Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 48 of 64

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"Broken..." He recalled how suddenly she appeared on the ledge, like a magic trick. Even though she was unconscious, Erik took the utmost care in examining her leg.

There was discoloration and swelling around the area just above the ankle. There was no blood, and the leg was not bent at a startling angle; he began to hope that the break was not too bad. He unlaced her shoe and gently removed it. Her foot was warm and rosy - no need to worry about impeded circulation. Not yet, at least.

No matter how mild the break was, however, she would not be able to make the climb back up the bluff. There was nothing here with which he could stabilize the bone. Erik stared doubtfully of the cliff face - could he climb it with her riding piggyback?

"Maybe..." he muttered. But he wasn't sure. If he faltered, even for a moment, they would both die. Even fresh and well-rested, it would be challenging to scale the rocks while carrying Christine. Now, she had a broken leg and wouldn't be able to use all her strength to hold on. He was in overwhelming pain himself, from the damage he had done to his face and the realization that he'd wronged Christine. The pain was a well-deserved punishment That broken leg was his fault. If only he had trusted her...

Christine shifted and then moaned, her eyes opening wide.

"Erik!" she gasped. "I leg really is broken."

"It is. I'm sorry. It's my fault." Erik knelt beside her and helped her to sit up. "You passed out from the pain."

"" Christine dug around in her pockets. He'd reminded her of the pills she'd brought - just in case. "I brought your meds...some of them at least. Your...your TENS unit is broken... I thought you might need them." She pressed them into his hand.

Erik stared down at the pills. After what he'd said, after everything he'd done, her concern had been for his pain. "Thank you...I don't need them right now though."

Liar, thought Christine. Even if she had not been able to see the rending of his nails on his face, his pain showed sharply in his eyes. It was as bad - if not worse - than that night more than a month before. Why wouldn't he take the medicine?

"I have to get us out of here. If I help you up, do you think you can stand on one leg?"

"Yes..." Christine stared up the bluff face. On bright days, when she was well rested, it seemed only a skip and a jump. Now, at night and exhausted from worry, fear and pain, it seemed an impossible obstacle. "But even if I can stand, I can 't climb."

"You aren't going to climb. I am." He held out his hand, and she pulled herself to her one good foot. "All you have to do is hold on to me. Do you think you can do that?"

Incredibly, Christine smiled. "What do you think, Erik? Can I hold on to you? I'm trying my best here."

Shaking his head at her wry humor in a dreadful situation, Erik helped her climb on his back and lock her arms around his chest and her good leg around his waist. She still trusted him - and her life was in his hands. That thought sent a surge of adrenaline crackling through him. The same chemical that let tiny mothers lift cars off their infants allowed Erik to grip the rock and begin climbing.

He had made this climb hundreds of times, with and without Christine. It was his favorite place to come at night, alone, and play his violin to the wild ocean. He knew the easiest path up by heart . Concentrating only on his hands and feet, Erik forced his way up the rocks.

Christine clung to his back, barely daring to breathe. She understood as well as he did that one slip meant a long, fatal plunge into the rough surf many feet below. As soon as Erik approached the top, she grabbed the turf and helped him drag them both over. They rolled onto their backs in the dewy grass and lay still, breathing the moist night air in huge, grateful gulps.

"Christine, can you dry-swallow pills?"

"Umm... I don't know. Never tried. Why?" She lay there, staring up at the cloudy sky.

"The morphine will ease the pain of that leg until we can get you to the hospital." Erik fished the pill out of his pocket and held it out to her.

"Hospital," Christine repeated dully.

"Yes," Erik pushed the pill into her mouth. "Swallow, or that is going to taste very bad, very fast. You know, the hospital: that place where they set broken bones."

She gulped the bitter pill and shuddered at the taste. "But Erik...your mask is still on the ledge."

His strength was rapidly failing. His arms and legs were still trembling from the climb up. But he couldn't go in public without his mask; especially not after that newspaper article.

Normally, Erik espoused the opinion that foul language was used only by unimaginative ignoramuses incapable of expressing themselves more creatively. The string of expletives he uttered now would have made George Carlin proud. Wearily, he started down the bluff again; Christine hung over the edge and watched his slow progress anxiously. A while later, he resurfaced with his mask on his face and his violin dangling awkwardly from his belt.

"Now. To the hospital."

She leaned on him and hopped to the bus stop. As the morphine set in, she felt the world slipping away. The pain in her leg was still there, but it no longer mattered. Nothing mattered. She leaned her head on Erik's shoulder and closed her eyes.

"Erik?" Her voice was distant and dreamy.


"I hate hospitals."

"I understand," Erik murmured as he stroked her hair.

The bus had arrived. Erik scooped her up and carried her up the steps, balancing her against the rail while he paid both their fares. The bus driver didn't even turn her head. This was her last run of the night. She was tired; if a troupe of clowns had appeared she would not have cared, as long as they paid their fares.

"You'll go in with me, won't you?"

"Of course." Erik arranged her in the seat so that her injured leg was elevated on his, then he pulled his hood up and cinched it tight.

"You probably hate hospitals more than I do." She sounded as though she were talking in her sleep. In a way, she was.

"It's ok."

"I bet it's like me going back to the Conservatory."

"Hush, Christine. Rest."

"You must have been so scared when you were little. I wish they had let you alone..."

Erik hoisted her off the bus and carried her to the connector stop. The next bus would take them straight to the hospital. The few other people at the stop stared openly at the strange couple. Erik tried to keep to the shadows of the streetlights as he loaded his limp love onto the bus. Christine continued her mutterings.

"I'm gonna find that Bertrand woman and teach her a thing or two. After I skin Meg. After we go to the Conservatory. I hope I do well..."

Skin Meg? wondered Erik. What the...

Once in the Emergency Department waiting room, Erik told the triage nurse that Christine had had a fall, that he had given her a dose of the morphine he took for his condition. The nurse glared at him suspiciously. She recognized him from the newspaper, but it was not her place to confront him. Once the girl was admitted they would get her alone and find out the real story.

Only, when it came time for Christine to go back to the treatment area, she would not let go of Erik. The nurse tried to tug her hands free, but in the end, Erik wound up going back with her. The break was a minor one, needing only setting and a cast. The doctor handed Erik a sample pack of pain medications for when the morphine wore off.

"Sir, please don't give her anymore of your medicine. That isn't children's aspirin you're playing with."

"I know." Erik avoided the doctor's stern gaze. "It's all I had."

"We recognize, you, you know." The doctor tapped her nose with one finger. "They," she gestured to the nurses, "recognize you from the paper. I recognize you from the park. Both of you. I was there when you sang the blues. It was electrifying."

Erik looked up sharply to see that the physician was smiling at him indulgently.

"And I saw her kiss you. Screw what the newspaper says. Whoever wrote that article should be hung up by their toes. You really ought to demand a retraction - or at least an apology."

They shook hands. The doctor felt the dried blood and cuts covering his right hand.

"Want me to look at that for you?"

Erik shook his head, ashamed of the damage he'd done.

"Fine...fine. Just wash it out as soon as you can." She looked over at Christine, who was lying comfortably on the table, staring happily at the bright lights in the ceiling. "It's a real honor to have met you both. Don't let some yellow reporting stop you from performing. Alright. I've got lives to save. Take her home and take good care of her."


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 48 of 64

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