I know there are a ton of modern day stories out there, but I decided to take a try at one. Truthfully, this is somewhat of an original story idea that morphed into a phan fiction. The first few chapters are going to be mostly original ideas that kind of make up for the "Angel of Music" scenario which would be less believable in a modern day setting. After that, it's going to follow the events of the book to a certain degree. Names will be the same as in the book. Some places in the story will be real, and some will be fictional. I've tried to stay fairly accurate in details but feel free to tell me of any blatant inaccuracies.
Thank you! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this story, nor do I own The Phantom of the Opera. It belongs to the great mind of Gaston Leroux. A few details are taken from Phantom, which is owned by Susan Kay.
An endless sea of faces.
That's what college had been when she had started three years ago. That's what it still was. One large collage of brunettes and blondes, blue eyes and brown eyes, men and women...all mingling together with a single purpose.
As Christine Daae looked out upon the grassy campus of the University of Vermont, waiting for her friend on a bench under an old elm tree, she felt oddly out of place among the thousands of other souls. An autumn breeze rustled the bare branches above her, causing her to shiver slightly as she took out her chicken salad sandwich from its foil wrapping. The voices of the other students came from all directions, mostly indiscernible and distant. Smoothing out her blonde, windblown hair with one hand, Christine glanced around again for her one and only friend.
Meg Giry had a consistent habit of being late to everything, so it was really no surprise this time. Still, Christine found it awkward sitting there alone when everyone else was gathered into groups of up to a dozen. She took a small nibble of her somewhat soggy sandwich and continued to wait, pretending to look down at one of her notebooks as if she were studying something important. The wind blew some of the pages around, bending and creasing them, and Christine quickly closed it before her notes were destroyed. Not that they were very well written anyway.
"Christine!" a voice finally called from nearby, and she looked up to see her chestnut haired friend smiling and waving from the middle of the courtyard. Meg always had a big grin on her face, even on the most miserable of days. Maybe that was why she was so fun to be around.
"Hi Meg!" she called, waving her over with a free hand. Meg quickly said goodbye to several guys she had been talking to and jogged up to the bench, brushing a strand of hair from her mouth.
"You look lonely over here!" commented Meg with a smile. "I should have introduced you to them. They're in my scene design class. Craig is hilarious with some of the things he draws up."
Christine gave a half smile. "I doubt I would have much to say to them. I'm exhausted today."
"You worked the late shift again?"
"Yeah," she said with a sigh. "I wasn't supposed to, but Daniel couldn't find anyone else. Anyway, it's extra money, and I need it with the increase in tuition."
"Well, don't work too hard," replied Meg, finally sitting down and digging out a bag of potato chips from her backpack.
Christine rolled her eyes but smiled at her friend's carefree attitude. Of course, Meg's parents were paying her entire way through with little trouble. She could afford the occasional slip up or set back and had already changed her degree three times, finally settling on theater this last year.
"Have you declared a major yet?" asked Meg, attempting to wipe the grease from her fingers. "I know you were still thinking about it last spring."
"Yes," said Christine, hesitating for a long moment and casting her gaze to the ground. "I think I'm going with a bachelor's in music education. That's what the advisor recommended at least."
Meg cocked her head. "So what exactly do you want to do with that?"
Christine looked up from her chicken sandwich, realizing uncomfortably that she wasn't even completely sure of the answer. She had adored music and singing since she was a small child, and it had been a part of her life in more ways than she could count. At the same time, she could not find it within herself to take up performing, not with all the memories it would bring back. Plus, the thought of getting up on stage made her shudder. She'd always been somewhat shy, a trait her father had teased her about for years. Her advisor had finally suggested music education as an alternative route, and Christine had accepted it. Nothing else had even somewhat interested her.
"I guess I'd teach other people about music," she finally replied.
"Like a music teacher at school?" Meg said with a laugh, popping open a Mountain Dew and taking a sip of it. "I remember my insane music teacher in elementary school. She had a new hat for every day of the year."
Christine laughed, glad Meg was able to make light of the situation. "I doubt I want to teach kids. Actually, I really don't know what I want to do with it."
Meg shrugged. "You'll figure it out soon." They ate in silence for several moments, watching everyone else on the campus. A couple of guys had started a game of frisbee on one side, and another girl was yelling and chasing after a Golden Retriever that had gotten out of its leash. Several puffy clouds were making their way across the blue sky, casting shadows over the ground and cooling the already chilly October air.
After several minutes, Meg yawned and checked her watch. "I guess I'd better get out of here. Me and some of the girls from my choreography club are getting together this afternoon." She paused. "You're welcome to come with us. We always need an audience."
"No. I have some work to get done. Have fun, though. I'll call you after work this evening if Mrs. Valerius doesn't need help with anything back home. She hasn't been feeling well lately."
"Call me if you can, then," replied Meg with another bright smile. "I'll see you tomorrow, anyway." She turned and rushed off toward the parking lot, leaving Christine alone once again.
