Tales From The Void Contest
Word Count: 5113
Pairing: Edward/ Bella
Summary: The Earth seems to be stopped, caught between an endless time and space, where we can't tell if it's day or night. Today is no different. Or is it?
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The sky is no longer clear blue or cloudy gray.
Red hoes of light try to break through the never ending, thick gray clouds of smoke. I guess they have some usage, with a none existing ozone lair, these clouds are the only barrier that protects Earth from the hot sun.
Daylight it's reduced to patches of angry crimson where the smoke is thinner, submerging the planet in a state of everlasting twilight.
When night finally comes, the moon can barely be seen, here and there silver lightning piercing the smoke blanket, almost like trying to reach the earth.
More times than not, the Earth seems to be stopped, caught between an endless time and space, where we can't tell if it's day or night. Bare.
Today is no different. If it's even day, that is.
What day it is, I have no idea. Time lost all meaning approximately fifty years ago, when hell decided to move to earth and destroy everything in its path. Soon there will be nothing left to crumble and perish.
Some say that the war will end; some disagree, saying it's the slow version of the apocalypse.
I tend to agree with the last version. Every living thing is crumbling to dust, constructions disappear overnight, remaining only in the memories of those that get to see the shadow of another sunrise.
I continue to see it each morning, and every time it gets smaller and colder, it would seem. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother surviving. There's no point, really- nothing to live for anymore.
The whooshing sound of another heat missile fills my ears before I see it coming right at me. Stupid humans still haven't learned that vampires have no body heat. I take a step to the left seconds before it can make contact with my stone body, flying by me and hitting a building already on fire. Flames rise to the sun in a series of boiling mushrooms, adding more smoke to the already infected atmosphere.
Seattle. What was once a beautiful, flourishing city, is now reduced to smoke clouds and raging fires. The oxygen can barely be detected in the lungs, which sometimes makes me worry how humans can breathe any more. I surely stopped altogether.
Not even the forests around us are clean anymore, and the few wildlife left are quickly dying either from forest fires or by our stone hands.
By my assumptions, I should be near the Space Needle, only it doesn't exist anymore. The only remainders are some piles of torn metal and rubble.
I shake my head and continue deep into the city. For what, I have no idea. Maybe to stretch my legs a bit and see if anyone's in need of rescue. Anything to get my mind off all the shit that's been going on, or more specifically, to get away from my brother and father. At least my brother still feels something. Which I can't say the same about my father, though. They are so far gone into their insanity that they can't even feed for themselves.
My steps are slow and deliberate -not that I'm trying to hide my nature from anyone- but to just…take my time.
I wish they would just leave already. This isn't their planet!
This wound will be infected soon. They will have to cut my leg.
Does anyone know we're here?
I succumb to the minds around me, happy that some survivors are hidden away in the bunkers under the ruins.
I listen to their needs, their suffering and pain, while marveling on their strength and will to keep on living. I have none of that these days. What used to keep me going, wishing to see another dark sun each morning, is now all gone.
I have nothing left. Okay, maybe my brother and father, but they haven't been themselves for some time now, leaving only the shells of two strong vampires for me to deal with. I see their will to live crumbling with each second, and every time they venture out of the cave I wonder if they will come back. I don't judge them.
On days like this, I just wish humans were still making hand grenades, being that's the only ammunition that can do any damage to me, besides the alien laser sticks. But they are our allies, so that's out of the question. Other than that, open fire remains the only threat to my health. And I'm not that brave to simply plunge head- on into an open flame.
I'll just wait for it.
I move on.
Will this war ever end?
Will we end?
I'm so hungry!
I need a new bandage, before this one will bind to my skin.
As willing as I am to die, I'd rather it come unexpected. Plus, my survival instincts kind of keep me away from stepping in front of a bomb or any other firearm.
There's always time to be wrong, though.
Just as the last thought leaves my attention, a bullet makes contact with my head.
"God damn! That hurt!" I grumble to myself, rubbing the spot feverishly. It may not have knocked my balance off, but the sting in my scalp is enough to pull me back to reality.
Where the heck did it came from? I try to find the human responsible, but I find no one aiming a gun to my head.
This is a war zone, not a walk in the park; of course bullets will eventually fly around.
I hear the click of a gun being armed before three more rounds are shot, from close by this time, and it sounds like a sharpshooter is to blame. All three rounds hit my upper body, the only damage being my torn shirt. The sting left is bearable to a point, until another five rounds make contact with my legs and upper body.
