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Name: Rose/Michele | Gender: A Woe to Man | Posts: 1,716 | Roses: 220
Old 12-09-2008 at 04:49 AM
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Darkness There and Nothing More  Post [1] »


Finally, after nearly three years of reading phan phictions and gushing over many of them, I have decided to have a go at it myself. Here goes my first phic. When reading phanphics, I usually prefer Leroux-esque stories, so mine will be based mostly off of Leroux's, with bits of ALW here and there.

Darkness There and Nothing More

Death hath a thousand doors to let out life:
I shall find one.
- Phillip Massinger

Prologue

“Daroga.”

The Persian rose from his seat and walked over to the window, dark hands behind his back, as the low, quavering voice called his name. His dark, bald head was unadorned with the usual astrakhan cap and his impressive height only succeeded in trimming his sinewy form further. His skin, dark and smooth, dully glowed in the adequate candlelight, giving off a damp, unapproachable aura. He pretended to occupy himself with the busy Parisian street, filthy and glum. He turned his head, but did not fully face the man, the monster, that sat in his private parlor. His heart beat unsteadily as he listened to the lamentable tale of the once formidable outcast, now only weak and desolate.

“Daroga, if Christine holds her oath, she shall soon return.” The Persian finally turned to him, saying nothing, asking nothing. He only watched in sad silence as the sickly figure pulled itself up with strained strength. Long, haggard breaths accompanied each tiring motion. Every effort to stay alive was slowly killing him. The Persian stayed still, only watching as the dejected creature, the man he called Erik, leave his parlor, leaving behind him the last that the Persian would ever hear from or see of him again. Erik, the immortal, who haunted the stage and fell in love with one of its most prized voices, was hit by a fatal arrow. The immortal Erik, the formidable opera ghost, was dying from a mortal wound – “dying,” he said, “of love.”

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Chapter One

“Christine!” The house by the lake echoed with inhuman cries, cries that did not fit in this world – so terrifying and painful was the noise. The lake rippled subtly, recoiling from the terrible shriek. A crash. Shattered glass on the floor. Another shriek. Anguished screams reverberated sharply off the walls, thrumming against everything in their path. Agonizing sobs echoed in the cavernous home by the lake, crafted by skilled ghostly hands. The moaning creature was on the floor, his bleeding hands and knees weakly supporting him so close to the ground. A shard of glass pierced his skin as he sobbed in pain. He was a ghost, but ghosts did not bleed. His head pulsed incessantly from a hellish pain, threatening to tear him apart. Soft, sweet words clawed at the fragile walls of his mind.

Poor, unhappy Erik.

The pained creature clutched at his sides, wrapping his arms desperately around himself as he had done in his meeting with the daroga. He lurched forward and fell to the ground, landing on his hands and knees. The stabbing pain pierced through his chest, causing him to arch his back and groan in the terrible agony. He could feel the cold blade taking the place of his heart – or where the heart should be.

“Christine!”

Surely, the world must have trembled at the terrifying noise.

Erik, the dejected creature, stumbled as he rose from the blood strewn ground. Blood. There was no more reason to close the wound. The red liquid dripped generously from his hand, a scarlet thread falling from his sickly hands. What was life? Life had been hell before Christine had so selfishly injured him. He thought he knew the tortures of hell before now. He clutched at his chest, covering the white dress shirt in a red dye, and stumbled forward past broken glass and furniture.

The vast room swayed before him as his legs, heavy as lead, moved on.



The air was still, but it was not quiet. Unspoken words smothered the silence, filling the invisible void that separated two entities – angel and demon.

“Christine,” the low baritone voice blanketed the cold, damp air. It was smooth and flowed easily from the ethereal throat. Christine’s grey-blue eyes rose unwaveringly from the floor to her betrothed – a ghost. The only movement between them was the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest. The demon looked at those captivating blue eyes, frightened and unsure. The angelic gaze told more than mortal words could in a lifetime. Each moment of staring into those eyes told of pain and acceptance – and of love.

Christine took a step forward, a smile suddenly appearing on her lips.

“Christine,” the ghost said again. Christine, his Christine, his Angel of Music. The young child had blossomed into a woman. She had risen to heights that she never imagined reaching. It would not have been possible without his help. He created this Angel of Music, this linnet bird that could make the gods weep and could calm the fires of hell. Her music was now his forever. Nothing could steal her away from him, not even death, now. She closed the gap between them and tilted her forehead forward. What was this? His eyes swept over the innocent face of his angel – the pale, porcelain skin, the rose red lips, the light blue eyes. The demon Erik trembled, his swollen lips quavering. She was his angel - his angel, his living, breathing bride. He leaned forward and kissed the warm flesh of her forehead.

The warmth faded. His lips met nothing.

Erik opened his eyes in the darkness. Sweat dampened his freezing skin, making the air seem to freeze around him. Christine? He sat up from his bed, the mahogany coffin, the reminder of the eternal sleep. Christine? Where was she? His bride, where was she? He rose from the mahogany box and was immediately stabbed by a piercing pain in his chest. He cried aloud as it pinned him to the base of the coffin, suffocating him. His knuckles grew pale as he desperately gripped the sides of his box. He screamed into the darkness, the chords of his broken voice tearing against the stone walls. His chest was as heavy as stone. The pain would not go away. It ate at him, tearing away at flesh and heart. Its frightening jaws found their way through the darkest corners of a long forgotten soul. “Christine! Christine!” His broken cries grew weaker and weaker as the pain consumed him, swallowing him in indefinite darkness. What was left in the world?

Soon, there shall be nothing left of Erik – nothing left of “poor, unhappy Erik.”

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Constructive criticism would be fantastic! Don't worry about being too harsh. I practically feed off criticism.

More to come soon.

*And thanks, Laura, for taking the time to read and edit this!


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Old 12-09-2008 at 03:50 PM
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Hey, my bud! :) Glad you posted this. Since I already critiqued, this is just to say that this story is phantabulous!! I look forward to more from you. ;)

Laura



"What you do in this life echoes in eternity."
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Old 12-09-2008 at 11:52 PM
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My oh! Rose, it was beautiful! :)

I love how you used a limited dialogue, but still added soooooo much detail. If that's what your telling me to do, I never will do that. :) I love your writing style. It's very detail and brings the reader into the world of the characters :).

Nothing to say as far as negative.

Patricia


We were angels once, don't you remember? Joys in life, inside our souls; and nobody knows, just you and me. It's our secret.
And your child-like eyes, and your distant smile; I'll never be this happy again! You and I. And no one else. || Maybe he'll come today. Maybe he came already...
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Old 12-24-2008 at 06:46 AM
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Thank you, girls. Your feedback is the fuel to my writing. (Did that sound corny? No, don't answer that.) Excuse my late reply. I wanted to thank you guys at the beginning of my next chapter but that will be in another few days.

I must warn that the next chapter may contain some disturbing scenes that some may find gross. I'll try to tone it down, but I'll add another warning at the beginning of the chapter.

