Spinebreaker was a collaboration, written round-robin style a few years ago, between Edwardsbloodtype, Jadalulu, myself, and YellowGlue. We didn't discuss, edit, or plan out our words, we each just wrote 500 of them and passed them to the next person. We ended up with this, and it was our baby, and we loved it. No matter what has happened between us, this was a really fun and exciting experience for me, and I think we all had a great time working together on it. It's been a few years, but I thought I might post it here for you to enjoy, at least for a few days. Happy Halloween!
Rated M for violence, horror, and general twisted-ness.
All rights and respects to Stephenie Meyer who owns all things Twilight.
The static of the police radio was like another language. Indecipherable crackling and snapping poured over the tones of a dispatcher's voice. Thankfully, it was a language Police Chief Charlie Swan was fluent in.
Damning his lukewarm cup of coffee to the trash as the voice called the Chief to break up an overly raucous party in a residential area, he shook his head. Checking his weapon and handcuffs, he rose slowly from the chair, a creak in his bones as he left the comfort of the station for the cruiser.
Pulling up to the house the dispatcher had directed him to, the Chief couldn't tell if the party had dissipated on its own in the time it took him to arrive. Red plastic cups, beer cans and distressingly, female undergarments lay abandoned on the lawn of the two-story suburban home. There was no loud music though, no teenagers stumbling down the sidewalk in a drunken rush to avoid authority.
He pushed the front door and it swung open silently. He entered the home with careful footsteps, seeing more evidence of a party, but no partygoers.
Suddenly a rustle from his left sent his back against the wall and his hand straight for his holster.
A big yellow Labrador burst from the living room and ran past him, out the open door. Only a dog, he sighed to himself, trying to will his heartbeat to slow.
Exploring the first floor with his teeth clenched tightly and his breathing shallow, he found a keg on its side, more discarded items of clothing, and a lingering smell of marijuana.
But no kids.
"Hello?" he called as he climbed the stairs to the second floor.
"This is Chief Swan of the Forks Police Department," his voice boomed out with a familiar note of authority. "Anyone home?"
Carefully, he nudged door after door open.
Empty bathroom, smelling of vomit and piss. Nice tiles though.
As he gently opened the last door, finally he found a person. Two people, actually. Asleep.
He recognized Ben Cheney and Angela Weber right away from their volunteer work at the library next to the police station. They were both good kids who stayed out of trouble. He had no intention of arresting them for being found asleep at a party.
Even if they were buck naked and wrapped around each other.
He gently shook Ben's shoulder and advised him to get himself and his girlfriend dressed and on their way home, before his forgiving nature wore out.
Descending the stairs, shaking his head in puzzlement, Chief Swan decided to give the basement a quick check for more passed-out lovebirds before he radioed back to the dispatcher.
Scanning the darkness of the basement with his flashlight, Charlie's heart thudded, his breath shook and his hands fumbled for his police radio.
A broken vodka bottle.
An upturned card table.
So much blood.
Uneasiness was hard to swallow. He coughed and had to start his call over.
There was blood everywhere.
Working with years of iron-stomached practice, the Chief surveyed the basement. Every blink was filthy and unforgettable.
The ball of a pale ankle, popped out of place. Bare foot. Purple polish.
The broken back of a folding chair, across the room. On its side.
The light fixture above him, shattered. Fluorescent glass under his boot, stuck with blood.
More blood thick under fingers. Smeared thin along snapped elbows.
Matted in blonde and stained across cheekbones.
He could taste in his throat with bile.
Forks wasn't like this. Forks was quiet. The loss of life around him would have felt unreal if he could somehow have ignored how violently and absolutely real everything felt.
He blinked and saw the sticky red corner of a high school letterman jacket. His mind strayed from his work, toward home.
Crackling static didn't give him a second. The dispatcher was asking something he couldn't make out.
The ceiling creaked.
Above him, something was moving.
Officer Swan, appalled and bewildered by the signs of death all around him, started up the stairs to investigate the noise when he noticed a lifeless hand peeking from behind a stack of mildewed cardboard boxes. From where he was, he could see that it was clearly the small, fragile appendage of a female, bloodied open palm held up like an offering…or a plea.
He swallowed thickly, shaking his head as he backed down the stairs once again, daring to approach the body.
He was torn.
Upstairs, whoever was wandering about the house could be the key to uncovering the filthy beast that created this savage scene.
Or, as his heart pounded in his chest, he realized he could venture across the room to where the girl lay discarded, cold and still, the whole time knowing that because he knew everyone in this small town, there was a very real possibility that the hand could belong to one of his daughter's teenage friends.
Or his daughter.
But he couldn't think of that now.
The creaking above suddenly stopped.
Chief Swan's senses were on high alert, his keen hearing pinpointing any minute sound in the house, though nothing much could be heard over the pounding in his chest. With extreme trepidation, he moved stealthily across the floor, avoiding the thick pools of blood.
When he bent down to view the girl, all he could he could make out were the bloodied remains of a nude body, gutted from neck to crotch and spread open like a deer. The bright yellow bits of a torn Forks High School cheerleading uniform lie in a heap beside it.
All the years he'd been on the force, no emergency call he had ever arrived at had been this gruesome.
The chief covered his mouth and gagged, holding back the slice of pie Sue had served him earlier in the diner. All he could think about was thanking God that this wasn't his daughter.
Thank God she was too uncoordinated to be a cheerleader.
As he called in to radio for backup, a glimpse of something sticking out of the dead girl's ripped open torso sent chills up his spine. Reaching into his pocket, he retrieved a pair of rubber gloves, slipping them on his hands with a snap and a puff of powder.
The sucking sound the grisly remains made when he wedged his hand between the ribcage made him gag again, but what he pulled from the body made him gasp aloud.
It was some sort of hardcover book.
Upon further inspection, Officer Swan realized that the bloodied book he was holding was indeed… A diary.
A tangible piece of... Whoever this poor girl was.
Or is it?
Did it belong to her?
How the hell did it end up in her... Jesus Christ.
Rubbing the back of his free hand across his forehead, the slight perspiration there and the tremble of his hands begin a macabre sort of awareness... A chilling realization of where he was standing and of what occurred here not so long ago.
A sliver of panic wormed its way up the line of his backbone, beginning at the base of his spine and tip toeing up each vertebrae until he could damn near taste it on the back of his tongue.
