TQ- Welcome to my first ever-ish fic! I've been writing for as long as I can remember but I'm finally getting something up here. So in other words, bear with me.
To elaborate a little on the story here, it's more or less of a spin-off of Don Bluth's animated movie All Dogs Go To Heaven...minus the doggies. I am going to try to veer off the beaten path as much as possible, though, using just the general idea. Our continuation here is based off of no one real Phantom source, just the magical mixture of all the different re-tellings in my mind. It should be simple to follow, being a simple story. But enough of my blathering- let's get on with it.
Disclaimer: I do not own "The Phantom of the Opera" or any of its characters. They belong to the beautiful people who have created/enriched/immortalized the story we love so much(insert dramatic, sappy, single tear here).
Let the immortal Erik-ness begin...
Chapter 1: Just. Heavenly.
All of a sudden there was light. Blinding light. Light like which the creature had ever seen before. All of his life there had been nothing but darkness. Familiar, comforting darkness. But now he felt the ground move from out beneath him and that light begin to swallow him up. Something, he knew, was slipping away from him. Something very important. Or maybe he was slipping away from it. No one thinks about these things in times like this.
He was paralyzed. Only able to think, but not much else. The light pulled him on through some sort of invisible current within the blinding nothingness. It felt as if he were being torn in half, but painlessly.
Then, he landed. Hard...
"Merde!" he shouted, face down in something conveniently firm.
With shaky limbs, he pulled himself up, feeling strangely lightheaded. Something wasn't right about the frightening trip he had just taken or the equally strange scenery before his eyes. There were clouds. Clouds stretching out below and above as far as the eye could see. But they weren't the clouds customary to our world. These were...conveniently firm. A cloud, he figured, was what he was currently standing on. Other than clouds, which there were plenty of, there vast expanses of "sky" or something quite like it. This sky cast every pastel hue imaginable, like something out of a child's fairy tale book. The springy clouds cast a golden glow that shone the way nothing on earth did. The air was still, startlingly still, and there was no life anywhere that he could see. And if things couldn't get any stranger, he saw the moon below the cloud he now looked over the edge of. It was enormous and was hanging over that round thing we call the world, tilted on it's axis and looking the way the moon usually does during the day time. Very light, very faint, but very clear and real.
"What is this supposed to be, some kind of joke?" he growled, rubbing his head. His surroundings only ticked him off. This wasn't real, there's no logical reason it should be. His mind was playing tricks on him. He stared down over the edge of his cloud like a tiger plotting escape from a cage, unsure of how to go about getting out or how it got into in the first place. All he could think about was waking from this surreal delusion and returning his cellars to continue to rot and wallow in self pity.
Then rang a wholesome, cheery voice from behind his back. It was a very airy voice and overly "sugar coated" like that of a very small, very annoyingly naïve little girl that happened to sound like a grown woman. The voice sounded extremely airy and sweet natured. It was like nails on a blackboard to him.
"Welcome home Erik!" the voice cooed.
He whipped around, still scowling with frustration. The being before him was a lovely young woman, face aglow, with the blondest of hair, fairest of faces, most radiant of white gowns, and two glorious white wings tucked behind her like a cloak. A shining ring of gold floated effortlessly above her head. Anyone else would have been awestruck by those wings, so beautiful and bizarre to the eyes. But not him. Beauty was a trick of the imagination to him now. He was only greedily concerned with his own plight.
"Who are you? Where am I? Who's bright idea was this?" he growled.
With astonishing grace her wings lifted her off the ground. She fluttered to his side and began to brush the unsightly smut off his dress-coat.
She giggled, "Why this is Heaven, dear, can't you tell? Splendid isn't it? As for me, I'm Cherise, the greeting angel to all newcomers. Aren't you proud of yourself, dear? You made it!"
The gears turning in his head seemed to halt and turn to mush. Something had certainly "clicked" and was finally sinking in.
"You mean I'm-?"
"Stone cold I'm afraid."
"But...but how did I?"
"Oh, just a little accident in the lake. You know you certainly should have been much more careful, seeing as you couldn't swim. Silly affair it was."