Thanks,
Rose


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Name: Rose/Michele | Gender: A Woe to Man | Posts: 1,716 | Roses: 220
Old 01-02-2009 at 11:25 PM
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Chapter 2  Post [5] »


Okay, so it's not so disturbing. It's pretty mild, actually, if anything. Laura, I've corrected the errors as best as I could. Hope I did well. So, without further ado, here's chapter 2.


Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner



“No, he is real. I have seen him.” The ballet rat’s voice was barely above a whisper.

“You lie, Jammes.”

Jammes frowned. “You do me much insult, Lucienne. I say I have seen him, so I have seen him.”

“Bah!” Lucienne scoffed. “You have also said that sleeping on your stomach would bring a broken ankle. My ankle’s as strong as ever.” She leaned against a wooden beam and stretched out her leg, rotating her foot proudly.

Jammes pouted and crossed her arms. “You just wait, Lucienne. I bet the Opera Ghost will find you.”

“You have no proof.” She paused, then blew a lock of hair from her eyes. “Have you any proof?”

The younger girl straightened and clasped her hands. Her legs dangled beneath the low beam she sat on. “It is as Buquet had described: no nose and awful yellow skin!” The little ballet rat feigned weakness of heart and clutched at her chest, as if the mere mention of the Opera Ghost would make her faint. A high pitched chuckled bubbled from her lips. The older girl was still not convinced. It had been some weeks since any serious incident had occurred at the Opera Populaire. Actually, there had been no incidents – none, at least, since the Faust incident.

“And how would you explain Christine’s disappearance? She disappeared in front of half of Paris! Kidnapped! It was, of course, the Trapdoor Lover, the Opera Ghost.” The chilling name came out as a whisper.

It had been high profiled scandal, one that had the news hungry city on its toes. Christine had been one of the older dancers and had been brought to the Opera House at the age of seven. Orphaned and timid, she had neither home nor family save the Opera House and the other dancers. There had always been something different about the girl, but none of the other girls knew why. That is, until the first time she disappeared. It was rumored to be the work of the Opera Ghost.

Lucienne crossed her arms and looked around. The corridors were empty except for a single stagehand walking unsteadily in the opposite direction. She had had enough of her friend’s silly fabrications. “I’m retiring now, Jammes, and I think you should, too.” She then chuckled. “But careful, maybe the Opera Ghost will snatch you in your sleep.” She turned to leave, tired after the long day of rehearsals and now annoyed by her friend’s story. The light caught the long horse-like features of her face, topped by a mane of brown curls.

Jammes shifted off the beam and grabbed Lucienne’s arm. “No, wait. I – I have proof. I swear it this time; I have proof.”

Before Lucienne could respond, Jammes had already started running the opposite direction and was turning a corner. She pursed her lips, then sighed before taking off after her, curious as to what this “proof” might be. Jammes led the way through countless hallways, weaving in and out of beams and turning left and right in the maze of corridors. Lucienne had never seen these dark corners of the Opera House before, always having been kept at bay by Joseph Buquet’s disturbing tales behind closed doors. He was a careless talker and his words came out sour and slurred with his cheap rum of choice. Many warned him to keep that coarse mouth of his shut. With a spit and a laugh, the brusque stagehand would stagger into the other direction. Lucienne remembered one particular story of his, one that still plagued her dreams. It was the last story the late Buquet ever told:

“It is the most putrid thing, this ghost. Long claws extend from hands that smell of death, fetid and cold. Beware! If those hands manage a grip around you – you are lost forever.” The stagehand Joseph Buquet flexed his thick, calloused fingers and strangled the empty air. “Never stare at the face, which is but a skull – and without a nose! Two glaring orbs hard enough to pierce metal stare back at you, threatening you from afar.” Here, he produced a long threaded rope, tied ominously into a Punjab lasso. “See the face, pay the eternal price: death.” He wrapped the lasso around his broad neck and pretended to hang himself. He chuckled and slipped the rope off. He continued, lowering his gruff voice to a growl. “But the face is hidden, most often, behind a full mask that can be seen even in the darkest of shadows. That will be your warning to run – run for your life.”


“We’re here,” Jammes whispered. They had stopped before a wall, the dead end of a dark, musty corridor. A thick coat of cobwebs blanketed the otherwise bare wall.

“Here, look.” Jammes crouched down beside the stone wall and placed her hands on a small notch on a cornerstone. She crouched down and began pulling. Her effort produced a quiet grating noise but no more. “Come help. Pull this stone here. I think this is the one.” Hesitant, Lucienne crouched beside her friend and began pulling on the small stone notch. After a great effort, it crackled, sweeping up a cloud of dust. The stone finally gave way, revealing a small tunnel.

“Jammes, what is this place?”

“I told you. It is proof.”

“But how did you find this? I didn’t even know of this part of the Opera House.”

“I haven’t the lack of adventurism that you seem so afflicted with. There are so many things that I have found. I found this place a few months ago and I’ve told no one about it before you.” She furrowed her brow then indicated to the crawlspace. “Here, through here. Careful, there is a ledge. Just follow me.”

Lucienne followed her through the tunnel and dropped herself down from a ledge. There was nothing except for a long, thin hallway, dim and uninviting. It faintly reminded her of the throat of a famished serpent. Quavering, she turned to Jammes, who was already making her way down the grime encrusted corridor.

“Jammes?”

No reply.

“Jammes, where are we going?”

A sigh. “Follow me. I swear you have never seen anything like it.”
As the serpentine gullet swallowed her friend in the darkness, Lucienne stepped forward, her legs shaken and weak and her mind pleading, screaming into the gloom:

Run – run for your life.




The alarm rattled in its case above the coffin. Erik opened his eyes. None of the alarms had rung since the night his Siren had killed the Comte de Chagny by the lake. Someone had come to visit him. The ringing continued, warning him of some presence in the east wing. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. The beat was weak and quiet. He rose with a muffled groan and slowly lifted himself from the coffin. Someone had been foolish enough to come down here, foolish enough to think that the danger had gone because Christine had gone. He looked at the alarm, which continued its faithful rhythmic motions. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. A dull pain accompanied each beat, like a poison thrumming through his veins. He looked down at his hands, still crimson from his previous frenzy. They ached as he flexed them. His eyes trailed to the sides of the mahogany coffin, now smeared with his blood. Oh, Christine. If only you knew the destruction you have wrought.

Christine was gone. She had turned away from him with her young Vicomte de Chagny and had gone to the north – far away from Paris and what had happened here. It would have been an easy matter to keep her here and kill her young lover, but then his living bride would have hated him, hated him to the point where she would have killed herself. No, he couldn’t allow that. The world had already harbored enough malice and repulsion against him. He could not live to have his bride loathe him as well. That would have been the surefire hit to his aging heart.

But was the choice he made any better? His bride was alive, but she was no longer here. She no longer wandered through his house, curious and unsure. Gone were all hopes of the evening walks through the city, the warm suppers in the dining hall, and the affections of a living, breathing wife. All was lost, now. Christine had left him, but she had promised to return. Yes, she had promised to return soon, when he had finally left this purgatory. She would be the one to close the door behind him after he had finally left. Oh, he could almost feel her nimble, elegant fingers wrapped around him as she placed him in his grave. The smell of the lavender soap he had bought for her wafted into his senses. There was no sweeter way to die than to know that he would be transported by an angel – a true angel.

