Author's Note: Fondest greetings to you all... In a desperate attempt to avoid studying formy final exam tomorrow, I've decided to post this to see how it goes. Some of you may recall the inital story I posted under this title and you needn't worry; it is part of this tale. You will most likely find this idea strange at first, but I hope that it might prove to be a bit intriguing and hopefully it will at least keep some of you occupied! For phans of 'Fathers and Sons', this story picks up right as Erik and Raoul walk through the lighted doorway into the beyond. For those who haven't yet read that piece, this story should still make sense.
For the record, I was raised as a Roman Catholic - needless to say, you'll find a heavy Catholic influence on some topics discussed here. As religion is always a delicate topic, I'd like to take time now to say that I mean no offense to any religion in my interpretations of Heaven and Hell. If anything I've done here offends you, I apologize in advance - but please remember that no offense was intended.
I definitely don't own Erik, Christine, or any of the characters mentioned from the works of Susan Kay or Gaston Leroux but everyone you do not immediately recognize belongs my poor, chemistry flooded mind. The opening paragraph is stolen from Charles Dickens, thanks to a dare by my' phriend', Mary (who claimed that I couldn't incorporate PotO with A Christmas Carol!).
The Benefactor - Sins of Omission
Erik was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. While he may have resembled a corpse in life, now he had a perfectly acceptable reason for the state of his face and emaciated body. Christine had cried with him as he died; Nadir had buried him. Old O.G. was as dead as a door-nail.
Of course, this change of affairs caught Erik quite off guard; it is still rather surprising when one considers the anticipation with which he awaited his death. Lying wearily in Christine's arms one moment, he found himself transported to a warm, bright room the next. And once he had discovered a window which allowed him to watch his love and her family on Earth, he had never left that first chamber of light.
However, he could not deny the presence of an innate urge, a constant desire to move on intothe bright hallway at one side of the chamber– no doubt the path to eternity. He stayed in this limbo and watched with wonder at the world he had formerly inhabited but never had truly known. For all of his learning and genius, he found that he had truly missed the focal point of life, the true meaning for living. He had sobbed to himself when he confirmed what he had always thought in life; he had realized that despite his fifty-some years on the planet, he had never truly lived.
But as the years passed, he found that he had other visitors in the room - visitors that would stay and chat for a few minutes before walking unhesitatingly through the illuminated doorway. He envied these people for their faith that a greater reward awaited them on the other side; he had no doubt that Hell was just waiting to claim his soul.
The worst of these visitors was Christine herself; she had sobbed uncontrollably when she realized that her maestro would not accompany her beyond this small room on the path to heaven. She had stayed with him the longest of all of the visitors, watching over her small family for a few moments before the pull of the doorway became too strong for her to resist. She had kissed him once more, for the last time in eternity, and stepped through the doorway.
Watching her silhouette pass into the light, Erik wished with all of his dark soul that he could just die again, that he could just be granted the cold yet forgiving peace of the grave.
The years passed and countless souls passed by Erik toward their final judgment. Priests and thieves, murderers and children - all passed him by and unhesitatingly moved into the light. Finally, years after his death and that of his love, Erik decided that he too could muster the strength to try once more. He would try once more and would accept God's judgment, all for the hope of one final glimpse of Christine's face as he was dragged into the depths of Hell.
He passed through the doorway and suddenly found himself alone in another chamber - seemingly small yet immense at the same time. The right half of the room was as bright as the doorway had been while the other, the left side, was darker than even the cellars of the Opera had been.
He stepped closer to the shadows, his yellow eyes seeking movement from within the darkness. Something was creeping around there, just beyond the range of his vision. He moved to step closer but suddenly, a loud, ethereal voice boomed from behind him.
"Erik, your soul has been brought here to stand before Heaven and Hell to be judged for your actions on Earth."
Erik whirled around to face the voice and saw that a choir of angels had materialized behind him. They were all dressed in immaculate white robes andtheir hair flowed freely over their shoulders and over their wide, shining wings. He knelt down before them, stunned into silence by their beauty.
The owner of the voice stepped forward and Erik gasped as he looked into its face. The angel's visage was masculine but also held some of the features of a woman; it was stunningly beautiful, a flawless creation of God himself. But when Erik met the eyes of the other, he shuddered.
The angel's eyes were missing from his face; the holes where his eyes should have been were empty and an intense, bright light shone from the two sockets, giving Erik the feeling that the angel could see straight through him and into his soul.
"Erik, you will be judged by the laws of Heaven and it will be determined whether or not you will be placed in paradise or in torment until the end of time and the beginning of eternity. At that time, you will be judged by God himself and granted your final reward or punishment. I will now begin by reading the account of your life; your successes and achievements, your crimes and sins have all been recorded and will now be considered."
As Erik bowed his head in reverence, the angel opened a golden scroll and began to read. Erik trembled at the sound of his melodic voice; it seemed a crime to have such a lovely instrument of sound reduced to speaking of the actions that would forever repulse and revile even Erik himself. As the list continued and he was forced to relive each crime and shortcoming, tears began to fall from his eyes and ran down his cheeks.
