Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 34 of 38

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Christine closed her eyes, willing away the scene that surrounded her. For nineteen years she thought she had feared so many things, but now...

Now she knew what real fear was. She could feel Death all around her, lingering all around them, waiting to take as many as were ready to an unknown fate. She could smell the blood as it poured slowly from Roman's shoulder, every moment carrying with it another drop of the man's life.

Salve Regina, full of Grace

Oh, how ...she prayed! Prayed as she never had before. Prayed for her beloved Erik, for Roman, and even for the soul of the woman behind her. There was something so tragic in the beautiful Mademoiselle Morrigan, something that demanded an emotion other than hatred, despite how much Christine wanted to hate her.

Erik watched Amanda, desperate to break through the fog of her madness. Anger would not reach her...neither would threats of violence...after all, hadn't Erik ignored all of Raoul de Chagny's warnings? He had gone after Christine anyway, even in the face of death.

"Amanda...Amanda you do not love me."

Her face grew cold.

"Do not tell me what I feel!"

Erik took a breath, forcing himself not to look in Christine's eyes. If he did, then his rage would overrun him, and he would attack Amanda...and he had no doubt that she would send Christine to that promised grave.

"Why did you prevent your father from removing my mask?"

She stiffened, but did not reply.

"Why, Amanda? All my life, people have sought to tear it from my face. Why did you seek to keep it there?"

Amanda's heart started to race. Why was he so calm? Why was his voice so brutally beautiful? "Does it matter!"

He nodded. "Christine has seen me without my mask, Amanda."

"I do not care!"

"Yes," he replied calmly. "You do. You care that she has a courage you lack."

"I swear to God I'll kill her if you provoke me so!"

Erik took a deep breath, knowing that everything now depended on his ability to control himself.

"I did not kill Luciana, Amanda. I swear it. But she too, lacked Christine's courage. She removed my mask, and shocked, fell to her death." Erik felt his stomach tighten from speaking so openly of the young girl whose death still haunted him. A death he still blamed himself for, a death that, whether he accepted it or not, was because of his face. He had never wanted anyone to ever endure what Luciana had: her fiery soul still clinging to life as her little body lay broken on the ground, dying slowly as she bled to death in his arms.

"That isn't true! How could a face kill someone!"

"I think you know, Amanda. Haven't you always known?" He sighed, a genuine sigh of exasperation. "Why else would a man wear a mask?"

Amanda shut her eyes, willing her mind to steady. She would not stop now...she would not stop now...


His voice was so soft.

"Amanda please, look at me."

How could she refuse?

"Look at me."

Even as he pulled the mask from his face, his eyes, filled with a strange sadness, never left hers.

It fell to the ground with the weight of an executioner's blade: silent as Heaven, terrifying as Hell. Erik stood there, completely exposed. His own free will had made him vulnerable, and despite himself, he was dreading her reaction.

He had been wrong when he had accused her of knowing. Perhaps had she allowed herself too, she would have. But stubborn as she was, Amanda Morrigan had never even let her mind travel down the path of wondering why he wore a mask. She hadn't wanted to know.

And this was why.

His eyes were still beautiful, blazing a blue so violent that they almost glowed. The left part of his face was still normal, frowning slightly at her, but still normal...

The right?

The right side of his nose disappeared into his face, and whether it was sunken in or did not exist at all, Amanda could not tell. The flesh was twisted, pulled unevenly over the bone, gnarled in one area, only to be absent in another. Some of the veins were exposed, blue and pulsing with the blood traveling through them. They were vibrant and alive, defiant in the face of their location. A perpetual pink hue clung to the skin, as if blood had stained it for all eternity.

"Oh God."

Amanda blinked, once, twice, but still the vision did not clear. She tried to look at Erik, but instead only saw Luciana's destroyed face before her. In Erik's deformity she saw her young aunt's death. She had seen Luciana's body before they had sealed it eternally in that dark tomb. The entire right half of her face had collapsed in, the skull that should have supported it fractured beyond repair. There had been so much blood that Luciana's skin had retained a pink tint, even in death. Part of her nose had been crushed, and the flesh of her once perfect face had been twisted and torn, where it still existed at all. For as much as Luciana had been an angel in life, she had been a monster in death, almost unrecognizable.

Amanda's heart began to race as she stared at the man that she had loved beyond all reason, a mirror of the death that had destroyed her life. Was she to look at him now, through all eternity, only to be reminded of Luciana? Would she stare at him and remember how she had killed her father for him? How she had become Judas, but had betrayed so many that she did not even know whose Judas she had become? Was she to be reminded everyday by this gruesome visage how he had loved Luciana, and how she had been too weak to survive him?

And furthermore, was she to be reminded by how Christine de Chagny had loved him despite it all?

With a cry of fury, Amanda dug the pistol into the Christine's temple, wrenching her arm back and nearly dislocating the girl's shoulder.

"Look at him!" She cried. "Look at him. Look at the corpse who loves you! Look at the man whose face is a mirror of my soul! Don't you see it, Christine!"

For a moment, Erik stopped breathing. To save Christine now would mean putting her life in even greater danger.

Amanda put her lips to Christine's ear, savagely pressing the gun harder against her temple, breaking the delicate skin. Christine let out a small cry as she felt a small trickle of blood crawl down her face. "I would sell my very soul to be able to look upon his face with love. Instead, all that I can see is Death and everything that it has twisted within me." Amanda bit back a sob. "There is no life left within me!"

Death and everything that it has twisted within me...

Suddenly, Amanda's voice grew very calm. "Swear to me that you love him."

There is no life left within me...

Christine almost couldn't believe what she was hearing.


"Swear that you love him or I will kill you now and drag you to Hell myself!"

Christine was shaking, but not with fear for her own life. It was something within Amanda that terrified her...

Her response was for Amanda, but when Christine spoke, her eyes were on Erik's beloved face. "I love him beyond comprehension. He is my very life. I could die a thousand deaths happily, because know I know there is a God." A stray tear joined the blood on Christine's face. "Because He gave me Erik."

Erik stood, stunned. He knew that she loved him, but to hear her say such things, to hear that another person valued him above the weight of her immortal soul... "Christine-"

"I love you, Erik.

Amanda shut her eyes against Christine's words. I love you, Erik.

Oh God, how had it come to this?

She stole a fleeting glimpse at the statue of the Virgin Mary. It looked so familiar. Could it be? Could this be the very statue that she had fallen upon her knees before not all that long ago? She had had a father then...a future then. Yes, this was her Virgin, her eyes were the warm and welcoming.

He eyes found Erik again, his rotting face twisting and transforming once more into Luciana's decaying visage. The decay grew, until it was barely a skull, what Luciana's corpse must have surely been reduced to by now.

Amanda could feel the heart beating in Christine's chest, just as Luciana's once had.

There is no life left within me!

With a vicious growl, Amanda hurled Christine to the floor. She landed with a cry as the marble crushed her already broken wrist once more. For a split second, the morning sun rising through the great stained glass windows glowed upon the bejeweled handle of Amanda's pistol, as if she held a torch within her hand.

Turning from her former captives, Amanda made the slow march toward the altar, like a bride on a wedding day, to stand directly beneath the windows that bore the testimony of the apostles. She wondered then, how many brides had stood in this same spot. Amanda looked at the gun in her hand. She wondered how many brides had ever held such a glorious bouquet...

Let your soul take you where you long to be...

Funny, the pistol was not cold against her skin. It was warm. Had she fired it today? Yes, yes she must have, but her mind was distracted, taken with the way the windows had begun to glow in the early morning light.

Realizing her intent, Erik lunged for her, but even he could not stop what happened within the space of a single moment.

Salve Regina, Mother of God,

Pray for us sinners

Now, and at the hour of our death...

"Amen," she whispered.

The bullet blasted through her skull like a discordant melody.


But even Erik's cry could not call her back from the land of the dead. He watched as the pistol, finally relieved of all three bullets, fell from her blood soaked hand. His heart froze, and he watched as, for the second time in his life, a woman died because of his face. The sound of Amanda's body hitting the cold ground ripped the veil of memory from his soul. He closed his eyes and saw Luciana fall from the balcony. He opened his eyes and saw Amanda's lifeless body beneath an altar of God.

After a moment of terrifying silence, it was Christine who first walked over to her rival's fallen body. As gruesome as the sight might be, she had to see. She had to see Amanda Morrigan in death. Erik remained a good twenty paces behind her, still motionless, but at the moment, Christine did not even think of it. She had to see Amanda's body. It was as if something was drawing her to it.

What she saw surprised her.

Amanda had fallen onto her back, one hand pinned beneath the weight of her body, the other one, the one that had wielded the pistol, lay outstretched. Blood soaked everything. The top right of the woman's skull was completely shattered, obliterating the right half of her face from view. But the left...the left half was calm, peaceful...absolutely breathtaking. The skin that remained untouched by blood was still moon-white, and provided a startling contrast to the crimson tide that was slowly covering her. There was a place for Amanda Morrigan in the afterlife, but it certainly was not in Hell. No creature damned for an eternity in flames could have looked so beautiful in death.

Erik watched as Christine stood over Amanda's body, like an angel watching over the dead. He wanted to go to her, wanted to hold her, but he could not move. For the life of him, he could not move. His mind refused to place one foot in front of the other, to think of anything except the way that he had seen Amanda's once beautiful face torn to pieces by her own hand

A han...d that he had helped to move.

Even though the sun had only partially risen, a small, extremely strong beam of light shone on Amanda and Christine. Erik looked up to see that one of the giant windows had a hole in it...a perfect circle. It was a bullet hole. At point blank range, it would have been easy for the bullet that had killed Amanda to continue on, breaking through the glass-

First there was one.

Then two.

The a third.

A tiny crack, born from the bullet hole.

There was a forth, a fifth, a fiftieth!

Christine looked up from Amanda's body to the strange noise above her, which sounded the way that ice did when it began to break over a pond.

Erik heard it before he saw it, but even though he ran, he could not outrace the hand of God. The bullet that had torn through the glass had weakened it, causing all fifty, glorious, biblical feet to shatter.

Christine cast her eyes to Heaven, only to see a thousand, dagger-like shards of glass falling towards her.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 34 of 38

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