His body shifted slowly and automatically, exiting the room and making its way across the salon. The alarm echoed from his room as he made his way to the seldom visited east wing. He stumbled against the dank walls, passing through the salon and his various other experimental chambers. It had been quite some time since someone had fallen into one of his traps. The last one had been an irritating vagabond, whose unscrupulous acts were blamed on the Opera Ghost. The man was later found at the bottom of a flight of stairs, soaking wet with bloodshot eyes staring blankly at the ceiling. Erik had enjoyed putting his water tank to good use. Since then, Erik’s victims only consisted of the disease carrying vermin that occupied the time of Mathis, the sordid rat catcher. Their carrion was a nuisance to dispose of.

He walked through a thick shadow, which hid the entrance to the east wing. Thump. Thump. Thump. He put a fist against his chest as his other hand searched for the switch on one corner of the wall. It was hard to remember where the switch was through the pain. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump – His heart faltered, hesitating for a halting second before resuming its feeble thrumming. He lurched toward the shadowed wall and grated his fist against his chest with a low groan. What is happening to me? It was insanity. Was the effect of one woman the cause of this? Before Christine, he would have answered a solid “no,” but now – now, his heart contradicted him. Christine had brought him more pain than he had felt in his entire lifetime. She had also brought him more joy than he had ever thought possible.

A shrill scream penetrated his clouded thoughts. Erik straightened. The energy it took to do so quickly exhausted him as he resumed leaning heavily against the wall, groping for the pressure mechanism in the stone. His hand rested on an irregularity in the stone and pressed weakly against it. The wall shifted backward and rotated steadily, pushing him to the other side as the wall settled back in place. Erik shifted his weight back against another wall as he looked around the east wing. His eyes passed each of the five black glass doors that lined the grey circular wall, all meticulously crafted by with his own fingers so many years ago. They had since lost their original luster. Another scream entered the room. It was weaker than the first. It lacked hope. The sound of slowly running water came from the door farthest left. Erik’s light grey eyes followed the noise. A small glass container hung to the right of the door. Containers of various sizes hung beside every door and acted as timers. They were all empty except for this one. It was half-filled with water, which trickled from a thin pipe within the wall. It had been triggered when the unfortunate victim had executed the trap. Erik followed the wall over to the glass door and pressed the doorknob. The black surface disappeared, revealing a dim light on the other side of the two-way glass door. The light illuminated a square chamber, small and undecorated. The room was not one of his more fanciful inventions. It involved no theatrics, no illusions and it involved very little preparation. The Prussic Chamber was child’s play, but it was not laughing matter for the young woman moaning against the wall. Had he not been in pain, he would have taken in the spectacle with relish.

The victim was one of les petites danseuses, judging by the firm figure and dancer’s skirt. All of a dancer’s elegance and poise could not help her here. The lithe young woman pressed her small hands against her face and throat as the gas invaded every inch and orifice of her body, burning her with unimaginable agony. She lifted her hands for a moment, revealing a contorted and familiar face. Jammes... The girl was perhaps one of the mouthiest of the whole troupe. She was as efficient a dancer as she was a gossiper. Much of her talk involved him and his supposed supernatural abilities. She was one of the many that spread his infamy. Erik watched as the young girl struggled in her final moments and listened as the sound of the falling water became shallower and shallower. He let go of his chest and crossed his arms as he released a throaty cough. It would be one less mouth to endure and one less critic to suffer through. It would also be one more warning for the others. He let in a breath and closed his eyes as the agonizing screams drowned out the sound of the ill-boding water.


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Name: Laura | Gender: Female | Age: 26 | Posts: 279 | Roses: 0
Old 01-02-2009 at 11:44 PM
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Awesome job, my bud! :) Great update, love it! ;)

Laura



"What you do in this life echoes in eternity."
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Old 01-31-2009 at 09:37 PM
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Chapter 3  Post [7] »


Whoo! Finally, an update! Thank you to my lovely editor, the still recovering Laura. I have fixed the things you pointed out and tried to clarify a few things. Thank you for taking the time and energy to edit my work!


For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
- Alexander Pope



Lucienne ran in a burning frenzy. Fire shot up her legs as they cut through the frigid air. There was no turning back. There was no changing the events that had so fouled her once simple life. Jammes… In all her life, there had been no worse nightmare than this. In a moment, she would open her eyes and find herself in her room with Jammes in the bed across from her – safe and alive. But Lucienne knew that this was no nightmare. It was worse – far worse. However surreal it felt, she knew that the burning in her lungs and the suffocating coldness was all too real to be a mere harmless dream. Her heart pulsated with unprecedented fervor, pumping heat through her body, and fueling her towards safety. She was too afraid to turn back, too afraid to see if her nightmares followed her.

Her breath hitched in a sharp gasp as her foot caught something and she hurled forward, landing with a sharp smack on the floor. She cried out as her hands shot to her knees, smeared with fresh blood. Layered with grime and sweat, her skin trembled in agony and fear. The darkness pressed down upon her menacingly, causing her chest to heave in pathetic desperation. Jammes’ screams echoed in her mind, mingled with her own whimpering sobs. Her thoughts reluctantly pulled her to what had occurred not moments before.



“It wasn’t all so terrible,” Jammes said cheerily in the gloom. They had finally reached the bottom of the tremendously long flight of floors and stairs. Lucienne had thought it would never end. They had even passed the boiler room, filled with shadows gliding back and forth, cogs in a fire-breathing machine. Now, they were confronted by the ominous mouth of a long, thin corridor.

“All right. Now, how far is it?” Lucienne glanced around uneasily at her damp surroundings. Her friend’s unusual excitement did little to calm her nerves.

“Not far.” Jammes was already out of sight.

“Wait!”

Lucienne ran cautiously over to Jammes, jumping at every creak and drip that reached her ears. The walls sounded alive. There were thin shafts of light spotted throughout the tunnel, leaving large abysses of darkness across the thin tunnel. Lucienne’s imagination went wild, teeming with monsters from children’s stories. Curse those wretched bed time stories. The other girls were always fascinated by the grotesque narratives of witches, ghouls, and goblins. She had never liked them, always trying to cover her ears or fall asleep to keep from hearing the nightmarish tales. Her hands shook in disregard to the measures she took to calm them. She tried leveling her breathing and her heart beat by breathing slowly, but she failed miserably. Jammes obviously sensed her stress.

“It’s all right, Lucienne. I promise. There’s nothing left down here save for the people that we saw working in the boiler room. They don’t harm anyone.” Jammes turned her head halfway to glance at Lucienne, but continued walking. “Trust me.”

Lucienne could only nod. Her throat felt constricted, dried out by the air and her anxiety. Jammes was right. It had been some time since something like the Opera Ghost affair happened. There was no more danger left at the Opera House, no more danger at all.

They continued on in silence, the only sound around them being the soft patter of their thin-soled slippers.

