Standing now amongst my friends in a costume competition. I dressed totally different than all the others which is cool. But I can't help having a feeling of being watched by a pair of eyes not too far but also not too close from me. I don't see anyone watching me but I feel it to my very bones. It makes me stand lightly on edge and almost afraid to speak. I suspect whose eyes are watching me silently but to think of it is actually the impossible!543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡdT5F2CMUdC
You're wondering how I got to that costume competition and dressed above all as the "Red Death". Well let me bring you to the begining...
As a kid I would always dress myself as a wicked witch in a black grown with a pointy hat, tie my very long hair to a braid and have always different sort of make up and nails. Once a green face like from Wizard of Oz, then classical with black eye lids and lips and others you can think of.
Now I am 21 years old and naturally out grown to be a witch; secondly had enough with wearing a costumes since I got 14. I do celebrate by wearing then simple dark clothes and then read to friends and neighbors dark stories from Edgar Allan Poe, M. R. James Ghost Collections or from Sherlock Holmes the Sussex Vampire. Otherwise watch "Supernatural" TV Series or what I prefere (stupid but intreguing nevertheless) "Most Haunted" TV Series.
This year my friends asked me if we all could wear costumes for one last fun and enter to the costume competition. One of our friends is sadly going to move in mid November away because of her work. So we all agreed to do it so that we all have something great to remember. They did their best to convince me but it was not easy until I said the wishing word they so wanted to hear.
Already at the begining this year I started to figure what kind of costume to wear. In few weekends I found myself in the attic of my parents finding the old costumes my mother had placed gently aside with an album of fotos in boxes. At some I had to smile and others scoff how I've changed.
Suddenly a piece of yellowed paper slipped down between few pages from the album onto my lap. Gently with great curiousity and patience I unfolded the paper.
With a soft felt pencil a picture of a figure of a slim man was drawn. Dressed in elaborate clothes that had the style of the 18th century. A lose long arm shirt with a tunic that was at the same time a cape over one shoulder and across the torso; knee long trousers that are a bit lose too with tights and fitting shoes. Including a mask presenting a humanskull grinning its bare teeth and a wide hat with ostrich feathers. At the bottom of the paper I noticed some short elaborate hand written note in French. Luckily I learned French from my Mother (a family tradition from her side of the family).543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ1im0pcluIT
Quickly I walked over to the window to get some better light to read the note. It described that the picture is a costume presenting the "Red Death" with few small details changed to the modern version, otherwise the rest is traditional 18th century style. Then came a number which I believe is the year when it was drawn and written, 1870. The following came a signature but I could not make out the letters.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡzm2KzntVwh
Immediately I set off downstairs to my parents and showed them the paper and asked. They knew nothing of it and wondered where I found it. As I explained my mother realized and gave a calm "aha". Then she told me the album I have here was found together with the house. She thought it was a shame to throw away the album or just leave it lying around in the attic. Secondly she needed an album to put in the pictures of my halloween costumes and thought putting them in that album is just the thing. She did not check every page to the very end and so must have overseen the piece of paper.
Gently I placed the album on the living-room table and paged through the entire album. Besides the photos there was nothing. Strange. Why do I have a feeling that the album contains more than just pages and photos of my past? Maybe the piece of paper confuses me, including Mom's story how she found it.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡleQQnZrnSF
I took the album and the old yellowed paper with me to my flat. The name "Red Death" kept repeating in my mind. I know I've heard the name somewhere, but where? Soon I gave up thinking and decided to have a small supper. While chewing on my salad and cheese sandwich something popped in my mind.
Of course! The Red Death! It's a poem by E. A. Poe! Quickly I placed the sandwich down and ran into my room before my huge bookshelf filled with books from top to bottom. My pale green eyes search eagerly for the right book. Soon I found it and paged until I was at the right page. The Red Death. Now I remember, the poem tells a short story of a colourful party, every room has it's own colour and the host meets a sinister guest dressed in red. The host dies in the red room by the sinister guest who was none other than Death himself.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡqXfWD28SnU
That is maybe a brilliant idea! I could go as the Red Death. It is elaborate and yet scary. I think I will pull it off at my friends for the last time. I do not care much about the competition but to have fun with my friends. Yes, it will be my last costume.
