By Sybl Angelkat

© Leroux, Kay, and Webber. My OC is all I own.

Alternate Universe

Rating: T

Phantom Version: hybrid of different ones…I borrowed a few of the ideas off of a game I found recently called "Mystery Legends: Phantom of the Opera". This one has a full face mask but is younger than the book versions. Appearance may be a bit more canonized—I haven't decided yet.

Pairings: R/C, undecided on whether I will do E/OW.

Summary: A lost DeChagny descendant awakens the spirit of the Phantom over a hundred years after the fire. The key to his release is an unfinished song…has he waited all these years in vain?

The burned out opera house loomed in front of me. The shell of the building had stood silent for many years, but I did not believe for a second that it was empty. The smell of smoke and ash still lingered here after all these years. It had been over a century since anyone had gone inside. Clutching my flashlight and the heavy skeleton key, I entered.

Everything had changed. I paused for a moment to catch my breath. I was brought up in a foster home. My foster parents had decided to adopt me on a permanent basis. I still kept in contact with them frequently. Then, on my twenty-third birthday (I was late moving out of the house…) my mother gave me a sealed package that looked older than great-granddad. It had been broken open and resealed several times. There were letters written from mother to daughter dating all the way back to 1896. The oldest one was from my true great-grandmother, Christine DeChagny.

I read all of the letters in quick succession. There was a story about an opera house in Paris, a fire, a ghost…this ghost had supposedly kidnapped my great-grandmother. Due to some feelings of sympathy for the ghost, the property had remained in the DeChagny family though none dared to visit it personally. In old-fashioned cursive, she stated: Beware of the fallen angel.

The letters thereafter speculated on whether or not this ghost was real or just a myth. Many of them cautioned against selling the opera house for fear that the property was cursed and would bring misfortune on the descendants if they did so. In all of the letters, the date was on each girl's twenty-third birthday. Christine herself explained that she had only been seventeen when the events had taken place and she wanted all of us to be fully grown women before we were forced to face the truth. My grandmother and mother had kept with the tradition. My real mother had not lived long enough to tell me in person.

Inside the pouch was the old iron key, a map of the place, and the deed. I had those things inside my backpack right now. I thrust the key into the lock. My stomach squirmed.

I had been brought up in a very sheltered, very restricted life. I never felt free to express who I was and I had never felt as though I truly belonged. A thrilled shudder crept up my spine as I clicked on my flashlight and stepped inside. I felt like a child again.

I nearly screamed when I saw the rats—I expected them, but I was still nervous around them. They appeared to have the same feelings and skittered away from me. The pale yellow beam of the flashlight danced around in the almost complete darkness. The place had once been very beautiful, I could see. Even under the layers of cobwebs, dust, and soot, I admired the golden statues and ornate trimmings.

There was a narrow corridor that led to the main entrance. I supposed it was a servant's passage. Here, there was the barest hint of daylight coming in. I aimed my digital camera and flooded the place with brief flashes of light. Since I couldn't see it very well with my own eyes, I admired the images on my camera screen where they had been better lit. I would definitely post these online when I got back to the little apartment…

I found the theater. I saw the chandelier, several times bigger than I was, still laying where it had fallen. I saw the blackened seats that had once been red and luxuriously soft. I saw the stage. All at once, I knew it hadn't been a myth. I still did not believe in ghosts, but the Phantom of the Opera had once existed as a man. It was all there: the platform they had been standing on, the trap door, still open, and, I noted with interest, the mask.

I pried it from the bed of dust and ash and shook away the debris. The black mask was designed to hide his deformities completely. It would have given him a mysterious and sleek appearance, I supposed, and its practical purpose might have been forgotten. I ran my fingers along the inside and tried to imagine what the face under this mask had truly looked like. I imagined my great grandmother, long gone before I ever saw her in person, as a young woman. I had inherited her dark brown hair and eyes, but that was about it. I was short and pudgy as opposed to the lithe ballet dancer she must have been. Most women have an hourglass shape—I jokingly refer to my figure as two hours. I was very much in love with music, but I preferred to work behind the scenes rather than being the center of attention.

I pulled the mask down over my own face. No one would see me acting silly, right? Right! After being brought up in such a serious environment, I had developed a very silly personality.

I sang out a note or two and pretended to swish a cape that wasn't there. It must have been fun to blend with the shadows, to slip by totally unnoticed. I can't dance worth a crap, so I pranced and skipped around.

Then, the rotting floorboards gave way with a sinister crunch. Gasping, I tried to grab at something I could hold onto, but it didn't happen. My one-ninety-six pounds had been the last straw for this part of the stage. I plunged into darkness and cursed gravity on the way down.

Did I just hear organ music?