Tales from the Void2 Contest

Title: Galvanized

Rating: M

Word Count: 5,867

Pairing: Edward and Bella

Summary: When death surrounded Dr. Carlisle Cullen, he couldn't resist the temptation to give it life.

Warning: The following is in the horror genre. There will be blood. There will be death.

Galvanize: To stimulate by application of an electric current

It was a moonless night, a biting cold wind at the back of Dr. Carlisle Cullen as he returned to his home outside the city. He started a fire and sat in his chair, a large tumbler of whiskey in his hand. Staring into the flames, he would have prayed if he had any faith left.

The epidemic plaguing the city had left hundreds dead and thousands more lying in sickbeds where most would expire in a slow painful manner. No medicine had proven effective against treating or preventing the influenza. On some days, he didn't feel like a doctor at all, but an undertaker, moving the dead to be disposed of, burning entire families, and sending bereaved children to the church for shelter.

Being surrounded by death of this magnitude had robbed him of hope, taken his convictions, and buried them where the hundreds of corpses should have been.

A refill of whiskey made it a little more bearable. A third generous glass made him forget about what had made him so upset in the first place. He added wood to the fire and plucked a book from the shelf. He opened the volume and pored over the pages of script, his mind racing at the subject.

This book was written by his mentor, a brilliant surgeon who also had some odd beliefs. One of those beliefs mapped out on the pages of this very book.

It was filled with theories of galvanism and reanimation.

Carlisle had scoffed upon learning of this fascination of his mentor. Surely a man of such stature did not believe this nonsense! But he certainly did.

At first, it was a subject that Carlisle researched purely out of curiosity. What he found was a shocking amount of written material dedicated to the subject authored by world renowned doctors and biologists. And the more he read, the more fascinated he too became. It gave him something other than his work to focus on; it was an escape from reality that Carlisle desperately needed.

As the influenza continued to spread and death remained a constant in Dr. Cullen's life, harsh spirits filled his nights along with long episodes of reading and hypothesizing- filling journals with his own growing theories and ideas. Sleep often eluded the doctor, and he spent his nights engrossed in the texts of his mentor, which kept his mind probing the possibility of bringing life to the dead.

He pressed on with his work at the hospital, trudging through each day with the help of a flask of gin. Dr. Cullen became detached, refusing to form relationships with his fellow doctors and nurses as many of them were falling ill as well. The wide-spread epidemic worsened every day, and Carlisle fell into a depression. He was incredibly lonely, drinking heavily and chewing copious amounts of coca leaves stolen from the hospital's supplies. Dr. Cullen refused to use them on patients, thinking these people did not need to be more mentally aware– not in their state. Instead, he used them on himself, trying to medicate away his depression. But what started as a cure for his own ailment became an addiction and a fragmented road toward madness. He no longer slept more than a few hours per day, obsessed with his new theories on galvanism. He wanted to experiment; reading about the subject was no longer enough. His ideas morphed into something tangible that in his riddled brain were more alluring than his current reality.

He constructed a private laboratory in his home and began his collection. There was vigor in his stride as he dealt with the bodies of the deceased. He no longer viewed them with sorrow but with excitement, harvesting their most useful parts: limbs and core body from men with an athletic build, hands from the most talented piano player in the city, and the head from a boy with a beautiful face.

All he needed now was the right brain. Dr. Cullen wanted his creation to have above average mental capacity, the ability to learn and comprehend everything he could teach him. He wanted a companion who would be his intellectual equal.

He would bring life to the dead! A feat no man had yet accomplished. A heady intoxication surged within him as he came closer to his goal.

During his rounds, he came upon a new patient in the first stages of the sickness. The man asked for a drink, preferably something strong. With a nod, Carlisle poured a swallow of gin from his flask into a cup and indulged the man, who thanked him and then introduced himself as Nikola Tesla.

Dr. Cullen was awestruck. Tesla was well known for working with Thomas Edison in the late eighteen hundreds, ultimately surpassing Edison with the alternating current system he developed. He was an electrical engineer, a physicist, and a bona fide genius! This was exactly what Carlisle needed. He had to have this man's brain! He felt giddy with excitement, no shame or remorse because the man was infected and with no cure, he would surely die. He could not in good conscience let such brilliance go to waste.

He gave Tesla a strong sedative, then declared him dead and cremated. He snuck Tesla out of the hospital in the hours of early morning and brought him home.

And so it began... his greatest experiment.

