Hey all welcome to Unseen Genius! The story will be under mild construction for awhile but I will definitely keep the chapters up while I am working on them. So keep checking back for cool changes! (At the moment I have re-edited chapters 1-8)
But anyway this story follows the end of the musical fairly closely for about the first 5 chapters or so. (Just so you know.) After that I take up my own storyline. This is just to introduce important characters and to remind everyone as to what was going on. And hopefully you all will enjoy it.
I don't mind criticisms as long as they are constructive. I am always open to suggestions! Please enjoy!
Disclaimer: Unfortunately I do not own the characters of Phantom of the Opera. Though I wish I did. ^_^ But I do own all of the original characters and the storyline so please don't use them without asking first.
It was late evening in the heart of the city. The sun had long since hidden itself behind the sprawling skyline, fleeing the choking smoke lingering in the sky for one more short night. A thick, grim fog crawled its way up and out of the Seine, creeping slowly through the streets and blanketing the cobblestones with a slick sheen of wetness. Dark shadows of darkly dressed people scuttled between the circles of light cast out into the night by the street lamps, going about their business with a desperate efficiency of the poor.
Nestled amongst the crumbling, unpainted buildings of the quarter bright beacons of light glimmered out from the tattered and garish tents of a small gypsy fair. On first glance the warmth of the light shining through the colorful tent walls gave an impression of welcome and good cheer; but after a moment's observation the polished sheen crumbled. The clustering of painted carts and ornate tents showed obvious signs of wear; the paint faded with age and the thick waterproof cloth of the tents torn and ratty. The savory scent of cooking meat roasting over bonfires mingled with the deep, fetid stench of rotting garbage and churned mud.
Equally as stylish and ragged as their camp the Gypsy proprietors hovered at their respective stalls; their dark eyes scanning the crowd in a constant search for possible profit. But one man, and one particularly tattered yellow tent, stood out from the others. He was tall, standing a full six inches above the heads of his comrades. His wide, thin-lipped mouth was permanently pulled down at the corners from a lifetime of frowns and his eyes held not just the glittering search for gold of his companions but a razor-edged cruelty. Standing before his sadly crooked tent with his beefy arms crossed across his chest the man flashed a sneering smile of welcome to the passing crowds.
"Come in good people!" he bellowed. "Come in and see a terrifying spectacle! Something so unique, so unimaginable that it can be seen no where else in the world! A once in a lifetime chance!" Lowering his voice into a conspiratorial murmur he beckoned to a small group of teenaged girls. "Come ladies. Come see my Devil's child!"
The girls came to an uncertain stop, gazing at the wild gypsy with expressions of mingling intrigue and fear. Twittering amongst themselves they tried to peer around the hulking mass of the gypsy's body. Twirling the tip of the white ribbon in her hair one of the girls finally smiled and stepped forward. "Alright… I would like to see it!" she proclaimed boldly.
Sweeping forward, her toes pointing slightly outward with the characteristic step of a ballerina, the girl glanced over her shoulder at her companions. "Well?" she demanded, waiting for them to follow.
Slowly the other girls started forward, trailing after their leader with an air of apprehension. Lingering a moment longer outside, a young woman with beautiful auburn hair twisted the hem of her cloak between her fingers. Her eyes slid disapprovingly over the gypsy man and the tent before letting out a heavy sigh and stepping through the door flap. Blinking rapidly in the dim interior the girl maneuvered her way to near the front of the crowd.
A large iron barred cage squatted atop a platform in the middle of the space within the tent. The strong musty smell of wet straw permeated the interior; causing most of the girls to pinch their noses in disgust. Ignoring the smell with a determined expression the auburn haired girl turned to watch the gypsy man stride into the tent, a small riding crop clutched in his hand. Moving to the side of the cage the man fumbled with a rusty lock and then swung open a small door. Stepping into the cage the man bent forward and jabbed at an immobile lump on the floor with his crop. A soft moan issued from the prone form in the cage when the gypsy abandoned his prodding and gave the mound a vicious whack with the whip. The crowd sucked in a collective gasp when they realized that the form on the floor was some sort of person rather than an animal.
Her mouth open in surprised horror the auburn haired girl moved forward to wrap her hands around the bars of the cage. Gazing down she caught the burning glimmer of two eyes staring up at her from the darkness. Slowly the lump on the floor pushed itself into an upright position, revealing the form of a young boy of about thirteen years old. Balancing himself on a pair of spindle-thin arms the boy raised a grimy hand up to adjust the coarse sack covering his head so that the eye holes were centered over his face. Sighing heavily he surveyed the people surrounding the cage with a weary sort of acceptance, gripping a small gray toy monkey protectively near his side.
