A/N: This is a one-shot story written for a PFN morbid fiction contest, and has nothing to do with my current novel-length fiction, Fraternité.
The drowsy girl moaned in protest at the odd sounds breaking into her dreams. Her eyes fluttered open and she pulled herself up onto her elbows, glancing about the room in confusion. Ever so slowly, consciousness fought its way to the surface. The slight movement caused a sudden light-headedness to flood into her brain, and she lay back down until the spinning slowed. Her stomach lurched in protest, and she rolled over in pain, fighting back the bile that rose in her throat.
The woman lay as still as possible, her arms clamped tightly about her head and midsection until the waves of nausea gradually receded. Again, she tried to sit up.
Where am I? The girl rubbed her eyes to clear away the fogginess of sleep; slowly, the objects around her began to come into focus. Of course…I am in my room. Well, Erik's room, but mine…
The bizarre sounds coming from just beyond the closed door once again caught her attention.
No reply, not even a faint acknowledgement.
She swung her legs around to the side of the bed and planted her feet on the cold stones. Shivering slightly as the warmth left her body, the girl stooped over to grab up her wrap that had been discarded on the floor. As she stood again, her head began to spin wildly, and her knees crumbled underneath her. She flailed her arms about, frantically reaching for anything to stop her fall.
The vase on the table!…How can I?…
A great crash echoed throughout the room as the woman collapsed to the floor, glass sprinkling about her hair and limbs.
"Christine?" came the startled cry from just beyond the doorway. "What the devil was that?"
Christine whimpered softly, then rolled onto her side, summoning her voice. "My strength left me, and I collapsed…" she replied feebly, the dry rasp in her throat too painful for speech.
A brief silence hung between them, but to the ill, miserable woman, the moment was infinite. Her angel called to her again.
"You are not injured, my child, are you?"
She gingerly put a hand to her forehead, then tested her legs, arms, wrists. "No, I don't believe so," she cried, pulling herself closer to the door. "I feel so strange, Erik…my head aches terribly, and everything is blurry about the room."
Another long pause, and then the odd sounds began again.
Curiosity claimed her, and her thin, white fingers reached out for the doorknob. They wrapped around the handle, twisting it to swing the door open. Nothing. Panic began to well up inside of her, and she grasped the handle again, jiggling it back and forth. And yet, the door did not budge.
Locked! Why am I locked—
"Christine, I must ask you to refrain from opening the door," came the firm, commanding voice of her angel, just beyond the solid wood barrier. She blinked in surprise at his odd request. "You see, my dear, you must stay in there a little longer, until everything is ready."
"I don't understand," she cried piteously. "Why have you locked me in here?"
No response came to her, except for the odd sound.
"I have not locked the door, Christine," the smooth voice replied, soothing the ache in her head. "Do you remember nothing of last night?"
Painful bursts of color swirled about as she struggled to lift the gauzy veil from her mind. Brief images flashed through her memory: a wall…bright white…and windows… The vision was so clear and vivid that when she opened her eyes, a great, white wall loomed up in front of her. Startled, she squeezed her eyes shut and shook the haze from them. When they opened again, the elaborate décor of the bedroom was once more before her.
"No, I remember nothing," she at last admitted after toiling to make sense of the nondescript pictures. The man's sigh floated through the door, and the strange scraping noise resumed.
"Your head aches because I had to give you a sleep agent," he calmly explained. "You went fairly wild last night, flying about, breaking things, screaming and wailing…it was all I could do to keep you from dashing through the door. Have you not noticed the bandages about your fingers?"
Christine's eyes flew to her hands resting in her lap; just as he had spoken, white strips of cloth were coiled tightly about her fingers. Blood about her nails had soaked through the material sometime during the night, leaving small brown splotches here and there. Her face drained of all color at the sight, incredulity suffused in every feature.
I had just used my hand at the doorknob…but I saw no bandages then…
The girl weakly fell to her side, one arm barely supporting the weight of her body; the other came up to her head as she tried to shake away the thick fog surrounding her mind.
