I drag my fingertips over the skid marks left in the parking lot. They angled out onto an uneven course before disappearing – they went South, I think. The pattern even indicated an expensive car too: maybe an Audi.

It was at times like these that I was glad for night schooling. I not only educated myself in the medical sciences, but I had unlimited time to devote myself to other subjects. Even just a trivial insight to forensics gave me the basics to work with; a stepping stone toward my understanding of crime scenes. It was only just barely starting to become useful, but I was relieved with its presence.

It seemed like immoral stupidity to kidnap someone in such an expensive car, but then again, they probably hadn’t intended it like that at first. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew they had come to reason, but ended up with an unconscious patient in the trunk of their car.

Guilt ate away at me knowing Mary-Lynette could be mortal danger. I had told her our secrets, even against my own recommendations, and could have gotten her kidnapped – or worse: dead? I put my head in the flat palm of my hands, wishing I could rub away all of remorse and shame.

“You worry too much, Carlisle. We will find her,” Alice says as she puts a consoling hand on the small of my
back. Even with such a fragile looking appearance, Alice never let her emotions get in the way of business. It was her way of shadowing any sensations that may be unwanted, masking them with a virtuous innocence.

“Thank you, Alice.” A ghost of a smile lingers on my lips at her self sufficient confidence. “Have you seen anything that may be of help?”

She presses her fingertips to her temples, rubbing them in a constant circular motion as if to encourage one of her bone-crushing visions. I admired my daughter for her constant courage at defeating the pain to help.

“I can’t see anything,” she admits defeated, her arms falling limp by her sides, brushing at the angles of her hips. “All I’m getting is a blockage.”

“Do you have any idea how to skim or get past the blockage, Alice?” Jasper questions, appearing behind her shoulder like some avenging angel. His scars gleam golden in the lamp-light and it’s close to blinding.

“Give her a break,” Rosalie interrupts, her tone strict with command. I had become used to Rosalie’s haughtiness in situations and I stood up, flexing the cramping muscles in my thighs. “If you keep pestering her, she’ll not find a thing.”

My fingers run through my hair methodically. “Rosalie is correct, I’m sorry for pressuring you, Alice,” I apologized, everyone’s eyes watching me curiously. “That was not my intention.”

Alice laces her fingers together, each polished nail sharp and manicured. Although it’s a comparative gesture, she looked at ease and keen to aid us. There was not even a sigh of injury from my unpleasant ambiance. “Don’t worry, Carlisle. I’m fine – you worry far too much. Now give yourself a break, we’ll finish looking around,” she says in a tone of fictitious impatience.

Obeying her words without hesitation, I step away from my son and daughters. The air was thick and smothering, and I felt almost as if I were being suffocated – pressure building behind me eyes and a challenging heat that felt like breathlessness rising in my chest.

Taking long, deep breaths the fire was ebbed away and lucid, patent air filled my lungs and the space between the bones of my rib-cage. It felt like my lungs had been vacant – having been holding my breath for so long – and then unexpectedly I find a breath of sweet release. My inner organs no longer felt restricted and I glorified in this sensation.

Next to me was a small abundant plain, which would have flourished in the daylight. The large oak tree had neither shed its coat of leaves or its bark starting to crack, as if it were sweating with the heat, yet the latter was more common. However it was in the prime of its youth. Its roots speared out into the ground and were later displaced around in weaknesses in the concrete. I put my palm to its trunk, feeling the rough bark scratch against my skin. It’s comforting to be so close to nature, yet know I would never be a part of it. Around me; flowers have withered in the warmth and the jewel-colored petals no longer dripped pollen from its tips. Encompassed by such conflicting scenery made it harder to concentrate – I was caught between mourning over my mistakes and the agonizing troubles that made my heart clench into a painful fist.

Mary-Lynette’s old car sits idly a few footsteps from me; it’s large, battered frame a shrouded silhouette in the darkness that only made the appearance of the car park more eerie and menacing. Some damage had been inflicted to her vehicle – her engine having been smashed so it could no longer be used – but it was nothing that left a trace of evidence. It was just a silent heap of rusted metal like it would be on any normal night.

Except it wasn’t any regular night, yet everything seemed to be in its original conventional order: car parked and it still smelling like stale perfume, cheap soap and doughnuts, door to her apartment still locked and no signs of an immediate struggle.

I can hear Rosalie talking to Jasper in a low mutter as her voice is carried by the wind:

“Do you not think he’s taking this a little too far?” her lips move accordingly to the opinion she is voicing. “Her being gone could be an advantage, since she could expose our secret. Never mind that she’s apparently an ‘Old One,’ whatever the heck they are.”

“She may have a connection to Carlisle’s past? As stable as his thoughts are on the subject of his history, I believe there’s a part he doesn’t understand and this girl – Mary-Lynette – is the key,” Jasper was protesting.

Rosalie’s expression became pinched. “I’m sick of dreaming of this girl constantly, if I’d known she was to be kidnapped I’d gladly have joined in,” she retorted bitterly.

