The Haunting Melody

"Nate, wait up."

Nate stopped and turned slowly towards the voice, smiling in recognition. He leaned his muscular figure against the lockers as he waited for the breathless girl to reach him.

She stopped, fighting for breath, with a grin on her smooth, fair features. Moving the stray strands of chestnut hair from her eyes, she pulled out a small box and handed it to Nate.

"Happy 19th birthday!" she shouted, jumping up and down in delight, "I hope you like it!"

Nate smiled his as he took the box from her hands, "thanks Lily. I'm surprised that you didn't forget like everyone else."

"No way," she exclaimed, "how can I forget my boyfriend's birthday?!"

"Like you forget your pencil case, your diary, your textbooks and breakfast," he laughed as he opened the small box. Inside lay a stunning black watch. "Wow, this is fantastic."

"I knew you would like it," she stated smugly as she kissed him on the cheek. Upon withdrawing, Nate grabbed her around the waist and pulled her towards him, close enough to kiss. He looked deeply in her eye, smiling genuinely.

"You know, I'll promise you this Lily," he started as he took in her luminous green eyes and fair features, "that I will never leave you, no matter what happens. You will always be mine, and if you won't be, then I would never let anyone take you or hurt you."

"Wow, I've never seen this side of you before, Nate," she whispered nervously, adjusting herself to a more comfortable position in his hands.

Before he could reply, the bell rang, indicating that it was time for class. Students were rushing around them, a few of them turning in interest towards the couple to see if they would make out. They did not; Nate and Lily withdrew from each other.

"So, I'll see you at lunch," Lily called as she ran to her English class.

"That's if I don't get pulverised, masticated, swallowed and regurgitated by Miss Chemistry!" he shouted after her while tucking the small box in his bag.

"Don't worry," she shouted from down the hall, "if she does, then I'll make sushi out of her!"

"Not before she makes casserole out of you first," he muttered as he walked casually to his chemistry class, dreading the next two periods.

***&&***

"And so I said, like, what, how could you, like, take the last ice cream when you know it was, like, mine? But he was so hot when he was, like, how would I know it was yours, and I was, like, because I was looking at it, duh! Then he laughed and asked what my name was..." Katrina continued to chatter as Lily sat disinterestedly next to her on the bench, eating her sandwich.

"Oh where is he?" she muttered to herself, looking around the playground.

Katrina ceased her chatter and looked at her friend, "detention obviously."

Lily rolled her eyes in annoyance, "could you please, for once, stop picking on my boyfriend and say something good about him? He's never done anything to you!"

"Except be a complete asshole," she muttered, ignoring her friend's outraged expression, "I'm telling you Lily, he may be, like, hot, but he's, like, totally scary. You deserve someone way better."

"Someone like me."

Lily groaned, rolling her eyes as she recognised Tom Milson's deep voice. He smirked down at the two girls as he walked to stand before them.

"Lily, Lily," Tom tut-tutted as he shook his head, "why do you date a criminal when you can date a bachelor?"

"Maybe because the bachelor is an egotistical asshole that always has a stick up his arse, and the criminal is a not a criminal at all but a misunderstood, handsome, loving and trustworthy person?" she snapped angrily, glaring daggers at Tom, who remained cool and unperturbed.

"Yes, because that misunderstood criminal gave me a concussion, a dislocated arm and a black eye on accident when he found me talking to you," he replied coolly, confident that he was going to win this argument.

"'Talking' isn't the correct word here," she shot back, "more like 'molest' or 'rape'."

"Nonsense," he laughed, "I was wooing you but you were determined to kick me in my sensitive area, but I know how much you want me, I can see it in your eyes—"

"The only thing that she's gonna see right now is your face kissing the ground, Milson."

Trying to hide his fear, Tom turned slowly to face Nate, attempting to remain cool.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't the criminal himself," Tom said scornfully, "I see the authorities have finally allowed you to join the land of the civilized, Hunter."

Nate's piercing gaze did not leave Tom's angular features, "you know, I always wondered what you would look like with your head flushed down the toilet. Maybe I should see and take a picture for Lily to cherish as a memory?"

"Look, Hunter," Tom stated, "You may think that you always win, but in the end I always get what I want."

"You mean a wedgy?" Nate inquired, "That can be arranged."

Advancing threateningly towards him, Nate smirked as he savoured the look of horror on Tom's face.

"I do believe that I have an appointment with Mrs Johnson," he said forcefully, "unfortunately, I will leave your presence now. Good day to you."

"You annoy her again and I'll make shish kebab out of you!" Nate informed him seriously.

