Before The Phantom Chapter Three! (My titles suck)
Antoinette woke the next morning, the caged man completely forgotten. She dressed quickly and snuck into her father’s bedroom. He was lying on top of the quilts, a half empty bottle in his hand. He had passed out from drink so he’d be out most of the day. Antoinette wouldn’t be missed.
She found his money bag and took some from it. The money wouldn’t be missed, either. Her father would just figure he’d spent it the night before on ale.
Antoinette then silently slipped out of the house and ran to the carnival.
It was around ten o’clock, so the carnival was open and accepting visitors. She showed the ticket Gustav had given her and entered. She was surprised at how many people were there so early.
Antoinette walked around for a few hours, looking at the animals and performers doing amazing acrobatics and stunts. She finally came up to a tent with a huge crowd surrounding it. A sign was posted in front reading, “The Living Corpse”.
Suddenly she remembered the crying man from yesterday. Gustav’s warning about the man whose body was dead yet was still alive flashed in her mind. Was this “Living Corpse” the same man?
She approached the tent, her promise to Gustav forgotten. As she drew near, the sounds of a harp playing and a beautiful male voice drifted from the tent and surrounded her as if she were in a blanket of sweet music.
Eager to see who could possibly sing so beautifully, Antoinette pushed her way through the crowd, but by the time she got inside the song had ended.
A soft male’s voice then spoke, asking the crowd to leave him. The crowd slowly dispersed, but Antoinette fought the current of people and found herself standing alone in front of a cage.
It was the same person! He was sitting on a stool next to the harp, looking down at the straw in his cage. She had never seen anyone look so miserable. Suddenly the man noticed her and looked up sharply.
Antoinette couldn’t contain her gasp. His face really was that of a dried corpse! On one side of his face his top lip was deteriorated to show his teeth. He had no nose, only a black hole, and his eyes were sunken into their sockets. However they gave an unearthly yellow glow.
His skin was papery yellow and he had thin black hair covering his head. His body was nothing but a skeleton’s frame with skin stretched over his bones like a drum’s head. To top off his gruesome, yet pitiful appearance, tattered clothing covered his body.