He took special care in the preparations, every stitch precise, documenting every step in his journal. He extracted Tesla's brain while the man was still alive and powerfully sedated. He couldn't risk oxygen deprivation to the brain, lest it compromise the organ's integrity.

He implanted it with meticulous precision, applying electrodes and sending tiny currents that kept stimulating the brain throughout the process. He continued on in a barely contained frenzy, his excitement rising every second. When he had sewn the last stitch, he stepped back and turned the dial that primed his generator. He was giddy with anticipation, fingers itching to throw the lever and take the last step.

Tension built as he counted down from ten to one, his voice rising in volume but barely heard over the hum of surging electrical energy. He threw the switch with a cackle and was thrown backward from the force. The body of his creation was awash in bright white and blue sparks, its back arching off the table and arms lurching upward.

Dr. Cullen was on his feet, candle-light guiding him to the table. He placed his hands on the chest of the body and felt a heart thudding beneath his fingers.

"He's alive!" he bellowed. "Alive!"

He was shaking afterward, exhilarated, but it had yet to open its eyes or show any signs of consciousness. All evening he monitored the creature's vital signs. The creature whom he had decided to name Edward. He stayed by his side throughout the night, waiting for him to wake up.

As dawn's morning light crept into the window, Dr. Cullen awoke with a start, having dozed off at some point. Edward was awake, sitting up and staring at him through dull yellow irises.

Carlisle stood on shaky legs, a smile on his lips as he introduced himself.

The first few days spent caring for Edward went very different than he had expected. Although Edward had retained some base knowledge–he could walk and his motor functions normal–Tesla's personality was gone completely. Edward's mind seemed like that of a young child's. He did not understand what Carlisle was saying nor did he speak. He was gentle and curious, always watching Dr. Cullen and sometimes trying to repeat his words.

The doctor spent a good portion of time studying Edward. He was pale, deathly so, and his skin was almost translucent, barely concealing his muscular system. His heart pumped slowly, dark blood sluggishly moving through his veins. Deep purple bags formed under his eyes, and there was terrible bruising where he had been stitched together.

Weeks of Edward's continuation to refuse food and water had Carlisle at his wits' end. The doctor hadn't slept a wink in days and had imbibed a generous helping of gin. He'd grown frustrated with Edward's deteriorating physical appearance and his slow progress in speech. Dr. Cullen had not anticipated this much work; he'd envisioned a prodigal son, a being with superior intellect, not a needy, lethargic dolt.

The thing followed Carlisle around like a lost puppy and had taken to constantly sniffing the man.

"Edward!" Carlisle admonished and pushed him away. "You will stop that immediately."

Edward's features contorted into rage and desperation, his hands balled into fist as he snarled at the doctor. His stance suddenly aggressive, he stepped forward, towering over Dr. Cullen. He grabbed Carlisle's arm and brought it to his mouth, biting his wrist hard enough to break the skin.

He was strong enough to hold Carlisle in place as he drank his blood and thirsty enough to ignore his screams.

Edward drank just enough to quell his craving, then he pulled away, grunting and panting.

He hadn't taken much. Dr. Cullen was fine in the physical sense, but he was angry and terrified, then in complete shock when he watched Edward change right before his eyes. His skin took on a healthy pallor, his hair a shining auburn, no bruising or stitch marks to be seen. Before him was a healthy looking young man with bright green eyes. He looked normal...alive.

Clutching his throat, Edward let out a long moan before saying, "H- hu...ngry."

Dr. Cullen slid to the floor, horrified at what he had just witnessed. Everything he had worked for... Everything he had wanted Edward to be... It was all crumbling around him. What he had created wasn't right. It was a monster, a blood-drinking demon! He was repulsed at what he'd done but was too drunk and scared to do anything about it. He took the coward's way out and fled his home, leaving Edward to his own devices. He did not return.

And Edward... He had no concept of right and wrong. He didn't understand what had happened and was too frightened to leave the house, so there he stayed. He wandered each room, going through motions as he had seen Carlisle do. When he came to the bathroom, he blinked in wonder at his reflection. He did not recognize what he saw. His now flawless skin and sparkling eyes were foreign to him, yet it made him smile.

Edward spent his time looking over the many books the doctor had left behind, eventually recognizing what the doctor had tried to show him. Slowly but surely, Edward taught himself to read. Carlisle had been too preoccupied with his own failure and too deep in a bottle to recognize that Tesla's brain had not failed. Edward was able to comprehend and learn information at a rapid pace; no feral child could teach itself to read, let alone understand the words on the page. He had a photographic memory and an almost obsessive focus when he decided what he wanted.