Without a farewell, he took off at a fast pace and entered the school building. Nate laughed as he watched the tense figure of Tom Milson retreating.

"Bloody bastard," he muttered, and then turned towards his girlfriend, "you okay?"

"No, I just had that insolent mutant pervert trying to talk me into wanting him," she grimaced, "do you realise that I have lost both my innocence and good night sleep?" she shivered in disgust.

"Don't worry," Nate laughed, "if he tries anything, you would find him naked in a women's toilet, I'm sure they would appreciate his 'irresistible handsomeness'."

"So, do you wanna do something tonight?" Lily asked casually as she moved her bag to make space for Nate to sit down. He sat and shook his head.

"Joe wanted me to do something tonight," Nate frowned, "this stupid tradition where on your birthday you're supposed to do something daring 'in order to prove yourself worthy of your age', or some shit like that."

"You better not do something dangerous," Lily warned, "or else you won't hear no peace from me anymore."

"Nah, nothing dangerous, "Nate laughed, "He said something about the old church outside town."

"Boys," Katrina muttered.

As usual, Nate ignored her, watching the year nine boys playing soccer. Lily frowned at her boyfriend's actions as her best friend started packing her things to sit somewhere else.

"Clearly I'm not wanted here," she announced to no one in particular.

"Clearly you have finally understood English," Nate replied coolly without turning to look at her.

"Lily, I think you should teach your boyfriend some manners," Katrina snapped.

"Lily, I think you should teach your friend some modesty," Nate retorted calmly.

"Bastard."

"Bitch."

"Humph!" with that she left, trying to exit with grace, but failed miserably when she nearly tripped over. Lily shot up to attend to her friend, but Nate pulled her down, shaking his head.

"She'll be fine," he waved it off, "I'm sure she would find some guy willing to 'help' her."

"Why do you hate her so much?" Lily asked in aggravation.

"Because she's a slut, and sluts don't deserve respect, just like that Milson."

**&&**&&**

"Come on, we didn't come here to stare at it!" Joseph complained as he nudged Nate.

"I don't think this is a good idea anymore," Nate whispered forcefully, staring at the tall, intimidating figure of the dilapidated church. "Maybe we'll get caught and charged with trespassing, as you know, my record is not exactly squeaky clean."

"Dude, the priest is all about forgiveness!" Joe laughed as he slapped Nate on the back.

"I still think it's a stupid idea," Nate frowned as he continued to stare at the threatening silhouette of the ancient church, "I mean, breaking into a rundown church and giving the priest a heart attack, just to take a bible and soil from the graveyard?"

"C'mon on man," Joe urged, "this is to prove yourself! You're either in or out!"

Without hesitation, Nate agreed, "I'm in, but I still think it's stupid."

Walking confidently towards the tall decrepit church, Nate remained unperturbed at the dead landscape around it. He knew despite the location and image of the church, people flocked to it because Father Alaric was someone well liked and loved. Being lively and benevolent to everyone, he earned his place in the community as someone significant.

Instead of using the front door, Nate went around the back, where the graveyard was located. First, he would get the soil from the graveyard and then he would take the bible. He walked stealthily; he did not want to wake the priest and be charged with trespassing.

"I swear, Joe, if I get caught, I'm gonna wax you clean with tweezers, hair by hair," Nate muttered to himself, trying to manoeuvre through the ferns, thorns and long grass of the graveyard.

"This place is a bloody shithole."

Nate was too preoccupied to notice the dark figure behind him. When he finally did notice, it was too late. The figure swept upon him, with no recognisable features. He delivered a swift and well aimed blow to Nate's head.

"I'm going to kill you Joe."

Then darkness.

**&&**&&**

"The missing male is approximately 6 feet tall, with black hair, a medium build and brown eyes. He has just turned nineteen. If anyone has seen this person, please contact the authorities...."

Sobbing, Lily turned off the TV. It was no use, they had been looking for Nate Hunter for the last month and there was still no sign of him. She knew Joe had something to with it, but he still will not talk. Tom was still harassing her and Katrina was delighted at Nate's absence. Lily did not know what to do.

Having reached the point of exhaustion, nevertheless, still not giving up, she tried once more to get the information out of Joe. Picking up the phone, and dialling his number from her mobile, she waited impatiently for his voice to come up.

"Yo."

"Joe?"

"Yea, it's me, is there anything you need, Lily?"

"Yea, I want you to tell me where Nate is," she tried to remain calm, but she felt like throwing her printer at Joe's head for his apathy towards the whole situation.

There was an impatient sigh at the other end of the phone, "Lily, how many times do I have to say it to you? I don't know."

