing machine down here, stop Emmett complaining about the noise over the television."
"Yes," I agreed, "that does sound alright. And if we don't tell anyone about it, I can hide down here instead of going to school."
"Better not say that too loudly, we'll have Rosalie hiding out in here as well," she laughed. "But it's only been a week, surely things will start to get better once you've settled in."
"Is that based on a vision?" I questioned slightly desperate. "Please tell me it was a vision. You saw that school becomes tolerable?"
"Sorry, Bella," she smiled guiltily. "No vision, just some reiterated advice from Carlisle. But for what it's worth, I really hope it becomes tolerable."
"I'll take it," I replied. "Advice from Carlisle and well wishes from you, it's much better than simply willing things on my own."
"I do have some vision based news, though," Alice said. "But can we get out of here first? I can almost feel the mould clinging to my clothes."
Minding the hem of her homemade dress, Alice climbed up the steep stone steps, holding open the hatch as I followed on after her. After being in a hole in the ground, outside seemed very bright and fresh. "First thing on the list for the den, ventilation. You can actually smell the spores," she said. "That's definitely not a healthy air space to be in."
"Seconded. I'd be laxed to go down there if I were human… Now tell me," I began, linking my arm through hers - the ideally statured partner, "what vision based news have you bought for me? I'm going to guess it's generally good news, since you haven't told me immediately...also that means it's not something crucially important. Maybe the weather?"
"Well deducted," she phrased, "if not a little obvious. I've had no visions of the weather, so I'm afraid the television report stands in general accuracy."
"Are the...Denali's coming for a visit?"
"Not to my knowledge," she responded, keeping a sly all knowing smile upon her face.
"After finally getting rid of Rosalie and Emmet, I doubt we shall be expected them for a while," I laughed quietly, not wanting to induce Rosalie's wrath. "Put me out of my misery, or this guessing game will become as painful as the time I tried to guess Edward's anniversary present."
"But kudos to him for keeping the car secret for all those months," she responded with a nod.
"He has many... talents," I teased with a nudge of her arm, "however, even though his craftiness drove me mad, I was incredibly impressed and ultimately delighted with the Bugatti. But enough about Edward's ability to outsmart me... I want to hear this news."
"I feel this will be a terrible anti-climax," she said, "but strangely I had a vision of your parcel arriving."
"Parcel?" I queried.
"Yep," she continued, "quite a large one too."
"That is strange," I pondered, wracking my mind for recent transactions. "The last thing I ordered were leather gloves for Esme, but those came last week. I've requested nothing since and have nothing pending."
"Oh," Alice responded a little taken back, "I saw it arriving by courier, next Tuesday. But I didn't see anyone's reaction."
"Are you positive it was for me?"
"Completely, I saw the mailing address," she said confidently. "I would have told you sooner, but I thought you were waiting on something."
"Don't worry," I said, waving away any concern, "mystery mail has happened before, on occasion I have had random samples and prototypes sent. I think they like to keep me sweet, make sure I keep investing in things. But nonetheless, I will excitedly wait for my package, fingers crossed for an integrated circuit board."
"Is that what Jasper was reading about? He religiously read through a huge manual some company sent him... I was almost vibrating from the excitement radiating off him. If they do send you the circuit board, he may well explode," she giggled.
"Well, let's not get his hopes up," I said, "sounds like we'd all be feeling the disappointment."
"You're right," she acknowledged, her arm becoming more of a leading force as she took charge of our amble to guide us towards the wooden slatted bench near the back door. Both of us sitting near the edge, so to avoid the awkward leg swing that would undoubtedly occur.
Instead of the nonsensical swaying of limbs, Alice seemed content to twist the cap of her shoe against the gravel path, repetitively crunching the little stones together. "I've been thinking," she began rather slowly, "well actually it was something Edward mentioned in passing that got me thinking."
"Oh?" I vocalised.
"He mentioned you and he had practised your control on samples."
"Yeah...human blood samples from the hospital," I recalled. "A really very crude experiment to test tolerance. It usually ended with one of us bolting out of the house, while Carlisle burnt the remnants. But I'll not knock it completely; it probably did help with exposure... eventually."
