Lazarus tore out of the apartment block, an overwhelming mix of emotions pulsing through him, faster than a surge of adrenaline. Rage, despair, depression and cravings filled him as he walked, and the cool air did nothing to calm him. If anything, he walked faster, almost running, blindly. On impulse, he turned down a random corner, relying solely on his feet to take him somewhere, somewhere away from here. He began to run.
Melissa looked up as the apartment door slammed, her eyes widening. She dropped the bag in her hands, the blood spilling out onto the carpet. She hesitated, looking towards the ring on the carpet where Lazarus had been stood only moments ago. She shifted, reaching out for it. The silver band tilted as her fingertip met it. She pulled it back and held it between her finger and thumb, studying it carefully. Had she just lost everything? What was he going to do? She slid the ring back on her finger, but she didn’t know what to do. Follow him? Stay? Follow, because without him, she would be nothing? Stay, because she couldn’t bear to face what she was? Stay because she would only break his heart a thousand times again?
It seemed that the best option was to stay – she couldn’t hurt him anymore, she couldn’t face herself. Yet... yet she needed him. The urge to follow him was so strong that she was on the street below before she even realised it. She followed the smell of dog silently until she saw him up ahead, running. He ducked down a random corner and Melissa came to a halt. It would be easier to follow him from above on the roofs of the buildings around them. She turned the corner and climbed the fire escape on her right. By the time she was at the top, he was once again out of sight.
His feet had taken him on the longest, winding route to the off-licence that they could have, but once he was there, he looked up at the glowing sign outside, half relieved, half apprehensive. He went in and ignored the weird look the guy at the till gave him.
‘Vodka, and twenty B&H Silver, please,’ Lazarus said, looking at the chocolate bars that separated him from the cashier. He handed over the money and took the bottle and cigarettes from the man. ‘Keep the change.’ He left and followed his feet to his next destination. It didn’t look like Melissa had trailed after him. The image of her throwing the ring to his feet was seared into his mind and he swore, uncapping the glass bottle. He threw the lid into the road, knowing he wouldn’t need it again and began to drink. He wandered up a path, away from the buildings of the town, pushing the gate that barred his way aside. He stumbled, the grief affecting him more than the alcohol.
He found himself beside a familiar crypt. Though the writing was faded and the stone was crumbling after years of weathering, Lazarus knew exactly what it was supposed to say. After all, he had been there the day the words were carved. In loving memory of Gabriel Emerson. Lazarus sat heavily beside it, leaning on its side. ‘Here’s to those who break my heart.’ He muttered and drank deeply from the bottle.
Melissa cursed as he left the built up area of town. She hadn’t seen him go into the off-licence and her lips tugged down unhappily as she noticed the bottle in his hand. Climbing down from the building roofs, she followed him away from the town, shuddering as she noticed that he had gone into the graveyard. Part of her wanted to turn back and wait for him to come back to the apartment – the graveyard was too stereotypical for a vampire, and she hated it. She wandered around, looking for him among the tombstones and old crypts. The graveyard surrounded the church, and she walked half way around it before spotting Lazarus sat next to one of the crypts, resting his back on its side. She grimaced as she noticed that most of the alcohol was now gone. She approached him cautiously.
Lazarus’ tears didn’t last long, by the time they hit, he was too drunk to care, and too drunk to think much about anything. He pulled out the cigarette pack, fumbling with the cellophane wrapping. He growled at it and threw it aside, instead picking up the bottle and drinking from the last reserves of the liquid.
‘Lazarus.’ She spoke softly. ‘Lazarus, are you okay?’ She asked, but knew it was a stupid question. He wouldn't be sat in front of her blindly wasting away his sorrows in a vodka bottle if he was “okay”. His eyes narrowed and his head snapped up. Melissa’s face came into focus and his face distorted into a mask of depressed anger.
‘I’m fine, just fine. Get the wrapper off my smokes and go away.’ He slurred his words, but he didn’t care. Melissa picked up the packet of cigarettes and peeled back the wrapper, casting it aside. She handed him the dull silver box and grimaced at the antismoking campaign pictures on the back. He snatched them from her fingers and opened them, not looking at her.
‘There,’ she said, watching him. ‘But I won’t just “go away”.’ He looked up as he stuck one of the cigarettes between his lips and lit it. The smoke was carried away on a breeze.
‘Don’t you think you done enough?’ he asked, the smoke bouncing a little as it exited his moving mouth.
‘I’m sorry,’ she said. She stopped her breathing and moved away a little so that she couldn’t taste the smoke as it curled through the air towards her.
‘Whatever,’ he said, turning his gaze away from her, staring bitterly at the crypt next to Gabriel’s. His hand wrapped around the bottle again and he lifted it to his lips, draining the last of the alcohol.
‘What else can I do, Lazarus?’ she cried, moving back in front of him.
‘Leave me alone!’ he shouted at her, getting up. He pushed past her, forcing her out of his way and walked to the front of the church. He put a hand on the door and glanced back at Melissa before letting himself into the ancient building. Melissa followed him inside and stared at him as he knelt before a small rack of burnt out candles. He pulled one from the box underneath and placed it in a holder on the rack. He lit it with his lighter, the click of the flint echoing off the stone walls. He sat back and watched the little flame, the wax around it beginning to liquefy.
‘Lazarus. Answer me one question, please.’ She didn’t near him, instead standing by the pews, one hand on the worn wood.
‘What?’ he asked, not attempting to keep the sorrow and pain out of the single word.
‘Is this what you truly want? Inside that part of you that loves me so. Is this what you want?’ she asked. He looked around at her. He didn’t really understand what she meant, the alcohol clouding his mind.
‘What do I want now?’ he questioned her quietly, his voice thick. She lifted her hand, indicating to the ring that sparkled on her finger.
‘Do you want me to leave you, or to be with you?’ she explained. Lazarus shrugged.
‘You’re the one that threw that ring away. You should be asking yourself that.’ He said, turning back to the candle.
‘I know my answer,’ she said edging closer. ‘Do you?’ Lazarus laughed.
‘I feel like you took my heart out and gave it to a cat to play with before putting it back.’ he slumped. She moved closer standing just behind him. Lazarus didn’t object, or turn around.
‘I want to be with you. The problem is; I don't want to be me.’ She sighed and sat down next to him. He didn’t say anything, instead shifting position so that he was sitting. He pulled his knees up to his chest and rested his chin on his knees, his arms encircling his legs loosely. ‘I'm sorry.’ She mumbled, gathering herself up. ‘I'll go.’ She got up, gracefully walking down the aisle, to the church doors. Lazarus didn’t stop her; he said nothing, still staring at the candle. Melissa paused, looking back at his hunched form. He sniffed and choked back a sob as she pushed through the door back into the graveyard.
She closed the door quietly behind her and on impulse, she climbed up onto the church roof. She sat, staring over the dark horizon and began to hum, her sweet voice carrying through the air like the most beautiful birdsong known to the world. The notes seemed to pick themselves and the words pushed her lips into shape as she sang. “Well your faith was strong but you needed proof. You saw her bathing on the roof. Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.”
The words and the melody hit Lazarus like a silver bullet. He let himself collapse on the cold floor before the candle, the little flickering flame casting the only light in the chapel, the only warmth. The only innocence. “And I've seen your flag on the marble arch. And Love is not a victory march. It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah” He didn’t fight unconsciousness as it took him, the melody haunting him in his lonely sleep on the stone floor.
The sun began to rise, burning into the world once again. Melissa didn’t move, simply singing, watching as the horizon was set on fire. Lazarus began to stir, groaning at the ache in his head and limbs. He could still hear Melissa singing. He blinked at the sun filtering through the stained glass Jesus behind the altar. He swore and rolled over, getting up. Staggering to the door, he pushed out into the morning light.
‘Melissa,’ he muttered, his throat sore from breathing through his mouth while he was asleep. He coughed and tried again. ‘Melissa!’ he shouted. She didn’t look down, her eyes fixed on the sun as its light began to burn into her. She clenched her teeth and ignored the pain and Lazarus’ shouts. ‘MELISSA!’ he roared, trying to see her.