Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I just like playing with the characters.
The backstory to my story comes from hitntr01's amazing In Need of Rescue. You should read her story, as it's better than anything I have ever written, and is very scary. I am using her concepts of the farms, the vampire language Vampiri, the Rules, and the machines that are used to draw human blood with her permission. Everything else is my own concoction, and I freely take the blame for it.
Chapter 11 – Going to Texas
"What's your name?" I asked
"Isaiah," he replied.
Was it a vampire trick? Couldn't tell, but what he was saying sounded nice. Trust goes two ways, and I decided to try trust first. If I had to escape later, well, that would be down the road. I would keep my eyes open, in case I needed to try to call Crazy.
We stayed on the train, riding for another day and a half. Isaiah wasn't a big talker. I tried some small talk, but it wasn't going anywhere. He seemed to take an interest in me, thought, lifting me so I could look out of the railroad car through through the trapdoor in the roof during the day. From this breezy vantage point, I watched see the countryside along the tracks change from pines trees and mountains to flat lands open in every direction. It was cold everywhere, some places covered with ice.
After the day and a half passed, the train pulled to a stop. As it slowed, Isaiah touched his finger to his lips. He pulled a bandana out of his pocket, rolled it, and tied it around my neck. I held still for him, but couldn't help the feeling that he was putting on a collar on me.
He pushed back the sliding door that covered one side of the car, and the cattle moved nervously.
When the door opened, the bright sunshine felt like it was slicing through my eyes. I winced, rubbing them as ramps were pushed up to the opening, and the cattle began to climb out. When I could focus, I saw a small group outside. I realized that men were handling the cattle. They wore blue bandanas around their necks and hats like Isaiah's on their heads. They talked and yelled both to the cattle and one another, using poles and their voices to guide the animals into a herd. The big animals "mmmered" a bit, but seemed relieved to be on their feet and moving after the time spent in the dark box car.
I saw glimmers from a few of the men at the outer edge of the group and realized they were vampires. They kept a distance from the cattle.
Some of the human men were on horses. I l turned to Isaiah to exclaim, "Horses," but I caught myself. When I looked at him, his face was impassive and inscrutable.
Once all of the cows had left the car, Isaiah held out a hand and lifted me down to the ground. I stood still watching the cattle being moved, and noticed I was being eyed by both the vampires and the cowboys. The cattle, especially the males, began to low and toss their heads. Isaiah hissed something, and the vampires who had been inching forward pulled back. I could feel my heart racing as I realized they had probably been drawn by my scent.
Soon the cattle were rounded up and formed into a herded by the men in horseback. A Jeep pulled up, driven by a women with frizzy brown hair. When I got in, I realized she was vampire.
She looked curiously between Isaiah and me, but he didn't offer her any explanations for my presence in the car, just loaded me into the back seat and we drove off.
The sun overhead was brighter than in California. I wondered if that was because the ground was so open. There was grass on the plain and hills to the west, but overall, the effect was complete openness, with this grassland stretching without interruption eastward as far as the eye could see. Los Angeles had been surrounded by foothills or the ocean, and Oregon had trees and hills.
The air was brisk, and I shivered slightly. Isiah's eyes caught mine in the mirror, and he flicked his eyes downward so I looked at the space on the seat beside me. There was a duffle bag. Opening it, I found a jacket and blanket. I put the jacket on and spread the blanket over my lap.
The trip didn't take long. Soon we came to a one-story wooden house with several large buildings behind it. There was a fence along one side that lead to several large structures that I suspected were cattle barns.
Once the car stopped, Isaiah finally made introductions to the driver. "This is Mrs. Jones. We can talk here, but not around strangers. Just follow my lead."
I nodded, then said, "Thank you."
Mrs. Jones said, "Come inside, honey. Get you a shower and some clean clothes."
We went inside, where she took me to a bedroom. I took a shower, and found new jeans, and a red and white checkered shirt waiting for me on the bed in the bedroom. Putting them on, I debated about the bandana, but left it off.
I followed my nose into the kitchen.
"Steak for dinner, dear," Mrs. Jones said cheerily. "It's one thing a cattle ranch has plenty of, steak."
