a phantom of the opera forum
 
HomeHome  PortalPortal  GalleryGallery  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  MemberlistMemberlist  UsergroupsUsergroups  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  
Latest topics
» Those Rosy Hours at Mazandaran
Thu Jul 09, 2015 2:25 am by Afsar

» SHADOW BENDER
Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:55 pm by PhantomnessFay

» BEHIND THE MIRROR NEW BOOK TITLE
Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:50 pm by PhantomnessFay

» THE PHANTOM OF MANHATTEN BY FREDRICK FORSYTHE
Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:01 am by PhantomnessFay

» Song Name Game
Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:30 pm by Heart_Rose1368

» Phantom by Susan Kay
Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:01 am by PhantomnessFay

» Love Never Dies
Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:52 am by PhantomnessFay

» If you could pick any actor....
Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:08 am by Heart_Rose1368

» The phantom of opera 25th anniversary
Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:25 am by PhantomnessFay

Elite Affiliates
Kay's PhantomLady Ghost's SitePhantom's Mask
Phantom GerryFantomeApply
Top Affiliates
Randomosity Forum
Rubigna Chastenay
Quiero Mas Shakira
Lessons From the Phantom of the Opera
Nichol's Bookshelf
>>More Affiliates<<
>>Apply<<

Share | 
 

 "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:10 am

I was going to wait before posting my stories here, since I'm new - but with Christmas around the corner, I felt I should post this one now since it's in keeping with the season (rated T). I am currently writing its sequel, Symphony in the Twilight (rated NC-17). If there is any interest in seeing it, after this one, I'll post it here too.

Note about Erik/ Phantom: Unless otherwise noted, in all my stories he looks like Gerard Butler in appearance but with his defect worse than what was shown. As in movie, he wears a wig and has brown/dark blond hair in reality.
About Christine: I picture her looking like Emmy: dark long ringlets; haunted, dark eyes, and an aura about her depicting both innocence and passion.

None of the PotO characters (except for the originals) are my own. This story is under copyright to me (2008) and is currently posted in other areas on the Net. All E/C manipulations shown here are also my own creation).

An E/C historical fantasy romance set at time of movie... an adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol ... based on 2004 movie, some Kay ... asks the question "What if"- begins right before the opening night of Hannibal ...

Some of the characters and times of events were changed a bit to fit tale, though I tried to keep them in character with the movie. Also, I have been posting this as a video story (using 2004 movie and others) at my Youtube account (But will be changing the end there because I'm not doing the sequel to video! lol I also changed some things in story there to fit for Youtube.) And just a note- my quality of clips I now use have greatly improved and do throughout acts of story, of which there are 9 now- since I now use Blu-ray). The first act is shown as a video response when you scroll. Because I'm new, I can't post a link yet so I'll do so in 7 days, or just click the www at the bottom of my signature to go to my youtube page to find the video trailer leading to the first act there...

But now for the written version - without further ado, I give you my Phantom story based on the beloved classic of Charles Dickens' - "A Christmas Carol" -… with a Phantomy-Scrooge we all know and love as Erik … Hope you enjoy! I'd love to hear from you if you do read this, but regardless, I'll be posting the entirety of story within the next two weeks, a chapter a day (finishing it by New Year's for the holidays). This is one of my shorter tales. Not all are like that...


A Phantom Christmas Carol





I

.

"The fools! Will they never learn?"

If the incompetents had their wretched way, they would destroy the sanctuary of music he had worked so hard to create!

With his lip curled in a sneer, the Phantom dipped his pen into an inkwell and finished scrawling the final note. Those idiot managers thought they could ignore his mandates and challenge his power? Based on the extent of their ignorance and conceit, they alone placed the cast and crew at risk. This had been his home long before it became theirs, once their pathetic manipulations in the junk business came to naught. Did a pair of imbeciles, whose scope of intelligence lay smothered in rubbish, truly believe they could manage the art of opera with finesse?

He slipped the parchment into its envelope. Twenty-thousand francs per monthly allotment was a pittance to ask in return for his protection and aid in orchestrating an opera of sublime perfection, one that would ensure instantaneous success. Moreover, he needed that money, to conceive and carry out his plan…

Christine…

He stared into the distance, barely noting the stage before him, a replica of the one on which the bungling performers rehearsed and executed their deplorable arias. Only Christine had been blessed with a voice created for those immortal, of angels and of goddesses. Only she possessed a talent worthy of his tutelage.

To convince her of the destiny he planned for them would involve trickery and manipulation; no other method presented itself. Even with a mask to conceal the fearsome truth of his visage, she might deny him if she witnessed the reality of these chill, damp surroundings that encompassed his prison. If she glimpsed what lay beyond the safeguard of his mask, she most certainly would flee.

His large, slender hands curled into fists. The torment of such possibilities ripped through his heart. He must blind her eyes to the truth and create a deception within her mind, so as to make her fully his. He must have her! At some point, during these past nine years, she had become a part of his soul ...

The Phantom poured blood-red wax onto the flap of the envelope and sealed it with the crest of the Opera Ghost, a leering skull of terror. As he worked, he heard the constant slosh of water behind him. Setting his writing apparatus aside, he rose from the chair to greet his visitor.

Over the curling mists of the underground lake, beyond the rock shore, the bow of his boat moved into view followed by the emergence of the slim but sturdy form of Madame Giry. He raised the portcullis, noting her drawn features, tense and pale.

"You're late." His tone conveyed his displeasure.

"I had to sort out a problem with the seamstress." She leaned the pole against the wall and lifted the hem of her skirt as she stepped out of the boat, to stand before him on shore.

"The gown will be finished on time, per my specifications?" Only two hours remained until Christine's debut.

Her eyes darted to the sketches of Christine on the wall of stone beside them, her mouth drawn. "Oui, Erik. All has proceeded as you have ordered. She will sing in Act 3 of tonight's opera, and she will wear the gown. The matter did not involve her costume, but rather the seamstress's tardiness, and delay in finishing the other costumes."

He wished he had never told Antoinette his true name that evening long ago when she had helped him escape. Just as she preferred formal address from all who worked in the theater, he preferred to be known as the Phantom of the Opera or Opera Ghost. Nothing more than a shadow, an illusion to advance and disappear at will, inciting terror within the hearts of men. They, too, had treated him with the same measure of abhorrence.

"I will not tolerate any disregard for punctuality - discharge her." He collected the four envelopes from the table that held the model of the stage. "Once the performance ends, you are to watch Christine and see that no one interferes with my plans to meet with her; if you cannot spare the time away from your ballet rats, get that prying daughter of yours to help. I do not wish the managers near Christine. They are gravely mistaken to think they will get their filthy hands on her."

He handed the notes to Madame Giry. "You are to deliver these with all haste once the performance has ended." He sensed her hesitation and narrowed his eyes. "There is a problem?"

She stood at her full height. "I ask that you reconsider."

"Reconsider?" His brow sailed up in mockery. "Reconsider the fate I have prepared for the two incompetents who continually choose to defy me? Or reconsider the punishment I shall inflict on La Carlotta should she ignore my warnings and torment the entire company with her cruel renditions of a hyena?"

"Reconsider what you have planned for Christine."

His jaw hardened, his mouth a firm line. "That, Madame, is none of your affair."

"She is little more than a girl."

At last glance, he had perceived otherwise. "I do not wish to discuss Christine now or at any time in the future. My plans for her do not concern you."

"But they do," she persisted. "I raised her, much as I helped you when you first came to live at the opera house. Both of us were mere children then, unable to comprehend the trials you would confront or the struggles which have become a part of you." Her pointed gaze went beyond him, to the elaborate bed he had crafted with devotion for his ingénue, then returned to him. "I do not wish to see her suffer ill."

"The subject is closed." He grated the words through clenched teeth. How dare she judge his directives! He had made his decision over a year ago. No longer a child, Christine was a young woman and of suitable age to marry.

She flinched in the face of his irritation, though she kept her chin held high. "Very well. At least reconsider your plan concerning this opera. A spirit of goodwill and cheer resonates in the air, with the approach of the Yuletide; La Carlotta has left, and the Vicomte has presented to us his patronage -"

"Goodwill and cheer," he scorned, "do not belong in the same breath with the Vicomte. He does not run this theater, nor will he make future decisions concerning it."

"The managers do not share your opinion," she countered quietly.

"He knows nothing of music, of the arts!" he fumed, swinging his arm to the side. "Nor do they."

"Perhaps time will tell?" Her tone persuaded. "At least give them a chance to prove themselves."

The Phantom turned on his heel, away from her and her pointless discourse. "This discussion is ended," he said, his voice grave. "You may go."

Madame Giry hesitated a moment before turning away.

"Wait," he said brusquely.

He approached his model of the stage. With care he plucked up a rose, just beginning to blossom, from where it lay atop his latest sketch of Christine. His long fingers caressed a blood-red petal, satin soft as he imagined her skin must feel, then trailed along one of the black silk ribbons flowing from the stem. "Give this to her in her dressing room, after the performance. Tell her I am well pleased with her."

Madame's brow clouded in confusion. "You have not yet heard her sing."

"She will not disappoint me."

xXx

.

That evening, the Phantom stood in the bowels of the drafty cellars, his eyes closed, his face lifted to the music resonating far above, inside the vast theater. His soul stirred, alight with the crystal-clear song of his protégé. What beauty! What magnificence to be found in her voice! For a time, he forgot his anger at The Vicomte for disobeying yet another directive and stealing his place of honor in Box 5. The box stood nearest the stage and to his Angel, while still allowing him the ability to conceal himself from curious onlookers. No other box sufficed.

Later, however, a torrent of rage again exploded within when he assumed his place beyond the tall mirror of Christine's dressing room and witnessed that uncouth boy asking - no, demanding - that Christine dine with him. How dare he! The Phantom barely restrained himself from abandoning his hiding place and making his presence painfully known to the presumptuous interloper.

Once the boy left, Madame Giry stood in the wings and offered the Phantom a mild stare of disapproval as he twisted the master key inside the lock to prevent further intrusion.

Ignoring her, he brushed past and again entered the secret corridor, repositioning himself behind the mirror. His feelings churned. Had she invited the fool boy's advances? Would she prefer to be dining with him?

At that moment, Christine emerged from behind the dressing screen. The Phantom's controlled fury unleashed through a bellow of song. He took an odd sort of satisfaction in her quivering, meek replies, pleased she still sought his guidance. So like a child in many ways, so like a woman in others.

With approval, he noted her choice of attire for their secret meeting, accentuating her womanly charms to the greatest degree. Her eyes widened in her shining face once she noticed him standing before her. Through the rift between mirror and wall he held out his gloved hand, all former anger forgotten.

"I am your Angel of Music ... come to me, Angel of Music ..." he sang in a smooth, bewitching voice, compelling her approach.

With her eyes open and trusting, she took his hand. Her gentle touch on his glove shook all resolve. He was touching her! For the first time in almost ten years he held her hand; for the first time she held his …

Momentarily, he forgot his devilish scheme, her sweet innocence causing him enough remorse to release her from his spell to mindlessly follow. Still she moved toward him, her face alight with wonder. Heartened by her response, he led her through the mirror and down the corridors into his world. She gave little notice to her surroundings, her gaze magnetized to his face as if enraptured by the mystique he presented.

"In sleep he sang to me … in dreams he came. That voice which calls to me and speaks my name, and do I dream again? For now I find - the Phantom of the Opera is there inside my mind…"

He led her by the hand, deep through the labyrinth of narrow, twisting corridors. She followed without question, singing to him, in awe to be with him, now understanding who he was. Hungry to look at her, he sought her gaze as often as she sought his.

When the trek had grown long, he set her atop his horse he had left waiting and tried to ignore the heat that washed through him at such close proximity to her as his large hands spanned her delicate waist. Dear God, she was as fragile and beautiful as a doll of china. In the many years of their acquaintance, through all the cracks of the walls he had stared, from all the balconies he had watched, he had never been this close.

The Phantom forced his mind to regain distance, to concentrate on their journey through the cellars, and soon they reached his boat. Again he helped her down, his heart giving a mad lunge when she fell softly against him. Her lashes shyly lowered, a flush staining her cheeks.

He stepped nervously away and helped her into the boat. Taking her deeper into the hub of his dwelling, he knew gratitude that she could not see the darkness, though by her shivering he sensed that she perceived its chill. Without thinking twice, he covered her with the edge of his cloak.

As the portcullis rose and they entered the home he had known since childhood, he felt the first stirring of fear and commanded her voice to soar, hoping the pure beauty of her crystalline notes might shatter his trepidation. Other than Madame Giry, no one had ever crossed the threshold into his domain. For the first time, since the odious gypsies forced him to live inside a cage as a boy, he felt vulnerable as the woman he prized above all else now beheld both his external countenance and his hidden lair.

Her eyes, luminous and dark like the secrets of midnight, shone with wondering expectation. She took brief notice of her surroundings once again before transferring her full attention to him. Her soft smile of pleasure entranced him. He forgot his plan to deceive and bedazzle, himself a victim of her beguiling charm.

Pouring out his heart into words of song, he beseeched her to join him in his music of the night. He prowled through his dwelling, beyond the pipes of his organ, at last coming around the great instrument to stand before her. All the while he sang, she stared at his tall form, her eyes taking full measure of his commanding presence before lifting to his face in what his stunned mind told him was approval.

He must hold her, must touch her … He could no longer keep from it ...

His gloved fingers barely made contact with her jaw then turned her slowly around, until her back was flush against his chest. She melted against him and his heart thundered within his ribs. Eager to extend his touch, to know every part of her, he held her tightly against him as he sang of his desire for them while he smoothed his hand slowly, boldly over the lush curves of her creamy bosom, down her flat stomach, against her rounded hip. Her breathing quickened against his gloved hands and she gave a little gasp. His mouth went dry as she turned to him, drowsy-lidded, her lips parted for his kiss…

His kiss!

Anxious, he stepped away. This was progressing too quickly. He had never known physical contact before this, never felt such closeness. He wanted to woo and court her, not bed her on their first night together. The sudden thought of her lying naked beside him made his blood race. Full of soft question her large eyes reached deeply to the core of his soul, leaving him shaken.

Without clear thought, for he could no longer think, the Phantom led her by the hand to the chamber that held the mannequin, keen to express what he wished for their future, still singing to her of the life he wished to share, his voice cracking slightly with emotion.

Her eyes widened in maidenly shock - perhaps fright - as he stood close behind and watched her expression as she beheld the image of his planned future for them: a replica of Christine in the wedding gown he had designed for her.

Her eyes fell shut and she swooned. He caught her lissome body before she could hit the ground.

Fool, he berated himself, his heart plummeting at his idiocy.

He lifted her into his arms and carried her slight form to the bed he had crafted for her.

He had frightened her with his callow act. Tomorrow, he would try again to woo her. In time, he hoped to persuade her to join him in this life, this Music of the Night, to stand with him before the priest Madame had located and speak their vows in the chapel. He would keep Christine with him until she agreed to become his wife.

He laid her on the counterpane with reverent care and gazed at her innocent beauty, his fingertip caressing the perfection of her slim jaw. He wished to possess the courage to pull off his glove and feel her warm skin beneath his hand, to place his lips against her brow and receive the undeserved gift of the smooth satin of her unblemished skin beneath his mouth. He was certain that was what her skin must feel like, and the temptation to follow through with the need to touch her, flesh to flesh, increased until his entire body trembled. A wealth of unexpected emotions surged through him. Swiftly he stepped away from her unconscious form.

What was he thinking? Unloved and unworthy, how could he expect her to exhibit even a morsel of the desire he possessed for her? She was untried, curious. That must be why she had seemed to want his touch and kiss. That, and his attempt at amorous seduction, bungled though it had been. Always an idealistic girl of dreams, Christine had only lived in the moment he created. Yet he would take whatever she would give. If he could not have her love, he would settle for companionship; surely that was not too much to ask or hope for after their unique bond of almost one decade together?

With a sigh, the Phantom lowered the ebony curtain around her, quelling the strong desire to lie down beside her and gather her against his heart. Instead, he sought another type of physical comfort as he moved into his main chamber and shed his confining waistcoat and ascot, afterward donning a velvet robe to battle the pervasive chill that sank deep into his bones.

He abhorred this clammy tomb into which he had mummified himself, but his fate had denied him the happiness that belonged to all perfect mortals deserving of such privilege; those mortals not scarred or maimed beyond repair. For the span of one painful heartbeat, he reconsidered his plan to hold Christine captive in his icy mausoleum. Yet without her to create music with him, he would surely shrivel to even less than the creature he was.

Sinking to his organ bench, he bowed his head into his hands in desolation. She might yet refuse, might somehow glimpse what horrors lay beneath the mask and run ...

"No! I cannot let that happen. I must have her. I will never let her go…"

In the distance he heard the slow clanging of a chain and raised his head in startled confusion. The sound faded, likely into the deep wells of his imagination, to blend with his many other arcane musings.

Beyond the smoke of numerous candles, within the opaque curtain that shielded his beautiful Angel, he glimpsed her slender form in repose, so innocent, so trusting, so angelic, so ...

Christine.

Again he forced his gaze away. He snatched up his quill and put pen to paper, resuming work on his latest opus, one that would disclose the extent of his Angel's exquisite voice. And, should the clowns who managed his opera house fail him, it would become a chilling composition that would exact the vengeance they deserved.

xXx

Lyrics of "Phantom of the Opera" written by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe for Andrew Lloyd Webber.



Last edited by Angel of Mystery on Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:03 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:19 am

A/N: As promised, here's more...


II

Engrossed in his masterpiece, the Phantom lost all sense of time and place as he transferred the series of notes from the organ keys to parchment.

"I remember there was mist, swirling mist upon a vast, glassy lake…there were candles all around, and on the lake there was a boat…and in the boat there was a…man…"

Christine's words, soft and wondering, brought him from the thick cloud of his own music. Startled to hear the clear purity of her soft voice, he glanced over his shoulder to see her standing at the entrance of the bedchamber.

Her persona captivated him, the glow of her beauty ethereal. Speechless, he looked away, returning to his handiwork, all the while listening to her hushed, confused song of query with regard to her presence there.

"Who was that shape in the shadows … whose is the face in the mask?"


How could he answer her sweet, childlike queries? How could he tell her the face that lay behind the mask composed the worst of all nightmares? To do so would shatter her girlhood illusions and reveal not the Angel she had so often beckoned to join her, but a monster from whom she would run…

At the tender and unexpected touch of her warm fingers against his jaw, his breath caught in his throat. His heart thundered in shock and need as she stroked his skin, and he closed his eyes, the pleasure of her willing touch beyond his conception to believe.

The sudden rush of cold air against his damaged skin horrified him. He pushed her away, slapping his hand to his accursed face and shot to his feet. She fell at the foot of the candlesticks before him, her upraised face now twisted into a mask of shocked dismay.

"Damn you!" he cried out in wretched disappointment, "you little prying Pandora—you little demon..." He whisked the cloth from the mirror and tore his hand from his face to stare at the sickening sight. "Is THIS what you wanted to see?"

Again slapping his hand over the gross defect, he struck out blindly with his arm, knocking a candlestick into the water. "Curse you! You little lying Delilah—you little viper!" He leaned toward her and she cowered back against the candles. "Now you cannot ever be free…!"

