The Story of Um
Tales From The Void Contest
Rating: M- for strong language
Word Count: 4,167
Summary: A forbidden book, a journey through a strange land and a student where a warrior should be. Can he use his wits to save himself?
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Edward was late. Pulling his backpack over his shoulder, he ran towards the book store as fast as his feet would carry him. As he rushed through the door the hanging chimes rang out in a clatter causing his boss, Carlisle to look up from the large manuscript in front of him. With his spectacles perched on the end of his nose, he noted the boy's cheeks were flushed and he was out of breath.
"You're late," Carlisle said, reaching for his tea.
"Sorry, Mr. Cullen, I had to stay after class." Removing his back pack and letting it fall to the floor, Edward ran his hands through his hair. It was the third time he had been late this month.
Carlisle gave a short grunt and tipped his chin, motioning toward the three large boxes by the door.
Taking the hint, Edward picked up the box on top and lugged it back to the store room. Book after book he catalogued and filed upon a shelf, grumbling to himself on Carlisle's odd filing system. The first two boxes were filled with brand new text books most likely for the local college students.
The third box was too heavy to lift and sealed closed with several layers of brightly colored tape. Edward went to retrieve a box cutter but when he came back up to the front, the box was already open and Carlisle was rifling through its contents.
Several books were tossed to Edward that were used, well worn with broken bindings and yellowed pages. Dust particles danced through the air, illuminated by the sunlight filtering through the front window.
"Ah, here we go," Carlisle said lifting the over-sized book from the bottom of the box. It was the biggest book Edward had ever seen, as wide as the box itself and judging by the throbbing vein on Carlisle's forehead, heavy too.
As Edward offered his hand, Carlisle grunted and continued to lift it himself. Once he had it on his desk, he smiled down at the book and ran a finger over the dark leather which adorned its cover. It bore an extravagant golden emblem on the front, one which looked like intertwined fingers covered in scales.
Carlisle seemed fascinated by the book. His touch was reverent though he had a slight tremble. His hand hovered over the emblem but never touched it.
"What is that?' Edward asked, his reaching hand smacked away by Carlisle.
"It's a book," Carlisle replied dryly, "obviously."
"I've never seen anything quite like it," Edward mused. "What's it about?"
"Nothing that would suit your tastes. This book...is too mature for you."
He shooed the boy away with a hefty list of chores then pulled back a curtain that served him with privacy when he didn't want to be bothered.
Edward rolled his eyes at his boss, who had often been ornery when it came to his private book collection. Too mature for me? Edward silently questioned. He snorted at the thought of Carlisle finding some ancient porn to add to his assembly of decrepit literary works.
As the afternoon wore on, Edward filled his time with menial tasks of cleaning and rearranging the shelves to Carlisle's specifications. When all was done, he took a seat at a desk in the front corner of the shop and proceeded to start on his homework. Edward had always been thankful to find a job where he had so much down time. He was in his first year at the university and finding time for the required reading was a daunting task. Putting up with Carlisle's often sour mood was worth it in the end because it was easy to keep up with his studying in the slow afternoons at the book shop- the only patrons being fellow students who Carlisle ordered specialty books for.
The sound of the door chimes broke Edward's concentration. He looked up to see Carlisle stepping out the door.
"What has Banner got you reading this term?" Carlisle asked a knowing smirk upon his lips. He had a personal relationship with Professor Banner; the two men staunchly disagreed on what qualified a book to be referred to as a classic.
Grimacing Edward replied, "Bronte."
Carlisle barked out a laugh. "Classic indeed, Banner has no range, no eye for authors with an imagination. My apologies, Edward, I foresee boredom in your near future."
"Do you mind if I finish this here? It's always so loud in the dorm. I can never concentrate there."
"Of course, just lock up at nine." Placing a wool cap over his head, Carlisle hesitated before leaving. "I've put on a pot of coffee for you. With that reading, you're going to need it."
At the second sound of the chimes, Carlisle was gone for the night. Edward rose to his feet and stretched before heading to the back for a much needed caffeine fix. A steaming cup in hand and the clock striking nine, he locked the front door and turned down the lights. The lamp on Carlisle's desk was still aglow; the multi-colored Tiffany lamp shade cast soft hues against the monstrous book that Carlisle claimed was too mature for Edward's eyes.
