Author's Note: My second ever story for RotG!
Mind, takes inspiration from several sources, primarily Andrew Lloyd Weber's 'Phantom of the Opera'; Beauty and the Beast; Salvador Dali's and Walt Disney's short film 'Destino'; and the myth of Hades and Persephone. The song for this chapter is "Think of Me", from the Phantom of the Opera.
Please read, review if you like it or to critique, and enjoy!
- THE BLACK PHANTOM -
Chapter 1: Think of Me
It was that dream again. I was clothed in a beautiful white dress, all in front a packed crowd at the Paris Opera House. Up above, seated in booths gilded with luxury and red velvet, sat three patrons, looking at me with pride in their eyes. Glistening under the flicker of the lit candles at the forefront of the stage, I stared at the crowd, feeling strangely confident. I opened my mouth and began to sing. "Think of me My voice was, as always, beautiful and melodic, floating through the theater. As I sang, I felt my soul begin to take flight...inside my heart, I could feel strong emotions stirring there. Oddly, I felt the tragedy of the song deep within my core, and pausing for breath, I continued to pronounce the lyrics. "When you find I continued the song, recounting it effortlessly from my mind as my tongue and lips formed the lyrics. Through the stanzas, I smiled, feeling as though I were soaring, flying on the rush of emotion I was experiencing. "We never said As I took a sharp breath, preparing for the last line, I noticed a dark figure out of the corner of my eye. Looking up slowly, I paused, catching a breath as I prepared to look directly at it. Whoever it was, the figure, from my peripheral vision, was in Box 5, the first and foremost private upstairs viewing balcony towards the right side of the stage. However, my breath hitched in my throat because Box 5 was usually always left empty...I thought I could see the outline of a tall, dark person, a man, with yellow eyes... ...and when I looked at the booth directly, it was indeed empty again, though I swore I was still being watched. Feeling a shiver go up my spine, I turned away, feeling an ominous sense of foreboding. "Miss Daaé, is everything alright?" I felt a gasp on my shoulder, and spinning around, I saw the face of a grizzled older man, probably one of the stagehands in charge of the rigging. "You look like you've seen a ghost..."
think of me fondly,
when we've said good-bye.
Remember me, once in a while -
please promise me, you'll try..."
that, once again, you long
to take your heart back and be free
if you ever find a moment,
spare a thought
our love was evergreen,
or as unchanging as the sea
but please promise me
you will think..."
He was here.
I was clothed in a beautiful white dress, all in front a packed crowd at the Paris Opera House. Up above, seated in booths gilded with luxury and red velvet, sat three patrons, looking at me with pride in their eyes.
Glistening under the flicker of the lit candles at the forefront of the stage, I stared at the crowd, feeling strangely confident.
I opened my mouth and began to sing.
"Think of me
My voice was, as always, beautiful and melodic, floating through the theater.
As I sang, I felt my soul begin to take flight...inside my heart, I could feel strong emotions stirring there. Oddly, I felt the tragedy of the song deep within my core, and pausing for breath, I continued to pronounce the lyrics.
"When you find
I continued the song, recounting it effortlessly from my mind as my tongue and lips formed the lyrics. Through the stanzas, I smiled, feeling as though I were soaring, flying on the rush of emotion I was experiencing.
"We never said
As I took a sharp breath, preparing for the last line, I noticed a dark figure out of the corner of my eye.
Looking up slowly, I paused, catching a breath as I prepared to look directly at it. Whoever it was, the figure, from my peripheral vision, was in Box 5, the first and foremost private upstairs viewing balcony towards the right side of the stage.
However, my breath hitched in my throat because Box 5 was usually always left empty...I thought I could see the outline of a tall, dark person, a man, with yellow eyes...
...and when I looked at the booth directly, it was indeed empty again, though I swore I was still being watched.
Feeling a shiver go up my spine, I turned away, feeling an ominous sense of foreboding.
"Miss Daaé, is everything alright?"
I felt a gasp on my shoulder, and spinning around, I saw the face of a grizzled older man, probably one of the stagehands in charge of the rigging.
"You look like you've seen a ghost..."
With that, I shot up in my bed, panting for dear life.
Clutching a thin bed sheet against my chest with a sweaty palm, my eyes darted around the room. Again, I could feel the tingling sensation of being watched.
