Disclaimer: Don't own anything by Leroux... but seeing as he's been chucked into the unfeeling hands of the public domain, I suppose it really doesn't matter. HAHA! (Sorry Tubby.) I also borrowed the title from Rachmaninoff... just because it pleased me to do so.
For those of you who know me (and I sincerely apologize if you do) you may have stumbled on this happy little gem while reading our latest morbidity contest on PFN. It is, in a few humble words, my magnum opus. A tribute to all things whimsical and ridiculous in the realm of Phantom fiction. A story about giant squids in Lake Averne seemed to have infinite potential to me, and I hope to have untapped a small measure of that potential for your viewing pleasure. Posting it has (and will) allow me to expand on the story to a much deeper, more meaningful level than before. With the addition of a few chapters, I hope to accomplish what the first one failed to: COMPLETE DOMINION OVER ALL! Mwahahaha! In this, I leave you dazed, but not defeated.
Hugs and kisses,
P.S. Dedicated to the Scorpion, whose sickeningly sweet and fluffy Phantom stories are undoubtedly my greatest source of amusement and inspiration.
It was a dark and spooky night.
Dark- because they were several stories below ground and there was minimal lighting. Spooky- because Christine (our chaste and exquisite heroine) was walking side by side near an underground lake with a six foot skeleton that smelt of death, slept in a coffin, and was madly obsessed with her to a slightly unhealthy degree. Night- because it makes the story even spookier.
Lovely as all of this was, however, Christine couldn't deny that she was feeling a bit morose. Or that Erik was a very spooky bastard. Perhaps it was his mask… or his horrendous ugliness. Hmmm.
Oh! But she loved taking these little walks! Positively adored them even! A delightful stroll along the bank of a big, blue-ish lake always tickled her spirits and made her giddy. It was either this or stay in the house and sing. She loved singing, but the heavy amounts of sexual tension that accompanied her lessons with Erik were a bit draining at times. For everyone. Including you, gentle reader. Ah, but fear not! Christine and Erik would eventually be experiencing countless hours of glorious and horrific skeleton sex that could shame the very ART of love-making. Yes indeedy!
But you won't be getting a lick of it in this story. No sir! Christine was still a ridiculously virtuous young girl, and Erik was still a moody, murderous, psychologically unhinged corpse.
They walked the shores in silence.
Sensing Christine's moroseness, Erik turned to her with an inquisitive stare. "Are you feeling unwell, my dear?" he asked evenly. (Apparently, our masked-malefactor was under the impression that traipsing underground with a manipulative 'talking' cadaver inspired nothing but euphoria in a woman. And it did.) "Would you like to return?"
"No, no thank you," was her kind and virtuous reply. There had already been far too much sexual tension that evening as it stood. More so than is decent for this story. Better they stayed 'outdoors' where there were no coffins or bathtubs to complicate things. "I'm quite well, Erik. You needn't worry."
They walked on a little further. "Would you like to do something else? A carriage ride down the Bois, perhaps..."
She let out a small sigh, gazing into the vast expanse of catacombs before them. "No, dear. Really. I'm more than content to walk with you along this dark and ominous shore of yours. Staring at the lake… thinking about… music." After walking on a bit further, she suddenly turned to him with a hopeful grin. "Erik, do you think we might go further this time?"
He stopped dead in his tracks. "What?" Did he hear her correctly? Goodness. And just when he thought all sexual tension had vanished for the evening…
"Go further," she implored, clasping her hands together like an enthusiastic squirrel. "Walk down to the other side of the lake. Surely the waters flow beyond your home! Why have you never taken me there?"
He sighed. (For more than a number of reasons.) "There is nothing to see on the northern shore, my dear," he remarked solemnly, walking more slowly this time. "Fish perhaps. Blind and battered women who get lost down here. A very large and gnarled mass of dead bodies, perchance. Possibly even chunks of little girls. But nothing else."
She leveled him with a shocked expression. "I don't find that very amusing, Erik."
"YOU don't HAVE to," he said emphatically, then roared with laughter.
She let out a sigh of frustration. The silly skeleton was laughing at his own incomprehensible jokes again. "Please, Erik. Don't laugh like that. You must know that I've been yearning for… for something… new for us to do. Our time together is so painfully ritualistic at times and…" She tried to think of how to word her sentiments properly, but there really wasn't a successful way to say: "You terrify the hell out of me and I really wouldn't mind it if we made sweet and hideous love in your coffin sometime this evening." Instead, she settled on a more delicate approach to curing her recent bout of Christine boredom. "These cellars seem positively endless Erik, and I do so long to learn all of their secrets. Come… Will you take me?"
Of course Erik would take her. Meeheeheehee.
Oh wait. Different conversation.
"The waters of Averne hold many secrets," he said with a curious gaze across the lake's dim surface. "I know many of them, for we are old friends, you see. But some secrets are not meant to be revealed, Christine, and as such, you must never ask me to take you further beyond this shore."
She tried to protest. "But Erik-"
"NO," was his final and furious answer.
It seemed to do the trick, as Christine adopted a very horrified expression. Well, let's be honest. It was her usual horrified expression. He moaned beneath his mask, realizing that he was now being unflatteringly spooky. Taking her little hands in his larger, bonier ones, he fixed her with a loving and crazy stare. "Forgive me, my darling. It's not that Erik doesn't long to grant you your heart's every desire. Heavens, I would disassemble a small child if you asked me to! But I must ask this sincerely of you… and you must promise me this… stay away from the north side."
"Please," he said softly.