Why does nothing make sense? Why—
And the sound came again—that dreadful, horrible, scraping sound that only now began to infuse fear into every cell of her body. This familiar warning that something, someone was going to come to her, and she would be held back, pinned down. That scraping…so like a knife blade grating the edge of a jagged stone, as if being sharpened right before the kill. A jagged stone…or a brick…
With a cry of despair, Christine leapt to her feet, her mind spiraling wildly about her. She leaned heavily against the door as her fingers frantically grasped the door handle. Bracing her feet against the wall, she gave a mighty heave—the door did not budge.
"Christine," her angel called out from the other side, the anger in his voice now evident. "I will only warn you once again, do not open the door!"
And still she tugged on, headless of Erik's words of warning. The knob fully turned in her hand, and she realized that nothing should be keeping the heavy wooden thing from swinging open, unless it was somehow sealed to an unseen object.
Oh dear God, help me! Christine silently pleaded, and with a final frantic pull, the sound of splintering wood crackled about her. The door at last swung open, and she was flung to the ground by the sheer force of it. She pressed her palms to her face, willing away the violent spinning. Ever so slowly, her hands lowered from her eyes, revealing what lay beyond the door.
A piercing scream tore from her throat at the hideous sight. And then blackness once again closed in, mercifully engulfing her in her complete and utter despair.
The gentle, calm voice tugged at her senses, pulling her to consciousness. Ever so slowly, she lifted herself from the cold, hard floor and took up her shawl again, wrapping it securely about her, as if to ward away the evil specters that had haunted her dream.
"Oh Christine, I told you not to open the door. If you had let me reason with you first…"
The woman raised her eyes to the door before her, and the sickening bile once again rose up in her throat as she saw the dark red bricks of her prison, stacked and sealed ever-so-carefully in the doorway.
It was not a nightmare…no mad game that my mind played at. The wall is there, the bits of wood from the door still clinging to the now-dried cement.
And now I shall die here.
No cry of horror welled up, no tears of anguish. The sweet oblivion of shock settled into her bones, numbing her brain to the desperateness of her plight.
"You shall not let me out then, Erik?" the girl murmured.
A small, brickless window remained in the wall, her only link to the world that lay beyond the dark, square room. She pulled herself to her feet and leaned heavily against the jagged bricks, pushing herself up until she could just barely see through the rectangular opening. Stony, cold eyes glinted back at her, just inches away. No emotion resided there—not even a spark of anger or madness. Just…nothingness. A bottomless pit. A black, empty recess, devoid of all feeling.
"Now my child, why should I release you, when you carry on so?" he replied icily. "After you have flown at me, threatening to leave this place. You know as well as I that it is not permitted."
Christine wearily lowered herself to the ground and pressed her flushed cheek against the cool, comforting stone of her coffin. This was where she would stay, live the remainder of her days. There was no reasoning with her angel—she knew that already. Tears and pleading would only anger him further, for once he decided upon a course of action, there was no turning back…
How long had she lain there, contemplating her impending doom? Minutes? Surely not hours? Time had no meaning in her little cell; it ceased to exist once she entered her angel's world of endless night. She wearily reached her bandaged fingers out to the wall, and softly ran them along the grey cement between the bricks. With a start, her fingers sank into the gritty seams. Faint hope stirred up within her, and she quickly went up on her knees, pressing her palms against the wall.
It is not dry yet! There may be a chance…
"Erik?" the woman cautiously called out. No answer.
Wildly, her fingers began to claw at the bricks' sealant, digging into the cracks, frantically gouging out cement to loosen the wall. Every now and again, she would push at the barrier, testing its waning durability. The thick bandages about her nails hindered her progress, and she tried to pull them away. With a small cry of frustration, she tore at the cloth with her teeth until the ties were loosened, and the material at last unraveled. She threw the bandages in a heap at her feet; her fingers now free to dig into the crevices.
