'Sick and Twisted'

"Please sit down. I have a story which you need to hear. I warn you now that what you hear will upset you, and you probably will not want to believe. But on my soul, I swear to you that it is true.

The Phantom of the Opera was innocent. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, considering what you witnessed him doing. You must understand, he acted on behalf of another. He only killed to protect the lady who held his life in her hands. He would do anything for her you see.

He so wanted to make her happy. At least it started out that way. In the end, he only wished for his own happiness. But that was something he could not have. She made sure of that. In her own selfishness, she destroyed a man who could have been worldly renowned as the genius he was. Instead, she used him to gain what she wanted, and then threw him to the dogs. You see, he had grown too rebellious and powerful and he reveled in that power over her.

You might ask yourself why he would do anything she asked, even if it meant to kill someone to give her what she wanted. Quite simply, it was a means to an end. He did what was necessary. That is what she told him years and years ago when she comforted his distraught thoughts about having to kill his master to gain his freedom. She told him that he was not evil in killing him. He did what was necessary to get what he wanted. No, what he needed.

When it all started, she was far too young to truly be evil. She was highly competitive. Anybody could see that when they saw her perform in the corps de ballet. She was just another poor girl, struggling to gain fame and fortune through her talent. That one fated day when she first saw him at the faire, she truly did feel pity for the boy. Seeing him being beaten and displayed like a freak, hurt her to see. But what could she do? She did not have to do much. He took the rope that was used to bind him to the side of the cage, and strangled his cruel master when his back was turned to count his coins that the crowd had tossed. She ran with him, guiding him to the Opera House where she hid him in the cellars down below.

As I have said, she was far too young to truly be evil, but as time grew on and their strange and hesitant friendship grew, she began to think how he could be useful to her. He required secrecy to live out his life, away from gawking crowds and cold iron cages. She was the key to that secrecy. As long as she said not a word, he was safe.

She began to barter with him. In exchange for food and certain comforts of living that she took the liberty of stealing for him from the Opera's supplies, he was given little assignments to do when the production company was away. He would be given itching powder to place in the other leading ballerina's leotards. Or she might, perhaps, have him appear before someone in particular, unmasked, to scare the girl, making her unable to perform to her full extent.

You could say that she was the one responsible for the legend of the Opera Ghost. Every theater, they say, is haunted, but she used him to spread further fear of this 'ghost'. Every time someone caught a glimpse of him, wandering through the Opera, more tales and gossip spread.

Everyone used to take these tales in stride. It was exciting and sort of fun to be 'lucky' enough to see him. That is, until one day when someone died.

Her jealousy of the lead ballerina, Giselle, was rivaled by none other. Giselle was tall, beautiful, and danced more gracefully than anyone. She could not seem to surpass her, so she instead, planned to injure her when they were alone. But it went horribly wrong. Giselle saw her coming up behind her in the mirror and turned to counter the attack. Instead of the broken leg she would have sustained from planned attack, she was instead, strangled with a curtain cord.

Being the little actress that she was, she acted horrified after 'witnessing' the Opera Ghost coming to kill Giselle. Her insistence in this was so absolute, that none questioned the validity of it. Especially not after several other people came forth to testify that they too had seen the ghost, stalking about at night, with a death's head and eyes that glowed.

The production resumed its course in a week's time, now with her as the new lead ballerina.

Over the years, other such tragedies occurred. Most of them injuries, but since that day, any mishap, no matter how big or small, was blamed on the ghost.

She began to extort money from the management, on behalf of the ghost. She never believed that her salary as ballet mistress was ever enough. Erik was allowed an allowance of this money, provided he kept up with the appearances and haunts to prove his existence. She let him live in surprising comfort, eventually dressing him in expensive suits and giving him the means to make elegant masks, rather than the crude cloth sacks he once tied to his head. He even persuaded her to let him start scaring the management into giving him a private box so that he could truly enjoy the operas. He stole the rest of what he needed from the Opera.

Eventually, she seemed satisfied, at least for herself. Now that she had everything in the world she wanted, she now wanted it for me. I wondered why it was so easily done that I was always the first to be noticed in a dance, and how quickly I excelled to the front row of the ballet. My dancing skills were not much better than the rest of the girls'.

She started to lose her masterful grip on him. She had told him for years and years that things were better as they were. The more he helped her, then better she could provide for him and help him live comfortably. The problem was, she did not know the full extent of his genius. He was not stupid in any way. Perhaps a little naïve, which could be expected considering the sheltered hidden life he lived. Whenever she wasn't around, he did as he pleased.

One day she found out that he had been spending his time tutoring the little girl she considered another daughter. At first she was upset, but soon gave in to the idea. Not to please him, or course. She wanted both of her 'daughters' to be leading ladies.

She got angry when the spotlight was taken away from me. She was also rather upset at his deception of how good he was at teaching. She never wished for the manager's focus to be away from me. Yes, I was the lead ballerina, but she wanted me to be the diva and number one star. If she had known how good he was at teaching voice, she would have demanded for me to have lessons. Erik threatened to expose her, not caring if he were found out. He said he could prove to the police everything that she had done and blamed him for, if she did not let him continue to teach the voice lessons. It wasn't until she realized that his interest went far beyond a teacher and student relationship that she took action. She knew she had to kill Erik. He had become far too treacherous, and had been taking too many liberties that could possibly lead back to her, if anyone suspected it.