Fighting her anger, and trying to approach this from a less maniacal way, she adjusted her voice to a more persuading tone, "ok, where did you leave him last?"

"I didn't see him, I told you and the police, I was at Michael's!"

"Liar!" she screamed, trying to fight the tears. She calmed herself again, "please Joe, please, I know he was with you, he told me."

Another heavy sigh, "look, I'll tell you this so you can leave me the shit alone. If it goes to the police, I'm gonna deny it," Joe warned, before continuing, "we went to Father Alaric's church and he disappeared from there".

Before she could thank him, he had already shut the phone in her face.

Dressing as quickly as possible, she made her way to the church.

It took her a while because she did not take a car, as she chose to walk in order to get some time alone in the fresh air to think.

She knew Nate would never run away, as everyone presumed, because he was not the cowardly type of person. One of the main things that she admired about him was the way he was not afraid to confront his troubles face to face. What if he was kidnapped? But who would want to kidnap him? He wasn't some rich, spoiled brat what if Tom had hired some cronies to take him out to get to me? No, I don't think he has the guts.

Her mind was spinning with possibilities, but either they didn't make sense or they were unlikely. She sighed.

"What could have possibly have happened to him?" she muttered to herself, noticing that it was getting dark. She shivered, not from the cold, but because she had always hated the dark. When Nate was with her, she would feel safe, but now, she felt insecure and scared.

"Well, what have you got here?"

Lily jumped at the voice and groaned, "what do you want, Milson?"

"Milson now, is it?" Tom sneered, "Has that culprit rubbed off on you? Or is it the fact that using my last name turns you on?"

She gave him a disgusted look, "shut up Milson, you pervert."

She noticed that it was completely dark now, and they were on the outskirts of town; an area rarely populated. She was frightened; alone with Tom was a terrifying prospect, especially since she was petite and he was stronger and twice her size. She noticed that he was wearing a singlet, with his muscles bulging out. She shivered, if he tried anything, she could not possible escape his iron-grip clutches.

"Just leave me alone," she said firmly, concealing her fear and turning to walk in the direction of the church.

He grabbed her arm, "I don't think so," he whispered lustfully.

"But I think you really should," not taking any chances, she kicked him in the groin and broke into a run towards the church, her only sanctuary. She did not even glance back to see Tom's doubled over figure.

When she reached the church, the lights were on. She sighed in relief and continued to run. When she arrived at the door, she knocked frantically. Almost immediately, Father Alaric opened the door.

She looked up at his old and handsome face, trying to come up with coherent sentences, "I........me......that is......he.....tried........"

"Lily, you poor child," he exclaimed as he reached for her, "what are you doing here?"

Catching her breath, she tried to talk again, "I was coming here, then Tom—"

"Don't talk now, come in, have something to drink and then explain."

After they entered, with Father Alaric fetching Lily a glass of water, they sat down on the benches.

Father Alaric watched as Lily gulped down the liquid, "so what happened?"

"I was coming here to see if I can find anything on Nate's absence because his friend told me that he saw him here last, and I met Tom Milson on the way and he tried to...to... rape me," Lily explained, playing with her sleeve.

"Oh dear child, you must be petrified," he said soothingly.

She nodded, "please Father Alaric, did you find anything of Nate's around here? This is where he went missing!"

"I only found this," he walked towards a cabinet and opened the draw, taking something out and walking back to Lily. He handed it to her gently, "I found it lying in the graveyard."

Taking the black watch from his hands, Lily started sobbing.

"Come child, I'll take you home."

**&&**&&**

The falling sensation was met by pain. She did not know what was causing the pain, but she felt that her left arm was on fire. Wrenching it away, she came face to face with a hideous skeleton that she recognised as Nate.

"I love you Lily."

Waking up from the horrible nightmare, Lily tried to steady her breathing as she wiped the perspiration from her face and forehead. She was drenched in sweat; even her arms and feet were sticky and wet. Deciding to take a shower, she turned on her lamp to check the time; 6.30 am. Rising groggily from her bed, she turned on the light.

Every instinct told her to scream, but she managed to clamp her blood-stained hands on her mouth. The sight before her sent her heart beating eccentrically with fear and dread. Her arm was slashed on the side, dripping blood, which would explain the pain she felt in the dream. However, the blood on the floor and on her bed was too much to have been from the 6 cm gash on her arm.

Sobbing and shaking uncontrollable, she set about cleaning the mess, for she did not know what else to do. If she called her parents as she would be subjected to a never ending whirlwind of questions.

