Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 26 of 38

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Paris, France

It was nearly mid morning, but Erik felt weariness screaming from every bone in his body.

He had ridden straight through the night, as if the devil chased at his heels. His hair was mussed, his eyes bloodshot, the exposed skin of his face cracked and dry from the merciless wind, and his heart heavy. Physical pain was nothing though; every discomfort was overshadowed by one, continuous, never ending thought:

Christine was in danger, and he had to protect her.

It was as simple as that.

It was strange how such simplicity and finality could settle so peacefully in the mind. Either he saved Christine, or he died. There was no other option, and there was something extraordinarily comforting about that fact.

Despite the warmth of the sun, Erik covered himself fully a black hooded robe. The last thing that would help him at this point were people gawking at his mask as he raced like a madman down the streets of Paris.

Amanda took Henri Starre's hand as he helped her out of their carriage. Waiting to greet them in front of the dilapidated opera house were three men, doubtlessly Laurent's hired goons. As they were escorted into the grand lobby, a lobby that had once been as beautiful as it was now ruined, ravaged by neglect, Amanda leaned in and whispered into his ear.

"These men...I do not recognize them."

Starre nodded at whispered back. "They are not of the party. Laurent hired them for this express purpose. Only you, I, your father, and Laurent are to be present."

Amanda's grip on his arm tightened. "What?"

He nodded. "My sources tell me that Laurent plans to cheat the rest of the party out of de Chagny's money. He has here only those who are absolutely necessary. The fewer people, the fewer ways the fortune has to be split." Starre looked down at her and almost had to smile. "Well don't look so surprised, my dear. After all," he murmured, leaning in even closer, "You and I are planning to do the same."

She smiled.

The three men led them down several dark corridors until they reached a dressing room at the far end of one of them. This was the way they always accessed the basements, as it was the if someone had planned its convenience. The Commune had discovered a secret passage behind the room's full length mirror that led down all the way to the fifth cellar.

They had dubbed it, "The Communist's Road."

Amanda felt a touch of ice run up her spine. She had been to the basements on a few occasions when business with the Commune called for it, and she hated entering this way. It wasn't the passage that frightened her, no. She, unlike most of the females she had known through her life, was not afraid of the dark or of the odd rat. Rats could be killed. It was ghosts of the past that unnerved her...the dressing room itself.

She alone could swear that the smell of dead roses lingered...

From the shadows of an alley, Erik's gaze fixed upon the looming structure of the Paris Opera. He felt his stomach wrench as he considered how it taken only a year for his beautiful shining opera house to fall into ruin...only a year to destroy the monument it had taken the better part of his life to build. The once proud matron was now nothing more than a common street whore. Neglect, like a pestilence, had chipped away paint, broken doors, cracked windows, and cast an all-consuming gloom over what had once been his greatest masterpiece. With a swift curse, he took in the sight of the Rue Scribe entrance that he had once used; now completely cemented over. He had spent nearly the entire journey here trying to figure out a way to best enter the opera house undetected. Of course, sneaking to the basements wouldn't be hard, but it was necessary to find out whether or not Raoul de Chagny was actually alive...

...if, on the off chance that he was, Erik needed to know where he was being held.

He figured that his best chance lay in reaching Christine's dressing room. If the passage was still open behind her mirror, he doubted that anyone would have found it. From there, it was simply a matter of crossing the lake undetected. From the pieces of information that Christine had revealed to him through her hot tears it was safe to assume that the main headquarters was situated on the opposite side. He remembered that night in the chapel, how she had knelt on the floor before the alter, the glow of candles bathing her in a halo of golden light, a broken angel before God. Even in her grief, she had been beautiful.

Erik swallowed the lump gathering in his throat. If he did, in fact, find Raoul de Chagny on the other side of that lake, it would take every fiber of his self-control to not simply kill the man and pretend as if he had never lived. How would it feel? To once more see Christine leave with him? To see Christine in the arms of the man who was her rightful husband?

"Oh God..." he hissed, his eyes closed tight against a pain so unspeakable that he couldn't even formulate in his mind why it hurt. How was it possible? To love someone so much? To want them so badly that you would endure an eternity of hell for a few, brief stolen moment of Heaven?

"I love you," he whispered into the shadows.

And that was why he found himself stealing silently into the empty shell of a building that had once been as full as his bleeding heart.

Amanda smoothed the lines of her dress as she sat in one of the fine chairs behind the long, wooden table. It was almost comical. Laurent had managed to create what looked like a government office among the ruins of what appeared to have once been a house.

Why would there be a house in the fifth cellar of the opera house? She had once asked.

Laurent had simply shrugged. Probably some maintenance shed.

Amanda had decided not to mention what she thought was the ripped corner of a fine tapestry. She really had no desire to know anything about this horrid, dank basement.

Seated next to her was Laurent, looking as handsome as ever in blue trousers and a crisp, white shirt, his pistol strapped to his side. On his left was Starre. She looked at him, and they both recognized the silent knowledge in each other's eyes.


Her father was standing next to the three men who had escorted them down. Starre had been right. They were a skeleton crew. No one was to know of the money that would change hands today.

All the better for Starre and I, she thought.

One of men, Julian, looked at Laurent. "Will you be needing anything else, Monsieur Brette?"

Laurent shook his head. "No...not at the moment. Go back up with Claude and Renault, wait for the Viscountess, and probably Von Alsing as well. You are armed, yes?"

