Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 31 of 38

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Henri Starre had seen many a gruesome sight in some thirty odd years of practicing medicine. As a young student, he had seen a man's leg crushed and then amputated with only whiskey available as both anesthetic and antiseptic. He had seen countless women hemorrhage while giving birth, rivers of blood and death seeping from bodies that should have produced life. He had seen a man shot through the face, but the bullet had entered at an angle that had not killed him, merely reduced him to a screaming mass of flesh. Henri had purposely given him too much morphine-it was the kindest thing that he could have done. At the opera, he had treated several ballerinas who had fallen and snapped their limbs so badly that the bone splintered right through the skin. One girl had gotten herself pregnant, and then almost killed herself while trying to abort the child. She had succeeded, but Henri could still remember how brutally mutilated her delicate flesh had been.

But in all of those years, he had never felt such an impending sense of doom as he felt now, watching Amanda on her knees, her father's blood soaking the hem of her skirt.

Gently, she laid her pistol on the ground next to her, freeing both her hands. Bending, she pressed them mercilessly into the blood-covered floor. Liquid velvet, the color of hell seeped into her skin, staining the palms of her milky hands red. She lifted them, seemingly transfixed by the sight before her. Her eyes shone as her father's blood glowed in the dim light that played upon her hands.

Erik's heart fell into the pit of his stomach as he watched her. He knew what that feeling was like, after a kill. It was the terrible, treacherous, horrifying thought that one could not prevent from bubbling to the surface of the conscience like a putrid stain. In its own, sick, brutal way, blood could be absolutely beautiful.

Reality, thick and suffocating, settled into his mind. Good God, she just murdered her father.

Something that he could not name washed over him. Erik had never known his father. He had never had an opportunity to love a role model unconditionally, to look up to someone, to have someone to rely upon completely. He looked down at Amanda, realizing that the absence of a paternal figure meant that he had also never had a father to hate.

"Amanda..." Erik couldn't say why, but he called to her, his voice weak and barely above a whisper. Suddenly it wasn't Amanda on the ground, covered in blood, but Luciana, broken and bleeding, but still beautiful, still perfect in his eyes, a picture of innocence that had never had the chance to be sullied. "Amanda..."

But she didn't hear him. Every one of Amanda's senses had dulled, except for her sight, which was riveted upon the image of her blood stained hands. "Death," she whispered, "may be the greatest of human blessings." She threw her head back and laughed. How long had it been since she had studied Socrates? A decade, at least? What ridiculousness, that those lessons should come back to her now.

"God in Heaven," Henri murmured.

Amanda laughed even harder. "Yes. God is in Heaven Dr. Starre...for we are certainly in hell." Her laughter continued, bouncing off the cavernous walls, raping the other three onlookers with its perversity.

"Viscountess!" In an instant she was on her feet, the gun once more in her hands. She walked slowly over to Christine, blood still dripping from her fingers, her beautiful dress ruined from blood and grime billowing behind her. Henri watched with rapt attention as Amanda caressed the ruby necklace around her, her fingertips leaving bloody tattoos below her neck in their wake. With a violent tug she tore the glittering gemstones from her throat, staining them an even deeper shade of crimson. Christine flinched as Amanda's hands moved about her neck, securing the necklace in place. She shivered. The piece was cold and heavy, and the scent of blood invaded her nostrils, leaving her no quarter.

Christine blinked once, twice, three times. "Why do you return this too me?" She whispered.

Amanda laughed once more. "Silly girl. She "looked at her hands. "I wear my father's rubies now."

Henri Starre blinked once, twice, three times. "Amanda, my God...Amanda."

"Henri, we are wasting time. The bankers will be expecting us in Switzerland. We wouldn't want to keep them waiting."

He just stared at her, lost for a moment between confusion and fear. Was she mad? Had she forgotten that her father lay dead by her own hands! Her voice was calm, steady...and it terrified him.

"Yes..." he finally stumbled out. "Yes, yes you are quite right." Christine gave a low cry as Henri grabbed her wrist and literally threw her into Amanda's arms. She was too weak to try and push away. Amanda cocked the gun and put it to Christine's forehead. "Take her to St. Chapelle," Henri commanded. "I will remain here with the Baron until you have her safely in our hiding place. Return here and Von Alsing is yours to deal with."

Amanda let a long, slow, smile curve around her face. Pulling Christine roughly to her feet, she began to lead the girl away from Henri and Erik, down an unknown path deep into the caverns.