**&&**

"Jonathan Walker was mutilated and decapitated in his own home; police are still investigating the murder... "

Walking to her Biology class, the news reporter's voice echoed through her head. It was terrifying to mull over the idea that she was just talking to Joe yesterday and today he was found dead. Who would want to kill Joe? First Nate disappeared and then Joe is murdered in the most horrible way possible. It was as if it was a conspiracy.

Moreover, the fact that she had waken up covered in blood and a hideous gash on her arm. The cut was not large enough to have bled over the whole room, and if it were, she never remembered getting up in the middle of the night, cutting herself with God-knows-what and bleeding all over the place. It did not make sense at all.

Terrified beyond comprehension, she thought about the how it did indeed made sense. She had been angry at Joe for a month because he had kept quiet over Nate's disappearance, and when he finally did tell her the whereabouts, it was too late and the only thing left of Nate's was the watch she had given him for his birthday. She must have been driven by her anger and somehow murdered Joe while she was unconscious, that would explain the blood.

"What is happening to me?"

**&&**&**&&**

There was that falling sensation again, and the pain, then the face.

Lily shot awake. The same nightmare was haunting her ever since she found Nate's watch. It was a week since Joe's death and she was still shaken from the night she had woken up covered in blood. Wiping the perspiration from her forehead, she turned on the light, only to be met with the same sight she had witnessed on Joe's death.

The floor, her bed and her clothes were covered in blood. The bandaged gash on her arm was unwrapped and bleeding once more.

She screamed.

**&&**&&*&*

Overcoming her fear and confusion, she still made it to school. Making her way to her English class, she tried to refrain herself from breaking into sobs and uncontrollable trembling. Upon arrive, she opened the door...and let out an ear splitting scream.

Several teachers from the staffroom came running to witness the spectacle.

Lying on the ground was Tom Milson...what was left of Tom Milson. His body was mutilated beyond recognition, only his face was left untouched. His head was decapitated and his torso was missing the arms and legs, which were distributed around the class and the blood, had painted the class a crimson red. Just like Joe's murder.

"Someone call the police," Was all that Lily heard before she blacked out.

**&&**&&**

It was a month since Joe and Tom's horrific deaths and since then, Lily would make daily trips to Father Alaric's church. It was calming, and Father Alaric himself would leave her alone to wallow in her sorrow. There was also this music that Father Alaric would let stream through the church. It was a soft human humming, both enchanting and captivating, as if was hypnotising her, but it was also eerie and sinister. She would sit long hours just listening to that music, calming herself. It was so haunting, like the person who was humming it was in great pain and loss, just as she was.

One day, when she was at the church, she asked Father Alaric about the music, "what is it called?"

"It's called the Haunting Melody, I got it from an old friend when I was in England," Father Alaric replied good-naturedly as he cleaned the benches.

"Its beautiful, yet creepy at the same time," she laughed nervously. Father Alaric just smiled and a comfortable silence fell between them.

Then Lily Broke it, "Father, what do I do about my friend because she's so selfish? I mean I'm going through this horrible time and all she does is sleep around and ignore me when I try to talk to her. Not to mention if I do, she starts cursing Nate." Her voice broke on his name.

"There is nothing to do, because one cannot change their nature overnight," Father Alaric replied soothingly, "tell her to ask for guidance and she will be guided."

&&**&&**&&**

Even after a month, the same nightmare was repeated, the feeling, the pain and face. Everyday she would expect to wake up covered in blood, but ever since Tom's murder, that day did not come.

Today, she was not so lucky. Waking up from her frequent nightmare, she opened the light to find that instead of sweat, she was covered in blood. She did not have to think about who would be dead this time, it was obvious.

**&&**&&

While eating breakfast, Lily decided that she would pay a visit to Katrina today, not only to check up on her, but also to confront her.

She realised that the only way Katrina would change would be if Lily would confront her. Making her way to Katrina's house, she tried to contain her anger while she rehearsed what she would say to her. She walked to the front door and found it ajar. Nothing was out of the ordinary; it was a common habit that Katrina would always leave the front door partly open. Lily sighed in relief.

Rolling her eyes, and fearing that she would walk on her best friend in an intimate moment with some man, she entered. There was no one in the kitchen or lounge, but that would be expected. She walked slowly towards Katrina's room up the stairs, making as much noise as possible to notify her friend that someone was home. Maybe the blood was from her gash all along, and that she might have a slight case of haemophilia, and that the murders were just coincidental.

I mean, what are the chances that you would decapitate people while you are sleep-walking?

Reaching Katrina's bedroom, it was ajar. She opened it full length, waiting for the disgusting sight, but she was met with an even more horrific and ghastly one.