He stormed down the steps, his anger subsiding as anguish rose from the depths of his soul to rip bloody furrows across his heart. "Damn you ... curse you ..."

He wanted to weep and barely refrained from falling to his knees in despair. All of his plans, years in the making, all that he desired for their future together - gone in one abject moment of unguarded hope, with one touch of her hand upon his face …

He stared at the portcullis, his chest rising and falling hard from his rant. His cutting logic battled his bleeding heart, and he wished he could retrieve his hideous words, wished he had not lashed out at her so violently and completed the destruction that she had so blindly set into motion...

In his need for her to ignore the mask, to see him as a desirable figure of romantic persuasion, a man she could love, he had failed to warn her never to touch the white leather covering his hideous malformation. In all truth, he could not blame her for her tragic moment of childish curiosity. She had possessed the trait ever since he first set eyes on her, when as a child of seven she searched the chapel in vain to find him, the day he first made his presence known and had sung to her from beyond the safety of a wall. He alone was at fault for his omission.

His heart torn, he did not allow her to witness his pain, hiding it within veils of mockery as he sang to her of his pathetic life, asking if she could bear such truth. As he walked up the steps, hope struck him anew to see compassion fill her moist eyes. He glimpsed the mannequin in the bridal gown, his desire almost suffocating as he moved closer to Christine, his own teary eyes pleading, his tone begging her to look beyond outward appearances while affirming that one day she could learn to see him as a man. If she would but allow it. He despised the timidity and sadness he had placed within her large dark eyes, eyes that haunted and beseeched and ripped apart his black soul.

No longer feeling worthy to gaze upon her angelic beauty, he nothing more than a monster in a gentleman's disguise, the Phantom averted his gaze and held out his hand in silent plea, careful to keep his other hand fixed over his grotesquely ridged and warped skin. A glance her way showed him that she studied his mask, uncertain. At last, she stretched out her slender arm and handed it back.

Still somehow hopeful that she might overlook this incident, that somehow they might start afresh - for ten years of acquaintance was too long to throw it all away - he replaced the mask over his face and rose to his feet. Nervous but swift, he stepped across the short chasm between them, to the place where she sat like the doll he'd compared her to, now discarded and broken, and quietly held out his hand to assist her from the ground.

As he towered over her fragile form, she looked up at him with piteous sorrow, the trails of recent tears glistening on her cheeks. But she did not move to accept his hand. Whether she refused because she now feared his anger, or whether she now found him repulsive to touch, he did not ask. Could not bear to know.

Swallowing hard, he spun on his heel away from her. His gaze fastened to the tenuous wisps of gray vapor that trickled above the still lake, only to fade from view as if they never existed. He sighed. "Come, we must return. Those two fools who run my theater will be missing you."

Without glancing her way, he strode toward his gondola and plucked up his cloak from the ground, hearing the gentle swish of lace as she followed. She moved into the boat before he could help her step onto the planking. A black void of silence stretched between them during their return journey to the doorway of the mirror, so different from her enthused song of the previous evening. Before he left her, she looked up at him for the first time and opened her mouth as if she might speak. He waited, his heart beating with hope at the imploring look in her dark eyes still shining with tears.

Without conscious thought that he was doing so, he lifted his hand where it hung heavy by his side, wishing only to console her, to become her Angel again. God, if only to go back since they could no longer move forward!

"Christine…" The word rasped in his throat, buried deep in pain and remorse, and he slightly shook his head, unable to say more. Nor did she let him.

Her lips trembling with the advent of more tears, she fled from his side and through the partition. With a heavy heart, he slid the mirror closed between them, shutting the door on his long held dreams. He watched through the glass, unable to walk away.

Visibly trembling, she stood at the vanity table with her back to him, her graceful head bowed. A stone weighted his chest in place of the heart that should beat there. Unable to bear further witness to her sorrow, he swiftly drew his cloak around himself and turned aside, advancing down the chill, dank corridor to his living tomb.

xXx

The days and evenings advanced with tireless precision, the production for Il Muto progressed with inevitable wretchedness, and the Phantom's irritation returned in full measure.

He could not fault Christine for her reaction to him; he expected little else once she'd seen his wretched face, though he had never planned to reveal to her the depth of his curse. Still, if he could not win her love through his presence, (and such a possibility now seemed remote), he would earn her devotion by assuring her success as the new diva. His incompetence was solely to blame in the execution of his plan to win her affection; he bore no malice toward her. However, regarding the two new managers, his ire increased tenfold. Those two simpletons had tested him to his limits.

A black scowl twisted his face. Unable to concentrate on the score before him he flung his quill to the parchment. Despite his most recent missive - which he had made certain Madame Giry personally delivered to the bumbling buffoons who failed to run his opera house with any degree of skill - the managers once more defied his every wish. Furthermore, additional complications had arisen with the seamstress, whom Madame still had not discharged, for whatever purpose, as she'd confessed only moments ago. This night, however, the Phantom made clear he would tolerate no further rebellion, and the idle woman must go immediately. But the burden that weighed heaviest on his shoulders concerned that sniveling excuse for a Vicomte.

The boy had ignored his dire warnings, announcing to all within earshot that he planned to continue his pursuit of Christine. In silent rage, the Phantom had stood within the shadows, observing the incident as those he erroneously had given charge of the production moved from quibbling over his notes and demands to outward rebellion of all his mandates. He could never gain Christine's heart but refused to stand, helpless, and watch this bold intruder try to steal the young woman he still considered his. The Phantom had warned Christine years ago against forming attachments with any man. From her own lips he had heard her quiet compliance to his rules after the Vicomte dared visit her dressing room. But her obedience had not prevented the wretched boy from attempting to convince her to accept his repellent persuasions. Nor did the obstinate cretin desist, no matter how many times she refused.

"To those who oppose me - ALL will pay the price for their cavalier disregard!"

The Phantom's shout resounded off the stone ramparts of his empty abode. With a merciless sweep of his hand, he sent loose pages of his latest masterpiece flying in a shower of parchment to the ground. Along with them, a chalice bearing the remnants of mulled wine clattered to the stones. He lunged to his feet, glaring at the ceiling of rock.

"Hear me well, clowns of the opera! My fury, you shall learn to dread! I will laugh as you scream in terror once I unleash my terrible wrath around your skinny necks!"

With one deft movement he snatched up a Punjab lasso, whisked the noose around a candle ten feet away, and pulled the rope taut with a vengeance. The candle snapped from its holder to fall, extinguished, to the ground. A satisfied smile crept over the Phantom's face when he thought of the arrogant Vicomte in his clutches. To make him pay … to make them all pay …

That day of reckoning was nigh…

The steady clanging of weighty iron chains broke through the remnants of hostility clouding his mind. Expecting to see his aide and wondering why she should return so soon, and what she'd brought with her to make such a racket, he strode to the edge of the bank and stared beyond the portcullis, at the area where Madame Giry had recently disappeared. Torches along the outer walls behind the closed gateway flickered upon the motionless lake, the color dark green and reminiscent of cold death. No swish of water washed against the stones, no boat slid into view.

The hollow scrape of metal dragging across stone came from a distance, unnerving in its sluggish advance. With alarmed perception the Phantom realized the noise came from beyond the wall of solid rock near his organ.

"What manner of trickery is this?" His fingers tightened over the rope still clutched in his hands. The clanking of chains grew closer still, and he unconsciously took a step backward as logic warred with his senses, telling him that he must be delusional, that the mulled wine must have been drugged ...

In utter shock he watched a film of ash gray smoke billow from the cracks of the wall and take on human form, if the apparition could be considered a creature of this earth. His mind refused to accept what his sight perceived as truth.

"It cannot be …" he whispered.

From the pallor of vaporous substance that presumed to be a face, the apparition gave him a gruesome smile. "Oh, but it is. Tell me, Phantom, now who is the true Opera Ghost?"

The chill greeting froze like ice within the Phantom's soul.

xXx
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:47 pm

III

.

He stared at the fearsome shape towering before him. Hue and detail remained lost within the gray mist that moved and leered as it spoke. Sinister shapes of black and ash, the lines undefined and blurred, made up its sole composition.

"I bid you bon nuit, Opera Ghost, as you are wont to call yourself." The colorless ghoul affected a stiff, mock bow in greeting. The shackles and chains that bound his skeletal wrists clanked with the motion. "Although the name is more befitting to one of my condition. Would you not agree?"

The pitiful remains that bore little resemblance to a man rasped a keening chortle that curdled the Phantom's blood, closely followed by a prolonged moan, as if this creature from the realm of the undead suffered grave pain. The din resounded off the walls of granite, echoing as a death knell throughout the underground chamber.

"If the wine has not been drugged, then I must be dreaming," the Phantom whispered, never taking his eyes off the specter. Numerous hours devoid of slumber had at last taken their toll. In all likelihood he had fallen asleep while composing his latest aria. He slapped his left cheek, hoping to rouse himself to wakefulness.

"Perhaps you wish for me to try?" The vile spirit lifted its arm, bony fingers and claw-like nails poised to strike.

The Phantom backed up a step in haste. "What do you want from me? Why have you come to my inner sanctum? Do you intend to torment me in preparation for bedlam? Has my mind detoured the realm which men call sane and approached the very depths of madness?"

"My friend, if only the situation were so simple." The eyes within the terrible visage of the ghoul burned white, boring through to his soul.

The Phantom's pulse rate did not diminish, though he worked hard to conceal his fear. With a cavalier lift of his chin, he narrowed his eyes.

"Explain your presence then."

"I have come both to make an announcement and to issue a warning. You, alone, have chosen to live a life unfulfilled."

"I chose nothing! This," the Phantom shifted the rope to his left hand and slapped his right hand to his mask, "…is what destiny chose for me!"

The dead black lips pulled away in a smirk, exposing rotted teeth. "You choose your own destiny, Phantom; it is not meted out to you."

"I did not covet this!" He tore his mask away and threw it to the ground, allowing the full impact of his distortion to be displayed. "I nurse no personal sadistic machinations. The superstitions and fears of others made me into the creature you see before you now."

"What you are is the essence of all that you select to inhabit. Isolation makes a poor bedfellow, and reprisal offers trivial satisfaction, if indeed it offers any true merit at all."

"Riddles and platitudes, is that what you seek to offer me?"

"You have much to learn, Phantom, but you will…"

Remembering the rope in his hand, he gave vent to his rising anger. "Enough! You are nothing more than an illusion of my beleaguered mind! A figment of my imagination!"

"Would you care to put a wager on that? Say 20,000 francs?"

The phantom glowered at the reference. "It is time we put an end to this farce!"

In one swift move he lashed out with the rope. It snapped through the air with the force of a whip, its bite vicious, breaking through the misty apparition and severing the head from the body as though the catgut were made of sharp steel.

The Phantom sneered, victorious. Without warning, the rope ripped from his hands, burning his palms. He let out a painful hiss, watching in shock as the lasso hovered high in the air controlled by an unseen hand. It looped around itself until it formed a long coil, then slithered to the stones, as harmless as a dead viper.

"Are you quite finished with your games?" the headless ghost inquired. Tendrils of mist once more linked to form a macabre, transparent head. "The time grows short, Erik; there is much yet to accomplish."

Startled, the Phantom again backed up from the apparition until the lake prevented further retreat. "How do you know my name?" he whispered. "Who are you?" To Madame Giry alone had he revealed his Christian name and only in a pathetic moment of childish fear.

"Surely you recognize an old acquaintance?" A thread of humor shivered through the cold, empty voice. "Look closer, my friend…"

The Phantom stared beyond the rot and decay, his eyes widening when he recognized below the layers of ash the dark, steady eyes of his old acquaintance.

"Daroga!"

"I know all there is to know about you, Erik. In life and death we are very similar. In life, I gained all I thought I desired, regardless of whom I harmed or neglected. And in death ..." He lifted his imprisoned arms as he stepped forward, bringing attention to the three thick chains that ran through iron links, each bolted to manacles on his wrists. Heavier chains twisted around his torso and shoulders; still others imprisoned his ankles. "I carry the weight of each foolish decision I made while I walked the face of the earth…

"Throughout eternity I am damned to walk the path of those souls forever lost, souls that bear such burdens as selfish ambition ..." He fingered one chain link, then another. "Murder. Greed ... many of which are the same chains you bear in life, and which you shall carry unto death and throughout eternity if you do not listen and discover the truth of the message you shall be given."

"And what is this message?" the Phantom asked warily, his heart racing in shock at the revelation of the ghoul though his mind refused to accept its identity.

"Such mysteries can only be discerned from the spirits three, each who withholds a concealed name you must unearth and recognize in order to escape this same dark fate." The chains clanked as he lifted his arms to stress the point.

Uneasy, the Phantom scoffed. "What nonsense you speak!"

"Truth is not nonsense. This night, you shall receive a visit from three spirits of the netherworld."

"Three spirits? Well then, I shall be quite at my leisure," the Phantom scorned. "Who better to entertain a ghost than another ghost?"

"Three spirits will come to you, one upon the commencement of each hour," the Daroga continued as though Erik had never spoken. "They will take you on a journey that will determine your fate."

"My fate?"

"You will know and you will understand ... this night …" As he spoke, the ghost of the Daroga retreated a few steps, walking backward. "My time here is at an end. I asked to be the one to speak so that you might listen. Heed my warning, Erik - do not take this matter lightly. Your soul and the souls of many depend on your choice. At the herald of the new day, your passage will begin. Expect the spirit of Christmas Past upon the final stroke of midnight."

"Christmas Past," the Phantom muttered in disgust and disbelief as the vaporous form melded into the stone from which it had come, then vanished. Only the clanging of chains remained in its wake, growing fainter with the progression of the seconds.

The Daroga - if that was who that thing really was - never dared speak to him in such a manner when he'd been alive ... if he were truly dead. If this was not more than a dream or vain imagining …

The Phantom had forgotten this day of celebration by the hordes, since he had isolated himself within the depths of the earth. Who had ever administered goodwill and cheer to him that he should celebrate such inane festivities? He could sum up Christmas and all its ridiculous trivialities, with all its meaningless traditions in one word.

"Rubbish," he bit out through gritted teeth. Turning his back on the area where the ghastly specter had stood masquerading as the Daroga, he moved to collect the sheets of unfinished music from the ground. Remnants of red wine streaked across two pages, but otherwise his fit of temper had not destroyed the long hours he'd toiled over his composition of revenge. He sniffed the inside of the empty goblet before setting it on the organ, next to a stack of music, but detected no trace of herbs used to encourage hallucinations. He had educated himself on all manner of remedies and potions connected with healing, and the black arts.

Far in the distance, beyond the opera house walls, he heard faint chimes of the cathedral's great bell tower tolling the hour of twelve. Ill at ease, he stood and looked around his empty dwelling, relieved to see that he remained alone. He took the stairs cut from the same gray stone that composed his walls, ceiling, and floor.

"The whole incident was foolishness, as I suspected. Perhaps I am only weary and should rest," he pondered aloud, entering his bedchamber. He often spoke inside his home, yearning to hear a human voice, even if it was his own, so as to break the pervasive silence that engulfed his bleak world. "Such delusions are no doubt caused by a lack of sleep. A figment of an overworked mind; nothing more." The assurance did little to ease his nerves; he rarely slept when composing and hitherto had suffered no mirages.

"There is no rest for the wicked, Erik. Have you not heard this truth before?"

His eyes widened at the soft voice of authority that wafted on the chill air behind him. He spun on his heel, his mouth dropping open at the sight that met his eyes.

xXx

A/N: A note about the Daroga- to keep with the Dickens' idea of the best friend/associate coming to Erik after death and warning him in life, I had to use him as a ghost and give him good reason to be there and warn Erik – sorry to all Daroga lovers. Nothing against the loveable Persian. I liked his character too, in Kay's book. But it had to be done. I did try to give him something of the banter these two had, and still keep in line with the story. At least his concern for Erik led him to warn him (she says, hoping no one throws rotten tomatoes her way...)
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
PhantomnessFay
Moderator


Female
Number of posts : 2388
Age : 42
Location : England
Points : 3846
Registration date : 2008-05-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:47 pm

As pointed out by the author this is a mix of the 2004 ALW The Phantom of the Opera film and the original story by Gaston Leroux with a twist of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.

Generally I'd comment on the amount of dialogue, but it does progress the plot. The description is vivid and visual, while the thought and emotions bring the reader into the world of a Phantom/Scrooge. Well done.

Keep in mind all comments and suggestions are merely to help. The only thing I would suggestion is not to drag the beginning. It was a bit slow, well written, but slow.

Otherwise, I like what you've done so far.

Brava, brava, bravissimi! Smile
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://novelsandotherwritingsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:27 pm

Thank you so much for your review, PhantomnessFay! cherry I appreciate the constructive criticism as well, but am confused- are you saying there was too much dialogue or not enough?

Again to everyone reading this, please remember that while this is mostly based on the 2004 movie with bits of Kay for backstory, I've done my own thing too, part of which you will soon see in this chapter... I felt there were some things done in the 2004 movie especially, leading to the suggestion of such an idea. Won't say too much more, don't want to spoil what's coming...


IV

.

Any words of reprimand for sneaking up behind him - a difficult feat - were lost on the Phantom as he stared at his midnight visitor.

"Why do you wear that ridiculous costume?" He quenched his disquiet by offering words of censure and sent Madame Giry a scathing glance.

Never had he seen her in any hue but somber black. Her present gown of deep blue velvet bespoke of a former century and glowed the color of twilight, the time of evening when pinpricks of stars slipped from beyond indiscernible veils of hiding. Embedded within the lush folds of the voluminous skirts, myriad sprays of stars glimmered with the same faint iridescence, and a hairpiece of silver stars wound throughout her elaborately braided and coiffed hair. A subtle luminosity seemed to emanate from her person … likely a trick of the strong candlelight reflecting off his statues of gold.

Realizing he wore no mask, though her placid expression had not altered, he slapped his hand up to cover his twisted flesh. She had seen his gross deformity what seemed a lifetime ago, and he desired no repeat performance.

"Have you been to a masquerade ball?" he sneered, knowing full well the quiet woman rarely left the opera house, and the celebration of the Bal Masque was still a week away. "Or perhaps you secretly aspire to revisit the stage, as an actress this time?"

She did not respond, further stoking his ire. Her personal wanderings held no interest to the Phantom, unless, of course, they conflicted with his schedule as they did now. "Why have you come to my dwelling at this late hour? You know you're not to disturb my peace unless I send for you!"

"Peace?" Her eyes remained steady, her composure unnerving. She smiled, the act containing little warmth. "Is that what you call this place? Peaceful?" She shook her head, scoffing, as if to correct a child. "I think not. Reclusive, yes. Befitting an eccentric, most certainly. But I see nothing that could describe this as a dwelling of peace."

"I have no desire to belabor the point, Madame. Such confrontations in futility - all of which you have developed a bad habit of engaging in lately - insult my intellect. And yours. Leave 'this place' - leave it now!" Weary of her presence, the Phantom turned his back on her and moved toward his bed. He ripped open the knotted belt of his robe, hoping to shock her feminine sensibilities and guarantee her swift departure.

"Au contraire, Opera Ghost. I know a great deal about you. Indeed, more than you know about yourself."