Erik watched in horror as the woman he loved was lead away into the darkness, that hellish pistol pressed firmly to the side of her head. "Christine!" He cried out.

She tried to turn toward him, but Amanda only pressed the gun harder against her bruised flesh and walked even faster.

Despair filled Erik, only to be turned into an unholy rage. "Amanda!' He screamed. "Amanda!"

She kept walking.

Erik did not stop screaming. "Touch her and you will know Hell. Amanda Morrigan!"

She did not even turn her head, but mumbled under her breath.

"Do not speak to me of hell."

In the blackness of the Opera's tunnels, a lone figure moved undetected.

A Silent...



"So you see, my Lord, I have a problem." Henri took another step closer to Erik's bound form.

Erik's eyes burned into the man. "As do I, Dr. Starre. I was simply wondering how best to kill you. Tell me, have you ever had your intestines removed through your anus? The Persians are remarkably refined in the field of torture."

Starre only laughed. "Making threats when you've almost bled to death? I give you credit, Von Alsing, you certainly have stamina."

"Death will not stop me," Erik hissed. "I have been a ghost before.

Something about "the sincerity in Erik's voice disturbed Henri greatly, but it was only a moment before it passed. "Well, you see, my problem lies in the fact that it truly was not my intent to kill you, at least not so early.

Erik rolled his eyes. "How courteous of you to say so."

"The dilemma is Amanda."

Erik instantly went rigid as Henri continued.

"She's utterly too distracted by you. The dead man at my feet is proof enough of that." He cocked his pistol. "Quite frankly, you should be flattered. I've never seen the woman taken by anyone, and she's seduced some wretched bastards a great deal wealthier than you."

"Well in that case, I'm touched," Erik spat.

Henri just shook his head. "Sarcasm is only humorous from men whose lives will continue past the hour, Von Alsing. You see, I want your money, but I want de Chagny's more. It's simple, really. That idiot Laurent Brette killed the Viscount, therefore I need the Viscountess. At this rate, who knows what Amanda will do? Therefore my friend," he put the gun to Erik's forehead, "you are just one liability that I can't afford to keep."

"Wait." Erik's voice was surprisingly strong. "Did you do it?"

Henri looked puzzled. "Do what."

"The child," Erik continued. "Did you kill Christine's child?"

Henri shrugged. "Well, I couldn't very well have an heir around to complicate things."

Erik's blood burned through his veins. He couldn't even scream, couldn't even shake and howl with rage. Only his eyes betrayed his emotion, the formerly paling orbs filling with fire and brimstone.

When he finally spoke, his voice smoldered, almost completely unrecognizable. "You are going to kill me now, I know. And you are going to go to sleep tonight, thinking that you are safe from me." He licked his lips. "You will never be safe from me. I will wade through eternity if I have to. There will be no Heaven for you, Henri Starre." He whispered. "There will be no Hell. There will be no yesterday, there will be no tomorrow." A sadistic smile crossed Erik's face. "There will only be Erik..."

Fear, like a snake, coiled through Henri.

"...and it won't be long before you are begging for Hell."

Long, insufferable moments of silence passed before Starre could even begin to string words into a sentence. "You are as mad as Amanda. Maybe more.
He gripped his gun harder, drawing courage from it. "And you are right, I will kill you now..."

He stopped, a strange look coming over his face.

"But not before I know who exactly I am killing."

Henri's hand reached for the mask...

... But his eyes went wide before he even lifted the cool leather from Erik's face. His lower half jerked violently and caused the other muscles in his body to spasm. A dull heat spread from his knees to his chest. It was only as he decided to look down that he heard the loud blast of thunder still ringing through the cavern.

Blood was pouring from Henri's midsection. He looked at Von Alsing in disbelief, but Erik was still tied securely to the gates, a look of equal shock plastered to his still-masked face.

With a single gasp, Henri Starre fell to the already bloody floor and breathed his last, another sacrifice to the vengeful gods who had seen fit to create this night.

From a darkened corner of the caverns, a shadowy figure emerged, a smoking pistol clutched in its right hand. Erik squinted, his vision still blurry from blood loss.

"Stars in Heaven," the shadow swore, its dark face fixed on Erik's pale one. "You're lucky that I stole enough pistols in my childhood to learn how to properly fire one."

Replacing the gun in its holster, Roman Majekt breathed a sigh of relief.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 31 of 38

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