Looking down at the edge of my bed, where the shadows where darkest, I saw a pair of yellow eyes.
I shrieked loudly, fumbling with the lamp light before finally turning it on.
"Oh...thank God, it's only you."
My black cat, Dusty, with his curious yellow eyes, leaped on top of my bed.
With a low 'meow', Dusty came to a stop in front of me, and I reached out to scratch his cheek.
"Dusty, you startled me! Haha, I guess you just wanted some attention...or food..."
With a low purr, Dusty leaned into my fingers, and I smiled, scratching his chin. His eyes closed in contentment, and I felt my body relax.
"So...you had that dream? Again?"
"Yes," I sighed, exasperated, as I slammed my locker shut. "I've told you a hundred times, Yvonne."
Once again, my best friend and I were talking, or rather, arguing, about the nature of the dream that I had. My best friend for as long as I could remember, Yvonne had been there for me, through thick and thin, the good times and the bad times. As of late, she had also served as my personal therapist and dream interpreter.
She was my partner in crime, and rightly so. However, sometimes, we just couldn't seem to get along. Either Yvonne would say something and I wouldn't quite understand her, or it would be the other way around. This time, it seemed like the latter.
"You don't think this has anything to do with the upcoming Phantom of the Opera tryouts, do you?" Yvonne said, leaning her long frame against the locker next to mine.
"I don't know," I admitted, gathering my books into my backpack as I shrugged. "Possibly..."
"Or...do you have a certain someone on your mind?" Yvonne giggled.
"Oh, please," I said, rolling my eyes, "Vic may have played a pretty handsome Sky Masterson, and is considered a shoe-in for the Phantom...but he's a senior. I'm a sophomore. He's twenty-four, and I'm twenty. There's no way that he'd notice me, Yvonne."
However, I couldn't help but feel a bit of heat in my cheeks.
"Sure, sure, lovergirl," Yvonne laughed, waving her hand, "You're smart, you're classy, and you're drop dead beautiful, Amelia. If he wasn't attracted to you...well, then he'd be pretty much gay."
"Yeah," I admitted, looking down at my gray-and-pink patterned Converse shoes. "He still wouldn't notice me, though..."
"Not unless you got the part of Christine in the upcoming production," Yvonne pointed out, leaning in as she pointed her finger. "Girl, everyone knows that Vic, aside from being pure sexiness, pretty much has the role of the Phantom in the bag. He fits the description after all...tall, dark, and very handsome...ooh, girl, I think I might be crushing on him now!"
"Yvonne...I really appreciate your efforts, but I really think that Vic..."
"What about me?"
The familiar voice cut through me like a knife. I immediately ceased speaking as I turned, only to see none other than Vic behind me.
"Um..." was all I could manage, already feeling my face turn a deep shade of scarlet.
"Hey Vic," Yvonne said suddenly, causing Vic to turn his gaze from me to my best friend.
Thank God for your quick thinking, Yvonne.
"Amelia and I were just talking about what a great Phantom you would make!" Yvonne said brightly, "You were such a fantastic Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, after all. Your singing was incredible!"
With that, Vic out a surprising, musical laugh.
"Why thank you!" he replied genially, smiling, "It's not often that I get those sorts of compliments...speaking on the Phantom, are you two going to the tryouts today?"
Yvonne suddenly grabbed my arm, pulling me next to her. I did my best to smile in front of Vic, but I could feel my cheeks still burning a bit. Of course, I couldn't help but view Vic's impeccable form out of the corner of my eye, seeing his abs briefly through his red shirt...
"Unfortunately, I'm not really good at singing or dancing, but Amelia here is trying out...for Christine!" Yvonne added.
I smiled, feeling my face heat up again as Vic's blue eyes met mine. Was it possible to have my legs turn to jelly? If so, they were doing a pretty good job of it.
"Well, Amelia," Vic said, looking at me with a gentle smile, "You certainly look the part. Good luck in the tryouts, and I hope to see both of you there. Madame Perrier could use more students in the theater program...and Yvonne, you could always try out for the role of Madame Giry. She mostly speaks, not sings."
"Thanks, Vic!" Yvonne added cheerfully. Speechless, all I could manage was a smile.