Within a week, Edward's appearance had gone back to what it had been before, hideous scars from where he had been stitched, his color ghostly, eyes once again a strange yellow, and his hunger was back with a vengeance. He was desperate for...something, anything that would make the pain in his throat subside. He hobbled down the stairs and out the door, and then he walked. The doctor's home was in a wooded area, several miles outside the city. Edward trudged down the dirt road, wandering aimlessly until he attacked and drained a house cat in a fit of ravenous hunger. Tossing aside the carcass, his head shot up at a noise in the distance. He saw a light through the trees and moved closer, hiding behind the trunk of a large oak; he peeked around and saw a house. Through the window he could see several people inside, people who looked just like the doctor! He stared at the people and moved closer so he could hear them speak.

He stayed, hiding in the shadows watching until dawn broke, and then he ran quickly home.

The moment he stepped inside, Edward froze. Staring into the mirror on the wall of the foyer, he realized he looked different...again. Touching his face, he flinched at the sensitivity of his fingers, at his warm, smooth skin. He marveled at the difference in himself.

Months went by much the same. Edward stayed inside during the day, reading and trying to teach himself to speak. His nights were spent spying on the nearby family, listening closely to their words and watching their interactions, educating himself on how others behaved. He even heard them speak of Dr. Cullen, who had resumed working at the hospital in the city.

Edward tried to do as they did, although he had no desire to eat–not food. His compulsion to hunt was not there all the time; it came on sudden and strong. He managed to control it, searching out animals from which to feed on.

He tried to sleep, but the luxury never came. He also managed to work up a small vocabulary of English. His appearance was in a constant state of flux, from dead to alive and back. On a base level, Edward knew he was different, but the how and why were simply beyond him. With no guidance, he did not know how others would react to his hungry facade.

He found out the hard way.

Edward decided to introduce himself to the humans he so often watched. It had been a while since he had fed; the skin of his face was a filmy white, his eyes like buttery glass and his stitches dreadfully raised with festering green and purple bruises that had blossomed along his face, neck, and hands. He dressed in his black trousers and a button-down shirt, combed his hair, and then walked through the woods to the house. It was late afternoon, sun west in the sky as he climbed the porch and knocked upon the door. The young girl who answered screamed when she saw him, shouting about the devil in disguise. Her father came to the door brandishing a shotgun.

Edward extended his trembling hand and said, "Hello."

The man raised his gun and pointed it at Edward, hollering at him to leave, calling him vile and unnatural, and calling him a monster.

Edward cowered as a shot rang out, the man before him screaming about an abomination. He recognized the look of pure disgust on the man's face and the fear. It was like Dr. Cullen all over again.

Edward did the only thing he could think of. He ran home.

He stepped into the house and slammed the door behind him. The first thing he saw was that damned mirror. Anger bubbled up inside his chest at his reflection. The realization that he was a terrifying beast sent him flying toward the mirror, using his fists to beat and break the glass. When he finally dropped his hand, he stared, transfixed at the dark blood that seeped from his hands and pooled on the floor at his feet.

As summer sun gave way to autumn's chill and the changing of leaves, Edward sequestered himself inside, only leaving at night when his compulsion to feed was severe. His appetite was sated with the blood of animals; he did not dare approach anyone again. What Edward did understand was that they feared him

He filled his days as he normally did, reading books and developing his speech. He discovered the piano on accident; he dropped a heavy book on the keys that rang out in a loud clatter of notes. He jumped back in surprise, then tentatively ran one finger over the keys. He smiled at the sound, his fingers lingering over the ivory. He immediately felt drawn to the instrument, a faint recognition passing through his brain. Placing his fingertips on the keys felt familiar; he played a chord without ever having done it before.

Edward found that playing the instrument came as easy as breathing. His hands knew what to do, his mind free of anxiety–music calmed and grounded him. He watched autumn pass by sitting at the piano, melancholy tunes giving him a soundtrack. If he wasn't playing, he had book in hand. He studied obsessively, determined to speak English fluently even if he was only talking to himself. What he didn't know was that he was already beautifully articulate; his fascination with the English language was not in vain. He sounded intelligent and well-spoken.

Winter came quick, the cold air holding a sharp chill. Edward had been out most of the night, scavenging for a meal when he saw her. She was knee-deep in snow, walking alongside the road that led to his home. Edward kept his distance and watched as she stumbled and collapsed into a heap. When she didn't get up, he fought with himself. Should he go to her? Should he run away? He had just fed. He didn't think he would scare her...

