Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5)(4)


by Stephenie Meyer

The scent swirled around me again, scattering my thoughts and nearly propelling me out of my seat.

My hand gripped under the edge of the table as I tried to hold myself in my chair.

The wood was not up to the task. My hand crushed through the strut and came away with a palmful of splintered pulp, leaving the shape of my fingers carved into the remaining wood.

Destroy evidence. That was a fundamental rule. I quickly pulverized the edges of the shape with my fingertips, leaving nothing but a ragged hole and a pile of shavings on the floor, which I scattered with my foot.

Destroy evidence. Collateral damage....

I knew what had to happen now. The girl would have to come sit beside me, and I would have to kill her.

The innocent bystanders in this classroom, eighteen other children and one man, could not be allowed to leave this room, having seen what they would soon see.

I flinched at the thought of what I must do. Even at my very worst, I had never committed this kind of atrocity. I had never killed innocents, not in over eight decades.

And now I planned to slaughter twenty of them at once.

The face of the monster in the mirror mocked me.

Even as part of me shuddered away from the monster, another part was planning it.

If I killed the girl first, I would have only fifteen or twenty seconds with her before the humans in the room would react. Maybe a little bit longer, if at first they did not realize what I was doing. She would not have time to scream or feel pain; I would not kill her cruelly. That much I could give this stranger with her horribly desirable blood.

But then I would have to stop them from escaping. I wouldn't have to worry about the windows, too high up and small to provide an escape for anyone. Just the door - block that and they were trapped.

It would be slower and more difficult, trying to take them all down when they were panicked and scrambling, moving in chaos. Not impossible, but there would be much more noise. Time for lots of screaming. Someone would hear...and I'd be forced to kill even more innocents in this black hour.

And her blood would cool, while I murdered the others.

The scent punished me, closing my throat with dry aching...

So the witnesses first then.

I mapped it out in my head. I was in the middle of the room, the furthest row in the back. I would take my right side first. I could snap four or five of their necks per second, I estimated. It would not be noisy. The right side would be the lucky side; they would not see me coming. Moving around the front and back up the left side, it would take me, at most, five seconds to end every life in this room.

Long enough for Bella Swan to see, briefly, what was coming for her. Long enough for her to feel fear. Long enough, maybe, if shock didn't freeze her in place, for her to work up a scream. One soft scream that would not bring anyone running.

I took a deep breath, and the scent was a fire that raced through my dry veins, burning out from my chest to consume every better impulse that I was capable of. She was just turning now. In a few seconds, she would sit down inches away from me.

The monster in my head smiled in anticipation.

Someone slammed shut a folder on my left. I didn't look up to see which of the doomed humans it was. But the motion sent a wave of ordinary, unscented air wafting across my face.

For one short second, I was able to think clearly. In that precious second, I saw two faces in my head, side by side.

One was mine, or rather had been: the red-eyed monster that had killed so many people that I'd stop counting their numbers. Rationalized, justified murders. A killer of killers, a killer of other, less powerful monsters. It was a god complex, I acknowledged that - deciding who deserved a death sentence. It was a compromise with myself. I had fed on human blood, but only by the loosest definition. My victims were, in their various dark pastimes, barely more human than I was.

The other face was Carlisle's.

There was no resemblance between the two faces. They were bright day and blackest night.

There was no reason for there to be a resemblance. Carlisle was not my father in the basic biological sense. We shared no common features. The similarity in our coloring was a product of what we were; every vampire had the same ice pale skin. The similarity in the color of our eyes was another matter - a reflection of a mutual choice.

And yet, though there was no basis for a resemblance, I'd imagined that my face had begun to reflect his, to an extent, in the last seventy-odd years that I had embraced his choice and followed in his steps. My features had not changed, but it seemed to me like some of his wisdom had marked my expression, that a little of his compassion could be traced in the shape of my mouth, and hints of his patience were evident on my brow.

All those tiny improvements were lost in the face of the monster. In a few moments, there would be nothing left in me that would reflect the years I'd spent with my creator, my mentor, my father in all the ways that counted. My eyes would glow red as a devil's; all likeness would be lost forever.

In my head, Carlisle's kind eyes did not judge me. I knew that he would forgive me for this horrible act that I would do. Because he loved me. Because he thought I was better than I was. And he would still love me, even as I now proved him wrong.

Bella Swan sat down in the chair next to me, her movements stiff and awkward - with fear? - and the scent of her blood bloomed in an inexorable cloud around me. I would prove my father wrong about me. The misery of this fact hurt almost as much as the fire in my throat.

I leaned away from her in revulsion - revolted by the monster aching to take her. Why did she have to come here? Why did she have to exist? Why did she have to ruin the little peace I had in this non-life of mine? Why had this aggravating human ever been born? She would ruin me.

I turned my face away from her, as a sudden fierce, unreasoning hatred washed through me.

Who was this creature? Why me, why now? Why did I have to lose everything just because she happened to choose this unlikely town to appear in? Why had she come here!

I didn't want to be the monster! I didn't want to kill this room full of harmless children! I didn't want to lose everything I'd gained in a lifetime of sacrifice and denial! I wouldn't. She couldn't make me.

The scent was the problem, the hideously appealing scent of her blood. If there was only some way to resist...if only another gust of fresh air could clear my head. Bella Swan shook out her long, thick, mahogany hair in my direction.

Was she insane? It was as if she were encouraging the monster! Taunting him. There was no friendly breeze to blow the smell away from me now. All would soon be lost.