She reverently bowed her head. "Yes, Erik. Please forgive me! I didn't wish to upset you."
Her beautiful BLONDE locks fell over her face in a perfect halo of loveliness. Loveliness that Erik couldn't help but adore. He looked at her tenderly with his fearsome yellow eyes, damning all restraints on sexual tension that had previously been placed on this story. It was a moment ripe for romance: of the Christine and Erik variety. You know, the kind we all love. Besides, wasn't it true that they really and truly loved each other, albeit in an odd and perversely inappropriate way?
Yeeks. It's a good think that Christine was as lovely and virginal as your average Swedish ingénue.
He drew her into his dark, skeletal embrace. "I am only concerned for your safety, my dear," he whispered, burying his mask into her neck. "What would Erik do if anything were to happen to his beloved Christine?"
"I know," she whispered, smiling as she inhaled his enchanting musk of death. Oh yes! The moment was indeed ripe for romance. Whoops. "You have my promise."
STAY AWAY FROM THE NORTH SIDE…
Christine, by virtue of genetic impediments or sheer peculiarity of character, had an insatiable and extraordinarily damning sense of inquisitiveness. Call it curiosity, if you will. For anything. And everything. Especially the forbidden.
It had, of course, been the unfortunate cause of the unmasking episode, where Erik has nearly ripped her hair out of her head and she had spent the night scrubbing bits of his face from her fingernails. It had also been the cause of that awkward and embarrassing 'misunderstanding' in the stables of the Opera (which will merely be alluded to, but the finer details will have to be saved for another story.) Much as she wished she could help it, Christine had a penchant for doing things that she knew she really shouldn't. Why? Who knows why! It's just part of her character.
AWAY FROM THE NORTH SIDE STAY…
Mind you, it's not as though she WANTED to be disobedient. Far from it, actually. Even in her earlier years, she had always desired to do and say the right things with everyone. What was it all of those Scandinavians had said? 'They marveled at her beauty and her eagerness to speak and to behave well.' Yes. That seemed about right. She DID desire to behave well. Especially with Erik. But her voracious appetite for learning and discovering mysterious things was like an ungovernable squirrel at times, running and squeaking and managing to get her into all sorts of trouble. What was she to do? There was nothing for it. If she couldn't follow the simple instructions of a masked lunatic the first time, what on earth made her think she could keep her promises the second?
FROM AWAY STAY THE NORTH SIDE…
THE STAY FROM, SLIDE NORTH AWAY…
FROM THE SLIDE STAY NORWAY…
SLIDE THE STAY FROM NORWAY…
STAY! SLIDE FROM NORWAY!
Well that hardly made any sense. Norway? She was from Sweden!
She could very well understand why Erik wanted her to stay, being that she was a slave to both his music and his obsessive, morbid, skeleton love. But to slide? And from Norway? The idea was preposterous. And very unbecoming of a virtuous young girl.
(Because she was unquestionably virtuous. You could ask anyone!)
Needless to say, with Erik's strange and cryptic remarks in her head, she inevitably found her way up the shores of Averne to the northern part of the catacombs. The forbidden part of the catacombs. On the whole, this would spell danger to anyone with the slightest bit of common sense, but Christine was a very special and unique individual. Common sense was about as much a part of her character as was coarse and riotous vulgarity. Still, we mustn't fault her for this, as it wouldn't be much of a story in the first place if our darling little Swede was a standard for good judgment.
Ouch. Sharp rocks! Perhaps she should be paying a bit more attention to the ground in front of her instead of carrying on a conversation with herself.
Erik, of course, had been left to his music, and in such instances as these, Christine could frolic naked about the place without gaining the slightest bit of his attention. Not to imply that she had ever tried this, but…
It was the first example that came to mind.
So she had left him there, declaring that a mid-morning stroll would help to liven her spirits. He had replied by giving her another one of his odd, unsettling glares, and the matter was obviously settled.
And there was seriously no more room for any more sexual tension. We've been stretching it thin as it is.
Reaching the northern part of the shoreline, unfortunately, failed to be as exciting as she had been anticipating. Oh, it was a trifle darker, perhaps. And the air had an unfamiliar stench about it. But there wasn't anything else that was particularly interesting. The lake remained calm and blue-ish, and the cellars were still ominous. Wasn't there supposed to be bodies?
Christine paused. What was that? A sound from the water? She glanced out into the murky darkness. For a moment, she began to wonder if her mind was playing tricks on her again. It often did.
Aha! So she wasn't insane after all! The lake HAD been disturbed! But by what? Fish? Erik did say something about fish… Or chunks of little girls. Thinking about it though, it didn't exactly seem plausible. (Good heavens! Chunks of little girls? What on earth was he talking about?)
She leaned over the edge of the bank.
Whatever it was, Christine had a sneaking suspicion that it was one of the many secrets Erik had been hinting at. The waters of Averne hold many secrets. But which one was this? Perhaps it was a treasure chest, left here by swashbuckling pirates of old. Haha. Silly Christine! Pirates under the Opera? Hahaha! Why was she always so funny when Erik was never around?
Oooo! The guggling sound was getting closer. She was positively sure of it! Oh what could it be? It was certainly not a body, or blind women. And if it were a fish, it must have been a very large one to make so loud a sound. How very, very interesting!
It was in this frame of mind that Christine found herself suddenly seized by a long and slimy tentacle that shot out of the water as quickly as a snake. It coiled around her delicate frame, drawing a sudden, startled gasp from her before it dragged her below the surface of the water.
She hadn't even been able to scream.