This had been Chrissie's big chance, she thought. The stadium seated two thousand people—more than ten times bigger than the sort of audience she was used to—and wasn't it possible that one of them might be someone important? Someone in a band? Or maybe even some kind of opera guy. She had always wanted to have a go at opera, which, given her present situation, seemed kind of ironic. Or was it literal? Figurative? She settled for "weird."
"Weird" also summed up the man at the organ quite nicely. His hands flew across the rows of keys, occasionally snapping out to one side or the other, working the stops. A porcelain mask obscured half his face. The other half was nothing to write home about. Rated from one to ten in overall sexiness, it was somewhere around a three. Like, definitely not bad, but not impressive in any way whatsoever. If a face with one really nice feature was average, this was alright, I guess. Basically, the visible half of his face was unremarkable. Chrissie wondered if the mask might just be an attempt to make up for this, but didn't like to ask. If he actually had some kind of nasty burn, it might be pretty awkward. His clothes—and that big cape—didn't exactly suggest that he paid much attention to fashion. It seemed kindest just not to mention it. Then again...hadn't he kidnapped her? Why shouldn't she be mean to him?
She was about to say something—mean or not, she hadn't decided yet—when, hands still dancing over the organ, the guy looked over his shoulder. "Do I terrify you?" he asked, over the music.
"Well...no, not really."
There was a sudden, discordant note as his hand slipped. "What? You're joking, aren't you?"
"No, I'm not." Chrissie suddenly felt a little sorry for him, making her glad she hadn't already said something mean about the mask. "And if I was scared, I wouldn't joke, would I?"
Head down, he continued playing, the notes steady and thoughtful. "No. No, I suppose you wouldn't. But how could I not be terrifying? Is it my cape?"
Chrissie took a closer look at the cape. It was dusty and cobwebby. "No," she said, honestly but reluctantly. "That's pretty scary, as capes go."
"Then..." it was impressive how he could keep playing even while holding a conversation, she had to give him that. "What about the room. Isn't that terrifying?"
Chrissie looked around. She hadn't really noticed before—it was pretty dark—but there were damp bricks, mouldy bookshelves, a flickering candelabra on the organ. It smelled like there were rats somewhere, too. "Definitely terrifying," she had to concede.
"Surely my mask is terrifying, though?"
"It might be. It seemed rude to ask, but since you bring it up, do you have a horrible burn or something under there?"
"No," he admitted. "I've got a pretty average face really, if that. Out of ten it would probably only be a three or a four."
"So you wear a mask over half your face even though there's nothing nasty under there?" Chrissie thought. "I guess that's kind of scary. It's definitely not normal, anyway."
"Then what about my intentions? I've brought you here so that your voice will be mine alone, and you will sing only for me, the Phantom of the Stadium!" He spoke louder even than the organ music.
"Now that's definitely scary," said Chrissie, taking a step back.
The music stopped. "Well then, I'm sorry, but I don't think that this is going to work out."
"Yeah." The Phantom shrugged. "Look, there's no point in you being here if you're not scared. It's just not dramatic. I can't for the life of me work out what the problem is, but it looks like I'll just have to find someone else."
"So I can go then?"
"Sure." He pointed out into the darkness. "Down that corridor, second on your left."
"Great, thanks, 'cause I've actually got somewhere to be right now."
"Not a problem." He lifted a hand. "I understand."
Chrissie began to make her way out.
"Oh!" The Phantom called after her. "If you're really not scared, would you mind fetching me some new music at some point? All I've got is Baby Elephant Walk and it's getting really old."