This is yet another story written for and the Morbidity writing contest. This one was for Valentines Day! Read on and review!
Erik began to carefully measure out the ingredients to the potion. The gypsy woman who told him of its magical capabilities long ago was quite certain to stress the importance of exact measurements and circumstances for it to work. He continued to add the powdered roots to the concoction that bubbled and fumed in the small pot over the fire. Its aroma was not at all unpleasing, having a faintly acrid smell of strong tea and coppery metallic wafts drifted about the room. He consulted the faded yellowed paper once more, trying to discern the next measurement from the faded and smeared recipe.
As he added the next ingredient, the smell turned to one rather sweet, but still with a seemingly medicinal hint to it. He hoped she wouldn't notice. If it tasted too strongly it might bring her out of her drugged stupor. He gazed at her form lying on the couch, recalling with slight shame the sleeping potion he put into her drink. She would be quite restful for the ritual. As he began to have creeping doubts to what he was about to do, he turned instead to stir the potion furiously, as though trying to forget the madness of what he attempted to do.
Earlier that day he had left her a note in her dressing room to meet him in his home on the lake, to share a toast and celebrate her victory of the opening night triumph. Once again, she had been spectacular. Of course he was not there to see her perform. As much as he wished to be, he needed time to prepare for the audacity to which he now was steeped in.
She had come to him willingly and without any awareness to the falseness of his intentions, accepting her glass without a hint of recognition to the faintly odd taste of the quickly dissolving powder that now accompanied the wine she swallowed. She sat down on the divan, heaving out a heavy sigh and attributing her sudden tiredness to her exhaustion on the stage. He noticed her almost immediately relaxing in demeanor as her guard left her and she sank into the cushions behind her. Dreamily she requested he play her something on the piano, once again laughing at herself for never having learned how to play anything but a simple lullaby on the ivory keys. He sat down and played a monotonous tune, hardly paying attention to his own hands and watching her with a vulture's gaze for that moment when she would drift into oblivion. It didn't take long.
He rose to re-position her to a more comfortable position on the divan, and took the half-spilled glass from her lax hand. Then he rose to the kitchen to begin preparations.
He thought to himself of when he had first abducted Christine; to what he had considered to be the ultimate theft of innocence upon his beautiful young protégé. He laughed derisively to himself as he check the liquid's temperature when he thought of just how foolish he had been to ever think that by pretending to be an Angel of Music, he could win her heart and possess her, body mind and soul. How stupid of him. Why hadn't he thought of this ritual before? It was one of his favorite fantasies in his childhood upon learning of its existence from the gypsy woman trained in herbal properties (not to mention black magic of the Romany tribes). One day she had told him in secret the existence of such dark magic, pressing the paper containing the recipe of ingredients and rites into his small hand. She felt pity for him, knowing that it would be likely he would never be loved for himself. She explained to him that the only way to make someone who doesn't love you for yourself, care for you as deeply as you do for them, that you must be made one; you must share the same soul. She said that people who love one another naturally have a magical bond, but that magic can be forced by a sharing of blood.
And so it had come to this. He had tried everything he could think of to make her love him. But in the end it was never enough. He was always in competition with that boy. Raoul de Chagny! How he hated him with his perfect blonde hair and perfect life. It's no wonder why she was enamored with him rather than a corpse. He was obsessed with her; he knew it through and through but was no longer ashamed. From the moment he saw her, he wanted to possess her for himself. And very soon, he would do just that.
He removed the potion from the fire and allowed it to cool. The time passed very quickly as he anticipated whether or not this would work. He was certain that it could harm neither of them. Nothing here was poisonous (that he knew of) and was only slightly worried that the combination of the factors in it would cause either of them to be ill.
