Monday, June 13, 2011

Chapter 39


Oct. 26 – 4:00am

            The perimeter alarms blasted through the still morning air jarring the occupants of the house from a contented slumber. Erik, recognizing the potential danger behind the sound, jumped from the bed and ordered Alex to dress. Pulling on his black bodysuit, he looped the Punjab lasso around a spring-release on his belt and strapped his Beretta under his arm. Sliding a couple of knives into their sheaths, he kissed Alex fiercely, bade her to remain in the room until he returned, and then disappeared into the pre-dawn darkness. Unnerved by his hasty departure, Alex slipped on her bra and panties and, after only a second of hesitation, draped Erik’s shirt over her shoulders and buttoned the front. She was reaching for her jeans when she heard footsteps in the hallway. She watched in horror as the door swung open and she stared down the barrel of a gun and into the mockingly cruel eyes of Christine Daae.
“Well, well, well, look what we have here: Erik’s latest fling.” Christine smirked as she looked Alex up and down. “I suppose you were all that was available. He still loves me, you know. You’ll never be more to him than a casual fuck.”
“Perhaps.” Alex clenched her hands so tight she could feel her nails biting into her palms. “But at least I wouldn’t slink off to screw in a public bathroom like a common hooker.” Christine’s slap raised a hand shaped welt on her cheek and cut her lip but Alex simply straightened and smiled. “He will never be yours again even if he never becomes mine. I can accept that, can you?” With a snarl of fury, Christine balled up her fist, stepped forward, and aimed for the partially healed gunshot wound. The searing pain caused Alex to cry out before succumbing to blessed darkness.
Alex awoke to darkness and pain. And motion. Was she being carried? Was she in a vehicle? Erik! What had happened to Erik? She struggled against the agonizing ache in her side and the black spots before her eyes; she had to make sure Erik was alright. When she groaned and attempted to look around, someone nearby spoke quickly to another in an unknown language and then there was a sharp pain to the back of her head and all was darkness again.
            With consciousness came the pain once more. Opening her eyes she saw nothing but never-ending darkness; wherever she was had no lights or windows. Desperately trying to stay calm, Alex ran her fingers on the surface upon which she lay. It was hard, cold, damp, and uneven. Cement? A basement or cellar then. Lovely. Feeling around, she found a nearby wall and pushed herself painfully into a sitting position to assess her situation. Her head hurt, her face stung, she could feel blood trickling from the wound in her side, and she was light-headed. Not good at all. On top of all of that, she wore only Erik’s shirt and the cold was beginning to seep into her bones. Shivering, she started feeling along the wall to find something to get her off the damp floor. Not having much luck and reaching too far, Alex stretched the abused injury sending sharp, intense pain through her body. As if it broke the last of her tenuous courage, she wrapped her arms around her waist and began to sob.
            “Alex? Alex, is that you?” The disembodied voice of the detective cut through her pain and she weakly responded. “Allah be praised, you live! I never saw you so feared the worst. Is Erik with you?”
            “N…no, he’s not. He’s not with…with you?” Her voice shook and she tried not to imagine all the things that could have happened to the man she cared so much for.
            “Was he with you when you were taken?” Da’ud, ever the policeman, was trying to work out what had happened. Alex was grateful to the darkness as she felt her cheeks burn.
            “No,” the whisper sounded weak even to her so she cleared her throat and tried again. “No, he’d gone to investigate the alarm. What happened, Da’ud?”
            “I’m not sure.” She could hear his frustration as well as something else. Had he been injured again? “I was still getting dressed when they broke into my room. I fought as best I could but wasn’t able to do much with this blasted leg. Something got me on the back of my head and I woke up here. By my estimate, we’ve been here for at least twelve hours if not longer.”
“So long?” She coughed then whimpered at the pain.
“What about you, Alex?” The detective was concerned at how weak she sounded. “You sound ill.”
“I’m just so c…cold. She hit …hit my side, where I was shot. I…I think it’s bleeding again, but can’t tell.”
“We’ll get you to a doctor soon, Alex.” The detective’s voice was soothing though she could tell he was worried. “I have to ask, though. Before you went unconscious, did you see anything?”
            “Ch…Christine,” Alex winced as spots began to dance before her eyes. “She burst into the room and we…we had words.” God, all she wanted was to sleep the pain away. “I don’t know what happened after she arrived; I think one of them hit me on the back of the head because it hurts almost as much as my side. I never saw Erik again, either…he’s got to be alright. He just has to…he has to.” Whimpering at the pain, she pulled her knees to her chest and rested her head on them. “Please, Da’ud, no matter what happens promise me you’ll get him out alive.”
            “Alex, don’t talk like that. We’re all going to…”
            “Promise me, Detective! Please…” Her voice broke on a sob and had to take several deep breaths to regain enough control to speak. “Please. He…he means so much…everything to me. I won’t be responsible for his death. Promise…if there is a choice, if only one of us can survive, you will get Erik out of here.”
            “Alex, I…” He could hear her weeping and her labored breathing and knew that if she didn’t get medical help soon there wouldn’t be a choice to make. “Allah have mercy on my soul, I promise.” The comforting darkness beckoned and, with a whisper of gratitude on her lips, she took refuge in its welcoming embrace from the fear and the pain.
           