With curiosity compelling him, Edward stepped to the desk and examined the book. The gold the emblem was muted and in need of polishing and there was no title to be seen. Just like Carlisle had, he ran his fingertip over the spine and noted how thick the pages were. Regardless of the content, Edward was sure that the book itself was well crafted and surely very old. Books simply weren't made like this anymore. He was caught off guard by a small iron lock that held the book closed. He gave it a gentle tug and then looked around the desk for a key. He found nothing of and with a shrug, he took a sip of his coffee and turned to leave.
He hadn't even taken a step when he heard a soft feminine voice. It was nothing more than a hum, a slow buzz of lips that seemed to grow louder and louder with each passing moment. The sound was muffled and had a slight gurgle to it, as if it were coming from under water. Confused, he looked around, the mug of coffee falling from his hands when he realized the sound was coming from the book.
He sucked in a breath when he looked down to see the emblem, the gold no longer muted but shining, the light from the lamp sparkling against the scaly fingers. Leaning forward, his eyes went wide as the fingers began to move, slowly undulating. Without thinking, Edward's hand flew forward caressing the now brilliant emblem.
"Holy shit," he whispered as it continued to move, the fingers unlacing themselves and stretching upward. The hum had morphed into a song, words dripping like honey in a language he couldn't place. One of the scaled fingers curled in a beckoning and Edward couldn't resist touching it.
Without warning the finger moved in a swiping motion, it's sharp, claw-like nail ripping through Edward's skin.
He stopped breathing as he looked down at his hand which was bleeding profusely but he felt no pain. The last thing he remembered was the song, so loud he couldn't hear anything else and the blood of his hand as it fell in slow motion onto the open pages of the book.
Edward awoke to a cloudless night sky above him. He lifted his head slowly, finding himself in a small boat bobbing along in the darkest of waters.
He heard a giggle to his right and then one to his left. There was a splash then droplets of water landed on his arm. He rose into a sitting position, squinting into the darkness and scrambled backward when a beautiful woman was suddenly leaning over the side of the boat. Her arms came over the side, her naked breasts in full view and her fanned-out tail swishing behind her. Waves of flaxen blond hair cascaded down her shoulder and her eyes were cerulean blue, crystal clear and mesmerizing.
He was confused and speechless. He had somehow ended up in a boat in the middle of the night and there was a mermaid!
A second mermaid with fiery red hair swam to the boat and silently appraised Edward. "I thought he supposed to be older," she whispered to the blond. "This boy is no warrior. He's barely a man."
"All the better," the blond purred, eyes still locked with Edwards. "Let us sing for him."
The red-headed mermaid squealed with excitement. "Let me find Kate first." With a swish of her tail, she descended into the inky water.
"I am Tanya and I sing for all men of the sea. You like music, don't you?" She batted her eyelashes for him.
"Y- yes," Edward stuttered as Tanya ran her finger over her right nipple, a low moan passing through her parted lips.
"Tease," A third mermaid said as broke through the water. She tsk, tsked as she joined Tanya, hanging her arms over the side of the boat. "Irina didn't tell me we'd be doing anything other than singing."
"Do shut up," Tanya rolled her eyes and scowled at Irina as she too emerged from the water and joined her sisters. "I was just having a little fun."
"Fun?" Kate scoffed. "Is that what you're calling it these days?"
"Come now. When is the last time you... seduced a man?" Tanya drawled, her mermaid sisters giggling madly.
They began to sing then, three lovely voices that rang out and echoed across the water, creating a chorus of sound with the most complex and pleasing of harmonies. Edward found himself moving closer to them, their arms open, and their breasts still very naked and glistening in the moonlight. He couldn't look away.
He reached out his hand, feeling the need to touch them when the light of the moon shifted. It was brighter, an unknown shadow casting over the mermaids before him. Their outstretched hands were no longer covered in smooth pale skin, but scales, just like the hands on the emblem of the book.
Out of nowhere there was a tiny shimmering light racing through the air and it was headed straight for the boat.
The song stopped. The mermaids hissed and bared their teeth, their clawed hands swiping at the little ball of light which hovered just out of their reach.
