My name is Erik…and I am a ghost…

How I came into such a predicament, I cannot say. One moment, I was suffering horribly in the throes of death. The next, I have become this strange otherworldly specter…

I admit that I was never one to believe in God or the Hereafter. If there was truly such a benefactor, he wasof the mostsadistic sort. For how else can one explain all of the suffering of his creatures? And I had known such suffering in my mortal life. Oh, I had known it all too well…

But perhaps there really is such a Creator. I know of no other way to explain how my spirit seems to fade in and out of the earth's stratosphere so frequently. I suppose I am payinga sort of ironic punishmentfor pretending I was a ghost so often when I was truly alive.

I have always been summoned by people with a high amount of creativity. Singers, actors, composers, writers…

First, there was that horrid author, Gaston Leroux. If I had known he would write such a sordid account of my life story, so cruelly named "The Phantom of the Opera" published in the year of Nineteen Hundred Eleven, I would have haunted him until he had lost every semblance of sanity. What a hack! He had taken my life and twisted it into another one of his dreadful mystery stories. And has anyone ever heard of anything else he ever wrote? I think not. His story was only read because of the strength of my character, of my life.

I truly believe this man, this Gaston Leroux, was the cause of my never being able to truly rest in peace again as I had been called back by various people over and over ever since.

In the year of Nineteen Hundred and Twenty Five, I was summoned by a talented character actor named Lon Chaney. His life had not been an easy one; thus, he had my sympathy. The son of deaf mutes, he became known as the "Man of a Thousand Faces", going to incredible lengths with stage makeup and such to make incredibly realistic characters. His commitment to his playacting moved me. Considering that his source material was the wretched novel of Leroux, I thought that his portrayal of my life was admirably performed for a new invention at that time: the motion picture camera. I found the process of making such a work of art fascinating and frightening.

Ever since the making of that first film, I have never been idle for long. Several more actors wanted to work with me in motion pictures. Some of the films were a joy. Some were quite dull. There were some stories written for a box called a radio. There were adaptations made for another box called a television set.

In the Nineteen Hundred and Eighties, I was called by many different people to aid in a collaboration of an ambitious masterpiece. It was a musical entertainment of sorts to be performed in London. Later on, this piece was performed on a street called Broadway in New York State in the New World. No one expected this musical play to become quite as popular as it did. I was then summoned by various singer-actors all over the world, each and every one of them wanting to do the part of my life justice. I was called for concerts and musical recordings for many years after the musical opened.

This was a labor of love for me, I must confess. I feel that this work, composed by a man named Andrew Lloyd Webber, has been the most accurate portrayal of my story. I so loved being with these fine actors, singing such beautiful words of high romance. Although I must confess to you, if I had been nearly as seductive and suave as some of those actors, if I had had those lovely songs with such sweet words at my fingertips, Christine Daae would have had her skirts up for me in no time.

After a film was finally made of this musical, I had deliberately ignored all further cries for my presence. I was truly exhausted. After all, there are only so many times anyone can continually plead for the woman he loves and mean it. Each parting with Christine on stage would feel a little more forced and false for me. I was more in love with the romance than the woman. To be honest, when I think of Christine now, I remember my love and passion for her, but her face has faded from my mind's eye. It was so long ago, you see. Now, in my memory, she has become a strange combination of the actresses Sarah Brightman and Emmy Rossum. But I know damned well the real Christine was never as beautiful as these women, although she was quite fetching.

I was worn out. I no longer wanted to remember Christine and her lover, the Vicomte de Chagny. Perhaps after all of this time, the pain of her betrayal has finally started to fade. Whether this was the case or not, it mattered little. I have sung my songs of love for her countless times. But she is gone, buried in the earth forever. She will never come back, no matter how much I may wish it.

I had hoped that God (or whoever was responsible for my fate) would allow me to sleep now. Hadn't I at last paid for my sins? So many people have benefited by the telling of my life story. Careers and fortunes were made repeatedly at my expense. And of course, there were all of the audience members. The ones who fell in love with my story, the ones who clung to it with an obsession that rivaled my own capacity for such emotion…

I no longer cared to come back for anyone.

Until one night, I was called by a young woman named Veronica…