So we return a few hours later, also still in the middle of the night. Jasper and Alice are still audibly talking and the TV is still on. Is there a REASON they're watching CNN 24/7, or is it on just for the background noise?
Alice and Jasper were sitting together on the sofa, Alice sketching again while Jasper looked over her shoulder. They didn't look up when I entered, too engrossed in Alice's work.
"Alice, what are you drawing?"
"Anime fan art. I've been neglecting my deviantart account. Right I'm making a picture of that gothy looking guy from Death Note - I feel a connection to him."
"... but what about the tracker?!"
"I don't think I'll get as many hits from drawing him."
No, actually Alice has had a vision of that mysterious dark room where James was touching a VCR. It's.... Bella's mother's living room!
And apparently being a failed baseball player with no other skills pays pretty well, since they have a giant fireplace and a scenic view, in a major city. I guess like her daughter, Rene managed to marry into money. And since Bawla has established that she's a mildly retarded flake who probably can't on her own clothes without help, we know SHE probably doesn't have a job for her many hobbies and luxurious home.
Uncharacteristically, Jasper slid closer to me.
What's uncharacteristic about it? Every time Bella gets all fluttery, he rushes over to say, "Oh Bella, you're so awesome that we're GLAD to sacrifice our lives for you!"
He lightly touched his hand to my shoulder, and the physical contact seemed to make his calming influence stronger.
Help! Help! This book is getting more Anita Blakey with every second! By the end Bawla will be killing the tracker with her "powers" while scantily-clad vampire guys hang off her body like hungry cats, and then they'll have an orgy!
Alice's lips were trembling with the speed of her words, the low buzzing impossible to decipher. I couldn't concentrate.
"Yes, I said pepperoni with extra sauce. I want anchovies on HALF of the mushroom one, NOT the pepperoni one. And I want an order of breadsticks with extra cheese."
"Bella, Edward is coming to get you. He and Emmett and Carlisle are going to take you somewhere, to hide you for a while."
Yes, because that worked wonderfully the first time, didn't it?
"Edward is coming?" The words were like a life vest, holding my head above the flood.
Smeyer Lesson #395: If things are bad, the presence of a hot man will immediately fix things.
"Yes, he's catching the first flight out of Seattle. We'll meet him at the airport, and you'll leave with him."
Wait, how did Edward get to Seattle? I'm pretty sure Vancouver has airports, dunce. EDITOR.
Bella starts shrieking hysterically about how James is there to target her mother... and somehow he apparently found her address with his magic.... address-finding powers. Yeah, I don't know how that works. Despite Bella's melodramatic, super-affected way of talking ("I can't win, Alice. You can't guard everyone I know forever."), this is a fairly normal reaction under the circumstances...
... BUUUUUUUUTTTT, we already have seen Bella's attitude towards her mother in the plot so far. She acts long-suffering whenever her mother tries to communicate with her, and hardly ever thinks about her. She insists that she misses her mom, but shows no signs whatsoever of actually caring about her - she acts more like a nurse tolerating a lobotomy patient who tries to follow her home than a loving daughter who is her mom's "best friend." Yet she instantly turns on the "loving daughter" shit? Whatever keeps her the center of attention, I guess
"But, my mother… he came here for my mother, Alice!" Despite Jasper, the hysteria bubbled up in my voice.
Uh, strictly speaking, he came there because you insisted that you wanted to go "home," because you made the idiotic assumption that he would go "aha! She can't possibly be going where she says she's going, because somehow she knows that I'm listening and hugely overrating her intelligence. To anywhere but Phoenix!"
In other words, this whole disaster is because Bella is stupid.
"I can't win, Alice. You can't guard everyone I know forever. Don't you see what he's doing? He's not tracking me at all. He'll find someone, he'll hurt someone I love… Alice, I can't —"
Again, this would be more moving if she'd ever actually showed any love for her parents, instead of pained tolerance.
"We'll catch him, Bella," she assured me.
"And what if you get hurt, Alice? Do you think that's okay with me? Do you think it's only my human family he can hurt me with?"
Jasper: "... uh, I'm still here. Remember me?"
Bella: "Yeah yeah yeah. Shut up. Alice and Edward are the only ones I have sexual tension with!"
And again: bitch, you didn't care about their well-being BEFORE this little road trip, so I ain't buying that it's genuine. If you truly cared about them not getting hurt, you would have refused to drag them all into this mess.
So then Jasper uses his magic emotion-manipulating powers to make Bella sleepy... wait, what? Sleepiness is not an emotion! It's biological! So now Jasper has magic roofie powers too? This IS an Anita Blake book!
