Prologue

Little Christine skipped merrily with her expensive white scarf. She continued to skip with the wind blowing fiercely. 'Twas so fierce, it whipped the scarf, which was already on too tight for Christine's neck, around a tree branch. The scarf strangled her—nearly. With her only chance escape, Christine wriggled out of the scarf's grasp. However, she fell into a nearby ditch with a sharp rock in the middle. Christine desperately called for help. Raoul heard her cries (for he was strolling along the outskirts of the forest); thus ran to her direction and snatched her scarf and dove headfirst into the pit in a vain attempt to rescue her.

Fortunately, Raoul landed headfirst on the sharp rock that was in the middle of the ditch. Christine, being the vain, cynical brat is, grabbed the scarf from the young fop's dead hands, wrapped it even tighter than before, having a my-poop-don't-stink-attitude, she waited quietly with her hands folded, stared at the sharp rock.

Days later, people found bodies of two beloved children. How sad. Not really. The discovery of this was secret. Only the parents of the children knew; thus, the funerals and mourning were done in private, behind closed doors and with the curtains drawn…

Since no one knew of the "sad and tragic" deaths of the children, no one was sad. As the average people's lives continued uninterrupted, another strange and unseen event was taking place.

Several screams were heard along with loud crashes in Christelle Barret's house. Then, a very young, however, abnormally tall boy ran out of the house and into circus grounds. What was even stranger was that the young boy wore a white porcelain mask…

The circus master, Alexandre, noticed Erik, and asked him what the mask was for. The boy, being the socially deprived youngster he was, ignored the man's remark and simply walked away.

In response to this, Alexandre spat, "don't be rude, boy, answer me!" and ripped off the mask, saw it's purpose, and dragged the boy into a cage in one of the unused circus tents, giving him the name, 'The Living Corpse' and many others.

As another day goes on, a young girl, Rébecca, went to the circus for her first time. She witnessed many acrobats and abnormal talents, then, at closing performance, saw The Living Corpse without his mask and being beaten, spat at, and mocked for. However, Rébecca, not knowing the 'rules' of the common people's life, to fear and mock what is different or ugly, stayed after the show, unseen by all except for the curious boy.

A bit of time passed, and the girl stayed, unmoved, hiding in the shadows of the tent. In a heavenly voice, the boy moaned, "What are you doing? You better take one last look at me and leave."

Rébecca replied, "I mock you not, but to free you from wicked people."

The boy knew a little girl—nor could anyone— help him. 'Twas a kind gesture, but a little girl wouldn't know anything of rescuing. So, he gathered a few pieces of scrap metal in his cage, bended them together in strange fashions, and gave them to her as a necklace, a token of appreciation that someone thought about him, as that didn't happen often. As she put on the necklace, the unusual boy asked, "What's your name?"

"Rébecca, what's yours?"

"Some people call me 'The Living Corpse,' others prefer to call me simply 'Ugly' and others that reflect my hideousness. However, I call myself 'Erik.'"

"Oh, that's awful! It's not like you're a monster! You seem very kind!"

Erik paused, the quickly replied, "Rébecca, leave! I hear Alexandre, the circus master, he's coming!" Rébecca ran as fast as she could home—her stepmother's home—where she pretended to sleep, then, when positive her stepmother was asleep, took some old leftover bread that was on a table, grabbed the thickest blanket she could find, and snuck out a window and went to the circus tent Erik was in.

The innocent but brave girl crept into the tent, an attempt to be silent. However, she heard a familiar angelic voice, just above a whisper, "Who is there? Rébecca? You should be home where it is safe for you!"

"I'm just as safe here as I am at home. I've come to give you bread and a blanket."

Erik pondered this momentarily, not expecting his first time of hospitality.

"Thank you, Rébecca, this is an undeserved largess. Such a deed won't be forgotten. Where will you be tomorrow?"

"At home."

"Is it possible for us to talk again?"

"Yes, I can enter and leave my house as I please, so long as my stepmother doesn't find out."

"The same time as tonight?"

"I suppose,"

"Good,"

For a month, the little girl brought uneaten meals from her home to the infamous Living Corpse. One night, however, went differently. Rébecca tiptoed to Erik's tent and continued toward his cage. Despite her young, naïve age, she felt a strange presence that was wrong. She suddenly felt uneasy and nervous. Then, she heard a sad voice veiled with false happiness.

"What are you doing here?"

"What I've been doing for a while, Erik."

"Of course. But I must tell you something: this freak show is moving out of Paris and into India. I was thinking if right now, you could go to the meadow in Dead Man's Forest, and I will get out tonight and meet you there."

"When is the circus moving?"

"One and a half weeks. That's why I must escape tonight, so I may see you."

"I'll go now."

Rébecca quickly walked into the meadow in Dead Man's Forest, for she knew, exactly where it was; there was many a time in the summer she would sneak out if her house and sit in the meadow, watching the stars, listening to nature as it lived, as the rest of the world died in slumber; in spite of the name, it was a peaceful forest.

Rébecca arrived at the meadow and sat on the cold but welcoming ground. Minutes passed. Hours passed. Eventually, dawn came and Rébecca dashed home, needing to arrive home before her stepmother awoke.

"Why didn't Erik come?" Rébecca thought. "He said he would. Why wouldn't he?"

She crawled into bed and closed her eyes, tired and confused, only for her step mother to pop in and her croak, "Get up, make yourself useful, TODAY!"