Deborah loves all books, her favorites being mystery and romance. She writes fiction on her spare time.
The music! One could hear the melody of the opera ghost.
The phantom piece could not be identified by any of the musicians in the opera house. At times it made those who heard it feel melancholy or occasionally happiness. The tune could be heard in variations of sentiment, though it most commonly inspired sadness in the listener. All those who heard the piece unanimously agreed it the most beautiful they had ever heard, so beautiful it could only have been composed by an angel.
By far the worst place for it to be heard was in the manager’s office. M. Firmin would become angry and shout to those on the stage rehearsing to “stop that!” Even if they were playing no instrument at the time.
“It is the opera ghost.” M. Armand proclaimed.
M. Firmin slammed the book in exasperation.
“Why would you say that?” He shouted angrily.
“It is the performers who say is playing it,” M. Armand replied awkwardly, “The opera ghost.”
The notion that a phantom could be the composer of the ghostly piece offended M. Firmin Richard. “Absurd! Simply those playing have forgotten, the listeners are not distinguishing what they hear.”
“Does seem logical that a ghost would be the performer of a phantom tune,” M. Armand reasoned.
“No, the whole story is utterly illogical,” M. Firmin insisted.
This new oddity of the opera house had become a kind of scandal. The rumors wore thin on M. Firmin’s temper.
“It is quite an enchanting tune is it not?” M. Armand mused.
M. Firmin huffed in impatience and once again slammed the book on his desk. “I cannot stand the melody.”
The Phantom tune was a mystery and as illusive as the opera ghost. No one recognized the mysterious piece or where it had come from? The harmonious notes were only tangible to those who heard it. The melody could be heard as if it were distant and far away. The mood of those hearing the ethereal piece would change. The listeners made impulsive choices. There were whispers that it placed those who heard it under a magic spell.
Was it true? Did all those who listened to the beautiful piece alter the choice of a prearranged design.
The stagehand did this. He simply put his task aside and insisted he needed to write a letter, in spite of all the reprimands and orders given, he did not set aside his pen until his letter was finished. The piano player instead opted to play Romeo and Juliet’s tragic piece at rehearsals instead of Othello. The composer too demanded to play the aria first. The managers even decided to leave the opera house early one evening after hearing the tune. Carlotta had screamed and refused to attend rehearsals for the entirety of the week, which had not been surprising in her case. She may have done the same, tune or no tune.
Upon the staircase the performers heard the tune. One late hour the beautiful soprano stopped to listen to the melody. She held the banister, and simply listened until its conclusion. Before continuing on in wonder, how anyone even he, could produce such a hymn.
Even after the performers were forbidden to speak of it by the managers It was still whispered behind the curtain. It was quite the story and one none of them could stop talking about. Even those outside the opera house had rumored of the mysterious tune. Some topped their ears when traveling to and fro! No one wanted to become enchanted yet wished to hear it. The music could be heard in their rooms, on the staircase, on the stage, behind the stage. Occasionally by the audience or parishioners. At times the audience thought it was additional entertainment the opera had arranged.
“We are going to put a stop to this, next time we hear the music we will find the musician and finish him.’’
“How?” M. Armin asked his irate fellow manager.
“Fire him! Discover which one of the performers is doing the prank.”
“It is strange,” M. Armin spoke as he sat in his chair with his hands bellow his chin.
“What is strange?”
“That the music seems to permeate the walls.”
One ballerina was terrified to return to her dressing room. Madam Giry had to escort her to make her return. The box keeper steadied the girl informing her that the opera ghost had played it out of sadness. Unconvinced that her words quelled her fear she assured the ballerina he meant her or the other performers no harm. The same ballerina the very next day, then hummed the tune between rehearsals. No one knew its name or where the melody had come from? Simply, that the opera ghost had likely composed it, and was now haunting the opera with the melody.
“We are going to get to the bottom of this.”
“But at times the music sounds far away,” M. Armin lamented. “Then right up to the ear, as if someone were standing there performing it.”
“The next time we even begin to hear it, we will chase the odious sound and the composer will be met with a pistol.”
Box five had once been a place one could sit and enjoy an opera for hours. Since the tune had begun no one entered the box and resolutely avoided it, afeared that they would meet the composer face to face. No one wished to lay eyes on the opera ghost. The only person who dared enter was the box keeper Madam Giry!
The tune began once again at a late hour one night, as clear and voluble for the managers to hear.
“They think they’re very clever! I am quite through with these games.” M. Firmin stood purposely. “Come along!”
Most of the opera inhabitants either were leaving the opera house, or succumbing to the rest the dark hours provided. The determined managers grabbed the lantern and journeyed towards the dark halls.
“Perhaps we should awaken help?’’ M. Armin suggested, doubtful in the success of locating a phantom tune.
M. Firmin ignored his associate’s words.
“We’ll travel that direction.”
They strode purposely as M. Firmin attempted to ferret out the direction of the melody.
“We hear the tune coming from here,” he pointed.
They travelled some distance and followed the sound as it became clearer.