I walked to my room and shut the door, slammed it really, so I could be free to go to pieces privately.
"Six successive viewings of Eragon! I can't stand it! I just can't stand it!"
For three and a half hours I stared at the wall, curled in a ball, rocking. My mind went around in circles, trying to come up with some way out of this nightmare. There was no escape, no reprieve.
"Somebody's going to hang around in my empty house and TOUCH my outdated audiovisual equipment! The horror! The horror!"
I could see only one possible end looming darkly in my future.
"Turning into a vampire like all Sues! It's my only goal in life!"
The only question was how many other people would be hurt before I reached it.
For the thousandth time: A LITTLE LATE, BITCH. If you cared so much about other people being hurt, you would have refused to get any of the Cullens involved.
The only solace, the only hope I had left, was knowing that I would see Edward soon. Maybe, if I could just see his face again, I would also be able to see the solution that eluded me now.
What I learned from Stephenie Meyer #692: Hot Men allow you to uncover solutions for impossible situations. If only more great detectives had bishies just hanging around, they would solve everything in the first two minutes.
So eventually the phone rings, and Bella just... snaps out of it. Seriously, she just STOPS her hysterical catatonic freakout at what's going on, complete with rocking and wall-staring... because the phone rings. I guess she wasn't nearly as upset as she pretended to be, and was just acting like that so everyone would feel sorry for her.
"They're just boarding their plane," Alice told me. "They'll land at nine-forty-five."
"And then they'll get arrested by airport security for slinking around in giant trenchcoats with hats. They sparkle, you know."
Just a few more hours to keep breathing till he was here.
What I learned from Stephenie Meyers #712: If your Controlling Man isn't there, then you will be forced to make YOURSELF breathe, instead of only doing it when he orders you to.
"He went to check out."
"You aren't staying here?"
"No, we're relocating closer to your mother's house."
"Yes, we're keeping you safe by making sure you're as close to the place where we know the Bad Guy will be as possible! We are the best bodyguards EVER!"
So the phone rings again, and SURPRISE: it's Bella's mother.
"Bella? Bella?" It was my mother's voice, in a familiar tone I had heard a thousand times in my childhood, anytime I'd gotten too close to the edge of the sidewalk or strayed out of her sight in a crowded place. It was the sound of panic.
"Bella, I lost that butter knife with the squiggles on the handle. Now I have nothing to cut butter with! What will I do?"
But no, in a stunningly predictable twist it turns out that James is at her house right now, and is keeping mommy hostage. Oh, how shocking. I couldn't possibly have seen that coming. Neither apparently could Alice WHO IS SO WORTHLESS TO THE PLOT THAT IT ACTUALLY BURNS.
And... wait, Charlie said that Renee would only be coming back NEXT WEEK. And James was messing with her mother's VCR. Really, is Bella - supposedly a deductive genius who is better than all us common sheep - so stupid that she conveniently forgot Charlie's words AND can't figure out why James would be messing with a VCR. This is why people in movies demand to actually SPEAK to the person who's being held hostage!
The answer is: yes. She is that stupid.
"Be very careful not to say anything until I tell you to." The voice I heard now was as unfamiliar as it was unexpected.
Uh, yeah. That's what happens when you don't have your antagonist talk until the twenty-first of TWENTY FOUR CHAPTERS PLUS EPILOGUE.
It was a man's tenor voice, a very pleasant, generic voice — the kind of voice that you heard in the background of luxury car commercials.
Just a side note: I really hate it when Smeyers uses comparisons to models and TV shit to describe something. If you can't manage it without mentioning TV models, then you fail too much to be published.
So James keeps feeding her not-very-convincing "Mom, do this or that" lines, and orders her to wander into the next room so he won't hurt her mom. And apparently ALICE with HER super-hearing abilities IS UNABLE TO HEAR THE VOICE IN THE RECEIVER even though she's apparently eavesdropping. It's almost like the vampire powers switch off whenever it would be inconvenient to the awful plot....
"This worked out rather better than I expected. I was prepared to wait, but your mother arrived ahead of schedule. It's easier this way, isn't it? Less suspense, less anxiety for you."
"And isn't it wonderful for the contrived plot that your mother JUST HAPPENED to arrive when I wanted her to, instead of arriving on time since that would allow the Cullens to kill me easily, or arriving just a little earlier since that would allow her to escape? Clearly I am the greatest villain ever!"