The final ingredient was ready to be added. He went to the mantel, tip-toeing although he knew that she would not wake from the sound of his footsteps anyhow, and removed a sharp blade from a wooden box. In the past he had used this blade only for special occasions, such as a royal assassination in Persia. He had not used it since, but the blade was still sharpened to a deadly edge. He knelt beside her sleeping form setting the goblet of the potion down beside him and rolled up his sleeve. It did not hurt much in opening the vein in his wrist for the blade was so very sharp and he did not need to cut much. Only a few drops were required. When he added the crimson warmth to the cup, he blotted his wrist with a damp rag and tied a small bandage to it before moving to her arm. Gently he sat her up. He prayed she would not awaken until after he had taken from her what was needed. A few moments later the deed was done and he had her blood in the potion, mingling with his own. He glanced at the clock on the mantel. The sleeping draught should be wearing off soon.
When she began to stir, he was already at her side, waiting patiently. She moaned and grasped her head at the throbbing ache caused by the wine. He helped her sit up fully and spoke in low tones.
"Drink this, my dear, it will help with the headache," he said holding the cup out to her insistently.
"What happened?" she asked dreamily.
Erik laughed softly, "I'm afraid you are a little worse for wear. It seems you do not have the head for wine that I do. Please drink this, it will help."
She took the cup from his hand and tenderly brought it to her lips, grimacing at its bitter taste as she swallowed. Coughing a little she asked, "What is this?"
Erik replied, "It's an herbal headache remedy. I feel I have a headache as well," he said reaching for the cup. "Too much wine and not enough sleep I'm afraid."
He took the cup and drank the last half of what was in it, barely tasting it as it went down his throat. He watched her with an intensity that started to frighten her.
Christine stood and turned to leave, "I'm afraid I've overstayed my welcome, Erik. If you don't mind, I'd like to return home now."
Erik stood after her, "You have hardly overstayed yourself. Please won't you stay a little longer?" He sounded anxious to her ears which only further puzzled Christine.
Christine started for the door, "No, I really must be going. It's late and…" she paused. "Erik, are you alright? You look rather weak."
Erik had returned to the couch as now nearly doubled over holding his stomach. "I feel so very odd," he replied.
The room tilted and swirled in his vision and suddenly he was no longer able to move for the pain in his gut. He fell to the floor and lay on the rug. He gripped his stomach and clenched his body into a ball. Blackness consumed his vision, but not before he saw her fall to the floor as well.
Erik's eyelids felt heavy and sticky and refused to open. Despite the pain, he managed to sit upright. He heard music coming from somewhere seemingly distant and familiar. In his mind he knew the tune well. What was it? He knew his brain was hiding the answer from him and was simply too tired to recall. As he struggled to gain capacity of his faculties he began to recall what had taken place. With a surge of hope, he searched the room for Christine where she had fallen. She was no longer there. It took him a moment to get his bearings back and the mobility of his body. His entire being felt drugged into a stupor, unable to move quickly and his brain unable to think clearly. When that passed, he rose to search for Christine. Perhaps she had gone off into another room.
His heart stopped dead in his chest when he found her. A moment before he saw her in the music room, he realized all in an instant, where the music was coming from, what the music was!
There she sat, calmly playing a piece that he had written years before he knew her with the perfect complexity with which it was written. The placid expression on her face mirrored the one he wore when he played that particular song. It had always reminded him of the black moods of depression caused from utter loneliness'. But for some strange reason, at the present moment, he could not recall exactly how that felt.
"Christine," he started softly. "Er.. how do you feel my dear?"
He jumped back when she slammed her hands down on the keyboard and shouted, "Haven't I told you never to interrupt me when I'm playing!"
She glared at him, then confused at her own actions, stared at her hands resting on the silent keys.
Erik stood equally confused. He felt the tears of utter hurt seeping out his eyes. How could she be so cruel when he sang only for her? He slowly backed out of the room and moments later heard the piano start up again. He sat down on the divan in a stunned silence.
He looked around him and saw with new eyes the horror in which he lived. How could he live in a place like this? The color and furniture was so macabre. Death permeated every corner of his home.
And then he realized what had happened; a sharing of souls, but not in equal parts. What parts of her soul did he now have residing inside him?
Again he looked around himself. 'Was this how she saw it? It's no wonder she can't love me', he thought.