"Cover your ears!" A tiny voice screeched and it seemed to be coming from the ball of flickering light.
"He's ours, Tinkerbell. Fuck off." Tanya seethed, her voice no longer seductive but much deeper, a growl rumbling in her chest.
Upon looking closer, Edward realized that the ball of light was actually a tiny woman. A fairy! She had paper thins wings, her skin was aglow and she was giving the mermaids the finger.
"You wanton little sluts!" The fairy shouted. "I'll bite your ears off!"
Then the fairy zipped right over and starting biting Tanya's ear. She screamed bloody murder and slapped herself in an attempt to squish the fairy. Kate and Irina were slapping her too.
The little fairy flew backward and rubbed her tummy, blood dripping from her mouth. "Who's next?" She asked, waggling her eyebrows.
The mermaids withdrew, cursing under their breath before disappearing below the water.
"Fucking sirens," the fairy grumbled. Turning to address Edward, her eyes went wide. "Who the hell are you?"
"Um..." He shook his head, not believing the sight before him. He wondered if he was dreaming or perhaps hallucinating.
"Well now, Um, we need to get you out of here. It's not safe. Follow me to the island. I'll fly, you swim."
"I can't swim," he admitted, looking over the side and shuddering at the vast pool of black water surrounding them.
She scoffed. "What? You have got to be kidding me. What kind of warrior are you?"
"I'm not a warrior. I'm a student."
She eyed him warily, pursing her lips and huffing. "Fuck. My. Life. A student? I was promised a fierce warrior. Not a... What is it you study?"
He smiled proudly. "English Literature."
The fairy tossed herself into the boat and sobbed. "How are you supposed to kill your enemies with that skill? Bore them to death?"
Edward's mouth dropped open. "Wow. Rude much?"
"All the time. I'm a biter too." She punctuated that statement by chomping on his pinky finger then flying to the edge of the boat which she grabbed onto and pulled. Her little fairy wings fluttered with a speed and strength that should have been impossible for a creature her size. She used her fairy might to sail them safely to shore.
Once on dry land, the fairy took hold of the sleeve of Edward's and dragged him toward the trees.
"Hey! Where are we going?"
"Quiet, Um. You don't want to wake the gate-keepers." The fairy whispered.
"Who?" Edward asked then tripped over something in the darkness, stumbling rather loudly. "Slow down, Tinkerbell!"
She dropped his shirt and gave his ear a little nibble before correcting him. "My name is Isabella, thank you very much."
Just then, there came a rustling from the bushes and a loud yawn. "What? Is someone there?"
"Shit!" Isabella grabbed his shirt and pulled, dragging him further into the trees.
"Isabella! Just what do you think you're doing?" Out of the bushes stepped the largest man Edward had ever seen. He was easily eight feet tall with an unusually large head and yellow eyes.
The fairy smiled and tried to appear nonchalant. "Oh, Hi Emmett, just the man I wanted to see. It's time to open the gate."
"I don't think so," said a second man who stepped out from behind a tree. He was a tiny fellow, just a few feet tall with a long white beard and funny pointed hat. "You know the rules Isabella. We only open the gate for the warrior." He pointed to Edward. "Clearly, that is not him."
Edward stared unabashedly at the two men before him. The one called Emmett he guessed was an ogre and the smaller man, definitely a gnome.
Rubbing his belly, Emmett sighed. "Perhaps we can make a trade. What weapons have you got little man?"
"Weapons?" Edward replied with a shrug. "None."
Emmett guffawed. "No wonder you want us to open the gate! There's no way you'll make it in the forest without a weapon. Not even Bella's nasty biting habit will be enough to keep you alive in there."
Edward swallowed nervously and then gently tapped Isabella's shoulder and whispered, "What is he talking about?"
"Jasper!" Isabella cried and flew over to the gnome's shoulder. "Please, help me out here. I've got to get him to the castle before dawn."
"You think he's the warrior?" Jasper burst into laughter and Bella gave a menacing fairy growl before taking a snap at him, barely missing the tip of his nose. With ninja-like speed, Jasper removed his hat and wielded it like a sword, revealing a sharp pointy blade at the top. "Bitch, I will cut you."