There was a loud clang. Jammes screamed in the darkness.

“Jammes? Jammes! What has happened?”

A shaft of light rose from the ground, lighting up part of the tunnel. Jammes was gone. Her heart racing, Lucienne ran over to the light and looked down at a square window in the floor. She was relieved to see her friend below, seemingly unharmed.

“Jammes, are you all right?” She yelled.

Jammes rose from the ground and rubbed her hands sorely. “Yes, I – I think I’m fine.” Her voice was muffled, but still discernable. She looked up and pointed at the window. “It must be a – a trapdoor. What is this place?”
Lucienne knelt and ran her hand all over the scuffed window. There were a few small hinges on one side, but no handle or crevice around the thick glass. She stood and rammed her foot down on the window. It didn’t move or break. It must have been a few inches thick. She tried a few more times before kneeling back down and helplessly watching her friend, who now inspected a black door.

“There’s a door here, but I can’t seem to open it.” After banging on the door a few times, Jammes stepped back and began circling the small room, which was the size of a large closet. It was plain and dry, unlike the filthy tunnel above. The grey walls were smooth and polished. Someone had taken great care of this room. “What in the –”

Jammes stopped, her eyes bulging.

“Jammes?” Lucienne lowered herself closer to the window, her face only inches away from the dirty glass. Jammes began breathing heavily and her body began shaking. She brushed her hands over her arms and up to her throat as she stumbled against a wall, twisting her head to the side and shutting her eyes tightly. Lucienne jumped up as a shrill scream emanated from behind the glass.

Oh, my God, my God…

“Jammes! Jammes, what is happening? Jammes!” What was happening? Nothing else was present in the room. Nothing moved and nothing changed. It was as if an invisible force wrapped its hands around Jammes’ throat. Jammes slid to the ground and began to convulse erratically. Her body, so lithe and pretty on the stage, was now almost unrecognizable. She jerked violently against the floor like an old cloth doll and let out guttural yells in broken intervals. Her arms flung from her throat to her face, clawing madly at the sensitive flesh. All Lucienne could do was watch in horror as her friend suffered in unimaginable pain. It was too much. It was too much for her to bear. She lifted herself shakily and, without thinking, ran back down the tunnel. Jammes’ final scream filled the corridor.



Lucienne wept into her arms wrapped around her bloodied knees. She had left her. She had left her best friend in that room of pain and suffering. All alone! Jammes was now, perhaps, dead in that nightmarish room. Her final moments would be nothing but agony and terror. But what could she do? Her head weighed down against her arms. All she could do was try to get help. That was an impossible option even now. Where was she, anyhow? Slowly, the heaviness of her sorrow flowed from her system, calming her heart and breath. There was no saving Jammes. She was now lost in that chamber of madness, this hell hidden beneath Paris. Jammes was wrong. Jammes had always been wrong. Why had she decided to listen to her young friend this time? She remembered a time when her friend had tried to illustrate to the other girls what death felt like.

“Death is always painful, even in your sleep. It’s cold, too, mother said. Even if you sat out in the sun when you died, you’d still feel the cold. Brings me chills to say it, but you must know. Mother said all little girls must know. And I hear the only way to avoid the cold and pain is to say your prayers every night. That part is what my mother said and mother was always right.”

Lucienne’s crying quieted down to silence. Her arms fell away from her knees and her muscles grew lax, letting her body fall to the side. The cold floor was soothing against her damp skin. Jammes was wrong. Her heart beat quietly and steadily against the floor, like footsteps slowly receding down a corridor. Jammes was always wrong. There was no pain. Her breath disturbed the dirt on the floor, brushing it away in soft sweeping waves. But she was right for once. Just once. A dark veil slid across her eyes. It was cold. It was very, very cold.



Erik sat in his cream colored mahogany sofa. He crushed his head in his hands, grinding his teeth as his temples began to throb again. Pain was not foreign to him – oh, no. Pain was the most faithful companion he had ever known. It had never failed him. This chronic aching had begun even before Christine had left, but it had never hit him with such raging intensity. It was ludicrous that a single woman could create such misery. Christine had chosen to flip the scorpion, choosing not to detonate the barrels of gunpowder beneath the Palais Garnier. The explosion would have devastated a quarter of this miserable God forsaken city. Sometimes, he wished that she hadn’t. Sometimes, he wished she had flipped the grasshopper, detonating the barrels upon barrels of gun power below and doing away with his own existence. It would have gotten rid of the pain. Nothing else would have mattered. Anything was better than this earthly purgatory.

A loud splash erased the pain from the forefront of his mind, if only for a moment. His exhausted eyes flickered up to the hallway leading to Christine’s section of the house. It hadn’t been used since she had left. Erik rose gingerly from his seat and walked along the wall, turning into the hallway and making his way to the open doorway to Christine’s lavatory. Lavender wafted into his senses, making his eyes heavy beneath the full white mask. His lips trembled as he shut his eyes, welcoming the memories of his Angel’s flawless figure lying along the cool, porcelain walls of the bath, the lukewarm waters caressing every curve of her innocent flesh – all that he had yearned to touch, but never dared to. Even demons had their limits.

There was another splash. Erik reluctantly opened his eyes and looked over the cream basin filled to the brim with medicinal water, dyed grey by Asian leaves and herbs. Prussic acid, as a gas, is a mild irritant to the skin and works devilishly in every open orifice of the body. The gas is an invisible fire. Its first assault penetrates the throat, leaving a trail of flames along the inner linings. A burning mist hovers within the mouth and nostrils as delirium disrupts the senses. He had felt its effects before when he was still developing the trap some years ago. The medicinal water went up to the young woman’s neck, collaborating with the medicine he had forced down her throat earlier. The herbs would help soothe the pain and heal the wounds. The Prussic Acid chamber had seen a victim only once before. He had been in the mood for entertainment when he had watched the first victim, a filthy ingrate, writhe in his induced hell.
Little Jammes had been lucky.


When he watched her choke in that small chamber, he had no intentions of saving her. She was an insignificant rat, undeserving of life she was privileged with at birth. But something stirred within him as she fought for breath and life in those quick powerful moments of suffering. As she struggled under the gas, she staggered wildly to her feet and flung her small body against the door. Her head collided into the black polished surface and he could not help flinch at the sickening crack against the door. As the blood began trickling through her tousled brown hair, Erik slammed a hand to his throbbing head and groaned. The way Jammes leaned against the door, so vulnerable and near death, reminded him too much of the way he had found Christine when he had returned home one day. He had only left the house for a few hours and had locked her away in her room, making sure that Christine would not find herself in the danger of any of his inventions. When he had returned, he found her slouched against her bedroom wall, her pretty little head smeared with dark red blood. She had wanted to die, to forever rid herself of Erik’s presence. Christine was all that he had left to live for. Her death would have only brought his own end.

Slamming a fist against the door and screaming in frustration, he applied pressure to the corner. The room emptied the deadly gas and the door opened. With the rest of his faltering strength, he lifted her from the floor and left the chamber behind him. The water timer quietly drained back into the wall, draining all evidence of its treachery.