Oct. 27 – 12:00am

            Erik stood outside the opera house once more, only this time he was entering through the front door. As he’d sped towards the front gate, he’d tuned his radio in to the guards’ frequency and called for reports. When only silence met his call, he sacrificed stealth for speed as he made his way towards the gatehouse. Opening the door, it looked like a slaughterhouse. The guards appeared to have put up a fight, probably explaining the alarm, but were overwhelmed and killed messily. The lack of response on the radio was worrisome; surely they couldn’t have all been killed? A brief crackle of static was followed by the weak voice of one of the patrolmen on the eastern perimeter.
            “Boss…”
            “What happened here?” Erik’s voice was harsh but he needed information fast.
            “Poison darts…never even saw them.” The guard was struggling to breathe. “Alarm…a diversion. Go…the house.” The radio fell silent as the man fulfilled his duty for the last time.
            Letting loose a string of curses, Erik rushed back to the house though deep in his heart he knew it was too late. Bursting through the front door, the silence of the house sat uneasily on his shoulders. Drawing his weapon, he checked the kitchen and Library before moving to Da’ud’s bedroom. The detective had struggled against his captors; there were lamps shattered and on the floor and chairs knocked over. He saw no blood, however, which gave him some hope that his friend still lived. Racing up the stairs, he hesitated outside his bedroom door, frightened of what he would find. 
            Easing the door open with the barrel of the gun, the first thing he saw was the small pool of blood on the floor. Then, as if calling his name, his eyes were drawn to the envelope and white rose on the bed. Christine. His name was written on the front in her recognizable elegant script. When he picked up the envelope, Erik’s hands shook. What have they done to Alexandra? He pulled out the card and unfolded it to stare down at an invitation to a masquerade ball at midnight.

You are cordially invited to a
Masquerade Ball
A special evening of
Suspense, Romance, Love and Loss
on October 27th
Midnight
on the main stage of the Opèra Populaire
Please arrive unaccompanied as a date will be provided for you.
Mask is required.

            With so much time to kill, Erik first contacted the Agency to send someone to help with the bodies of the guards. Local police would ask too many questions. He also cashed in some favors and got satellite images faxed to him of both his home and the opera house at the time of the attack. Though unclear, he could make out two bodies being carried out of the house. He only hoped they were merely unconscious. He waited for the agents at the gatehouse and explained what he thought had happened and the clean up crew went to work. Over the next couple of weeks or so, these men would appear in the obituaries having died of everything from food poisoning to car accidents.
            At 10:00pm, Erik was sitting a block away and watching the building through a pair of binoculars. It wasn’t ideal; he preferred night vision goggles but the street lights rendered them useless. He knew that going into that building was signing his own death warrant but what could he do? Alexandra was merely a pawn in all this and deserved to live the rest of her life in peace. Da’ud, having saved his life from Christine in the past, was now to be repaid in kind. Fitting end for a monster; killed by the very angel he once aspired to attain. Time passed slowly. At five minutes to midnight, Erik approached the abandoned opera house. Christine was waiting for him at the door and motioned him inside while she closed and locked the entrance. With a rueful quirk of his lips, he thought of the words to the song he sang to seduce his Alexandra. Past the point of no return…no going back now…  How appropriate they seemed now.

1 comment:

  1. damn what a bitch! they better kick her butt, good! *bites nails as she goes on to the next chapter*

    ReplyDelete