Her calm words rattled what little remained of his equanimity and he whirled around to face her. "If you do not leave these caverns straight away, I'll not be held liable for my actions."

She made no move to go. Neither did he give any measure.

"Go now and leave me, damn you!"

Gritting his teeth, he grabbed the closest item - an unlit candlestick - and hurled it at her skirts, knowing their many layers would protect her from harm and wishing only to frighten her into doing his bidding. The candlestick flew through her gown as if it was made of nothing but vapor and landed with a dull clank on the stones behind. His eyes widened in shocked disbelief. In his bewilderment, he dropped his hand from his face.

"Have you quite finished with your tantrum?" she inquired, her manner as calm as before. "We have much to accomplish before my time with you is complete."

Erik sank to the edge of the bed, his legs no longer able to support him. "Who are you?" he whispered.

"I am the Spirit of Christmas Past." She eyed him as if recognizing the skepticism in his eyes. "You see me as your assistant, Madame Giry, only because that is what your mind conveys. I can appear in many forms, in whatever manner is needful at the time; this is merely what you perceive as truth."

He let out a shaky laugh to hide his alarm. "And so, it stands to reason, I should see the stern ballet headmistress as a ghost of all things past? Tell me, if what you say is true, why have you come to torment me?"

"Torment you?" She chuckled as if she withheld a secret. "I have come only that you might perceive and fully understand those events that belong to Christmases past: those events forgotten, and those to which you never bore witness."

He barely shook his head while keeping a wary eye on her.

She approached and held out her right arm to him. "Take hold of my sleeve; we must begin our journey." His focus fell from her outstretched hand to her wide sleeve. The folds of plush material flared downward from cuff to hem. Through it - and all of her form, he now realized - a trace of the stones appeared. She, like the pitiful remains of the first ghost, was composed of nothing but mere vapor.

He recoiled. "I have no desire to go anywhere with you, now, or at any time in the future."

Her chin lifted and she stared at him, as though dealing with an unruly child. "Be that as it may, Phantom, you have not been granted the privilege to choose."

"Au contraire, Madame," he returned with a sardonic lift of his brow. "This is my dream, for a dream is all it can be. And while your invitation goads my curiosity, I must decline. I have prior plans, and they do not include the dubious pleasure of your company."

She expelled a soft, incensed breath. "I was forewarned about you. Very well, if you wish to be difficult …"

Before he realized her intent, she seized his upper arm in a surprisingly tangible, vice-like grip and pulled him to his feet. He struggled to maintain his footing as she brought him close to face the wall, her strength incredible. Through his velvet robe and linen shirt, her fingers chilled his flesh, like thin icicles. He opened his mouth to protest but received no opportunity as a narrow portion of the wall before them began to waver, as though mist and not rock made up its structure.

The Phantom stared in horrified wonder as the Spirit of Those Things That Once Were dragged him through the doorway of mist, and to the other side.

X

The measured pace they set did not correspond with the manner in which narrow streams of smoky fog raced toward and beyond the Phantom. All of his shadowed surroundings flew past, as if they, and not he were in motion. Silence ruled this otherwise vapid world into which the Spirit forced him until the horizontal lengths of fog came level with his head. Then, echoes of spine chilling moans and anguished cries came from within the mist, at once fading away as each wisp raced past, as though tormented souls were trapped inside.

He flinched as a column of smoke brushed past his ear, the wail within brief but excruciating. The Spirit who guided him looked in his direction.

"You hear the souls of those forever lost, trapped by their failure to release the woes and burdens of their past," she explained, not slowing her pace.

"Lost? Why should they be forever lost?" He questioned the foolishness of contending with a figment from what surely must be his nightmare, but did not withdraw the question. "Who are they?"

"Men and women who once walked the earth, from every station of life. Some of them like you: unwilling to release those things they cannot change, but resolute to carry the weight of their grief throughout their lives. Bitterness makes a poor companion, yet many choose to embrace it."

Her soft words rammed into the core of his soul, bringing both unease and irritation. "And so they are damned for all eternity?" he scoffed. "Damned both in life and in death? There is no justice in such an act! If this is the fate of all mankind, what is the point of existence?"

"It is the fate only of those who choose to rebuff charity and kindness and instead welcome malice and every form of treachery. In life these tortured souls refused the gifts of peace and mercy. In death, those gifts have been withdrawn, never to be offered again."

Her words and the manner in which she spoke left no doubt that she referred to him.

"So, you think I am wicked? How astute of you." He chuckled, the sound hollow. "Those wretched, perfect creatures who experienced the misfortune to glimpse my twisted face know I am nothing more than a monster as well." He thought of Christine's reaction to him on that fateful night she had removed his mask, and the pain of loss ripped through him once more.

"The heart of a man who writes such soul-stirring music of untold magnificence beats for no monster. You are responsible for your own choices, monsieur, no one else. But understand this: before this night's final hour falls upon you, you will again be forced to choose."

"Final hour?" Her mysterious words triggered his alarm. "Are you telling me I will die before this night is through?"

The Spirit halted, releasing the pressure on his arm. She studied him an excruciating moment, then looked ahead, pointing with her other pale hand. "Look there. What do you see?"

Annoyed that she ignored his question, he gave her no benefit of a straight response. "A curtain of gray shadowed mist, similar to the entirety of our surroundings. Nothing more."

"Look closer," she insisted. The pressure of her fingers increased. "Release what you cannot understand and concentrate on that which you know."

He peered more deeply into the mist. Shapes began to take form, color, and substance until the walls and furniture around him fashioned a child's nursery. In the far corner, as though cast aside, a cradle stood against the wall. From this distance, he could not see inside it.

"Step closer," the Spirit urged, as though reading his mind.

A dread he could not name rose inside the Phantom. He was about to refuse, when a stout woman in servant's attire bustled into the small chamber. Remembering his face, he slapped a hand over the ruined portion and retreated a step into the shadows.

"She cannot see you; nor can she hear you," the Spirit said, her voice replete with a sympathy that rankled.

He ignored her and focused on the corpulent woman who approached the cradle. From within the polished wooden bars, he discerned the musical coos of an infant, a gentle bleat that steadily rose to a lyrical cry.

"There, now," the woman soothed, a sad smile on her face. "You're not forgotten, little one, leastways not by me."

Before she could lift the swaddled bundle from the blankets, a much younger woman sashayed into the room, a feather duster in her hand. Her arrogance suited that of a noble though she wore a servant's gray uniform and white apron.

"How can you be wet nurse to that beast, much less touch it?" She gave a small shudder and whisked the duster over items on the mantel. "Even the master will have nothing to do with the creature. And with the mistress lying abed, still in a fever and refusing to set eyes on the thing - tsk. Such a pity, and her so young. Bringing that monster into the world will be the death of her, make no mistake. It would have been a sight better had the child died."

"Curb your tongue, Miranda, you foolish girl! Do you wish to take the risk of the master overhearing?" She positioned the swaddled babe over her shoulder to quiet his soft cries.

"Him - coming to this wing of the house?" the maid scorned. "Hmph. Not likely. Not only does he want nothing to do with the beast, he will not speak to her. He blames her, you know - the fall she took off the horse this summer, and her weeks with child. She loves that horse more than life itself, no doubt, and cursed the babe the day she took the fall. Marked by the devil, he is."

"You mustn't gossip or say such things." Clearly upset, the older woman jiggled the infant. "Babies are cherished gifts from the good Lord above, and children born during Christmastide are double the blessing."

"A curse, more like it." The young servant stopped her dusting and stared, shock written on her face. "You truly like the beast, don't you, Nelly? When first he came into the world, I saw the horror on your face, but since that night, you've actually grown fond of the wretched thing."

"Don't call the child names."

"I speak no different than what the master himself calls it."

The woman sighed and laid the baby back in the cradle. "I confess, when he was born I feared the sight of him as much as the rest of the household, but since the master ordered me to be the child's wet nurse and keep him out of the mistress's sight, I've spent a great deal of time with the poor lad. In his eyes, I see innocence and in his cries and coos I hear music. At times, he reminds me of the wee babe I lost years ago, despite his tortured face."

The Phantom felt a catch in his throat to see the woman press a gentle hand to the tiny infant's back. Without being told, he knew he was that child.

"Not all of those in your past considered you a monster," the Spirit quietly spoke from beside him.

"Pity," he sneered, blinking away the wretched build-up of moisture from his eyes, "is not the same as acceptance. Did you not hear her admission? She, too, feared me. It was only due to my father's orders that she did not let me die. My own mother despised and rejected me."

"Did she?" The Spirit gave a gentle tug to his arm. "Come; it is time for you to know the truth."

X

The walls of the nursery faded to nothing. Objects and colors blurred, shifting into diverse shapes, until they solidified to form another bedchamber. The Phantom stood near the bedside of a petite woman, perhaps nineteen. Her long brown hair lay tangled, unbound over the pillow and damp from perspiration that dotted her smooth skin. Her eyes remained closed, and she lay as one wearied to the point of utter exhaustion. He stared at her thin, delicate face and experienced an unfamiliar twinge in his heart, a peculiar vulnerability. The realization of her identity struck him.

"No." His jaw hardened and he retreated a step. His eyes snapped to the Spirit's. "Of this vision, I will not partake!"

The Phantom turned his back on the ailing woman, determined to find an exit out of the bizarre realm of haze and shadow into which he'd been trapped. The bed materialized before him, preventing his escape. The servant he recognized as Nelly approached from the doorway opposite, a boy of about three held in her arms. His face was buried against her shoulder. In his hand he held a wooden fife.

"The decision is not yours to make," the Spirit told the Phantom, her soft voice ringing with authority.

Again, he stalked away from the visions of the past, ignoring her.

Again, the ghosts of a former time materialized, blocking his path.

"Is this Hades to which you have brought me?" he snarled between gritted teeth. "Must I be forced to endure the torment of witnessing my mother's rejection! Was it not enough that I daily endured the suffering of being told of her abhorrence with regard to me?"

The Spirit did not reply. Imprisoned within a fragment of time forever lost and in which there was no escape, the Phantom had no choice but to watch the events unfold.

At Nelly's approach, his mother opened her eyes. A smoky green, like his, they shone unnaturally bright with fever from whatever illness she possessed.

She gasped for breath before she spoke. "Good. You have come … did he see you?"

"No, my lady." Nelly's eyes did not meet those of her mistress's. The boy in Nelly's arms lifted his head from her shoulder and looked at the bedridden woman. Across the right side of his face, someone had tied a mask of white cloth.

The young woman winced and dropped her gaze a moment before looking at the boy again. "Every time I see him … I am reminded of my folly." She managed each word with difficulty, struggling for breaths in between phrases. "If not for my foolishness … he would not be flawed."

"You don't know that, Mistress. You mustn't take on so."

"God is punishing me for my sins … in this, in taking my baby daughter …" Tears filled her eyes as they darted to an empty cradle nearby. "Comte de Chagny is convinced … our son is cursed … marked by the devil … that he caused Eileen's death. I know better … It is I whom the devil has marked …"

"Please, my lady …" Nelly jiggled the child in her arms, clearly upset and at a loss for words. "You don't know what you're saying; 'tis the fever of childbirth talking. You must rest and not weary yourself so."

His mother's eyes, now steady, met those of her servant's. "We both know … I am not long for this world … and I must speak with you before I leave it." She stretched out a shaking hand to the boy. The Phantom could see how the minute effort taxed her strength. "Come, Erik … don't be afraid."

Nelly set the boy on his feet. With slow steps he approached his mother.

"What a sad birthday for you ..." Her brows drew up in pain and pity as she looked at his face. She took his small hand empty of the wooden instrument and rubbed her thumb along his fingers. "You were destined for great things, my son … if only I had not been … so foolish." She broke off, fighting for control. The slightest of smiles trembled on her lips. "To be so young, to play so well … a musical genius … I have loved to hear your tunes from my open door … while you played in the garden … and I lay in this bed … during the time I carried your sister … Soon, I must join her …"

She struggled to inhale, her breath a harsh wheeze. The boy snatched his hand from hers and ran to Nelly, burying his face in her skirts.

His mother's face pinched with sadness. "It is to my regret … that he does not know me well … Fear of my husband's anger … should I go against his wishes … kept me bound … I should not have been such a coward." Her eyes went to Nelly's face and she lifted her head from the pillow, her neck and shoulders going rigid. "Promise me you'll keep him safe … from the Comte … once I'm gone." She struggled for breath. "Already, I'm told … he makes plans to marry his mistress … after my death … Lady Louise scorns my son … she has fueled my husband's hatred against him … Keep him out of their sight … in this wing, always … away from his father … Promise me, Nelly …" Her breathing came harsher.

Nelly tightened her arm around the boy's shoulders. Tears glimmered in her eyes. "Oui, my lady. I will do as you ask. Be at peace."

She fell back against the pillow, reassured. "One last matter … then you may go …" She inhaled deeply. "Tell him …" Her eyes drifted down to the small boy who still would not look at her. "When he's old enough to understand … tell him I'm sorry … I was not to him … the mother I should have been … that in my own selfish way … I loved him …"

"I will never allow him to forget you, my lady."

The Phantom stood, feeling as hollow as a pillar of stone carved with a sculptor's chisel. His chest felt raw inside, and he was appalled to realize that moisture trailed down his cheeks.

"No one ever told me." It was all he could manage to utter.

"Nelly never had the opportunity to fulfill her vow." The Spirit came up beside him. "Less than a year after your mother's death, Nelly stepped in front of a carriage whose driver had lost control. An accident; she was trampled underfoot. The new Countess tried to convince your father it would be in their best interest to rid themselves of you. He feared eternal damnation should they commit such a mortal sin, but agreed to send you away, to be secluded from the world in a monastery. On a day when your father was absent from the manor, Lady Louise learned of gypsies camped nearby and sold you to them instead. She told your father that you ran away."

The Phantom closed his eyes, the impact of her quiet words, of all he had seen, falling like shattered glass to pierce his soul. His mother's faint words joined with the Spirit's, revolving inside his mind, even more destructive…

"De Chagny..."

"Yes, Erik. This is your family heritage."

"Then the Vicomte …" He could not continue, and she picked up where he'd left off.

"… Is your half brother. You are the true Vicomte de Chagny, the firstborn son of the existing Comte."

The agony of his discovery almost left him undone. All these years - through all these wasted, treacherous years - the Phantom had believed a falsehood. Buried deep beneath the pain of that knowledge, relief wafted within his heart to know his mother had not despised him as he'd been told, that in some small way she had cared. And the boy still trapped within, who'd yearned for the tenderness of his mother's touch, now reached out to the forlorn shadow of the woman on the bed. Without realizing it, the Phantom moved his hand to lightly press his fingertips against her frail shoulder.

"We must leave. There is more for you to see." The Spirit laid her icy hand upon his sleeve before his fingers could make contact with his mother's bed gown. "She is but a ghost of the past."

He swallowed hard, his throat tight. Even as the Spirit spoke, the image of his mother began to fade. He continued to stare until the outline of her wan face blurred and was nothing more than mist once again.

"Very well." His words came hushed. "Take me where you will and let us be done with this night."

xXx
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
PhantomnessFay
Moderator


Female
Number of posts : 2388
Age : 42
Location : England
Points : 3846
Registration date : 2008-05-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:37 am

The amount of dialogue is a lot and generally I'd say cut back, but in this case, it does move the plot nicely, so leave it as it is.

We want you to post, but keep in mind that when you post too many chapters at once or during the week, it is overwhelming to the reader. Personally I will have to return to R&R (read & review).

You are doing a good job. Keep writing.
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://novelsandotherwritingsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:01 pm

Oh, okay- thank you for letting me know that!

Since this is a relatively short story - at 44k - and since it is Christmas based, I had thought to post it all for and over the holidays. But I certainly understand and I don't want to overwhelm anyone.

Since you're the only one reading it, I'll hold off and wait to post another chapter next week.

Sorry if it felt I was snowing you under -
though I wish we'd get some snow! haha
(a White Christmas would be so cool, but looks like the only moisture coming down from the skies for us this weekend is rain. oh, well...)

Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:12 pm

IV

.

Any words of reprimand for sneaking up behind him - a difficult feat - were lost on the Phantom as he stared at his midnight visitor.

"Why do you wear that ridiculous costume?" He quenched his disquiet by offering words of censure and sent Madame Giry a scathing glance.

Never had he seen her in any hue but somber black. Her present gown of deep blue velvet bespoke of a former century and glowed the color of twilight, the time of evening when pinpricks of stars slipped from beyond indiscernible veils of hiding. Embedded within the lush folds of the voluminous skirts, myriad sprays of stars glimmered with the same faint iridescence, and a hairpiece of silver stars wound throughout her elaborately braided and coiffed hair. A subtle luminosity seemed to emanate from her person … likely a trick of the strong candlelight reflecting off his statues of gold.

Realizing he wore no mask, though her placid expression had not altered, he slapped his hand up to cover his twisted flesh. She had seen his gross deformity what seemed a lifetime ago, and he desired no repeat performance.

"Have you been to a masquerade ball?" he sneered, knowing full well the quiet woman rarely left the opera house, and the celebration of the Bal Masque was still a week away. "Or perhaps you secretly aspire to revisit the stage, as an actress this time?"

She did not respond, further stoking his ire. Her personal wanderings held no interest to the Phantom, unless, of course, they conflicted with his schedule as they did now. "Why have you come to my dwelling at this late hour? You know you're not to disturb my peace unless I send for you!"

"Peace?" Her eyes remained steady, her composure unnerving. She smiled, the act containing little warmth. "Is that what you call this place? Peaceful?" She shook her head, scoffing, as if to correct a child. "I think not. Reclusive, yes. Befitting an eccentric, most certainly. But I see nothing that could describe this as a dwelling of peace."

"I have no desire to belabor the point, Madame. Such confrontations in futility - all of which you have developed a bad habit of engaging in lately - insult my intellect. And yours. Leave 'this place' - leave it now!" Weary of her presence, the Phantom turned his back on her and moved toward his bed. He ripped open the knotted belt of his robe, hoping to shock her feminine sensibilities and guarantee her swift departure.

"Au contraire, Opera Ghost. I know a great deal about you. Indeed, more than you know about yourself."

Her calm words rattled what little remained of his equanimity and he whirled around to face her. "If you do not leave these caverns straight away, I'll not be held liable for my actions."

She made no move to go. Neither did he give any measure.

"Go now and leave me, damn you!"

Gritting his teeth, he grabbed the closest item - an unlit candlestick - and hurled it at her skirts, knowing their many layers would protect her from harm and wishing only to frighten her into doing his bidding. The candlestick flew through her gown as if it was made of nothing but vapor and landed with a dull clank on the stones behind. His eyes widened in shocked disbelief. In his bewilderment, he dropped his hand from his face.

"Have you quite finished with your tantrum?" she inquired, her manner as calm as before. "We have much to accomplish before my time with you is complete."

Erik sank to the edge of the bed, his legs no longer able to support him. "Who are you?" he whispered.

"I am the Spirit of Christmas Past." She eyed him as if recognizing the skepticism in his eyes. "You see me as your assistant, Madame Giry, only because that is what your mind conveys. I can appear in many forms, in whatever manner is needful at the time; this is merely what you perceive as truth."