Turning, Vic left and raised his arm in a farewell gesture, his books under his other arm.
"Oh...my...God!" Yvonne squealed, as soon as Vic was out of earshot. "Amelia, he is so cute!"
"Tell me something I don't know," I replied humorously.
"Okay. Here's the deal. If you don't ask him out, then I will!"
"Hey!" I said, playfully defensive. "I saw him first!"
"Girl, are you kidding me? Vic's got to have half the female student population drooling over him! It's by an act of God that fine man is still single!"
I chuckled lightly at that, zipping my backpack and slinging it over my shoulder.
"Still," I said, still half joking with her, "We should probably do what he said. I know you're not much into singing or dancing, but he's right. Madame Giry would be a perfect role for you...and I'm sure they need that token African American female somewhere."
"Girl, tell me I did not just hear you say what I think you said!"
We both laughed.
"Well, we probably should get going to class. See you at the tryouts at 3:00 PM today?" I asked her.
"You know I wouldn't miss it, especially not with Mr. Hot Piece of Ass there," Yvonne replied, "Mmm-hmmm...the things I would do to him..."
I playfully slapped her on the arm, and we both walked to our Fine Arts III class.
Both Yvonne and I were attending Folstrom College of Art and Design, a mediocre state college not far from the town of Burgess, Pennsylvania. So far we had attended the school for two years, and I had gotten mediocre to good grades, even appearing on the Dean's List one semester.
Since I was born, I had been a very artsy and creative child, engaging from a young age in dance, singing, violin, piano, and acting lessons. Eventually, I started appearing in school plays, even joining Burgess Middle School's music club, where I met Yvonne.
As they say, the rest is history.
After our three-hour-long class was done, it was 2:30 PM, and Yvonne and I decided to head over to the theater.
As we arrived, Yvonne and I both signed up at a table outside for the Phantom tryouts.
Luckily, it didn't seem like many people had shown up, either...but then again, not exactly every one of the students here were 'theater geeks', or could sing or dance. Most were art students, studying primarily painting, sculpting, photography, and other art forms.
"Okay," the woman taking down the names finished, handing us each two blank name tags. "Write down your names with the Sharpie markers here, and then seat yourself in the front row of the theater. You will be called up by number, and asked to recite the lines of the character you're trying out for, or sing one of their songs."
After writing our names down and sticking the badges on our shirts, Yvonne and I headed into the theater.
"Wow," I remarked softly, gazing up at the the interior magnificence of the theater. True to the school's emphasis on design, they had made it into a Baroque splendor: a large, arching ceiling; gilded statues of Romanesque women atop pillars of white marble; and golden-edged seats, trimmed with the familiar red velvet. In fact, Amelia knew, that they had probably modeled this theater after the grand Opera Populaire in Paris.
Hence, probably why they were putting on the performance of Phantom of the Opera: it was the theater's fiftieth anniversary.
Seating themselves, Yvonne and I quietly recited our lines, while meanwhile, the other students trying out talked in a low din.
"Now, now, settle down, everyone," came the barking, hoarse voice of an older woman, with a British accent. "Pipe down, I said!"
"Oh, boy. Here comes the Dragon Lady," Yvonne whispered lowly.
With the woman's repeated commands, the theater seemed to quiet almost immediately.
"Now," the voice began, as an older woman with short cropped, graying hair, in an austere black suit and low heels, appeared on stage. "As you all know, these are the auditions for the Fulstrom Theater's fiftieth anniversary production of Andrew Lloyd Weber's The Phantom of the Opera. While I would have liked to see more of you here, I hope you have all signed up and have your name badges on."
"As usual, you have been provided with the lines or lyrics we wish you to read - or, in most cases, sing. This is a musical, after all, people, not a half-assed show. I make all final calls, and I will be selecting the best of the best for this production. In fact, recruiters from NYADA will be here, looking for potential prospects for the lucky few who may be allowed to transfer. So, you better not waste my time, and give it your best shot."
"I'm going to be calling from a list," Madame Perrier added, but was interrupted by snickering.
"What kind of a person has the name of a French water bottle?" one guy called, his friends snickering around him.
"Oh! Our first joker, eh?" Madame Perrier began, turning, with an evil glint in her eyes, as she suddenly glared at the young gentlemen. "If you're only going to cause trouble, I'll make your lives a living Hell. How does that sound?"