His desperation for companionship won out. He walked slowly through the snow, calling out a hello? but she did not answer. Looking down, he sucked in a breath–she was shaking and shivering, long, dark hair wet and sticking to her skin, almost frozen.

"Help me," she whispered, her lips turning blue from the frigid temperature. "So cold..."

He scooped her up into his arms and carried her home. Laying her down in the parlor, he started a roaring fire. Edward cocooned the girl in blankets and warmed some water for tea, but she did not wake. He sat in the chair and watched as her breathing evened out and a beautiful pink returned to her cheeks.

She slept for the better part of two days and Edward continued to watch, tending to the fire and poring over one of Dr. Cullen's medical books, for he had no idea how to care for her. He left her side only to hunt; he could not let her see what happened when he got hungry. He did not want to frighten her.

Awareness found her slowly. Opening her eyes just a sliver, she looked up at Edward and said, "Thank you," before unconsciousness found her again.

The second time she opened her eyes, she blinked, trying to get her bearings, confused at the mound of blankets over her body. She lifted them off with a huff, her limbs achy and sore. She turned her head and gasped when she saw Edward sitting in the chair across the room.

"Hello," he said softly, his hands folded in his lap. "My name is Edward. Don't be afraid. I will do no harm."

She sat up slowly, brows furrowed in confusion. She did not remember how she came to be in this house–did not know this man before her. She looked him over, her eyes landing on his, and she let out a breath she didn't know she was holding in. He was young, close to her own age, she guessed.

"What happened?" she stuttered, looking away and around the sparsely-furnished room.

Edward cleared his throat, not used to speaking out loud. He paused, trying to figure out what words to use. "You were in the snow. Very cold."

It all came rushing back to her as her stomach growled–she had been searching for food. Starving and fool-hardy, she had been walking through the snow, frantic to find sustenance. Tears welled in her eyes as she thought of her family–all of them lost to the influenza.

"Thank you, Edward. Bless your heart for taking me in. I owe you my life."

"It was my pleasure," he answered, remembering to smile.

"I can repay you. I can cook and clean. Oh! I can sew if you need any mending done," she stammered and blushed when her stomach rumbled again.

Edward leaned forward and swallowed before saying, "You... You need food and water. I will fetch some."

"No," she protested. "I don't want to burden you any further. I can manage." She stood on shaky legs, her head spinning and dizzy.

Edward caught her as she fell, his arms so warm around her and his eyes pleading as he repeated what he'd read in the book about how to treat the sick. "You need food and water, and rest."

He picked her up like she weighed nothing and set her down upon the sofa. "You are no burden," he said, draping a blanket across her shoulders. "I'm sorry. I do not know your name."

"Oh...My name is Isabella, but please, call me Bella."

"Bella," he repeated with a nod and turned toward the kitchen. He retrieved a glass of water and heated something that came from a tin can. He hoped it would be sufficient. Serving her in front of the fire, she ate tentatively and thanked him again. She offered him a portion but he refused, claiming he had already eaten.

"Where is your family?" she asked, taking a sip of water. "You mother and father?"

"Father," Edward said slowly, tasting the word, thinking of Dr. Cullen. "Father is gone. No... family."

She gave him a sad smile, instantly feeling a kinship with him. "My entire family fell sick with the influenza. I am the only one who survived."

When a tear ran down her cheek, Edward asked, "Are you afraid?"

She shook her head. "Not anymore. I feel very...safe with you."

And so began a new friendship between Edward and Bella. He took very good care of her, always making sure she was well fed and warm. When she had fully recuperated, Edward offered her a place in his home, and in return, she insisted on taking care of all of the housework.

Snow blanketed the countryside, and the two formed a close friendship. Bella was delighted to learn that Edward was musical and she would beg him to play the piano for her. Music and laughter filled the space and for the first time ever, Edward was happy.

Edward would often attempt to help Bella with whatever chore she had assigned herself, but she would always shoo him away, insisting she earn her keep. Usually, Edward would retire to the parlor and read. Sometimes, in the evenings, he would read to her as she lay in front of the hearth, and he was always tickled when his voice lulled her to sleep.

When she finally admitted that she didn't know how to read or write, Edward started teaching her. There was a wonderful give and take between them–each of them taking pride in caring for one another. She taught him how to play several card games and chess, which Edward loved. It was only a matter of time before he could beat her, but he took to occasionally letting her win- just to see her triumphant smile.

