ENTRY #95 - AU

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest

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Title: The Mountain is Burning

Picture Prompt Number: #41

Pairing: Edward/Bella

Rating: M

Word Count: 1694

Summary: New Moon AU. Bella is changed and alone, and has forgotten everything, until one fateful evening the mountain burns.

Warnings: Language

Disclaimer: Obviously, Twilight isn't mine. It all belongs to S. Meyer, lucky woman.

The Mountain is Burning

The smoke was thick and acrid, and it filled my empty lungs. Had I been a lesser being, I would have surely suffocated, but as it was I breathed deeply, relishing in the cloying aftertaste of burnt and bitter decay as the forest around me burned.

I smiled in detached satisfaction as the flames licked at a gnarled pine, climbing higher and higher as they ate away at the bark and the branches.

Soon, I knew I would need to move from my perch in a nearby spruce, as it, too, would be overtaken. But the spectacle was fabulous to watch while it lasted.

The creatures of the forest had long since fled, and I knew I would need to move on soon anyway in search of sustenance. There was none to be found here, and I was not certain I could resist the temptation when the authorities arrived to douse the flames. The only way I had been able to resist so far was avoidance. It was a rather spectacular game of cat and mouse, wherein the mouse never knows he is being hunted until he stumbles upon the cat.

I was not like others of my kind, or so I had surmised. Upon waking to this life, I had found myself alone, utterly alone, and face-up in the middle of a cold creek. Or I assumed it was cold, as I could no longer register the difference, nor did I care.

It was all the same to me now; day and night, hot and cold, living and dying.

But I had awoken with a subconscious awareness of what I was, even if I did not understand how I had come to be this way. The one absolute truth that I did know was that I needed blood.

I should have been horrified, logically I knew, but logic no longer mattered. I wanted to bathe in blood, and logic could go fuck itself while I smeared my body with the precious life force.

I gorged myself for hours that first day. Any animal unfortunate enough to cross my path suffered the same fate, and I was startled to find myself at the end of the day with a pile of carcasses and a silent forest.

I buried them all, and knew then I had no hope of venturing back into the world I had once been a part of.

It was never a question: I could not take a human life, and so I would banish myself.

I had been alone ever since, and I supposed that I had been a solitary creature in my past life as well, for I never much minded the silence or solitude. Although…

There were times I felt restless. Agitated, even. On the fringes of my consciousness lurked a shadow, one that I could never seem to grasp no matter how hard I tried. It was like catching a glimpse of something out of your peripheral vision, and once you turn to look at it, it disappears.

This fraying of my conscious was congruent with the emptiness I felt in my heart. I was unsure if this, too, was something I could attribute to my new body, like my bloodlust, or if it was something else entirely.

It was like a gaping wound that had been numbed; there was no pain, but I was always aware of it. After all, how could one not be aware of a gaping hole in their chest?

But I felt nothing. I was not bitter or jaded, nor was I depressed. My occasional frustration and morbid sense of humor were the only extreme emotions I ever displayed.

My musings were brought to an abrupt end as orange flames licked the soles of my bare feet. I giggled, and then sprung from my perch before I could be consumed by them.

I leapt gleefully from branch to branch, glad that the carelessness of those human campers and their poorly constructed campfire had distracted me for a little while. I could hear the sound of approaching humans, and froze against the trunk of a tall pine as a helicopter passed overhead.

Yes, definitely time to flee.

I dropped to the ground and sprinted until I was certain I was no longer visible, barely even a blur.

I was high; giddy with the thrill of being exposed, and the burning of the mountain forest. I ran and ran, until the trees thinned and the slope of the ground evened out and the rain began to fall. I weaved in and out between the drops, not to avoid getting wet, but because it was all part of the game.

The game I played with myself.

I hummed a slow melody to myself as I ran and nonsense lyrics fell from my lips.