Immediately I started to look for the right fabric and asked Mom if she had any that I could need. I also set off with my diet to get a better figure, I do have gained over the years a bit including save money for the amount of fabric.
Everything went according to plan; even Mom was very kind and helped me a bit. When ever I am happy I can't help myself but singing or at least humming some song or melody that comes to mind and at times wave about a hand in the air as if conducting. When ever I sew I sang to myself different songs, sometimes that what came in the radio or listening to a CD or on Spotify.
At the begining of September as my costume was almost complete I only needed for the hat some big ostrich feathers and to polish my old fencing sword (I fenced few years ago out of interest and was Zorro and Cyrano de Bergerac fan).543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡhJhzBBQnWk
As the day came I wore on my costume. Tied my very long wavy dark-blonde hair to a bun but few short hairs nevertheless curled over my forehead and cheeks. With the mask everything is concealed. I added a bit make-up on my eye lids. Coloured them to a smoky effect that still looks great with and without mask and painted my lips with a waterproof lipstick in wine-red colour the rest I left with powdering to give a slight pale effect and was very happy how my new figure fitted well to my costume and the make-up. With the shoes I made my own "modern" version. Had luckily a pair of red leathered shoes that has a neutral look meaning unisex. A man can wear them and not notice, plus they are extremely comfortable and give me warm, dry feet on cold rainy days.
As I stood before the mirror in my room I barely recognized myself. Not because of the mask, I was not wearing it. I never thought I could look that different and in some way not bad. Otherwise I never saw myself as beautiful or even pretty but not ugly either, just different. Ok, maybe a bit ugly as a result to be astounded now.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡs3E6xWyKNd
Quickly I walked a good hour to my parents as a surprise. Dad nearly mistaken me from one of many "trick-or-treaters" while Mom covered her mouth and was nearly laughing due to Dad's reaction. Slowly I removed my mask and smiled broadly. After a short chat outside I headed to the costume competition.
While walking to the place I had to pass a cemetary which did not make me cringe in fear or get nervous. In the distance I heard giggles of children and others scream. Few grown ups roar or talked to other children holding hand in hand with a torch and a small plastic bucket.
Leaves rustled und crunched, a cool gentle breeze blew through the streets and many small lights flickered. Some candles in pumkings, others torches or even Luke Skywalker lazer swords with clashing sounds and other things.
My sword sometimes reached the ground and made metal clanking sound or even a skriech. Few made a big circle round me, others walked normal and greeted with "Happy Halloween" and few even changed side of the street.
Am I that fearfully dressed? I wonder?543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡy68Zbmg22Z
Suddenly I did not have the feeling I was alone while walking down a lonely street. A feeling as if someone is following and watching me silently. Not too far but not too close either.
I halted and looked around. Placed a hand over the handle of my sword as a stupid and old-fashioned reaction. Slowly I let go the hand and continued to look. "Is anybody there?" I asked calmly and composed.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡyc2qJRbBEv
There was no answer but the breeze rustling few leaves over the sidewalk and street.
Soon I started to walk again and the feeling grew intense in every step I took. I started to pace; knowing the competition is only few yards away. I can hear already softly the music playing there and lights flickering through the windows. The competition always takes place in the gym of the school where my friends and I went.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡDS5FObggjX
Suddenly I heard a soft whisper. So soft like velvet and clear, above all so close to my ear. Calling my name.
I halted and looked round me; placing a hand to my ear. No one; nothing. Even the breeze was gone. I heard the throbbing at my ears. I wanted to turn and run but I was too pertrified to move.
