We’re lucky in our fandom that we have so much variety to choose from. When it was time for me to write my staff pick I think I spent longer trying to decide on what story to feature than anything else. Up until the last minute I had a short-list of four stories that I wanted to write about and about ten that I could have added to the list. So, I finally decided to go with something a little different and a lot compelling. And the fact that it updated while I was trying to decide didn’t hurt.
Beneath This Sky by Bedelia is a sci-fi, supernatural mystery. Bedelia’s writing is excellent, never quite giving too much away and keeping us engrossed with every word. It has a dark atmosphere that clouds the story, almost as though there’s a layer of grime over the world that you just want to search through to find all the answers. I can’t even describe how it makes me feel, I’m just desperate for Bella to succeed and for things to sort themselves out nicely (especially after that prologue!!).
With her eyes clenched shut, she swallowed the sob that fought to rise in her chest. "I've been such a fool, haven't I? All this time... Did you ever love me at all?"
Reaching out with his free hand, he grabbed her arm and pulled her to a stop in the shadows. "Love you?" he whispered, his head dipping as if he wanted to kiss her. Instead, he slid his fingers under her chin and brushed his thumb over her cheek, where tears should have been. "How can you doubt it?"
"How can I not?"
His lips moved closer—almost near enough to taste—but he jerked back at the last second. Always the portrait of restraint. One of these days she would make him let go. She would drag him into the storm and watch as he spun out of control. Touching his forehead to hers, he spoke the words that had hung over them, unacknowledged, for far too long.
"I destroyed the world for you."
The premise of the story is time travel. Nineteen years ago there was a freaky storm, called the Surge, which changed the world as we knew it, randomly pulling people through time. As a result the world has become almost post-apocalyptic. Storms similar to this Surge are still occurring and there are people from all over time moving around randomly.
There’s a crazy school of belief that people have been deliberately causing these storms and time travelling on purpose, and so a gang, known as Raiders, try to police the situation by hunting down travelers and incarcerating them or even worse executing them. Raiders seem to be more like a vigilante group than anything and are seen as a threat to pretty much everyone.
All time travelers seem to inevitably get a disease that eventually kills them called Margaret Brown Syndrome. Bella is part of a secret group who are trying to find out what causes the storms. She works part-time in a lab, run by vampires, trying to find a cure to Margaret Brown Syndrome with help from her werewolf friend’s blood. Bella’s friend from high school, Jessica, was a victim of a storm, and as such is ten years younger than her, having skipped ahead through time. She has the disease and her health is deteriorating.
The vampires Bella works with haven’t revealed their secret, yet she is aware of what they are. Having spent time with werewolves she’s familiar with the world of the supernatural, and she often muses about whether they suspect she knows what they are. The vampires are trying to track when these storms occur and find out why, and eventually try and stop them.
Not for the first time, Bella wondered if the vampires downstairs suspected her of knowing what they were. Just because Jake wasn't supposed to tell her about them, it didn't mean they would believe he hadn't. Rosalie had to know. She barely bothered to conceal the way she gave away all of their food. Their secret hovered in every room of the old barn, as big as Jake and forever unacknowledged.
Donning her apron, Bella shoved thoughts of illness and supernatural beings from her head. This part of the day was hers alone. While Jessica slept—safe and within easy reach—Bella lost herself in stirring, baking, and sautéing. She measured peace in tablespoons, meditated through a cloud of flour.
As Bella piled Tupperware care packages for the wolves into the freezer, Jessica whimpered in her sleep. If she continued to get worse, Bella would have to ask Rosalie for help. She couldn't watch her friend fade into a shadow, not when she knew.
Once she made that request, would Jake ever speak to her again?
Finally, there’s Edward, who arrives at the lab with some other vampires at the end of the first chapter. He’s a mechanic of sorts, who befriends Bella through a mutual love of baking. There’s a lot left to unfold about their friendship, but it’s there always kinda underneath it all. They have a lot in common, both being humans who work around vampires, but Bella is guarded, there is a lot of history we’re still learning from her.
Edward's hands told the story of his profession. Years of engine grease had settled into the lines, creating a map of repaired machines. Another story began at his wrists, swirling up to his elbows in bright patches of color. The pictures etched into his skin spoke a language Bella didn't yet know. As his hand hovered in the air between them, her gaze traced his tattoos: a frayed rope, a seashell, a city skyline, a pair of initials, a bird in flight.
It’s a twisty tale, believe me, I’ve found it hard trying to write something without giving too much away. I haven’t even mentioned how amazing I think the canon themes woven through the storyline are or how much I am dying to get to the parts that are going to lead us to the prologue.
Beneath This Sky by Bedelia will literally keep you thinking. It is planned out to perfection, never quite giving the whole story and making you crave the next update. If it weren’t for the Twilight traits it could be a novel all in itself, there is so much to take in and yet always something new to learn.
I promise, if you’re looking for something different you’ll find it in Beneath This Sky.
PS: if you’re wondering what other stories were on my short-list, come find me and I’ll tell ya! :o)