So he asks her to ditch Alice and Jasper, and Bella decides that we were going to the airport. Sky Harbor International Airport: crowded, confusingly laid out… Yes, she's trying to ditch a pair of VAMPIRES by running through an airport. Obviously her yummy smell + their super-senses and superspeed couldn't POSSIBLY allow them to follow her, because Bawla has Ninja Stealth Skillz.
Plus, I'm pretty sure that most airports are not "confusingly laid out" unless you're a small rodent or searching for a bathroom. Their layouts tend to be pretty basic, because "confusing" does not sell plane tickets and make money. Then again, I suspect the average walk-in closet is "confusingly laid out" to someone with Bella's intellect.
"That's better. I'm sure it won't be easy, but if I get the slightest hint that you have any company, well, that would be very bad for your mother," the friendly voice promised.
"Do I need to remind you that you have relatives living in Brooklyn?"
"Yeah, but I don't care if they live or die."
"Well, that's kind of obnoxious."
"You must know enough about us by now to realize how quickly I would know if you tried to bring anyone along with you. And how little time I would need to deal with your mother if that was the case. Do you understand? Answer yes or no."
"Don't make me use my Evil Villain Voice as I pet my Villain Cat and twirl my Villain Mustache. Have you noticed I'm evil yet?"
So he orders her to somehow get to her mother's house and call a number by the phone. No, I don't know why he can't just wait at her mom's house, since apparently none of the other vampires pose a threat to him and they could get there before Bawla anyway.
"Before noon, please, Bella. I haven't got all day," he said politely.
"I have to go menace random werewusses in the Anita Blake series by five o'clock, and St. Louis ain't anywhere near here."
"Where's Phil?" I asked tersely.
Hopefully dead. We have enough twerps cluttering up this stupid book.
"Ah, be careful now, Bella. Wait until I ask you to speak, please."
"Because frankly you're so annoying that I don't want you to say anything to me."
"It's important, now, that you don't make your friends suspicious when you go back to them. Tell them that your mother called, and that you talked her out of coming home for the time being. Now repeat after me, 'Thank you, Mom.' Say it now."
- AGAIN: Why can Alice not hear what he's saying?!
- So vampires can hear pulses from several feet away but NOT phone calls?
- And even Random Vampire knows that her mom wasn't home yet. Yet Bella conveniently forgot that her mother won't be back till next week.
So Bawla stands there freaking out, and Slowly, slowly, my thoughts started to break past that brick wall of pain. To plan. To plan what? How to continue being the center of attention? No, she's decided that she can't possibly do anything except go to the ballet studio so she can be killed by the baddie. I mean, she has a girl who can allegedly see the future and a guy who can manipulate emotions... and she's decided that they can't possibly outsmart ONE STUPID GUY.
Also, she even points out that this probably won't save her mom - in fact, she has no reason to even think her mom is still alive. But rather than coming up with a "using herself as BAIT" scenario, she decides to just let him have all the power.
And as I pointed out, this entire scenario would be a helluva lot more moving if Bella treated her mom with the slightest bit of love or affection. You can't just assume that the audience will assume that your character gives a shit about her mother, whom she shows constant contempt for and hardly ever thinks about.
For I had no choices now but one: to go to the mirrored room and die.
I'm sure Smeyer thinks that that is elegant and dramatic... instead of being cheesy as fuck.
I pushed the terror back as well as I could. My decision was made. It did no good to waste time agonizing over the outcome.
... but she'll do it anyway. It's fun!
I was suddenly grateful that Jasper was gone. If he had been here to feel my anguish in the last five minutes, how could I have kept them from being suspicious?
If Alice weren't apparently dumb as a brick and totally useless, she WOULD be suspicious. Bawla is the WORST actress in the world, and her facial expressions alone - plus sitting in the next room wittering to herself - would say, "I'm listening to the villain and pretending to talk to my mom."
I concentrated on my escape. I had to hope that my familiarity with the airport would turn the odds in my favor.
Yes, I'm sure the ONE time she's been there will allow her to lose a couple of VAMPIRES.
And again, what difference does this make? If she deliberately shakes them at the airport, they will head for one of two places: her mom's house, or the dance studio right down the street. And since Bella allegedly can't walk across a room without hurting herself, and they can literally run faster than the eye can move, THEY ARE GONNA GET THERE BEFORE SHE DOES. She seems to think that if she "loses" them - which seems unlikely - they'll just sit in the damn airport and suck their thumbs until Carlisle and Edward arrive.
You know what I feel like?
John Cleese = Me
Michael Palin = Smeyer
Fish = Smeyer's Stupidity
Fish-Slapping Dance = Smeyers Slapping Me With Her Stupidity
John Cleese Smashing Michael Palin Into The Water With His Giant Fish = This Snark
So with her mother about to die and heading into certain death, Bawla thinks about... what else?... her sparkly boyfriend who she's only been going out with for just a couple days. Apparently certain death would be more tolerable if she could ogle his hawtness first.