“Which way are we going?” M. Armin asked no longer secure in his purpose.
The sound of music would at moments sound so close to them, then become distant. It all relied upon which hall they traveled by. M. Firmin became fixated on the melancholy hymn, that they followed the phantom tune without taking note which of the passages they had taken. He did not recognize this particular corridor.
“Do you hear that?” M. Armin listened carefully.
“The music stopped,” M. Firmin answered.
It had become absolutely quiet.
“Which way did we come from?” M. Armin asked outraged.
“That hall there,” M. Firmin pointed in the dim light.
“There are two others that resemble it.” M. Armin shined the lamp in an attempt to recognize the unfamiliar corridors.
“Nonsense I know which way we came,’” M. Firmin insisted.
The rooms and walls with the exception of small details resembled one another.
“Are we lost?” M. Armin asked attempting to locate from where they had begun.
“Nonsense Poligny knew this opera like the back of his hand.” Though M. Firmin did not mention aloud that neither of the two were Poligny.
They were quite aware of their navigational shortcomings.
The tune had stopped only to begin again. It repeated the peculiar sequence of stopping and beginning again and again, succeeding in having driven them beyond the familiar passages. The phantom tune morphed into one of a nightmare, the notes scratching, as if the instrument bled. The pleasant melody of moments before now filled their very essence with dread.
“We shouldn’t follow it since it is not the same tune…” M. Firmin announced as Armin scoffed. “The hallways appear all the same nonetheless.”
As they spoke the tune once again became the melody that had haunted them.
“Should we follow it?” M. Firmin asked.
“Yes!” M. Armin attempted to locate the tune with his eyes in the dark.
“No!” Firmin hissed. “We must whisper or the musician of the song may hear us.”
An amused laughter interrupted their muffled voices.
They traveled through the passages quickly as M. Armin realized his feet became entangled. He pulled a long piece of rope from the ground. Both just stood casting the light on the twisted rope. M. Armin Insisted he had found it on the ground tangled.
“We may never return like Bouquet,” M. Firmin whispered.
They both decided to take evasive action. They would enter the first room they saw in the corridor. After a few moments they pried a door open and fled into the room. Time passed, though it had not been much, it was enough for them to come to an understanding. It was simply ridiculous to believe they were being haunted and even if they were, the Phantom was long gone now and had taken the dreadful tune with him. They certainly had been in this room long enough.
Once the doors were open with the intent to return to the corridor, they were met with a monstrous sight to behold. The rope no longer lay strewn on the ground as it had once been a few moments before. It now hung from the ceiling as if it awaited the morbid company of a victim. At that moment they heard a voice so close to them, it was as if it came from upon the hanging rope. They did not take the time to articulate the words of the phantom voice. They began to yell with shrieks for help. The frightened movement shattered their lantern. The voice then assured them the late hour in the corridors of the opera house was not for their amusement.
“The entire opera house is haunted!” M. Armin shouted to M. Firmin. “That is where the music was coming from!”
They heard the icy voice as the shadow of a form came nearer to them. They retreated and furiously bolted down the corridor. They ran at full vigor down the dark long passages. They quickly traveled a great distance from the terrible apparition. After abruptly pausing in their escape they heard laughing. They looked into the dark to no avail. It was great difficulty to pin point the nasty humor in the dark. A light could be seen coming toward them. They considered making another escape, but they had yet scarcely to catch their breath.
Madam Giry and a musician came closer to them.
“It was both of you, we caught you red handed!” M. Firmin shouted in accusation.
“Not at all, we heard shouting… pleas for help,” Giry said confused by their state of distress.
They assured her they had not shouted or plead for help.
“There is many corridors Sir, especially in this part of the opera house,” The musician informed them in a gracious tone as the managers insisted, they were not lost.
“Could you lead us back all the same?” They asked with polite defeat.
“Of course!” Giry replied with a nod. “We will take you back.”
The tune had not been heard for a week. The managers were convinced, and had informed others as well, that the melody had been the product of the overactive imagination of the opera house inhabitants. In spite of protest, they insisted that the tune had been a figment of their imagination. The managers had conveniently forgotten their escapade of that mysterious night and also had conveniently failed to mention that they had heard the tune as well. The memory had somewhat been pushed to the back of their minds.
Never the less the haunting melody had nearly been forgotten as easily as it had been immortalized. Another trivial tale that escaped the lips of a witness when speaking of the opera ghost and another reason to fear the dark corridors when one worked as all others slept.
All carried on as usual, preparing for the grand opera. The melody to nearly all those who had heard it nearly forgotten. There were those few which the notes of the melancholy tune remained stamped in their memory with perfect clarity.
The soprano entered her dressing room. The romantic yet sad melody began. Christine closed her eyes upon hearing the gentle notes.
Christine Daae knew who the composer was.
The young soprano’s eyes remained closed as she once more listened to the tune, yet it still made her feel enchanted as if she were somewhere far away in his company.
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on April 30, 2021:
A wonderful piece of fiction. Had me hooked all the way to the end.