The reading of this list lasted for what seemed like another lifetime and when the voice finally ceased, Erik had huddled into himself, sobbing like a child. The voice then called him out of his musings.
"Erik, these are the crimes that you have committed in defiance of all holy and sacred principles. The forces of Hell will now be called to argue for the possession of your soul."
Erik looked up in horror for whilehe had assumed that he would be destined for Hell, he did not expect that his judgment would be so swift; the agents of Heaven were supposed to be merciful. The angel still looked down on his huddled form and Erik moved his lips, trying to force himself to speak his one last request.
Suddenly, sharpened talons and vicious teeth ripped across his skin and tore at his face, robbing him of the ability to even think clearly enough to beg to see Christine for one last time. He could smell the disgusting odor of sulfur on the demons' breath and their hideous rasps as they laughed in glee. As they tormented him, Erik saw that the angels looked on in disgust but they made no move to help him.
He could do nothing but allow himself to be subjected to this torture as the demons hissed at the angels, fighting for the right to lay claim to his soul. The head angel, unmoved by the writhing masses before him, calmly argued back that many of the crimes that Erik had committed were forgivable by God. The bantering continued for what seemed like another lifetime, all while Erik was tormented by the very claws and teeth of Hell.
Suddenly, another ethereal voice rang out over the sounds of Erik's screams and the demons' hissing. Upon hearing this cry, the demons left him, screeching in terror at the appearance of this new being. Unwilling to open his eyes, he heard this other voice speak to the head angel politely as it moved closer to Erik. He was roughly pulled into a seated position and he opened his eyes to see the owner of the voice facing the choir of angels.
This other being was obviously an angel as well; it had the same height and build as the other heavenly creatures. But this creature's robes were torn and tattered, the immaculate white cloth was smudged with filthy and soot. Erik gasped as he saw the remnants of this creature's wings; the thick white feathers had been charred and torn, leaving only a smoking wreckage in their stead. His quick intake of breath brought him to this being's awareness and it slowly turned toward him.
This angel was as beautiful as any of the others; the work of God's own hand was visible in the high, finely sculpted cheekbones and soft lips. This angel was more feminine than male, and her thick dark hair draped over her shoulders and caressed her breasts, which were barely covered by the smoldering material of her robes. She walked towards him slowly and he looked up into her face and prepared himself to meet her glowing gaze.
He gasped in horror as he saw that which was the angel's eyes. Whereas her brothers and sisters had eyes of pure, white light this angel's gaze was one of complete darkness. The black orbs radiated evil, burning Erik with the intensity of their malevolence. He cowered in her presence, issuing a silent prayer to God to spare him from this wicked being.
"Prayers will not do you any good now, Erik." The angel declared in a chillingly beautiful voice. "If you had truly desired to escape such a fate, you should have remembered God a bit more during your time on Earth."
The dark angel faced the white guardians once again and spoke, her magnificent voice tinged with impatience. "Camael, why have you hesitated on this judgment? I had expected a quick resolution to this man."
Camael, the head angel, looked at Erik before replying to her inquiry. " Mortoliel, this man's case is very unique. He may not have abided by all of God's laws, but he has always held the most sacred of teachings near his heart. He has truly suffered in life and has tried to repent for his sins..."
The dark angel sighed and impatiently tapped her foot on the floor of the room. "Camael, this man has violated the laws of Heaven and Hell more times than I can recall. He was a Catholic and never sought absolution. He has never worshipped any deity since his childhood. He has not even held human life to be sacred. How can you even hesitate on delivering your judgment? His soul is destined for Hell."
"Mortoliel, many men have been forgiven for the crimes that Erik has committed. Murderers and thieves have entered Heaven before, even without confessing their sins. This man had truly repented many of his crimes and many have prayed for the sake of his soul."
"Does Heaven forgive him for his crimes?"
"God will always forgive a repentant sinner, Mortoliel."
"But God will not judge until the end time. Where is he to go until then? I am under orders to bring his soul to Hell."
"I have already told you that many of his crimes have been forgiven before. He has repented for many of his sins."
"There is one sin that he has not repented, Camael. And it is for that sin that I summon his soul to Hell. The murders can be forgiven, but this crime cannot."
"Mortoliel, what crime do you mean? What has he not repented?"
"The sins of omission."
The demons lurking in the shadows hissed in glee when Mortoliel stated this. A dark glare from her silenced them, but to Erik's dismay Camael looked discomfited at this declaration. The angel frowned and nodded silently.
"I see, Mortoliel. It is a pity, but you are correct as always. You may take him."
"No!" Erik cried out in horror. "I will accept my fate, but you cannot condemn me for something that I did not do! Let me burn for the murders and the tortures, not for my inactions!"
Mortoliel turned to him, her dark eyes tearing into his soul. "You have been forgiven for all that you truly have regretted. But, you never regretted wasting God's gifts to you - of which there were many. You may have been lacking in appearance, but your intelligence and talents were without equal in the world. You took these things for granted and never shared them with mankind. You never did anything to benefit another human being without expecting something in return. Instead, you manipulated and used your fellow man for your own devices; never did you learn to interact with them on an honest and decent basis. You were given more gifts than almost any other man ever alive and you squandered them instead of cherishing them. When did you ever bring anything but pain to another human being?"
