Rock-a-bye baby on the treetop.
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall.
Down will come baby, cradle and all.
"You never know what you are going to find here. You may think that this is a dull world with nothing but walls and rooms to cage people, but honestly, I kind of like it here," Edward said, finishing his portion of food.
Bella rubbed her throat for the fifth time, making sure that nothing was swelling. She picked at her food, already knowing the taste just by looking at it. For such ruthless creatures, they really were predictable.
Edward chuckled lowly.
"Stay for a while, you'll find out," he said switching plates with Bella so he could eat her portion of food too. Bella was surprised, after his insistence that she eat. He shot her a wry look.
"I'll let it pass just this once. Vampyres hate wasting human resources. They have already been through one famine."
"Famine?" Bella stopped fingering her neck.
"They ran out of food for the humans, and couldn't get enough food to everyone. Only a small portion of people died, but when you have the world enslaved that number is in the thousands."
Silence enveloped the space around them. Bella kept at sneaking nervous glances at the enigmatic man beside her.
There was a low whistle. Edward looked up from his food, alarmed.
"They're recruiting early this year. This new Sultan really has a good grip on things," Edward whispered.
A male stood up, something blinking on his forehead. Bella squinted because the light wasn't coming from outside the skin. The light was on the inside.
"They surgically imbed small lights into recruit's foreheads, just between the skin and bone. These lights can only be activated by a type of sound frequency that only Vampyres can produce."
Bella truly felt sick.
"They recruit for what?"
"Possibilities of another war. Only this time, humans won't be fighting Vampyres. Humans will be fighting humans. They're gonna watch it all too. Like some T.V. series."
Bella followed the man with his eyes. The depth of fear in his eyes was botomless. He kept on glancing around, as if trying to find an escape.
He walked past Bella's table.
"Help. Please. Help," he muttered, his fingers tapping against his trousers, in an endless rhythm of fierce hopelessness.
She tried to stand up, but he prevented her. With hand that was too strong to be human. Her head whipped down at Edward but saw that it was indeed his hand, red with strain keeping her down.
Suddenly, the girl in the middle stopped tapping.
She closed her eyes, and bowed her head.
Soon, others followed suit.
They started to hum. There was no tune, no particular note, but just a chorus of humming. The recruit bowed his head with a smile, and was taken by a Vampyre out of the room.
Edward wasn't one for giving time to react.
"Right, now it is time to show you to your job."
As they were leaving, Bella knocked over a tray of glasses of wine left on a table. A servant Vampyress looked at her in anger.
Edward led Bella out, and showed her the map one more time. He stood there for five minutes stressing the importance of memorizing the map as soon as possible. Bella only half-listened, her mind turned towards red blinking lights.
Then, they were off towards the job.
"You are going to be a waitress to the Vulgaris."
"The normal humans."
Bella thanked the stars that Vampyres weren't the objects that she had to serve. After many confusing twists and turns, they were lead into the largest hall Bella had ever seen. It seemed to be endless, and filled with humans. There seemed to be no end.
"Welcome to Plabulum 107."
Bella was close to staggering under the enormity of the place.
"I'm supposed to serve all of these people?"
"You and a couple of buddies from the Lunatiki. Don't worry, it's only about a mile long. It's going to keep you in shape. The food and drinks here are specially designed to never fall off the plates. So take a couple and run to your destination."
"And the destination is?"
"Wherever, Darling." Edward leaned down and kissed her forehead. Bella jumped away from him, only to be greeted with the sound of his laughter. He had pranked her.
"Stay sane, and I will see you at the end of the day," Edward said, giving a small wave with his fingers
Bella looked away for a second, and he disappeared.
Only now did Bella realize how quiet this place was. There were people as far as the eye could see, yet the noise seemed muted. As though someone had taken out their remote control (if those even existed anymore) and muted the sound.
"Hey, Cvuza, over here," a voice called from somewhere in Bella's vicinity.
It sounded familiar, in a muted way, but there was no telling where the familiarity stemmed from.
It was the one-eyed girl. She was much taller than she seemed when she was sitting. She definitely wasn't a girl either. She was nearing her thirties.
"It's your first day, and I am showing you the ropes."
"A name would be nice, you know," Bella stammered only slightly.
"You are look me straight in the face. Vampyres don't scare you. That's unhealthy."
The woman walked towards her, a small smile gracing her face. She shoved two things into her hands, a plastic bracelet and an apron.
"Don't be fooled. Both of these things are monitoring devices. You step three meters out of line, and the bracelet zaps you with a ton of electricity. You stop doing work for more than fifteen minutes; the apron begins to heat to lethal temperatures, burning you to death. I do not want to see that again. You take the apron off; bracelet activates. You take the bracelet off, apron activates. Vampires care for nothing but their dinner plate. They can still suck your blood with pleasure after you have died from apron burns. Capiche?"
Bella nodded. No words came from her.