With that horrible realization he gasped, "What have I done?" he whispered to himself. He rose and quietly left the house on the lake, listening to the keys being faintly played in the far room.
Christine could not quite recall how she got home. It had taken her awhile to find her way in the darkness of the alley's back to her small flat. She did not bother turning on any lights upon entering and sat for quite awhile in the darkness. She felt so very odd, like some all-consuming hatred burned deep inside of her, but at what did it burn? What fueled this rage that lusted for violent revenge? Revenge for what?
It was then, that she heard a knock at the door. Hesitantly she opened it to find Raoul standing in her doorway.
"Where have you been my love?" he asked her as he strode inside. "I've been worried sick about you. You were supposed to meet me shortly after the performance but they said you'd gone already."
"I'm sorry, Raoul. I had another engagement I couldn't break," she whispered.
"I see," he said. He crossed the room upon seeing an object flung over the couch. "And is this the 'engagement's' cloak?" he asked lifting the man's black velvet cloak for her to see.
Christine advanced on him suddenly snatching the cloak from his hands, "That's none of your business Raoul!" She ran past him and turned her back on him, staring out the window. "It's none of your business, "she repeated softer.
Raoul stepped towards her, "I think it is my business if you are sneaking around behind my back with another man! It's Him isn't it?"
"I demand an answer!" he roared.
Still no answer. Christine fumbled with something beneath the lining of the cloak It felt vaguely familiar. Long and coiled.
"Christine, I love you, but if you are going to cheat on me, so help me God…" he grabbed her shoulders and spun her around to face him!
Christine didn't even think when she wrenched his neck with the Punjab lasso. It happened so naturally. His body fell to the floor in a crumpled heap, his neck still noosed in the thin cord. She stared down at him in a horrified pleasurable satisfaction. The blood rushing through her ears was making her giddy and a sense of relief flooded her body.
And then she screamed. What had she done? Where should she go? What should she do? She frantically fought the feelings inside her at what she had just done to grasp some rational frame of mind.
She ran to the only place she knew to feel safe. When she arrived to the house on the lake, Erik was there.
Shaking, she ran to him, "What have I done?" she cried into his shirtfront. He held her close to his chest.
Erik pushed her into a chair and asked, "What's wrong my dear? What happened?"
"I killed him! I strangled him with the weapon you keep in your cloak!" she cried, "How could I have done such a thing?"
Erik stared at her horrified at what he was hearing, "Who, Christine? Who did you kill?" he demanded.
"Raoul! My fiancé! He's dead and I killed him!"
"He's dead?" Erik echoed faintly. A part of him somewhere knew he should have felt overjoyed but instead he felt heartbroken.
Christine finally looked around her and asked, "What are you doing? Where are you going?" He had several steamer cases around him containing clothing and books and other belongings.
Erik breathed a heavy sigh, "I'm leaving this place. I feel I cannot breathe down here any longer. It doesn't feel, quite right anymore," he said. "I had had my doubts to leave, but now," he paused, "How can I look at you the same way? You're a…" but he could not say it.
Christine stared at him through teary eyes, "Please stay here with me, I can't go back out there. They'll find me I know it!"
Erik looked down at her hands in his and said, "I'm sorry, but I just can't.
"But I love you!" she cried out.
Erik stared at her incredulously. He could see the darkness under her eyes and the sunken paleness of her cheeks. Her eyes were wildly mad with desperation and the all too recent pleasure of taking a life. How could he have ever loved such a hideous creature? How could he stay here with her in this darkness, trapped forever by her madness?
He rose slowly and closed the last of his trunks, lifting it out to the boat that awaited him on the shore. He climbed inside and grabbed the pole to push away from the edge.
Christine followed him out to the water crying one last time, "Please, don't go! I love you. Don't leave!"
Erik looked sadly upon her face as she grew fainter in the growing blackness as his lantern left her in the dark. He whispered, "I'm so sorry for everything, but thank you for loving me."
He poled away on the black cold waters of that underground lake, and went up and out into the sunlight to finally live a happy life he had always dreamed of.