She nodded thoughtfully, hot tonged curls bouncing slightly as she did. "I don't like speaking on behalf of Jasper," she uttered, "but... he seemed stuck between wanting to test his control and a fear of slipping again. Encouraging words are all well and good, but I think he needs a little push."
"You think using blood samples could work?" I wondered, fingering the flaking green paint beneath my fingertips.
She shrugged, shoulders and all. "No idea. But it's something new to try. I just think he needs a little push. The risk is as minimal as possible, and it will give him something to strive for."
"I think you should talk to Carlisle about it," I encouraged. "He'll be able to discuss plausibility; I don't know how easy it is to acquire blood."
Her response was interrupted as the back door swung open, the handle caught just before it busted against its hinges. "That was close," Emmett said with a grin, "almost splintered another one."
"Are you keeping a tally?" Alice said.
"Should do," he said, "alongside the number of bug screens I've put my hand through. But my carpentry skills have gotten better, fixed most of the damage to the doors."
"We all expect great things from your woodworking class," I quipped.
"You betcha," came the jovial response, "building a shelf: easy. Mine will be the best looking shelf you've ever seen."
"I'll hold you to that," I said.
"Sure, sure," he waved away the response. "But did you go all the way to the bottom of the bunker this time, now that the bad smell is gone?"
"Oh, the bad smell is still there," Alice informed him, "airing it out really didn't help. But we went down anyway."
"Pretty weird, right?" Emmett said, leaning against the brick wall. "Whoever built that, essentially built a death trap, no ventilation for fresh air, and black mould on the walls. If the nuclear explosion didn't get them first, that bunker would have."
"How lovely," I mused, "having a killer bunker in the garden. Full of toxic mould. Perhaps I shouldn't mention that to my Home Ec' teacher, I can't see her taking it very well."
"Did you tell her about the dead frogs?" Emmett questioned with a dimpled grin.
"Funnily enough, no," I replied, "she struggled to grasp the concept of my motherless situation. Dead frogs may turn out to be the final nail in the coffin."
"I'd like to see her response," Emmett said. "She seems highly strung. Always yelling at people in the hallway. Those ruffian boys." He mocked her pitched voice perfectly. "No consideration for anyone but themselves."
"Ooh, school sounds like fun," Alice declared, slightly bouncing in her seat. "I'm impatient to go. You all come back with such great stories."
"Those aren't stories, those are complaints," I corrected. "Am I not telling them right? Is my displeasure not coming across strongly enough?"
"You and Jasper will enjoy it," Emmett declared, "Bella just needs to give school a chance, she'll enjoy it eventually."
"Will not," I muttered defiantly, sticking out my tongue. "I'll become a delinquent." Bypassing him on the way into the house and shutting the door as he yelled his response, careful to mind the recently fixed door hinge. He had done a pretty good job fixing it.
Knowing Carlisle had cleaned the floor, only this morning and would not appreciate muddy footprints trekked across the tiles, I removed my rubber boots in the laundry room. Running hot water in the big sink, before chucking them in with some soap shavings. I couldn't imagine people would be too impressed with black mould within the house.
But then with such a clean and smooth floor before me, the enticement to slide was just too great, with a slight run from the utility; I slid the length of the kitchen in my socks.
Yet the initial fun was halted by the plush carpet in the hallway, and Rosalie's sudden appearance. "Edward wants to know if you're going to come do your income tax?" she questioned, choosing to ignore my epic slide along the floor. "And also, have you seen Emmett? He was supposed to be helping me do ours."
"Emmett's outside," I said, gesturing in the general direction. "Probably hiding in the bunker…I wish I had hidden in the bunker…taxes come around too quickly."
"The sooner we do it, the sooner I don't have to think about it for another year," she said decisively, bypassing me in her mission to find her wayward husband. Choosing not to slide across the kitchen floor.
I found the remaining members of the family holed up in the dining room, surrounded by hordes of papers and folders. The large farmhouse table was covered in stacks and piles; each person sitting around it had a small gap enabling them to write.
I had never seen Jasper quite so intense, scrutinising his numbers with narrowed eyes and a brow scrunched in concentration. While Esme had turned sideways in her seat, her legs draped with a seemingly never ending list of figures. Even Carlisle seemed to have a slight frown on his face.