It smelled like nothing I had ever experienced. I looked at the table, which had been set for one. She nodded, and so I climbed up onto one of the chairs and ate the steak, baked potato and carrots she served. I used the knife and fork at the place setting, the way my mother had taught me while we were still on the barracks. Since we didn't have silverware to use, she had modeled the correct behavior using bits of bread or whatever food we were given. It seemed quite important to her that I understand.
There had been this one doctor who saw us occasionally on the living death camp. Mother claimed he watched me. "I think he's a good man, or is a good vampire," she said. "If he comes for you, go with him. Don't be afraid. Remember your manners, and use a knife, fork and napkin at the table. Just because you grew up in this place doesn't mean you don't have table manners. Be polite and call him Doctor, Sir, or whatever he tells you to call him." We saw the blond vampire a few times over the year, but never learned his name. His eyes were different, and he didn't seem to mind when we looked at him. His eyes were yellow.
He never came back for me after any of his visits, though, and I knew the other women occasionally chided her for raising my hopes of freedom.
"I'm telling you, he's a good man," my mother told them quietly. "And he watches her, but not like the guards. He's going to come for her. And Bella, when he does, don't be afraid of him," she kept telling me.
Of course, he didn't, and finally Mother got me out during the first escape attempt she learned about.
Much as I wanted to see the world outside, I was glad this doctor never come back for me, because I didn't want to be separated from her. I still remembered the table manners she had taught through pantomime, and I used them now that I was out when there were vampires around. Otherwise, I ate with my hands, just like I had in the barracks.
So at Isiah's house, I used my table manners.
I was ready to go the next morning. Mrs. Jones made pancakes, which tasted as heavenly as they had in Disneyland or anywhere else I had experienced them. When I was done, I stood up and looked at Isaiah expectantly.
Nobody moved. Had I made a mistake trusting him?
I said, "Thank you, and it was wonderful knowing you," to Mrs. Jones, who glanced at Isaiah. I followed her gaze. He had given me his word. I bit my lip, anxious.
"Would you like to see the stables before we leave?" he asked. "One of the mares had a foal while I was gone. I was just going out there to see…"
I was at the door before he finished. Horses. Of course I wanted to see horses.
"Maybe you would like to ride one?" suggested Mrs. Jones.
I almost broke my neck snapping my head in her direction. Ride? Me? A horse?
Isaiah nodded. "It would do me a favor if you would. The men ride the horses when they work with the cattle, and it's nice to get a new rider…"
We went to the stable, a large wooden building I had noticed as we drove up the night before. I could hear the horses before I could see them, moving in their stalls, snorting and nickering. So many. Once my eyes got used to the light, I took in the length of the barn. It seemed enormous to me, much larger than the barracks I had grown up in. There were little wooden cages that held individual horses. The horses watched us over their wooden gate, ears flattened backwards or pointing forwards, moving restlessly.
"It's me," Isaiah said. "They don't grow accustomed to vampires, so I'll wait here at the doorway. Jack will take you in."
I turned, startled to see a man standing next to us. When we entered, I hadn't seen him standing next to the door, he was so still. He was holding a rake, wearing jeans, blue work shirt and a large hat.
"Maybe saddle Paint for her, if you think she could ride him," he told Jack.
Jack nodded and walked me down the long row of horses. I was in love before I reached the fourth horse, and started putting my over the gate to try to stroke their noses. A few let me, sniffing at my hand first, their warm breath warming my fingers as they exhaled after sniffing at me.
Isaiah had caught me in his gentle trap. For days, I got up every day, ready to leave, and then went to see the ponies before I left. And every day, I ended up riding one for most of the day.
Each night after I was done riding, we sat on the porch, watching the sunset. After a few days of riding, Mrs. Jones went into town and returned with a riding outfit for me. White leather, with fringe on the hat and leggings, and a matching hat. They took my picture on the back of one of the horses, Paint.
A week passed. I was so happy, but I needed to go. I wanted to find the colony Isaiah had told me about, and live with other free people. The men on Isaiah's ranch didn't look unhappy, but I didn't mingle with them. They kept their distance.
So one day after breakfast I announced, "No trips to the stable. I have to go now."
Isaiah looked down and said, "If you go now, you won't survive out there. I need to make sure you know enough about survival to make it out there. How to make a fire, how to catch game, how to beat a track. Useless for you to go to your war as a liability. I know how to do all those things, and I'm going to make sure you do."
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