Erik sobbed at this horrible statement; it was a painfully true fact of his life. He had tried to share his abilities with the world when he was a child, but he had simply ceased to make further attempts in his adulthood. Reflecting on his life, he realized that while he had so desperately yearned for compassion from another human,he could not remember a time when he had acted simply out of sympathy or compassion on another's behalf. Everything he had ever done had occurred only while thinking of himself. Even his love for Christine was selfish; he had forced her to suffer in his mad quest for her love.
He could not help but regret his life now; it would have truly been for the best had his mother drowned him at birth. He knew and accepted his fate, but still he turned to the choir of angels looking for support, desperately searching for one sympathetic glance. He found none; the divine creatures were emotionless and unmoved by his plight. Looking again at Camael, he cringed as the angel lifted his arms.
"Heaven cannot forgive the sin not repented." he called out, his divine voice echoing throughout the immense room.
Mortoliel lifted her arms in the same manner. But despite her actions, she seemed to hesitate for a moment as a look of remorse crossed her beautiful face. But this emotion was swiftly fleeting and she then opened her mouth and declared "Hell awaits the sinner not repenting."
The brightness began to recede from the room as the demons cheered for their victory. The stench of sulfur and brimstone permeated the chamber and the temperature of the room rose sharply. He cringed as he felt these changes; he could only hope that this torment would be no more horrible than that which he could bear. The choir of angels faded into the distance and Erik began to cry again; he would not even be granted one more glimpse of any of his family again.
Suddenly, their descent into Hell stopped as a small voice cried out "No! It's not right! You mustn't take him!"
Mortoliel whirled around, her hair flying and her black eyes blazing with anger. In a beautiful but terribly frightening voice, she called "Who dares to challenge this judgment?" The demons hissed as a small child, neither male nor female, in white appeared in the midst of the smoke and cinders. While obviously frightened by the horrible monsters, the child answered in a timid voice.
"I do. I am of Heaven and this man does not deserve to burn. He has committed great crimes, but his life has changed those of other men for the better. He must not be punished for that."
Camael then appeared in his white glory and took the small child by the shoulders. "Child," he stated in a firm voice, "you must never violate the judgment of another soul. You mustn't cross the boundaries of Heaven and Hell; it is not permissible. Mortoliel, I apologize for this interruption."
He took the child by the shoulders and turned to leave. The demons cheered in response but just as all hope abandoned Erik, Mortoliel called to the departing angels.
"Camael, I will not accept this soul until I hear all of the facts. Child, come to me…"
The small child turned and walked slowly toward the fallen angel. Camael pursed his lips in annoyance; it was against all of the laws of Heaven for a mortal soul to take part in the first judgment. When the child stood before Mortoliel, it faced her malevolent gaze unflinchingly, apparently ready to answer her questions.
"Child, you claim that this man has not committed the crime that he has been accused of?" The white head nodded in response. "Do you have proof that this man is innocent, that this man used his talents to benefit mankind without any gain for himself?"
Before the child could respond, Camael angrily interjected "No mortal soul can be called into the judgment of another. It is forbidden by all of God's laws!"
Mortoliel rounded on him, her black eyes burning into him. "Camael, I will not take this soul until the truth has been heard. I may be an angel of Hell, but I will not cheat a man of his immortal soul." She stated harshly.
Turning to the child, she held out her hand. Like the rest of her body, it was beautifully formed but covered in soot and ash. "Child, I have listened to your claims. Now, you must show me…" The child hesitated for a moment but then placed its slender hand within that of the dark being.
The world around him shook with violent tremors and Erik felt himself being ripped from the gates of Hell and thrown back into the world. He saw himself fly through various images from his lifetime, his entire past a whirlwind of color and sounds.
They finally stopped in a place barely familiar to his keen mind. The child still held onto Mortoliel's hand and the two spirits moved onward. He stayed in place until Mortoliel turn around, her black eyes commanding him to accompany them on their journey into his life. Despite his misgivings, he had no choice but to obey and followed the two beingsthrough the images of his time on Earth.
A/N: Okay, so here's the start of this lovely little endeavor. For those who remember, I had mentioned that this would be a trilogy. Instead, I'm going to just combine all of the independent parts into this one story as it seems like it will flow better as one piece instead of three.Some of you may remember the following chapter; it has hardly been changed.
There were several comments from reviewers before who disliked my lack of character development in the following chapter; I wholeheartedly agree with many of your comments. However, I purposely avoided too much personal reflection on Erik's behalf given that I wanted to keep Erik's past in a purely objective light; I wanted to just tell a story with no emotional strings involved. After each 'story', the next chapter will include Erik's reflections as he reexamines the actions of his life.
Hopefully, this is not too far fetched and I've been trying to write in a different style than I am used to; it has been difficult for me to try to wrap this together but I really wanted to see if this idea could work. I'm not very good at handling supernatural pieces but I wanted to give it a shot and wanted to challenge myself by taking a new approach to my writing. As a result, I'm very interested to hear what all of my readers think. Please, any comment, no matter how small or insignificant, will be greatly appreciated.