His eyes darted down again and his stomach rolled.
Where her hair and eyes and lips should have been, there was only concrete, dank with blood, and what Chief Swan was less than comfortable recognizing as intestines. His composure couldn't afford to wonder why she was headless.
Even the just thought of the level of depravity that something like this would have taken was suffocating. It breathed down the back of his neck, hot and humid.
Snapping himself out of it, he reminded himself that he had a job to do, as well as a possible suspect hovering a floor above him
Tapping into his training, however deficient it felt in a situation such as this, he looked around the poorly lit basement. His eyes landed on a utility shelf lined with old cardboard boxes and junk.
Quickly, and quietly, he rifled through the mess until he came across a semi-clean plastic storage bag. He slid the bloodied book into it, but didn't even have a chance to place the evidence into his back pocket before another sound ripped through the silence.
A shrill, blood curdling scream came from upstairs.
In a single second, his weapon was unholstered and secured between both hands, pointed at the staircase.
With duty-born motivation and a silent prayer, he began his ascent.
As much as it wrenched his stomach and frizzled his nerves to turn his back on the grotesque scene, he had no choice. He climbed the stairs slowly, each foot finding sure and silent purchase before his weight shifted, one hand on his service revolver, pointed shakily at the top of the stairs.
Just a few steps from the door, he spied the white line of light sliding under the door flash black for a moment before its thin brightness was restored, as if something had passed by swiftly, silently.
But nothing moves that fast quietly, right?
A crackling blast of overly-loud static screamed from the Chief's police radio and his heart turned itself inside out in panic. His trembling fingers fumbled for the mute button, but it was too late to keep his cover of silence.
Oh God, oh God, I don't want to die.
I don't want to die.
Fucking keep it together, Swan. If you lose your head, you got nothing.
He might have lost his cloak of silence, but he could still take advantage of the element of surprise.
Stuffing the bagged diary into the back pocket of his uniform pants, he drew his weapon and clicked the safety off.
One deep breath.
In an instant, every aged and complaining muscle in his body was electrically alive as he burst up the last steps and kicked the door out, gun drawn, finger tight on the trigger.
He turned left, his back pressed against the wall beside the door, before quickly turning right, his whole body shuddering with adrenaline.
Not a creak, not a scream, not a cricket. Not even a breath of wind.
No sound to break the surface of the ocean of horrified silence that had settled into the walls.
Gradually relaxing his stance, Chief Swan drew his back away from the wall, his legs tense and uneasy beneath him. Stepping back through the hallway toward the front door, his thoughts swirled like dark ink in the pit of his stomach.
Please God Jesus please just let me get out of here.
I just want to fucking get out of here.
Slow step followed slow step, his boots whispering soft taps as the safety of the threshold neared.
Afraid to look down, but unable to resist the reflex, Chief Swan found his left boot resting in a puddle of slick red blood. Blood that was moving. Expanding.
A sob escaped his chest as he looked up to find Ben Cheney and Angela Weber's bodies perched haphazardly atop the entryway's elegant crystal chandelier, their naked skin pierced in a thousand places by the twinkling shards.
When he thought their bleeding bodies looked unnaturally positioned, he squinted through the dripping blood to find that he was looking not at bodies, but pieces of them.
The lovers had been torn in half.
No longer able to keep his cobbler down, acid coated, half digested cherries and terror burned up his throat and fell out.
Half on the front porch, half into the petunias planted next to it.
Physically, he recovered quickly. Spitting and wiping his mouth on the back of his blue latexed hand, he pulled the gloves both off and balled them up, clean inside-out.
Save for their sirens, everything was quiet and still when four other patrol cars pulled up. They'd sent almost everyone on duty.
Whoever was moving, whoever had... Ben and Angela...
Someone had to still be in the house. Basic logic said so.
Weapon still tight in his right hand, he swallowed the burn and straightened himself upright as six officers approached.
Following his lead, their guns were already drawn.
He was aware of the evidence in his back pocket as he took his steps forward, toward them. It was a small book, similar in size and shape to those little copies of the new testament that door-to-door holy witnesses handed out as hope, but the pages were lined with sticky blood instead of shiny gold. It felt heavy, a hundred pounds easily, weighing down each of his steps as he continued to move.
"Seven?" Alec, the newest and youngest on the force, just transferred a few weeks ago from the east coast asked.
He'd moved here for the quaint quiet, for a fairly peaceful place to start a family with his new wife.
Charlie shook his head, sick feeling again when blinking showed him a cracked open clavicle, punctured with bright chandelier light.
"Nine," he replied, looking from Alec to the rest of his team, inwardly deciding who to send around to the back and sides of the house as he braced himself to move back inside.
There was a unified murmur of disbelief that came from the men, all of them new to this type of situation in their sleepy town. Sure, there had been the occasional burglary or call to disband a rowdy teenage gathering, and of course, with all the rain they saw there was definitely a car wreck or two… But none of them had ever been inundated with such horror straight out of a bad film. None of them had been emotionally or mentally prepared.
You could almost smell the fear that was rolling off of them. Then again, that could have been the stale uniforms they had all been wearing for the last ten hours straight or that some of the officers could definitely use a fresh swipe of Right Guard.
"Oh shit, did you see that?" One of the attending officers gasped as something shifted silently in the woods beside them.
The clicking sounds of six weapons disengaging from their safeties echoed through the eerily still night.
A crash inside the house made them turn, swiftly pointing their weapons at the new sound.
"What the fu-"
"This is so messed up, man!"
"Jesus Christ, half the town is dead and-"
"Shut. Up! We're wasting time here!" Charlie Swan quickly bit back his fear and took charge, appointing two of the men to go around the other side of the house, two of them to check inside. The remaining two, he appointed to stand beside him as they investigated the woods.
After everyone had scattered, the three men outside pulled out flashlights, moving stealthily through the underbrush and dry leaves that crackled under their shoes. The Chief motioned for them to head in opposite directions, hoping under this unexpected stress that they would remember to keep their cool and remain quiet.
Charlie treaded lightly, his heart beating steadily as he thought about calling his daughter. She hadn't mentioned any plans to attend a party this evening, and he just wanted to make sure she was home safe, or… Hell, considering the current situation, he wouldn't even have minded if she was hanging out on First Beach getting felt up at that very moment. She was a good girl, but Bella Swan wasn't by any means not a normal teenager, police Chief's daughter or not.
