Sunday, March 14, 2010

Guest Fic Rec: Melissa228 Looks Skyward


I couldn't sleep. The vision of 124/89EC01 permanently etched in that girl's pale skin filled my thoughts.

It would be there until she died.

Even at death she would belong to me.

I know what you are probably thinking. I know because I thought the very same thing. Why would I want to read, let alone rec, a fic on a modern day holocaust? A subject matter so intense and a part of our history so painful, most of us would rather not think about it. However, what if you were forced to consider a world, just as our own now, ruled by a government that is so frantic to put an end to over-population, excess hunger and life-threatening global warming, they decided to fix the problem right where it started? Life. They would eliminate life and thus, fix the problems facing the world.

I came across this fic during my first fic-diving expedition. Almost every fic I read has been a rec from a friend or something that has been heavily talked about around the fandom. In this case, I started clicking away through and then Twilighted, and that is where I found this story. With the unusual title and very unique summary, I decided to give it a try, and by the end of the several chapters she has posted so far, I was literally speechless.

The story starts off on Edward Cullen's first day as a Leading Officer of camp 124/89. In an effort to spare his family's lives, he voluteers to work at the concentration camp as an officer. Even on his first day, he is reluctant at best, and during his stream of consciousness, he shows just how much he doesn't have the backbone, or heart, to be in such an environment. His thoughts in the Prologue capture his conflict and how much it personally pains him to have to willingly participate in the genocide.

I begged to go to Hell. I deserved a life full of suffering and I deserved torment.

I wanted nothing more than to smolder in Satan's fiery depths. I wanted to be immersed in pain for eternity. Any chances of redemption or forgiveness, I would instantly refuse. My only request would be that suffering and guilt would inflict my every thought, my every move. Every fucking breath I took, I wanted it to burn. This was, at the very least, what I deserved. If there was a harsher fate than Hell, I would easily accept it with open arms.

I'll tell you what I didn't deserve. I didn't deserve to live. And I didn't deserve to love her, yet I could do nothing but love her. Nothing more and nothing less. The fact that I, myself, couldn't even protect the woman I loved, ripped and tore at my insides. It was an indescribable torture, a self-torture, but I could justify it.

I deserved it.

After being introduced to his mentor, Jasper Hale, he is immediately required to learn the ropes of his new job. Being fitted for a uniform and a run through of regulations were just a taste of what Edward would soon experience at camp. He's forced to see the grim realities of what his new job entails. He's surrounded by sights and sounds of death, and the most disturbing, the smells as a result of mass killings.

One of his first official orders is to pick a group of ten slaves to watch over and be responsible for. While deciding on which group of newcomers to select, his eyes are drawn to the girl in the yellow cotton dress, and he feels an immediate, unexplainable pull to her. He chooses his group, ten slaves, one of them being, Isabella Swan, the girl in the yellow dress.

In the following chapters, QuestionXisting brings us front and center into the horrifying world of camp 124/89. The branding, living arrangements, and the working conditions of the prisoners are nothing short of heart-wrenching. Even as we learn of how Bella came to be a prisoner, there is an underlining tone of the silent bond beginning to grow between Edward and Bella.

At one point, Bella is repimanded for a crime by being hit unconscious and placed in seclusion. When she awakes, she is horrified to learn she's hidden in complete darkness, unable to move.

I felt like I had just woken up in a buried coffin, like I had been buried alive. Only this was worse. I was trapped in a permanent fetal position. The walls enclosed around me and the available space for moving had to be much smaller than even a child's sarcophagus. I was trapped by myself.

The events that follow are the strategic seeds being planted by QuestionXisting for the future of Bella, the prisoner, and Edward, the officer, who is desperate to save her. An unbelieveable risk faces both of them, disobey authorities and risk death of not only them, but their families, or follow the rules, leaving Edward with no choice, but to have Bella's life and inevitable death in his hands. It's an unimaginable decision.

I can't begin to articulate how beautifully written and detailed this story is. The descriptions are so vivid, so precise, that you feel as if you are transported to this alternate world, all along having to remind yourself that this isn't a story of a Holocaust from several decades ago, but one which could happen at any time. This is what is so special about QuestionXisting's writing. The theme is transcendent of any time period and the prisoners, along with most of the camp workers, are humanized in such a way, your heart can't help but ache for all of the people involved. Every one is a victim.

At only seven chapters, you know there is much, much more of this story to be told. While a happily ever after is unknown at this point, I'm going to sit tight and marvel at how the rest of this story unfolds.
Melissa228 has written Return to Sender, been part of the collaboration of The Hills of Twilight, and is currently writing Confessions of a Nanny.

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