"Bonjour, Christine." The familiar voice called to her, and the woman froze in her frantic escape attempt. Then relief filtered through her as she recognized the owner of the voice—her surrogate mother, her only hope for salvation.
"Oh, Madame Giry—at last, someone has come! Please, I do not have much time before he returns. You must help me!"
The Madame peered through the small window, her features as rigid and composed as ever, as if nothing out-of-place were even occurring. "Have you not had a good day, my dear?"
Christine gaped incredulously at the ballet mistress, shaking her head in horror at her words.
"Please," she gasped, "Erik will keep me here, forever—I will die, Madame—you must see that!"
The stern woman leveled her dark eyes upon the girl, confusion sparking in them.
"Who is Erik?"
The ballet mistress gazed through the small window at the poor, frantic girl, and shook her head sadly as she watched her claw at the smooth white walls of the bright room just beyond. She turned to the man at her elbow, also observing the antics of the former diva.
"Since when has this 'angel' developed a name, Doctor? In the past, she has always referred to him as her 'Angel of Music'."
The man sighed, and took the woman's elbow to lead her away from the window, out of Christine's hearing. "I am afraid that is my fault. When I first arrived several weeks ago, I read the girl's file, but did not understand all of the intricacies of her condition. You see, I informed her that my name was Erik, and I would care for her now."
The ballet mistress nodded in understanding and pitied the poor, mad girl.
"Thus, she began to believe I was her angel," the doctor continued, "and that I would let her leave the asylum. I tried to explain to her that I was not an angel, nor a genius, nor a ghost, or any of the other attributes she has attached to this…person."
"Yes…" the Madame whispered, her eyes betraying the hopelessness she felt for the girl. "I am afraid that she is too removed from reality to ever come back, now."
The doctor nodded in sympathy, his eyes never leaving Christine's frenzied digging at the wall. "It is a pity, really. She seems so sweet and lovely…so innocent in her need to be protected."
The woman sharply turned to the man and grasped the lapels of his white coat. "Monsieur, I beg of you, do not allow yourself to be pulled into her madness as we were. Need I remind you of the tragedy that ensued at the opera house? For months, we were held in paranoid hysteria as note after threatening note controlled our every thought, every action. And then the poor Vicomte…" the ballet mistress's voice cracked as she fought back the tears that threatened. "If we had only seen, only known…"
Erik put a comforting arm around the Madame's shoulders. How horrible it must have been for her to follow the Vicomte down through the dank opera cellars, only to find the man strangled to death by the woman he loved…
The doctor still had a difficult time believing that this beautiful, enticing woman before him had committed such a ghastly crime.
Christine stilled her hands as Erik's words floated to her.
He is not my angel. From his own lips—not the man that had so lovingly bestowed me with a voice, not the man that had sung words of comfort to me when I cried for my father. Not that man…
Where is my Angel of Music, then? All this time wasted in a little square room, when he needs me…calls out to me.
Her stomach flipped madly at the thought of him hurting, perhaps dying…
She had to escape now; not for her own sake, but for his. This Erik—at last she remembered the previous night, all too clearly. He had come to her in the dark, as he did every night. And she had clawed and scraped at the wall to escape, until her fingers were bloody and broken. Then he had carefully wrapped them with white cloth, kissed her forehead, and made false, empty promises that she would be better. That one day, he would take her away from the madness that surrounded her, and they would live together in the light.
Just as Raoul had promised…
Christine gently gathered the spattered bits of cloth and calmly bunched them together, tying a knot at one end. Slowly, deliberately, she wove the strands in and out, braiding them together until they formed a taught, sturdy bit of rope.
Yes…tonight, he will come again. Tonight, I shall be ready…and then I shall leave this madness forever…
A/N: Confused? Well, that would make sense, as there really are no absolutes in this tale.
What truly happened to Christine's Angel of Music? Was there ever an Angel of Music?
Who really killed the Vicomte de Chagny that fateful night?
And why did Christine block away memories of nights with a doctor who was so concerned for her well-being?
I have my theories, but I shall let you come to your own conclusions.
Thank you for reading