His ears perked up at the faint sound of movement in the distance.
The beam from his flashlight swept the trees, revealing nothing but the shadowed endless monotony of green.
Another pass to the right and, there!
A leg with a blood covered sneaker peeking out from behind a large fir tree!
Charles Swan crept closer, drawing his gun, debating whether he should announce himself in a warning, but he soon realized that it was unnecessary.
Huddled there, curled into a ball with his arms wrapped around his legs was a teenage boy whimpering softly. He rocked forward and backward obviously trying to soothe himself, shoulders shaking with fear.
Despite the fact that the boy's cheeks were smeared with blood, cut with trails of freshly shed tears, the Chief would have known this boy's face anywhere.
Shit. If he's here, that means -
Oh God, please, no.
The only reaction the boy had to his name was a jerking stop his rocking before he screwed his eyes shut tightly and shook his head back and forth. He resumed the back and forth motion then, his shoulders trembling as he pulled his legs in closer to his chest.
Chief Swan lowered his weapon, but maintained his firm grip on it. His nerves were raw and his instincts still on high alert as he called out over his shoulder while keeping his eyes on Edward.
Only when the rush of the deputies' footsteps came to a halt behind him did the chief holster his revolver. Slowly, careful not to spook him, Charlie walked closer to the boy, kneeling a couple of feet in front of him.
Steeling his nerves, readying himself to hear an answer that he may not be able to handle, he asked the only question that mattered to him in the entire universe:
"Edward? Edward... Where is Bella?"
At the last two syllables of the chief's question, both of Edward's hands flew up to fist the hair above each of his ears. He began to rock faster, a broken sob racking though him. With his eyes still closed, his face twisted in pain as he began frantically shaking his head back and forth.
While his response hadn't been audible, it caused Chief Swan's stomach to drop out. He hadn't entertained the idea that Bella could have been here. That any point tonight, she could have been anywhere in the vicinity of the carnage he'd been witness to only minutes ago. But his doubt evaporated the nanosecond he spotted the lanky legs and messy hair of the boy whose side his daughter could scarcely be pulled from.
They'd been inseparable since his family had moved to Forks.
Feeling his hands begin to shake in panic, Chief Swan tried again.
"Edward, son, I know you're upset. I know, but you need to breathe and listen to me. Can you do that? Look at me, son."
Edward's eyes snapped open, bouncing wildly between the chief, his deputies and the woods around him.
"Okay, focus on me, Edward."
When the boy obeyed, the Chief held his gaze. "Now, where is Bella?"
Edward exhaled a shaky breath and swallowed thickly. "Sh-sh-sh..."
Accustomed by now to practicing patience with the boy's stuttering, Charlie nodded encouragingly.
Whatever composure he was managing was just a front. Inside, he was wound tight with panic until he could lay his eyes on his baby girl. Until he could touch her and hear her, and know she was okay.
"B-b-bel-be-be..." Edward released one arm from the cage he'd formed around his knees and brought it out in front of him slowly.
The head of every man turned with it and stared with dread as the tip of the boy's finger pointed straight to the ominously darkened house that sat tucked against the woods.
Two Weeks Earlier
"God, I love you, sweet girl." he mumbled between impassioned kisses.
"Shut up, Edward," Bella whispered back.
He laughed, breaking their kiss but only barely, just a mere inch of breath between their faces, mirroring each other's heady smiles.
"You n-never say it back," he spoke quietly, still kiss-drunk and smiling as a note of hurt invaded his tone.
"It's stupid to say it back." She leaned back as she replied, resolved to talking for the moment, when all she wanted was his mouth pressing and drifting over hers.
"It's like, if I say 'I love you' right back … It's as though I'm saying that I love you because you love me. And that's not it," she looked down and took his hand between hers, turning it over, caressing it with her eyes. "I would still love you no matter how you felt about me. I would love you even if we had never met."
She finally looked up and the honesty shone out from her eyes as she bit her lip softly, feeling helpless and vulnerable with her declaration of love. She didn't like the feeling of her heart being so exposed like this, so soft and defenseless before him, but she knew Edward would never hurt her.
He was such a sensitive boy, so gentle, so sweet. It was why she had fallen for him in the first place. He was impossible not to love, like a puppy: all big eyes and endless adoration, wiggling his little wet nose under your hand, begging for affection.
He drew a ragged breath at her confession, squeezing her hand with his.
"Out of all the guys ... You c-could have had anyone you w-wanted ..." He shook his head as his voice trembled. "Bella, I'll never be able to tell you how gr-grateful I am that you picked me. But I swear, I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make you glad you d-did."
His right hand lifted to cup her left one, fingers moving to touch the delicate silver band with the lapis stone and feather carving.
They hadn't told anyone what it meant. There was no one else that needed to know.
"Only thirteen more days," she breathed, bringing her right hand up to his face, feeling just the subtlest scratch of a beard beginning there, "and I'll be Mrs. Masen."
Edward's mouth sought hers, perfect warm lips for his own to dance upon. Pushing her backwards onto the bed, he rose up over her, pressing the full length of his body against hers, skin to skin.
"You don't know how much that turns me on," he spoke, his voice low and dark with desire.
"Yes, I do," she whispered against his kiss.
Aware of other voices calling his name, Charlie turned his head, panic knotting with anger that he could do nothing with.
Anger at the shaking boy in front of him for not being able to speak to tell him what happened.
Anger at himself for some detail he might have missed, for not paying more attention to his daughter's friends, plans, life all around him.
God, he even wanted to be angry at her - angry would have been so much better than terrified.
"House is clear," Alec called.
The backlit, taller officer next to him, Peter, had his hands on his knees.
Charlie could hear him taking intentionally deep breaths. He blinked, looking back to Edward.
He saw Ben's arm, carefreely loose around Angela's stomach when he closed his eyes.
"I need you to talk to me, Edward," he urged patiently as he could, opening his eyes back up, focusing on the dried blood cracking between the boy's violently curved knuckles. On the owl hooting somewhere in the distance to his left. On the taste of acid soaked pie crust on the back of his tongue. On everything but his fear.
Edward raised his almost all-pupil eyes.
