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Sounds

Snap. I turn around, looking for the maker of the noise. It was just a branch falling or something, I think to myself, but I know the comfort is only in vain. Nobody ever comes into these woods. Nobody. I hesitate to continue, but know that if I don’t return on time my Mistress will be angry. I take one more, quick scan of the forest around me before proceeding. No sooner had I taken a few steps, I heard it again.
Crack. Another branch. The thoughts quickly flow to my mind. Somebody is following me. Fear slithers up my spine when I hear the rustling of leaves to my right. I turn, but no one is there. “Wh-o-o-o is ther-r-re?” I stammer to the silent trees. I try to convince myself that I have imagined it all, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t shake the feeling of being watched. A chilly wind makes me clutch my basket closer to me and wrap my shawl tighter. It was probably just the wind that made the branches crack and leaves shake. I compile myself and strengthen my stride, but I don’t go far.
Hiss. It is almost like a snake’s sound, but sounds near to a cat’s. What jumps down from an overhanging tree branch is no serpent though, nor is it a feline. It is a woman. Dressed in all shiny black leather, the pale, ghostly woman with the piercing blue eyes and black-as-night hair glares at me as if I have intruded into her territory. I take a step back for reasons I don’t quite understand.
Snarl. If she is trying to frighten me, she has easily succeeded. She cocks her head slightly and smiles domineeringly. Like a predator, she moves a single step towards me, her prey. I feel my heartbeat multiply. My pulse is racing and I can feel the blood in me flowing quickly. I move my body to run and suddenly she is standing blocking my exit. How did she get here so quickly?
Gasp. I jump back. Her sparkling white fangs glisten in the moonlight. I really am her prey. I hear the thumping of my heart and close my eyes. I don’t want to watch her destroy my life. A cruel slithering snake-like voice demands my attention though, and my eyes snap open. Her face is so near to mine. I try to turn away from her, but I am frozen in place.
Thump. I hear only the sound of my heart steadily getting louder and louder in my ears. She moves her face towards me slowly. She presses the side of her face to my left cheek and I shiver. Her skin is cold as ice. Softly, but with a hint of malice she whispers into my ear words that bring dread-filled tears to my eyes. “You don’t want to die do you?”
Scream. I try with all my might to scream, but her hand appears out of nowhere and muffles it. She grabs hold of me with her other arm. I struggle, kick, punch, bite, but none has any affect on her. She continues to hold tight to her grip on me, like a stone. I keep fighting until I have no more energy. Then she lets me go.
Thud. Exhausted, I fall to the ground, next to a large oak tree. I am confused as to why I am still alive and not a dried up shrivel of lifeless skin and bone. She keeps her distance from me, knowing I won’t scream and can’t run. She won’t let me live I’m sure, just waiting until she gets hungry. Suddenly I remember my basket and I see it left abandoned on the ground roughly 10 feet away. My captor seems to have the same thought as me for she eyes the basket as well. She never seems to glance away from me for too long though.
Swoosh. In less than a second, she is standing next to my worn out body holding out my basket. I expect she wants me to eat its contents, a few apples, to sweeten my taste for her meal later. In her slitheringly smooth voice, she says, “You are weak. Eat.” Then leaves the basket and walks back to where she can watch me from a distance. I am so tired, so I do as she commands. Each bite leaves me feeling drowsier and I’m glad I have the support from the tree.
Plop. The crisp blood-red apple rolls out of my hand and hits the soft forest floor. I decide I don’t want to eat for her. My mind tells me that if I eat, she will kill me and dying is the last thing I want to do. She glares at me as if I were the monster here. Even with the distance between us, I swear I can see the icy blue of her crystal cold eyes. Her eyes terrify me so I close my own eyes, blocking out the whole world. Seconds later, someone grabs my hair, jerking my head up. I open my eyes to the irate face of my captor. I cry out in pain as she lifts my entire body by my hair to my feet.
Slam. She roughly throws me against the tree knocking the air from my lungs. I struggle to catch my breath, knowing I am completely at her mercy. I taste the copper scent of fear on my tongue and quickly shut my eyes. She grabs my cheeks and forces her face into mine. “Look at me!” she demands. In response, I squeeze my eyes tighter. Louder, she yells “LOOK AT ME!” and I, keeping my lids closed, ignore her.
Slap. My eyes fly open in shock as the sting of her abuse sinks in. Forced to look into her eyes she growls, “You would be wise to do as I tell you”. Petrified, I look into her icy stare. In them I see power, control, cruelty, and to my surprise deference, compassion and pity. It’s like she is battling with her own emotions while struggling to take down mine. I then see a small portion of fear as she realizes I can see her weaknesses.
Growl. As fast as they had appeared, they disappeared as she threw up walls of defense blocking in her humanlike qualities. Vampires aren’t supposed to have those kind of emotions, but for some reason she does. Her eyes narrow with suspicion. “Who are you?” she snarls in my face. I thought for sure she had already known who I was. The way she kept her distance before, I thought that meant she knew everything. “Answer me.” she demands with annoyance.
Squeak. I try to respond but I can’t. My mouth doesn’t utter anything except a little whimper. At first, I think it is because of my fear, but I know that isn’t true at all. I’m not allowed to tell her, or anybody, my identity. It was an order, and I have to obey all orders my Mistress gives. But she has demanded that I answer her. My skin goes cold with fright and I shake my head slowly as tears blur my vision. This isn’t going to end well at all. With eyes, narrowed she grabs my throat and holds me up against the tree.