"Shit! Would you knock it off!" I shout, spinning on my heal looking around for the shooter. The trajectory of the rounds, calculated by my never-tiring mind, indicates that the shooter is about fifty yards in front of me and on a rooftop. A soft giggle carried by the wind stops me dead.
It's a female. And apparently, she's having fun on my expense. I take a few more steps before I'm shot at again.
"Fuck!" I dodge three more bullets, doing a weird dance by flailing my arms all over the place. The forth one I'm unable to elude as it hits me…right in the groin. My body automatically bends from the waist down at the same time as my hands cup my injured area. Pain shoots through my body like lightning bolts, finally sending me, face down to the ground.
A piercing laugh rings in my ears accompanied by light footsteps. I command my eyes to open, and through the foggy pain, I see a small figure coming my way, fast. Too fast for a human.
"Get up," she commands, pushing her rifle to my head. Maybe it's the dreadful atmosphere, the thick smoke around us, or the fact that a gun is pointed to my head, that makes her voice sounds like that of an angel. I even consider an angel of death at this point.
Two things register in my mind in the same time to make me acknowledge that she's not a vampire. One, I can't hear a single thought coming from her. Not unexpected, but it's still a bit of a shock to me. In my hundred and eighty years, I've met my share of shields that could keep me out of their minds. I hated every one of them.
And second, she has no scent whatsoever.
Groaning in pain, I do what she tells me. Who am I to argue? If this is my time to go, then so be it. Lifting my body slowly, I face my attacker.
If vampires were built with a working heart, I would have had a heart attack.
She's still holding the gun to my head, but my gaze is fixed on something else.
She's one of them- one of the aliens. I can't stop but wonder why she would be pointing a gun at me. First of all, they don't use conventional human firearms, having their own technology. And she speaks English. When the Superiors do speak, is a bone crushing, insides rattling, and all around mind-blowing experience. But somehow, somewhere deep imprinted in our DNA, we understand their language.
Suddenly, I'm at a loss for words, the questions still run through my mind at the speed of light.
There's something else, something hidden in her clear blue eyes and alabaster skin that makes me wonder. Despite the alien color, she looks familiar. Big round eyes, rimmed with dark lashes, watch me, unblinking.
I let my eyes wander for a second, taking in every detail about her. If it wouldn't have been for her cammo uniform and bullet proof vest, I surely would have thought she is some God send creature to eradicate the world of any evil in her path. Her long hair, reaching well below her waist, is blowing freely in the wind, sending waves of dark brown hair slicing the heavy air.
That face. I was sure to assume that she's an angel. Even for an alien vampire, she's too beautiful to be true. Her face is so clear, so sharp, so soft, so light. So familiar.
"Hello, Edward," she greets in a small, twinkling voice. Bells chime in my mind.
Bells…bells….bel…bells. My mind goes into overdrive. Bells…bells …bell…bells…
Oh. My. God!
I feel the crushing wave of recognition hit me straight in the chest. All those memories buried under years and years of practice keeping her face hidden, along with my feeling, deep inside my subconscious suddenly breaks free, and I'm reduced to one single thought and word.
"Isabella," I whisper. Relief floods me as soon as the word leaves my mouth. My face transforms, morphing into wonderment, amazement, and all around happiness. I never thought -I never let myself think in the first place- that a day will come where she would be standing in front of my eyes…as a vampire.
One corner of her mouth lifts, and a beautiful, crooked grin lights her whole face up.
"We meet again." Her smile widens, but she still hasn't pulled the gun away.
Again, I find myself at a loss for words, whatever it's from my self-preservation instinct telling me to shut the hell up and listen to her first, or the fact that my mind suddenly has shut down. I'm in shock- physically and mentally.
Seconds tick by, and neither of us has anything left to say. I watch her; she watches me. I'm not sure what exactly she sees in front of her eyes, but I watch in a daze as her face transforms along with her demeanor. Her smile gets wiped out clean off her face, and a scowl takes its place. Pure rage emanates from her locked muscles and clenched fists. I shut my eyes and brace myself.
The click of the gun comes seconds sooner and the first round hits my left kneecap, sending me one step back.
"The fuck!" I shout.
"That's for your repulsive look in Biology," she hollers in rage, "and this is for saving me from that van!"
"No!" I cringe. The word barely leaves my mouth before the next round hits my other kneecap.
"And this is for shredding my self-esteem to pieces and making me think less of myself," she continues to yell as another shot hits me between my eyes. I'm no longer seeing her face but the angry skies above. My head get's pushed back by the force of the close range shot, the bullet remaining stuck to my head for a few seconds as I try to get my bearings back, and my neck to pop back into place.