He let out a shaky laugh to hide his alarm. "And so, it stands to reason, I should see the stern ballet headmistress as a ghost of all things past? Tell me, if what you say is true, why have you come to torment me?"

"Torment you?" She chuckled as if she withheld a secret. "I have come only that you might perceive and fully understand those events that belong to Christmases past: those events forgotten, and those to which you never bore witness."

He barely shook his head while keeping a wary eye on her.

She approached and held out her right arm to him. "Take hold of my sleeve; we must begin our journey." His focus fell from her outstretched hand to her wide sleeve. The folds of plush material flared downward from cuff to hem. Through it - and all of her form, he now realized - a trace of the stones appeared. She, like the pitiful remains of the first ghost, was composed of nothing but mere vapor.

He recoiled. "I have no desire to go anywhere with you, now, or at any time in the future."

Her chin lifted and she stared at him, as though dealing with an unruly child. "Be that as it may, Phantom, you have not been granted the privilege to choose."

"Au contraire, Madame," he returned with a sardonic lift of his brow. "This is my dream, for a dream is all it can be. And while your invitation goads my curiosity, I must decline. I have prior plans, and they do not include the dubious pleasure of your company."

She expelled a soft, incensed breath. "I was forewarned about you. Very well, if you wish to be difficult …"

Before he realized her intent, she seized his upper arm in a surprisingly tangible, vice-like grip and pulled him to his feet. He struggled to maintain his footing as she brought him close to face the wall, her strength incredible. Through his velvet robe and linen shirt, her fingers chilled his flesh, like thin icicles. He opened his mouth to protest but received no opportunity as a narrow portion of the wall before them began to waver, as though mist and not rock made up its structure.

The Phantom stared in horrified wonder as the Spirit of Those Things That Once Were dragged him through the doorway of mist, and to the other side.

X

The measured pace they set did not correspond with the manner in which narrow streams of smoky fog raced toward and beyond the Phantom. All of his shadowed surroundings flew past, as if they, and not he were in motion. Silence ruled this otherwise vapid world into which the Spirit forced him until the horizontal lengths of fog came level with his head. Then, echoes of spine chilling moans and anguished cries came from within the mist, at once fading away as each wisp raced past, as though tormented souls were trapped inside.

He flinched as a column of smoke brushed past his ear, the wail within brief but excruciating. The Spirit who guided him looked in his direction.

"You hear the souls of those forever lost, trapped by their failure to release the woes and burdens of their past," she explained, not slowing her pace.

"Lost? Why should they be forever lost?" He questioned the foolishness of contending with a figment from what surely must be his nightmare, but did not withdraw the question. "Who are they?"

"Men and women who once walked the earth, from every station of life. Some of them like you: unwilling to release those things they cannot change, but resolute to carry the weight of their grief throughout their lives. Bitterness makes a poor companion, yet many choose to embrace it."

Her soft words rammed into the core of his soul, bringing both unease and irritation. "And so they are damned for all eternity?" he scoffed. "Damned both in life and in death? There is no justice in such an act! If this is the fate of all mankind, what is the point of existence?"

"It is the fate only of those who choose to rebuff charity and kindness and instead welcome malice and every form of treachery. In life these tortured souls refused the gifts of peace and mercy. In death, those gifts have been withdrawn, never to be offered again."

Her words and the manner in which she spoke left no doubt that she referred to him.

"So, you think I am wicked? How astute of you." He chuckled, the sound hollow. "Those wretched, perfect creatures who experienced the misfortune to glimpse my twisted face know I am nothing more than a monster as well." He thought of Christine's reaction to him on that fateful night she had removed his mask, and the pain of loss ripped through him once more.

"The heart of a man who writes such soul-stirring music of untold magnificence beats for no monster. You are responsible for your own choices, monsieur, no one else. But understand this: before this night's final hour falls upon you, you will again be forced to choose."

"Final hour?" Her mysterious words triggered his alarm. "Are you telling me I will die before this night is through?"

The Spirit halted, releasing the pressure on his arm. She studied him an excruciating moment, then looked ahead, pointing with her other pale hand. "Look there. What do you see?"

Annoyed that she ignored his question, he gave her no benefit of a straight response. "A curtain of gray shadowed mist, similar to the entirety of our surroundings. Nothing more."

"Look closer," she insisted. The pressure of her fingers increased. "Release what you cannot understand and concentrate on that which you know."

He peered more deeply into the mist. Shapes began to take form, color, and substance until the walls and furniture around him fashioned a child's nursery. In the far corner, as though cast aside, a cradle stood against the wall. From this distance, he could not see inside it.

"Step closer," the Spirit urged, as though reading his mind.

A dread he could not name rose inside the Phantom. He was about to refuse, when a stout woman in servant's attire bustled into the small chamber. Remembering his face, he slapped a hand over the ruined portion and retreated a step into the shadows.

"She cannot see you; nor can she hear you," the Spirit said, her voice replete with a sympathy that rankled.

He ignored her and focused on the corpulent woman who approached the cradle. From within the polished wooden bars, he discerned the musical coos of an infant, a gentle bleat that steadily rose to a lyrical cry.

"There, now," the woman soothed, a sad smile on her face. "You're not forgotten, little one, leastways not by me."

Before she could lift the swaddled bundle from the blankets, a much younger woman sashayed into the room, a feather duster in her hand. Her arrogance suited that of a noble though she wore a servant's gray uniform and white apron.

"How can you be wet nurse to that beast, much less touch it?" She gave a small shudder and whisked the duster over items on the mantel. "Even the master will have nothing to do with the creature. And with the mistress lying abed, still in a fever and refusing to set eyes on the thing - tsk. Such a pity, and her so young. Bringing that monster into the world will be the death of her, make no mistake. It would have been a sight better had the child died."

"Curb your tongue, Miranda, you foolish girl! Do you wish to take the risk of the master overhearing?" She positioned the swaddled babe over her shoulder to quiet his soft cries.

"Him - coming to this wing of the house?" the maid scorned. "Hmph. Not likely. Not only does he want nothing to do with the beast, he will not speak to her. He blames her, you know - the fall she took off the horse this summer, and her weeks with child. She loves that horse more than life itself, no doubt, and cursed the babe the day she took the fall. Marked by the devil, he is."

"You mustn't gossip or say such things." Clearly upset, the older woman jiggled the infant. "Babies are cherished gifts from the good Lord above, and children born during Christmastide are double the blessing."

"A curse, more like it." The young servant stopped her dusting and stared, shock written on her face. "You truly like the beast, don't you, Nelly? When first he came into the world, I saw the horror on your face, but since that night, you've actually grown fond of the wretched thing."

"Don't call the child names."

"I speak no different than what the master himself calls it."

The woman sighed and laid the baby back in the cradle. "I confess, when he was born I feared the sight of him as much as the rest of the household, but since the master ordered me to be the child's wet nurse and keep him out of the mistress's sight, I've spent a great deal of time with the poor lad. In his eyes, I see innocence and in his cries and coos I hear music. At times, he reminds me of the wee babe I lost years ago, despite his tortured face."

The Phantom felt a catch in his throat to see the woman press a gentle hand to the tiny infant's back. Without being told, he knew he was that child.

"Not all of those in your past considered you a monster," the Spirit quietly spoke from beside him.

"Pity," he sneered, blinking away the wretched build-up of moisture from his eyes, "is not the same as acceptance. Did you not hear her admission? She, too, feared me. It was only due to my father's orders that she did not let me die. My own mother despised and rejected me."

"Did she?" The Spirit gave a gentle tug to his arm. "Come; it is time for you to know the truth."

X

The walls of the nursery faded to nothing. Objects and colors blurred, shifting into diverse shapes, until they solidified to form another bedchamber. The Phantom stood near the bedside of a petite woman, perhaps nineteen. Her long brown hair lay tangled, unbound over the pillow and damp from perspiration that dotted her smooth skin. Her eyes remained closed, and she lay as one wearied to the point of utter exhaustion. He stared at her thin, delicate face and experienced an unfamiliar twinge in his heart, a peculiar vulnerability. The realization of her identity struck him.

"No." His jaw hardened and he retreated a step. His eyes snapped to the Spirit's. "Of this vision, I will not partake!"

The Phantom turned his back on the ailing woman, determined to find an exit out of the bizarre realm of haze and shadow into which he'd been trapped. The bed materialized before him, preventing his escape. The servant he recognized as Nelly approached from the doorway opposite, a boy of about three held in her arms. His face was buried against her shoulder. In his hand he held a wooden fife.

"The decision is not yours to make," the Spirit told the Phantom, her soft voice ringing with authority.

Again, he stalked away from the visions of the past, ignoring her.

Again, the ghosts of a former time materialized, blocking his path.

"Is this Hades to which you have brought me?" he snarled between gritted teeth. "Must I be forced to endure the torment of witnessing my mother's rejection! Was it not enough that I daily endured the suffering of being told of her abhorrence with regard to me?"

The Spirit did not reply. Imprisoned within a fragment of time forever lost and in which there was no escape, the Phantom had no choice but to watch the events unfold.

At Nelly's approach, his mother opened her eyes. A smoky green, like his, they shone unnaturally bright with fever from whatever illness she possessed.

She gasped for breath before she spoke. "Good. You have come … did he see you?"

"No, my lady." Nelly's eyes did not meet those of her mistress's. The boy in Nelly's arms lifted his head from her shoulder and looked at the bedridden woman. Across the right side of his face, someone had tied a mask of white cloth.

The young woman winced and dropped her gaze a moment before looking at the boy again. "Every time I see him … I am reminded of my folly." She managed each word with difficulty, struggling for breaths in between phrases. "If not for my foolishness … he would not be flawed."

"You don't know that, Mistress. You mustn't take on so."

"God is punishing me for my sins … in this, in taking my baby daughter …" Tears filled her eyes as they darted to an empty cradle nearby. "Comte de Chagny is convinced … our son is cursed … marked by the devil … that he caused Eileen's death. I know better … It is I whom the devil has marked …"

"Please, my lady …" Nelly jiggled the child in her arms, clearly upset and at a loss for words. "You don't know what you're saying; 'tis the fever of childbirth talking. You must rest and not weary yourself so."

His mother's eyes, now steady, met those of her servant's. "We both know … I am not long for this world … and I must speak with you before I leave it." She stretched out a shaking hand to the boy. The Phantom could see how the minute effort taxed her strength. "Come, Erik … don't be afraid."

Nelly set the boy on his feet. With slow steps he approached his mother.

"What a sad birthday for you ..." Her brows drew up in pain and pity as she looked at his face. She took his small hand empty of the wooden instrument and rubbed her thumb along his fingers. "You were destined for great things, my son … if only I had not been … so foolish." She broke off, fighting for control. The slightest of smiles trembled on her lips. "To be so young, to play so well … a musical genius … I have loved to hear your tunes from my open door … while you played in the garden … and I lay in this bed … during the time I carried your sister … Soon, I must join her …"

She struggled to inhale, her breath a harsh wheeze. The boy snatched his hand from hers and ran to Nelly, burying his face in her skirts.

His mother's face pinched with sadness. "It is to my regret … that he does not know me well … Fear of my husband's anger … should I go against his wishes … kept me bound … I should not have been such a coward." Her eyes went to Nelly's face and she lifted her head from the pillow, her neck and shoulders going rigid. "Promise me you'll keep him safe … from the Comte … once I'm gone." She struggled for breath. "Already, I'm told … he makes plans to marry his mistress … after my death … Lady Louise scorns my son … she has fueled my husband's hatred against him … Keep him out of their sight … in this wing, always … away from his father … Promise me, Nelly …" Her breathing came harsher.

Nelly tightened her arm around the boy's shoulders. Tears glimmered in her eyes. "Oui, my lady. I will do as you ask. Be at peace."

She fell back against the pillow, reassured. "One last matter … then you may go …" She inhaled deeply. "Tell him …" Her eyes drifted down to the small boy who still would not look at her. "When he's old enough to understand … tell him I'm sorry … I was not to him … the mother I should have been … that in my own selfish way … I loved him …"

"I will never allow him to forget you, my lady."

The Phantom stood, feeling as hollow as a pillar of stone carved with a sculptor's chisel. His chest felt raw inside, and he was appalled to realize that moisture trailed down his cheeks.

"No one ever told me." It was all he could manage to utter.

"Nelly never had the opportunity to fulfill her vow." The Spirit came up beside him. "Less than a year after your mother's death, Nelly stepped in front of a carriage whose driver had lost control. An accident; she was trampled underfoot. The new Countess tried to convince your father it would be in their best interest to rid themselves of you. He feared eternal damnation should they commit such a mortal sin, but agreed to send you away, to be secluded from the world in a monastery. On a day when your father was absent from the manor, Lady Louise learned of gypsies camped nearby and sold you to them instead. She told your father that you ran away."

The Phantom closed his eyes, the impact of her quiet words, of all he had seen, falling like shattered glass to pierce his soul. His mother's faint words joined with the Spirit's, revolving inside his mind, even more destructive…

"Wait - she said ...De Chagny..."

"Yes, Erik. This is your family heritage."

"Then the Vicomte …" He could not continue, and she picked up where he'd left off.

"… Is your half brother. You are the true Vicomte de Chagny, the firstborn son of the existing Comte."

The agony of his discovery almost left him undone. All these years - through all these wasted, treacherous years - the Phantom had believed a falsehood. Buried deep beneath the pain of that knowledge, relief wafted within his heart to know his mother had not despised him as he'd been told, that in some small way she had cared. And the boy still trapped within, who'd yearned for the tenderness of his mother's touch, now reached out to the forlorn shadow of the woman on the bed. Without realizing it, the Phantom moved his hand to lightly press his fingertips against her frail shoulder.

"We must leave. There is more for you to see." The Spirit laid her icy hand upon his sleeve before his fingers could make contact with his mother's bed gown. "She is but a ghost of the past."

He swallowed hard, his throat tight. Even as the Spirit spoke, the image of his mother began to fade. He continued to stare until the outline of her wan face blurred and was nothing more than mist once again.

"Very well." His words came hushed. "Take me where you will and let us be done with this night."

xXx
[/quote]


Last edited by Angel of Mystery on Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:20 pm

V

.

"Take me anywhere but here!" The Phantom cast a scornful eye at the painted wagons and canvas tents that materialized in the stretch of forest where he now stood. "I cannot possibly discover anything of merit in this wretched place."

"You might be surprised what the shadows conceal," the Spirit countered, motioning to a slight gypsy girl skulking along the fringe of wood. She wore a shift too large for her thin frame; and the hem of her multicolored skirt trailed the ground at the back as she clutched the front and tiptoed on bare feet past a dying campfire where a burly man slept, his back against a tree.

"I have lived a lifetime in shadows," Erik insisted. "I assure you, there is nothing of consequence to be found there."

"Be still, and listen."

He clamped his jaw, knowing it would serve no purpose to refuse. If he attempted to escape this vision, it would only haunt him until he surrendered to it.

"Arabella!" A boy of roughly six whispered, catching the Phantom's attention.

The girl whirled around, a bundle clutched in one hand. As the firelight flickered across her face, the Phantom noticed she was not much older than the boy.

"Josef, go back to the wagon," she scolded, "before Papa knows you're gone and you get us both in trouble."

"If Papa knew you were going inside his tent, you'd get the beating, not me."

"What makes you think I'm going inside?"

"'Cause I've seen you do it before. Papa said anyone who goes in will be cursed, 'cause the beast has the evil eye."

"Hush!" She clapped her hand over the boy's mouth, looking beyond him, afraid to be overheard. "You don't see horrible things happen to the outsiders that go to look, do you? If you tell anyone, I'll say you went in first, and you'll get a beating too. Do you understand?" The boy nodded, and she dropped her hand away from his face. Before he could say a word, she gave him a push. "Run back to the wagon. Hurry, before someone sees you!"

Once a scowling Josef scampered in the direction they'd come, Arabella picked her way over the sleeping gypsy camp to a tent on the opposite side. The Spirit motioned for the Phantom to follow. The stink of sweat and earth and manure mixed with the lingering, sickly sweet smell of incense made him want to retch. The moon cast a bright glow over a banner, and he distinguished bold letters announcing The Devil's Child resided within. He tensed as the flap parted beneath it and a thin, wiry man exited, his sleeves rolled up past his elbows, a stick gripped in one large hand. The man breathed with difficulty, as though having just exerted himself in a grueling task.

The Phantom dug his nails into his palms, reminding himself that the ogre remained a ghost of the past and retribution would serve no purpose. On the heels of that thought, he remembered he had found vengeance in his jailer's death, though at the time he had acted only with a child's fear and rage.

The man stood outside the tent and wiped an arm across his shining brow and his matted beard. The gypsy girl, Arabella, shrank back into the bushes at the sight of him, waiting until he'd walked to the other side of the camp before resuming her stealthy trek. She kept to the shadows but halted suddenly, inclining her head as a child's sobbing drifted from within the canvas structure.

"Nelly," a thin, pitiful voice whimpered, just loud enough to be heard. "Why'd you leave me? Please come back. I'm scawed and it huwts."

The Phantom gritted his teeth against the memories that pummeled his heart while he listened to himself as a child, no more than five, crying in confusion and pain.

The gypsy girl looked at the bundle in her hands, her face twisted in a mask of sorrow. After a moment, she set her parcel on the grass, beside the wall of canvas, and sped back the way she'd come.

"And now she leaves too - for what purpose have we come to this foul place?" The Phantom turned on the Spirit. "Do you seek to secure my obeisance by inflicting upon me the memories of my many childhood humiliations? If that is your intent, I promise, you will not succeed."

She regarded him with her usual maddening composure. "Is that what you believe? That I wish to break your spirit, to make you into a puppet to serve me?" She shook her head, her smile unnerving. "Look within, and you shall find the answer that you seek, Erik."

"What? In there?" He cast a disgusted glance toward the tent. "Shall I save us both the trouble and tell you what I will find? A cage filled with hay, and inside a scarecrow of a boy wallowing in his own filth, his skin laid open from a reed. Frightened, lonely, suffering every humiliation known to mankind due to the one flaw that sets him apart from all humanity."

"I meant only to look inside your heart." Her words came quiet, her eyes sympathetic.

"Damn you! Must you forever speak in riddles?" Exasperated with revealing so much of the anguish he'd thought no longer a part of him - angry with the entire situation - he paced away then pivoted on his heel to confront her once more. "I was told you withhold a secret name. Is it Misery? Discouragement? Or perhaps the name you bear is Disgrace?"

The Spirit did not answer, only stared at him, further feeding his indignation. Before he could question her further, Arabella came back into view, hurrying toward the tent and brushing past him. Though she was but a ghost, he swore he could feel the whisper of cool air and the whisk of her soft woolen shawl against his hand as she moved past. Darting a look over her shoulder at the sleeping gypsy camp, she retrieved the bundle and hurried inside the tent.

The Spirit nodded for Erik to follow. His curiosity impelling him forward, he walked through the flap.

The pitiful wretch of the boy he'd once been lay huddled on his side, eyes closed, in a corner of the cage, passed out from the delirium of pain, no doubt. He wore nothing more than a pair of dirty breeches, the canvas sack that usually covered his face clutched to his stomach. The gypsy girl stood near the cage and looked down at him, holding the bundle to her chest. She did not scream but winced at the sight of his twisted face, which his long, straggly hair did little to cover, then she knelt on the ground before him. With great care, she pushed the bundle through the iron bars and laid it near his head. The glow from a lantern in the far corner picked out gleaming black stripes on his shoulders and back.