She groaned. Now, Jammes was beginning to regain consciousness. Her naked form shifted slowly, causing the water to sway and occasionally splash onto the alabaster flooring. Erik pressed a finger to his temple as he leaned against the doorway. It was too early. She shouldn’t have regained consciousness quite yet. He looked at the bottle of chloroform and the stack of towels on the table beside the wash basin. Perhaps he had not used enough to sedate her for the duration required for the medicine to complete its task. There were various other bottles beside the chloroform and a needle, in case Jammes proved to be even more troublesome. Jammes raised a lazy arm and clumsily grasped at the rim of the basin, her fingers grazing the elaborate pale carvings engraved in the surface. Her eyes did not yet open. The effects of the chloroform still anchored her eyelids. Erik watched in silence as the woman struggled through the cloud of drowsiness weighing down upon on her. The only sounds left in the room were the splashing of the water and the heavy gasps heaving from the petite danseuse. She moaned as she finally sat up in the tub, her body heavy and languid. He stayed unmoving as she finally opened her eyes and looked around.

“Do not be alarmed.”

Jammes’ expression shifted quickly from drowsy confusion to frightened alarm. Looking down, she gasped and automatically wrapped her arms tightly around herself. Disrobing her was necessary for the healing process. The exotic herbs had to come in direct contact with the wounds - in this case, nearly every inch of her flesh – in order to work. She would make too much grievance over her vulnerable state, he knew. Erik stepped silently into the small room and strode over to the table. His fingers deftly hovered over the many bottles. He raised one of the bottles and the needle to the oil lamp hanging on the wall. He paid no attention to the hoarse attempt to scream from her still recovering throat and proceeded to fill the needle with the potent drug. There was a frenzy of splashing water and a blur of bare skin to his left as he adjusted the needle between his middle and ring finger. He turned to her flailing form and pulled her shoulder down against the basin. In one swift motion, he pierced the smooth skin of her upper arm, expertly injecting the clear parathetic solution. Removing the needle, he stepped around the basin to face her. All tension flushed from her body, leaving her limp, but still conscious. There was a certain calm about her at that moment that he envied. She was numbed of most physical pain and could not move if she desired to. Even in the dim light, he could see the womanly curves of her body. They did nothing to stir him.

“Jammes.” His voice flowed in thick waves from his throat, filling the room with a low ringing. The sound seemed to grab her attention. That talent was one thing Christine had not stolen from him. “Jammes…” He paused, giving her time to assess her situation, and he gestured to her paralyzed body. Her eyes shifted slightly, now staring directly him. There was fear frozen on her young, unblemished face. She could still blink and move her eyes, as well as breathe, but it took much more effort. Any effort to move, he knew, would be result in physical and mental discomfort.

“Your sudden sense of modesty will not help you. You are immersed in a healing solution. I regret to say that it requires you to be completely vulnerable. Do not try to move. You only tax your mental health. Your muscles are under the influence of a drug I have just injected into your system. Should you try to move, your experience shall be painful.” He coughed. Each heave of his chest brought the taste of copper into his mouth. He grimaced and continued. “I have been watching you, Jammes. A ballet rat belongs up there,” he pointed up with a lazy finger, then waved his hand across the room, “not down here.” Each breath rattled his chest. His body was not as it had been. He straightened slowly and walked along the side of the tub, running a long, sickly finger across the porcelain frame. He looked down at her brown hair, which had been in a bun when he had undressed her. It had a very soothing quality about it. The simplicities of feminine beauty were astounding. The girl was certainly handsome; he could not deny that. Her face held a youthful beauty, one that would mature into a different sort of attractiveness, a sort he had seen in his travels through northern European. He knew that she had no trouble in finding vulnerable suitors. Christine had never been the most beautiful, but it had never been her appearance – at least initially – that had drawn him so helplessly to her. It had been the crystalline sound that she produced. It entranced him, enticed him to near madness. He could not stay away. But her voice, however beautiful, had not always been perfect. That voice, so pure and pristine, lacked any depth and emotion. It was as if her voice had died at one point and had been only half-heartedly reanimated. He had spent many days sitting behind walls and melding into the shadows, listening to her voice. When he heard that sound, he forgot the world, the past, the present, and the future. There was only that voice. There was only that song. Over time, he molded that voice with his own hands, smoothing out all imperfections and creating the greatest instrument that ever graced the earth. God could not boast a better creation. It was not God’s work. It was all his doing. God would weep at the sound of his creation and genius.

Erik placed a hand beneath Jammes’ chin, flinching at the sudden warmth of her skin. His fingers lingered along her bottom jaw line, taking in the smooth skin, so alive under his fingers. Rarely had he ever been able to touch Christine like this. He never went farther than the subtle caresses that threatened to drive him insane. There was no doubt that Christine was driven on the brink of her own sanity when his flesh came into contact with hers. The long fingers wrapped themselves firmly under her chin and lifted it. Her eyes remained frozen within her skull, as still as death. They screamed at him with a deafening silence, crying in the pain that her unresponsive muscles caused her.

“Fortune has smiled upon you today, ballet rat. He has decided to grant you mercy and freedom, disregarding the unsightly fact that you have cursed him, humiliated him, and - wisely - feared him. Do you recall the horrors of the chamber? Do not cross me. This is your final warning, rat, and there shall be no more. Dare you challenge the Opera Ghost?”

The room shuddered with the dry cackle that emanated from his throat. He released her chin and straightened. His work was finished here for the time being. Jammes now knew the truth behind her many stories and foolish fabrications. There was her proof. Whether or not her mind would be well again, he did not know. He walked to the doorway and looked back. She faced him with the same horrified expression, her mouth in a tight, thin line and her eyes wide against her skull. He drew a long breath. There was something, in that fleeting moment, which seemed to shift within him. It was subtle, almost escaping his notice. Weightlessness replaced pain in that moment. That mere moment of succulent relief gave him part of his strength back and he turned out of the room, making his way to his own room, where he would wait. He languished in the physical weightlessness suddenly surrounding him. It was as if he had emerged from the murky depths of Tartarus, free to gorge his lungs with sweet air. But it would not last forever. Nothing so sweet ever lasted. He turned away sharply and briskly walked to his chambers. In about an hour’s time, Jammes’ drugs would wear away. In about an hour’s time, Erik would entertain his first guest since Christine’s departure.


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Name: Laura | Gender: Female | Age: 26 | Posts: 279 | Roses: 0
Old 02-01-2009 at 01:18 PM
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Aww...*blushes* Thank you, Rose. The corrections are perfect! That makes much more sense now. Brava, brava, bravissima!

