Christine and the Phantom by the Phangirls
Author's Note: Padme introduced me to the Phantom right after the new movie came out, and we've been steadily working our way through nearly every book written on the subject while listening to the musical on repeat. In the middle of rehearsal for our high school's spring musical, Beauty and the Beast, we picked up on the parallels between the two stories and vowed to put our story on paper. We hope you'll enjoy our interpretation of perhaps the most enigmatic character in modern mystery fiction.
Prologue: The Enchantress
Only the hiss of flames in the stone fireplace accompanied the sound of the melodic music drifting softly from the grand piano. A flash of lightning illuminated the chiseled youth of the player's perfect face, causing him to lift his ice-blue eyes toward the window, out into the darkness of the winter's night.
The storm attacked the provincial countryside with unusual viciousness, bending the trees and land to its will. In the distance he could see a small village, barely making out the rising tendrils of smoke from the twenty or so brick chimneys. Erik grunted as he saw someone running on the wooded path from the village. Poor soul. The straggler would find no shelter here, save for a moldy patch of straw next to his thoroughbreds in the stables. A tentative knock at the door of his domain alerted him to a servant calling for his attention.
"Yes?" His musical voice sounded muffled from the other side of the thick oak door. The playing from within ceased.
The woman took a breath and called loudly, but politely, to her master without daring to open the portal. "Sir, there is a woman seeking shelter from the storm. When I told her we could not accommodate her, she asked to see the Lord of the castle."
Erik, faintly annoyed at the stranger's intrusion on his evening entertainment, started his piece again without venturing a reply.
The servant continued over his playing. "I told her that you would not see her, but she insisted. She would give you a rose as payment for your mercy."
A set of discordant notes reached the woman's ears before the oak door was jerked opened before her. "Madame Giry, did I not request that no one was to interrupt me tonight?" The housekeeper stood up bravely under his harsh gaze. "If you cannot do your job properly, than I shall have to do it for you." He pushed violently past the woman.
Erik rushed furiously through the grand hallway, down the twisting flight of marble stairs with Madame Giry quick on his heels. He walked purposefully across the spacious foyer to the large mahogany doors that locked all the world out.
Another servant stood by the door and bowed deeply as Erik approached. "Sir?" His softly accented voice asked Erik for directions.
"Nadir, open the door please."
"As you wish." With that, the Persian man lifted the latch and pulled the heavy door open a crack so that only Erik could be seen between the two ominous planks.
Outside stood the woman, drowning in the billows of her damp and ragged clothes. The cold caused her to bow her face deeply into her chest, so deeply it could not be seen. "Please, kind sir, grant me safe haven from this tempest." At the end of her simple plea, she glanced up at the castle lord. Lightening reflected off her face, revealing wrinkled skin stretched taunt against apple cheeks, a hooked nose complete with a wart, and a scar that ran across one eyebrow past a blue eye towards her ear. The other eye screamed an unnatural green. "I can offer you only this rose in return for your charity." The wind blew some of her straggly mouse brown hair in her face as she held up a single red rose, a bud really, with pouting petals worthy of any virgin's lips.
Erik raised his hand to cover his face. The woman's stench was incredible! Her breath smelled as though she had recently eaten decomposing frogs from the nearby swamp, and her body gave off the odor of sewage. Erik's eyes were drawn to the perfectly formed blood-red rose she held. Tied in a bow around the stem was a pretty satin black ribbon.
"May I see the flower?" He gestured for it with his free hand. The woman obliged him and smiled to reveal three crooked and rotting teeth.
Once he had the rose in one hand, Erik removed his other hand and placed it on the door. Inspecting the rose, his eyes met the woman's mismatched one. "Thank you kindly." And with that, he slammed the door on her.
"Stupid hag." Erik muttered aloud as he began to stalk back up the stairs towards his precious library where the piano waited for him. Madame Giry threw Nadir a look of concern as their master stalked away, but he simply shrugged and reached to bolt the door once again.
Just as Nadir lifted the latch, the doors blew open with such force that both servants and master were sent sprawling to the floor. Erik futilely raised his hand to protect his face from the merciless gust. There in the doorway where once a beggar woman had stood, a beautiful Enchantress now greeted him.
Her youthful body was now swathed in a flowing dress the color of blood, a color much like that of the rose that still lay in Erik's hand. A strong light emanated from her breast, a breast framed by the soft curls of her ice-blonde hair. To Erik, the most shocking transformation was that of her face. The skin had become supple and smooth, the color of peaches, and although one eye remained blue and the other green, both pupils had disappeared, adding to her magical beauty.
Erik could not speak or move, he simply clutched the rose until the thorns dug into his hand, piercing the flesh and drawing blood. The woman did not move her lips, but a heavenly voice descended upon the shocked lord.
"Erik, I came here tonight to test your heart." Behind this unearthly creature, Erik saw the faint rainbow shimmer of gossamer and realized that the woman was suspended by a massive pair of delicate wings. "You're entire life, you've been a spoiled prince! You must learn to see past the shell of the human form, to learn that what you see is no reflection of the truth beneath."
With that, she floated closer to Erik till she could touch him. Lifting her right hand, she gently pressed it against the left side of his face, careful not to touch his lip or eye. The faint smell of scorching flesh filled the air, and when she removed her hand, Erik fell to the floor screaming and holding his face.
"What did you do to me?" He bellowed in pain. His two loyal servants stayed paralyzed with fear.
"Erik, you are young, only twenty. I give you twenty-one years to find true love."
At this Erik glanced up. Madame Giry crawled to him and gently pried his hand away from his face with the tender love and care of a woman who had raised him since childhood. She gasped when she saw him. The Enchantress's touch had blistered the once flawless skin, creating puss-filled boils that popped within seconds, leaving pockets of dead and decayed flesh. Half of his nose had caved in, as if acid had scorched him there, leaving a hole where cartilage and a nostril should have been. The skin twisted and scarred before her eyes. The only things untouched were his eye and lips.
"You are lucky, Erik, that you have such loyal servants. Out of their fidelity, they will bear the burden of a curse alongside you." The Enchantress retreated back toward the open door. "Take care of the rose I gave you, it is no ordinary rose. It will last the remainder of the curse. Take precious care of it. When the last petal falls, the time for you to find true love will cease. If you have not found her, you will remain as you are now, forever." The Enchantress turned towards Nadir, with almost sympathy in her voice she told him of his curse. "If you or any of the other servants step outside this castle, you will turn into one of your master's beloved instruments. As long as you stay withing the castle perimeters, you will stay as you are."
With this last sentence the woman's body exploded with light, blinding the trio and leaving a swirling pile of ashes on the hall floor. Madame Giry was the first to open her eyes. She left her master's side for a moment to inspect the dying pile of embers. Bending down she picked something up from the dust.
Kneeling in front of Erik, she held the object out to him. In her hands, was a white half-mask.
In one of the twenty chimneyed buildings nearby, a woman's final screams were lost to the howls of the wind.
The midwife took the blue babe and turned her little body over, slapping the child to produce a shrill cry. She wiped bloodied hands on her dirty apron and handed the babe to the solemn man next to the bed. "I will fetch the priest. Try to think of a Christian name while I am gone."
The man nodded and took his little girl. "Christine. I shall call her Christine."
(Padme's) Author Note: After about four days of editing and three versions later, we present to you our finished prologue. I am going to start on chapter one tonight. Expect it in a week.