She bit her lower lip and stared at the outcome of his latest beating, her brows drawn together in worry. To the Phantom's shock, she again stuck her tiny hand through the bars and touched the outstretched fingers of the boy whose palm lay against the earth.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered.

At the snap of a twig outside, she snatched her hand back through the bars and darted a fearful glance over her shoulder at the tent flap. When no one entered, she moved her shawl aside with hurried purpose, pulling a small object from the waistband of her skirt. He watched in amazement as she laid a crude, stuffed monkey near the hand of the sleeping boy. Wrapped around each of the monkey's paws was a pair of cymbals.

"Chimsee made me happy when I needed a friend to talk to," she whispered, her words barely above a breath. "Grandmama helped me make him before she got so sick. Perhaps he'll help you this yuletide."

The Phantom stared, astounded by the gypsy child's act of kindness. She stood to her feet and wrapped her shawl around herself, backing away to the tent flap, her eyes never leaving the form of the sleeping boy. Then she turned and fled the tent.

"Why would she do that?" Hot tears stung his eyes and he impatiently blinked them away.

"Arabella was your jailer's daughter," the Spirit replied. "She often slipped food to you while you slept. Her father forbade her and her siblings to enter your tent, so she visited at nighttime while you slept. He caught her coming from your tent late one evening and savagely beat her. She was seven, a year and a half older than you."

"Please …" Erik shut his eyes against the mental image of the gentle girl with the innocent dark eyes trapped under that fiend's brutality. "Tell me no more."

"He broke her arm when she struggled and days passed before she could leave her family's wagon," the Spirit continued, oblivious to his wishes. "She continued to bring you food in secret during that first year you lived among the gypsies, since her father gave you so little. She took it from her own plate and hid it in her napkin …You see, Arabella was a gentle soul. She loved all living creatures and hated her father's cruelty, especially toward you, since he treated you worst of all. When you learned to find some solace by singing to the toy monkey to ease your loneliness, Arabella often stood outside the tent to listen. She developed a fondness for you and desiring friendship, mustered the courage to approach you very early one morning…"

A long forgotten memory drifted to Erik of a little gypsy girl entering his tent before dawn, her thick hair and clothes beaded with moisture from a steady rain that fell outside. Her arm lay in a sling, like the broken wing of a little brown sparrow. She crept close to the cage and he scrambled to a back corner, clutching the monkey to his chest and yelling for her to leave him be, certain she'd come only to mock him as all who entered the tent had done. In his fear and anger, he lashed out at her with cruel obscenities that had often been shouted at him by her father and the never-ending crowds of rude observers.

He had expected her to respond in kind or throw clods of mud at him before again leaving him to his solitude. Instead, tears had glimmered in her eyes and her face had puckered as though she would cry, before she whirled around and fled the tent.

"What happened to her?" He had no wish to utter the words; they came, torn from the depths of his soul.

"She continued secretly to bring you food. Two months after her morning visit to your tent, in the winter of that first year, she took sick from a fever and died. She always was such a frail thing and never fully recovered from the beating. She had not the strength to fight off the illness that weakened her heart…"

Erik closed his eyes and a tear slid down his cheek. "For what reason do you choose to reveal such truths to me? To cause me to feel shame for what I could not possibly have known?"

"To show you that not everyone treated you with scorn and hatred, Erik. There have been those, including Antoinette Giry, who sacrificed their own safety to help you and did all they could to comfort you in your pain and sorrow."

He gave a faint nod, understanding. "Your name, the name you withhold, is Compassion."

Her smile lit up her pale face. "Yes! You have learned well. Only those who seek compassion and likewise give it to those in need of the same quality understand its full significance."

As she spoke, the gypsy camp disappeared from sight and the Phantom found himself standing within the painted walls of the opera house chapel. Near the candelabrum, a small girl knelt on the stone floor, the same age as Arabella, her hands folded against her black skirts. Twin trails of tears glistened on her rosy cheeks and the candlelight shimmered in her long, dark curls.

"Christine," he whispered, stunned by the innocence that glowed in her small, heart-shaped face.

"Papa," she whimpered, just loud enough to be heard. "Why did you have to leave me? Please come back. I'm scared and it hurts." Her soft sob tore at the Phantom's heart as he heard her mirror the words he'd sobbed in his cage as a frightened boy. "Please send me the Angel of Music like you said you would."

From beyond a wall painted with angels, the Phantom heard himself begin to sing to her. He witnessed Christine's joyful reaction and felt a thread of guilt, unfamiliar to him, that he had misled her. At the time he wished only to give her comfort and to seek comfort in being her Angel, to forget the monster he was…

"When she was young, your deception was no more dangerous than teaching a child to believe in the legend of St. Nicholas." The Spirit regarded him gravely. "But she is a child no longer."

"Nor does she continue to believe I'm her Angel," the Phantom countered, his words acerbic. "She has seen my face."

"Does she not deserve an explanation of why you have long deceived her, even into her womanhood? On the night you took her to your lair, you led her to believe you were her Angel of Music then allowed her to address you as the Phantom of the Opera in her song to you, all the while withholding your true name. You are neither phantom nor angel, but in your desire to become one with the shadows and forever separate yourself from humanity, you forsook your given name and became a ghost."

"I owe you no account of my actions or objectives!" Incensed, he swept his arm out to the side, wishing to step forward and knock the Spirit and her stinging words of conviction away from him. He reminded himself she was no more than mist, a keeper of Christmases that had once been. "I would never hurt Christine; I care deeply for her."

He looked at the small girl, a ghost of the past, whose upraised face shone with pure joy to hear her Angel's song. The sight of her quieted his soul and he calmed. "I have always acted toward Christine with the respect and consideration due her, thinking only of her best interest. Her father desired for her to become an opera singer; all she wanted was music. And Christine has a voice to rival the angels. It would have been a grievous error had she not received instruction."

"At first your motives were pure, I'll grant you that. And you did treat her with kindness." The Spirit's quiet words brought his attention back to her. "I do not doubt that you sincerely care for Christine. Yet as the years elapsed and you grew to regard her through the eyes of a man who admires a beautiful woman, your aim grew selfish, to the extreme that you have now plotted her abduction in your upcoming opera. To take her, if need be, against her will and make her your wife!"

Alarm winged through the Phantom to realize she had uncovered his scheme, but he refused to admit his plan. "Rubbish. You speak absolute nonsense, Madame, or ghost - whoever or whatever you claim to be!"

"SILENCE!"

Her blue eyes glittered a warning, sending chills down his spine; he held his tongue, uncertain what she might do to him. She was composed of spirit and had proven herself capable of acts of the supernatural, whereas he was only flesh and bone.

"You have discovered many things, Erik de Chagny, though you have much more to learn. Yet you will … you will …"

"Another riddle? How surprising."

Further criticisms died on his lips as the Spirit's image faded from view.

xXx
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
PhantomnessFay
Moderator


Female
Number of posts : 2388
Age : 42
Location : England
Points : 3846
Registration date : 2008-05-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:51 pm

This review is for Chapters IV and V. Excellent description. Both dialogue and description fit very well for the late 1800's.

There are a few paragraphs I found particularly descriptive, flowed perfectly and made the story come to life.

The measured pace they set did not correspond with the manner in which narrow streams of smoky fog raced toward and beyond the Phantom. All of his shadowed surroundings flew past, as if they, and not he were in motion. Silence ruled this otherwise vapid world into which the Spirit forced him until the horizontal lengths of fog came level with his head. Then, echoes of spine chilling moans and anguished cries came from within the mist, at once fading away as each wisp raced past, as though tormented souls were trapped inside.

This paragraph affects the sense of sight and sound bring this to a 3-D level Well done. Scary, but felt like I was there.



The walls of the nursery faded to nothing. Objects and colors blurred, shifting into diverse shapes, until they solidified to form another bedchamber. The Phantom stood near the bedside of a petite woman, perhaps nineteen. Her long brown hair lay tangled, unbound over the pillow and damp from perspiration that dotted her smooth skin. Her eyes remained closed, and she lay as one wearied to the point of utter exhaustion. He stared at her thin, delicate face and experienced an unfamiliar twinge in his heart, a peculiar vulnerability. The realization of her identity struck him.


Another very well done descriptive and touching scene. This sets up the opening of the chapter very well. I feel the sweet saddness the images bri

Overall, excellent chapters. No suggestions.

Keep up the good work. Looking forward for more.



Back to top Go down
View user profile http://novelsandotherwritingsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:34 pm

Thank you so much for your wonderful review!
Much appreciated.

I'll post another chapter in a couple of days (since you suggested I wait a week in between each one.)

Hope you had a great Christmas and have a happy New Year!
What a Face
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:55 am

Here's the next chapter- sorry for the lateness- things got busier after the holidays! lol

VI

.

Without realizing how it had happened, the Phantom once again found himself standing in front of his organ and staring at the great pipes across from him. He blinked several times while his mind adjusted to familiar surroundings. Sheets of his musical composition still littered the stone floor. His empty goblet sat on the table where he had righted it. A short distance away lay the Punjab lasso, a lifeless pile of hemp.

"A dream … it was nothing more than a dream…"

Yet how many men slept while standing? He had never acquired the peculiar habit of walking in his sleep and doubted he'd begun to do so now. "If it was no dream…" he murmured, "the events of the past I witnessed must be genuine. My mother's rejection was not complete. In her own manner, she cared for me and for whatever reason, others have shown me compassion. There were actually those who showed me kindness and did not treat me as a monster …"

Flabbergasted by his discoveries, he felt an odd sense of liberation, as though a segment of his soul had been stretched taut his entire lifetime and ultimately had begun to relax.

It lasted but a moment.

He snorted at his mind's foolish meandering and picked up the scattered music. "A matter of one hour elapses, and I've become maudlin. The Opera Ghost developing a soft spot for mankind? Unthinkable." He gave a derisive laugh. "What foolishness! I glimpse moments from a past with souls long departed, and assume those from this present life will look upon me with similar compassion. Compassion! Ha! Insipid fairy tales, delivered care of a ghost – nothing more! Even Christine, my life and breath these nine years, could not bear the sight of me once she encountered the truth of my affliction …"

He closed his eyes, pushing back the anguish of that day.

"I have stood in the shadows and witnessed how those who live and perform in this theater regard me. To them I am nothing but a fool, an imbecile too ignorant to reason or discern what goes on within these walls. They truly think they can pull the wool over my eyes." Viciously he threw the papers he had just collected down again.

He badly needed the release of his music.

The moment his callused fingertips touched the smooth keys, something melted the pervasive chill inside his body and he let his eyes fall shut, giving vent to the powerful music that raged within his soul. The chords intensified, growing rapid and gaining in volume, until he felt as if the very walls might tremble from the booming reverberations.

Snippets of the boyhood to which he'd been a reluctant witness merged with the recent past, until images of his mother, Christine, Nelly, and Arabella whirled in a mental kaleidoscope of color, as swift as the concerto he played. He clenched his teeth together and pounded out the chords while tears he felt helpless to control trickled down his cheeks. With one, final, strident chord, he slammed his fingers on the keys, suddenly feeling hollow as his fevered symphony trickled away into nothing.

"Ahh ahh ahhhhhhhh …"

A haunting chorus of children's voices echoed in a pure, chilling whisper of song behind him. He spun around on the bench in shock.

From every direction little children in glistening white sat or stood in silent repose, unafraid as they stared at his naked face. Standing atop the middle of the lake, a glorious vision in shimmering rose and white satin appraised him. The hem of the young woman's gown was not discolored, showing no sign of dampness, and he wondered if the rich cloth even touched the water. A tasseled belt of braided gold encircled her small waist. Two children stood behind her, bearing the long train of her velvet, fur-trimmed cloth-of-gold robe in their small hands. A multitude of tiny diamonds sparkled among the shimmering golden ribbons and holly in her fair hair as well as in segments of her gown and cloak. The luster of diamonds seemed to dust her very skin. She gave off a luminescence not unlike that of his previous visitor, stunning in its presentation.

"I assume it safe to say that you are not Meg Giry?" the Phantom quipped once he regained composure.

She gave a light laugh, as buoyant as her presence conveyed, annoying him. "You would be correct in that assumption, Monsieur. I am the Spirit of Christmas Present."

"My most humble apologies." He motioned to the organ keys with one hand. "I was otherwise occupied and failed to hear the outside clock toll the hour of one to receive you properly. But of course a closed gate – a sign, incidentally, that those within do not wish to be disturbed – proves no barrier to your kind, does it?"

"Hmm." She studied the magnificent instrument and the row of pipes beyond it then returned her gaze to him, not the least bit affected by his sardonic behavior. "Your genius is evident, Monsieur, though the bitterness that rages inside your soul tends to cast a pall on what could be a wondrous work of art. So depressing," she murmured sadly, "and on such a joyous occasion as this day, when goodwill and cheer should run as freely as a fall of refreshing water."

"Joyous occasion? Goodwill and cheer? That, Mademoiselle, is a matter of opinion."

Annoyed that she should have the audacity to criticize his music, so much a part of him that he felt it ran through his blood, he pushed away from the organ and stood to his feet. "You have come to deliver a message? Say your piece then, and be gone. I have a great deal to accomplish and must make up for lost time."

"Lost time? What a strange thing to say to me." She glided over the water toward him, the children in her wake. The others slowly gathered to her from the far sides of the lair like a flock of small doves coming to roost, and she wrapped her arm around the smallest boy. Reminiscent of her predecessor, the Phantom could now clearly see that a luminescent mist composed her being as well as the children's. "Do you not know that I am the guardian of time for all of Christmastide in this present world you inhabit?"

He found it difficult to look into her clear blue eyes; they delved deeply, as though intent on unearthing his darkest secrets.

"Who are they?" He motioned toward the nearest child, a tiny girl of no more than five with long fair hair. She sat on the ledge near one of two shields propped there, her legs drawn up under her long silk gown. She gave the Phantom a slight, mysterious smile, but rather than reassure, it unsettled him.

"These are the Children of Hope, the hope for the future. Without them, mankind would cease to exist." She smiled down at the boy she held close to her side and he shyly giggled up at her. With a loving touch, she brushed her fingers through his curly dark locks. "They attend me and, in turn, are nurtured by my presence until their time comes to be born. Needless to say, there are many more than these few who have come with me tonight. You were once one of these though you would not remember..."

"You call this rabble a 'few'?" He grimaced, unnerved by her words.

The Spirit peered closely at him. "You do not care for children?"

"As long as they steer clear of my path I tolerate their existence. They are of no significance to me. The world is full of them."

She laughed, the sound like the quiet tinkling of chimes. "An odd remark from a man who did his utmost to care for one such child!"

"She was different."

Discomfited by the Spirit's reminder, he averted his gaze to the nearest spot, which happened to be the little girl sitting by the shields. She again smiled at him. Quickly he returned his attention to the Spirit.

"Hmm. Perhaps …" She looked at the expectant faces of the small boys and girls with love, addressing them as a mother would her offspring. "For this journey, my sweets, you must stay behind and go home, to the others. Never fear, I will return anon and we will share in a glorious celebration of song and feasting, in honor of this special day when the Christ child came into this world."

Several of the children nodded, their expressions trusting. It put him in mind of the way Christine used to look when he would speak to her from within the walls - even when he brought her through the mirror - and a pang of despair shot through his heart.

The little boy hugged the Spirit close before letting her go. As the Phantom watched, their images faded from view until he stood alone with the Spirit of Christmas Present. She surveyed him as if pondering a deep, mystical secret, and gave a slight, knowing nod.

"Well?" he asked, made uneasy by her splendor and annoyed that she seemed able to see through him, as if he were the one made of mist, but he could not discern what composed her thoughts.

"The time has come for you to see yourself through the eyes of others."

"Not a pretty sight, I assure you. Also not necessary. I know those within my opera house despise me and perceive me as their greatest evil."

"Do you?" She looked away from him and turned to face the wall nearest his bedchamber, slowly lifting her right hand, palm up.

As the Phantom watched, the section of wall utterly dissolved, revealing a spiral staircase of gleaming ivory that wound many levels upward. It glistened as though daylight had broken through the stones, the effect almost blinding.

"Can you not merely snap your fingers or perform a similar act and transport us there in the blink of an eye?" he muttered, trying to hide his amazement.

"Oh, don't be such a grouch," she reproved, her eyes twinkling with youthful mirth. "Where would be the enjoyment in that? Besides, some journeys must be taken a step at a time for them to be understood in full, and not just in part. Come, Vicomte de Chagny, it is time for you to witness the truth of how others perceive you."

"Do not call me that!"

"Why not? It is your name, and your title. You have always wished to know who you are, have you not? Now you must grow accustomed to it."

"My father wanted nothing to do with me! I want nothing to with him or his name!"

"Hm, you two are more alike than you know…"

At the insult, he glared at her with narrowed eyes but she only smiled.

"Come." She held out her pale white hand in invitation.

Remembering the last time he refused to go where a Spirit ordered, he hesitated only a moment before he took hold of her wide satin sleeve and followed her up the winding staircase.

xXx

The Spirit led the Phantom along the narrow corridors backstage, where two elderly musicians sawed at their fiddles in Celtic song and a trio of men and women from the opera chorus gamboled in an Irish jig. Other performers formed a circle and watched, cheering them on, drinking whiskey or wine and laughing in an attitude of congenial merriment. One of the young bystanders looked directly at the Phantom, her manner curious, and he stepped back into the concealing shadows at once, alarmed when he remembered he'd been given no opportunity to reclaim his mask.

"She cannot see you, no one can," the Spirit reassured. "Though we move through this present world, for our journey you are much like the ghost you have always desired to become."

From behind, a male dancer brushed past his shoulder as though he were not there and joined the woman. The Phantom realized by her bright smile of welcome, it was the dancer she had seen.

The knowledge that he remained invisible relaxed him and he surveyed the frivolity as merely another spectator to be entertained. The musicians possessed talent; he would give them that. He'd had little aversion with regard to their previous performances; rather, the horrendous timing of the dancers and the sopranic baying of the disastrous La Carlotta had so often triggered his displeasure.

"Come along, it is time," the Spirit said. "We mustn't linger."

Annoyed that he should have to leave when he was just beginning to take pleasure in the festivities, the Phantom resisted. "For what purpose did you bring me here, if not to show me a matter that you consider of great import?"

"I do so love the music, the gaiety, and all the celebration given to this time of year, don't you?" She ignored his question as she surveyed the laughing crowd and her smile glowed with delight. "The miracle of Christmas touches the hearts of both young and old alike; the joyous atmosphere of goodwill toward mankind seeps into even the stingiest of hearts. Few can resist its appeal."

The Phantom grumbled something indistinguishable, unwilling to fall into her trap of admitting any partiality for the season or its effect on him.

"I'm sorry, did you say something?" she persisted.

"You were wishing to leave. If it means that my journey with you will end that much sooner, you have my full cooperation."

"Tsk, tsk." She gave a slight shake of her head though her smile remained intact. "Stubborn to a fault, I see."

"What fault is there in honesty?"

