Charlie's whole life has been leading up to this moment.
The sun goes down out of sight behind a line of trees and
The whole sky is bleeding red;
Cocks his shotgun filled with crude silver bullets
(Bits of his ex wife's old charm bracelet; his daughter's earrings;
His grandmother's antique cutlery) and tells himself that he's ready for this.
He wipes the sweat off his upper lip and tries to stop shaking
But there's no stopping the devil – he knows -
Reaches into his pocket for a cigarette; fumbles with a box of soggy matches
And as the tentative flame casts hard shadows across the plane of his face
Charlie wonders if this is the last cigarette he'll ever have.
"Momma, there's somethin' movin' in the field."
Charlie has seen pictures of bears before but he's
never seen a thing like this. Last week in class Miss
Hatherley taught them about the Big Brown and the
Grizzly Black so he considers himself something of an expert;
Stands up on his tree branch and cranes his neck
Practically falling off with one foot in the air for balance
And says again, 'Momma, look!'
But Momma is tired from working two back-to-back
Shifts at the clinic and is in no mood for games;
So instead of an answer the bone-weary
Slump of her shoulders is the best she can muster.
Charlie briefly watches her take a swig from
A plaid-print coffee flask laced liberally with whiskey before
Turning his attentions elsewhere; back to the beast.
The thing moves again; long grass parting like hair
Against a comb and Charlie wonders if all bears move
This way; so quickly and quietly it seems like a dream -
But then he sees it pause at the edge of the forest,
Silhouetted against the bright light and suddenly
Realises that it's not a bear at all; it's a wolf.
The beast is stone-still and Charlie hasn't noticed it
Yet but he's barely breathing. They watch each other
For a long moment and Charlie doesn't quite know how, but
Something doesn't feel right. Then wind picks up again
And before he can blink the wolf turns around and
Melts back into the whispering shadow of the woods.
"I love him, dad."
Charlie throws his head back as he takes a swig of
Coffee laced liberally with whiskey. He
Uses his mother's plaid-print flask;
Looks up at the girl in the doorway and wonders
When his daughter turned into a stranger;
Thinks back to her fifth birthday when
He drove her down to Seattle for the day and they
Strolled leisurely through Pike Place Market;
Stopped to pet the bronze pig and eat whoopie pies
At the park overlooking the bay.
He recalls the soft curve of her cheek from when he
Cradled her in his arms and watched the sun go down
Over Puget Sound. Wonders where his little girl's gone
And who this woman is instead; watches her turn away
And remembers that Belladonna (tinker-bella, baby-bell, my
Isabella) is deadly nightshade.
"I'll let you in on a secret," says Charlie,
Voice dropping low to a whisper so that
Billy has to scoot closer to hear -
"I think there's somethin' in the forest."
Billy leans back and his face is sour like a lemon;
Tells Charlie he's talking out of his ass and that
Big foot isn't real.
"Never said it was Big Foot," Charlie starts,
But Billy's already gone, one arm thrown around
Quil's shoulders with a careless laugh.
Charlie scuffs the toe of his sneaker against the dirt
And tries not to feel lonely.
Charlie hates hospitals on account that
He's spent more time in them than out of them,
But he's doing pretty poorly these days and
Sue Clearwater said she'd have his hide if he
Didn't get looked at by someone other than
The drugstore pharmacist. He takes in the
Blinding whiteness of those walls and
Fluorescent lights, faintly-buzzing like
Flies 'round a fruit bowl, and tries to ignore
The stench of sterility in chlorine and rubber
Gloves and the flap of a labcoat worn for
Twelve straight hours; thinks he's got a migraine
Coming on - Goddammit.
He's not prepared for what comes next - for when time
Inexplicably stops and all those things that annoyed him so
Fade into nothingness in the wake of the most
Beautiful thing he has ever seen – more than Renee, more than
Baby Bella, more than the rising sunlight
Against a mountain; finds himself drawn to those
Burning eyes and thinks that he might be in love;
Basks in that unwavering gaze and wonders if this isn't God.
"Officer Swan," says the apparition, and in a flash the
Spell is broken. Charlie's face grows hot and red like a
Plum; feels a kind of embarrassment he's never
Known before - an abject humiliation that he will carry
Within himself for the rest of the month. He averts
His eyes and clears his throat loudly, forcefully; pinches
The bridge of his nose and feigns a headache (for all of
Three seconds, until the migraine returns with full-force).
When Charlie thinks he has recovered he manages a gruff
Nod and looks up at the man (it is a man, he tells himself stupidly),
smiling warmly like he's been practicing all day on little
Old ladies in the waiting room outside; takes his hand in his
For a firm handshake and says, "I'm Doctor Cullen."
It is in this instant that Charlie realises that the rumors
Might have some weight to them after all.
"This is Billy."
Charlie looks away from the ornament of an eagle
Taking off and rests his gaze on the boy in the
Grubby green sweater. Sizes him up in a minute; likes the
Transparent cautiousness of his eyes and the surety of his
Body, standing strong with both feet firmly planted
On the ground. Charlie also likes that he's got a slingshot
Tucked into the pocket of his shorts because he's a
Pretty good shot himself. Billy looks like 'trouble' is
His middle name and Charlie needs a bit of
Chaos in his orderly life, and so
Yes, he decides, they can be
Isabella won't let go of his trousers and will not be
Cajoled; says she doesn't care that all the other kids
Are already having a great time and that she wants to
Go home – 'Why can't we go home, daddy?'
He's half-tempted to give in and take the day off himself
But he knows that there's no escaping some things, and he
Wants his daughter to know that too; wants her to learn how
To stand strong and sure and keep going even when the going
Gets tough. He drops to a squat and puts a hand on her soft head,
Gives her a quirky smile and a kiss on the forehead; says
That if she has any trouble all she has to do is call the station
And he'll be there, sirens wailing and lights flashing.
"But just in case you decide to stay," he says,
"Mom'll be here to pick you up after lunch."
There's no sense in waiting, Charlie knows;
Rolls the cigarette along the length of his lips
But absentmindedly never smokes the thing;
Lets it turn to ash and drop to pieces on his
Regulation police jacket. As the sun goes down
The shadows stretch and close in on him.
Charlie strides ahead; tosses the stub onto
The ground and leaves it there to fizzle out;
A red eye withering to nothing in the dirt.
Some background! I decided to write this after coming across a prompt on tumblr. To spare you the agony of hunting for it, I will post it here:
"Imagine if Twilight was about Charlie Swan, finding out that his best friend is a werewolf, and that the town doctor he's trusted for years is a vampire? And then he helps them stop the vampires that are murdering everyone?"
I am not familiar with Twilight... BUT HOW COULD I PASS UP A CHALLENGE?! And in spite of my personal preferences, I have had a lot of fun writing this. It will probably not be canon though. Thought I should warn 'ya. Think: Taken meets Van Helsing. The only downside of writing this piece (aside from the fact that my boyfriend is shaming me for writing Twilight fanfiction) is that I had to spend an inordinate amount of time on the Twilight wikia page to actually learn about these characters. No, I don't want to read the books. And I don't want to watch the movie again even though my stepdad insists that it's cute.
But it really was fun. Next chapter: THE GRAND FINALE! Probably.
Reviews are candy! Glob bless you all xxx