~L~



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Old 03-13-2009 at 01:35 AM
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At last. A chapter. It's somewhat short, but I hope it'll do. Of course, my love to Laura. :)

Jammes struggled against the invisible bonds pinning her sore limbs to the basin. Her chest rose and fell haltingly, fighting against foreign, invisible bonds across her skin. Where am I? Every effort to move was useless. It was as if she was in a coffin. She mentally shuddered, closing her eyes slowly. Am I dead? Was she not dead? Had she, not a moment ago, just laid her eyes upon the Grim Reaper himself? A light flowery smell entered her nose. Death certainly did not smell so sweet. If she was not dead, then where was she? Her range of sight was limited by her paralysis. All she could see was a beige wall and her prostrate body submerged in a grey liquid. No, this couldn’t be real. She had no sensation. It was as if her head had become separated from her body. This was a dream. There could be no other plausible explanation. Perhaps she had eaten something spoiled at dinner and now was experiencing the delirious after effects. It is my imagination again. It simply wasn’t possible, was it? It is only my imagination, my imagination. As Lucienne had warned me… Her breath hitched in her throat.

Lucienne…

An image flashed through her memory. She was walking along a dark tunnel. Lucienne was close behind, her footfall slow and apprehensive. Yes, she was going to show Lucienne – show Lucienne what? Her memory faltered. What were they doing down there? It was dangerous and defied logic. Her head throbbed, casting a pulsing red veil over her eyes. She slowly let her eyelids fall to control the throbbing. As the pressure faded, the dam broke and the memories began flooding in: the tunnel, a small room, a searing fire in her lungs, and the pressure like that of a thousand knives tearing at her flesh – sudden darkness. Her heart stayed miraculously steady. Any quieter, she would have believed herself to be dead. Slowly, another piece of her memory returned. It was a noise. It was speaking to her. What was it saying? The sound was a dull buzz in the back of her mind, as if muffled under a pillow. It gradually intensified, the syllables breaking from the unintelligible buzz.

“Your muscles are under the influence of a drug… Jammes…”

A drug? Her mind throbbed in the agony of processing this small piece of information. A drug… a drug… Could that be why she couldn’t move? Her heart took an extra beat before resuming its previous languid rhythm. “Do not be alarmed.” That voice… She clung to the fluid intonations of the sounds still in her memory. Already it was fading. “Do not be alarmed.” It wasn’t human, was it? It couldn’t possibly have been human. It was too perfect to belong to any mortal. Every inflection was caressed with maternal care by that melodic instrument, gently cradled in a harmonious silk. Her ears must have been false. It had not been a human voice she had been listening to. It was unlike anything her ears had ever experienced.

With great effort, she opened her eyes again, still clinging to the memory of the angelic voice. The scenery had not changed. Had she expected it to change? She was hoping it would, hoping that she would open her eyes to the familiar plain walls of her dormitory, her sheets sticky with sweat from her night tremors. But it was not so. Her exhausted eyes faded in and out of focus, her mind beginning to catch up to her situation. It had been human; it had been a man that had spoken to her. Most likely, it was he who put her here, naked in this tub. Jammes wanted to scream. Her uncovered body had been vulnerable to wandering eyes and fingers for God knew how long. How long had she been unconscious? The drug prevented her from clenching her teeth. She had not been a virgin for quite some time, but her little carnal adventures were never against her will. She was one of the more fortunate ones, never having experienced rape like a few of the other girls. But that did not mean the men did not want her. The stagehands and other unkindly figures would eye her hungrily, violating her with their lusty ideas. Had she been able to, her body would have released a cold shudder.

Opening her eyes, she looked down at her bare abdomen and legs. She saw no bruises on the outside. At least the man had been gentle. She felt no foreign sensations, none that would indicate any recent violation of her body, but she would have to wait for her body to regain control of itself to be completely certain. She let out a sigh. Her throat could not even produce a moan. It felt so powerless. Wait a moment… She let out another sigh, larger than the first. The air escaped her lungs with liberating ease. The drugs were beginning to wear off. Relief as well as dread washed over her body. Once the drugs wore off, she would be able to get out of this place, but there was one large, unavoidable problem: where was this place? She had a vague recollection of being transported from the small, treacherous chamber through a short, dark tunnel. Her memory faltered in trying to remember who or what had gotten her out of the hell.

Another thought: would the man return before the drugs wore off? It was useless trying to avoid thinking about what his intentions were. He is healing her, so he said, with this grey water, but he had drugged her and rendered her unable to move. The only reason a man would do that would be to prevent her from escaping. Jammes’ heart maintained its steady rhythm, despite the terrifying thoughts running through her head. It puzzled her. Her heart should be racing, threatening to rip free of the confines of her chest. It should be thrusting blood through her veins, creating a fire in its wake. She should be gasping for breath by now, screaming for help. Jammes closed her eyes. It was useless thinking about “should be’s.” They would not free her from this situation, whatever this situation was. Her muscles suddenly felt restless, building up in the energy she could not use at the moment. However hard she tried, she could not remove the irritating itch of her restive limbs. It was frustrating, to say the least. The twinge wound around her arms and legs, wrapping her limbs in a thick, tormenting shroud. She wanted to cry, to break out into body-rattling sobs that would exhaust her eyes and her throat. It was an odd sensation. Her body stayed limp and unresponsive. She prepared herself for the stinging in the corners of her eyes, the congestion in her nose, and the involuntary spasms of her chest. Nothing happened. Not a single tear formed in her eyes. Cry. Cry! Mon dieu! Cry! What had she ever done to deserve this? It was terrible not being able to move, but it was agonizing not being able to cry. A single tear, God, is all I ask - a solitary drop. Is that too much? Her sanity quivered with anguish and hopelessness. A wave of lightheadedness swept over her for a moment, leaving her to handle her consciousness with slippery fingers.



Her vision blurred with exhaustion. Someone called to her.

“Jammes?”

She gazed blankly at the empty bathroom wall. “Yes?”

“Jammes, I had dreamt the worst for your fate. Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. I’m simply tired. I had trouble sleeping last night.” Her voice sounded raspy and unfamiliar, as if she had not used it in years. She stared at the bathroom wall in front of her. What was once empty space was now occupied by a tall, slender silhouette. It was like a shadow against the wall, but looked somehow tangible. It looked familiar.

“Come now, Jammes, you must tell me: are you all right, truly?” The voice was unmistakably female. It sounded old, but soft and innocent at the same time.

“There is this pain – on my shoulder.” The female figure walked over – or did she glide? She leaned over Jammes, revealing all her features. Jammes gasped and covered her mouth. Blood ran in a thin, steady stream down the side of her head, flowing like a plagued river in Egypt, cursed by God. The woman’s brown hair was dull and matted with spots of dark red. A crimson drop fell into the tub, dispersing itself immediately through the grey water. Another drop followed. Soon, a steady stream of red emptied into the tub, dyeing the water bright red. Jammes screamed at the stained water and tried to climb out of the tub. The woman moved quickly. Her hard, wrinkled hands were on Jammes’ shoulders, pressing her back gently, but firmly. Jammes looked up at the woman’s old, steely face. It was expressionless.
“Jammes, you are hurt. Do not move.” Her lips moved unnaturally, as if they were separate from her body. They were stiff and looked flushed of any color. “You know you shouldn’t have come down here.”

“What? Down here? What are you talking about?” Jammes spoke to the strange woman as if she had known her for years, yet she had never seen this woman before. “Where am I?”