With a sigh, she finished her sandwich and began to gather up her bag and coat. Another gust of wind shook the tree above her, knocking the last few leaves off their branches and to the ground. Looking up, Christine noticed a large bulletin board several feet to the side of her, overcrowded with various announcements and advertisements. One large pink flier seemed to wave directly out to her, as if beckoning her over to it.
Curiously, Christine walked over and squinted at the torn piece of paper. It was an announcement for tryouts for a local production of Show Boat. Though theater majors were desired, all were welcomed to audition. Several fairly prestigious stage actors from New York were going to be involved with the show, and the money earned from it would be donated to a renowned charity.
After glancing it over along with several other announcements, Christine strolled away, her mind drifting to more important things.
The second hand continued its way around the face of the clock upon the wall, seeming to taunt Christine with its slow and steady pace. Five minutes left until she was free to leave. Five agonizing minutes.
She sighed and tapped the end of her pen against the front desk of The Apollo Hotel. It was a Wednesday in the middle of the fall, meaning the building remained fairly vacant. Only three guests had rented rooms so far that night, and Christine had spent most of the evening catching up on her school work. God knew, she needed to keep her grades up or else risk losing the few scholarships that she had.
Christine yawned and looked around the silent lounge, too tired to study anymore. Three black leather couches sat empty around a small table with a single white coffee mug upon it. Several stray newspapers from that morning lay scattered about, and the trash by the breakfast area was beginning to overflow. She knew Daniel would not be happy if the cleaning staff didn't get that tidied up soon. He was a fair manager, Christine had found, but he definitely had his standards.
Just as she had closed her books and zipped her backpack open to put them in, the bell above the entrance jingled, and the door squeaked open. Christine glanced up and expected to see Pamela, the desk clerk for most of the night, coming in for her shift. Instead, her eyes settled on an unfamiliar middle-aged man who was cautiously approaching the front desk.
Putting on a smile, she looked him over quickly as she did all of the guests. His skin was darkly toned, and he appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent. Except for light stubble around his chin, the man had a very neat appearance, dressed nicely in loose grey trousers and a white dress shirt. In one hand, he carried a brown leather briefcase that appeared to be heavily weighed down by its contents. His dark eyes were tired but kind as he came up to her and retrieved his wallet from his pocket.
"Good evening, sir," Christine began with a smile. "How can I help you tonight?"
"Good evening, ma'am" he replied in a moderately accented voice as he took out a credit card. "I would like one bedroom for three nights. Non-smoking, if you have it."
"Could I get your last name, please?" she asked, tucking a blonde strand behind her ear and positioning her fingers over the computer keys.
He hesitated for a long a moment and slowly withdrew the card. A strange expression crossed his face, as if he had suddenly realized something unsettling. "I...maybe I will not stay here tonight after all."
Christine looked at him in bewilderment as he slowly backed away from her. "Okay," she replied, narrowing her eyes in concern. "Are you all right, sir?"
"Yes," he replied curtly. "I'm sorry to bother you. Have a good night." The man whirled around and headed back into the hotel parking lot at a very quick pace. A moment after he exited, the door rang again, and Pamela Miyagi entered.
"Sorry I'm late!" she exclaimed, running a hand through her shiny black hair. She noticed Christine's furrowed brow. "Is something wrong?"
"No," replied Christine, shaking her head and bending down to gather her things. "Just a strange guy came in to get a room but left when I asked him his name." She sighed. "Sometimes I wonder if applying for the later shift was the best idea."
"Tell me about it! We get the weirdest people around here at night." Pamela poured herself a cup of complimentary coffee from the counter and made her way to the front desk. A pair of dangling silver earrings hung from her ears, and she wore a loose blue peasant top that matched nicely with her darker complexion. Christine had always imagined her to be fun and carefree, just like Meg. She envied them both.
Pamela looked up at the wall next to the counter as she sipped her coffee. "Eep!" She gave a fake scream of fright and pointed a ringed finger upwards.
"What is it?" asked Christine, turning her head. "Oh!" she said with a laugh as she looked at the grinning plastic skeleton hanging on the wall. Daniel had a tradition of decorating the hotel lobby for the holidays, and Halloween was his favorite. Several plastic bats hung from the ceiling, and an orange pumpkin jar filled with candy corn sat out upon the counter.
Pamela shook her head and giggled. "When I was seven, I saw this horror movie with my older brother where these skeletons rose out of the ground. Ever since then, they've scared the hell out of me."
"Maybe you could take it down!" offered Christine, still smiling as she gathered up her belongings.
"Nah! I need to grow up and get over it." Pamela strolled up with mock confidence to the desk and sat down, casting a nervous side-glance to the decoration but still grinning.
"Okay," replied Christine, wishing she could stay and chat a while longer. Sighing, she picked up her backpack. "I guess I'd better leave before it gets any darker."
"See you later!" replied Pamela, already opening up a magazine and propping her legs up.
Christine opened the glass doors and strolled out into the night, noticing with dismay that the clouds had blocked most of the moonlight.