I held a quiet growl between my teeth, watching the two through a hooded gaze. “We understand it’s frustrating, myself and Alice are worried about Carlisle, but this is what he wants to do. Plus, there’s the added consequence of our exposure now so she must be found.”

“Of course,” she replied aspirated, throwing her hands in the air. “This is like Bella Swan all over again.”

Every sound, including their voices, was amplified by the hollow walls of the apartments, it directing eddies of wind to swirl around myself and the idle car. For a brief moment, something stings my nose and then it recedes almost directly – it was a strong, acidic smell that burns the back of my throat and my lips become dry and cracked. If I were human I would feel that white hot pressure thudding at the back of my skull, the black spots crawling against my vision and then nausea would rise up and grip me tightly.

My muscles locked tightly and my nails dug deeply into the tree so hard that four perpendicular holes were left in the trunk. I licked my lips as recognition hit me. The solvent had been used since the early 19th century when closing off nervous systems and as a sleeping gas in hospitals, especially when painful surgery or procedures were to be endured by the patient: Chloroform.

“Rosalie, Jasper,” I shouted within a moment, already crouching on my knees with my hand stretching underneath Mary-Lynette’s car. The small piece of material was clenched within my fist.

I lifted it to my nose and sniffed experimentally. I felt like almost gagging at the smell – it made my throat burn even worse like flames licking up my throat, until it roared like a furnace. Water would die it down, but blood was the only solution to cure the insatiable fire that raged inside.

Holding it in the air between two fingers, I held it toward my son and daughter. Rosalie wrinkles her nose while posing a hand at her hip, “A piece of clothing, Carlisle. Knowing this place, teenagers will be all over it like a breeding ground.” Rosalie was never subtle with her opinions and they were never in sync with my own, however I had grown used to her outlandish objections and frivolous tendencies. I loved her as any equal.

“Smell it,” I persist, holding it closer. “I found it underneath Mary-Lynette’s car.”

Jasper leans closer, but not close enough to make his throat burn like my own – he was the youngest of all us vegetarians and we were still unsteady with his stability, but I knew enough to trust his military skills in such a moment of crisis. His jaw twitches, “Chloroform,” he responds.

“You what?” Rosalie commands frankly. She repeats Jasper’s motions but her escape from the smell is more theatrical – holding her nose as if to block the smell and jumping a few feet back, until she stands by Alice. “You have got to be kidding me! These people are so old-fashioned.”

“Where do you think they are holding her – Mary-Lynette I mean?” Jasper looks at me through a cascade of honey-combed hair that had fallen over his eyes. He pushes it back hastily to see my momentary stutter of emotion.

Handing the drugged rag to Jasper, I brush my hands against my slacks. “I don’t know, Jasper, but there has to be some more evidence inside of her apartment.” I walked toward the locked door, feeling the cold metal of the handle in the flat of my hand before I snap it open. Then door swings inwardly with an ethereal sigh. I look at them before stepping inside, “Keep looking. There must be some more clues.”

The interior of Mary-Lynette’s apartment was dark and silent. As I stepped inside I closed the door behind me with a click and surveyed the area. There was a match-box living room with an old tattered couch and small television, the kitchen wasn’t either at all promising. It was almost as if she was living in a motel. I searched high and low and yet there was no sign of anything to suggest her heritage, or why she had been kidnapped.

One door remained closed and even though I felt like I was invading someone’s most precious privacy, I opened the door and stepped into the bedroom. It was bare of any poster’s you would expect from a teenager girl, no clothes scattered across the floor and it was barren landscape except for some sparse furnishings. It looked almost like a monk’s room.

“You must help me find you somehow, Mary-Lynette,” I pleaded with the dark. I knew there would be no response, but hearing the silence still made it alarming.

From a quick moment of chance I caught sight of something lodged into the mirror on her armoire. With advanced vision I picked it up with careful fingers, smoothing out the edges. The color had faded so it merely a scramble of black and white and ash; I brushed it away with gentle fingertips finding that it had been in a fire as the Polaroid image was warped. The photograph showed a happy family: an older woman with short blonde cropped hair, lines of age starting to appear underneath her eyes who stood next to a man with dark hair and the same olive shade of eyes that Mary-Lynette had, and sitting on his shoulders was a small girl clutching at his hair tightly-fisted hands and – a younger boy with tanned skin and the deepest brown eyes standing in the middle, and smiling. Mary-Lynette had never mentioned having a brother, had she?

Curiosity pulled at my mind, but I threw it back as I came back to my senses: Mary-Lynette had been kidnapped and we had to find her, and soon. Slotting the picture tenderly back into place, I moved toward her desk. Opening the laptop it was password locked so I quickly gave up. The scattered papers gave no hint – they were ranging from rent to laundry bills.

Just as I was about to leave, my foot kicked something underneath the desk. Crouching down and ducking underneath the desk, I pulled away a large oak box from the shadows. Brushing away the dust, a small crest was carved onto the top of the wooden box: the Ouroboros, or the snake swallowing its own tail. I only remembered the symbol faintly, but it was enough to rouse my dormant suspicions. Unlocking the chain; I opened it and had to take a deep breath, my silent heart racing at new speeds.

