A.N.: Okay, I'm going to put a spoiler alert on this final chapter, because of the last part. This is divided into three parts, with a year's time jump between each part. The last part takes place at the end of the musical. If you don't know the ending to Love Never Dies, I would highly recommend that you do not read to the end of this chapter. I repeat: SPOILERS. Thank you.
"Is this it, Mother? Is it really?"
"Yes, my dear. Construction will begin in the morning. He will be thankful now for sure!"
Fleck looked up at Gangle and Squelch, her eyes questioning. They shrugged. She stood up and crept over to the bars of the cage, silently listening to the speakers, who remained unseen in the darkness. She could tell that they were women. The first speaker had sounded relatively young, and the other was older, with a heavy accent that the freak could not place.
"Oh, I so hope that he will be pleased with our work! He'll see our efforts, and I won't have to bend to the wishes of those slimy old men ever again!"
"Of course, Meg, now hush. We are nearly there."
To Fleck's annoyance, there was nothing more to hear. The two women knocked on the door of Mr. Y's office, and were allowed inside. After several minutes, they left again, oddly subdued.
"Construction…?" said Gangle. "You don't think…?"
Fleck nodded. "It's happening!" she whispered. "Finally, after all these years…!"
She paused, and her face turned serious.
"But… Squelch, Gangle… I won't go with him if you don't want me to."
"What?" Squelch gasped.
"I won't go with him if you don't want me to," Fleck repeated. "Mr. Y has laid out a dream in front of us, one that I would like to take… But you've never trusted him. I've always known that. And you two, you're what's most important. I mean, you took care of me when I was little. I owe you everything, even more than I owe him for handing me a dream."
She's grown up, thought the two other freaks.
"Don't worry about it, Fleck," said Squelch.
"We have decided to be a part of whatever world Mr. Y manages to bring," said Gangle. "If Phantasma does turn out to be the dream that we would like it to be, then that will be all the better."
Fleck's face lit up, and she ran forward and wrapped her arms as far around them as they would go.
Just over a year later…
Although her part of the show had ended hours ago, Fleck still had yet to change out of her performance leotard. She sat high above the ground, even higher than she was when she swung on the trapeze, on the roof of the concert hall. It had the best view of the island, and the city of Phantasma.
Below her, lights shone from buildings, and people walked through the streets. Music was playing from somewhere. It was a new song, a waltz. Fleck swayed to the music's rhythm as she watched the people below. To think that, just that morning, she had stood on the ground alongside them, with Gangle and Squelch, greeting the excited visitors to Phantasma! They had been staring at her, but they had been staring at everything. They had accepted her as a part of the world around them, and they had not chased her away.
The freak's mind wandered back through the years, back to when she was the lost little girl listening to stories told by a man wearing a mask. It had been just a dream then, but a dream that had kept her going. And now, the dream was also a reality.
And it was her reality.
Gangle came out onto the roof.
"Squelch and I were looking for you," he said. "Have you been up here all evening?"
Fleck nodded. "Isn't it wonderful, Gangle?" she asked. "Look here. We are actually in this world. We're flying high, and the world loves us. Isn't it wonderful?"
Gangle smiled at the young woman standing before him, so much happier and at ease than he had known her to be in the past.
"It is," he said. "Very wonderful."
Another year passes…
Fleck stood in the shadow of the concert hall. The noise of the crowds of visitors to the last day of Phantasma's second season was loud, but it did not reach her ears. She was thinking too much for that. She was thinking of the Master, Christine, and Madame Giry, who had been gone for nearly an hour now. Gangle and Squelch had gone scouting for information, and so Fleck waited and worried. She was worried for the boy most of all. The little boy, the Master's child. Would Meg hurt him? Fleck had watched the distressed singer haul him away against his will…
Squelch and Gangle were running up to her.
"Christine is dead," Gangle said.
"Dead!" Fleck cried. "What of the Master? What of the boy?"
"We don't know," said Squelch. "We saw the body, and the Giries, and there was a doctor there, too… But Mr. Y and the boy were not there."
Cold dread was seeping through Fleck's veins.
"He's gone…" she whispered. "And Phantasma will leave with him!"
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, they heard the screams. The three freaks tried to find the source of the commotion and the reason behind the now-stampeding crowd, but they could not.
Suddenly, the concert hall burst into flames. A wordless cry of fear and despair escaped Fleck's throat as fire and embers rained down from the sky.
"Run!" Gangle shouted, but Fleck was frozen where she stood. Squelch grabbed her around the waist and he and Gangle fled the flames as fires erupted everywhere, in the streets, in the museum, and even on the docks. The crowd fled for the ships, but the freaks headed in the other direction, towards the deserted beach.
They stopped running, and Squelch set Fleck down on the ground. They all stood and watched the flames, the fire that was destroying the dream.
"What do we do now?" Squelch softly asked Gangle.
"What do you mean, 'What do we do now?'" Fleck snapped. She took a few steps back towards the flames and then turned to face the others.
"What is there for us to do now?" she cried, her voice increasing in pitch and despair with every sentence. "Where else could we exist but here? There is nowhere for us, nowhere! 'What do we do now?' What can we do now? Life was here! This was home! This was the dream! This was the place that we could truly belong in! Here we dared to walk among men! Where else could we do that? We are the freaks! We are the bizarre! Where else could we exist but here? Where else could we exist but here? Where else…?"
Fleck's body shuddered violently, and then she burst into tears, falling to her knees in the sand. Gangle stepped forward and knelt beside her, wrapping his arms around her. She sobbed into his shoulder. Squelch then got down on the ground and held them both in his large, muscular arms, so that the three of them were close and together while their world fell apart around them.
Once again, there were just the three freaks, with only each other to hold onto in a cold, unfriendly world.