Oct. 27 – 1:00am
It could have been minutes or days when light flooded the room and jolted Alex back to consciousness. Though her pain had lessened, in its place she felt disoriented and like her head was full of cotton balls. As if from a distance, she saw a man open the barred door and pull her to her feet by her hair. She knew there was pain but she seemed apart from it. Alex heard Da’ud’s concerned voice and tried to tell him she was alright, that she didn’t hurt any more, but that seemed to upset him more instead of comforting him. She was half-dragged up several flights of stairs until she faded out of consciousness and was tossed over a shoulder roughly. When she faded back in, she saw that they were in a large room with lots of seats. Sluggishly, she realized they were standing on a stage of an old decrepit theater. A voice called to her and she frowned. She knew that voice. It was so very beautiful that it surely must belong to an angel. Had she died?
“Angel? Oh Angel, tell Lizzie I’m so sorry.” She hardly knew what she was saying in her delirium. “So…so sorry.” She swayed on her feet and was steadied with painful fingers in her hair.
Christine chuckled softly at the pain on Erik’s face. ‘So, he does feel something for the little tramp after all. How…delicious.’ She circled him slowly as he stood before her wearing only the skin tight pants of his body suit. Oh yes, Raoul had some fun with the masked man. New whip scars had been added to the ones he’d received all those many years ago. Ironic that they came from the same man. Even beaten and bloodied he was still an amazing specimen of masculinity if you could ignore that disgusting face of his. She ran her fingertips lightly along his shoulders and back remembering how it felt to be held by him. He was a considerate lover; always putting his partner’s needs before his own unlike Raoul who sought his own pleasure and left her panting in frustration. No matter; he was beginning to bore her anyway. But Erik? It sent a chill down her spine to think of all he must have learned in her absence.
“What do you want, Ms. Daae?” Erik ground through clenched teeth never taking his eyes off Alex. What had they done to her? A throaty laugh grated along his spine. He had once loved her laugh but now it was tainted by her betrayal and his growing anger.
“Now, Erik, surely after all we’ve been to each other you can leave off the formalities?” Stepping so close their bodies were nearly touching, Christine ran her hands down his chest to dip beneath his waist band. “You know what I want,” she cooed softly as she stroked him. “You’ve always known what I wanted.” With a growl, he yanked her hands up and away from his body, earning him a snap of a whip across his back from Raoul.
“That, Ms. Daae, is something you will never have again.” Erik hissed through his teeth as he wiped his hands down his pants legs as if he’d touched something dirty.
“You think that’s so, Monsieur Le Fantôme?” Christine sneered. Stepping off to the side, she motioned for Da’ud and Alex to be brought forward as she took a pistol from Raoul. Removing the magazine, she showed it to him before snapping it back into the weapon.
“This gun has exactly one bullet as you have seen. It is instrumental in a choice you must make, my love.” As she handed the weapon to Erik, her smile radiated pure evil and the thrill of the power she held over the lives of these three people. “Choose to walk away and you will be allowed to take but one of these lovely people with you. The other, sadly, must be killed with that weapon and by your hand. If you refuse to make a choice, then they both die and you will know the true meaning of pain. Or…you return to where you belong: by my side, in my bed, and following my orders. You will voluntarily work with and for me, and only me, and your little friends will live. Oh, we’ll have to keep them of course; I won’t risk losing my collateral. You won’t be able to see or talk to them but they will live as long as you hold up your end of the bargain.”
Da’ud stared at Erik in wide-eyed horror. How could he live with the outcome of such a decision? It would slowly tear him apart if he had to either kill one of his friends or become a traitor to his country and himself. When Erik’s tormented eyes fell on his oldest and best friend, the detective nodded slightly. Though he wasn’t ready to die just yet, he’d not allow the masked man to kill the remainder of his soul. He watched as that golden gaze turned to the woman who’d been a part of their lives for such a short time. He could see the tenderness as well as the fear and pain and knew he was making the right decision. Pushing aside his own fear, he stood up straight to face his death with dignity when he saw Alex step forward.
“Erik…” her voice sounded strange to her ears and she wondered if she had much longer regardless of Christine’s sick choice. Oh, how she longed to feel Erik’s arms around her just once more but that was not meant to be. “D…don’t sacrifice yourself or…or your friend. I have n…no family, no one who will miss me. Do what…what’s right and t...tear free from the past.” As she took another step toward the man she loved, the guard gave her hair a vicious tug to hold her in place. Using all her strength and self-defense training, she grabbed his wrist with both hands and pulled as she dropped her feet under her. The guard, not expecting the feverish woman to attempt anything, was pulled off balance and tumbled forward discharging the weapon in his other hand as he fell.
Taking advantage of the situation, Erik grabbed the whip in Raoul’s hand and pulled him around in front of him just as the man watching Da’ud fired his weapon. Dropping the now useless meat shield, Erik used his single bullet on the man who was rising from Alex’s unmoving and bleeding body. He smiled in grim satisfaction as the bullet penetrated the man’s skull and exited in a spray of blood and gore. The detective, though injured, managed to wrestle his guard to the ground and they fought for control of his weapon. Just as he was weakening, Da’ud saw a knife sticking out of the man’s boot. Pulling it free, he sliced his opponent’s arm before burying the blade to the hilt in the man’s chest. Prying the gun from the guard’s fingers, he looked for hidden threats as he crawled towards Alex.
Erik had known hatred many times in his life: for his unknown mother who could so callously abandon her own flesh and blood, for the priests whose ignorance and superstition made his childhood a living hell, and for the terrorists who killed the only man Erik would ever think of as a father while calling it a political statement. Yes, he’d known hatred before but never before had it burned with such white-hot intensity as the hatred he now felt for the woman he once loved. He’d been called a monster all his life but, looking into her beautiful unrepentant face, he saw what a true monster really was. She had offered him a choice that no one could have made and emerge unscarred. When he took his eyes off her to risk a glance at Alex, Christine took advantage of his momentary distraction and darted for the door. She had made it only a few steps when the whip so recently used upon Erik’s back wrapped around her neck. She knew fear as she gazed into his molten amber eyes and tried to soothe his anger.
“I did it all for you, Erik! I love you, I’ve always loved you. I wanted you back…” her voice faltered as he pulled on the whip and drew her closer.
“How appropriate that your last words reflect your true nature so very well. I am no longer blinded by your false beauty and your lies; say hello to your lover in hell, Ms. Daae.” With a sharp tug and a muffled snap, Christine fell to the ground at his feet.
Dropping the whip, he turned towards Alex and his heart jumped into his throat. Erik rushed to her side and gently gathered her into his arms. Her breathing was so shallow and there was so much blood, too much to come from her old injury. As he brushed her hair from her brow, his fingers came away red. Frantically he searched for the wound and saw a long, bloody furrow along the side of her head. Da’ud had found a cell phone on one of the guards and called for an ambulance; they could hear the sirens drawing closer when Alex’s eyes fluttered open.
“Erik…” Her whisper was so faint he had to lean forward to hear. “B…be happy. You deserve it.” Her hand gripped his tightly, desperately as she struggled to finish what she needed to say. “You’re so won…wonderful and I…oh how I’ll miss you, my love.” With a sob, her eyes drifted closed as her hand fell limply to her side. As the ambulance crew rushed in with a gurney, Erik screamed his pain and anguish to the heavens. Was he cursed to always lose those he loved?