Lily screamed.

Katrina was dead...in exactly the same way as Joe and Tom had died.

**&&**&&**

She sat, listening to the Haunting Melody, and thinking about all that had happened over the last three months; Nate's disappearance, Joe, Tom and Katrina's horrible murders, the nightmares, the blood and the gash on her arm. Not to mention that she was now an official police suspect. It was a turbulent tumultuous nightmare out of control. She was now completely convinced that she was somehow committing the murders.

"Oh Nate," she sobbed, "you broke your promise, you left me."

Father Alaric was not home, so the church was empty of all souls except for hers. She looked around at the surroundings. It was as dilapidated inside as it were outside. Her gaze roamed to the window, staring at the full moon. Then it landed on a tapestry showing a Roman Warlord; Alaric the Visigoth. He held so much resemblance to Father Alaric, as if they could be the same person.

Then her gaze fell on the CD player. Maybe she could see the name of the author of the music so she can download it from the internet. She walked to the player and opened it.

There was no CD.

The music was still playing. She looked around for the source and realised that it was coming from behind Alaric's tapestry. She moved it aside like a curtain and saw that there was a door behind it, with a crucifix engraved on the wood. The humming intensified, as if hands were caressing her with their soft touch and urging her to open the door.

She obliged and opened it. It was empty and the humming had abruptly stopped. Making up her mind to go in, she stepped forward. Simultaneously, a figure stepped forward from the darkness. She gasped.

It was Nathan Hunter.

"Nate!" she screamed and flung herself at him.

Nate remained motionless and tense. She withdrew and pulled him to the light, observing his features. She gaped. His features had changed from the tough-boy look to sinister angelic beauty. His eyes were a lighter brown and she noticed red outlining on the pupil.

He smiled, not his usual laid-back smile, but a sinister smile, one of a hunter. His teeth showed, and she was horrified to discover that his canines had lengthened.

She tried to withdraw, but he was holding her waist with abnormal strength. "Nate," she asked frantically, "what happened to you?"

He ignored her question, "I didn't break my promise, Lily. I promised that no one would hurt you, or take you away from me or do you wrong. I kept that promise. There is no more Joe, Katrina or Tom to hurt you ever again."

She gasped, tears of fear sliding down her cheek as she realised what he was saying," you mean....that you...were...behind those murders?"

"I did it for you, love," he murmured as he kissed her lightly on the cheek. His lips were ice cold, as if he were dead," I missed you so much! After I killed those insolent pesky vermin, I would watch you sleep. I'm sorry I hurt you when I cut your hand, but it was the only way to drink your blood, please forgive me."

"Nate please," she begged hysterically," let me go!"

"Lily?"

Turning in relief, she shouted to Father Alaric, "Father, please help me!"

Nate released her and she ran to Father Alaric, using him as a shield.

"Nate," Father Alaric said calmly, "take it easy and stop frightening the girl. I didn't bring her here for three months so you can scare her off."

Lily gasped, "Father...?"

Pushing her gently towards the advancing Nate, Father Alaric explained, "for centuries I have lived in this church, ever since I died on my way to conquer another city. After all that work, I nearly had the whole Roman Empire at my feet, but I had died from sickness! Me, the great Alaric of Visigoth died from sickness! On my deathbed, I was turned into a vampire by a woman. She cursed me with this mutation. I decided to travel and live here, alone, where no one can trouble me. I yearned for death, but it would not come unless I transferred this curse upon someone else. I chose Nate, a young foolish boy with no aim in life. And you," he laughed as he watched her struggle in Nate's arms, "are the perfect victim to complete the process of turning, at which point I will die and Nate would take my place."

"Please let me go!" Lily screamed.

"I'm sorry, but Nate needs to drink the life source of a loved one to achieve immortality," Father Alaric waved her off, 'kill her when your ready, I need to prepare for my funeral," And with that, he left, leaving Nate and Lily alone.

She faced him, "Nate, please, don't do this, you love me, how can you hurt me?"

"Of course I won't hurt you;" he replied soothingly, "I wont let anyone hurt you."

He kissed her.

When he withdrew, she saw the reflecting light off a blade of a knife slashing down towards her.

"I promised you that if you can't be mine, then I won't let you be anyone else's. I intend to keep that promise," he whispered in her ear before he stabbed the knife in her heart.

"I love you, Lily."

To Lily's horror Nate's features seem to melt, and the angelic face reduced to that of a skull, decayed, yet still bleeding; the face from her nightmare.

The last thing she saw was Nate's eyes blazing with satanic glee.

The last she heard was the Haunting Melody.

**

The end