"Dude!" Emmett chortled and then patted Jasper on the head. "Put that away man! Come on, let's go get drunk and hunt down some empanadas."
"Mmmmmm... empanadas." Jasper started drooling on his beard. "Yes, let's do that. I'm quite hungry."
Jasper retracted his hat/sword and turned toward Bella. "The gate stays locked. Pillow-biter."
"Bastard!" Isabella stomped her tiny foot in mid-air and buzzed around Edward's head. "Fine, we'll go with plan B."
"Plan B?" Edward asked, still so very confused. "Are we still going to the castle? Why do we have to go to the castle? Ow! Why do you keep biting me?"
"Yes, plan B. Yes, we're still going to the castle. We are going to the castle to rescue the princes, of course! And I'm sorry about the biting. It's my nature, you see. I'm a vampire fairy. It's kind of my thing."
Edward's head was spinning, his knees week. Siren mermaids? Ogres, gnomes and vampire fairies? What the hell did Carlisle put in that coffee? LSD?
Bella had no time to explain. Instead she brought two fingers to her mouth and let out a loud whistle. Within moments, a large dragon-like creature came flying toward them. It had brown fur and the head of a dog, its long tongue flapping in the breeze.
"Holy shit, what is that?" Edward was trying to hide behind Bella's tiny fairy body.
"That's Jake. He's a giant flying dog. Now shut up and let me do the talking."
"Belllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" Jake sang out, as he made a horrible landing. Getting tripped up on his tail, he dug his paws into the earth, taking out a few trees in his haste. He rolled a few times then landed on his back. Chuckling he said, "Hey Bella. Sup girl?"
"Thank fuck you're here. We need a ride."
"Scratch my belly and I'll take you where ever you want to go."
"Deal," she said before flying over and scratching his belly.
"Oh yeah," Jake moaned. "To the left. Higher, now lower, ohhhhhh yesssssss. Ow! You bite me again and the deal is off."
She froze with her mouth wide open and teeth ready to chomp. She harrumphed and mumbled something about stupid delicious warm blooded creatures. They had no idea how hard it was to resist biting!
So after a few more scratches and bewildering looks from Edward, the human and fairy climbed aboard the Jake express and took to the sky. While Bella simply hovered over Jake's ear, Edward was having a blast. The student was hooting and hollering as Jake traveled at break-neck speeds- occasionally twisting and flying upside down or making figure eights while they flew over a large body of water.
Their journey lasted all of twelve minutes before Jake yelled, "All right kids, time to go!"
He descended quickly, riding the wind coming off the ocean. Edward raised an eyebrow, wondering when Jake was going to land. The castle was in his sight now, very close to the shore.
"What are you waiting for?" Jake asked.
"Um!" Bella shouted, flying close to his head. "You need to jump!"
Edward looked down at the water below. "Fuck that. There might be scaly siren mermaids down there!"
He held on tighter to Jake who laughed and said, "I thought you were supposed to be a fearless warrior? You're not afraid of mermaids are you? Just sick Bella on them. They hate being bitten."
The mention of biting gave Bella an idea. She leaned in close and bit Edward's neck, sucking on his yummy life force until he shrieked, let go of Jake and went plunging toward the water.
Luckily Bella was very strong. She caught his hand and managed to haul him to the beach, both of them falling into the sand, exhausted.
"If you live through this, I'm teaching you how to swim," Bella grumbled, taking a quick bite from Edward's ankle.
"Ouch, stop that!"
"Hey! I just dragged your sorry ass all this way and nearly depleted all my energy. I needed a pick-me me. Sue me."
She fluttered off toward the castle and Edward reluctantly followed. At the massive stone door they knocked and waited. A small circular piece of stone moved backward and a girl with short dark hair and pointed ears poked her head out. "Welcome to the castle. My name is Alice, how may I help you?"
Bella shoved Edward closer and he ran his hands through his hair, at a loss at what he was supposed to say.
"We're here for the princess!" Bella announced excitedly.
Alice looked down at her clip board and shook her head. "You're not on the list. Sorry, please bugger off."