Charlie focused on all the red, filling up what should have been clear white around his irises. He swallowed so hard it hurt, convinced that the anomaly was from the horror the boy had witnessed.
"Was Bella... Is she...?"
Edward shook his head quickly, cutting the chief off without a hint of a stutter or hesitation.
He couldn't bear to think it either.
"No," the boy spoke.
Panic eased, but far from gone, Charlie let go half of the breath he'd been holding.
"They fff-" Edward started again, stuttering and bringing his knees tighter to his chest, closing his eyes. Defeat, painfully ashamed, broke his quiet voice, tears sliding as he dropped his forehead to the heels of his hands.
He'd tried so hard to hold onto his everything.
"They fucking took her."
"Please… Please… I'm begging you…"
After what seemed like an impossible amount of time, Bella's shrill screams had eventually waned into soft, desperate cries for mercy from her abductors.
Exhausted, she curled herself into a ball in the back of the van they'd pushed her into, her shoulder and side hurting badly from the abrupt contact and manhandling. She was shaking partly from the cold and partly from the shock of the entire night.
All she kept thinking was that she should have listened to Edward. He had wanted to see a movie in Port Angles, some horror flick, and Bella had thought it would be fun to head to the party, considering that it would probably be the last one they would attend together. All she wanted was one last night with her friends before everything would change.
Little did she know the direction things would go.
Little did she know, she's be starring in her own horror film.
When the five men had entered the house, initially everyone at the party had thought it was some sort of prank that the football team was pulling.
Their dark, hooded cloaks had swept around the easygoing friends, brushing the floor as they strode through the front door, causing the entire party to go silent.
It hadn't been until one of the men slid a sword from his robe and held it up over his head, samurai style, that everyone had realized that this was definitely no joke.
The crystal beads dripping from the hallway chandelier had glinted against the shiny metal of the blade and that was when the screams had began.
Panic… Terror… Desperation…
Bella wept silently, recalling how her abductors had slashed their way through the house, leaving a trail of blood and violent screaming in their wake, trampling over everything and everyone in sight with a purpose.
"Oh, my God. In the back, through the woods! We can make it to the old c-c-ot-cc-ottage," Edward had whispered from their hiding place.
They'd snuck out the back door undetected, but Bella couldn't really remember anything other than Edward's hand gripping her arm so tightly that he'd put fingernail marks in her flesh, and then the striking pain of a sharp twig puncturing her palm when she fell at the foot of the woods.
He'd dragged her up, screaming, "They're coming! Fuck, they're coming… Run!"
And then she'd been ripped from Edward's embrace, as he was then pinned down by one of the cloaked men.
He'd screamed her name without a stutter while the others had dragged her away.
"What do you want from me?" She whimpered, not knowing if they could even hear her up front. "Why me? Why? Please, someone just tell me what's happening…"
Bella's cries went ignored.
She thought then, that maybe she could appeal to their paternal senses; maybe they weren't as horrible as she thought. Maybe this was a crazy joke after all…
"Please… Please don't hurt me. I-I-I'm pregnant."
Up in the front of the vehicle, the men laughed, a sickening chorus that made Bella nauseous. One of them pulled the fabric divider aside and leaned over close enough to her face that she could smell his rancid breath.
His unfamiliar voice was laced with acid. "Why the fuck do you think we took you?"
"They just brought him over from the hospital. He's waiting for you in Room Four."
Chief Swan nodded tiredly at Alec and glanced up at the closed door of the interrogation room, dreading what he had to do now.
They'd tried to get him to hand it off to someone else, conflict of interest or some shit, but Charlie wasn't having it. Forks was a small town and everyone knew everyone, but still there was red tape. He knew they had to follow certain procedures, but he'd be damned if he was going to cut somebody else loose on the boy. Someone who didn't know him as well.
Word had already spread throughout town. Deputies were busy with several distraught parents who'd shown up at the station, demanding to know where their missing teenagers were. It was only a matter of time before they had positive IDs on the bodies.
And now... He had to clear Edward Masen as a suspect.
Blowing over the rim of his coffee cup before taking a sip, he turned the knob and entered the room, closing the door behind him. Before he could take a step, Edward was standing.
The feet of the metal chair he'd been sitting in scraped loudly across the floor, fraying the chief's already shredded nerves a fraction more.
"Di-di-did...Be-Bella. Did... Is sh-sh-she...?"
"Edward, son, have a seat. Take it easy."
Taking his own seat across the table, the Chief blew out a breath and placed the manilla folder down in front of him.
Edward was leaning forward with his elbows on the table, each hand fisted in his hair as he watched Chief Swan. A million questions swam in his eyes, strings of words that his mouth just couldn't properly form right now. And the answer to the first pained Charlie Swan, the father, most of all.
"No, we haven't found Bella yet."
Edward squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath, his leg bouncing under the table.
"I'm s-s-so s-sorry. I l-le-l-let them..."
"Breathe, Edward. Calm down."
Edward nodded, running his hands through his hair and sitting back in his chair.
"Now, I know you gave your statement at the scene, but I need to take it again. Officially this time."
When Edward nodded, Chief Swan pushed the record button on the small microphone in the middle of the table and slid it closer to the boy.
"Now, I need you start at the very beginning, Edward."
The boy's nostrils flared visibly and he shook his head.
"I c-c-c... I c-c-can't ..." He took a deep breath, trying to remain calm.
"I can't… Give you… Much. We didn't look; we just r-r-r-," He breathed deep and tried again. "We just r-r-ran."
The chief closed his eyes for a long moment. The boy's stutter had never been this much of a problem before, but it was so much worse now that Edward was agitated and upset. He had never needed his patience more, and never had so little ability to summon it.
"Okay, let's start with the perpetrators. You saw them?"
"How many? Did you recognize any of them?"
The boy squinted, remembering. "Five, maybe? F-f-four? They had m-m-m-m-" Edward brought his hand to his face and gestured as if to cover it.
"Masks?" Charlie guessed.
Edward nodded again. "And r-r-robes. Black." He took a breath. "Hooded." Another. "Robes."
Charlie sighed. They sounded organized and prepared.
He had been hoping for crazy, drug-added lunatics. While they tended to be unpredictable, they were sloppy, and Charlie needed a lead.
If the men who took his daughter were purposeful, methodical, and, God forbid, well-funded… She could be anywhere.