The guys immediately stopped chuckling at the sight of the intimidating, insane, and honestly creepy looking face she made.
"No more takers? Good," Madame Perrier finished, turning her back and walking slowly across the wooden floor. "As you also can see, I have divided you into two sections: the boys on the right, and the girls on the left. You will try out one after the other, in a boy-girl-boy-girl pattern."
"Now, even though you're trying out for a particular character, I reserve the right to place you in another role. Each major character will also have an understudy, in case one of you unexpectedly, oh, I dunno, gets kidnapped and murdered."
The madame's joke did not go over well as the theater was deathly silent.
"With that," Madame Perrier said, raising her arm, "Let's begin with the boys! #1, will you please stand up?"
The tryouts began. Luckily Yvonne and I were towards the back of the line, with me being the last girl, and Yvonne being second to last.
As we watched, we winced as we heard those who probably should not have tried out for singing roles - "Extra," the Madame usually called out for them - those who were mediocre, who were also cast in extra roles - and finally, the good ones.
"#6, girls, please come up on stage," Madame Perrier announced. A lithe, younger looking blonde haired girl bounced up on stage, her locks pulled neatly back into a ponytail.
"Wow," Yvonne whispered to me. "Really going for the innocent look, there."
"State your name, year, experience, and the song you'll be singing," Madame Perrier spoke in flat, monotone voice.
"My name is Amber Tamblyn, and I'm here to try out for the role of Christine Daaé," she said, bowing her head and doing a small curtsy. "I'm eighteen, a freshman, and I've previously taken singing lessons, as well as ballet lessons. Today I will be singing 'Think of Me'."
Damn. She had picked the song that I was planning to sing.
"Begin," Madame Perrier said, waving her hand.
Clasping her hands and closing her eyes, Amber began to sing.
The familiar notes, sweet and high pitched, filled the theater, and I found my hand tightening on the seat handle.
"Damn, she's good," Yvonne commented lowly, "And she can dance."
"Yes," I replied in a tight whisper, "And she's blonde. In the book, Christine was originally a blonde."
"And the Phantom phan strikes again," Yvonne chuckled softly, but I felt too nervous to laugh at that.
What if this Amber Tamblyn girl got the role of Christine?
Even worse...what if she got the role, and I didn't get any role at all?
As I felt my fears silently begin to nag at me, suddenly, I got that feeling again. The feeling that someone was watching me.
Tensing, I flexed my sweaty palms as I felt a cool breeze tickle the back of my exposed neck. Glancing around, I saw that all the doors were closed...and looking up, as far as I could tell, the vents were far too high up in this massive theater to have caused such a breeze.
Glancing around and behind, however, I saw that there was no one there...
...no one there, but the shadows...
I was so focused on the feeling that, when I turned around, Amber had already finished her rendition of the song. Opening her eyes, she smiled and did another curtsy for Madame Perrier, while the rest of the students clapped.
"Hmmm," Madame Perrier said, seemingly chewing on something.
I watched with bated breath, feeling like I was unable to breathe. After what seemed like an eternity of silence, finally, the Dragon Lady spoke.
"I like you," she spoke, "But I think I'll wait to cast you in a particular role, my dear, until we've heard everyone sing. Christine is a role I do not want to give away too freely."
"Of course, Madame Perrier," Amber said politely, with another curtsy, before leaving the stage. "As you wish."
Even though Amber had not yet been cast as Christine, I felt like I couldn't breathe. My hands would tighten with each girl who went up on stage, and not even their otherwise, mostly alto singing, or their lack of range, could put me at ease. Luckily for me, each of them chose different songs.
I could fear fear rising in my stomach, lodging like a rock in my throat.
"#12, girls, could you please come on stage."
Finally, it was Yvonne's turn to perform.
"Wish me luck!" she whispered, hugging me briefly. I hugged her back, patting her on the shoulder.
"Go get 'em, 'Vonne. You can do it!" I whispered back.
As Yvonne stepped on stage, however, I felt another chilly, though stronger, breeze. Shivering, and not entirely out of the colder temperature, I once again felt the hairs on the back of my neck go up.
