Paper faces on parade...

Turpin watched the brightly colored dresses already swirling on the floor beneath him. Masks flashing, mouths laughing raucously beneath their sequined surfaces, the party was already in full swing. Wine glasses were being passed from hand to greasy hand, strangers traded kisses in the shadows, hands slid lustfully up and down silk dresses.

He loved masquerades.

Descending the stairs regally, the Judge nodded to his Beadle, lurking in a corner. A nasty smile revealed Bamford's rotten teeth as he bowed and scuttled away.

Lucy will soon be mine, Turpin thought delightedly as he accepted a glass of bloodred wine from a waiter in black silk. The heavy alcohol hadn't yet been brought out; he would wait until nearly midnight for the real party to begin.

Holding a feathered mask to his face, Turpin slipped into the closely-packed mosh of people, grabbing a lady's soft hand at random and whirling her close to his body. Bending down slightly so his mouth was level with her ear, he whispered to her softly and watched her eyes spark with lust.

Trace of rouge, face of beast

The Beadle knew he'd had a job getting past that minx Mrs. Lovett, so he was already steeling himself as he strode up to the door of her pie shop.

But it turned out not to be a problem, as he could hear her banging around in the bakehouse downstairs. So he slipped stealthily up the stairs to where he knew Lucy would be, pining away for that oaf of a husband Turpin got rid of.

Yes, there she was, sitting in a rocking chair with her face turned to the massive skylight that took up the slanted ceiling. The baby was asleep in the crib beside her.

"Lucy...?" he said quietly, making his way to where she sat.

She jumped at the sound of his voice, gasping.

"Get away from me," she hissed. Holding his hands out, the Beadle forced his face to arrange itself into what he hoped was an apologetic smile.

"Excuse me, lady, but I come with a message from the honorable Judge Turpin." Lucy jumped again at the name and pulled her shawl more closely around her shoulders. "He sends his sincere apologies, my lady, and begs for your forgiveness. In order to show you his repentance is genuine, he cordially invites you to a small party at his house." Without giving the poor, befuddled woman time to think, he nestled her arms into the crook of his and swept her down the outside stairs, so as not to be seen by that bloody Lovett woman.

Drink it in, drink it up, till you've drowned in the light...

Lucy was not sure why she was in Judge Turpin's house, or how she had gotten there. Masked people were everywhere, laughing and drinking, doing suspicious things in shadowy corners. The Beadle gave her a small push and she was sucked into the whirling crowd.

Absently, she took a glass from a servant bearing a gold tray and downed its contents, not caring what it was. Soon, she had done this so many times that nothing was clear anymore. The twirling dancers around her were only blurs of color, and still Turpin was nowhere to be found.

Collapsing on a couch, Lucy dropped her head into her hands and started to cry. She was so confused, so tired, the wine was buzzing in her head, she couldn't think straight! The room was spinning, everything so dizzy... light everywhere, color everywhere...

Look around, there's another mask behind you

Turpin tossed the lady he was dancing with into the arms of another man as soon as he saw the Beadle grinning at him from the stairs. The greasy little man pointed at the seating area near the center of the crowd and Turpin nodded in affirmation.

Fighting his way through adoring women and jealous men (or so he perceived), Turpin finally struggled into the little circle of loveseats that circled a small coffee table. There was Lucy, that lovely blond angel, crying softly on the sofa farthest from him. He whipped off his mask and looked at her with sympathy, catching her sapphire-colored eyes as she looked up tearfully.

Her rosy lips parted as she caught sight of him, and she made to stand up. But then he had rushed to her side, sitting maybe a little too close.

"My dear Lucy..." he murmured. She felt safe now, reassured. But then--

Then he was all around her, his hands mapping out her body, his lips breathing foul breath into her mouth, his--

"No! NOOOO!" she screamed, struggled desperately. Loud, cruel laughter echoed around the pair as Turpin did his dirty work.

Hide your face so the world will never find you

Lucy ran down the street, breath ragged, ripped dress flapping around her bare legs. Tears flew off her face as the wind dried the blood that dripped from numerous tiny bites.

A few houses down from Mrs. Lovett's, there was a dingy little apothecary. An idea struck her suddenly, and she ducked in.

"A bottle of arsenic, please, sir," she gasped to the attendant.

"Sure..." he said apprehensively, taking it from behind the counter. Lucy threw a few coins at him and ran the rest of the way home.

Once inside, she uncorked the small bottle with trembling hands. One last look around, one last shuddering breath--

She threw the burning liquid down with a chilling determination.

All titles and section headings © The Phantom of the Opera people, "Masquerade" lyrics

My new original story is up on fictionpress, Asylum Shadows. www dot fictionpress dot com/s/2 632782/1/Asylum_Shadows