"Wait!" Bella flew to the girl and got in her face. "What do you mean we're not on the list? He came in the boat, like the book said!"
"The book also said," she looked down at her clip board again, "That the man in the boat would be a rugged warrior, wielding a bow and arrow as a weapon. Oh, and it said he would be wearing leather pants." She pointed at Edward. "Not it."
In a fit of rage, Bella lunged for the girl's throat. She would have gotten her too if Edward hadn't pulled her back.
"Bella, calm down. We'll just have to find another way of getting me home." He shrugged.
She shook her head sadly. "You don't get it, Um. There is no other way."
"My name is not Um. It's Edward."
"I'm happy to hear that. Um has got to be the stupidest name I've ever heard. Edward suits you much better. It sounds geekier, like a student's name."
He laughed softly. "Thanks, I guess. So... Any chance you could explain all this warrior stuff? Was this all written in the book?"
"The book is unfinished and we are all stuck here until it is."
"How do we finish it?" Edward asked, scowling at his own idiocy. He never should have touched the damned book.
"With a pen," Bella answered sadly.
Edward raised an eyebrow. "That's all? A stinking pen?"
"Well, yes or a pencil. Any writing utensil would work really. They have all been banished here and hence, the book is unfinished."
Edward smiled brightly. "This may be your lucky day."
"Why is that?" Bella asked. "Are you going to let me bite you again? I am rather parched." She was very excited at the prospect.
"I'd rather you not. It hurts like a bitch."
She grimaced and crossed her arms over her chest. "What then?"
"A good student is always prepared for exactly this sort of thing." He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a number two pencil.
Bella gasped, her fairy wings fluttering in delight. She flew right on over and peppered his face with kisses. Whooping in triumph she flew to the castle door and knocked, a wicked smile on her lips as Alice answered.
"Didn't I tell you to bugger off?" She narrowed her eyes at Bella.
Bella laughed in her face and said, "Big mistake. Big. Take a look at this." She pointed at Edward who was holding his pencil up for her to see. He waved it around a little, for show.
Alice dropped her clip board, flabbergasted. "Oh my god! He's got a pencil!"
Bella grabbed the clipboard and handed it to Edward. "Alright English Literature student. It's time to finish this story!"
Armed with paper and his trusty number two pencil, Edward began to write. He worked feverishly, grinding his pencil down to the nub and wracked his awesome student brain for a wonderfully imaginative ending to this story. After thirty grueling minutes, his hand stopped. He looked up at see that a crowd had formed, everyone anxiously awaiting the end.
For a few awkward moments nothing happened- then everything happened at once.
"Hell yes!" Cried Emmett as a freakishly large plate of empanadas appeared in front of him and one in front of Jasper too. They cackled with glee and the gorged themselves on the delicious meat-filled pastries.
Tanya, Kate and Irina- who had been watching from the water- shrieked and promptly transformed into tiny, scaly guppies which were then eaten by a bigger fish.
A Tarzan-like cry erupted from the forest and out came Carlisle- a younger version of him- swooping out from the trees wearing nothing but leather pants and he was holding a bow and arrow. He approached Edward with a cocky swagger then grinned at him before slapping him in the head.
"I told you not to touch the book! Dumb-ass. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must rescue Princess Esme."
Then ocean started to recede and the castle was surrounded by lush forest and a beautiful flower-laden meadow.
The crowd began to disperse, leaving Edward and Bella alone.
"This is beautiful, Edward," she said listlessly, a tear slipping down her cheek.
"Hey," Edward replied picking up Bella and holding her gently in his hand. "What's wrong?"
She sniffed. "I was hoping you'd change me into something other than a bloodsucking little pixie."
He smirked. "The story is not done yet, Bella."
Just as the words left his mouth, Bella began to grow until she was a normal human size, her wings disappearing completely. She looked up at Edward and smirked right back before launching herself at him, kissing him full on the mouth.
"Thank you Edward. Thank you!"
"I'm not done yet," he breathed, awed by her beauty and her wonderful tasting mouth, which he may or may not have written to taste like chocolate, his favorite.
She blinked. "There's more?"
Her breasts suddenly increased in size. She was now very much well endowed.
"Okay, now we're done." He smiled then leaned in to kiss her again.