However, unlike the previous wind, the cold didn't come and go. Instead, it seemed to form a cold spot right next to me, right where Yvonne had been sitting before.
"My name is Yvonne Hartley, and I'm trying out for the role of Madame Giry," Yvonne suddenly spoke, loud and clear. "I'm twenty years old, a sophomore...and I have no singing or dancing experience." A pause. "I've been told I make a Hell of a cook, though!"
With that, the audience broke into laughter.
"Well...cooking is certainly a...useful skill, for the culinary arts," Madame Perrier said, "But interesting. You're cheeky, and I like that. Go on. In fact, Mr. Joshua Blake, why don't you play the role of the new co-owner of the Opera Populaire, Monsieur Firmin? I'd like to see you two act out paragraph B."
I watched as Yvonne said her lines clearly and loudly, projecting her voice and modifying her tone for the scene, just as we had briefly practiced before the tryouts. When she and Josh Blake had finished their lines, they clasped hands and bowed, gaining more clapping.
"Well, I think we have found our new Madame Giry," Madame Perrier spoke, scribbling down Yvonne's name on a sheet of paper before her. "Congratulations, Miss Hartley. You did a fine job, for someone with no acting, dancing, or singing experience."
Thankfully, Yvonne came swiftly back down and sat where the cold spot was.
"Now...#13, boys, please stand up."
Looking over, I felt another flush of scarlet on my cheeks as I saw Vic stand up, jogging up the stairs and onto the stage.
"My name is Vic Montague, and I will be trying out for the role of the Phantom...or, as he's called, Erik," Vic announced. If Vic had done the one thing to make him even more attractive in my book, he just did - he knew the Phantom's name!
"I'm 24, a senior, and I have previous theater and singing experience. As many of you may, or may not know, I played the male lead, Sky Masterson, in last semester's production of Guys and Dolls. Today, I will be singing that favorite classic...'Music of the Night'."
"Oh, yes! Mr. Montague! So good to see you again," Madame Perrier greeted him fondly. "You may begin."
Clearing his throat, Vic closed his eyes, then opened them again...and he seemed to look right at me. I swore I felt my heart skip a beat.
Then, Vic began to sing, and his voice was...perfect. I didn't know how else to describe it. It was rich...and not too deep, and the way he sang it, he was obviously familiar with the song...making it sound sensual and beautiful, capitalizing on portraying the Phantom's softer side.
Just as he got past the first stanza, however, the overhead lights suddenly went out.
Almost immediately, there were loud murmurs and whispers.
"What the-?" I heard Madame Perrier's voice say, and then mutter, "Damn old theater lighting...if only they would fix this damn place up once in awhile. Mr. Morgan, Mr. Blake, go check the switches on stage to make sure they didn't slip again."
"Mr. Montague!" the Dragon Lady called, "I know your work very well, and I heard enough to place you in the role. Congratulations, you'll be playing our lead male role as the Phantom! Meanwhile, I'm designating Mr. Samson Blake as our Vicomte de Chagny, or Raoul. Congrats to you both!"
As I peered through the shadows, I wondered if perhaps my audition would be delayed...but no such luck.
"No, it may be dark, but we're fixing that as I speak. #13, girls, please come up on stage...and please, watch your step."
With my heart hammering away in my chest, I got up and forced my shaky legs up the stairs, and headed towards the middle of the stage.
Just as I got to the center, however, the lights flickered back on.
"Well, now, there we go!" Madame Perrier exclaimed, then looked at me. "Thank God. Now, please, go on."
"My name is Amelia Lake," I said, my voice sounding nervous in my own ears. I swallowed. "I'm trying out for the role of Christine Daaé. I am twenty years old, a sophomore, and have previous experience in theater, as well as singing and ballet lessons. I will be singing...'Think of Me'."
Nodding, and oddly chewing again, Madame Perrier seemed to size me up, from head to toe.
"Very well," she commented, "You may proceed, Miss Lake."
At the same time, I felt a sense of déjà vu as I looked out across the large, empty auditorium...
...and with a deep, calming breath, I began to sing.
"Think of me
think of me fondly,
when we've said
At first, I started off a bit shaky, but within the first few lines, I slowly gained confidence as I heard my voice echo, soft and alluring, across the mostly empty audience. Oddly, I felt as though time had stilled...and I heard something soft, a male's voice, so low it was almost inaudible, sing along with me. Wondering if it was Vic singing along with me, I felt comforted and soothed, as though my initial fear was melting away.