The thought came with the sting of unbidden tears and a twisting sensation in his gut, but he pushed them down with a deep breath. He would give in to the fear later. The sooner he could interrogate the lone survivor, the sooner he could get every available man on Bella's trail.
Edward dutifully answered the chief's inquiries, becoming increasingly unsettled as the questioning went on, taking big gulping breaths to suppress the speech impediment that was stealing precious minutes from Bella's rescue.
Charlie wished he could offer the kid a scotch; he knew the boy was in pain. Anyone could tell he was classically in love with his daughter, and had just watched trained killers drag her from his arms.
Swords. Or machetes. There had been no gunshots.
They had slashed at their victims carelessly, almost as an afterthought, kicking the bleeding teenagers down the basement steps haphazardly to die.
No, Edward hadn't seen a car.
As they had held him to the ground, they had swept Bella up and continued west, through the thick woods, toward the highway. When the others had gotten a safe distance away, the attackers holding him down had punched him in the gut, just once, but hard enough to wind him, and ran in the same direction as the others.
No, Edward hadn't known of anyone who had a grudge against Bella or himself.
As Charlie finished up his questioning, he patted Edward on the back.
"You did good, son. Your dad's going to take you home now. We'll call you as soon as we… As soon as we know anything."
The Chief rose from his seat, anxious to make some phone calls to Seattle PD, the FBI. Maybe he could find some security footage to-
Chief Swan turned back to find Edward's eyes wide and livid.
"Jacob. Jacob Fucking Black."
Charlie's own eyes opened wider, the brows above them digging together. "Jacob?"
Edward shook his head like he shouldn't have said that. There was truth here that wasn't only his to share and he had to decide right away what to do with it.
He sank lower into the metal chair, rubbing his sore eyes with the heels of his hands. They smelled like hospital soap and disinfectant.
Chief Swan shifted his weight from his left foot to his right, then back again, setting the folder back down on the table.
Jacob Black was Bella's friend.
He was his best friend's son.
And his name was being dropped - demanded almost - in an official statement.
New nerves twisted under Charlie's skin. He wanted answers and he wanted them now.
Edward settled his elbows on the arms of the chair, staring down at the table. He heard Bella's dad, asking him about Jacob, telling him to take it easy, that all he had to do was tell the truth. But his mind was elsewhere.
With his right hand loosely over his mouth, he dropped his left to his stomach. Out of a habit less than a few hours old, he rubbed his fingers against the side of his shirt. Against the top of his side, just under his ribs.
The t-shirt he'd been wearing earlier was wrinkled tight in a small shape there, where Bella had caught hold and strained to hang on to him, but his fingers found clean olive-green fabric now.
They'd taken his shirt, the doctors, the cops. They'd taken it with his shoes and jeans.
Everything was evidence or stained with evidence.
Across from him, the Chief was losing his patience. Edward could tell in his voice, but he wasn't sure what to do. He just wanted to find them.
Their secret, the heart that beat between his own and Bella's, was all he could think about.
They'd created life with their sincerest affection and that life was everything to him, as it was to her, and now -
The chief watched as Edward looked like he was going to dry heave, curving his hand around his side and holding his stomach.
Silent minutes passed.
Charlie read him like the tattered open boon that he was. He didn't need undeniable proof of any kind to know Edward Masen wouldn't hurt a fly, but he didn't just drop Jacob fucking Black for no reason either.
The kid wouldn't be let go anytime soon now, not with a detail like that. He'd remain in custody for who knew how many of the next few hours until he said something else.
The thought of the next few hours gave ground to Charlie's newest nerves. The next few hours were the most crucial to finding the abducted alive and unharmed.
His own eyes burned, fear needing out, demanding attention.
Across from him, Edward dragged his hand the rest of the way down his face, rubbing both his palms over both his green-kneecaps.
Charles Swan forced his fear down and summoned his most patient dedication up. His tone was as easy as he could make it when he spoke again.
"Did you pick Bella up from school today?"
Edward's right fingertips curved slightly against his knee. He blinked to clear his vision. He saw chandelier light, twinkling on a too-sharpened edge.
He opened his eyes.
He saw Bella's dad, ten carefully hidden shades of desperately afraid.
And all he could think of was his everything.
"Or did Jacob?" The Chief continued.
Edward's impatience coiled.
Why couldn't he just let it go?
"I did," Edward finally answered, rubbing his forehead, remembering the afternoon a few hours ago, so far away now it was like a different lifetime. He remembered Bella walking down the steps toward his car, so bright, so clearly.
"B-b-but he was th-there. He d-d-doesn-n-" Edward paused and swallowed.
Charlie waited, his instincts and impatience tensing every muscle in his body, almost painfully tight.
"He's a-always, always there."
Charlie leaned forward, taking a gulp of air.
Jacob Black… Damn it.
He was just about to break into his standard line of questioning when Alec walked into the room, holding the bloodied book encased in the plastic bag. "Uh, what should I do with this, Sir?"
They'd never had evidence so damn bloody before, and the newest cop was at a loss as to where he should store it until it could be properly examined.
Charlie just wanted it out of the boy's view. He'd seen enough gore for one night. "You can just put it in with-"
Edward's metal folding chair scraping along the floor was like nails on a chalkboard. The distraught boy shot up out of his seat and was across the room faster than either police officer could comprehend.
"W-w-w-wwhere did you g-g-g-get that?" he demanded, his face contorting into utter pain.
He grasped for the book, but Alec pulled it out of his reach. Evidence couldn't be tampered with.
"B-b-b-ella has been looking f-f-f-for that for a w-w-w-eek."
When the vibrating underneath Bella finally ceased, she realized that they'd stopped the van. Crippling fear surged through her.
Where had they taken her?
What were they planning to do with her?
Bella's left hand, the one adorned by secret engagement ring Edward had given her, lay on her slightly protruding belly, a habit she'd adopted a few weeks ago when she'd first felt the baby kick.
She was a thin girl, and was grateful that the cooler weather was approaching, because she could no longer hide her bump with skimpy tank tops.
No one knew of her pregnancy, not even her best girlfriends.
The only person who knew was Edward…
And her diary.
How in the hell did these masked, robed heathens know about her pregnancy when her own family didn't have an inkling?