"At the price of being unkind? A vast difference, Monsieur. One should not wield vindictiveness and mask it with the claim of being honorable. There is no righteousness to be found in cruelty … nor is satisfaction found in returning evil for evil. Satisfaction brings with it peace, and the road of reprisal never leads to peace."

He did not respond, angered that she should discern his unspoken counterattack of men's cruelty regarding past injuries inflicted on him under humanity's supposed banner of justice. How could he hope to triumph over a spirit, even in a battle of words? Turning his back on her, he moved down the corridor.

"You cannot escape me, Monsieur. I am everywhere, all around you …" Her voice came soft, persuasive; he heard it even over the boisterous song and dance behind him, as if she whispered into his ear. "When you least expect me, when you will have nothing more to do with me, I am there … "

"To do what?" he shouted, spinning around, but she did not answer. He noted with surprise that she had not moved. As clear as her words came, he had thought her right behind him. "I was freed from your predecessor once I uttered the name she withheld. If I do the same with regard to you, will I then be rid of your presence?"

"Do you think you know it?"

He thought back through the ordeal of minutes with her.

"Goodwill? Cheer? Frivolity?"

She gave a delighted laugh. "Oh, but that would be too easy, Monsieur. True, I am the essence of all three. But you must look beneath what you envision, to understand the true message I have come to give. And to do that, you must live each moment as it arrives."

"I grow weary of your games." Once more he turned away from her in disgust and resumed his trek down the corridor.

She materialized in front of him, blocking his exit. "Pray continue, Monsieur. For once, you are traveling in the right direction."

"I told you, I'm not interested," he hissed between clenched teeth.

"No matter. Until I free you from this journey, you are my captive. It is the custom."

"Custom? Am I to understand that I'm not the only victim of spiritual abduction and manipulation, both for which you and your predecessor have an overzealous fondness?"

She smiled and raised her right hand, snapping her fingers. Instantly, Erik found himself inside his managers' office, where Madame Giry stood and appraised both men across the large desk.

The Phantom looked at the Spirit, his brow raised in question.

"You did mention you preferred this mode of transport, and we've wasted too much time already," she explained with a delicate shrug.

"Messieurs," Madame Giry's soft, stern voice caught his attention. "I thank you for agreeing to this meeting. As I mentioned earlier, I honestly believe that my superior does not wish anyone harm."

"Not wish anyone harm?" Andre asked incredulously, pulling his cigar from his mouth. He stepped from behind Firmin's chair to confront her. "Monsieur LeFevre mentioned a number of accidents the opera house has suffered in past years."

"Pranks and mischief." She shrugged off the incidents as if they were of no account. "Most of them aimed at La Carlotta, and honestly, who could blame him? That woman would try the patience of the meekest saint." Her words, delivered with a deadpan expression, surprised both Andre and Firmin.

The Phantom narrowed his eyes. What did she think she was doing? Because he had made her his liaison did not give her license to act on his behalf and without his knowledge!

"There is the matter of the notes," Firmin reminded. "Those threats sounded genuine."

"Ah, oui. The notes." She hesitated. "My superior has had a vested interest in Miss Daae since her arrival to the opera house when she was but a child. He seeks to aid her in realizing the dream her father had for her, one that she has also entertained. To sing the lead in the opera. Her father was aware of my superior's talents and, at my recommendation, gave his request that he should instruct her when she came of age."

"It would seem the Vicomte de Chagny does not share the same aspiration for the young Miss Daae." Firmin took up his snifter of brandy, swirling it twice before taking a sip. "He has forbidden that she take the lead role of the Countess, and may I remind you the Vicomte is our sole patron?"

"Perhaps then, gentlemen, on opening night once the presentation of Il Muto has ended with no foreseen complications, the Vicomte will realize there was no danger and you will reconsider my superior's requests."

"Has he no name?" Andre asked in exasperation. "Besides Opera Ghost."

"Why should we believe no complications will result, when he has warned of retaliation if we refuse his wishes?" Firmin insisted.

"I respect my superior's desire to keep his name anonymous. I think it safe to say that he, like yourselves, would wish to avoid any troublesome conflicts or matters that would involve the gendarme. I'm convinced if you will meet with him, the results would prove beneficial to all involved."

"Do explain yourself, Madame." A glint of interest shone in Andre's eyes. "From my understanding, you are the only person with whom he's met. Why should he agree to meet with us? And what could he have that we would possibly want?"

She smiled secretively. "An Opera, gentleman."

"What?"

The Phantom watched, incredulous, wondering if the woman had gone mad. Did she think he would actually agree to meet with those two imbeciles and come to some sort of foolish compromise – of which she had been the sole craftsman?

"Before I continue, you have heard Miss Daae sing, yes? My superior is her instructor, and I believe, Gentlemen, we are agreed that Miss Daae's vocal aptitude far surpasses that of the current diva's?"

Andre darted a nervous glance toward the door as if fearful La Carlotta would come bursting into the room at any moment. "Explain what you have in mind."

"My superior desires three things in life: To give Miss Daae the opportunity to fulfill her dream –"

"Which cannot possibly occur without the Vicomte's consent," Firmin again reminded.

"After the successful opening of Il Muto, I believe the Vicomte will agree. His fear for Miss Daae's safety is all that prevents him from giving his approval at this time."

"Very well, let's say he does agree to let Miss Daae sing. What more does your superior request?"

She regarded them both a moment. "May I remind you, he is not aware of my request for this meeting. Before approaching him with the proposition of a treaty of peace among you, so to speak, I first want to be assured of your agreement with such an event."

The men exchanged looks with one another, before Firmin nodded once in her direction. "Do continue."

"The operas the theater has presented are recurrences of the same operas we have performed for years. Nothing truly innovative or fresh. The Maestro, for that is what he is, is a brilliant composer who has long desired to reach the world through his music. If you agree to listen to one of his compositions I am certain you will be impressed. He prefers his solitude and has written entire operas in half the time it takes most composers to produce one."

The Phantom's mouth dropped open in disbelief. Mingled feelings of resentment and anger for the cavalier manner in which she revealed his prized secrets warred with a peculiar eagerness to hear their response to her proposal. He would never agree to a face-to-face meeting with the two managers. Yet if there was a way to achieve Christine's dreams and his own through the arrangement of an anonymous meeting, he would be a fool not to seize such an opportunity.

"You mentioned only two of the three things your superior wants. What is the third?" Firmin stroked his mustache with fingers and thumb, his manner reflective.

She let out a soft breath, a sad look in her eyes. "That, Messieurs, is not your concern. If you meet these two demands, I am certain the Opera Ghost will be willing to put an end to his tricks and life at the opera house will resume order, at long last knowing peace."

"And the money?" Firmin reminded her. "He demands 20,000 francs per month."

She looked at him, aghast. "Surely, if you perform his operas, you will pay him his due? Perhaps not such a great sum as that, but nothing less than his worth. Then, too, now that the Vicomte is your patron is money truly an issue? The Maestro will bring more success than you can imagine. He is a true artisan, a genius when it comes to all matters connected with the arts. I should think with his influence not a seat will go unclaimed each and every night the curtain opens; the demand will be great indeed, Gentlemen. And I do not need to tell you what this will mean for your revenue, especially should the Vicomte withdraw his refusal to allow Miss Daae to sing."

The Phantom found it difficult to remain irritated with the woman when she defended his cause so admirably. The mention of his rival who'd given him such grief gave him pause. He could still barely grasp that he was the true Vicomte and that boy was his relation, his half brother. The thought did not sit well with him, nor did the familiarity, when he remembered the fool boy's affinity to Christine.

"Very well, Madame," Firmin said once he and Andre exchanged another look. "I suppose he wouldn't be a true artist if he didn't possess his idiosyncrasies. If it will bring peace to our opera house, we will meet with your Maestro to try to reach a compromise beneficial to both sides, if he does consent to a meeting with us. However, if even one complication develops on opening night, consider all terms of potential negotiations aborted. Moreover, any expenses incurred as a result of his 'tricks' will be taken out of your salary. The police will be notified and a warrant for his arrest issued."

The Phantom narrowed his eyes as he listened to Firmin's stipulations.

"Can you blame the poor man?" the Spirit asked from beside him. "Three years of nothing but trouble and mischief, and on their first morning as the new owners – what you did with that tapestry!" She shook her head, as though he should be ashamed, but he only smiled with remembered satisfaction.

"Ah, yes! What a moment: ending the agony of La Carlotta's screeches, and on the highest note. Justice was indeed served that day. A pity she chose not to take the message to heart and instead returned to manipulate her way back into the lead."

"You are one to speak of manipulations, 'Maestro.'"

He gave her a sharp look, but she only smiled.

"I presume you wish to hear that I will agree to Madame Giry's proposal on my unwitting behalf? Well, perhaps I will. I've not yet decided."

He watched as she tried to cover a laugh. "Of course you haven't. Such a compromise, had it been presented, would take great reflection on your part. Remind me, exactly, what you would have to lose?"

"You think I take pleasure in seeing my life and goals manipulated like pawns on a chess board?" Her smug attitude kindled his irritation, when suddenly he understood the gist of her words. "'Had it been presented'? So, they will break their word. Why does that not surprise me?"

Her lighthearted attitude disappeared and her eyes grew somber, confusing him. "The future is the consequence of each word spoken, each action committed in this present life. Sadly, as yet, you have little concept of that truth, and therein lies the problem, Monsieur. I brought you here, not so that you could belittle the actions of those who put their own reputations at risk in an effort to help you, but so that you might realize there are those willing to extend to you the benefit of an opportunity. An opportunity to accomplish all you have long desired." She sighed and held out her arm. "Come, we must go. I assure you, the next leg of your journey will not be so disagreeable to you."

He pondered her words, for once lacking any of his own.

xXx
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
PhantomnessFay
Moderator


Female
Number of posts : 2388
Age : 42
Location : England
Points : 3846
Registration date : 2008-05-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:11 pm

Nice chapter. You have a lovely way with words and it fits well with the period of time in the story. The chapter reads smooth and at a tempo.

Certain paragraphs stand out, such as:

Without realizing how it had happened, the Phantom once again found himself standing in front of his organ and staring at the great pipes across from him. He blinked several times while his mind adjusted to familiar surroundings. Sheets of his musical composition still littered the stone floor. His empty goblet sat on the table where he had righted it. A short distance away lay the Punjab lasso, a lifeless pile of hemp.

Nicely said. It sets the scene for the chapter and gives a good description.

No suggestions. Well done. Keep up the good work.

Brava, brava, bravissimi! Smile
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://novelsandotherwritingsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:30 pm

Thank you so much, PhantomnessFay! I'm glad you're enjoying this! Here is the next...

VII

.

The moment they entered one of the dormitories belonging to the ballet chorus, the Phantom noticed a lone figure kneeling beside one of many cots in the room.

His heart leapt in foolish joy then immediately plummeted in despair. He held back from walking the rest of the way inside, wishing only to leave.

"Have you not yet learned you have no choice in these matters?" the Spirit asked, not unsympathetically, her hands wrapping around his forearm, pushing him forward with her. Through the thickness of his sleeve her ghostly touch chilled his flesh, the first time she had laid her hand upon him; conversely the effect produced within him a peculiar sort of warmth he could only describe as peaceful, and he ascertained it was the substance of her being.

They came to stand beside the quiet young woman for whom he would give the world. Her huge brown eyes shone with a gentle innocence that first enslaved his heart. Her thick curls caught the luster of nearby candlelight. Recalling their softness, he wished he could touch her glossy locks, for he was certain she was no diaphanous shadow of the present. He understood she could neither see or hear him, but it failed to matter. His guilt at hurting her prevented him from reaching out.

Christine pulled from beneath her cot a small carved, oak box and lifted its hinged lid. To his amazement she withdrew a rose, withered by time, and cupped the blossom in her small palm, holding the stem with her other hand as though it were made of spun glass. A black ribbon trailed across her fingers, and he watched as she lifted the memento, touching the rose against her lips and inhaling its trace of musky sweetness.

"Where have you gone, my Angel?" she whispered. "I now know you're no true angel as you led me to believe; you are a man. But I don't know what else to call you." She gave a small vulnerable laugh devoid of humor and brushed the darkened petals against her cheek. "Do you now despise me for learning your secret? I was foolish and insensitive. Please forgive my curiosity. Rail at me if you must, tell me how cruel and ungrateful I am, only do not abandon me in this deep well of silence any longer..."

The Phantom's heart ached as he witnessed a tear, as precious as a jewel, slide down her pale cheek.

"And yet … though I've not seen or heard you …" She brought the rose to her heart, cupping it to her breasts. "I sense you are here with me." Her words brimmed with awe, and she lifted her face to look at the beamed ceiling, her eyes glowing. "For the first time since you escorted me from your lair all those weeks ago, I can feel your presence, as if you now stand beside me. Are you there, Angel?"

He looked with alarm toward the Spirit. "She knows that I am here?"

"There exists a bond, so strong, as to remain forever unbroken by the shadows of time or place."

He pulled his brows together, pondering her indistinct words, before returning his attention to Christine. The light shining from her face had faded, her manner now crestfallen.

"But I must be mistaken. It is only another case of wishful thinking. If you were here you would speak to me, I know it. You would not make me suffer so, despite my recent failings. Therefore, you are not here, and I am imagining this moment." She closed her eyes, bowing her head. "Almighty Father, in my childishness I've hurt my angel dearly. Please help him. Open his eyes to the truth of my…"

"There you are!" At the untimely intrusion of Meg's voice, they all turned to watch.

The Phantom felt a bit nonplussed to see and hear two Meg Girys in the room. He looked at the Spirit, who smiled mysteriously. Frowning, he returned his attention to Meg.

"I went to the chapel and found it empty," she continued, "whatever are you doing here? Why aren't you at the party?" She studied Christine's simple linen chemise and navy wool skirt, a bold contrast to Meg's own peacock blue and ivory silk gown. A headpiece of matching feathers adorned her upswept hair. "You're not even dressed yet!" Her confusion gave way to exasperation. "Tell me you're not planning to hide away for yet another gala event, Christine."

"I don't feel much like attending a party, Meg."

"Have you and the Vicomte had a row?"

Christine's lips tipped up in a slight smile. "No. Raoul is as thoughtful as always. I simply don't wish for the company of boisterous crowds at the moment. I prefer the quiet and seclusion found here."

"Hmm." Meg's gaze drifted down to Christine's hands. "What's that you're holding?"

Christine jumped a bit and looked down, as if she'd forgotten she held the rose. "This? It's nothing." With care and great haste she laid the faded blossom into the long box and closed the lid.

"If it were nothing, you wouldn't respond with such unease or guilt," Meg chided. "What are you hiding?"

Christine hesitated, smoothing her hand over the carvings in the wood rather than look at Meg. "If I tell, you must promise not to reveal what I say to a living soul."

Meg quickly crossed her hand over her bosom. "I swear, I'll tell no one."

Christine caught her lower lip between her teeth, still undecided. A short span of time elapsed before she spoke. "Do you recall when I spoke to you of my Angel of Music?"

Meg nodded. "After your operatic debut, when I found you in the chapel."

"I've met him Meg. But he's no angel. He's a man. He came to my dressing room and took me to his home that very evening."

At Christine's low, excited words, Meg's eyes grew round. "I always wondered what happened that night, but you would never speak of it. Nor would Maman, though I felt she knew where you had disappeared to."

"She did, and there's more." Slight furrows of worry marred Christine's smooth brow. "I discovered he's not only my teacher, but also the Opera Ghost who's been the cause of all the trouble here."

"The Phantom of the Opera?" Meg breathed in astonishment. "Oh, Christine … Tell me, is he as fearsome as Monsieur Buquet says? What does he look like? Does he truly have no nose and yellow eyes that glow?"

At the onset of Meg's girlish enthusiasm for the gruesome, Christine grew upset, her brow clouding. "Monsieur Buquet is a fool who speaks of what he doesn't know. Please, Meg. This is important." Meg quieted, questions in her eyes, and Christine continued. "I don't mean to scold, but you see, I've hurt my Angel terribly and can think of little else. I … I did something I shouldn't have, and now I fear he wants nothing more to do with me. Nor do I know how to make amends."

Her words of sorrow twisted the ever-present knife of regret in Erik's heart.

"Perhaps …" Meg began after seconds of difficult silence elapsed. "Perhaps silence is best, Christine. Has he not caused a number of accidents and provoked terror throughout the entire opera house? The managers fear what further mischief he has planned. He's dangerous."

"Don't be so harsh, Meg, that's not like you. There's much you don't understand. Though I confess I've cautioned myself many a time …" Christine grew introspective. "Yet no matter what argument I present, no matter how often I have told myself that I will fare better without him and that I would be wise to just try and forget him, I cannot escape one truth: I miss him. I am lost without him. For almost ten years we've been close. Without his voice to guide me and comfort me, even to scold me, without his company, I-I feel as if a part of myself has vanished…"

The Phantom stared at her in amazement. After all that elapsed between them during that last fateful hour they were together, she still desired his tutelage? After she had seen the curse of his affliction, she did not fear him but wanted him near?

"He touched me. My heart, my soul, my very self …" she continued dreamily, speaking to herself and forgetting Meg's company, "That night, when we were together, my soul ascended to a realm I'd never known before." Her words grew conflicted. "At the same time, I've never been more torn or troubled. And now I feel empty inside, like a ship, adrift, that has no rudder."

At the appalled look on Meg's face, Christine let out a humorless laugh, a faint blush sweeping across her cheekbones and brow. "No, it's nothing like that. He was a perfect gentleman, I assure you. My virtue is quite intact."

He felt grateful for her naive ignorance of just how close he had come to making her trustful words yet another lie.

"I'm relieved to hear it. Maman says a woman who doesn't guard her reputation will likely never stand before the altar to be wed - and 'if it happens in her opera house, she'll be dismissed from the ballet corps.'"

"Oh, Meg." Christine's voice came dejected. "I cannot think of such things now, much less nurture hope for any future."

Meg's brow puckered in sympathy as she laid her hand over Christine's. "As time passes, the memories will also fade. You must occupy your hands and mind with activity. Not hide away in a corner and dwell on all that's happened. You do still plan to attend the masquerade ball?"

"I suppose."

"You suppose?" Meg shook her head in disbelief. "You do realize every woman inside this opera house would give their eyeteeth if the Vicomte would look at them in the manner he looks at you? I have no doubt in my mind that he'll ask you. Perhaps tonight!"

Christine gave a soft smile that weighted the Phantom's heart with dread. "Raoul is sweet. He hasn't changed since we were children. He's still as dashing and attentive and considerate as always."

"Well then?"

Christine shook her head, unable to explain. "It is I who has changed, Meg. I'm not the child I was the summer Raoul met me and called me Little Lotte. We were childhood sweethearts, but so much has changed. I was only six years old at that time."

"Marriages have survived on less solid foundations. Some marriages begin with nothing at all."

"You speak in haste, Meg!" Christine's eyes widened with astonished concern. "Raoul has made no such intentions known to me."

"Perhaps not yet, but I'm positive he will in the near future, just as I am positive he'll invite you to the Bal Masque."

"Do you know something you're not telling me?" Christine asked a bit sharply.

"No, or course not. I wouldn't keep such secrets from you. It's just a premonition."

