Chapter 18: The Hunt
Enter the bad guys (and also, some semblance of a plot!). The (presumably) evil trio of vampires come out of the woods into the field where Bella and the Cullens (my new band name, obviously) are playing baseball and introduce themselves nicely. Huh? That’s not how villains behave! Everyone is too nice in this book.
S. Meyer does something genuinely clever here, mentioning offhandedly that the two males switch places as they exit the forest “in a manner that clearly displayed who led the pack.” We will eventually learn that this display was just that—a display. It’s a detail I missed the first time through this chapter, but I see what you did there S. Meyer.
Bella characterizes the new vampires as “different” from the Cullens. They are more animalistic, their walk is “cat-like.” We just heard that Alice moves like a gazelle, and earlier heard that Edward hunted like a lion, though. So I guess it’s not that different, but whatever.
The bad vampires dress like “backpackers,” but I’d say they sound a little more like “vagrant dope-fiends”: no shoes, they walk as though they are “constantly on the edge of shifting to a crouch” and the female has “leaves and debris” in her hair. They straighten up around the dapper Cullens (my new techo side-project, obviously) and then come the introductions. In the movie one of them is black, right? I don’t think any of them are black here. One has “olive-toned” skin—he’s Laurent—and he might be black. Later he is described as “the dark-haired one.” I’m getting mixed signals. The girl is Victoria, who has “brilliant orange hair” described as “chaotic” and (as we already learned) debris-filled. Last is James, who is literally described as “nondescript.” Really? It’s like S. Meyer ran out of adjectives. In the movie, I remember that James is the one who looks like Sabretooth in the first X-Men movie. But maybe here James is the black one, and S. Meyer just can’t bring herself to write “and then there was a black one.” They also have deep burgundy eyes. Doesn’t that clash with Vicki’s hair?
Laurent is friendly—dare I say likable?—and Carlisle lets slip a few details as they chit-chat, mentioning that they keep a permanent residence nearby. Why tell them that? He’s either bragging or evangelizing (which is its own sort of bragging). Laurent says something about them having a lot to learn about each other, so Carlisle invites them back to the house—he’s trying to get a chance to let Bella slip away.
But then the wind blows. Remember The Happening? That movie sucked, but the most common thing people object to is the whole idea that wind is supposed to be scary. There’s nothing wrong with that. The Ring expects us to fear a VHS tape, no? The problem with The Happening is that M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer, and his idea of a funny joke is to have a character talk about hot dogs a lot. It’s actually similar in genus or species to a Glenn Beck “joke,” which is to say it is some kind of set-up without a punchline, or just a complaint spoken with exaggerated disbelief. There’s no real construction to it. The Happening is actually sort of fun in an “I can’t believe this is a real movie I am watching” sort of way though, despite the scorn heaped on it. The real abomination in M. Night’s catalog is Lady In The Water. There’s an old saying that “comedy should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.” The same is true about M. Night Shyamalan. Lady In The Water is such a navel-gazing, self-absorbed piece of shit it’s like M. Night was trying to become the Charlie Kaufman of retards.
Anyway, all of that is to say that here, a brief gust of wind is unsettling, because obviously it carries Bella’s scent to the new vamps. Everybody immediately freaks out. Shit commences hitting fans. What’s funny is Laurent is just genuinely surprised—all of his evil senses (if he even has any) abandon him because a human at a vampire baseball game is such a mindfuck.
James is a little more like “DO WANT,” and he and Edward start snarling and posturing. It gets tense. Laurent does the math and realizes he should probably not let the situation escalate when they’re outnumbered, so he makes nice and accepts the invite back to Chez Cullen. Jasper, Rosalie, Esme and Carlisle agree to show them the way (now I’ve got Peter Frampton stuck in my head) while Alice, Emmett, Edward, and Bella get the fuck out of there. James seems pissed off that Laurent is being so accommodating.
A few chapters ago I was wondering when Bella’s weekend was finally going to be over and the mundane school schedule would kick back in, but now I realize that’s not going to happen. In fact, I think it’s finally time for this:
Shit did just got real. They run through the woods back to the Jeep (sadly, Emmett does not yell “GET TO ZE HUMMA!”) and Edward just floors it and starts driving somewhere.
He mumbles another string of unintelligible profanities, and Bella starts to try and get out of the harness she’s strapped into. Emmett holds her in place. This scene is probably supposed to be kinda hot, Bella restrained and all that, but mostly it’s kind of creepy until Alice starts to chime in on Bella’s behalf. That doesn’t make it hot either, I just mean it stops being so creepy.
I really never had a sense that Alice was supposed to be very important, from either the media campaigns around the Twilight film or the film itself. But she really is! Alice tries to get Edward to pull over.
“You don’t understand,” he roared in frustration… “[James is] a tracker, Alice, did you see that? He’s a tracker!” (382)
For some reason I’m hearing Edward in McNulty’s voice right now. Like this rage is earned for once. Or maybe it’s because he’s driving recklessly.
Emmett stiffens at the sound of the word “tracker” but I don’t think it’s the good kind of stiffening. Alice again commands Edward to pull over “with a ring of authority.” It eventually works, but first Edward says James will probably get a hold of Bella’s scent and follow it through town—and Bella realizes this will take him to Charlie. So they get down to formulating a plan. Edward refuses to take Bella back to Forks. “He’s no match for us,” Emmett says. “He won’t be able to touch her.” Edward counters that the tracker will just wait. “I can wait, too,” Emmett replies, smiling. We’re getting there, Emmett! I’m still waiting for the one-liner that will endear this guy to me.
Emmett and Alice come around to the idea that Charlie has to be protected. Edward has a tantrum for a few more pages, but eventually he calms down. They decide to take Bella back to her house (knowing that James will follow them there) where she will pretend to get angry at Charlie, storm out, and run away. Then they’ll get out of Dodge. This plan turns out to be more complicated—Bella can’t go away alone, but she can’t go with Edward, because it would be weird if he’s not around Forks after she disappears (N.B. this detail turns out to not matter at all, because Bella leaves Forks going South and Edward immediately goes North, leading away the bad guys. So I guess keeping up appearances is not all that important. But whatever, you have to get Bella and Edward apart for a few chapters somehow, right?). Emmett doesn’t want to leave Edward, so Alice agrees to go off with Jasper and Bella. There’s also a lot of concern about who is going to take what car (echoes of the jackets) but I’ll spare you that.
Bella also realizes that when she gets fake-angry at Charlie she should say she’s going back to Phoenix, so that the tracker will hear her and think that she’s trying to throw him off, and you know, not going to Phoenix. But then she’ll really go to Phoenix, which will be the last thing he will expect!
“She’s diabolical,” Emmett chuckled.
Okay, but that’s more like the third thing he would expect, you know? Maybe he’ll look somewhere else first, and follow any red herrings the Cullens throw his way, but he’ll probably check Arizona before he heads to Afghanistan or Zimbabwe or something, right? She’s not even going to go back to her mother’s house in Phoenix—just in case the plan doesn’t work. They’re just going to stay in a hotel or something. So why not go to Mexico?
This plan sucks.