The Phantom

Chapter One

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)

The voice was dark and syrupy, drifting out of the darkness around the stage like a gentle breeze. It was singing a low sweet song in French. Rachel couldnít understand the words but got the feeling it was a lullaby. She began to feel nervous as the voice sang on, then angry as it hit her that it must be Dodger hiding out there in the dark hall trying to scare her. She stuck her hands on her hips and glared into the darkness.

"Very funny, Dodger: French song, the Phantom of the Paris Opera House, ha ha. Now turn the hall lights on so I can go home."

The singer continued the lullaby and the hall lights stayed off. Rachel took a step towards the edge of the circle of light and drew the note out of her skirt pocket.

"And I suppose you think sticking stupid notes in my locker is also funny. O.K, fine, I came, Iíve stayed through three minutes of your creepy French song. Now turn on the lights and let me go."

The singer stopped and Rachel thought she heard the soft rustle of fabric somewhere in the dark. When the voice spoke Rachel felt goosebumps start at the base of her spine. The voice sounded musical. It was soft, deep and gentle, and Rachel felt the words carry her mind with them as they drifted through the circle of light and back into the darkness beyond.

"You do not like my song, my dear? I wrote it especially for you... As for the lights, I very much think you would prefer it if they were left off... for now, at least."

Rachel took a step back; she had a sudden urge not to be within arms' reach of the dark.

"That wonít help, my dear. The most wonderful thing about artificial light is that it is under my control."

On cue the circle began to shrink until it surrounded Rachel and little else. Rachel tried to stop herself thinking that if the light could be shrunk, it could also be extinguished. Numbing terror rose from the pit of her stomach at the thought of being alone in the dark; she shuddered.

"Are you afraid, Rachel? Thereís no need to be afraid. You are under my protection; I wouldnít let anyone else hurt you."

Rachel started and almost took a step back. "What do you mean, 'anyone else'!"

The voice drifted on, ignoring her question. "You will be a star, a shining angel. You were born to be Christine, Rachel." The voice slid around in the dark of the stage, enveloping her in its muggy whispering tones. She winced as it touched her ears, and slid her arms around her chest like a shield.

"What about Bell?"

"What about Bell."

"This is her part, her role. She worked hard for this. I didnít...."

Laughter sliced through the air like the cold metal blade of a knife. The voice was now loud and sharp; the lullaby-whispering now transformed into a sound as hard as stone.

"You didnít what, Rachel?" The voice was closer now, freezing her neck into ice. "You didnít want to be Christine? You didnít work hard, Rachel?

"You did work hard... to get my attention, peering up into the rafters each and every practise to see if I was watching you, singing to me, showing me how you would play the role."

Rachel shivered.

"Well, Rachel, it worked. You got my attention; you made me listen and I liked it. I liked the way you played the part... You shone like an angel, Rachel, an angel...and you will shine again, or pay the price of disobedience."

Something brushed past her lips and disappeared; the lights came on in a flash of blinding light.

On to Part 2!

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