Suddenly at a few trees away from me, exactly few feet away. I noticed how a dark shadowy hand moved across the bark of the tree trunk. From the hand it grew longer and revealed to be an arm, soon I realized it was a shadowy figure hiding behind the tree trunk. I did not see the eyes but felt them distinctively looking at me, my eyes.
"Come to me. Come." It whispered with the same velvety voice as before. The hand made a slow composed gesture to come by moving a finger.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡsvBHd8n4tk
Oh no! I'm not going to come closer to that shadow! Immediately my fear turned to anger. "Who are you? Why should I come to you? You dare to give orders to the Red Death?" I called fiercely, placing my hand at the handle of the sword again. What am I saying? Me as ...
"Bang!" A loud bang of a squib made me turn to where I heard it. A large group of children with adults were laughing chatting and knocking from door to door at the other side of the road. Quickly I turned back to the tree where I saw the shadow; it was gone but not totally. I still felt its eyes on me, hiding in dark shadows.
I paced the rest to the gym. As I entered the gym the music was playing off loudly, I immediately wore on earplugs to protect my ears.
Many people and children danced about and other stood close by the buffet table. Few kids hamstered "secretly" the leftovers of sweets on the table or exchanged one another different sweets in trade as if it was all top secret.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡsoffVp5am8
Very soon at one corner of the gym I found my dear old friends. I walked up straight with an air of pride, held a part of my cape over the one lower arm and held it up to my nose. "Mesdames. Bon soir. I am the Red Death and whom do I have the honor to meet?" I spoke in English with a thin French accent and bowed as elegantly as I could like men did in the 18th century.
Some of my friends chuckled nervously, mistaking me for a boy while others looked at me confused and akward.
"Err. Enchanted, but we're waiting up for someone else, sorry. Maybe later?" Gave one of my friends nervously, her cheeks blushed through her make up. Dressed also befitting to my costume as Marie Antoinette, fanning nervously before her and holding it close to her nose.
"Now that's a shame. Not even for an old friend?" I spoke in my normal tone.
My friend laughed and realized it was me. I quickly removed my mask because my other friends were still not so sure.
It was a delightful surprise to have my friends mistaken me for a boy and as the Red Death, above all I was happy to be with my friends.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡQDdR58UtbR
We danced and drank a little. We had lots of fun. Alas for me not totally, ever since I saw the strange shadow by the trees; I felt being watched. Looking closely every move I do, listen to every word and tone I say. Amongst the crowd I was able to ignore it a bit but if I would be alone it would be totally freaky. Somehow I had to think of 'The Phantom of the Opera'. Oh boy! What a funny coincedence! The Phantom too dressed himself as the Red Death!543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡcVAuUpzYyr
Soon the time came to show the best costume. Everyone got a chance to do the catwalk on the built up platform. Many were shy and did not dare to take the first step; afraid to fail or something like that. Quickly and nerved I walked past the others; I just want to get over with it. It is actually no big deal, the point is to have fun. What is the point of having fun when you still worry to fail? Like before a final exam in math or something you're not so good at.
My friends stared at me stunned. It seems they just learned something new about me after many years of friendship. I stepped on the platform confident and walked up and down as it was well instructed with some music in the background. While walking I could have sworn to have heard ever so faint and softly a chuckle of amusement. Is the shadow guy really here in this room? Why is he or it following me? Could it be the Phantom? No! That's not possible! A shiver went down my spine.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡYVHM1tOqTi
Quickly as I came on I got off and the others followed without any difficulties. My friends came one of the last ones. The jury who were also dressed showed their costumes and told that after about half an hour the results will be clear to the winners.
My friends and I went out to get some fresh air and to take pictures. The cool air did a lot of good but the eyes were still there on me. As we got enough pictures we returned and many other people walked up to me. Eager to know whom I represent and how I did the costume. I told them my story. My friends listened carefully but my story got interrupted as the jury stood on the platform with a microphone at hand. The music was turned silent.