Christine nodded, satisfied with her explanation. Meg did tend to have an uncanny ability to guess at things before they were actually pronounced.

"He'll be here tonight. He might have already arrived," Meg urged. "I overheard him accept the invitation the managers extended..."

Christine dropped her gaze to the wooden box, and Meg studied her friend curiously.

"Christine …? What are you thinking?"

She let out a deep sigh, then looked up after a moment, her smile unexpectedly bright yet overly so as if it were forced. "That you're right. It is dull and dreary here. Let us go and attend the yuletide celebration."

"That's the spirit!" Meg smiled, holding out her hands to help Christine rise from the floor. "And I know the perfect gown for you to make use of, from the costume room - the rose red with the Battenburg lace; it's perfect for you! I'm sure Maman will agree …"

Christine nodded as she drifted from the room, arm in arm with Meg. Out of a customary need to guard his protégé, the Phantom took a step after them to follow. The Spirit's hold tightened on his arm.

"You have other places to visit. For now, your time with her is at an end."

In frustration, he watched the gentle young woman who haunted his heart glide down the corridor and giggle with her friend.

"Perhaps it is best," he admitted, though remaining invisible and attending the gala did have its merits. "She wishes to forget me and all that transpired between us. Yet if I were to see that boy go near her, I vow he would not remain standing, half brother or not." The familiar title with regard to his adversary sounded foreign to his ears when spoken aloud, even more so than when he'd only thought it.

"That is the sum total of all you learned from this visitation?" the Spirit asked, her expression incredulous. "Did you not hear from her own lips or see with your eyes the expression of her feelings?"

"She doesn't know what she wants," he summarized quietly. "I've given her nothing but grief since my grueling decision to present myself to her. Would that I never had, that I had remained hidden. She admitted to feeling torn and troubled; small wonder when so harshly faced with the grotesqueness of my infirmity."

"The only true infirmity resides inside your mind, Monsieur, if that is the extent of your logic. And they call you a genius? Rubbish!"

He cast a startled glance the Spirit's way. She appraised him, unsmiling. "Is that not the term you use to express what you deem as nonsense?"

He grimaced. "If you have something to say, speak your piece and be done with it. I weary of these ceaseless puzzles and foolish games."

"No, Monsieur, I cannot. That is not my purpose here. It is for me to reveal, and for you to reason and understand. I dare not trifle with the mind if the heart is not yet in accord." She sighed at his blank expression and pulled him toward the doorway. "Come, We have another destination to visit."

xXx
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
PhantomnessFay
Moderator


Female
Number of posts : 2388
Age : 42
Location : England
Points : 3846
Registration date : 2008-05-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:57 pm

This is another chapter well done. It fits very well into the mold of A Christmas Carol. The Phantom and Scrooge not only alienate themselves from others, they lament on the past and do not easily make friends if at all.

Dialogue flows well and the plot moves at a good pace. Good job! Keep up the good work.

No suggestions.

Brava, brava. bravissimi! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://novelsandotherwritingsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:06 pm

Thank you, PhantomnessFay! What a Face

Here's the next...


VIII

.

The road they traveled remained absent of horse-drawn vehicles or pedestrians, though a few poverty-ridden souls huddled around a fire under the eaves of a decrepit building. A steady fall of snow dusted the muddy ground and the rooftops of the tall pathetic housing structures, two of which leaned toward one another like old, arthritic men.

The Phantom rarely left the opera house. When he did, he did not travel in this direction. Throughout his journeys with the Spirits, he'd felt neither the chill nor the heat from his surroundings, but now he shivered from the cold. He drew his velvet robe close about him and tucked his bare hands beneath his armpits, wishing he'd at least retrieved his cloak and gloves before leaving the lair.

"Where in blazes are we?" he groused, though certainly this godforsaken place was far removed from the fires of Hades. He cupped his hands in front of his mouth and tried to breathe warmth onto them.

"You would not be familiar with this place. The destitute make their homes here."

He sent her a sharp look. The quality of her tone seemed to suggest he was at fault for the welfare of the populace. A dirty child in rags, a basket over her arm, stood on the stoop before a door. Her cheerless blue eyes appeared to look straight through him, and he panicked before remembering she couldn't see him.

"It would seem that your spirit of joy and goodwill has not visited this locale," he said dryly, "though you claim such expressions flow universally throughout Christmastide, and manage to find even the stingiest of hearts and situations."

She smiled. "Good. You were listening."

He grumbled under his breath about the impudence of some spirits. "You have yet to present me with an explanation of your oversight in this matter."

"I do, don't I?"

Her comportment made the Phantom uneasy and he averted his gaze to the dwelling near which they now stopped. He caught sight of another small child sitting on a bowed wooden stoop. She clutched a patched cape around her tiny body, her gaze expectant as she peered past the Phantom as though waiting for someone special to appear.

"I am but Spirit," the Ghost murmured from beside him. "I can do little if others refuse to listen. If they choose to bar with walls of silence and apathy those in suffering, and close their eyes to the deprived souls in the world around them, I am given no opportunity to act." She drifted closer, peering intently into his face. He would not look at her but kept his gaze fixed on the wan child. "I influence the hearts of men to reach out with charity toward their fellow men, but if they choose not to listen, then all will suffer. Wealthy or impoverished, those hale in body or ailing - none are unaffected by the crass choice of indifference."

The Phantom hardened his jaw and his heart, once more experiencing a complete loss of control regarding the situation. "Who is she?" His words came clipped.

The Spirit looked toward the girl, her expression now gentle. "A pretty child, is she not?"

From beneath a cloud of unkempt but clean hair the color of russet, huge dark blue eyes scanned the area beyond him. An expression of dismay swept across the child's face, before she dropped her gaze to her lap. He didn't have long to wonder about the reason for her change in disposition.

"Well lookie there, gents - it's the little cripple," a boy's voice called out from behind the Phantom, and he turned to look. "What hole did you crawl out of, pigeon?"

A trio of hooligans, no more than twelve years of age, approached the child. "Like as not a rat hole, as tiny as she be," another boy said, and they all laughed.

One of them scooped up a fistful of snow, packed it hard and threw it with a savage thrust. It hit the girl squarely on the forehead. Lifting her fingers to rub the pink spot, she ducked her head lower into her cloak. She remained as if turned to stone while the boys continued to taunt her.

The Phantom gave a disapproving grumble. "Why does she not respond - at least tell them to leave her be? Has she no tongue in her head?" He doubted such a command would faze her tormenters; she looked years younger than the bullies. But surely she had some fight in her!

"She has learned that reacting in kind is of no benefit, and offering them the response of silence will cause them to retreat."

The Spirit's words seemed to chide the Phantom, and he felt they were meant for him.

"She is too small to do harm in any event." His rebuttal sounded weak, and the slight smile the Spirit gave irked him.

"You there! You despicable little worms - get away from her!" A heavyset woman lumbered into view, swatting evergreen fronds at the trio like great green whips. The young hooligans fled, scattering like mice.

The girl's face brightened and she held out her arms. "Maman! You came home."

"Of course I came, Poppet." With the threat of the boys gone, the woman's manner gentled, and she scooped her daughter up in her arms, hugging her close. "Did you think I wouldn't? Where is Grandmere? And why are you sitting outside in this freezing cold? You'll catch your death, child."

"I was waiting for you." The girl wrapped her arms tightly around her mother's neck, pressing her cheek to hers. "I knew you'd come. You wouldn't miss Christmas."

The Phantom stared at the plump and dowdy redhead, thinking he'd seen her before, but that was impossible.

"Where is your crutch?" the woman asked.

The girl pointed near the stoop, and he watched the woman bend down so the child could retrieve a crude stick.

Still holding her daughter in her arms, the woman whisked through the door, and the Spirit motioned that he must follow.

The room they entered boasted little: a worn sofa, a table and two chairs, a small cot tucked away in a far corner, shielded from the room by a faded curtain. On the sofa in front of a small hearth and dying fire, an elderly woman snored softly, a faded image of the younger woman who held the girl.

With care, the plump redhead settled the child onto a chair and set before her a hunk of charcoal and a brown wrapper that once covered a parcel. "There you go, Poppet. Draw a pretty picture for Maman while I talk to Grandmere, hm?"

"I'll draw an angel, shall I, Maman?" the child asked with a smile.

"You do that, cherie."

At her mention of angels, the Phantom eyed the Spirit with barely concealed irritation. "Is there a reason we have come to this pitiful dwelling?"

"In life, there exists a reason for all things, Monsieur."

He narrowed his eyes at her words. As always they seemed to contain a hidden meaning he felt certain he would not appreciate. He turned upon hearing the woman on the sofa awaken.

"You're here." She rose to a sitting position. "Didn' think you'd make Christmas."

"You've been drinking," the redhead said in an angry whisper as she sat down beside her.

"Non, but I will if you don' tell me what's been keeping you, daughter. Where have you been?"

The fight left the woman, her shoulders slumping. "I was discharged two days ago and have been looking for work ever since."

"Discharged!"

"Shh!" She darted a look over her shoulder at the child, who sat engrossed in drawing her picture, before returning her attention to her mother. "Madame told me to take my things and go. Like as not, he put the flea in her ear to do it!"

"He? One of the managers?"

"Non, they do not intimidate her. They do not yet understand the workings of the theater, and few pay them any mind. It's him, I'll warrant who done this to us - the Opera Ghost. Madame told me she had orders from her superior to sack me. An' he's the only one she calls by such a high and lofty name."

The Phantom inhaled a hissing breath through his teeth, at once realizing the identity of the woman. He cast a sharp glance at the Spirit, wondering what reason she had for bringing him to the pathetic lodging of the opera house's former seamstress.

"Your work is exceptional," the older woman argued. "They're fools not to see it! What did you do?" she added suspiciously when she noted her daughter's downcast eyes. "You must've done something to cause them to give you the boot."

"I passed many a night making a coat for Tina, from the wool of a costume left over," she mumbled, lowering her voice to a whisper. "Madame Giry caught me. I'd already received a warning about my tardiness in delivering a costume."

"But you lived there so you could get his impossible demands delivered on time!" The elderly woman cast an uncertain glance the child's way. "What will you do now?" She lowered her voice.

"I don't know." The former seamstress dropped her head into her palm.

"Instead of gallivanting about collecting greenery," her mother cast a disparaging glance to the lengths of garland, "you should have spent time lookin' for work."

"And what manner of man would hire a seamstress on Christmas Day?"

"Mayhap you'll find work to bring home and watch after the child. I cannot continue carin' for her; I'm old and tired, Dulscia; I fear my time to meet my Maker isn't long in coming. And if Tina doesn't soon get the help she needs -"

"Stop it, Maman," the child's mother wearily insisted, as though she'd heard the lecture many times. Her expression grew determined. "I'll find a way to take care of all of us. But I'll need a good job to pay for the special doctor Tina needs. Bringing home basting and sewing won't accomplish that." She raised her voice a notch. "It's him that done this to us! He's the cause of our quandary. He cares nothing for anyone but himself, hides away only God knows where, as if afraid to show his face - and brings a soul nothing but grief and troubles for all the long hours and hard work. Always issuing his impossible demands! He ordered that Miss Daae's gown be completed in three days for her singing debut - three days! Can you imagine?"

"Maman?" The child lifted her focus from her work. "Who are you talking about?"

"No one, Teeninsey." The young woman's expression underwent a dramatic transformation as, all smiles, she moved toward the child. She laid her hand atop the girl's head while looking down at her work. "Why Poppet, that's lovely. You draw the prettiest angels."

"Were you talking about the Ghost, Maman?"

"Ghost?"

"The one that lives at the opera house." At her mother's surprised expression, the girl explained, "I've heard you and Grandmere speak of him some nights when you were home to visit."

"Well now." Agitated, the woman snatched up the garland from over the back of the chair. She began to tuck it in areas of the room. "You mustn't worry your sweet little head about the likes of that tyrant. He's no ghost, only pretends to be. He's nothing but a man. A very bad man. It's due to his interference I've not been able to visit much, though I suppose now that will change."

Tina studied her picture. "He does bad things?"

"Oui, very bad things."

"Maybe he's only sad and wishes someone would care." The child again picked up the charcoal in her small fingers and began drawing on the paper.

"What?" Her mother stopped fluttering about and looked at her strangely. "Why should you say such things, Poppet?"

"I think sometimes people do bad things 'cause they're all alone and think no one likes them. He must be sad and lonely if he hides from people, like you said." She looked up from her picture, innocence shining in her blue eyes. "I shall pray for the Ghost, that an angel brings him a friend. I think he must need one very badly. Will that be all right, Maman?"

Her mother shook her head in disbelief and hunched down to wrap one arm around the girl's frail shoulders, hugging her tightly. "It's more than the likes of him deserves. You're too good, mon Poppet. It is you who are the angel."

The Phantom stared at the intuitive child in awe, moisture welling in his eyes.

"Little ones, whose souls rest at the very threshold of heaven, often perceive truths beyond the knowledge of other mortals," the Spirit explained softly. "Often they alone can forgive when others cannot."

"I know the name you withhold," he whispered, shutting his eyes as a tear slipped down his cheek. "It is Mercy."

"At last you have come to understand, Monsieur," she said with a satisfied smile. "But the question remains, what will you do with the knowledge?"

"What ails the child?" He changed the subject to the moment at hand, uncomfortable with the Spirit's prompting.

"An accident twisted her leg; her heart never has been strong. She needs special care, care even a mother with an abundance of love cannot give her."

He looked directly at the Spirit. "Will she live?"

"Oh, but Monsieur, she is of little significance. The world is full of children such as she."

Reminded of his earlier disparaging words, he grimaced, clenching his teeth.

"Will she live?"

"It is not for me to uncover the future," the Spirit answered, her voice fading at the same time her dazzling image began to dissolve into mist, "but rather for you to decide the present course you will undertake."

"What does my present course have to do with -"

Before he could finish his question, the Spirit faded completely from view and the Phantom found himself staring at the rock wall of his lair.

xXx
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
PhantomnessFay
Moderator


Female
Number of posts : 2388
Age : 42
Location : England
Points : 3846
Registration date : 2008-05-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:28 pm

Another chapter well done. Very visual as the plot unfolds.


The only thing that confused me is this sentence: "She has learned that reacting in kind is of no benefit, and offering them the response of silence will cause them to retreat."

Did you mean reacting unkind? I apologize for not understanding.

Not that all of the chapter isn't good, but my favorite paragraph is:

Her comportment made the Phantom uneasy and he averted his gaze to the dwelling near which they now stopped. He caught sight of another small child sitting on a bowed wooden stoop. She clutched a patched cape around her tiny body, her gaze expectant as she peered past the Phantom as though waiting for someone special to appear.


This set the scene exceptionally well with few words.

Keep up the good work. Please give us more.

Brava, brava, bravissimi!
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://novelsandotherwritingsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html
EriksComposer
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 67
Age : 17
Location : Beneath A Moonless Sky
Points : 1832
Registration date : 2012-02-18

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:15 am

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write more! It's awesome!
Back to top Go down
View user profile
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:57 pm

Thank you so much for the reviews ("in kind" is another way of saying "the same" - it's an old-fashioned terminology that I felt fit with this 19th century story.) I'm going to go ahead and post the rest, though I don't blame anyone who won't want to read it, and am so sorry for the long delay. I got sick a lot last year, had a lot of work deadlines crop up on me- and quite honestly I forgot. I'll go ahead and post a chapter a day to make up for that - so at least you get the end of this prequel novella.

IX

.

Facing the rock wall where the Spirit had left him, the Phantom gripped the sides of a small table until the hard edges pierced into his flesh. His jaw clenched as he recalled his encounters through the Spirit.

"DAMN YOU ALL! I will not accept blame for the fate of those who have no part or parcel with me! I WILL NOT! Do you hear …?"

With a powerful wrench, he yanked the table from the wall and sent it skittering across uneven ground. Icons, books, and papers went flying. A statuette splashed into the lake. He paid them no heed.

With his wig clutched in both hands, he paced, setting it askew. In frustration, he tore the false hair from his head and threw it to the stones to land with the fallen objects there.

"For what reason have you shown me these events, oh vindictive Spirits?" He doubted either of the two Ghosts remained within the vicinity to hear his rant; regardless he gave vent to a host of new struggles that seemed to press hard against his chest, intent on stealing his breath. "Of what possible consequence are such occurrences to me? Am I intended to bear the shame for the outcome of those whose lives I have never known, never even knew existed?"

He strode the short distance to a shrine of drawings that bore testament to his feelings for Christine. He fingered the edge of one, an intricate sketch of her lying in repose with a sweet smile on her face, and pulled the parchment from the wall.

"Or am I to suffer remorse for creating with the woman I love a bond that cannot be broken, as evidenced by her desire to resume the acquaintanceship we have shared?" His voice gentled as he stared at the picture. "No, I tell you, I WILL NOT feel guilty for the very thing that has kept me - kept both of us alive and our souls flourishing. This undying bond of music, this empathy that fills our hearts, however much I may wish for more and know I shall never get it - I will not let what little we have that remains between us die." He looked up from the drawing to stare across the quiet lake.

"She is MINE. She always will be MINE. I will see to that, and the rest of them be damned!"

A chill wind blew in from the direction of the portcullis. Flames from the surrounding candelabrum sputtered, struggling for life, then blew out in a whisper. Only sparse candlelight from two alcoves remained. His lips parted in certain dread. No strong current of air ever reached this far below the depths of the earth.

Even as that knowledge flickered, he sensed he was not alone.

Prickles of foreboding shivered up his spine as he slowly turned to see what new dark fate had become his. Near the bedchamber he caught sight of a tall figure wearing a black robe and hood. The being stood with his back to the Phantom.

"Who are you?" he asked, edging closer. He snatched up his Punjab from the ground, though he knew if this visitor belonged to the netherworld, such an attempt at defense would prove futile. "Are you the third Spirit I was told to expect? The Ghost of Christmas future?" The figure remained silent, raising his ire. "Answer me, damn you! Why do you not show yourself?"

The figure turned, the motion jarringly slow, eerily steady. Erik backed a step away, dropping the rope when he noted that fingers of parched bone hung from the tattered edges of a draping sleeve. The ghoul began a deliberate approach, its face remained sheathed in mystery. The dark hood hung low, an executioner's garb that concealed whatever terror lay within.

The Spirit stretched out its arm, beckoning to the Phantom. At sight of the skeletal wrist and fingers, he retreated another few steps, the chill bumps raised on his flesh.

"This is the future as I perceive it?" he whispered. "Death? If so, why then have you come? What possible message could you reveal to me?" He faced the ghoul with false bravado. "I welcome death! Did you not know? It alone can free me from the everlasting pain found in this pitiless world!"

Despite his mounting alarm, the Phantom stood his ground while the Specter persisted in a slow, steady approach. The ghoul stopped within inches of him, the foul odor of decay clinging to its moldering garments. Clearly now the Phantom could see the maggots that swarmed from the robe's frayed edges amid the rot of flesh and bone.

Appalled, he took a swift step backward. The ground gave way beneath his feet and he fell backward into the lake.

His body made no contact with the gritty, shallow bottom. Instead, the earth opened and swallowed him whole.