What was this? He didn't remember falling into the lake. He couldn't remember anything.
"Beautiful!" he raged, "Just perfect! Out of all the filthy..." He continued to complain until suddenly he felt himself rising from where he stood, into midair, as an invisible force pulled him upward. Cherise followed, lilting into the air as if it were as natural to her as it would be to a bird. He grabbed out for stability, like a child learning how to swim, but found only empty space. You can imagine how strange this must be to someone experiencing true flight for the first time. Well, perhaps less flight- more float.
"Follow me please," she encouraged, slipping past him, then popping up through the cloud above.
He stabilized in midair before pushing himself upward and into the cloud, still trying to get his bearings and mumbling incoherently all the way. There was a disgruntled pout across his face, expressing his incredible distaste for the situation. On the other side of the cloud was a small platform and desk, as pastel hued as the skies all around. This was all much too "sugary" for his taste, being so accustomed to, and rather liking, much darker, gloomier surroundings. The ever-radiant Cherise was already seated at the quaint little desk at the platform, flipping through the pages of a VERY large, VERY old looking book that swallowed up the desk in size. Arms crossed and feet tucked under him, he was pushed up to the desk willessly by that same invisible current.
"Now let's see...," she murmured to herself, searching the pages.
Out of shameless curiosity he reached out to touch the leather binding of the book. It looked absolutely ancient. Without looking up, Cherise gave him a very out-of-character slap of the hand, then returned to page turning.
"Ahh, here we are. Let's have a look at your record."
"I don't think that's absolutely necessary...is it?" he insisted quite nervously.
"Just a little once over will do, then we'll-...oh my..." she gasped quietly and in the most polite way she possibly could have.
He strained to look over at what she was reading, worried, but she checked him yet again.
"My my my, aren't you a lucky one? You were originally scheduled for, well...elsewhere... but it seems as though you've received a last minute reprieve, thanks to a special request from a Monsieur Gaz... -I'm sorry- Gaston...Leroux?" she pronounced unsuredly.
"Never mind him!" he snapped, "My time's not up yet!"
"Don't be silly, now, of course it is. We never make mistakes here, you see. Quite impossible actually. Not to worry though, you'll like it here. Most everyone does. Heaven is a wonderful place!"
He growled. Her lighthearted ditziness couldn't be more any more repulsive to him. Why the only thing that was more repulsive than annoying, blissful "ignorance" was his own fa---
And that's when he realized. The mask. It was gone.
How could he have missed its absence? More incredibly, how could Cherise have managed all this time not to even cringe at the disgusting corpse that was the right half of his accursed face?
When the realization struck him his hand shot up to his face immediately. He turned from her sharply and began to sink down in shame.
"Where is it?" he hissed, searching the surroundings rapidly with his free left eye.
Cherise lay a gentle hand on his shoulder, as one would a frightened small child. He dared not look up and only glared at her from the corner of his eye. 'That's it!' he thought, 'She's taken it! Of all the cruel, disgusting jokes...angel indeed!'
He seized her wrist viciously with his free left hand, demanding, "Where is it? What the hell have you done with my...!"
She didn't flinch. Only smiled, eyes closed trustingly, up at him in such a way that only made him even more agitated. This passive response stunned him into silence. Was she completely stupid? Heaven was no place for such a revolting sight! She gracefully gestured to a nearby indention in the cloud upon which they stood. It could not be seen into from where they were. He couldn't help wondering why. She didn't utter a word, only gently shooed him in the direction of the indention. Reluctantly, he wandered the short distance over to it, like a timid deer approaching something unfamiliar and potentially threatening. He peered over into the dip in the cloud.
And almost fainted.
The indention held a pool. Not just any pool, an unearthly reflecting pool. The water- if it was water at all- was a true mirror in fact. You could not see below its surface. Only clearly what looked into it. Who knew how deep it was? Who knew how it had come to form on a cloud? Who knew if it wasn't just an optical illusion or something of the sort? The only thing that could be certain of it was that it did indeed reflect and that it was the most incredible small pool of water he had ever seen. He looked into it.