When the doors to the van opened abruptly, the ginormous flashlight they were deliberately shining in her face blinded her. She couldn't make out much except the silhouettes of at least five men, all of them indistinguishable, except for being tall and masked.
Bella's left hand went instinctively to shield her eyes.
One of the men pushed his way to the front of the group, stopping right in front of the girl. He pulled Bella's hand away from her forehead roughly and slid the ring off her finger, then wordlessly pocketed it.
Bella's tears were hot and quiet.
Edward had worked many long hours at the book store to earn money for that little ring.
The man who stole her beloved silver and lapis promise stepped aside, letting another blindfold her with a ratty old bandana that smelled of sweat and dirt.
She was led by men on either side of her through what she knew were thick woods, branches scraping and cutting her skin as she passed them. She stumbled along the thickly rooted forest floor, struggling against the strong hands that held her.
The air was thick with the scent of pine, fear, and hatred.
As they walked, the men remained silent, using only hand gestures and grunts to communicate.
Bella was the only daughter of a cop. Charlie had raised her to think quickly, and act smartly. It was in her blood.
The fact that they intentionally didn't want her hearing their voices led Bella to believe that they were afraid she would recognize them.
Which could only mean that she knew them.
Once they broke through a clearing, they pushed her roughly to the ground. Bella called out in pain, her ribs and shoulder hurting more than ever. She rolled onto her back, bracing herself for the worst, when the blindfold was ripped off.
Despite the blinding flash light in her eyes, she could faintly make out an alarmingly familiar face. Bella gasped, her whole body washing over with relief.
"Oh, thank God, Jacob!"
In front of her were the deep brown eyes of her childhood friend, the boy who had thrown mud pies at her and teased her by chasing her with slimy worms that they'd used for bait when they'd gone fishing down by the creek. The boy who was always, always there.
But then, she remembered her surroundings.
Bella pulled herself from his proximity, backing away as she crab-crawled on the damp grass.
Jacob cocked his head to the side, a creepy smile covering his face, all traces of friendly boy next door, gone.
Here before Bella, stood the face of a murderer.
She could not speak.
"You took my baby away from me," Jacob said, matter of factly as he began wiping a knife against the palm of his hand with an eerie calm. "Before I ever had a chance to let him know how I really felt."
He stopped moving his knife suddenly and leaned close to Bella's trembling face. "And now… I'm going take his baby… From you."
Chief Swan was loosing his cool.
Letting the hot breath out through flared nostrils, he rubbed his eyes hard, squinting into his fingers.
"All right," he said, keeping his voice calm and hard. "Let's try this again. You're telling me that Jacob Black is… What? A cold blooded killer? He's the one behind all these murders?"
"No, that's n-n-no-no-not what I s-said," Edward stated quietly.
"Well then, what ARE you saying, Edward?!" The chief pounded his knuckles into the table, hard enough to make the recorder jump.
Edward, however, held himself motionless, eyes downcast.
"Because I'm starting to get sick of the bullshit, son. You know something."
The boy remained still as a stone.
The chief rose quickly from his seat and stood behind Edward's chair, looming over him like a storm cloud, pressing his words low and smoking against Edward's temple.
"You have information that could mean the difference between finding my daughter alive or..." He trailed off, unwilling to form the word.
"God dammit, Edward, I have tried to be patient," he spat. "But so help me, you either start talking now, or we take this down to the basement and I start breaking fingers until you do."
Chief Swan was close enough to hear Edward inhale, to feel him tense under his intimidating pose. The kid seemed to have hardened somehow during the course of the interrogation; something in him that used be tender had shut away behind heavy doors.
He would have felt sorry for the kid if he thought there was any time.
There was no time.
"I can't … I haven't s-s-slept, haven't eaten … I can't even think s-s-s-s-traight." Edward spoke quietly. He lifted his head, turning to meet the chief's sharp gaze, eyes glassy with sincerity.
Charlie's heart slowed to see them, his fury checking itself.
Edward was just a kid, just a boy.
"D-d-d-do you think I could have a c-c-c-c. A c-c-c. A co-c-c-co-co." He took a deep breath, pursing his lips in embarrassment.
The boy nodded.
"Alright, son," the Chief relented, standing up and easing the pressure off Edward. "I'll be right back."
He strode to the door, feeling slightly more like himself each step he took away from Edward Masen.
Shutting the door behind him, he took a quick glance around before locking it. He had come pretty close to roughing the boy up himself; he didn't want any grief-maddened parents getting in there and shaking his brains loose.
In the break room three doors down, Charlie poured the burnt-tasting beverage into a flowered paper cup, dropping in a spoonful of sugar and a swirl of half-and half.
Charlie hated that kids were drinking coffee in high school these days. He shook his head and dropped a thin plastic stirrer into the cup, grabbing a stale powdered doughnut and a plain bagel with one hooked finger.
Making his way back to the broken boy, he balanced the pastries atop the coffee cup as he reached for his keys, checking again to be sure no one was looking. He was pretty sure he wasn't supposed to leave a suspect alone in the interrogation room, but that poor kid was no danger to anyone, not even himself.
Not in the state he was in.
Entering, Charlie Swan first noted the open window, letting in breezes and birdsongs, an inappropriate accompaniment to the tension and terror running through the town of Forks.
Second, he noted that Edward was gone, along with the evidence bag containing the bloody diary.
The third and last thing he noted was that they were on the third floor.
No one could have survived that jump.
But there was no blood, no body in the parking lot below, just the barest sliver of a stone ledge, less than even a small child could stand on.
Then Chief Swan noticed nothing, not even the puddle of coffee around his boots, soaking into the stale bread that sat in the middle of it.
His feet flew from the room, through the hall, and down the back stairs to his cruiser.
"I don't... Your baby...?"
Bella couldn't believe the words coming out of her mouth. She couldn't understand them enough to even begin believing them.
Her childhood friend stood across from her, eyes patient, knife in hand, just waiting for her to catch up.
The pieces clicking into place made her shared stomach twist and turn toward sickness.
"You... Oh, my God..." The girl wrapped both arms over her belly. It ached. She couldn't bring herself to speak the truth she now comprehended all too clearly.
Jacob Black stepped forward, crouching not a foot from her.
"Go ahead," he told her, tilting his head to find her thieving eyes. She'd stolen love right out from under him, before he even got a chance to tell Edward, to show him...