Julian grinned, revealing a mouth of scattered gold teeth. Cocking his pistol, he nodded. "Don't worry, Monsieur...they won't be giving us any trouble."

Laurent seemed to approve. "Right then...just don't shoot to kill. Blow a bloody finger off if you have to. I don't care about the Viscountess' appendages. All that I need is for the bitch to be able to speak."

Edward cleared his throat, cocking his own pistol. "If you don't mind, Laurent, I would like to accompany these three-gentlemen-back up the Communists road."

Laurent cocked an eyebrow. "Whatever the hell for?"

Edward continued. "You will beg my pardon, but these three are not members of the party. They have no real vested interest in what happens to de Chagny. I, on the other hand, do. We all do. Besides," he said, looking up and down the three men, all of whom were well over six feet tall eyes filled with lust at the thought of a mere teenager at their mercy, "who knows what liberties might be taken with a nineteen year old noblewoman?"

Julian sneered, but Edward simply raised his gun an inch higher.

Laurent nodded. "Very well, Edward."

The front lobby had been deserted. This had unnerved Erik far more than he would have liked to admit. They were expecting Christine...they should have been waiting to meet her. He had thought that perhaps they were hiding, but his senses were still as keen as they had been when he had lived in the cellars, and his ears had picked up nothing.

It was desolate.

He moved like a shadow. In and out of corners, down hallways, up stairs. Quiet as the grave, dark as the night he made his way to the dressing rooms, his footsteps non-existent, his breath no more than a silent whisper. Within the coil of his right hand he held a loaded gun, though he had really never had much use for the weapons. He was far more deadly with what lay coiled within the folds of his cape.

For years he had had nightmares containing the faces of all that had perished under the merciless caress of his catgut lasso.

Erik inhaled and almost gagged.

Dead roses. The stench was everywhere.

The dressing rooms lined the back hallway like mausoleums, silent monuments to what had once been. The scent of dead roses from long ago operas, the final memorials to the glory of music before the commune had stolen its life, wafted through the air. Nostalgia hit him with the force of a gunshot. Erik closed his eyes, swearing that he could hear Christine singing. He could still see her, onstage, an angel in the flesh, singing for him! For him and only him! She had sung for her angel that night and no one else.

With a trembling hand, he pushed the door to Christine's old dressing room open.

Dead roses. The aroma was like a ghost, refusing to leave the space, a violent specter, haunting his mind, dulling his senses to all around him. Erik could see her standing there, Christine dressed in white, a sacrificial virgin, waiting with bated breath, as he watched her from behind the mirror. Oh how he had wanted to touch her! To walk into her room as a normal man, to be able to woo her, to love her, cherish her, to seduce her. For too long he had been denied the joys of life taken for granted by so many men, and it had been impossible to keep himself from the imagery that had sometimes crept its way into his mind and consumed him. What would have happened, had he simply mesmerized her with his music, taken her to his home, and then ravished her, her voice a sweet cry in his ear, her body a sweet relief to his years of torment?

Lost in his thoughts, mesmerized and hypnotized, it was too late by the time Erik heard the mirror slid open.

"Fucking hell!" Julian's voice exploded from his lungs at the sight of the tall dark man standing in the room before him. A life lived with a pistol in hand had given him quick reflexes, and he lifted his arm and fired the gun with a well executed familiarity. Erik lunged to the floor, dodging the bullet.

Now three men were in the room, and realizing that he would never gain an advantage in the small space, he let his pistol fire. With a cry, Renault's hand flew to his neck, the blood gushing through his fingers.

He was dead before he hit the floor.

What happened next, took no longer than half a minute. Throwing the pistol to the side, Erik whipped his lasso out of his cape, catching Claude by the throat while Julian was reloading his gun. Claude's gun fired toward the ceiling as his neck snapped with a brutal crack.

Julian's eyes widened with terror as his fingers, slick and sweaty with fear, slipped on the trigger of the gun. Erik threw the lasso once more, its deadly coils embracing Julian's neck, but Julian was able to get a shot out. Erik dove, dragging lasso and man with him. Like a guillotine, the catgut, pressured by the odd angle, acted as a blade, slicing through skin and sinew. Blood spurted everywhere from the partially decapitated man, the deadly weapon stopping only once it hit bone.

And then the noose snapped.

Erik stood stunned. In twenty years he had never seen a catgut lasso snap, but then again, in twenty years, he had never seen a lasso sever a man's head halfway off of his body. His breath slammed in and out of his lungs, his blood humming with the thrill of murder. He grimaced inwardly. It was a sensation that he hadn't felt in years, a sensation that Christine had helped to calm. Had it been lurking within his soul this entire time? Terror filled him. What if he had hurt Christine! The image of the blood-soaked floor and Julian's face, frozen in a mask of terror, made Erik want to vomit. He had enjoyed killing that man. He had enjoyed taking out his rage and his anger. Like an addict rekindling his high, murder poured into his veins, whispering kill kill kill...

'No!" He screamed. "I am better than this! If not for me than for her!




"No!" With a violent gesture, he threw the blood soaked and broken lasso across the room.

Erik felt the gun against the back of head at the exact moment that he heard it cock.

"Baron Von Alsing," a voice murmured almost cheerfully in greeting. Edward Morrigan smiled. "A rather impressive display, I will admit, but enough's enough...we wouldn't want to keep the others waiting."


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 26 of 38

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