Echoes of a Song (c) A. L. Butcher
A Legacy of the Mask tale
The Angel of Death stalked the De Chagny’s so the whispers said. Maybe it was true. For once the Angel of Death had been a man. A masked man of magic, of music and of murder. The Angel had many names, and many guises; Raoul had once laughed scornfully at Christine’s infatuation with the Angel of Music. But now he understood the terrible bewitchment, for it was his now to bear. This man, this ‘Phantom’, who at once was angel, ghost, maestro, architect, and magician had held them all in his not insubstantial power. Erik – so he called himself – had almost brought the mighty Paris opera house to its knees. Erik’s opera house, so Christine had told him. And in those desperate nights, at least, it had been true.
Raoul pulled out the hidden drawer beneath one of the shelves and read the newspaper – now yellow and faded – as he had every night for three years like a consuming obsession. First the accounts of the ‘accidents’ at the opera: the terrible night the chandelier had fallen killing an employee, the apparent suicide of a stagehand and the murder of one of the foremost tenors. Wild stories abounded about an ‘Opera Ghost’ who’d managed to fool the managers into parting with a fortune, terrified the corps de ballet and whose face was so terrible to behold that any who saw it would die, but who sang with an angel’s voice. The truth was not something that bothered the Paris Tribune too much, but the truth could be strange beyond reason. And the Surete could hardly believe the wild stories of masked men and angry ghosts. They’d searched and asked questions, and considered a cuckolded husband or an angry father, but no perpetrator had been found. The case dwindled into obscurity. Months and years went by and other cases took prominence and now few remembered one death in a city where murder was common and adultery more so. Peering at the faded print in the bad light Raoul found the part he sought in the letters of the city’s more reputable rag.
“Erik is dead,” Raoul said it aloud. Three words. Three words which had haunted him these twelve years.
A dozen tumultuous years after the dramatic events at the Paris Opera House Raoul, Comte de Chagny is still haunted by the mysterious Opera Ghost – the creature of legend who held staff at the Opera House under his thrall, kidnapped Raoul’s lover and murdered his brother. In Raoul’s troubled imagination the ghosts of the past are everywhere, and strange and powerful music still calls in his dreams.
Madness, obsession and the legacy of the past weave their spell in this short, tragic tale based on the Phantom of the Opera.
Best fantasy 2019 on reviewer site NN Light Book Heaven!
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