The woman’s eyes slanted downwards, a look of concern forming upon the ashen grey face. “I told you it was not a good idea and you knew it as well, Jammes. You knew this would be dangerous and yet you still brought me down here. You put both our lives in danger. Why, Jammes, why? Was it truly worth it?”

Tears streamed freely down Jammes’ face. Crying was not as relieving as she had thought it would be. If anything, it felt more burdensome, as if every tear shed was a shred of guilt gained.

“I’m sorry, so, so sorry. I – I –” She could say no more. Her sobs muffled her voice. The woman’s face was present even when she closed her eyes. The thin, sharp contours of her face burned in her mind. Jammes looked into the grey, lifeless eyes and let out a loud, knowing sob. It was painful. The sudden recognition of the woman suffocated her. She wanted to reach out and hold the face in her hands and cradle it against her chest, but her body remained still and unresponsive. “I – I am so sorry. Please forgive me, forgive me. You were right. Oh, you were always right. Lucienne! Oh, poor, poor Lucienne!”

The slender figure shook its head and bit its lower lip. Each motion seemed mechanical. However foreign this woman seemed, it was undeniably Lucienne. Beneath the solemnity and death was her friend, her most treasured of all friends. Jammes trembled with emotion. The old adage was correct: you never realize the value of something until it is lost.

“Lucienne,” Jammes whispered through her tears.

Lucienne stood up and shook her head. “Nothing can be done now, Jammes.” She placed a cold, dusty hand upon Jammes’ forehead. “Goodbye.”

“No,” Her voice broke as she closed her eyes and shook her head. “No, don’t go. Don’t leave me. I am sorry, Lucienne, I’m sorry!” She wrapped her arms around her head, spilling water onto the floor. “Lord, oh, Lord, please forgive me!”

A pained sigh escaped her throat, sending a gentle ripple through the water. The candle flickered lazily as Jammes faded between consciousness and nothingness. Her eyelids fluttered momentarily and her chest heaved, then all was quiet. Nothing stirred in the bathroom, nothing save the dance of shadows and the nightmares of a young, restless mind.


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Old 06-13-2009 at 06:44 AM
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Phew. Writer's block is an unavoidable disease, but I have finally written another chapter!
~


Jammes awoke lazily, her eyelids parting heavily. Her vision blurred for a moment, as the beginnings of consciousness returned to her. She rolled to her side and began to shut her eyes again as her head rested against a surprisingly soft object. Her eyes opened heavily in exhaustion. Beneath her head was a misshapen pillow, which looked as if it had been stuffed by a clumsy child. The fabric was stained a blotchy yellow, making her cringe away from it. It was only then that the dank aroma of the pillow entered her senses. Jammes crinkled her nose and pushed herself up on all fours, her hands sinking into the shallow mattress. She pushed herself off of the bed, almost falling to the floor. Her senses were still inhibited by an unnatural drowsiness as she finally took in her surroundings. Her lips parted involuntarily. She was no longer in that small, peculiar bath room. The room she was in looked like a small storage room that someone had forgotten about long ago. The walls around her were a moist brown color and were bare except for a single mirror hanging beside the small bed. Jammes shook her head and looked away from it with a small trembling of her lips. The mirror had been smashed in the middle and now displayed a web of cracks and scrapes across its mutilated surface. Jammes turned back toward the mirror and tilted her head, seeing her shattered reflection in the broken glass and gazing at the multiple brown eyes staring back at her. She shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself. The simplicity of the room unnerved her. The size of the room gave her a suffocating feeling. She turned her face to the floor and wanted to spit, as if that would ward off the overwhelming uneasiness around her.

Jammes’ eyes rested on a door only a few feet from where she stood at the foot of the bed. It looked frail and ready to crumble at the slightest breath. She approached it cautiously, her mind still clouded by the foreign lethargy in her system. With clumsy movements, her hands found the door knob, but she flinched at the jagged feeling of the knob. She released it and looked down with dulled surprise at the scarlet beads falling from her fingers. She raised her hands close to her face and squinted at the small thin lines of red that crisscrossed the tips of her fingers. There was no pain. Jammes loosely folded her fingers inward toward her palms and looked at the door knob. Even through her stupor, she could see that it was glass. Now, it was covered in grime and looked as if it had been hammered against, leaving only a concentration of shards where an opulent door knob once was. Jammes stumbled backward and fell onto the bed. The room spun backward for a moment before regaining stability. Drowsiness threatened to overtake her again.

“Up. Jammes… Up.” The young dancer turned her head from side to side. “It is time to wake up, mademoiselle.” She opened her eyes and flipped herself over. The exertion from that motion almost knocked her down again. She had heard that very voice while incapacitated in the bath. It was haunting and soothing at the same time. Now, the voice sang softly in her ears, coaxing her up with its muffled timbre. Her muscles felt invigorated by the melodic syllables that pulled her from the bed.

“Up.”

Jammes groped for the stained pillow and crawled off the bed, almost losing her balance in the process. She slowly found the door and, placing the pillow on the knob, twisted it. The door clicked and loudly creaked open on its ancient hinges. As Jammes dropped the pillow, a chuckle rumbled behind her. She turned around, but nothing was there save for the dirty, old bed and the frightening mirror. All else was silent. Had she chuckled without realizing it? Yes, I must have. I must have…

Jammes now looked at what had rested behind the door. There was a small unlit corridor that turned to the left at the very end. From there, a soft glow of light emanated from some unknown source. Blindly, she followed the light. It looked so warm and inviting. How could she resist it after the nightmare she had experienced? The thought of warmth made her realize how could she was as she stumbled against the wall. She could feel a slight sting at her fingertips, but she did not respond to the pain. The light beckoned to her and soothed her even from its distance. She could almost here it calling her name.

At last, here was the light, so close it was almost tangible. Jammes leaned against the wall and breathed heavily. She held a tired hand out into the light and tried to grab it. Her hand fell and she tried again. Again, she caught nothing. She tried again and again, each time with the same result. Come to me, she cried to the warmth and the light. Come to me, now. Her hand failed once more before she buried her face into the rough, unresponsive wall. She stroked the jagged surface and wept softly and silently. A heavy sense of hopelessness welled up within her as if she was mother to it and it lay in her womb. It writhed and screamed in anguish from within her organs that her frame began to shake in an uncontrollable tremor. The heavy feeling scraped at her inner walls, waiting to be born and to be spilled upon this earth. It felt as if her chest would tear and her abdomen would rupture from the sheer pressure from within. The selfish beast yearned to be free and seemed to stop at nothing to obtain its freedom. Jammes wanted to scream, but her voice was too tired. Her voice looked up upon the light entering between her lips and tried to raise itself, but could not find the strength. Her body was too tired to do anything except fight the pain.

Her body convulsing, Jammes turned her head enough so that she could see a ray of light through her tangled hair. Light, warmth, freedom. Jammes lifted herself carefully from the wall, then fell to her side when a heavy wave of lethargy washed over her. Jammes looked up through her bramble of hair and felt her heart beat with excitement. Light, warmth, freedom. Her hands dug into the crevices of the stone floor and her feet pushed and slipped across the floor as they crawled into the light. As the light began covering her fingers Jammes quickened her pace. Light, warmth, freedom. Soon, her face was basked in the beautiful light, quickly followed by her lower body. To have the light cover her whole body, she curled her legs into her chest as she remained lying on the floor, tears streaming gently from her eyes. Light, warmth, freedom. Her body shook tremulously in the waving light that blanketed her body in its unfeeling embrace. Tears continued to stream down her unblemished face as she trembled in the ecstasy of the newfound warmth.