"Good evening ladies, gents and monsters. We have now calculated our results and discussed. We are planning to 'kill' you by starting from 3rd place upwards alright?" Gave one of many jury dressed as a zombie.
Everyone was silent and excited yet few gave out an annoyed groan. I did not care much, knowing my name will never be mentioned. As always.
The jury told in clear tone the names of the costumes people wore and shone with a red torch to the person. Asking them to come up. Suddenly the red torch shone on me and called out the name Red Death. "What?" I blinked in surprise besides the bright light. "Me?" I whispered.
"No, the one behind you. Of course you, dummy." Gave my friend a broad grin and pushed gently towards the platform.
I took a deep breath and bit my lip under my mask, balled gently my hands to fists while walking up straight, almost stiff.
"Come on Red Death, the close friend of Poe. We gladly honor you as second best. Here is the prize, five tickets to the cinema and a bucket of candy as tradition. Now tell us shortly, how did you come up with the idea?"
"An old note in the attic and Poe." I said short. Trying to sound mysterious. I could not help myself acting in my role. If it really sounded mysterious I'm not so sure if it came over so to others.
The zombie was interested and soon continued to the first place winner. As he gave the word that we were allowed to exit the platform I jumped off instead like others take the small short stairs. Perhaps eager to leave. The unseen glare makes me now more on edge than before. I looked around me again.
My friends were happy for me and lauded me. I said nothing but nodded. Soon a friend of mine asked what was the matter. I explained it was nothing, just a bit tired. The others laughed and teased me that I should not be tired now when it is close before midnight. I excused and said good night. They all did not want me to leave. I quickly hugged everyone and left. Told them that I will write and asked to send me the photos.
Once outside I walked over the playground of the school. I want to get over with is shadowy stalker once and for all. I just hope it is not some familiar face from old times, who happens still to have a crush on me. I sighed on at that thought.
"Hey wait!" Called a friend after me, the one dressed as Marie Antoinette. "What's wrong? And don't tell me it's nothing, because I can see it damn clear there is something. Something's bugging you."
"I appreciate your concern but it's something I don't want you to be involved in anyway. I can't tell you right now but some day soon. Ok? Please don't worry about me, it's alright. Everything's under controll. Enjoy the night with the others, we can catch up another night." I spoke calmly with a grin, gave a wink and left the school. A bad feeling came over me as I lied to her but I don't want her worry.
I walked down the same road back. This time I was not totally alone and thus did not see any shadow. Fear grew again but soon my anger replaced it. I don't want to live in fear, never knowing who is that shadow. Quickly I paced into the cemetary.
A foolish idea to meet the shadow but I have lots of space and piece of solitude nevertheless. My eyes wandered around me, searching for the shadow to appeare somewhere. I stood still breathed calmly. Trying to hold back my rage. To be honest I could nearly hulk out but the consequences are never good and learned in fencing never to fight in anger. Because at that point you don't think so clear than per usual. Do foolish things, well such as standing here in the cemetary! I paced off and headed home.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡC7t2tE9AYi
I was got home to my flat. I sighed deeply while leaning against the closed door. I felt save. The strange feeling of being watched was somehow gone. Maybe it was just my imagination. Or maybe I'm not used to be the center of attention because of the costume. While leaning I felt how my tensed shoulders losened and ached.
Geez! I was really on edge! I massaged my shoulders and neck and removed gently the mask and hat. Placing them on the small living-room table. Soon I set off to the bathroom to unchange into my PJs, wash off my make-up and brush my teeth.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡXs9gtxcSEg
Gently I losened the bun. Suddenly strong long curls curled over my shoulders! Usually my hair should remain wavey, even if they got wet from the rain. How could this happen? Although I love curls I can't remember adding any hairspray or some expensive chemicals; aside my usual shampoo which never infected my hair to curl so. I wonder? What did I do that my hair curls so? Food and drink has nothing to do with that, secondly they were tied up to a bun the whole time. What could have caused it?
Rapidly my mind wandered to the shadow I saw before the competition. Could it be him? The Phantom?