I let the waves of torture wash over me, have their way for a time.
"Hey Bella, do you want lunch?"
"SHUT UP! I'M TORTURED!"
The only expression I could manage was a dull, dead look.
It's like this role was made for Kristen "I couldn't make a facial expression if someone jammed a screwdriver up my ass" Stewart, isn't it?
I saw her alarm and I didn't wait for her to ask. I had just one script and I'd never manage improvisation now.
Good thing Alice isn't planning to ask any OTHER questions, since apparently Bawla couldn't manage an answer to them.
My voice was lifeless.
It's like Smeyer has psychic powers and can SEE the horrible actress who would be cast as Bawla! Truly she is a god among horrible authors!
I turned away; I couldn't let her see my face.
It was as blank and soulless as usual.
Seriously, if she's trying to keep Alice from actually noticing that her mom is being held hostage, she's failing miserably. All she could do to telegraph this more would be to write it on the wall in blood-red lipstick: MY MOM IS BEING HELD HOSTAGE AND I AM GOING OFF TO DIE NOW SO EDWARD CAN DRAMATICALLY RESCUE ME KTHANXBYE.
So Bella then sits down to write a letter - allegedly to her mom, but really to Edward - and asks Alice to take it to her mom at the house. Apparently this is supposed to be a supersecret plan but.... um... I honestly don't see how this works. I mean, if Alice takes it to the house and her mom doesn't come to the house, does she expect Alice to go back and take the letter back and OPEN IT? Does she expect Alice to start opening her mail when she vanishes? If her mom gets released, will Alice give it to her mom and her mom gets a letter addressed to her daughter's boyfriend?
... so what the fuck is going on here? Oh wait, it's just an excuse for Bella to dramatically write a dramatic letter!
"Sure, Bella." Her voice was careful. She could see me coming apart at the seams.
"I have to go call Jasper now because you are SO obviously lying right now, so we have to follow you to your cliche meeting with the villain."
I love you. I am so sorry. He has my mom, and I have to try. I know it may not work. I am so very, very sorry.
"So I'm just going to do exactly what the villain says instead of trying to TRICK him with the help of the half-dozen people who have already endangered themselves. I'm smart!"
Here's what I'd do: have Alice predict what the fuck he's gonna do. Use Bawla as bait. Have Jasper dart in and grab the mom while Emmett and somebody else fight him. Then they fight and kill the guy. AM I MAKING TOO MUCH SENSE HERE?!?!?!?!?!
Don't be angry with Alice and Jasper.
"But I know you will anyway, because that's what you do."
If I get away from them it will be a miracle.
".... which makes this entire letter pointless, so don't bother reading this if I didn't get away from them."
Tell them thank you for me. Alice especially, please.
"Thank you Alice, for constantly doing whatever I demand."
And please, please, don't come after him. That's what he wants. I think.
"I'm kind of stupid, so I really don't know what he wants." Seriously, she can't tell him to not go after James because it's FUCKING DANGEROUS, but because "that's what he wants"? You stupid bitch.
I can't bear it if anyone has to be hurt because of me, especially you.
"So send in Rosalie, because she can die for all I care. Cuz she's blonde."
Please, this is the only thing I can ask you now. For me.
"For my random sentence fragments!"
I love you. Forgive me.
"Forgive me for me sacrificing my own life, because as a man you OWN me."
I folded the letter carefully, and sealed it in the envelope.
... with the hands that were allegedly shaking too much to write a minute ago.
Eventually he would find it.
Assuming her mother doesn't just rip it up and throw it away.
I only hoped he would understand, and listen to me just this once.
.... nope, I sincerely doubt that.
And then I carefully sealed away my heart.
This is the sort of festering emo shit that 13-year-olds think is "deep" and "poetic," when it's actually just... festering emo shit.
Also, I have two important points to make about this chapter:
- This book is almost over, and this is supposedly leading up to the Big Exciting Climax... and this is the second chapter in a row where the characters just sit around in the hotel room doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. If there's an orgy in the next couple chapters, we will know who Smeyers REALLY is.
- Alice is so useless it hurts. Why are so many people impressed by her magic power? Why is it even considered a Deus Ex Machina by so many readers? She can't see ANYTHING unless the plot demands it - she can't tell if the person standing next to her plans to ditch her, run off to the villain's ballet hideout and get killed! How the fuck can she not SEE this?!