"I've come to lend a hand," I said to Edward, "you look troubled."
"Not troubled, just confused," he responded, moving the pile of papers from the chair next to him and allowing me to sit down.
"Is it our sporadic account changes that are causing the issue?"
"Something like that…" he said vaguely, getting distracted by something in his hand. "Trying to calculate our income…is turning out to be near impossible."
"You'd think, having done this so many times, we'd be proficient by now," Carlisle chuckled, shaking his head in disbelief at the piles before him.
"We have the same conversation every year," Edward said, never taking his eyes off the paper in front of him. "We always say we'll sort it as we go along, and every year we don't."
"I started keeping track the beginning of the tax year… but it's so tedious I gave up." I said.
"Even if we plan, I bet we'll end up in this same position next year," declared Esme. "We should just have an annual tax day and be done with it." Thusly, annual tax day was ceremoniously dubbed a thing. Easily becoming the most despised day of the year.
"You haven't purchased anything in my name recently, have you?" I questioned Edward, diligently handing him the next statement he required.
"Not to my knowledge," came his distracted response. "Why?"
"Just checking. Alice said she had a vision of a package arriving for me… but I haven't ordered anything."
"It's not another care package from Tanya, is it?" Edward queried, rolling his eyes at the thought of the slightly strange items Tanya and I sent to one another.
"No, I don't think she would send one so soon after my birthday," I replied.
"I've always meant to ask about these...care packages?" Jasper queried. "They come at irregular intervals throughout the year. But don't normally contain items that you'd usually use to care for yourself."
"Care packages is probably the wrong term," I summed. "Although I do tend to send her more rational gifts. Items she likes, but can't get in the wilderness of Denali. In return, she sends me-"
"Irrational gifts," Edward interrupted.
"What happened to that skull she sent?" Carlisle questioned, leaning back in his chair to momentarily disregard responsibilities.
"Which one?" Edward queried. "There have been two."
"The one that ended up in my office," he clarified. "I was quite fond of it, ideal size to hold my pens and pencils."
"The deer skull," I answered, "it's still in the unpacked boxes in the basement. Edward said we couldn't have it in our room. He said it was creepy." Biting the inside of my lips in an effort to hide my gibe.
"I said one skull was quite enough," he corrected, gifting me with a terribly mild frown that did nothing to scorn, but only succeeded in encouraging my roguish behaviour. "We already have a human skull in our room."
"It's made out of wood," I corrected.
"Another gift from Tanya?" Jasper questioned.
"No, that one came from the house in Toledo. The person whom previously owned the house, had it on a little table by the front door. You can remove a section of the skull, on top. I think they used it as a key dish. I use it to keep my hair pins."
"How novel," Carlisle replied.
Eventually, the inevitable call of unfinished work stalled the idle chatter. Everyone ended up in the dining room, either sat around the table or on the floor. Hopelessly sorting through nearly twelve months' worth of financial documents. Trying to hopelessly calculate individual values which could then be collected together for the overall household. Regardless of our speed to calculate things, the issue came in trying to first identify those figures from the mountains of paper. Speed only seemed to complicate the situation; stacks got knocked over, things went missing, people got frustrated. Human pace was the ideal option.
It was sometimes alarming just how human orientated we were becoming, following human laws, attending human schools, doing human things. There were chunks of time where one forgot about all the differences, usually occurring during mundane tasks…much like doing tax returns.
I wondered if this was what being human was actually like.
Regardless of lifespan, strength, and all those other factors that differentiated vampires from humans, maybe we were more alike. Having no recollection of being a mortal, I had always considered my behaviour as being completely vampiric in nature. But maybe I was more like my human self than I had previously considered. When forced to do human things, perhaps we would go about them in the same manner.
Strangely, if I ever did find out about my past – however implausible that was – maybe we would have more in common that previously thought.
But hypotheses aside, I still hated annual tax day.
Part 2: Horace
April 1912, Halifax, Nova Scotia
He never bothered himself with human business, never ventured too close to towns or cities unless a hunt required it, or the rare occasion he was being summoned by his lucrative associates. And even then he made sure to take care, never linger too long, do his deeds and then depart back to the safety of rural lands.