Almost as if on cue the gypsy man reached down and grabbed hold of the boy's crude mask. The boy gave a weak howl and struggled against his captor's grip then went completely limp. Whipping the boy again the man cackled darkly. "And now prepare yourselves for the frightful apparition of the Devil's Child!" the man announced as he jerked off the mask with a flourish.
The screams sliced through his mind like a burning bullet through flesh, leaving bloody and painful devastation in their wake. Though the crowd's reaction was expected, perhaps even understandable, the boy couldn't stop the quiver of dread from shivering through his body. Focusing his attention inward, as he often did when the outside world proved too horrible to bear, the young boy thought instead of a pleasant dream he had been having.
Envisioning the sheen of a silken bow, the ruffle of a blue cotton dress, a dimly recalled smile, he sorted through the limited memories of beauty he possessed; the same memories he had been dreaming of moments ago. He struggled for a moment to bring more of the dream into focus. The images that he knew had once been so clear to him now refused to form any further beyond vague impressions. Every day it seemed he lost more of his dreams and memory to the grim despair surrounding him; as it was, he could hardly remember a time before coming to the Gypsy's. Grieving the loss the boy gave up the struggle and settled for the images he could still project across his mind's eye. Becoming fully engrossed in fantasy he barely felt the sting of the gypsy's whip upon his shoulders.
Only when the man snatched the boy's one possession from his grasp did he finally open his eyes, coming back to reality with a leaden heart. The dream of ribbons and smiles evaporated as he glanced up at the leering expression of his captor.
"You little monster! Are you trying to ruin me? They all ran off because you forced me to beat you too much! Cooperate next time or I will throttle you to death!" Glancing down at the toy in his hand the gypsy slowly flashed a mean smile. "But then threats never seem to work on you. I think it is time to teach you a little real life lesson." Raising the toy monkey the gypsy wrapping his large hands around its head and began to twist, obviously intent on ripping the monkey to shreds.
A blinding rage boiled up inside of the boy's small body as he watched the gypsy work to tear the toy apart. Tendrils of red bled across his vision as he jumped to his feet, a small length of rope almost magically appearing in his hand. Baring his teeth, all conscious thought came to a sudden halt, burned away to the swirling red of his pent up rage.
When he finally came back to his senses he found himself standing over the dead body of his long time captor. Bending down he silently picked up his fallen toy and his crumpled mask. Replacing the mask the boy's heart began to race as he saw the rope around the gypsy's neck. He didn't regret the old man's death, in fact he gloried in the freedom he felt now coursing through his blood stream, but he dreaded being discovered and further punishment.
A small gasp from outside the cage snapped his head up. An auburn haired girl several years his senior stood outside the bars her eyes glued to the dead man at the boy's feet. Frozen in terror where he stood he waited for her to cry out and report his crime. When she rushed forward and offered her hand instead he didn't know what to do.
"Come with me quickly or they shall arrest you!" she whispered furtively as she grabbed his arm and pulled him out of his cage.
Running with the girl out of the back of the tent he heard the shout of discovery rising up behind him. They raced together through the streets of Paris until the boy's legs burned and his lungs felt close to collapse. Finally the girl slowed her pace and led him to the side of a towering building. Opening a grate she shoved him through into the cave like darkness beyond.
"Do not be afraid," she whispered. "These are the upper cellars of the Opera house. We keep old props here. You can stay as long as you need, but no one must know that you are here. No one can know I brought you here. You… You must be like a ghost or you will not be safe."
Glancing at his surroundings Erik reached out and ran his fingers delicately down the length of a bolt of discarded crimson silk. Sighing at the feel of the cloth he closed his eyes. Something inside of him that had long been broken shifted and seemingly fell into its rightful place. He felt as if he had finally found a place where he could belong.
"A ghost?" he repeated dreamily. "Yes… that will be fine."
Abruptly the looming walls and shadowed set pieces shivered and began to swirl drunkenly. Shattering into a million pieces the vision of darkness blew apart at the seams. Gasping for breath a young woman came awake with a jarring start, her eyes darting around her dimly light bedroom. Raising a shaky hand to her forehead she concentrated on slowing her racing heart as the memories of the dream flickered and then faded.
"Blast it. Not again…"