Bella looked away, petrified, but he would have none of it.
"C'mon," he dropped his voice lower, touching the edge of his blade underneath her chin, making her look up. "Tell me why we're here."
Bella choked as she tried to swallow her terror down. She wanted Edward, her other half of everything, her strong and safe place.
But she was alone with evil.
And the words rushed out.
"Love for love. You think I took yours and now you... You want... You're going to..."
She couldn't. She couldn't make herself say it.
Jacob sneered, nodding.
"That's right, babygirl. You cut my heart out and now..." He trailed off, tilting her head higher with the sharpened edge.
Bella barely breathed the words back to him, her heart thunder-beating terror for two:
"You're going to cut out mine."
Jacob's grin curled higher as he pressed his left hand forward, against her belly.
The small life in Isabella Swan burned the inside of her stomach and the palm of her traitor's hand.
Something... Something wasn't right.
The too-hot warmth made her buckle and him look up. As both of her arms went tighter around herself and she doubled over, half in pain, half in protection, Jacob stood, glancing between his now unmasked company of brother-friends.
Bella screamed behind her pressed together lips.
Something definitely wasn't right. She could feel it.
Jacob, completely sure of the same, looked past Paul and Sam, beyond the meadow, into the forest and through the trees.
His love was close. He could feel it.
Good, he'll be here in time to see everything.
A sound pulled him from his speciously hopeful thoughts. A low chuckle.
Velvet and midnight and lust.
It was the same sound that tickled Bella's sore tummy and filled her heart with courage, and lifted her head to look up the same time everyone did.
Edward was there, olive green jumpsuit and white undershirt stark against his pale skin. Dark eyes narrowed, a smile was playful on his lips as he stepped forward, straight toward Jacob.
"Did you really think it would be that easy?"
All eyes turned toward the voice…the uncharacteristically smooth voice that spoke with perfect, unbroken words.
"Edward?" Jacob and Bella said in chorus, though Bella's voice was one of astonishment and relief, while Jacob's inflection was one borne simply of joy.
Jacob rose, hastily making to cross over to the taller boy that he loved, but Edward reached his arm out toward him with startling speed, splaying his fingers wide.
The movement halted Jacob, stopping him as though he was suddenly trapped behind a sheet of glass. He then crumpled to the ground, writhing and screaming as though he was in severe, inexplicable pain.
Edward allowed Jacob to be tortured for a very long minute, while Bella and the rest of the hooded boys watched in horror.
Not once did Edward take his eyes off Bella and her now rapidly growing stomach. She was still curled in a trembling ball on the damp grass.
He almost…almost felt sorry for her.
After he felt Jacob had endured enough, Edward sighed dramatically as he lowered his hand, subsequently ending the boy's torture.
Jacob remained in the grass, lying face first, writhing and moaning in pain.
"You humans really are such a simple species. All you want is to be loved," Edward mocked. "It's pathetic."
"What?" Bella whispered in disbelief.
He's in shock, she thought.
After the brutal murders and the distress of knowing Bella and his unborn baby had been kidnapped, he must be enduring some sort of post-traumatic stress. There was no other reasonable explanation.
"Oh, but I'm fine, my sweet girl," Edward said without a single stutter, clearly reading her thoughts. "Never better."
"How did you… How can you… Edward? Tell me this is a joke… Please, I don't understand..." Bella whimpered.
He cocked his head to the side and knelt before her, pressing his hand to her belly. With a sneer, he answered, "No, I'm so sorry. Not a joke." His tone was mocking and patronizing. "But it is…quite funny." Edward's mouth, which Bella had once thought was his most perfect feature, curled into a sick smile.
Sudden movement behind them caught Edward's eye.
He flung his arm out, stopping the robed boys who were trying to flee into the surrounding woods. They screamed in agony until one by one, the echoes of crisp snapping sounds could be heard bouncing off the trees.
Edward was breaking their bones, killing them with his mind, acting as though it was a task as simple as brushing his teeth.
Bella sobbed into her hands, watching her whole world turn into a horror movie right in front of her eyes.
Once again, Edward pressed his hand to Bella's belly, now much larger and more prominent than it had been when she'd been taken earlier that night.
Her shirt stretched over the mound, taut and revealing. She could feel the rapidly growing child move within her.
What should have been a sentimental miracle of feeling her child's kicks, was something else entirely. The baby's rolling actions within her womb were suddenly painful, unlike they had ever been before.
"What are you doing?" She hissed through frightened tears, crawling backward on her hands away from the boy whom she could no longer recognize.
She looked down and watched in amazement as her middle visibly throbbed and pulsed like a heartbeat, only much, much faster.
"My God, Edward… What is wrong with our baby? What the hell is going on?"
"It's happening," he simply said with a bright, satisfied smile. "Exactly as it should. With the exception of that little mess." Edward rolled his eyes in the direction of Jacob, clearly annoyed at having to be inconvenienced by the evening's bizarre, and bloody outcome.
"This whole thing," he waved his hand flamboyantly at Jacob's quietly squirming body, "didn't exactly go as planned."
Edward explained to her kindly.
What Bella didn't know until now, was that her love had been grooming Jacob to help him in his quest for procreation with a human, never expecting his helper to fall in love in the process.
This had been quite irritating to Edward, because he felt as though he should have been warned of the 'side effects", as his kind was designed to attract the human species.
Edward explained that he couldn't have possibly have predicted this coming, because it was his first time completing the task given by his superiors. He'd been trained by his kind for years to fulfill his mission, just waiting until he was ready to find a host for his spawn.
When he'd found Bella, with her soft, innocent eyes and her sweet naiveté, he'd known she was the one. A little pathetic stuttering and feigned adoration, and he had her right where he wanted her.
The situation with Jacob's affection was something he simply tolerated while he successfully fulfilled his goal.
Bella's eyes were wide as dinner plates by the time Edward finished speaking.
"You are fucking crazy. You're telling me you chose me because I was… Naïve, so that you could... Impregnate me? But Jacob falling in love with you was just an annoying little glitch in your master plan? Oh, my God..."
Bella leaned back on her hands, struggling to comprehend it.
It couldn't be true.
Things like this just didn't happen.
But as the seconds passed, her mind began to interlock the pieces.
The men... How they'd taken her, but not Edward.
How they'd known about the baby.
Edward, the boy who'd been too shy to make eye contact with her for days after she'd said hello to him.
Edward, the boy who called her his calm and never let a day pass without telling her that he loved her.
Edward, the boy who had cried and kissed her stomach when she handed him the little purple and white stick.
Edward, the boy who had blushed when he'd given her his ring and promised that she was all he'd ever want.
The boy who had sat next to her in Biology one day and had made her forget that she was just a small town girl, that she wasn't special...
As she looked up at his face, she just knew...
Edward Masen was never real.
His voice was taunting and she could hear the humor in it as he turned his back to her, and walked over to Jacob's body. He leaned down and pulled the knife from Jacob's pocket.
"You know, you're surprisingly astute for a horny little high school girl."
Bella watched as he walked back toward her, tossing the knife back and forth from one hand to the other.
"Too bad you couldn't put the pieces together when it could have helped you, huh? Well, bad for you..." He pointed the blade toward her and then himself with a contented smile. "... Fantastic for me, though."
Bella continued to stare, shocked at what was happening.
"You were wrong about one thing though," he told her with a grin. "You are, in fact, very special, sweet girl."
The nickname, which had once made her heart flutter, only made her stomach roll now.
"Innocent and pure, and unassuming. Completely and totally void of sin. The perfect candidate for an incubator."
"Incubator? I'm... Not... This is my baby! Not yo-"
That was as far as she got before Edward was there, crouching over the top of her and pressing the point of the blade into her throat.
She both felt and heard the tiny popping sound as he pierced her flesh. She swallowed and immediately winced as the flex of her throat caused the knife to dig further in.
"Not mine?! NOT MINE?! Make no mistake about it! This -" Edward reached down with the hand that wasn't poised to end her life and splayed the palm of it under her shirt and against her tightly pulled skin. As soon as their flesh met, the child inside her began to thrash and twist about.
"This the ONLY reason you are breathing right now! This. MY CHILD is the only reason you aren't in two pieces and piled with the others!"
Edward was so close to her that he could taste her fear on the surface of his tongue. He took a deeper breath and reveled in it.
His proximity terrified Bella and she couldn't help the strangled cry that burst from her lips.
Edward recoiled when she spluttered and babbled and begged. He had always thought humans to be disgusting creatures who secreted far too much for his liking.
Out of sheer habit... Out of a love she didn't know how to turn off yet, Bella began to silently mourn for her losses.
For the boy she had thought Edward was.
For the love she lost, but had never really had with him.
For the life of the child inside of her.
She silently cried as she thought of how unnaturally fast the baby had grown over the course of the last hour.
She couldn't help but think of her father and how much she loved him.
"Stop thinking," Edward groaned. "You're as bad as that fucking mammoth over there, with your nonsense about love. Ugh. Enough!"
As soon as the words left his mouth, Jacob charged Edward.
Neither of them had seen him rise off the grass on his knees. However, Edward was too quick for the human boy, even though his size nearly doubled Edward's slight frame.
Without ever touching Jacob, his hand lifted as the boy's body hovered in the air, muscular limbs flailing about. With narrowed eyes, Edward held him there, airborne, before he clenched his fist.
The sharp sound of a snap made Bella gasp and shield her face.
Jacob crumpled into a heap on the ground, unmoving, his spine broken in two. Blood poured from his body, pooling into a puddle of thick, sticky crimson.
Edward smirked, walking over to the boy. He kicked Jacob's ribs to check that he was indeed gone, and then spat on him for good measure.
He then turned toward Bella very slowly. His eyes were lit at the sight of her bulging midsection, ripe and ready for birth.
"Now, enough talking. I believe it's time to claim what is mine."
"Nooooo! Get away from me!" Bella screamed, shrill and loud, filled with the hope that anyone nearby would hear her cries, and come to her aid.
She moved and tried to run, but the child within her had other ideas.
A sharp pain ripped through her midsection, bringing her to her knees. She reached between her legs, feeling wetness soak her pants.
Her water had broken.
Bella's strangled cries fell on deaf ears as Edward stared down at the restless child inside of her. Falling to his knees at her side, he flashed a sinister smile.
He gripped the handle of the knife in both hands and raised them high above his head and Bella's stomach. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath.
He hadn't heard the twig snap between the Chief's black leather boot until it was too late.
With the spot between Edward's eyes, Chief Swan didn't hesitate to pull the trigger.
Edward's eyes flitted open and locked with Bella's just before he brought the knife down, slicing through her abdomen. He gave her one last eerie smile and a wink before the gunshot rang out.
The bullet pierced his forehead and he collapsed to the ground.
Bella's screams were discordant and unending as everything happened in the blink of an eye. She clutched her bleeding stomach and screamed for her father.
"Dad! Oh my God, Dad! Help me! I can't... It hurts! Oh God, please!"
Her back arched violently off of the ground as a bone crunching spasm shot through her body. As she fell back against the grass, she began to lose the feeling in her extremities and she knew -
Her arm fell to her side and while she still had movement, she reached a single hand out toward her father, who had hit his knees several feet away, seemingly in shock.
A burning pain radiated through the lower half of her body just before she felt... It expel itself from her.
A shrill, keening cry was heard and Charlie finally sprang into action, scooping up the revolver from where it had fallen from his hands and landed on the ground. With no reluctance at all, he stepped toward his daughter's bloody, mutilated body.
Two tears, one from each eye, slid evenly down each of Bella's temples as she looked up into the face of her father. Too weak to move or speak, her thoughts were all she had left.
I'm so sorry, Dad. So sorry.
I didn't know.
I love you...
She watched as Charlie lifted the gun and pointed it at her head.
Her terrified, confused brown eyes grew wider.
"Sorry, sweet girl."
In the nanosecond before her life was cut short, understanding flashed across her face.
Harnessing the Chief's gun, he picked his son up and cradled him to his chest. Capturing his tiny tail in the palm of his hand and tucking it between their two bodies, he smiled down in triumph and disappeared into the woods.
The small town of Forks became the subject of national headlines for years to come. The tragic story of how a well-respected chief of police lost it and murdered eighteen teenaged kids in cold blood, including his own daughter, her boyfriend and her best friend. The ritualistic way in which the victims were brutally slain went down as one of the most horrific crimes in the history of the nation.
And the manhunt for Charles Swan continues to this day, fruitlessly.