The City of Halifax had never held much interest, just a convenient meeting place to intercept communication from his new found friends across the pond. He had planned to hunt in the city, before returning to the band of misfits he had coerced into joining him.
But even he could not help but hear the news upon the streets, the tales of woe that people spoke. He stole a newspaper from the deep pockets of his last victim – leaving the body to rot in the Long Lake – taking in the news that had upset the human population of the city.
The newspapers declared there had been a catastrophic loss of life, the worst maritime disaster to date…. and Halifax, Nova Scotia was at the very centre of it. It went on to describe the sinking of an apparently unsinkable ship; a feat of human engineering, unrivalled in size or luxury by anything else afloat.
The victims – surviving and deceased, had been ferried from boats onto the dockland throughout the day. Surviving persons had been put up in hotels and inns across the city; but there were offers of spare rooms from a whole tirade of people.
It was all so quaint, he thought. So very human and fanciful. To rally around one another in times of hardship, grouping together to survive. But that was to be expected of prey.
He never bothered himself with human business, but that was not to say he wasn't impervious to curiosity. After all, this would make a mighty fine tale to tell, and conversation was something he found severely lacking within his band of followers.
From the Long Lake, he walked in a north easterly direction, following the breeze that bought the bountiful scent of shipyards. The salty air tainted with the thick and unmistakable scent of coal and oil. The streets were deserted of people, but with the early hours of the morn upon the city, there was nothing unusual about the lack of mortals. He moved through the streets with ease, free to go how he liked without having to sulk or hide. Arrogantly walking along the sidewalks with the prowess of predator.
He found his way with ease, unfazed by the layout of this particular area of the city. The intricacies of building types, road names, and topography almost guided him straight towards his destination.
But before he managed to reach the dockland, something else caught his interest.
From the corner of the opposite street, with his back against the building keystone in a casual stance, he stopped to view several large black funeral coaches stationary in the road. He was no stranger to the sight of a funeral hearse, but all those he had bore witness too, were dressed with ornate garlands, and polished glass sides to allow those along the route to view the coffin.
These, however, could not have been more different. The black wood of each hearse seemed to meld into the shadows, the cargo inside concealed behind dark drapes and there was not a flower in sight.
He watched for some time. The ongoing, repetitive motion of the mortal beings. Watching as the same heavy set men unloaded cargo from each carriage, their breath and that of the horses, rose into the frigid air. Revealing just how cold the weather was.
Even with the dim light provided by the gas lamps, the morbid freight was easy to identify. Each coffin was unloaded with bazaar efficiency. Being carried into the adjacent building, before the same four men returned to collect another. They laboured until all cargo had been removed.
"That's the last of tonights," said the hearse driver to the haulers, "lock the rink and go get some sleep. They want you back here again first light."
"More bodies?" questioned one of the men.
"I expect so," replied the driver, "Mackay-Bennett's already refuelled, heading off towards the wreckage site, should be there by daybreak. But from the talk on the docks, they're sending another steamer out to join the recovery."
"How many more victims?" queried another of the haulers. "We've already filled over three quarters of the rink."
The driver shrugged, "hard to say. But I've read that there were two thousand on that ship, and word has it…only five hundred have made land alive."
"Lord Almighty," came the response, two of the men removing their caps, "that many."
"Aye," said the driver, "go home get what little rest you can. Coroner will be over tomorrow, bodies will need tending to. No doubt I'll be seeing you all in the morning. G'night."
With a click of the reins and a command to the horse pair, the final hearse disappeared into the darkened streets, and sometime after the four haulers departed in their separate directions.
He dawdled out from his hiding spot, one hand in his trouser pocket, the other looped on the remnants of the other. Ambling onto the road and across the paved street to the other side. Without any consideration or care he shunted the lock thrice with the ball of his hand, gaining entrance as the lock snapped cleanly in the mechanism.
Even with his impenetrable skin, there was a significant temperature drop within the building, getting colder as he descended from the lobby towards the ice rink.