"The food stations are positioned almost everywhere. Your job is to just keep moving. It is impossible to keep everyone happy, so you will always have work to do."
Bella nodded again, her skin itching from contact with the bracelet, and from the power it contained.
"My name is Rosalie. Now go, before you burst from adrenaline."
She gave Bella small push, and took off herself. Bella started to run, thanking god for the training at the camps. They had made all of the refugees run everyday for at least three miles.
The food stations were easy to spot, since they were big, circular, and red. Plates were always appearing and disappearing, as waitresses did the same. Bella jogged up to one and took a plate of goop. The sight itself was enough to make her want to empty any stomach contents that she had. There was so much of it, too.
The job itself was easy. Anyone who wanted food, simply raised their right hands in the air. If they were done, then they raised their left hand.
At first, it was mindlessly boring. Bella didn't dare look at anyone and didn't dare speak. But these were humans, and humans have an affinity for being curious. Everyone made jokes, and everyone ate without question.
There were actually families. Sometimes, even three or four generations sitting together enjoying breakfast. It boggled Bella's mind.
There were children who must have been born there.
Bella spotted a couple of nursing mothers.
Somehow, everyone was connected with each other, like a pack.
Bella was too frightened out of her mind to care for anything but her life. The day passed without incident.
A green flashing light on the bracelet told Bella she was done. It suddenly occurred to her that she had no idea what the time was.
But that didn't matter anymore. Just like everything else.
Well, except revenge.
"Are you ready for the Sanguine?"
Edward stood at the doorway of Plabulum 107 like a guardian angel. Bella nearly cried out in joy when she saw him. She ran to Edward like a child coming from daycare. Finally, finally, she was free from the bracelet and the apron. The fact that the waitresses talked about a girl who died from taking a break for too long in Plabalum 53 didn't help matters at all.
"What should I expect?" Bella walked slowly beside Edward, relishing the slow pace.
Bella shuddered. She was lucky enough to not have to endure the shots that the people got at the camps.
"Your blood will be ranked, stored, and taste tested. But don't worry, it will all take a matter of five minutes. And then after that, you may go and sleep."
"Really, what time is it?" Maybe Edward knew the answer to that question.
"Irrelevant," was the short, clipped answer.
Edward knew the time, Bella was sure of that. She didn't know him well enough to know why he wasn't telling her.
She had met him just this morning? Had it been morning?
How easy it was to forget that. Is this how people felt without sunlight? Insecure and trusting everyone they meet?
Again, Bella had no idea where they were. But Edward did, and that was all that mattered.
He opened a set of doors to a clinic-like room.
"This is the Sanguine."
There was a desk, some chairs and some books. Bella was amazed to read titles of some very classical and old book.
Edward gestured to a chair, and both of them sat down. Within moments, a vampire was strolling out with a clipboard.
"I hate clipboards," Bella moaned, eliciting a laugh from Edward. She was thinking of the doctor that she had shot.
The Vampyre only pursed her lips.
"Isabella Marie Swan? Will you please step through the door behind me?"
Bella stood and walked towards the door that was positioned right next to the desk. She paused and reached towards the back pocket of her clothes.
The Vampyre's eyes widened.
Bella only sniggered and pushed the door open.
What was behind the door could only be described in two words.
There were people making deposits, sitting on benches with needles sticking out of various places from their bodies.
There were Vampyres making withdrawals. Some were standing next to their donors, others waited next to counters that spanned the distance.
The smell of blood made Bella so nauseous that she started to walk towards a wall. Except a Vampyre, who grabbed her arm and steered her towards a bench, while sticking electrode-like things on her arms. A man was sitting next to her, a huge needle sticking out of the back of his neck.
She just about passed out.
That was when they sat Edward next to her. Bella only had enough time to look up at his face, and then someone was sticking a needle into her.
Edward let Bella lean on him as they withdraw blood. He started to hum, and Bella fell asleep. Strange, what his humming could do to her.
"Darling, wake up, you need to go back to your room."
Bella was jolted awake.
"I would carry you, darling, but there isn't enough room," Edward remarked, pushing Bella up onto unsteady feet.
She trusted him. She didn't know why, but she trusted him.
Edward led her back to her room, and closed the door behind her. A couple minutes later, a lock snapped.
A dim light was on in the room.
There was a bed there now. Red sheets covered it.
A note lay in the middle of the bed.
My dear Isabella,
I look forward to meeting in the near future. You have an odd personality for a human, and that makes you all the more interesting. Your blood is most delicious, and is exactly what I am looking for. I do hope that you will become my Sulatana, but I am just as happy to eat you for Christmas. And don't go into the Sanguine anymore. It contaminates the taste. I will tell them that you are not needed. Our little correspondence must remain a secret.
Please accept my gift,
Bella slept on the floor that night.
Thanks for reading.
Thank you to the lovely 4MeJasper for beta reading.
See you in the next chapter.