What looked back it him was this: a stunning specimen of a middle aged man, face as symmetrically perfect as any other's. Perfect being emphasized. The man who starred back at him was undeniably handsome; flawless in complexion, godlike in structure, rich black hair smoothed over elegantly, and such eyes! Beautiful, awe-striking golden eyes, most unusually captivating. Like no other human's pair that had ever graced heaven above were those which looked back at him. It terrified him, such a trick of the mind. And yet...
He ran a hand over the right portion of his own face again. The mirror reflected. He felt smooth, uninfected flesh for the first time in his life. Well...maybe his afterlife.
Those gorgeous eyes filled with tears that he refused to let go in front of Cherise. He couldn't pull his gaze away from that pool. He felt as though he could look into it for all eternity. This was his face. This was a miracle. This was Heaven.
She drew nearer to him, still as cheerful as she had been since their first encounter.
"Not bad, hmm?" she giggled, "He wanted it to be particularly special, considering what you've been burdened with all these years. Everything is beautiful here. All are healed."
"I can't believe this." It was all he could stand to say without collapsing with joy. He fell to his knees, no longer a monster, but a real man as pleasing to the eye as they come. He seemed to hear a heavenly chorus from even higher above proclaiming his final triumph over his greatest enemy. That disgusting face that had haunted him for as long as he could remember.
Something popped up above his head, then out of his back. It was a shiny new halo and set of wings.
The chorus fell away immediately.
'How cliché' he thought morbidly, moment spoiled.
"I know they'll take some getting used to, but they're mandatory for all our angels."
"ANGELS?!?" he couldn't help shouting. From being dead he didn't think it could go any further downhill.
Why him? Of all the good, near-sinless souls that made their way up here did they choose him to be an angel? Cruel irony was beginning to rear its ugly head.
"Why yes! It is those who have struggled through life that make the most loyal and devoted angels. A rare honor though. He thought you may be interested in heading the department of music here."
Slapping himself in the face, at that point he seriously contemplated jumping straight off the cloud.
"That will come in its own good time. Such an honor must be earned. Presently, you've got a special assignment planned for you."
This was ridiculous. After you've had thirty minutes here they put you to work.
"What do you mean 'assignment'?"
"Oh, just a little test. To see if you've got what it takes to serve at such a high position. We don't hand out halos to every poor soul who makes it here. You must have a little something extra to offer, hmm."
There was a long break of silence. She motherly caressed the side of his face, "I know you can handle this one. Besides, we thought you might be eager to get back to earth..."
"Wait, you'll really send me back?"
"For a while of course, until your duties are complete. Feel up to it?"
He thought. Was it worth it? It sounded too good to be true. Returning might be quite nice, actually. If he accepted this "assignment" he may have a chance to make things right...and possibly, if he behaved himself perhaps, another chance at life. That's it! He would show them he was worthy of a second chance. Deserving even! With those things at stake he knew he had nothing to lose. After all, was he not dead? All was to gain. Anything to get him away from this brain-tenderizing, heavenly nothingness. Whatever the job, he was thoroughly assured it couldn't be worse than this.
"Why not?" he put simply.
Two words here were binding contracts in themselves. A paper and elegant feather pen materialized in Cherise's hand. She turned it toward him, "Sign please."
He took the pen then stared closely at the small paragraph of fine print. 'This is Heaven. How straightforward can you get? I'm probably being assigned to some poor accident prone sap until a permanent guardian can clock in' he thought quickly to himself, dismissing the idea of carefully combing the words. He signed without another thought. He was ready to go home.
"How soon will you be willing to leave?" she asked, rolling up then tucking the paper into her long sleeve.
"NOW!...um, if possible," he sunk back.
"Lovely then!" she clasped her hands joyfully, "You'll have time to settle in. Mind you, angel work takes getting used to. You'll need plenty of proper instruct-..."
"Sure, sure, of course," he interrupted, "I think I'm beginning to catch on already."
At that moment he began to levitate into the air again, unable to return himself to the cloud, and was being turned upside down against his will.
Cherise succeeded in suppressing a laugh, "Very well then...very well."
And with that, he felt himself vanish. 'Not the damn tunnel again!' was his final thought.