"Would you stop this shit!" I peal the crushed metal from my forehead with a little more forced than necessary, and throwing it as far away as possible.
Her face calms down and she lowers her gun, crossing her arms over her chest, the gun dangling on the side of her hip.
"Fancy meeting you here, Edward," she snickers.
"Really?" I ask incredulously. "You shoot my ass that, by the way, hurts like a mother fucker, and now you expect me to act cheerful?" I never thought I'd say this, but this bitch is crazy!
"Well, I had to get it out of my system. Would it have been better if I had beaten you up to a pulp? I assure you that would have been worse!" She levels a dark look my way along with a long, skinny finger. "And you deserve it, anyway."
I acknowledge her words, and for a second, I go back in time to a little town and a small, fragile, blushing girl with two left feet. I know it now that I've been an idiot to act in such a way for her to think I wasn't interested in her. Point was, that I was interested in her, but not in the way she would have thought as being healthy at the time. I simply had to act in a manner that could save her life.
I see now, that it did a fat lot of good.
"Guess I deserved that," I mumble, picking up my injured ego from the ground.
She nods, accepting my words.
One minute later, we find ourselves sitting on the sidewalk with our backs on what was once a shopping mall. A torn sign tangles dangerously over our heads, squeaking every time the wind blows, creating some background noise other than pulsing fires and crumbling buildings.
For a second later we watch the sky darkening, even more so than it already is, as a squad of forty human battle ships fly over our head. A siren should have been blasting from every speaker placed strategically around the city. A lot of things should happen; problem is that people lost interest in anything other than staying alive. And who can blame them.
Clearing my throat from all the smoke I inhaled, I extend my apologies for what I did almost seventy years ago, explaining why I did what I did just to keep her alive. I'm not sure if she understands my motives judging from her far away look, but I don't pray.
There's one question, though, that's been eating away my insides from the moment I realized who she is.
"What happened to you?" I ask slowly.
She's quiet for a beat or two, watching the gray sky as an alien ship flies over our heads, in pursuit of the human aircrafts. Even after fifty years of watching them fly overhead, I still get a chill up my spine at the sight of them. They look more like a headless monster than a spaceship.
"They happened." She points to the sky with a look on her face that I can't quite read. Her face scratches up, almost in disgust, but her eyes are furious and burning with hatred.
I dig away in my memories, trying to pinpoint the year they came, but my calculations are a bit off. Isabella doesn't seem older than eighteen, first and foremost, and the Superiors landed on Earth in 2021. She would have been over thirty by then.
Seeing my confused look, she continues,"They came on my eighteenth birthday. I was in a clearing near my house when one of them came and took me away. They changed me almost immediately, claiming that I was destined to be a vampire," she mocks. Her eyes wander on the sky a few more times, almost like she's looking for something. For a second, I turn and follow her eyes, unable to keep my mind from wondering what she's searching for.
For the life of me, I can't figure it out; either from the fact that the sky is now clear of any ships, or that I can't read a word from her quiet mind.
I don't know why that shocks me, really. I had the same trouble back when she was human, so it should be no surprise that she evolved her ability once a vampire.
"They took you away?" I ask in wonder. My eyebrows shoot for the skies.
Her tight expression convinces me to stop from asking further questions about the subject.
"Can I ask what your ability is?" I inquire as casually as I can. By this point, I'm so intrigued by her and her past that curiosity doesn't even begin to describe two percent of what I'm feeling right now.
"They call me the Shadow," she admits, looking down at her hands like she's ashamed of saying it.
"Why?" My eyebrows pull and crush. Instantly, my mind is still trying to find a way inside her brain, and maybe then I'll be able to understand her. Maybe it's my nature, or my ability to read minds, that compels me to keep searching, I'm not sure.
"I will show you sometime," she says reassuringly.
Isabella turns in her spot, almost facing me now, and looks at me with curiosity in her big blue eyes.
"What happened after you left Forks?" she asks, coming another inch closer to me. My body instinctually reacts to her close proximity. What amazes me is that I'm not repelled by her closeness, but appealed to get even closer to her.
I move in sync with her, our parted knees almost touching now.
"We moved on with our lives until the human war began three years later," I explain, remembering bits and pieces from the chaos the war brought to us. "We had to stay hidden and away from the war in fear of exposure, so we moved to India where the war hadn't started yet. And so on until the Superiors landed on Earth and keeping our secret no longer applied."