Yelp. She squeezes her sharp nails into my skin, almost drawing blood. I am terrified. Now she will kill me, I just know it. Instead, she presses her fingers harder into my throat, slowly sealing my windpipe. I open my mouth, struggling to gasp for air, but to no avail. My lungs feel like they are about to explode, but still she keeps her hold. Just as my weak body starts to fail, she releases me.
Boom. As I hit the ground, my lungs wheeze, forcing oxygen into my veins. I shiver from the chill of nearly dying and for the fear of what is to come. Her eyes bore into me like daggers and I shuffle to crawl away, but alas, I am still at that tree and therefore have nowhere to go. I see a glowing blue light floating above her. “Was that there before?” I ask myself silently. In it, I see her fears, her dreams, her weaknesses. I see a plan, an escape. I see Freedom.
Crunch. She slowly walks towards me, crushing the newly fallen leaves into the ground. She never releases me from her glare. I stand, shaking, but ever-growing stronger staring back at her. I should be afraid. I should be on my knees at her mercy. I should be begging her to spare my life. However, that isn’t who I am. I am strong. I am powerful. I am a hunter too.
Snap. I break off a good-sized branch from the tree to my left, twirl it a few times and stand in a defensive position. My Mistress taught me self-defense, though I’m not sure if it will have an effect on someone so strong. At this point, I am willing to try anything to have the luxury of walking away with my life. Her cruel glare now holds a hint of amusement. She must already see me as a dead girl.
Snicker. She harshly laughs at my weak attempts at defending myself. She never slows her stride as she advances upon me. I am terrified at the horrible outcome this encounter could have, but I refuse to cower before this monster again. Suddenly, only feet away, she stops. A sinister grin appears upon her blood-red lips and her icy eyes seem to chill even more. She takes her position to I assume pounce. I can hear her growling softly in anticipation. Then she jumps.
Crash. Before I can even react, she is no longer flying through the air and she tumbles to the ground. She lets out an angry snarl as she stands back up. She tries charging towards me but stumbles again and lands on her backside. She is furious. For some reason she can’t come any closer to me. it almost seems like there is some sort of invisible wall that she cannot penetrate. I here a rustling of leaves behind me so I turn around but to my surprise there isn’t anyone there.
Tsk Tsk Tsk. A woman whose voice is as familiar to me as air walks out from behind me. She quickly glances at me, acknowledging my presence, but stays mainly focused on my captor. I drop my branch, my weapon. I have no right to defend myself from this woman. She is my Mistress and by law I can’t refuse her punishments. In a cruel voice, one I have heard on extremely rare occasions, my Mistress demands the vampire woman to get up. Obediently, and to my complete shock, she does as instructed.
Slice. A bloody scar appears on the vampire’s cheek as if a knife had hit her, but my Mistress holds no weapon. The vampire woman releases a painful hiss at her new injury but doesn’t look up or try to attack. She doesn’t even flinch. “Defy me again Jackie,” my Mistress says, “and I will give you more than a small scar.” Gently, my Mistress brushes a stray strand of the vampire’s hair from her face and lifts her chin. They look into one another’s eyes. Suddenly, without warning, my Mistress yells, “Go! Now!” to Jackie. Without hesitation, the vampire woman disappears into the night.
Sigh. I release a sound of pure relief knowing the monster is gone. My Mistress turns to me, seeming to have forgotten I was still here. “Go back home Aly,” she commands me with exhaustion. “You have tomorrow off.” Then she disappears into the darkness of the forest, leaving me confused flabbergasted. I never get a day off! Quickly, not wanting her to change her mind, I hurry off in the direction of home. I arrive home just as the sun is rising. My mother looks shocked to see me, especially in my state. The night had hidden my now tattered dress, but the day’s light makes it look horrific.
Groan. My mother doesn’t believe anything I tell her of the night’s happenings. “Ms. Melody is a good, kind woman! You shant be making up such stories about her!” No matter what I tried to say, my mother would hear none of it. She said that my Mistress, Ms. Melody, was wrong to have sent me home without a rightful reason, but to keep my mouth shut, to keep my position. Mother let me stay home for the day, knowing I would never make it to Ms. Melody’s house before breakfast.
Yawn. I am so tired walking to Ms. Melody’s the following morning, but my fear of seeing Jackie again keeps me at full attention. As I approach the spot, where I was attacked early the previous morning, I feel shivers slink up my arms. Again, I pull my shawl tighter and hold my basket closer to myself. For twenty minutes, I walk in fear of being confronted by the vampire woman, but she never shows up. As I round a corner of the woods to where my Mistress lives, I begin to feel uneasy. Something doesn’t seem right.
Oh. I exclaim loudly at my new surroundings. The large cottage where I have worked for nearly 5 years, since I was 12-years-old, is gone. There is no sign of there ever being a building around here. All I find is a small purse with a note attached to it. The piece of paper only has my name beautifully written in dark ink followed by a signature I know as Ms. Melody’s. The purse is filled with 27 gold coins, more than triple my pay for the whole year! Quickly I rush home again, revealing my luck to my mother who stands in shock. Never have either of us seen so much gold in one place.
Scratch. My pen scrawls across the page as I finish writing down my memories of so long ago. I never did see Ms. Melody again, nor the terrifying vampire Jackie. My mother died several years ago, an old woman warm in a soft feather bed. I live with my husband and two little girls of my own in a beautiful large cottage at the edge of the forest. I spent all but one gold coin, one I hope to take with me into the afterlife or heaven, wherever death brings me. I am happy, safe and well off thanks to the generosity of my old Mistress and the happenings of that strange night. Never will I forget the
Melody of the Night.



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