The Phantom of the Opera is somewhere
|'The Phantom of the Opera is there...' It echoed around the school hall, as Bill stretched his voice. He gave his cape a bull-fighter flick, dislodging his Phantom mask. Across the stage, Becky went into her performance, wrist to forehead, eyes wild with forgotten lines. Am-dram at its best/worst.
Backstage, the crew were getting ready for the next scenery change. It was all held together with gaffer tape, paint and hope. Black paint made interesting silhouettes, coupled with ingenious lighting. It had the promise of scaryness. Until Becky the Ham screeched, ad libbing her lines.
When the interval came, the long suffering audience escaped for a fortifying glass. Bill growled his way to the broom cupboard that was his dressing room. Slamming open the door, he stopped, one foot over the threshold. His jaw dropped.
'Who the 'ell are you?' His natural accent lacked refinement, unlike the carefully enunciated reply.
'I am the Phantom of the Opera.' He looked the part, tall, lean, with a half-mask covering his face. His eyes were dark wells, the single overhead bulb made his skin a sickly, jaundiced yellow. He definitely had the voice for it, as smooth as black velvet and as powerful as a searchlight.
'Yeah.' Bill was blundering into his own dressing room. 'Right.' It was a prank. And he was not in the mood for it. 'Har. Har. Har.' He kicked the cleaner's bucket out of the way, knocking its resident mop over. It sliced down, through the Phantom's shoulder.
Through? No way! It was the crummy lighting. Bill glanced in the flyblown mirror that had been propped up over the cleaner's sink. Oddly, he could not see the fake Phantom, just the angle of view. The ornate frame of twisting, twining snakes, made it tip over at a peculiar angle. Even more strangely, it appeared to reflect dark curtains and swirling twilight mist. It had not looked like that when Bill had been applying his make up and muttering about Becky the Ham and all.
'The Phantom of the Opera is there,
Inside your mind.' The words reverberated around the broom cupboard with a power that Bill could only dream about.
Bill's cheap plastic face mask was making his skin itch. As he raised his hand to it, the other Phantom copied him, mirror image. Left handed to his right. The other's mask was on the opposite side too. Under Bill's mask was his daily face, lined, suntanned with stage make plastered over it.
Under the Phantom's mask was nothing. Still following every movement, every twitch, the mirror image's mask was lifted up and away, taking a full head of hair with it. There remained an empty shell, a half face, a jaw line, a cold smile. Bill stumbled backwards into darkness.
When he came round, he felt flat, two dimensional. And there was a sheet of glass between him and the broom cupboard.
The Phantom of the Opera is...