The humans found out in a shock, provoking another war, but this time against us and the aliens.
In a way, their arrival cleared a few confusions regarding our provenience. Now we know where we came from and why. It's still a bit of a shock to know that we are descends of an alien civilization that landed on Earth shortly after humanity started to grow and evolve. And certainly explains the fact that we don't need to breath, sleep or have a beating heart. As they have none of the above, through biting a human and inserting their venom, those traits were passed on and created the humanoid vampire.
There are still a lot of answers to find, problem is, not many of us have the courage to ask. The few of us that got to see Caius turning to dust under the powerful stare of Kaul, leader of the Superiors, understand their nature and power. But if you do want to die, in a painful and excruciating way, all you have to do is piss off Aruna, Kaul's mate and first human to become a vampire, and her torture will make any vampire think that the three days of burning and transforming were merely a two minutes walk in the park full of flowers. As an unspoken rule, we try not to step on their toes.
So, for the last fifty years, humans were trying to bring us to extinction.
What they didn't take into consideration was the fact that the Superiors became our allies. Now, the humans are about to become extinct. I'm not sure what will happen if humans do go extinct.
"For the last part of the war, we stayed hidden in Italy with the royal family. We were there when the Superiors came and we got to witness their display of power."
"They really are extraordinaire beings." Isabella intervenes. I can only nod in agreement. As their arrival pissed a lot of people, both human and vampire, all I can do is watch them in wonder, for their beautiful faces and mind-blowing powers and knowledge. What astonishes me is, that if it wasn't for their sharply carved faces, they would look almost human.
"From then on, we drifted all over the world as the war kept going." I finish, taking a small intake of air. Not too much to hurt my dead lungs from all the smoke, but enough to keep me speaking.
I try not to notice the death lingering in the air and pay attention to Isabella as she moves another inch or two. Through the torn cargo pants, I feel heat radiating all over my body. I try to not pay attention to the feelings building inside me from her close body, and fail miserable.
I'm this close to all but crawling under her skin and staying there for the rest of time.
"Where is your family, Edward?" She watches me from under her long lashes, almost like she knows something that I don't. Her smile, shy and polite, as if she's asking about some long lost friends, seems to hide something.
And now I'm paranoid on top of everything else.
I feel my face hardening and my body going stiff.
Not this! Anything but this!
My dead heart plunges into my stomach, my throat tightens, all of a sudden a strangled cry leaves my parted lips.
The dam I tried to build, to keep the memories away, gives under an invisible force. Feelings start resurfacing with every dry sob and heart ache, and I'm unable to keep them at bay any longer. Memories, faces, words spoken to each other, and embraces all fly around, almost mocking me.
I feel crushed, burned, and buried under the weight of what was once my family.
My beautiful and loving mother. With her encouraging words and warm embraces, who always seemed to believe in me no matter what, comes front and center, bringing another round of dry sobs to burst from me. My heart is ripped clean out of my chest, stomped on, pierced by millions of little swards, than placed back inside my chest.
I hear my cries; I feel my body curling into a fetal position, but on top of it all I feel her loss. That special little place reserved only for my mother, feels hallow more so than ever before. Empty.
My…my happy, faithful little sister joins my mother in an unending circle to make me remember every moment I ever had with them. Her laugh. Her serious obsession with spending money, in which I always found something funny or teasing about. Now I would give any amount of money to have her back. To hear her chastising me for wearing the wrong shirt with my pants.
To be able to see her visions once more.
It's going to be alright, I've seen it, she would say.
Too bad she didn't see her own death coming.
And then, there's Emmett and Rosalie. We haven't heard anything from them in almost five years now, when they decided that they couldn't stand to see three grown men crying their hearts out and wallowing in self pity. I don't blame them either. They have each other, no matter the state they are in.
But they join in, crushing me under a wall of pain and sorrow.
"Shh…It's going to be all right." I vaguely hear Isabella's soft voice and feel her small arms trying to settle me down a bit.
I want to, I really do. But the pain keeps coming in waves, and with each wave, new memories resurface.
I don't know why I even bothered to bury their memory in the first place. It's not like I will ever forget any of them.
"Come with me," she instructs, lifting my limp body off the ground. "I want to show you something." With one arm secured around my middle and another one propping my chest from bending over, she guides me through the city until finally coming to a stop in front of a pile of debris that was once Seattle Grace Hospital.
My hiccups and dry sobs haven't died down yet, but with each small step I take, my heart feels lighter and lighter, almost like someone, or something, is picking up my shattered heart and soul and knitting them back to their original state.
