|The Chief Scene Shifter Swings
Author: Anglachel PM
Joseph Buquet's thoughts before his death. A mixture of Gaston Leroux's Le Fantom de L'Opera and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. One-shot.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Suspense - Words: 870 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 1 - Published: 01-26-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2236870
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I went to the library and got a translation of Leroux's 'Fantôme' and realized that I had read it in French when I was younger. I though back and realized that I had read it when I was seven, and loved it. Amazing what you can forget over time, eh? Well, I've rekindled my obsession with this sordid tale, so, I give you, the story of Joseph Buquet!
He had had nightmares about this moment for months now. Every time he awoke screaming, sweating and pale faced, and he would have to convince himself that something like this would never happen, for of course, the monster did not exist! But he could feel the wooden planks creak beneath his scuffed and worn boots, and the clatter-clatter-clatter of something unspeakable. And this unspeakable thing was chasing him!
Joseph had first seen the creature lurking behind one of the sets of Roi de Lahore and he remembered the foul bile rising in his throat, and that awful feeling of nausea that over took him deftly and silently. He had cringed and wanted to scream, but the creature held up a long finger at his curved mouth, as if to say,
'Don't talk about what you don't know.'
The creature had then smiled, a horrible, disgusting sight, one that made his heart quake in horror.
Since the new managers had arrived the Opera Populaire there had been a rash outbreak of unexplainable things: missing props, notes left in discreet places and sealed with death, and a growing sense of apprehension that seemed to have grasped the entire theatre by the throat.
But as he ran across the twisting catwalks of the Opera, he knew that his nightmares were coming to life in the burning red death eyes of the monstrous creature that haunted the curtain wings. The swishing of the monster's cape brought him from his reverie and reminded him of the utmost gravity of his situation.
It was nearing.
But was it even human? Little Jammes, the littlest ballerina, insisted that he was a monster, but she was only an impressionable child surrounded by gossiping insipid dancers, especially La Sorelli. Madame Giry had only seen the creature's mask and assured him that it was indeed human, if perhaps demented and deformed. Then again, it was known to favor Madame Giry above all the other mothers that flocked backstage during the performances. The rumors or it having more than one head were very untrue, because when Joseph glanced around he could see that it only had one head.
He could not see the face, for the shadows of the theatre masked the repulsive features, but the eyes, oh god the eyes! they glowed like red gems, deep set and terrifying in that face which Joseph was glad he could not see.
When the set had fallen on the singing harpy known as Carlotta, Joseph had felt his chest constrict and as he stared up into the catwalks of the Opera, he had known deep in his chest that it had struck. Clearly, it did not like the Opera's leading soprano, and to be honest, who did? She was always strutting around as if she knew what she was singing about, but what did she really know?
La Sorelli and he agreed on one thing, and one thing alone. Carlotta was a witch, and a powerful one at that. What Joseph could not comprehend was how audiences would pay to see this woman sing like a dying chicken! But they paid his salary, so he could not be too indignant. After all, there is no accounting for taste in the upper class.
But why was he thinking of Opera when his very life was in danger? He did not know, and only hoped that all the little ballerinas would forgive him for not finishing the story he had been telling them that morning.
Joseph stumbled in his panic, but continued with heavy feet, knowing that a moment's hesitation could mean instant death. He thought of calling for help, but knew that there was no hope for it, for they were in the midst of practice, indeed Carlotta would have him fired for interrupting her aria!
There was something very wrong about all of this. He was being chased around the Opera he had grown up in, loved with all his heart. The Opera was his family, his home. To be chased by a creature that only in the past few years had taken residence in the place where he worked and lived, was mind baffling. He had always been safe in the theatre… Until it came.
He could see the winding stairs that led down to the backstage area and he headed for them, struggling to remember what Madame Giry had told him to do.
Just as he reached the first stair he remembered.
"Keep your hand at the level of your eyes!" she had warned. He moved to raise his hand and hurtle down the stairs when-
He was too late. As the rope closed over his neck and he began to plummet he thought-
"The Opera Ghost!"