His morbid curiosity was fuelled with the view through the spectator's gallery; row upon row of caskets. Each timber coffin was identical in construction, nothing lavish or grand, just basic wooden boxes lined side by side on the ice rink. There was a gap between each row, just big enough to walk along, allowing the humans to look upon the bodies. Maybe relatives would make an identification attempt.
He pressed his fingers against the glass, trying to sustain the macabre excitement that always ignited within himself when death came to the forefront. Counting each box, memorising the view. But it wasn't enough, he wanted to know what kind of human lay within each identical catafalque. To look upon their faces.
The dead had always been fascinating, even as a child, he had been delightfully terrified by the sallow faces, watching on as his father tended bodies on marble slabs.
With agile feet, he descended another flight of stairs, bringing him level with the ice. There - with no pause in his steps, he came across the successions. All one hundred and three of them, neatly lined on the curling ice. Eerily illuminated by the moon's light upon the frozen water.
But the thrill of the situation abruptly retracted in one fell swoop.
Retracting at the demands of his survival instincts, he jumped back from the ice and crushed himself flush against the wall. Hiding in the shadows. He did not move. But listened for the noise that had disturbed his pleasure, straining to hear what he thought had been the cause.
The noise thumped sluggishly again. Pulsating in a slow but repetitive beat. There were long moments between each palpation, like each one struggled to go on.
His eyes roamed across the rink, skirting around the perimeter in search of the mortal who belonged to those terribly laboured heart beats. Teeth bared, venom pooling, and ready to strike anything that came across his path.
Nothing did. There was no sign of any mortal being within the building, no footsteps, or sounds of movement. Other than the ongoing pulsation, there was nothing.
A strange notion, then came to the forefront of his mind, a wonderfully obscure thought that gained evidence as the seconds rolled by. He pushed himself from the wall, one foot stepping onto the slippery surface, never hindered by the polished ice. With a poised stance and engaged senses, he slid down the narrow rows, searching for that lucrative coffin.
His enhanced hearing strained to differentiate the exact location, but guided him ever closer to the noise. Promising him something abnormally singular, something profoundly grotesque.
Upon coming across the casket there was no pause for contemplation, his hands gripped the narrow wooden sides, pulling with a feeble might and sliding the box into the walkway. Now away from the masses of others, the palpations were clearly identifiable. He squatted in his shabby boots, running his fingers around the edge of the casket lid.
With the sheer strength in his fingers, he pried off the top, iron nails squeaking as they came loose. The lid was discarded away with a flick of his wrist.
It was not what he had been expecting.
Almost lost within a thick, matted, dank fur coat, was a small young woman.
He had first mistaken her for a child. So dainty was she, that the extra space around her body had been packed with ice chippings. But her pleasing figure had pushed her age upwards, no more than twenty, he decided.
Her clothing was surprisingly well preserved; one shoe missing, a rip here and there, but mostly intact. Expensive, came to mind. The cut, the fabric, even he - with such limited knowledge- could identify such traits. Further emphasised by the ornate, gaudy ring upon her finger.
But her face was a prize. She was pretty for a human. Her features were small, nothing handsome or bold, just pretty. Even with such a bluish pallor to her skin. He had expected to see something grimmer, watery deaths always gifted horrific sights. But she was almost undamaged.
His fingers traced the line of her throat, pressing inwards against the cold skin for that final confirmation of life. While tired and sluggish, the barely detectable pulses continued.
How ironic it would be for her to live, he thought. And such a pretty girl, would undoubtedly make a stunning vampire.
Never one to backtrack on such an appealing idea, it was all too easy to sink his teeth into her neck.
A/N: So I hope it has been clear enough, but if not I will explain. The secondary part of this chapter is from Horace's point of view (Bella's creator.) And basically outlines the lead up to her change. This is a stand alone mini chapter. Almost like a flashback. Bella still knows nothing about her past. I know sometimes my random 'time warp' have a tendency to confuse people. So I hope this clears things up.
When I started this story, I didn't actually envision how this would work. And pretty much wrote myself into a corner, after doing quite a bit of research. I finally decided on a route that seemed the most realistic.
Thanks so much for reading. Please review and let me know what you think.