*by Stephenie Meyer*
TWILIGHT - chapter 22 - HIDE-AND-SEEK
"Would wewe mind, very much, if I left a little letter of my own for your Edward?"
He took a step back and touchd a palm-sized digital video camera balanced carefully on juu of the stereo. A small red light indicated that it was already running. He adjusted it a few times, widened the frame. I stared at him in horror.
"I'm sorry, but I just don't think he'll be able to resist hunting me after he watches this. And I wouldn't want him to miss anything. It was all for him, of course. You're simply a human, who unfortunately was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and indisputably running with the wrong crowd, I might add."
He stepped toward me, smiling. "BEfore we begin..."
I felt a curl of nausea in the pit of my stomach as he spoke. This was something I had not anticipated.
"I would like to rub it in, just a little bit. The answer was there all along, and I was so afraid Edward would see that and ruin my fun. I happened once, oh, ages ago. The one and only time my prey escaped me.
"You see, the vampire who was so syupidly fond of this little victim made the choice that your Edward was too weak to make. When the odd one knew I was after his little friend, he aliiba her from the asylum where he worked - I never will understand the obsession some Wanyonya damu seem to form with wewe humans - and as soon as he freed her he made her safe. She didn't even seem to notice the pain, poor little creature. She'd been stuck in that black hole of a cell for so long. A hundred years earlier and she would have been burned at the stake for her visions. In the nineteen-twenties it was the asylum and the shock treatments. When she opened her eyes, strong with her fresh youth, it was like she'd never seen the sun before. The old vampire made her a strong new vampire, and there was no reason for me to touch her then." He sighed. "I destroyed the old on in vengeance."
"Alice," I breathed, astonished.
"Yes, your little friend. I was surprised to see her in the clearing. So I guess her coven ought to be able to derive some comfort from this experience. I get you, but they get her. The one victim who escaped me, quite an honor, actually.
"And she did smell so delicious. I still regret that I never got to taste... She smelled even better than wewe do. Sorry - I don't mean to be offensive. wewe have a very nice smell. Floral, somehow..."
He took another step toward me, till he was jsut inches away. He lifted a lock of my hair and sniffed at it delicately. Then he gently patted the strand back into place, and I felt his cool fingertips against my throat. He reached up to stroke my cheek once quickly with his thumb, his face curious. I wanted so badly to run, but I was frozen. I couldn't even flinch away.
"No," he murmured to himself as he dropped his hand, "I don't understand." He sighed. "Well, I suppose we should get on with it. And then I can call your Marafiki and tell them where to find you, and my little message."
I was definitely sick now. There was pain coming, I could see it in his eyes. It wouldn't be enough for him to win, to feed and go. There would be no quick end like I'd been counting on. My knees began to shake, and I was afraid I was going to fall.
He stepped back, and began to circle, casually, as if he were trying to get a better view of a statue in a museum. His face was still open and friendly as he decided where to start.
Then he slumped forward, into a crouch I recognized, and his pleasant smile slowly widened, grew, till it wasn't a smile at all but a contortion of teeth, exposed and glistening.
I couldn't help myself - I tried to run. As useless as I knew it would be, as weak as my knees already were, panic took over and I bolted for the emergency door.
He was in front of me in a flash. I didn't see if he used his hand au his foot, it was too fast. A crushing blow struck my chest - I felt myself flying backward, and then heard the crunch as my head bashed into the mirrors. The glass buckled, some of the pieces shattered and splintering on the floor beside me.
I was too stunned to feel the pain. I couldn't breathe yet.
He walked toward me slowly.
"That's a very nice effect," he said, examining the mess of glass, his voice friendly again. "I thought this room would be visually dramatic for my little film. That's why I picked this place to meet you. It's perfect, isn't it?"
I ignored him, scrambling on my hands and knees, crawling toward the other door.
He was over me at once, his foot stepping down hard on my leg. I heard the sickening snap before I felt it. But then I did feel it, and I couldn't hold back my scream of agony. I twisted up to rech for my leg, and he was standing over me, smiling.
"Would wewe like to rethink your last request?" he asked pleasantly. His toe nudged my broken leg and I heard a piercing scream. With shock, I realized it was mine.
"Wouldn't wewe rather have Edward try to find me?" he prompted.
"No!" I croaked. "No, Edward, don't - " And then something smashed into my face, throwing my back into the broken mirrors.
Over the pain of my leg, I felt a sharp rip across my scalp where the glass cut into it. And then the warm wetness began to spread my hair with alarming speed. I could feel it soaking the shoulder of my shirt, hear it dripping on the wood below. The smell of it twisted my stomach.
Through the nasea and dizziness I saw nothing that gave me a sudden, final shred of hope. His eyes, merely intent before, now burned with uncontrollable need. The blood - spreading crimson across my white shirt, pooling rapidly on the floor - was driving him mad with thirst. No matter his original intentions, he couldn't draw this out much longer.
Let it be quickly now, was all I could hope as the flow of blood from my head sucked my consciousness away with it. My eyes were closing.
I heard, as if from underwater, the final growl of the hunter. I could see, through the long tunnels my eyes had become, his dark shape coming toward me. With my last effort, my hand instinctively raised to protect my face. My eyes closed, and I drifted.