“What have you been getting yourself into, Mary-Lynette?” I asked aspirated.

The thin gold chain hung from a single finger, dangling in the air and the golden-embossed “V” shone with an inwardly glow that seen a paralyzing fear shoot down my spine until it was iron stiff. The Volturi Crest. Why did Mary-Lynette have a Volturi Crest? With my other hand I pulled loose a long black clock, with a matching “V” clasp just below the dark hood. Books were stacked in neat rows at the bottom of the box.

“Carlisle,” Rosalie shouts from outside, her fist pumping a rapid rhythm of pounds against the door. “Come out, we have a lead.”

Her sudden interruption stunned me and I quickly piled everything back into the box, my hands almost trembling with anxiety. Determinedly picking up the box and placing it under my arm, I left for the door and once outside let the cold air hold me in an icy embrace.

“What have you been found?” I asked quickly, eager not to draw attention to the wooden box.

Jasper was eying me and was about to ask about the box, but his words were never heard as Alice burst forth in a flurry of zeal. “Carlisle, we have to hurry,” her words morphed together with her fast paced words. “Mary-Lynette doesn’t have a lot of time.”

“What is it, Alice?” I pull my hand from hers and she tries to pull me along. “What did you see?”

“They’re going to kill her,” Rosalie puts a little too bluntly, leaning against Mary-Lynette vehicle with her elbow against the hood of the car. She’s admiring her fingernails with inspecting eyes, feeling far from her voice.

Jasper hands a small phone toward me. I take it in my hand with caution. “We also found this, but the riddle is off little help. We already know who has her,” he retreats toward Alice who has already pulled the car door open, and was rearranging weapons into a black duffel bag to take with us. She was an unstoppable storm.

I click a button on the phone and the screen alights. There was only one text message available and I scrolled through the options to find it. What I found was as Jasper said, a riddle, but it meant something we didn’t understand: Be silent and still. The repetition of the “s” made it sound as though it was a hiss – but text messages couldn’t be that menacing, but obviously this was. Mary-Lynette had been frightened?

The phone was placed in my pocket, it a constant and materialistic reminder of how much we needed to save this poor, and helpless girl. “Where are they holding her, Alice?”

“It’s an old compound some miles from here,” she replies a little breathlessly. Her appearance is ruffled and it’s the first I’ve ever seen her so eager to move. “But Carlisle, it’s nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s been completely redesigned so it’s a maze of corridors,” she admits, the distress now like an added thin whisper to her voice. It was tempting to hug her and repeat my compliments to her courage and admiration, but we didn’t have time. Alice would understand.

“If that’s the case, we can’t take my car. It would be too obvious as they are seemingly waiting for us, so we need to be conspicuous,” I looked toward Mary-Lynette’s car but I knew it would no longer work.

“We will need to regroup immediately,” Jasper orders quickly, crossing his arms around his chest decidedly. “Edward can help us locate where about Mary-Lynette is within the building.”

Alice’s head snapped up from the ground, her face looking a little paler than usual. “Edward and Bella are still busy with the wolves, we cannot bother them.”

I give a heavy sigh of regret, “Alice is correct,” I entreat. “We cannot bother them when they are fully in cooperation with the wolves in helping them. I would take Mary-Lynette’s car, but it’s broken –”

“No it’s not,” Rosalie’s voice is so sudden from her previous silence after relating how close to death the girl was – and how much the guilt and fear was eating away at me. I had left her for this? How could I have let her leave alone, and without protection from the hospital? She taps the car’s bonnet, “All fixed.”

Gratitude wells up inside of me until it’s like a balloon inflating inside of my skull, until it’s just a bundle of hot pressurized air. “You fixed her car, Rosalie?” That’s when I see the grease stained rag nearby her feet and why she had been inspecting her nails – Rosalie had purposely fixed the car.

“As much as I’m sick of hearing of this girl and detested fixing this hunk of junk,” she gives the tyre a quick jab of her shoe for emphasis, “I would never want any harm to come to her.”

She is sombre, eyelashes brushing against her cheeks as if she’s brushing away tears that should be welling up at that moment – when she remembers what happened to her. I walk over to my daughter and take her hand, my fingertips brushing against her wrist as I mutter my “thanks”. Rosalie brushes me off after a smile pulls at her lips, “Are we going to move or stay and be sentimental all night?”

“Rosalie’s right, we should move. To stations,” Alice punches the air in mock humor as they clamber into my car, the weapon’s bag in the back seat.

Jasper’s in the driver’s seat, hands tight around the wheel and I lean inside, “Stay behind me and keep the headlights switches off.”

Alice snorts in laughter, “In that old car, you’ll be the one needing to catch up with us.”

The car growls as the engine starts up and I stride toward Mary-Lynette’s old, battered car. I hear Rosalie shout my name from the window and the next moment I’m catching the car keys in my hand, “You’re going to need them,” she bellows. “You’re not very good at hijacking cars.”

Once they drove off to avoid and ease the doubt of any of the people living within the apartments, I walked toward the car with the keys in hand; the box under my other arm and myself determined and ready to deal with whatever came face-to-face with me when finding, and freeing Mary-Lynette.


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