One evening, he found Bella sitting at the kitchen table, her face in her hands and shoulders shaking in delicate sobs.

"Bella?" he asked from the doorway. "What's wrong?"

She sniffled and wiped her nose, then motioned for him to join her. "I was thinking about my sisters. I had three of them–Elizabeth, Mary Alice, and Rosalie."

He took the seat across from her and folded his hands in front of him, not knowing how to reply.

"Do you ever feel lonely?" Bella asked, reaching across the table and taking his hand.

"I was very lonely before I found you," he replied, loving the way her hand felt in his. Her skin was so soft, and the pressure she used when she squeezed was sublime.

"Will you read to me?"

"Of course," he answered as he rose from his seat. Hand in hand, he led her into the other room and then went as still as a stone when she wrapped her arms around him. He followed her lead, letting his hands come to rest on the small of her back.

"Thank you," she whispered against his chest, "for everything. I don't know what I would do without you."

He read until she was fast asleep. Then he snuck out into the night to hunt. He would carefully monitor his appearance, and at the first sign of white skin and bruising, he knew he had to feed.

He had come to care deeply for Bella, and he couldn't stand the thought of ever frightening her, couldn't bear to have her scream at the sight of his decomposing body. He couldn't go through that again. He would do anything to keep his secret. He could not lose her.

The problem was that the more time he spent with Bella, the more frequent his dark urges. He was feeding twice a week to keep his body looking normal. His aggressive hunting, coupled with a stark winter, made finding prey of the animal variety quite challenging. He had been roaming all night and was having no luck; his throat burned and his skin was pale and clammy. He had to find something soon! He could not let Bella see him like this!

He walked to the city, hoping to find rats for blood, but what he found was something very different. He came upon a scene–a man and woman arguing in a very loud manner. The woman bore a strong resemblance to Bella that Edward could not shake, especially when the man raised his fist and struck her. She fell with a high-pitched cry, and her blood in the air shattered Edward's control. Stepping out of the shadows, Edward stalked over to the man, sank his teeth into his neck, and drank every last drop. He drank the woman too–only to silence her screams.

He ran the whole way home, faster than he had ever run before. He felt wonderful, full of energy, high, already wanting more. He was shocked at how good he felt after drinking from a human. Following his instincts had been exhilarating–it made him feel powerful for the first time ever.

Hunting would never be the same.

When the ground thawed and flowers began to bloom, Bella and Edward started spending time outside. She taught him how to plant seeds, she took him swimming in a nearby pond, and they chased fireflies together–catching them in jars and then releasing them into the night.

Bella had figured out that something wasn't quite right about Edward, yet she couldn't put her finger on exactly what it was. He hardly ever ate himself, but he was diligent in making sure she had three proper meals per day. He was often confused by something she said, as if he didn't understand her words. She tried asking about his family but the subject seemed to upset him. She knew all too well how losing your entire family could affect you. So, she didn't push the issue.

Regardless of his faults, Edward had always been a perfect gentleman. He took care of her when no one else would, and she was grateful for everything he did. He was handsome and sweet, smart and generous, and Bella was falling in love with him. She wondered if he planned to court her, secretly hoping he would ask her soon, but she was also afraid that her feelings were unrequited.

They were taking a walk in late afternoon, the sun starting to dip into the horizon. Hand in hand, they walked with the sun at their backs when Bella stopped and looked up at him. She took his hand and brought it to her mouth, pressing her lips to his knuckles.

He touched her face, his thumb caressing her cheek. When she tilted her head, he did too. Bella smiled and slid her hands around his neck, pushing her body closer to his. Edward was bewildered and amazed at how it felt to have her so close. He had the overwhelming urge to pull her closer–to have no space between them.

"You are so beautiful," he told her, the setting sun making her glow. She stood on her tip toes and pulled him into a tender kiss, then blushed as she pulled back.

"I..." he started, unsure of what this was that he was feeling, of what was happening between them. He wanted to laugh–pure joy erupting inside his chest, a warm comfort radiating in every place she was touching him. He closed his eyes, a bit frustrated at his lack of words, but he simply could not describe this.

Bella kissed both his cheeks, her lips lingering over his skin as she said, "I love you."

A brilliant smile lit up Edward's face and he hugged her, buried his nose in her hair, and replied, "I love you too."

That night, Bella sat in his lap as he read and fell asleep in his arms.

Sometime later, she awoke suddenly at the sound of a door closing. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and looked out her window seeing Edward walking away from the house. This was not the first time she had awoken in the night to find him gone. Frequent nightmares often interrupted her sleep, and there had been a good many times when Edward's bed had been empty. Simple curiosity prompted her to follow him–she was eager to know where he went and what he did during the night.