The Phantom fell countless levels into an impenetrable dark void, strangely absent of water. Abruptly, he landed, feet first, in another world of shadows, more terrifying than any he'd yet encountered. His surroundings also appeared composed of mist and shadow, but darker than either the past or present worlds. A faint icy wind whistled past his ears. Entities of dread and fear crouched nearby, poised out of sight beyond each murky area he moved past. But the terrible Spirit of Death stood nowhere.

The Phantom continued to walk, taking note of each patch of gray fog that swirled about him, wondering again if he were living in a nightmare, a dream, desperately hoping it was so. After an unbearable span of time, during which he thought his sanity might well be endangered, the mist began to clear and the ghostly outline of the Opera House came into view.

The looming walls disappeared, fading into mist, and the stage materialized on the opening night of Il Muto.

With satisfaction he watched as the shadow of himself switch the vials of La Carlotta's throat spray with a potion of herbs he'd created to ensure her speedy departure and Christine's imminent performance as his Countess. He glimpsed the insufferable Joseph Buquet spy on him, pursue him, and felt the same mounting dread his shadow of the future must know. Afraid he would be revealed. Afraid his face would be revealed. Afraid for Christine should the degenerate find her … His heart pounded as, like a cornered animal, his misty image turned the chase around and killed his hunter.

Pandemonium ensued - faded quickly, swirling away. Another image abruptly took its place.

Christine with the boy on the rooftop. Nearby, a shadow of himself hiding behind a statue of Pegasus. Tears dripped down his shadow's cheeks while he also listened in horror as the boy promised Christine a lifetime of love and safety and their misty images kissed. The Phantom felt hollow inside as he observed the two leave and listened to his hurt and angry image vow vengeance on all who had disobeyed his commands.

The mist spun into another box of time, the night of the upcoming Bal Masque. He heard his soft plea that Christine give him another chance, saw the hopeful shine in her eyes as she glided toward him, felt the horror as his image caught sight of her ring and tore it from around her neck.

The shadow again faded in rapid whirl, and he beheld her troubled countenance the subsequent morning as she sought resolution with her heart in the cemetery. Flash. Another image - a duel with swords between him and the wretched boy, and to his angry humiliation, he witnessed himself trapped beneath the blade, sprawled atop the snow, as Christine begged mercy for him.

The image whirled again - murdering Piangi! - flash, another image as he took the stage and his magnificent opera unfolded. He could almost feel Christine's soft warmth as he held her tight against him on the bridge while they sang together the song he had toiled to write these previous days. Amazed by the rapture he envisioned on her face, he wished to reach out and touch her now. Wished she was not only a shadow…

Horrified, he watched her snap away his mask, her eyes begging his forgiveness - why, why had she done it again? - and then his ghost of the future cut the rope to the chandelier and escaped with her to the depths of the opera house as he had planned.

Another rapid fade, spinning into an image of his lair. Her anguish. His desperation. His sorrow as he told her what he had always believed true - that his mother despised and rejected him - to his great shock, Christine's revelation that the source of her qualms stemmed from his actions, not his face. He stood with a sense of shame and witnessed his vicious, desperate acts once the boy intruded, then watched with a sense of shock as he, himself, moved beyond the border of sanity and nearly killed his half brother.

With the choice of life or death hovering in the balance, the Phantom observed Christine boldly move toward his misty image, her eyes absent of fear. In awe, despite the repulsion of his marred face, he witnessed her passionately kiss him, not once in pity, not twice in some form of acceptance, but three times with what looked like … desire? Oh, how he wished to feel her lips on his and not merely see the future shadow of it!

But why had she rendered him vulnerable? Why had she removed his mask!

The mob's cries became audible as they stared at one another. He felt a part of his heart tear asunder when his misty image brokenly commanded her to go and never return.

Another image- himself, much like the small boy he'd been, shattered, quietly singing to his music box.

Another image- Christine in his bedchamber! His heart leapt in stunned surprise that she had so challenged his orders - challenged him - again! Where had such boldness come from?

She placed the ring in his hand then held it with both of hers, her gentle brown eyes beseeching him with sad entreaty, her expression desolate. She drifted away, in the gondola, with the boy to guide her while the Phantom watched her look back at his ghost, and he felt as if his present heart was breaking. Caught up in a rage, the shadow of himself destroyed the closest mirrors and walked through the final one that hid an escape route to another labyrinth of passages below the opera house. As the red and gold tapestry dropped over the mirror, the mists of the disjointed and austere future vanished.

The Phantom again stood alone in the emptiness.

"WHY…? - DAMN YOU!"

Fury bound in hopelessness roared inside his soul as he looked all around him, directing his anger to the invisible Spirits.

"Why show me such bleak shadows of what will be? How do I know all you reveal is truth? Do you hope to discourage me from my dreams? To take from me the one joy I have known in part and yearn once again to retrieve? To deny me the woman who gives my soul life…?"

His last words in the empty air came in a whisper and he bowed his head. "Do I not deserve a morsel of pleasure? Even the wild beasts of the field are content to bask in the sunlight - yet I cannot have even that! Is a lifetime of companionship with the woman I adore truly so much to ask?"

Maddened as his words continued to echo through the mist with no reply, the Phantom clenched his hands into fists at his sides.

"SHOW YOURSELF, SPIRIT OF HELL! ...Tell me why such things must be! Surely I can find a means that will give us both happiness - I want Christine to have nothing less! I do not wish her to suffer as I have made her suffer … I never wanted her to suffer." He wiped impatiently at the moisture that leaked from his eyes.

The fog parted a second time. Dark somber colors took on bizarre shapes until he found himself in a woman's bedchamber a third time that night. Before this, he had never dared enter a young woman's private rooms, though at times, when he guarded his protégé from vermin like Buquet, he stood within the walls and watched over her through the cracks and usually as she slept.

Candlelight glowed from two opposite corners of the opulent room, and tall windows of a balcony revealed dusk fast descending. In an ornate chair, with an expression of sorrow clouding her delicate features, sat the future image of Christine.

With a hand that trembled, she clutched the same small oak box that held his rose atop the gently rounded mound of her stomach. Miserably the Phantom took note of her condition while he stood at the side of her chair, reminding himself she was merely an image, no more than that.

Her sad, haunted eyes grew suddenly alert. An expression of hope shone from her pallid skin as she lifted her face his way.

"Angel?"

.

xXx
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
PhantomnessFay
Moderator


Female
Number of posts : 2388
Age : 42
Location : England
Points : 3846
Registration date : 2008-05-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:31 am

Good to see you back. This is another awesome chapter. It's very visual, very descriptive and the read flows beautifully.

Sorry you've been sick. Glad you are well and back to writing. Don't stay away too long.

Brava!
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://novelsandotherwritingsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html
Angel of Mystery
Newbie


Female
Number of posts : 27
Location : In a land far, far away...
Points : 1845
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:27 pm

Thank you, PhantomnessFay! What a Face

Here's the next:


X

.

The Phantom's heart constricted at Christine's wistful query. His lips formed her name in whispered response, though he knew she could not actually hear or see him. However, somehow she had sensed his nearness in the present … could she sense him in the future as well?

"Madame." A servant stood in the entrance of the room.

Christine collected herself, straightening in her chair as she looked toward the door. "Yes, Giselle, what is it?"

"Mademoiselle Giry wishes to see you. Shall I tell her you are otherwise occupied?"

"No, no. I will see her." She set the oak box on a small table near an oil lamp. "Please, show her inside."

With a curt nod the servant left, her disapproval evident by the expression of her tightly drawn mouth. The Phantom studied Christine while she waited for her friend. In the dim glow of candlelight, she looked like the shadow he had striven to be. Smudges of gray ringed her eyes, and her skin shone so pale it was almost luminescent, ghostly ...

"Bonsoir, Christine!" Meg's cheery voice interrupted his troubled inspection. "I have news I must share!"

She gripped the chair arms and sat forward. "They have found him?"

Meg's smile faded. "No, Christine, that's not the news I bring."

Christine closed her eyes and slumped back into her chair. Her forehead wrinkled in dismay as she frowned.

"You no longer need fear him," Meg soothed in a gentle voice. "I think you've heard the last of the Opera Ghost."

Christine gave a cheerless laugh. "Fear him? No, Meg. You misunderstand. I hope he will come - and that hope condemns me to break my sacred marriage vows, if only in my heart, causing no end to my shame."

The Phantom's heart lunged. Could it be...?

Meg blushed and her eyes widened. "You shouldn't say such things!" She darted a glance toward the closed door. "What if the servants should overhear? This isn't like you, Christine."

"I am beyond caring what they think, they think so little of me, regardless. I've heard them whisper among themselves about my former occupation as a chorus girl - and the horror that happened … that night. They blame me for that too, you know. Everyone does, thanks to that horrid write-up in the newspaper. Yet even matters such as my reputation seem trivial and cause me no great concern. I must speak to someone or I fear I will go mad! If I haven't slipped into madness already …" She gave a humorless laugh and bowed her head into her hand, pushing her fingers against her temples.

Meg rushed to her and knelt beside her, at the Phantom's feet. She reached for Christine's hand clasped over her stomach, and held it between her palms. "You always know you can confide in me, dear friend. I'll never break your trust."

"You mustn't, Meg. You must swear never to tell a living soul, for that would cause no end of pain to all involved." Meg nodded, and Christine continued, "I cannot release him from my mind. I've tried, Meg - oh, how I've tried! At times… at times I think I can hear him, his beautiful voice, his music … but it's only in my mind. If I knew where he was and what's happened to him, that he is alive and well, I think, then, I could learn to be content." She sounded doubtful and clutched Meg's arm in desperation. "God, Meg, he must be well! I couldn't bear it if he died! But I am denied any relief of the knowledge of his welfare, punished for my sin of desiring to be in the company of a man other than my husband. Oh, Meg, what's to become of me?"

Lines of deep concern appeared between Meg's brows. "You truly are so unhappy? Is life as a Vicomtess not all you imagined?"

Christine grew introspective. A faint smile ghosted her lips.

"There were a few moments at the beginning that brought some happiness, yes. But I have long felt as if I am fading to nothing. We both know Raoul can be officious, always insisting on his own way, as the nobility are wont to do. And being Vicomtess, I am expected to obey my husband without question in all matters; it is the lot I have chosen. I know that, I accept it." She cast her eyes down to her stomach. "However, I find deep gratitude that my condition excuses my involvement in the endless stream of balls and banquets my new title demands. Raoul insists we attend each one, but I weary of the countless social obligations expected of me as his wife."

"You always did prefer to secret yourself away when the festivities became overwhelming," Meg commiserated. "Yet, despite all that, I thought you were happy. You appeared to be."

A hopeless, sad smile touched Christine's face. "I tried, Meg; I truly did. I thought marriage to Raoul would … free me, be a, a safeguard. He is kind and understanding, and we do share interests that stem from our childhood. Life as a noble hasn't been without some merit. But the truth is: I married a man I do not love to escape a future I couldn't bear. And yet this is the future that has become intolerable!"

"Oh, Christine… No." Meg's tone offered gentle concern.

Christine gazed across the room, into space, and the Phantom felt his heart jump at the longing that misted her dark, eloquent eyes. Suddenly, they opened wide. She rose from the chair as quickly as she was able to in her condition.

"Christine?" Alarm rang through Meg's voice.

Christine brushed past her outstretched hand and hurried to the terrace. Throwing open the door, she rushed into the chill evening air and desperately scanned the immaculate grounds. Her fingers clutched the stone balustrade as she leaned far over. Meg, who had followed, grasped her arm hard, as if afraid she might fall. The Phantom also experienced a sharp twinge of fear and hurried toward her, though he knew he witnessed only a shadow image and could do nothing.

"Christine - what is it? What do you see?"

"It's him," she breathed, her words full of awe and apprehension at the same time.

"Him? You mean…?" Meg studied the grounds in alarm.

The Phantom never looked away from Christine's white face.

"There's no one there, Christine." Her words soothed, as though to reassure a frightened child. "You only imagined it. From this distance and the angle of your chair, it wouldn't have been possible to glimpse anyone walking along the grounds with what little light is left in the sky."

"I didn't see him, Meg; I sensed him. Even before you came into the room I felt him with me. He's here … out there … somewhere hiding. As he did before. He must be..."

Her adamant whisper heightened the Phantom's regret. To his despairing shock and Meg's clear confusion his Angel of Music stared soulfully toward the grounds and softly began humming the song he had sung to her at the mirror, almost as if she wasn't aware she did so …

His heart torn, he glanced to the fringe of dark wood. His impeccable vision detected a hooded and cloaked figure slipping among the shadows, no doubt the future image of himself. He doubted any external influence - be it physical murder or the murder of his own heart in witnessing her marriage to another man - would have prevented him from watching over Christine. He would have continued somehow to be near her as long as he drew breath, even if to do so would condemn him to remain forever in shadows and absent from his beloved. And he did love her with all that composed not only his soul and his music, but also his heart! The irony did not escape him that the full awareness of such a revelation should become clear as he witnessed her future wed to his enemy - his half brother! An hour ago such knowledge might have sent him over the brink of composure into a fit of rage; he did feel angry, but it was eclipsed by a tremendous sorrow that their lives had evolved to this moment. That Christine, his beautiful Christine, was on the verge of madness …

Her humming stopped but she continued to stare out into the darkening twilight, as if she inhabited another world of time and space and had forgotten Meg's existence.

"My Angel has a hold over me … so strong, I cannot escape him," she whispered softly, like a little child. "Nor am I certain I wish to. Since the night I first saw him in the mirror that bond has strengthened, more so with each passing day." She closed her eyes. "Heaven forgive my betrayal, yet I cannot help yearn for the day he will come to me. In death. In life …No, he is alive. I feel it. And when he does come to me, when again I see his face, I will be both utterly complete and wholly desolate … for I am his, you see." She looked at Meg with a sad little smile. "I realized that in full measure the night I kissed him. No matter his past sins, he has bound me to him. I will never be free…"

"Oh, Christine..." Meg was flustered, uncertain what to say or do. "In time, such memories will fade. It's not yet been a year -"

Christine angrily shook off Meg's comforting arm and moved away. "No! They won't! They never will. The memories grow sharper each day I don't hear his voice, each day he doesn't come to me. Is that not strange …? Why doesn't he come to me, Meg?" She tilted her head like the little seven-year-old girl he'd first met in the chapel, and the words that followed mirrored those of that child. "Angel? Are you there? I know you're there…"

A wet trail glistened against her cheek, and the Phantom's heart broke. He did not bother to wipe away the moisture that covered his own face.

"Christine …" Meg looked away a moment, careful with her words, speaking softly and slowly as if to a child. "Your angel is no angel; he's a murderer. Wanted by the gendarmes. It's because of him Senor Piangi is dead, that the Opera House has been condemned - "

"You think I don't know all that!" She glared at Meg. "That I don't tell myself those very words day after day, after endless day?" She gave a humorless laugh through her tears. "I did attempt to escape the truth, my feelings - all of it - frightened by what he'd done, by all that happened. But Meg, I was a fool! See where it got me? He never would have harmed me. Never."

She clutched her bodice. "I've missed him so much I feel as if my heart is punishing me for leaving him, as if it's withering inside, little by little. I can feel it ... if he were to come to me I would go to him, even now, even like this, if he would but ask. I would be his ... his friend. If he would forgive me. I would hide him away from everyone, especially Raoul, and for that I am a wicked, sinful, evil woman! And do you want to hear the insanity of my confession? I don't even know his name!" She let out a despairing laugh bordering on hysteria. "Each time I thought to ask, circumstances interfered, and the moment was lost."

Meg moved to Christine, tightly wrapping her arms around her. Christine laid her head against her friend's shoulder. "Raoul deserves so much more," she murmured wretchedly, "but I can give him only a shell of the woman I was. We barely talk. He knows I hold secrets, many of which I've told you. But I tell him nothing. I've hidden from him the deep secrets of my heart, and in so doing I've hurt him. But to tell him the truth, that would destroy him."

"Not all is lost, Christine." Meg smoothed her hair, her hand trembling. "Think of the child. You will give Raoul an heir. Concentrate on your child and on the joy this babe will bring. Perhaps he or she will be the answer to your troubles."

The saddest smile touched Christine's lips as her manner mellowed and she calmed. "Yes, of course, the child. I've been faithful to produce what could be an heir for the de Chagny line; his family cannot fault me for that." She sighed sadly. "You're right, of course. I must think of the child…" With her fingertips, she wiped at the tears on her cheeks and lifted her head, giving a soft laugh. "I've been selfish in more ways than one. You have news to tell me?"

"It can wait."

"Nonsense," Christine insisted. "Tell me news that will cheer me, Meg. I so desperately need to find some semblance of joy again. And you seemed happy when you first came into the room."

"Well, yes, I am," Meg admitted with a cautious smile. "Do you remember Adolph, from the chorus? He's asked Maman's permission to court me!"

"Meg! That's wonderful. You've liked him since we first started dancing together." The two women hugged, sharing girlish laughter, though Christine's still sounded hollow, her smile not the effusive one he remembered.

To the Phantom's dismay, their forms began to dissolve into mist.

"No …" He turned his plea up to the dark, unrelenting sky. "Do not take her from my presence! Allow me a few minutes more …" His desperate gaze returned to Christine. "… that I may look upon her dear face..."

Her image grew fainter, while the haunted sadness in her eyes remained constant.

"Oh, Christine," he whispered. "Why ...?"

The enormity of her confession was too much to bear or comprehend. No matter her wealth of strong feelings, he had not failed to notice that not once did she speak the word "love" with regard to him - as if she ever could love the monster he was. Only that she felt eternally bound to him and helpless by the chains of his unwanted control. Weighted chains that were steadily pulling her down into the very depths of madness…

The cloaked form of a heavyset woman brushed past emerging from the dense, gray fog.

Had she been composed of substance and not vapor she might have knocked him down. Shocked by the intrusion of another being into this ghostly realm, the Phantom hesitated, again looking toward the beloved image of his Christine that once again became only mist.

Shaken from the experience, he then followed the strange woman through a patch of distant, swirling fog.

xXx
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://www.youtube.com/user/honeyphan2?feature=mhee
PhantomnessFay
Moderator


Female
Number of posts : 2388
Age : 42
Location : England
Points : 3846
Registration date : 2008-05-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Sat May 18, 2013 11:07 am

I have marked this thread to "watch" and should have received a email notice of this post, but I didn't.

Another good chapter. Very visual. Love the description.

For some reason, I really like the way you worded the following:

[b]He doubted any external influence - be it physical murder or the murder of his own heart in witnessing her marriage to another man - would have prevented him from watching over Christine. [/b]

Well done. Keep up the good work.
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://novelsandotherwritingsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html
PhantomnessFay
Moderator


Female
Number of posts : 2388
Age : 42
Location : England
Points : 3846
Registration date : 2008-05-19

PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:12 am

What happened to this story? We need more.
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://novelsandotherwritingsbyfaysimon.homestead.com/Home.html
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: "A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)   Today at 1:05 am

Back to top Go down
 
"A Phantom Christmas Carol" (based on Charles Dickens' Scrooge)
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
-
» A Christmas Carol
» Rate "A Christmas Carol"
» Christmas Song Parody
» Stamp collecting
» Why do we despise Victorian Art? asks Jeremy Paxman

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Erik Of Music :: English :: Phanfics-
Jump to: