Thank you to everyone who is reading this. It's my first story, so I hope that you all will read it and enjoy. As a special treat, reviewers get a free backstage pass at the Paris opera, with a guided tour led by none other than the Phantom himself!
The rain was falling in an endless torrent from the raven Paris sky. Thunder and lightning, percussion in some deadly orchestra, filled the night with light and sound. Midnight had since passed, and even the streetlights were extinguished. Not a soul could be found on the streets of Paris that night. No one dared to brave the storm.
That is, no one except for the lone girl standing on the street corner.
The girl was dressed peculiarly, in a man's shirt and trousers. She also wore a soft, brown cap, at this point so completely soaked through with rain that it could do nothing to protect the long, thick, wavy hair on which it sat. Her hair was pure silver starlight with just the slightest light blue sheen of the uppermost and outermost zeniths of the open sky. Her brown knapsack was also completely soaked through, as were, she suspected and feared, all of the items inside. Lightning flashed, with thunder following less than a second later. The girl turned her storm-colored eyes towards the heavens and said in a voice at once both defiant and scared:
"Damn it, Zeus, why do you have to use me for target practice now?"
Her question was answered by another roll of thunder. She bit the second knuckle of her left index finger, a habit only recently developed. The way things were going, she was either going to be struck by lightning or die from exposure before the night was out. If she wanted to survive she was going to have to find shelter fast.
But where? There was nowhere for her to go. It was the middle of the night, and no one in the entire city was awake to take her in.
Suddenly, through the storm, she heard the sound of an organ softly playing. She gasped and closed her eyes, listening hard for the music, making sure it was really there. Sure enough, seeping through the storm she distinctly heard a song being played on an organ. It was soft and sweet, but also had a tinge of sadness, like an old memory of a time when things were better. She felt, standing in the pouring rain, like she was listening to someone's fondest and most bittersweet memories in the form of a song.
A crash of thunder jolted her out of her reflections. She began running, following the music to find the source. Music that wonderful had to be played by someone, and maybe that person would let her in for the night.
She had run about a half a mile before she finally came to where she knew the music was being played. The building was large and made of stone, imposing in the darkness. She began pounding on the doors with all her might as lightning flashed overhead. "Let me in!" She shouted, slamming her fists against the oaken doors. "Someone, anyone, please let me in!"
The organ music continued on, the musician clearly oblivious to her cries.
The girl swore under her breath. Of course, she had forgotten just how good her hearing really was. There was no way that any normal person could conceivably hear the organ music from outside the building, certainly no way that the organ player could conceivably hear her shouts from outside.
She bit her knuckle again as the rain grew harder still. She knew that this was her last shot. It was either get shelter here, or perish in the storm. She drew a nervous breath, filling her diaphragm up to its full capacity. There was no choice. She would have to sing.
She quickly listened to the music, trying to figure out what words she could sing to its tune. She furrowed her brow in frustration. This was no good, the only lyrics she could think of were terrible, and, even in her desperate situation, she really wanted to make a good first impression to such a phenomenal musician…
Lightning struck so close to her that she felt the hairs on her neck stand on end. There was no time to waste. Mediocre lyrics would have to do. She waited until the song's refrain started, and then began to sing:
"Solo musician at the organ: please hear what I'm singing.
Outside the storm is growing stronger. Won't you please let me in?"
The music stopped with an abruptness usually reserved for situations in which the musician had had a sudden heart attack. The only difference was that this time there was no obnoxious cord caused by a recently created cadaver collapsing onto the keys. The girl sighed with relief. Merciful Athena, it had worked.
About fifteen minutes later the large doors opened and she thankfully stepped inside. She took off her hat and took a few steps forward, hearing the doors shut behind her. She was now in total darkness. She felt around until she found a chair that she could sleep in. She looked around, searching for the person who had let her in, but, finding no one, settled for turning her head vaguely towards the ceiling, and calling, she hoped, to whoever the person was. "Thank you!"
There was no response.
Hoping that the person had heard her, she settled down in the chair, closed her eyes, and was soon asleep.
Unfortunately, it wasn't too long before she was woken up.
"Um…excuse me, Miss, what exactly are you doing here?"
She mentally shook off the offending voice, trying to gain back a few precious hours of sleep. Perhaps if she ignored it, it would go away.
Only, it didn't. It persisted, and seemed to have invited over a friend. Another man said to the first, "I don't think that she's awake. Perhaps we should nudge her?"
"Now, now, Andre, that would be rude."
The girl decided that the voices weren't going to go away. She opened her eyes to find two somewhat fussy seeming men staring over her. They seemed to be debating what to do with her. She decided to take matters into her own hands. "Um, excuse me?" The two men stared, only just made aware that she had woken up by the sound of her voice. She continued, "um…this may sound odd, but could you please tell me where I am?" The two men didn't seem to hear her, they had begun to discuss amongst themselves again, very audibly talking about her as if she were a dead skunk that had appeared in the building. "This simply won't do, rehearsal is going to start soon…"
Rehearsal. The word landed on her ears like a bow on a violin. The harmonies started coming together in her head. She stood up. "Excuse me?" The two men continued to talk amongst themselves. Now she was just getting annoyed. She spoke again, this time in a half-song that she knew they would not be able to ignore. "Excuse me, but is this perhaps an opera house?"
The two men looked over at her. "…Yes" one of the men responded. "Yes, Firmin and I run this opera."
"And you are casting for a new show, yes?"
"Why, of course."
The girl smiled. So far, so good. Now came the important part. "Well, then, I would like to join the chorus." Seeing the expressions on the two men's faces, she continued in her half-song voice. "You'll find that I can sing rather well, and I won't be any trouble at all. You don't even have to pay me a full salary." The faces of the two men lit up visibly at this prospect. She quickly added, "There's one condition, though." The men frowned. She spoke before they could refuse. "I want to live in the opera house." There. To use a phrase that she hated but suspected the two men in front of her would use, that would kill two birds with one stone. She would have a job, and a place to live.
And she knew that they wouldn't be able to refuse…
"Certainly!" The man on the left, Andre, she assumed, turned to his partner. "Excellent, Firmin, now we have one more chorus member." Firmin turned to the girl with a slightly perplexed look on his face. "There's just one thing I'm wondering," he said to her. "What is your name?"
There was a barely perceptible pause, like a single but audible wrong note played in a symphony, before she responded. "Alexandra," she half-sang. "My name is Alexandra Olympia."