Tell my mother I'm leaving

Tell my father I'm gone

Tell my lover I'm sorry

I've already been here too long

And then it stopped. Everything stopped, and I fell to my knees as a crippling grief collided with my chest and knocked me off my feet. I gasped, desperate not for air but for relief from the aching, crushing…

It was strange and yet somehow familiar, and the shadow in my mind seemed closer than ever. I clawed at the dirt with my fingers, trying to cling to the spectre in my mind. It was close, so close…

I could almost see it, like a dark figure in the mist of the woods before me, and I cried out with a louder voice than I ever had since I had become what I was.

"Don't leave me!"

I didn't understand my own words, didn't understand the desperation in my voice or the burning behind my eyes. My mind was frayed, and my chest torn apart at the seams, no longer numb.

And then as soon as it had hit me, it disappeared. I leapt to my feet, disoriented. I screamed in frustration, digging my nails into the nearest tree and ripping it up by the roots. I had been so close! Or it had felt so close, and now it felt as though my own mind was driving me to madness. The shadow had retreated to the recesses of my mind, taking with it the debilitating grief that would have no doubt shed light on the infuriating abyss of my own subconscious.

But there was something there that hadn't been before. Amongst the cacophony of senseless images that had assaulted me as the grief brought me to my knees, one stood out.

A pair of eyes, tawny in color and glittering like two gems set in flawless marble.

I rubbed my hand over where my heart once was, surprised by the twinge I felt when I conjured the image for the second time.

The spectre in my mind flickered, pulsing as though it wanted me to remember.

I screamed again, uprooting another tree.

Tell my mother I'm leaving

Tell my father I'm gone

Tell my lover I'm sorry

I've already been here too long

I don't want you anymore…

My screams echoed into nothingness, startling birds from their perches and into the thundering skies. The rain began to pour, soaking the forest and my tattered dress.

I had never felt so alone.

Why now? Why after all this time?

I didn't understand what was happening to me. Was some outside force influencing me, forcing me to remember? I didn't want to remember, not if it felt like this. I was content to be alone. I was fine with my solitude and my morbid daydreams of blood and fire.

Launching myself into the air, I grabbed hold of the nearest tree and scaled it until I stood nearly weightless in the tallest branches, swaying with unearthly grace in the wicked winds of the storm. I could see for miles, and overcome, I gave a flying leap, springing from treetop to treetop.

The ever-present shadow in my mind lingered, though now it felt as though it was chasing me. I ran, terrified I would not be able to outrun it.

Tell my mother I'm leaving

Tell my father I'm gone

Tell my lover I'm sorry

I've already been here too long

You're no good for me…

I screamed again, in tandem with the echoing thunder.

In the distance I could see the beginnings of a tiny town, and so I ran in the opposite direction. Leaping from tree to tree, I was very nearly running through the open air.

Then the trees stopped, only to reveal a stunning white house rising from a clearing in the woods. I dropped from my perch, only to be assaulted once more the closer I drew to the house.

I dropped to my knees and buried my head in my hands as I screwed my eyes shut tight.

It seemed so familiar, and I screamed as my conscious frayed and the shadows ensnared my mind.

"Bella?"

"Nononono…" I murmured, certain I was losing my mind.

"Bella?"

I heard it again, and pounded my fists against my temples.

"Bella?"

And then I was not alone.

"Bella?"

The voice repeated the name again and again, and though I did not know it, the name made my heart lurch. I looked up, only to come face to face with the eyes from my own memory.

"Who are you?" My voice was a breath of air, less than a whisper.

He stared, the man with the tawny eyes, his face a lesson in shock. I had not seen another of my kind since I had been changed, and yet I knew him instantly.

"You're alive," he said, in awe and despair.

"Who are you?" I asked him again, and the spectre in my mind released. It flew, and I with it.

Images, and flashes of memory, and then the beautiful man as he fell to his knees before me and wept bitterly.

"I thought you were dead," he said desperately. "I thought you were dead. I came to say goodbye. My love, my only love."

I said only one thing.

"Edward."

The mountain burned, and I with it.