Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 37)

7. NIGHTMARE

I TOLD CHARLIE I HAD A LOT OF HOMEWORK TO DO, AND THAT I’D FILLED up at La Push and didn’t want dinner. There was a basketball game on that he was excited about, though of course I couldn’t tell what was special about it, so he wasn’t aware of anything off about my face.

Once in my room, I locked the door. I dug through my desk until I found my old headphones, and I plugged them into my little CD player. I picked up a CD that Phil had given to me for Christmas. It was one of his favorite bands, but they were a little heavy for my taste. I stuck it into place and lay down on my bed. I put on the headphones, hit Play, and turned up the volume until it hurt my ears. I closed my eyes, and then added a pillow over the top half of my face.

I concentrated only on the music, trying to make out the lyrics, to unravel the complicated drum patterns. By the third time I’d listened through the CD, I knew all the words to the choruses, at least. I was surprised to find that I really did like the band after all, once I got past the blaring noise. I’d have to thank Phil again.

And it worked. The eardrum-shattering beats made it impossible for me to think—which was the whole idea. I listened to the CD again and again, until I was singing along with all the songs, until, finally, I fell asleep.

I opened my eyes to a familiar place. Though part of my mind seemed to know that I was dreaming, most of me was just present in the green light of the forest. I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks somewhere nearby, and I knew that if I found the ocean, I’d be able to see the sun. So I was trying to follow the sound, but then Jules was there, tugging on my hand, pulling me back toward the blackest part of the forest.

“Jules? What’s wrong?” I asked. Her face was frightened as she yanked on my hand, trying to tow me back into the dark.

“Run, Beau, you have to run!” she whispered, terrified.

“This way, Beau!” It was McKayla’s voice I heard now, calling from the thick of the trees, but I couldn’t see her.

“Why?” I asked, still pulling against Jules’s grasp. Finding the sun was really important to the dream me. It was all I could focus on.

And then Jules dropped my hand—she let out a strange yelp and, suddenly shaking, she fell twitching to the ground. I watched in horror, unable to move.

“Jules!” I yelled, but she was gone. In her place was a big, red-brown wolf with black eyes. The wolf faced away from me, pointing toward the shore, the hair on the back of her shoulders bristling, low growls issuing from between her exposed fangs.

“Beau, run!” McKayla cried out again from behind me. But I didn’t turn. I was watching a light, coming toward me from the beach.

And then Edythe stepped out from the trees.

She wore a black dress. It hung all the way to the ground but exposed her arms to the shoulders and had a deep-cut V for a neckline. Her skin was faintly glowing, and her eyes were flat black. She held up one hand and beckoned me to come to her. Her nails were filed into sharp points and painted a red so dark they were almost as black as her dress. Her lips were the same color.

The wolf between us growled.

I took a step forward, toward Edythe. She smiled then, and between her dark lips her teeth were sharp, pointed, like her fingernails.

“Trust me,” she purred.

I took another step.

The wolf launched herself across the space between me and the vampire, fangs aiming for the jugular.

“No!” I shouted, wrenching upright out of my bed.

My sudden movement caused the headphones to pull the CD player off the bedside table, and it clattered to the wooden floor.

My light was still on, and I was sitting fully dressed on the bed, with my shoes on. I glanced, disoriented, at the clock on my dresser. It was five-thirty in the morning.

I groaned, fell back, and rolled over onto my face, kicking off my boots. I was too uncomfortable to get anywhere near sleep, though. I rolled back over and unbuttoned my jeans, yanking them off awkwardly as I tried to stay horizontal. I pulled the pillow back over my eyes.

It was all no use, though. My subconscious had decided to wallow in the word I’d been trying so hard to avoid. I was going to have to deal with it now.

First things first, I thought to myself, glad to put it off as long as possible. I grabbed my bathroom stuff.

Showering didn’t take very long. I couldn’t tell if Charlie was still asleep, or if he’d left already. I went to the window, and the cruiser was gone. Early-morning fishing again.

I dressed slowly in yesterday’s jeans and an old sweatshirt, and then made my bed—which was just stalling.

I couldn’t put it off any longer. I went to my desk and switched on my old computer.

I hated using the Internet here. My modem belonged in a museum, and my free service really proved that you got what you paid for. Just dialing up took so long that I decided to grab a bowl of cereal while I waited.

I ate slowly, so the last bites were too soggy to finish. I washed the bowl and spoon, then put them away. My feet dragged as I climbed the stairs. I went to pick up my CD player first, then wound up the headphones’ cord, and put them away in the desk drawer. I turned the same CD on, but turned it down till it was just background noise.

With a sigh, I turned to my computer, already feeling stupid before I could even finish typing the word.

Vampire.

I felt even more stupid looking at it.

The results were difficult to sift through. Most of it was entertainment—movies, TV shows, role-playing games, metal bands.… There were goth clothes and makeup, Halloween costumes, and convention schedules.

Eventually I found a promising site—Vampires A–Z—and waited impatiently for it to load. The final page was simple and academic-looking, black text on a white background. Two quotes greeted me on the home page:

[X]

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