Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 127)

The hunter was watching again now, but her face hadn’t gone back to normal, it was still mostly teeth. She waited for the pain to hit me, watched as I gasped and curled in around my broken arm.

Before I could even feel all of the first pain, while it was still building, she blurred again, and with more snapping pops, something knocked me back against the wall—the bar buckled behind my back and the mirrors splintered.

A strange, animal-like whine escaped between my teeth. I tried to suck in another breath, and it was like a dozen knives were stabbing my lungs.

“That’s a nice effect, don’t you think?” she asked, her face friendly again. She touched one of the spiderweb lines running away from where I’d hit the wall. “As soon as I saw this place, I knew it was the right set for my little film. Visually dynamic. And so many angles—I wouldn’t want Edythe to miss even one little thing.”

I didn’t see her move, but there was another tiny crunch, and a dull throbbing started in my left index finger.

“Still on his feet,” she said, and then she laughed.

The next crack was much louder—like a muffled detonation. The room seemed to fly up past me, like I was dropping through a hole. The agony hit the same time I hit the floor.

I choked on the scream that was trying to rip out of my throat, fighting through the bile that flooded my esophagus. There wasn’t enough air, I couldn’t fill my lungs. A strange, smothered groan seemed to come from deep inside my torso.

My body automatically coughed out the vomit so I could breathe, even though breathing felt like it was tearing my insides apart. The pain from my broken arm was throbbing in the background now—my leg was center stage. That pain was still peaking. I was splayed awkwardly on the floor in a pool of my own vomit, but I couldn’t move anything.

She was down on her knees by my head now, and the red light was flashing in her hand.

“Time for your close-up, Beau.”

I coughed more acid from my throat, wheezing.

“Now, what I’d like here is a retraction. Can you do that for me? You do me a favor, I speed this up a little. Does that sound fair?”

My eyes couldn’t focus on her face—the red flashing light seemed hazy.

“Just tell Edythe how much this all hurts,” she coaxed. “Tell her that you want vengeance—you deserve it. She brought you into this. In a very real sense, she’s the one who’s hurting you here. Try to sell it.”

My eyes closed.

She lifted my head with surprising gentleness—though the movement sent ricochets of torture through my arms and ribs.

“Beau,” she said softly, like I was sleeping and she was trying to wake me. “Beau? You can do this. Tell Edythe to come after me.”

She shook me lightly, and a sound like a sigh leaked out of my lungs.

“Beau dear, you have so many bones left—and the big ones can be broken in so many places. Do what I want, please.”

I looked at her out-of-focus face. She wasn’t making me a real offer. Nothing I said now would save me. And there was too much at stake.

Carefully, I shook my head once. Maybe Edythe would know what I meant.

“It doesn’t want to scream,” she said in a funny little singsong voice. “Should we make it scream?”

I waited for the next snap.

Instead, she gently lifted my good arm and held my hand to her lips. The next pain was hardly even pain, compared to the rest. She could have easily taken off my finger, but she just nipped it. Her teeth didn’t even go that deep.

I barely reacted, but she jumped up and spun away. My head thumped against the ground, and my broken ribs screamed. I watched her, strangely detached as she paced the far end of the room, snarling and shaking her head back and forth. She’d left the camera by my head, still running.

The first hint of what she’d done was the heat—my finger was so hot. I was surprised I could even feel that over the bigger agonies. But I remembered Carine’s story. I knew what had started. I didn’t have much time.

She was still trying to calm herself—the blood, that was the problem. She’d gotten some of my blood in her mouth, but she didn’t want to kill me yet, so she had to fight off the frenzy. She was distracted, but it wouldn’t take much to catch her attention.

The heat was building fast. I tried to ignore that, to ignore the stabbing in my chest. My hand shot out and I had the camera. I raised it up as high as I could and smashed it back toward the ground.

And I was flying backward, into the broken mirrors. The glass punctured my shoulders, my scalp. The impact seemed to rebreak all of my broken bones. But that wasn’t why I screamed.

Fire had ignited my bitten finger—flames exploded across my palm. Heat was scorching up my wrist. It was fire that was more than fire—a pain that was more than pain.

The other agonies were nothing. Broken bones weren’t pain. Not like this.

The screaming sounded like it was coming from someplace outside my body—it was an unbroken yowling that was like an animal again.

My eyes were fixed, staring, and I saw the red light flashing in the tracker’s hand. She’d been too fast, and I’d failed.

But I didn’t care anymore.

Blood was running down my arm, pooling under my elbow.

The tracker’s nostrils were flared, her eyes wild, her teeth bared. The blood dripped onto the floor, but I couldn’t hear it over the screaming. Here was my last shred of hope. She wouldn’t be able to stop herself now. She would have to kill me. Finally.

Her mouth opened wide.

I waited, screaming.


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