An Island of Music
It's "Phantom of the Opera" in a different setting, where the Opera Garnier is located on its own island and haunted by a ghost!
January 15, 1875
What made me buy a blank book and begin writing my life's story? I have no idea. I have forsaken the world above and the beings who live there, and I very much doubt that anyone shall ever read this, but perhaps reflection shall help me to work. There are times when my mind is so full that I cannot think, and it is only when I put my thoughts down on paper that I begin to feel better and not so frenzied. Right now, my mind is so cluttered with plans and memories and projects that for a moment I was paralyzed at my work table. I could not begin any of the projects I had outlined to celebrate this day, and when my eyes fell on this book I had purchased some months ago, I compulsively took it, turned to the first page, wrote in the date, and began writing. Amazing.
Who am I? My name is Erik. Erik. My father was a stone-mason who died before my birth, and my mother was a woman who was too afraid of me and disgusted by me to love me. Perhaps if I had been handsome, it would have been different, but there is no use to wish for what is impossible. I left home when I was quite young, and I traveled about with the gypsies or Roma (as is their proper name) for a while, until I was in my teens. I spent some time in Italy, working with a master stone-mason and learning his craft. After that, I traveled: All of Europe, India, other parts of Asia, and of course, Persia. After leaving Persia, I returned to Europe, and eventually, I returned to France. By that time, my mother had died and left me all she owned, and I came to Paris to work on the Garnier Opera. Monsieur Garnier was happy to let me join the project, since he knew my work from when I was a child and designed buildings for fun. After a few difficulties, not the least of which were a war with Prussia and the Communards, work was finished, and today is the day that the Opera has at last been opened.
I do not wish to join the party. There is no reason for me to. The Empress Eugenie would faint at the sight of me, I am certain, so I will remain here. Instead, I will talk about the Opera.
There are two islands that are inhabited in Paris, the Ile de la Cite, and the Ile de St. Louis. The third island was created when that fool of a baron, Hausmann, decided the city would be so much more aesthetically pleasing if the Opera was surrounded by a moat. The moat was built, but the difficulties it caused in building the foundations of the Opera were almost catastrophic. The foundations kept sinking, so I suggested to Garnier that we build levees, such as there are in the city of Nouvelle-Orleans in America, to keep the water back until the foundations were firm in the earth. We ran into another difficulty when it became apparent that an underground branch of the Seine ran under the ground we had to build on. Pumps worked for eight months to drain it, and only then were we able to make the foundations. While that work was going on, I built my house down here in the roots of the building.
I have made my plans carefully. Once the management of the Opera are firmly ensconced, I will help them to think that the place is haunted by one of the Communard prisoners that had been left here to rot by the Communards. I shall demand a salary and a private box. Architecture is a good love, but music is my great love. It is a love I must enjoy alone, but it is a love that shall sustain me. I have already begun work on my masterpiece, Don Juan Triumphant.
I live here in the bowels of an artificial island, an outcast from men. I shall remain here, and I shall never be bothered again.