Before I knew it, I had finished the last lines, and, with a shaky breath, I looked over for Madame Perrier's judgement.
It seemed that everyone, even the men, were silent, including the good Madame, as she chewed again, as though deciding over something.
"I don't have much experience with you personally, Miss Lake," Madame Perrier began, looking up at me and meeting me with her now-soft gaze. "But from what I can tell, you have practiced well, and hit almost every note equally well. Your range is also quite impressive."
"However, there is room for improvement..."
I swear I felt my heart sink a little in my chest.
"...but that's alright, because you'll have plenty of time to practice as our new Christine Daaé."
I stared at her, sure I was gawking by this point.
"Yes, Miss Lake, you have the role," Madame Perrier added. "Amber Tamblyn will play our Meg Giry."
I felt excitement and triumph swell inside me, and I had to bite my tongue to make sure I didn't let out a burst of laughter. Bounding from the stage, I was grinning from ear to ear as I met Yvonne halfway, embracing her in a tight hug.
"Amelia, you did it!" Yvonne said happily, "And you get to star with Vic in the play! You are so lucky!"
"Don't forget, Yvonne," I pointed out, "You're in the play, too!"
"Yeah, as Madame Giry...the creepy old woman who seems to have an equally creepy thing for the Phantom."
"Hey, now. I'd say getting Madame Giry was pretty good for your first ever audition here."
"Of course," Yvonne said, chuckling, playfully punching my arm. "I'm just messin' with you, 'Lia. You and your Phantom obsession."
Just then, as I tilted my head up, out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a dark shadow above...one with yellow eyes...
"Yvonne," I whispered suddenly, grabbing her arm. "He's here."
"Who? The Phantom of the Opera?" she joked.
"No," I hissed, just now noticing the yellow eyes...were fixated on me. "It's him. The man from my dreams."
"Ohhh," Yvonne suddenly replied, in realization. "You mean the Boogeyman."
"The...w-what?" I spluttered, snapping my gaze away to look at her. "Did you just say, 'the Boogeyman'?"
"Yep, fits the description. No white mask to speak of, tall, shadow-y, causes you to feel shivers to run up your spine and your hair stand on end."
"Are...are you..." I asked, then watched as her serious face suddenly spread into a maniacal grin. "You're not treating this seriously, are you?"
"Oh, of course I am...because everyone knows that the Boogeyman is real," Yvonne said, her words dripping with sarcasm. "Just ask his best friends, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy."
"'Vonne, I'm pretty sure the Boogeyman was the enemy of the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy..."
"Whatever," Yvonne said, waving her hand. "The point is, the Boogeyman isn't real...and you're way too old to be believing in that fairy tale crap, anyways. I mean, c'mon, really? Humans have an instinctual fear of darkness, and they come up with 'the Boogeyman' to explain it away? What kind of a name is that? It's not like anyone believes in him."
Immediately, I felt a strong, chilly gust of wind strike Yvonne and I, passing almost right through the space between us.
"Did you feel that?" I asked Yvonne, but Yvonne just shook her head.
"They probably just turned the AC up. It gets really stuffy in here anyways, or so I've heard," Yvonne dismissed, with a humorous smile, "You hear that, Amelia? Just the AC turning on. Nothing to be afraid of...unless you count that the Booooogeyman is out to get you!"
Yvonne raised her arms, moving her fingers like spiders as she tickled my arms, causing me to laugh.
Looking back up at the booth again, sure enough, whatever I had perceived was there before was gone.
However, as Yvonne and I walked out of the theater with the other kids, me catching a quick glimpse of Vic and his pal glancing our way, sending my heart fluttering, I couldn't shake the feeling I was still being watched.
"The Boogeyman, eh?" I muttered to myself, "We'll just have to see about that..."
Disclaimer: Rise of the Guardians and all related literary characters are © 2013 to Dreamworks and William Joyce. This is an unauthorized work of fiction, and should not be regarded as canon or real in any way. The Black Phantom, all unrelated characters, are © 2013 to me, and are not be used in any other works of fanfiction not authorized or written by me without my permission.