Carefully, she maneuvers us over the pile that was once the hospital up to a point when we reach a heavy metal door, leading down.
She bends and lifts the door open for me to get in.
I try with all my might to keep my body up and take the few steps to the door and beyond it.
I try not to see the images in my head, moving around, taunting me until I feel like screaming my lungs out.
With what seems like immense strength, I command my feet to move. Three more steps down, and I'm on the other side of the door looking at nothing. Inside, it's pitch black- but to my eyes that doesn't really matter- and what looks to be like a devastated emergency staircase leading only one floor down.
A second later, Isabella joins my side, taking my hand this time. With one strong, reassuring squeeze, she guides us down the crumbled stairs to another metal door, pushing it aside with ease.
Blinding light hits my sensitive eyes, a complete contrast from the dark stairs. As my eyes adjust, Isabella keeps us going, tugging me along behind her, between rows upon rows of bunk beds. What surprises me is the fact that the whole bunker is empty of any humans, only their light scent left in their wake.
We keep going through two more rooms, one being a wide kitchen and another sleeping quarter. All empty. At the last door, she knocks three times before turning to me.
"This is my ability, my gift." She smiles reassuringly before opening the door to a small room with only two beds.
The stale, slightly metal scent of dried blood fills my senses, along with two other distinctive smells. Rich, sweet, floral, cinnamon. Sunshine and home, something my mind never forgets.
Instinctually, my first action is to listen in to whoever's around, and I'm more than surprised to find out that they are blocking me by thinking of trivial things.
Before I can analyze the matter any further, the two figures sitting with their back to me, turn and come into focus.
My knees buckle under me, my heart feels like it's just about ready to take flight out of my chest, and the dead weight from my heart suddenly disappears.
I hit the ground- hard- my knees cracking the pavement under me.
"How?" leaves my mouth in a whoosh.
"I told you, this is my gift. They call me the Shadow of Life and Death. I have no scent, a powerful shield to protect my mind and body, I am invisible," as the words leave her mouth, she disappears from right under my eyes, than appears again two steps closer to me "…and I can either take or give life. I prefer to give." Her voice is pacifying, quiet, smoothing. Like that of an angel.
"When?" I squeak out.
"I was a few miles away when their car hit the landmine," she says smiling.
"Why so long?"
"They had to be prepared," she states simply.
I gasp. I gulp.
How is it that after so many years, after everything I've done, I still get to see the day an angel comes. An angel I used to think as my darkest demon coming to haunt me, chase me away from my home and from my family. For many years I used to loath Isabella, with her crème de la crème blood that had the power to bring me to my knees, make me useless to my own self, and bring a relatively trained monster out of its lair with just a swing of her hair. Of course, underneath all that hatred there were other feelings too. Feeling that later in time came to flourish as love.
And now…she comes in an alien form to bring me life.
In a blinding second, I'm in action. First, I sweep Isabella off her feet, spinning her around a few times, kissing her whole face and whispering thank you over and over again. Her laugh rings in my ears as the most beautiful song I've ever heard, that hopefully I'll get to hear for a long time.
In a flash, I'm standing in front of the two figures trying to decide which one to pick up first.
I look past their alabaster skin and blue eyes, concentrating on their expressions and thoughts. An overwhelming desire is written on their faces in both bold and italics, their minds conveying memories upon memories.
Despite the fact that they died more than five years ago, I push my curiosity, my questions, at the back of my mind and prepare myself for their attack.
One of them decides to take the lead, jumping in my arms and shrieking for all she's worth. We kiss, he hug, we curse each other, and we kiss some more. The other figure joins in our happy place, both of them clawing up my body to hug me.
Finally, one of them breaks from my embrace, taking a long look at me before asking, "Where is my Jasper?"
My face feels like it's about to crumble to dust from all the smiling, but I manage to answer her. "He's been useless as a rock and sitting on my head like a ton of dandruff!"
We laugh some more, we embrace some more and I try to answer their questions as best as I can. But no matter how happy they make me feel, happy to have at least part of my family back, my mother and sister hold only a match to Isabella's opened torch.
From the corner of my eye I see her standing in the middle of the room smiling like she just won a billion dollars, but I know better.
No matter that she's one of them, no matter that maybe someday she will have to go back to their planet, because, let's face it, a force of nature like her can't be kept in a world where greedy humans still live.
But I won't be far.
I've made a stupid mistake once; I'll be damned if I do it again.