Still in her slippers, her steps were quick and quiet as she followed him all the way to the city unseen. She was utterly confused at what purpose he would have venturing here at this hour. She watched Edward as he hid in the shadows outside a tavern. She covered her mouth to hush the gasp that escaped her when a man stumbled out the door only to have Edward pull him into a nearby alley.

There was a muffled groan and then whimpers, and she couldn't help herself; she dashed over to the alley and this time, she didn't bother trying to hide her gasp. Edward's mouth was at the man's neck and the blood... It was everywhere.

Edward wrenched his head away when he heard her and dropped the man's body when he realized who was there.

She was in shock, couldn't move, couldn't even think. "Is he...dead?"

"Yes," Edward answered, his mouth bloody, his heart racing, and his hands speckled in red.

"Why would you do that? And you were... Oh God, Edward, I saw you..." she said, her tone flat–numb in a subdued hysteria that was growing. She shook her head in disbelief, her voice rising to a shriek. "Why?"

He stepped toward her and she stepped back, the sting of rejection piercing him.

"I can explain."

"Explain?" she shouted. "You... You killed that man! You drank his blood!"

Edward saw the look on Bella's face, and fear scraped through him. He knew that look... She was repulsed. She was horrified. She would leave him.

"Please!" he begged, "Bella... I..."

She didn't give him a chance to explain. With tears streaking her face, she turned and ran from him. She could not believe that her Edward would be capable of something like this. But, of course, she did not know what Edward really was.

He did not have a sense of morality, for such traits are learned. No one had ever taught him of ethics or humanity. He only knew that he needed the blood. It was a base instinct that he could not help but give into.

Bella was so distraught that she didn't hear Edward calling her name, didn't know that he was chasing her. She ran through the streets, her vision blurred from tears, her slippers soaked through with water from a puddle. She started down the stairs in the square but was caught off guard at the sound of Edward's bellowing voice behind her. She turned her head and then tripped, her body falling down the stone steps and landing with a sharp crack.

Edward was frantic when he reached her–she lay motionless and silent. He cradled her in his arms and cried out as her heart gave one final beat.

"No, no, no, no, no..." he chanted, rocking her, kissing her forehead, grieving for her, wailing at the thought of living without her.

He wracked his brain, trying to think of something from Dr. Cullen's medical books when he had an epiphany. Taking Bella gently in his arms, he ran toward the hospital. He placed Bella down outside the back entrance and went in search of the doctor.

Carlisle was taking inventory when Edward found him.

"Come now," he said, taking the doctor's hand and leading him outside.

Looking down at the girl, Carlisle sucked in a breath. "What have you done?"

"No," Edward growled. "I would never hurt her. I love her. You have to save her."

He kneeled down and touched her neck, finding no pulse. "She is dead. There is nothing I can do."

"Liar!" Edward hissed. "I read your journal. I know what you did and what I am."

Carlisle paled, his hands shaking. He was a fool to think he could leave behind what he had done, what he had created. He could not in good conscience turn his back on this situation.

Edward kneeled next to him and touched Bella's hand, finding it cold and lifeless. He turned to Carlisle and put his hand on his shoulder. "Make her like me. Father, please..."

Carlisle felt a stabbing remorse; seeing Edward like this saddened him deeply. Edward called him father... The sentiment touched him, the guilt eating him alive. He had abandoned Edward, offered him so little guidance, and ultimately he had shouldered no responsibility for something that was entirely his own fault.

He would make this right.

"All right," he conceded. "Let's get her home."

They used an ambulance to move her body. Carlisle drove while Edward held Bella, constantly whispering to her, professing his love, promising to read and play for her every night.

When they reached the house, Edward carried her inside, Carlisle following close behind.

"Come now, son," Dr. Cullen said, his hand braced on Edward's shoulder. "Lay her down on the bed for now. We must prepare the laboratory."

Edward nodded and brought Bella to her room, tucking her in just like he had done so many times before. He kissed her cheek, told her he loved her and that they would be together again soon.

He made his way upstairs to the lab and found Carlisle already at work, hunched over the desk in the corner.

"Why don't you sit while I read over my notes. Relax, and this will all be over soon."

Edward sat in the chair that faced the window and dropped his head into his hands.

Carlisle approached him slowly, thinking to himself, God, forgive me. Let this be my atonement, before he swung the axe that ended the monster he had created.