---------------------------------------

The curtains danced gently against the chilling night air. The breeze glided their billowing waves rolled carefully against the ebony armchair, encompassing it almost lovingly in its ghostly, unstable arms.

“Sing for me.” His voice quavered from the corner of the room. “Sing for me once more.”

Christine sat unmoving in the armchair. Her eyes glowed dimly against the moonlight from the balcony. They showed little emotion except for trite pity.

Erik settled his weight against the wall. “My living bride, sing for me. Sing for me the nightingale’s song – just once more.” His eyes gave off no emotion, but his swollen lips trembled like a child’s. Christine once again did nothing. Her regal form was still as stone and contrasted wraithlike against the dark chair. The evening breeze lapped sheepishly at her pale gown, accentuating the soft outline of her legs. Why was she not answering him? He had given her the world at her feet and had even freed her to the world above. She had wanted to feel the Parisian air and hear the city’s sounds again, so he gave it to her. They lived in a flat not far from the Palais Garnier. He gave her every worldly possession she desired and rarely denied her anything. Anger and hopelessness welled up within him. What more could he give her?

“Christine, my bride, what troubles you?” He was afraid to move closer, afraid that any move toward her would frighten her away. Finally, Christine shut her eyes. His own eyes lit with joy that she at least heard him. She had no doubt heard the pleading in his voice, the desperation that clung to his being. Was that disgust in her face? He could not tell as the moving shadows were playing tricks on him. As the curtains continued their waltz, they cast an eerie moving shadow over her face like a living mask. Christine did not rise.

“What troubles you, Erik?”

Erik moaned and crumbled to the ground with one hand against his chest and the other against his masked face. Empty sobs threatened to break from his core as the sound of Christine’s deadened voice replayed in his ears. It expressed no sorrow now, and no pity, only anger and disappointment. The compassion had left her. Her words from when she had kissed him seemed lost. He could remember her soft, supple fingers holding the sides of his bare face and the deafening look in her eyes that spoke of love and acceptance. Where was that love and acceptance now?

Erik crawled weakly across the floor like a beaten snake and wept silently at her feet. She did not move away nor did she move to touch him. Her regal form lay unresponsive to his actions. The chilling breeze now blew across him in its light peculiar manner, not caring that it was caressing a monster. He did not look up at Christine’s powerful eyes, only grasped her feet with the utmost gentleness. He handled them like porcelain and pressed his cold mask against them. He did not dare to even kiss them for fear the grotesqueness of his lips would taint the purity of her flesh. His long, skeletal fingers brushed along the pale canvas of her skin in long, wiry lines. Invisible marks of sin remained from where he touched the beautiful skin. They burned cold against her lively flesh, which finally shivered. A quaver of pleasure coursed through him at her involuntary response.

Without thinking, he rose and took his wife’s hands into his own.

Christine spoke quietly. “This is what troubles me.”

Erik closed his eyes and then looked guiltily down at Christine’s perfect hands. With saddened pleasure, he saw that she was tightening her fingers around his own. He looked up finally into the eyes of his living bride and shook uncontrollably. Her eyes darkened as black tears fell from them and stained the pale porcelain cheeks. Some of the dark beads landed on their hands and disappeared beneath their palms. He stared at the morbid tears in confusion and fear. The shadows were playing tricks on him again. His realm was turning on him. That which he had taken solace in for so many years was now working to quicken his passing.

Christine’s gaze did not falter even through the tears, but her voice was timid like a child’s. “This is what troubles me, my poor, unhappy Erik.” She turned his hands over and rubbed her thumbs against his palms. He looked down at his hands, smeared with blood, and he wept. He wept like no mortal had ever wept in the chronicle of the earth.

--------------------------------

Erik stirred and fell to the floor. The cold dampness pressed against his naked face, quickly working to numb the thin membrane over the malformed skull. He shivered and pushed himself off of the floor. He had fallen asleep with the polished mahogany edge of the coffin as his lullaby. The residue from his dream still clung to him as he made his way toward the salon. He could still feel the warmth of his bride’s fingers. He looked down at his hands and then closed them tightly. Long thin lines of crusted blood remained on his palms from his carelessness. He dropped his hands and looked toward the small hallway that led to his visitor’s room in the Forgotten Wing. He stayed silent as he waited for his visitor to arise. The pendulum clock ticked mindlessly, marking the seconds with crystal precision. The door creaked. He moved slowly toward his worn black armchair and sat in it with care. His strength was failing him, but he sat with pride and he closed his eyes. Soft panting sounds and the scuffle of fabric against stone reached his ears.

“Come to me!” Her hoarse, desperate pleas cut through the air. The drugs must have affected her more than he had predicted. Even her dancer’s physique could not handle the potency of the sedative. She continued to murmur something in between quiet sobs. The scuffling finally stopped, but her muffled speech did not.

Erik’s hardened eyes opened and dropped down upon the mass of human flesh and fabric that lay on the ground, quivering with cold. The dancer’s body shivered uncontrollably with cold in the small candlelight from the side table. It seemed she did not have the strength to make it through his salon. She had reached the end of the corridor that connected the Forgotten Wing to his salon. His swollen lips curled in contempt at the undeserving ballet rat. For years, she had spread his name in infamy. She had not been the only one, but she was the only one that had made it so far into his hellish domain. He had no idea how the girl knew so much. He rose from his seat and crossed his sinewy arms across his chest. The dancer let out a gasping sob, then continued her quiet chanting about “warmth.” Erik pressed a finger to his temple and stretched his back, sore from the uncomfortable position he had slept in. The candlelight swayed carefully upon its pedestal like an enrapturing snake’s head. He pinched the light out and listened to the girl’s sobs get louder. She began muttering about “the sudden coldness” and began shivering even harder.

Erik approached her pitiful form and ignored the throbbing pain in his chest at each pulse of his heart. The sobs grew louder and turned into moans. Her fingers clawed at the bare stone floor in small jagged lines. He turned away and fell into the seat a few feet away from the girl’s quivering form. He did not know what to do with her. She couldn’t simply be let go. He wanted to live his last days out in peace, away from the bother of the unfortunately curious. Perhaps he could lock the girl away or silence her permanently. Frustration was quelled by the numbing pain he felt within him as he finally decided. He rose carefully from his seat and strode over to one of the many corridors that spread from the salon. Down the hallway would be where the intrusive little ballet rat would stay until the time came for him to finally leave this mortal hell. There, she would be comfortable as long as she kept within her bounds. Erik glanced at the girl’s wretched state, then entered the corridor. Her room would need some preparation. He had not designed it as the conventional bedroom.

He had designed it for eternal rest.

~
Of course, feedback is always welcome!


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