Christine was beginning to wonder about her sanity and just how fragile it was. She couldn't help but notice a recent change in her atmosphere, although what the change was, she couldn't quite put her finger on it. All she was certain of was the sweatiness of her palms and her newfound habit of glancing at particular objects multiple times in a row. She felt as if she was being watched…as if…
No. She refused to think of him again. She would not allow herself to once more think of his eyes that seemed to penetrate through stone walls and follow her into the deepest caverns in her mind…with an intruding glare that sated itself into her dreams and explored the clouds of emotion within her, pulling away the layers of fear and pity to reveal a feeling that had no name and was much more tolerable being covered up.
Christine convinced herself once more. He was gone. Their business was done with. What motive could have possibly possessed him to venture to her home for the sole purpose of driving her to full madness? None, that was the answer.
But even still…it was almost as if the air had become a little heavier, and the hours longer lasting, especially since the time approaching Raoul's arrival home seemed to make the ominous feeling dissolve slowly bit by bit until its complete destruction at the sound of Raoul's voice.
A loud slamming of the front door suddenly made Christine spring up, clutching her hand to her chest as if it could stop the sensation of feeling like her heart was leaping out. She tiptoed to the main corridor to see Raoul grappling onto the wall in what appeared to be pain, and saw little flakes of wallpaper cascade to the wooden floor after being scratched out by his nails digging in. Evidently her presence was at first unknown to him, for he kept on panting and shifting his wild-eyed glare in every direction but hers.
He jolted as she placed a hand on his shoulder, gritting his teeth as he finally realized that Christine would expect an explanation for his madman-appearance.
"Good Lord...what happened to you?"
She turned him around to face her, only to reveal an image that would forever burn in her memory.
All around his shirt were long, jagged cuts; some were outlined by borders of blood. Sweat stains surrounded the collar and his jacket was no longer in his possession.
Christine placed her hand on her mouth, stifling her cries.
"Please Raoul…tell me what happened."
"I don't want to worry you--"
"Tell me what happened!" Christine's booming voice shocked her, but she had reached the point of hysterics.
Raoul took small steps to the living room and, while still holding her hand, guided them both to the seat of the couch.
"To be honest, Christine, I don't quite know. For the past few weeks I have come across…odd happenings."
"Odd happenings? Like what?"
"Since I come home very late and my name is relatively known, I didn't make much of a big deal over people coming up to me, grappling onto me to ask for money or things of that sort. Paris is a city, after all. And when my shirt was ruined the other night by some street urchin, I tried to hide it to avoid making the situation seem worse than it actually was…"
"Go on, Raoul, please: don't stop."
"But tonight, I was apparently attacked by the same person. I was strolling down the Rue Scribe, and suddenly I was pulled into an alley—a dark, moonlight-lacking alley—and I felt a cool blade on my throat…and a cheek resting on mine."
"Oh God, Raoul!"
"I heard a woman's voice. She let out a laugh that pierced my ears and pulled me closer to her. She then said 'Come away with me to my world of endless night. Come on…I'll take you…you won't have to worry about your darling little wife any longer.' She began to pull me into the depths of the alley, holding me at the waist. But I made the observation that she wasn't restraining my arms well. I was able to push away the knife and escape her grasp, only to have her wave the blade around in the dark, tearing up my shirt. I tried to look at her face, tried to get a glimpse…but all I saw was a long black cloak and hood covering a nameless face."
"Did you tell the police?"
Christine suddenly arose and stared down at Raoul.
"Do you have any idea how much of a scandal it would bring? I can see the headlines now: "Vicomte Raoul de Chagny pursued by a mysterious woman"! We're trying to avoid the papers for our wedding, Christine! We can't have this public attention now! Especially after…well, let's not bring that up again…"
"No, please…continue…you think it's him, don't you?"
"Well…I, alright…yes. Yes, Christine, I think it's his doing. I mean--honestly! Admit it, when I first told you of this, his face was the first to come to mind!"
"It's not him, Raoul." Christine grew quiet now, slowly nodding her head as she stared at the ground.
"So the masked face, the black cape, the trying to murder me—all of that doesn't make you suspect him at all? I mean, even with the woman's voice…do you doubt that a man with the powers of hypnotism and ventriloquism can also disguise his voice?"
"He let us go. He wanted us to be happy. It isn't him, I tell you."
"Christine, rationally speaking—"
"It is not Erik, Raoul!"
"Fine, fine, I'll remove him from my suspicion." Raoul rolled his eyes during the brief moment at which Christine blinked.
"You'll do more than that. The next time anything threatening happens to you, you are calling the police, so that they can find the true culprit so that you'll never think badly of Erik again."
Raoul's face suddenly twisted into a strange form: a mix between shock, disgust and a slight undercurrent of jealously. He rose up from his seat and took a few paces backwards, never breaking eye contact from his fiancé.
"You chose him again. Under any circumstances, you'll always choose him."
"What do you mean? What are you talking about?"
"The main reason you want to find this stalker is to prove to yourself that Erik has some good in him, rather than ensure my safety. You stand here, arguing with your fiancé, over a man…a man who manipulated and frightened you! Why, Christine? What is it? What is it that draws you to him still?"
Christine made no reply. Instead, she started heading towards the door. Someone was knocking. Faintly, barely audible, but the knocking was there. Raoul grew silent as she placed her hand over the brass knob, opening the door to welcome a gust of wind and a glimpse of the pine trees outside.
But no one was there. Christine took a step outside to look around for someone, and then…
Out of nowhere, a noose flew from the air, latching onto her throat.
She wanted to scream, but the lasso was already too tight around her neck, literally squeezing the air out of her. Her hands grasped onto the sand-colored rope, but to no avail. Her knees bent abruptly and she fell to the ground, still clinging to her life.
Raoul appeared at the doorway, ready to fight to the death to save her.
But he didn't need to. At his sudden appearance, the noose was released, and the rope lay nestled in the ground. Christine gasped for sweet air and opened her bright blue eyes as far as they could be opened, savoring every second of life in fear that it could be taken away from her at any moment.
Raoul began frantically searching around in the bushes, adorned with the face of a madman. He grimaced as he shouted Erik's name and looked in every dark corner, but no one was to be seen. At last, Raoul looked back at the Punjab lasso that rested in front of Christine…and another object too…
He picked up a piece of parchment, scrawled on in red ink. He couldn't decipher the writing…he couldn't even tell if it was just messy or in an entirely different language.
Sighing in disappointment at this defeat, he tried to compose himself as he lifted Christine onto his shoulder and into the carriage that awaited them a half hour later.