I had no idea of the truth behind the Opera Ghost, at the time. Only what my mother told me of him.

Knowing of the existence of a bachelor childhood sweetheart, Raoul was conveniently summoned on an invitation to be a patron of the Opera, using stolen stationary from the manager's office, of course. She knew he would be one to intervene and spoil Erik's personal agenda. After his arrival to the Opera, she told Erik that he must act fast if he ever wanted to have a chance. She knew that once the truth behind his 'Angel of Music' farce was revealed, he would no longer have a willing student, but a shrinking fearful girl, and I would once again become the star.

To further that fear, she brought it to Erik's attention that Joseph Buquet was a rather disgusting pervert, often choosing myself and other innocent ballerinas as his sexual prey. He was also a nosey man, and she made sure that Buquet's interest in discovering the Opera Ghost was peaked. That was all it took for Erik to want to kill him.

Raoul's jealousy of Erik was immense. She knew he would stop at nothing to put an end to Erik's seemingly evil doings. That was just the fuel for the fire that she wished to stoke. Raoul would die to protect his beloved.

Erik always seemed two steps ahead of her though. He had grown rebellious and was now willing to expose himself riskily to the public, to gain what he wanted for himself. When he shocked her, and the rest of the opera, by appearing at the masquerade ball, and announcing that his opera was to be performed, she told Raoul just what he needed to hear. That Erik was a dangerous man who has murdered more than once.

Naturally, she used the opportunity of the performance of his opera against him. Or so she thought. Raoul planned the whole attack. Erik was to die when he appeared to watch the show. Erik knew better though. How she could have not realized that he would know everything that was being plotted against him, I do not know.

Erik knew they would be waiting for him to appear in Box 5. He knew he was bait for her lethal trap, so he instead went backstage and knocked Piangi out by suffocation. Appearing on stage was the last thing my mother expected. I was in the wings when everyone else's eyes were on Erik on the stage. I saw her insidious nature for the first time with my own eyes. She calmly went and choked the life out of Piangi with the rope that Erik had left around his neck. I think she knew that Erik was going to escape and wanted everyone to have even more reason to track him down and kill him. She never saw me watching her.

Erik did do the chandelier. I think he knew that the only possible way to escape with his life was to cause an enormous distraction. She told me that she was the one that started the fire. If they hunted him down and he talked, she would be done for. She wanted all evidence destroyed of what she had done.

When he escaped and went under the stage into the opera cellars to his home, she sent Raoul after him. She did not dare go there herself. Erik had never killed a woman, but she feared for her own life. I did my best to dissuade the mob from following after them. I knew of the secret passage behind the mirror to his home down below, but after witnessing what she had done to Piangi, I sensed the horrible truth.

I think she finally went entirely mad after that. She expected Raoul to kill him. She did not dream that Erik would act so selflessly and then disappear. In her madness and rage, she put the both of us out of a job, leaving us penniless and unimportant. She simply couldn't take it. I think she had truly built it up in her mind that she was the innocent one and Erik was evil. Once he was gone and the opera destroyed, I think the truth finally sunk in."

Meg breathed a sigh and sat back in her chair. Christine's hands shook, rattling the teacup held in her small hands.

"Christine, are you alright?" Meg asked quietly.

Christine's eyes flashed angrily as her grip on the saucer grew tighter. "Do you mean to tell me that you knew? You knew all this time and never told me?"

Meg nodded slowly.

"You knew your mother was the cause for all his heartache. She was the real killer. Erik was innocent and you let me believe that he was the one with the deranged mind!" Christine stood up and threw her saucer and cup violently down to the ground, shattering it on the polished wooden floor!

"Christine, I'm sorry! I didn't know for sure! Not until she told me this on her deathbed!" Meg stammered as she stood and backed away from the enraged woman before her.

Christine advanced on her furiously, clenching her teeth and seething angry words between them, "I would have stayed with him! I loved him! But I thought he was a murderer for pleasure! And all this time it should have been your mother who suffered!" Christine shoved Meg with all her might! Meg stumbled backwards, sending vases of flowers crashing to the floor, spreading puddles of dirty water everywhere.

"Christine, I beg you! Please forgive me! I should not have kept it a secret!" Meg pleaded, her tears staining her reddened face.

"Forgive you? Oh no! You don't deserve it! You stood by and let your mother ruin our lives! Ruin his life! For that, you can die as well!" Christine gave her another shove, pushing the through the window. But she lost balance herself on the slippery floor, and followed after through the shattered pane of glass!

The sound of angry shouts and broken glass drew the attention of the young boy, who had been playing in the gardens with his dog. He ran to where the noise had come from, and suddenly stopped in his tracks. There he saw his mother, and the Mademoiselle Giry, whom had come to visit, cruelly impaled on the spiked iron garden walls. He fell to his knees in shock, removed his small white mask, and retched upon the dewy grass.