Twenty years have passed since Christine left the Opera with Raoul but the ghost still lingers, and the consequences of her actions are only starting to surface. (I'm terrible with summaries, read ...
Ann felt around her in the dark, paused and tried to listen.
Water dripped somewhere in the distance, a shuffle of tiny rodents feet and an occasional sound she could only describe as the building seemingly shifting its own weight.
Which, of course, it couldn't do as it was a solid structure... But still.
She sniffed and wrinkled her nose.
Not an entirely pleasant smell.
"This isn't right." She muttered and shouldered the thin, thumb-thick rod like a club. She turned her head around in the darkness and bit her lip.
She didn't need help, she figured, but decided that it would be nice to know that there was somebody around.
"Hello..." Her voice echoed around her. "Is anybody..." The hollow darkness became too much for her as the last part of the sentence stuck in her throat. "There?"
There was no human answer and the rats were uninterested in helping.
Keeping her hand against the wall, Ann started to backtrack her steps. She should've waited for the Chorus Master-her common sense scolded her. This Opera house was a maze of levels, backstage doors and rumoured secret passageways. She should've known that she wouldn't be able to find her way to the chorus's practicing room after only going there once.
"Stupid." She whispered, more to hear a sound other than the rats than actually berate herself. "Stupid, stupid, sheiss...!"
She was in an ankle deep pool of water.
She stepped back and, using the rod as probe, tried to determine how wide the pool was.
It stretched the entire length of the passageway.
This was not the way she had come.
Slowly, fighting panic, Ann began to admit to herself that she might be in trouble.
"I should've brought a lamp instead of a stick." She muttered then laughed at her own stupidity.
The laugh chocked off as panic constricted her throat. Frustrated tears threatened her with eruption but she swallowed it down and slowly went back the way she came. When she reached the corner where she had gone wrong - she took a moment to find out how many passageways she had to choose from.
There were five.
Now she knew that she was in trouble and hopelessly lost.
The urge to cry was stronger and it was enough motivation for her to swallow her pride.
"Somebody!" She called out. "Somebody please help me! I'm down here!" It was very discouraging to hear her own voice echo all around her. "I'm lost!" She tried again, as a small sob echoed in her ears. I'm not going to start bawling!
"Please! Please help me!" She swallowed and sank down against the cold damp wall, clutching the thin rod to her chest.
"Somebody! I'm here! Somebody!" She repeated the two cries over and over until her voice was hoarse.
Rubbing away escaping tears she hugged her knees to her body. Discouraging thoughts flashed through her mind as she unwittingly realized that in years to come they would most probably find her skeleton nestled amongst ages of rat droppings. That was to say, if the rats decided to leave some leftovers.
At a loss Ann resulted to the most important thing she had learned in life.
'When in doubt... humm.'
She chose an old childhood song her mother had taught her.
She got round to the first verse when she heard a shift of cloth.
Ann blinked and tried to determine from which direction it had come.
"Hello?" She tried tentatively. "I'm over here." She made to stand up but paused. The sound had disappeared and no one answered her call. Ann sat back slowly, trying to make herself small against the wall. If it wasn't the opera staff...
She bit her lip and tried to keep quiet but the darkness became overwhelming. Unable to stop herself she hummed the chorus as well.
"What are you doing here?"
The voice echoed all around her. Ann jumped up with a startled cry, there was a second hollow sound as her rod bounced on the floor and rolled away.
"Sheiss." Ann stood against the wall, too scared to pick it up. "Who's there?"
There was a shift of fabric from another direction. Ann turned a bit to her left, trying to pinpoint its exact position.
"What are you doing here?" The voice asked again.
Ann's head snapped to her right - they had her surrounded!
"I..." She paused and swallowed. That tone of voice wasn't going to help her. "I'm lost." She admitted. "I'm new and..." There was a shift of fabric on her left. "I was looking for the chorus room and took a wrong turn which I thought was a short cut..."
She started to move away from the sound but jumped as the voice returned, almost right next to her.
"There are no shortcuts in this place."
There was a note of irritation in its tone. Ann slowly lowered herself and felt around for the stick.
"I wasn't paying attention." She muttered. Her rod was nowhere to be found, it must've rolled further. "Could you... help me?"
His pause echoed louder than the steady drip of water that had come to her attention. She left the sanctuary of the wall to search further.
She only had a split second of shifting fabric to warn her that the person was close. Ann jumped up, back against the wall. Her heart thundered in her chest.
The irritation was still there was the owner of the voice moved in next to her. Swallowing Ann stuck out her hand and felt the stick.
The sound of fabric moved away from her left.
Taking a quick breath to still her nerves Ann quickly followed the speaker. The pace he set was very fast and time-to-time Ann found herself unsteadily trotting to keep up. She managed quite well until there was a sudden raise in the ground.
Ann barely had time to cry out in surprise before she stumbled forward. There was a heartbreaking sound of her rod snapping. Ann stayed down, shocked and terrified. Shaking she felt along the length of the stick - her heart sank as she realized that it had snapped in the middle.
"No..." she moaned upset. "Damn it NO!"
In a fit of anger she seized the broken prop and flung it away.
She stood up uncertainly and tried to get her bearings, hearing the disappearing footsteps she quickly headed off in their direction. She didn't get far when the stick that she had thrown away got caught between her legs and skirt. She hit the ground harder this time, a sharp sting travelling down her palm.
Lying in the dark, hearing the last echoes of the figure's footsteps disappear away in the dark Ann couldn't make herself get up again, feeling daunted and hopeless.
She pushed herself up and pushed her back against the wall - rubbing her hand over her face in an attempt to find comfort in the childhood gesture.
I still have a face; it didn't disappear just because I can't see it...
"You are trying my patience child."
Despite the fact that she didn't hear the footsteps return Ann could've sworn that the person was right next to her.
"I can't see." She whispered.
An impatient shift of fabric.
"I'm standing here, come towards my voice then. I won't wait for you forever."
Ann shook her head, closing her eyes against frustrated tears.
"It's not that." She snapped. "I can't see! Without that blasted stick I don't know what's in front of me!"
There was another, world changing pause. Ann could almost feel her fate swirl around her in the unending darkness.
Without warning, there a sound of a torch flaring up.
"Is this... better?"
There was a change in the voice's tone, as if the presence of light brought an insecurity hidden by darkness.
Ann pulled herself into a small bundle; her darkness was still around her. No torch could bring forth, or hide her insecurity.
"No. It's not."