I shook my head. No! Don't jump to conclusions. Don't be ridiculous! Especially when I haven't listed up the facts.
I walked to the kitchen to get a glass of water and sat on the couch to think. I made myself small by pulling up my knees to my chin and held my arms round my legs. Like Sherlock Holmes mostly does when he thinks or meditates. I stared at the table before me with the glass of water, the hat, the mask and my old album with the yellowed paper.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ7tVM9Ia8Da
In silence in my mind I listed up what I saw and heard. Suddenly I stopped thinking and blinked. Lookind astounded at the table. What is the album and paper doing here in the living-room? I remember perfectly placing them on my desk in my room. How did they get here? Surely they did not grow legs and walk in here.
Rapidly I took the album unto my lap and paged through carefully. Then placed it back on the table and looked closer at the yellowed paper that is over 100 years old. I remember the other day wondering if this album is more than just an album and this paper has some conection. While wondering I heard ever so softly like velvet the same voice calling my name. I tried to ignore it but it was no use. It is too mesmerizing.
"Come to me. Come." He or it whispered close to my ear.
Quick-witted I turned my head to where I heard the whisper. A pair of yellow eyes was there! Few inches away! And with it a mask of a skull!
I gasped in awe and jumped off the couch. Away from those eyes. As I made space I realized those were the exact eyes watching me hours earlier. The mask was not a mask. It was its face!
"Come." He whispered and held out an open hand to me. His hand was bony with an overstretching yellowish skin.
As a reaction I placed my hands to my mouth. Preventing to say something foolish without thinking and perhaps gasp louder. I was never the screaming type, therefore have a bad filter between my brain and mouth. I began to shake my head.
"Come to me." He whispered again with his mesmerising velvet voice. His yellow eyes were fixed to mine.
No! Is it truely what I think? Is he the Phantom? The Opera Ghost? No! It can not be true! Those thoughts gave such a heavy weight on my shoulders that I fell on my knees while my heart raced and looked up in fear at him. "No! You can't be!" I called out in awe, almost a whisper.
His grinning face vanished to a stern looking expression; cold and distant. He lowered his hand. In his yellow eyes I saw that something snapped him, his bony yellow hand was lowered and balled to a fist. "Then you know who I am. Do you?"
"I- I have an idea who you might be." I swallowed. "You're the Opera Ghost. The Phantom who calls himself Erik."
As I mentioned his name, his yellow eyes widened in surprise.
For a long moment there was silence as the grave between him and me.
"How do you know of my name? How?" He demanded furious. His velvet voice changed rapidly to a sharp clear voice.
I cringed of fright by his sharp tone. Almost as sharp as a knife. "Reading books." I nearly whimpered like a child. What am I saying?
"What? Books? How is that even possible?" He called angered, narrowing his thin eyebrows.
Slowly I dared to take a deep breath and stood up right again. Facing him at the same even level. "There is a book called the Phantom of the Opera and your costume the Red Death is mentioned in there too. That's where I learned your name." I explained lightly on edge. Kneading my hands with anxiety.
Suddenly his stern face began to grin at me again as before.
My heart is up to my nose. Before I knew what was happening he threw a long strong skinny arm arond my waist and pushed me close to him. I gave another feared gasp.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡC6vvjBLzzF
He only sniggered. "You're not so screamish as many others and you're smart with a talent to sing. Now that is something special to have, isn't it? Christine." The Phantom whispered the name in my ear.
"I'm not Christine!" I shouted and began to struggle. Trying to liberate myself from his strong bony arms.
Suddenly a bony arm was right at my throat and felt his bony fingers stroking gently through my hair. His arm was close on tightening my throat. Damn! How can I forget! He was an assassin in Asia for many years. If I move then it is over for me!
"You know, Christine. It is all in your mind. This is not the reality. Did you think that a costume could be cursed? Did you ever wonder if I ever existed?" He whispered to my ear.543Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡJVuObdgmQl