Horror Night in Perros Guirec

Summary: Christine went to her father's grave to hear the Angel of Music playing "la resurrection de lazare" on her late father's violin. Raoul, suspecting foul play, tried to find out what really happened. But what happened then? Told from Erik's point of view. Rated T.

This story was inspired by a comment from Igenlode Wordsmith who wrote a Halloween Special herself telling it from Raoul's point of view. It inspired me to write my own Halloween Special, but I tell the story from Erik's point of view (without having read her story as she did not know mine).

I want to thank Shadowcrest Nightingale for her help with this story!

Damn her! Damn that girl! She was just defying me - provoking me to get me to show some reaction. Well, I did. When she told me she had asked that fucking coxcomb to accompany her to Perros Guirec I should have forbidden her to go there at all. But no, in my self-imposed role as an angel I could not very well do that, could I? Claiming to be the Angel of Music her father promised to send to her I could not really forbid her to mourn her father. Even a naive child like her would become suspicious then. Already I was pushing my luck when I lost my temper and demanded that she must not love anyone but me! But then - many female saints were said to have remained virginal for all of their live, so I surely could find convincing arguments, should she ever ask.

She could just take the train and the post-carriage to Perros, which was easy, for me, every train ride is a high risk and I could not very well take the same carriage as she did, not because she might recognize me, o no, she had never seen me, but because I did not trust myself to not doing something utterly stupid. She always had that effect on me - as soon as I was close to her, my capacity for logic was compromised and left me improvising. Sometimes it is really scary watching myself doing things I never thought I would be capable of. But I digress.

Well, as it was, I took the train, but I had to buy a private railway compartment. It is expensive, I know, but there is no way of traveling that fast and I surely could not spend hours in company of these disgusting, aggressive, staring monsters which call themselves members of the human race. They hate me, all of them, and their sole interest is to annihilate my very existence. If they would just kill me, fine, I could live with that. But they are worse, they want to annihilate me as if I was the black plague. Well, maybe I am. But even I want to exist, I do not even ask for a life, just for some sort of miserable existence like a rat in the cellars.

The first class private compartments were at the end of the train, as far as possible from the noisy and stinking steam engine. And far away from HER. She was in one of the second-class-compartments somewhere in the middle of the train. It was a rather cold and dark day and she is short-sighted, I know that, so she would never even recognize the fact that I was there. To most people I was just an emaciated man covered in a long black cloak, a black hat, black gloves and a black scarf. I was of course not wearing a mask but the fake nose - it is easier overlooked if people do not come too close to me and I take care that they don't.

When the train arrived I needed a coach. It was possible to find a cabdriver who accepted to bring me to Perros when I offered enough money. I had a heavy seasack with me, containing my luggage. Whatever I would need for my hidden stay in Perros. I did not know much about Perros, only that it was a small village with just one inn. I did not want to stay in the same inn as Christine. I could not. I did not dare risk her seeing me. It was ridiculous, really, for she would certainly never recognize me - but nevertheless I could not bring myself to risk being seen by her.

Remaining invisible would be easiest if I hid away in the chapel at the graveyard. Usually these small churches have an attic. And these attics are seldom used, mostly by bats who live there in the summer. Usually dust covers everything and the dust of years shows that no one has been there. If I would hide a corpse there, it would not be found in decades. But right now I needed to hide a different kind of corpse - myself. Like a bat I would hide in the attic of the church at daytime, only coming out in the night. That meant I had to take a blanket with me to keep warm, some food and water for I would not be able to restock. And of course a small chamber pot for I did not know if I would be able to go outside to relieve myself and a day can be very long when there is no way to attend to one's personal needs. And my violin. I had promised her to play on her father's violin.

Her father's violin - it was the truth, it really was her father's violin. She had kept the instrument - it was a really good instrument even if I did not know who made it - and had given it to me. Well, sort of. I told her that I was the Angel of Music and once asked her what she had done with her father's violin. She had kept it and treasured it like a holy relic. It was so very easy to tell her that I would gladly return it to her father - she brought it the next day and left it in her wardroom. I took it and left her an expensive rosary made from precious stone in turn. Since she had left the room only for mere moments and locked it, she certainly thought it had been a miracle. So yes, I was telling the truth when I said I would play on her late father's violin.

I knew that her father had had a second violin which was buried with him – but this second violin wasn't good quality so he seldom used it, he just kept it because it had been a gift from Christine's late mother. I guess no one except me and Christine knew that there had been two violins.

I did arrive in Perros before Christine and the driver took me directly to the graveyard. I ignored his comments about a corpse taking himself to the cemetery and told him to leave me alone. Then I entered the church, easily found my way to the attic which was narrow and very dirty. The bat-droppings of years covered the floor as did the leftovers of pigeons. Obviously a falcon had chosen this attic to be his dining room once. The ceiling was too low for me to stand upright. Well, at least I could be sure to be alone here and there was no risk that someone might ever come up here. A dead dried mummy of a bat hung in one corner. I wrapped myself in the blanket and lied down on the floor, knowing I had to wait for hours until I would be able to do anything. I closed my eyes, lying perfectly still, and concentrated on music I was hearing in my head, bringing myself to a trance-like state not really asleep and not awake. I could stay hours in this state, motionless, without realizing time passing. I would wake up slightly refreshed, not like I had actually slept, but it was enough - and the waiting would be easier. It is funny which abilities one acquires if forced to hide often.

Christine came to the cemetery that night, as she had promised. From my place in the attic of the bell tower I had seen the carriage arrive - and that despicable fop hopped out of it. I wondered how his family had ever decided to send that boy to sea - surely he would have a hard time fending off amorous advances of other sailors for that boy looked like he was closer to being female than male. But I am hardly impartial when it comes to that bloody whelp.

When Christine came to hear Mass that day, we spoke briefly, I stayed hidden behind a pile of bones. Obviously old graves had been abandoned, the bones unearthed and piled there to be taken to the ossuary later. Fresh corpses now occupied the graves.

Of course I informed Christine that when she would return to the inn Raoul de Chagny would be there. Another opportunity to present myself as all-seeing and all-knowing. It was just a brief exchange, she knew I would play for her the next night.

Another long waiting period in the cold and stinking attic followed. I was hungry and thirsty for I had not been able to bring enough food and water, since I had to carry my luggage for a rather long way on my back and I knew I'd stay for days I had to be careful with my provisions. I wondered if I was going mad, subjecting myself to such an ordeal just to play the violin for her. I should have forbidden her to go to Perros in the first place. What had possessed me to give in as soon as she provoked me? Why hadn't I used my authority and forbidden it? I'm such a fool!

Now here I am. Shivering with cold behind a filthy pile of old bones after a tiring journey and a day in a frosty filthy attic, cold, hungry and dirty. No way of having a wash or changing my clothes. How had I lived like that for years in my youth? I hadn't remembered it to be so very exhausting and painful, but then, age and years of luxury had completely spoiled me.

Where is she? She's late. Or maybe not. My watch might not be exact. Or she had been held up by the fop. He would do that - but as far as I know she is quite capable of dealing with the weakling.

Is the violin tuned? I guess, I spend much time tuning it and the weather has not changed in the last five seconds. God, why am I so very nervous? Since when do I suffer such terrible stage-fright? I'm neither a child nor am I new to performing - and now I shake in my shoes like a child before its first performance ever. What am I doing here? If I had told her that as punishment for her disobedience she would not hear me until she returned to Paris I could be in my warm flat, sitting in my comfortable chair enjoying a nice hot tea.

A noise. There she is, a dreamlike look on her face. Any charlatan hypnotist would have an easy job of making her fall in trance, the naive girl was hypnotizing herself without anyone's help. Sometimes I wondered if anyone but I could bring her to that. If yes, she needed protection for she was easy prey for every swindler. Of course I would never do anything to harm her, never!

I watch her as she approaches the grave. Her face - so solemn. No grieving, no sadness, no pain. She knows her father is in heaven and so he's well and happy. Eternal happiness and contentment. Is there anything more desirable than that? Eternal peace and contentment. I'm afraid I'll never know that. She looks like she already reached that heavenly peace here on earth. She does not know that I am no angel and if I was I was one of the fallen. She kneels down at the grave, waiting. So much trust, so much trust in my deception, my lies. My soul burns with guilt as I watch her silent prayer to - me. Her Angel of Music.

A second movement at the entrance to the graveyard makes me flinch. Who is this? It is dark if any local peasant decides to come here now I can't play - but I can't disappoint her now either. What can I do? He shifts and takes off his hat - it is the fop, looking pale and miserable in the moonlight. What, is the strain of staying in a nice inn too much for a pansy like him

Maybe it is my hatred for that boy that enables me to lift the violin to my chin and play. I had intended to watch her, studying her reaction to the music but it turns out I cannot take my eyes off him. He stops dead in his tracks as I play, the music surrounding the three of us like a golden cloud. I can actually see the golden light like a cloud engulfing us, gently caressing us, building a bond between us. I just wish I had been alone with Christine, to share this with her and with her alone, but I cannot prevent the warm golden cloud of the purest joy from drifting to the Vicomte and taking him too. A bond is forged that moment, but there is one chain link too many in the precious chain. One too much. Two is two rings, two fates linked, two lives spend together. Three is... awkward. Three is one too much. One to get rid of. And right now I have the nasty feeling that the one to get rid of might be me.

I concentrate on the music and the meaning of it. I try to imagine what Jesus felt when he stood before the grave, the corpse of his friend already three days dead, already rotting in the heat of punishing sun in the desert. And he calls him - come out of your grave, come out and live again. And there he comes, obviously not longer a rotting corpse but as normal looking as he always had. Otherwise his sisters wouldn't have embraced him as I have never been embraced. Come out of your grave for you shall live. I try to envision the power, the power over death, calling out to the deceased and bringing him back to life. I call out to Christine, call out to her to love me - and I realize that I understood it wrong. My position is that of the dead one and she is the one to bring me back to life! I am dead, Christine, just call out to me and I am ready to leave my grave, ready to leave everything behind and follow you wherever you lead. Save me, my Christine, save me! Love is more powerful than death, isn't it? Call out to me with your love and I will live. Safe me from my black despair. Save me from death and eternal damnation. Save me.

I lower the violin and the bow, tears falling from my eyes. If you would only call out to me, my Christine, my love, my life. If you only would. We are alone in the darkness, the silver moonlight creating a halo around her blonde hair. I have to take a deep breath, the cold air stinging in my lungs, but I need air. She gets up from her knees, calm, composed, serene. She walks out from the graveyard, passing the young boy bot not even taking notice. She could have walked past me and would not have seen my horrible features.

She is gone, and the magic of the moment evaporates with her. I'm at a dusty graveyard behind a filthy pile of bones alone with that stupid nuisance of a Vicomte. He looks around, obviously he is suspicious. Of course, Christine confessed to telling him of her Angel - but he didn't believe her. He obviously thinks she is falling for the trick of some charlatan. Well, he cannot know how close to the truth he is, but I am no charlatan, Monsieur, I assure you. I am not a mere human. I am more and less than a human, higher and lower than a human, I am what I am. A unique being, one of my kind, there is no other. O how I long to be human. Even a dog is loved by his master or mistress and yes, I envy each dog who is loved by the children in a family.

The boy comes closer? What does he know? What gave away my position? Of course - the music. While Christine might be entranced by the music as I had been, this boy with his immusical ears might not have been able to experience the full power of the sacred music and was now searching for the hidden musician. Fine, I'm here. The boy has no weapon, not even a walking cane. Nothing. Unarmed boy that he is I could kill him far too easily and dispose of his body. I could hide it in the attic of the church or in the charnel house or I could just bury him in some grave. Who would ever search for a corpse on a graveyard?

I must have laughed at my thought for he takes another step in my direction, his eyes fixed to the pile of bones. My chuckle must have given away the exact position. Not good - the violin. I do not want the violin to be harmed, I would need that particular instrument later. I can't risk damaging that violin, I have to avoid a fight until this instrument is back in its case. Or at least somewhere out of harm's way. Anywhere but close to me and my mortal enemy.

The boy could of course not know about my thoughts and edges closer. I can see the fear in his eyes. Does he know he was coming towards death incarnate? I guess not, but he is tense and his eyes wide with fear, but he does not stop. I look around for a way to escape. My best route is through the sacristy to the sacristy, from there to the church. A distraction... I need to distract him before I could dash to the door. I grab one of the skulls from the pile of bones and throw it at him. Damn. I had hoped to hit him, but obviously overestimated my skill holding the violin and the bow and throwing a skull and at the same time. It more or less rolls like a bowling ball towards him.

The way the boy stops and freezes makes me laugh. It was just a skull and he stands there like a toddler peeing himself. And this is supposed to be the noble heir of the de Chagny family? A man of 21 years standing in a graveyard soiling his pants because he has seen a skull. What did he expect to see here?

My chance. I throw another skull and dashed towards the door, hoping he is too scared to follow me.

A noise behind me startles me. I had not counted on the whelp trying to chase me but obviously he does. Fool! Stupid fool! Pushing open the door I rush towards the altar, placing the precious instrument and the bow there, readying myself for the inevitable fight. It seems I underestimated the boy - he is really coming for me with bare hands. What kind of fool attacks with bare hands? Either the boy is well-trained in some sort of fighting sports, which I highly doubt from the looks of him, or he has a temper worse than mine for even in my blackest moods I never risk my own life.

He is close - too close, I realize too late - he somehow gets hold of the hem of my cloak and pulls me back. I stumble and since I do not want to fall I have to turn around. My movement is a reflex, I am certainly not yet ready for a fight, the violin needs to be put away - damn, that boy is much faster that I thought he was - and we stare at each other.

It is almost laughable as we stand there, staring in shock at each other, both empty-handed, two mortal enemies. He is braver and faster than I thought, he is even more dangerous to me than I had guessed anyways. I reach into my pocket for my knife and my lasso, ready for the inevitable fight - that does not come. Time seems to slow down as we stand there, the moonlight on us, showing me his perfect face, the blonde hair and the blonde moustache. He mocks me, standing there poised as the image of perfection as if sculpted in marble by Michelangelo himself.

We stare at each other and I cannot say which one is more shocked by the sudden confrontation. But while he is frozen in shock I can pull out my weapons and stand there, ready to strike. What most people do not know is that I am a rather defensive fighter. Everyone assumes me to be someone to strike first, which I rarely do. It is easier to allow the opponent to try to aim the first blow and counter it. Nearly no one is able to escape my precise counter.

But he does not even try. Suddenly his eyes roll back and he falls like a sandbag.

I cannot trust my eyes now - is this really happening? He sees me and faints? Passes out just like this? I might have overestimated him.

I cannot stop the laughter that suddenly shakes me, I despise the mad cackling I hear now, but it is too funny. The handsome knight in shining armor - at first glimpse of the dragon he passes out. I do not know how long I stand there, bent over his limb body, laughing until my sides hurt.

One flick of my knife and he would be gone. It is almost too easy. But something causes me to pause, even if the blade is already drawn and shining in the silver light of the moon. I feel eyes on me. Someone is watching me. Someone is here and he is watching me.

I turn round, beginning a frantic search for any observer. Someone must be here in the church. A priest? Maybe someone who came to mourn? I don't want anyone here when I make my kill. But... there is no one. The benches - empty. The confessional box - empty. I rush to the altar. No one there. The organ - no. No one at the organ. I close the doors, bolt them. Again I rush though the church, trying to find whoever is watching me.

Nothing. Not even a mouse.

I even crawl under the pews to look if someone was there, but except spiders and dust - nothing. There is no one. But I can feel someone watching me. I can feel it, the hair in my neck standing on end, there is someone watching me.

"Whoever you are - I know you are there! Show yourself!" I demand. Christine can't have come back, I'm sure of that for she does not know how to hide herself that effectively. But who is there? If it is just a boy playing a prank, I do not want to harm him. But that is rather unlikely, isn't it?

Sometimes I have to deal with tests of courage from boys. Usually I react graciously, not wanting to end a young life just because of a stupid game. But there is no boy testing his courage at the church. The moon is shining bright, I can see clearly now. There is no one there except my rival and me.

For a moment I lean against the altar, forcing myself to breathe calmly to get a hold of myself. It was a panic attack, just a panic attack like I had many in the past and likely will have in the future. That is harmless. My troubled soul sometimes plays cruel tricks on me, but I am certainly not mad. I am just tired and overwrought, that's all. A hot bath and a few hours sleep and everything will be alright again.

Back to the main task. The boy is still unconscious. I kneel down next to him, the blade at his throat. I could cut his throat effortlessly, but somehow I find myself unable to do it.

Again I feel the eyes from someone at my back. Someone is watching me and I clearly can sense that he is strongly disapproving of my plan to kill a sleeping young man. Barely a man, more like a boy.

I look up and see the large crucifix. The face of Christ Crucified is a masterpiece of art, it looks so very alive. That must be the reason for me feeling watched - a mere illusion caused by a really masterful piece of art and the moonlight. The artist had crafted that wooden face for the purpose of making it look like it was watching the people attending mass, especially those standing close to the altar. A nice illusion to heighten the effect of the holy communion. I had used similar effects in illusions and of course knew about oil paintings where the eyes seemed to follow the beholder through the room. A nice illusion, nothing more.

I sigh and turn back to the Vicomte. He is still breathing, he looks like he is sleeping peacefully.

Even now that I know I have fallen prey to an artists illusion in my exhausted state - hiding in the attic of the church for more than twenty-four hours now had taken its toll on me - I cannot help the feeling of being watched.

"Stop it, fool!" I say aloud, as if hearing my own voice could snap me out of this. Just kill him and get it over with. Kill him! He is the only one Christine has ever shown any interest in, from all her admirers this cad is the only dangerous one! I know this, she had far too often spoken fondly of her childhood memories with him - he is dangerous. True, she hurt him by rejecting him, but... he's persistent. She invited him here. Why the hell did she ask him to come here when she wants nothing to do with him? Why?

Kill him.

My hand trembles. I cannot. I am in church, kneeling at the altar, the boy lying inelegantly sprawled at the stone floor. Never have I killed in a church. I wouldn't call myself a practicing Catholic but I cannot deny that I do believe that there is a god. Maybe not a god like church tries to make humans believe, but there is. And cold blooded murder in a church is... well, a blasphemy I have yet to commit.

But with the only reason for me to live at stake - what can I do? I am acting in self-defense, am I not?

Suddenly I hear a voice in my head. "Erik, you promised not to commit murder!" It is the same voice that haunts me whenever I am in a state of weakness. The Daroga. The bloody blasted stupid Persian pig of a Daroga! God, I hate him. No. I want to hate him but I do not. I cannot. He saved my life, risking his own. If it wasn't for him, I would be long dead, tortured to death in Persia.

I look up again and blink in confusion. What I see now is not the crucifix I saw before. The face - it can not be, it can not be! What I see now is the face of the Daroga. Not as he looks like now but as he was when he was much younger. As I remember his face when he freed me and saved me from certain death. His stern face, his sad eyes as he demanded that I swore never to commit crimes again, to become an honest man, that he was not unleashing a monster at the unsuspecting world. It can only be a hallucination.

"Go away and leave me in peace!" I yell at the crucifix. The boy at my feet does not wake. I check if he had hurt his head falling. No blood but a severe bruise. Might have a concussion, I cannot know. He is lying on his back. When I dare to look up again, the face is... the face of that crucified man is still the Daroga's. It is impossible, my overheated fantasy is completely out of control. Some fungi do that to the human mind. Maybe the bread had been made from cereal contaminated with ergot kernel?

But even that knowledge does not help much. I still cannot bring myself to cut his throat. I just cannot. Not here, not before the altar, not here, not now. I have to, but my hand trembles. God knows, I have done this before countless times - why am I trembling like an innocent child? Why?

"Get a hold of yourself!" I scold myself sternly, grabbing the knife, concentrating on hitting the jugular vein in the first slash. But my muscles clench and my heart beats so fast I can barely breathe. Panic sized me again as I feel my body growing cold, sweat running down my back, my stomach, tickling my skin. Pain. In my breast, in my arms. I can do this, it is just... I can... I have to...

I can not. I can not kill him. Not in the church.

With a sigh I give up and suddenly the pain is gone. I push myself to my feet and stare directly at the crucifix, at the wooden eyes. "There. I did not kill him. Are you satisfied now?" I snap at the crucifix. What the hell is the matter with me? Am I really so far gone that I am talking to a piece of wood?

As if a piece of wood could answer me.

But there is an answer. The answer is there, as clear as if it had been spoken. No. He is not satisfied. The boy will die of cold that night.

"Come on, that is hardly my fault!" I argue. I really argue with a piece of wood hanging on a stone wall, for that is all that is there. It is a church, yes, but a church is just another building like many others.

It does not help. I feel it again, the eyes watching me, the face ever so sad. I hear as clearly as if it had been spoken "And here I thought you were worth saving." It cannot be! It cannot be! I'm trembling as I watch the crucified body change, becoming the Daroga again. Nonononono! Impossible! It is absolutely impossible! His eyes are on me, he is looking me in the eyes and I cannot even look away. I cannot back away, no matter how much I need air now.

What is this? What is happening to me? Am I finally losing my mind? Trembling I try to break the hallucination but that moment I feel a powerful presence before me, around me.

Is this what it is like? Am I dying? Is this the final judgementjudgment? Am I standing in the presence of... God? I can't help trembling as panic seizes me, making it hard to breathe, to think, but my heart is racing and I feel as if my chest was too small for it - my heart is hitting my ribs from inside. Is this what dying feels like? I feel like the air around me has turned to quicksand, completely immobilizing me, even my chest, making it nearly impossible to breathe, every breath hurts my lungs.

"What do you want?" I ask, still trembling, the knife in my hand. His face becomes sad, o so very sad. "You can't ask me to save him! He's my rival, if he steals Christine from me, I lose everything. Please - you take care of him. It is your job. You do that. If you want him to live, fine, make it a warm night. If you don't want him to choke on his vomit, don't make him sick. Not my responsibility, not my fault!"

And suddenly there are words in my head, words I had been told far too many decades ago. "Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. And you ask me to save you? Every day you ask me on your knees to give you someone you can love, someone who loves you, but you are not ready to do something that does not really trouble you? He's unconscious, turn him to his side and cover him with the carpet so he won't freeze to death."

How was it possible that I could hear this? It is just a hallucination, plain and simple, I must have eaten bread contaminated with ergot. Yes, that is all. Ergot. I'm just suffering the effects of the ergot - which can cause a drug-induced high and hallucinations, but these hallucinations can be the worst nightmare and instead of a high one might suffer the most terrible panic attack. Usually my panic attacks ebb off once I realize that it is not real, but this time it becomes even worse for the knowledge that this is just the effect of poison feels wrong. It just - it is just wrong. No matter how hard I try to convince myself that I surely can move and it would be easy to kill the glamour boy now, I find that I cannot and my feelings tell me that what I experience now is the truth.

If this is what practicing Catholics call feeling "close to God" I do not even want this. There is someone else in this church, and this someone's presence is overwhelming, crushing me and there is nothing I can to. Yes, in moments of weakness I surely did pray to God to send me one soul who would accept my love. And now I feel - unworthy of ever being loved. My horrible crimes in the past left me unworthy of any kindness.

I'm trembling even more, the knife slips from my twisting fingers and clatters at the ground. The noise is thundering in my head, far too loud for such a simple noise like a knife falling to the stone floor.

I look up at the crucifix. Why does the crucified man look still like the Daroga to me? The Daroga is not even Christian, he's a Muslim, someone the Catholic church considers an infidel, a heathen. So why do I see him there, looking at me so very sad. "I didn't save you to become - THIS." I hear his voice in my head. Why do I hear the voice of the Daroga? "This is your chance to prove to me that you are not the monster everyone believes you to be."

It is my imagination, only my imagination, nothing else! It cannot be!

But the pain in my breast becomes worse, I cough and retch as something is closing in on my torso, like a corset laced far too tightly and suddenly I see a large snake winding herself around my stomach, my breast. The snake is huge, I do not believe such a large snake really exists, and she is crushing me, I feel my chest unable to raise, I cannot breathe. My vision blurs as the scales of the large black snake scrap my arms. I can actually feel them - is this really a hallucination? Can any hallucination be that realistic?

I do not want to die, but I cannot breathe. I do not want to die!

I sink to my knees, my legs do not support me any longer, and suddenly I reach out to the boy who looks like he's sleeping peacefully. If he really suffered a concussion he will most likely be sick soon. Lying on his back he would suffocate on his own vomit. I grab his shoulder and turn him over so he's now lying on his side. The snake loosened its grip around my chest and I drew in a deep breath, the cold air causing a coughing fit until I am on hands and knees, spitting white drops of mucus. If I do not stop coughing soon it will be me who does the vomiting.

I try to hold in the cough, try not to breathe, try to swallow. It takes time, it always does, until the pain ebbs away and I am shaking, sweating and saliva and mucus dripping from my lips and nose. I take out a handkerchief to wipe myself clean - as clean as I can get now, that is. I'll live. But I am sure that if I do not leave that blasted church now and try to get home I'll fall ill before I can reach my home.

I have no desire to fall in on the road and be forced to lie in some filthy inn for days until the fewerfever breaks and I can continue my journey back to Paris. But I cannot go to Perros and wait for the carriage there. I have to walk on foot to the next railway station. Weakened as I am on the verge of falling ill I will need hours until I can finally sit down in a private train compartment. And I will have to carry my heavy seasack on my back.

I climb the stairs to the attic, say good-bye to the mummified bat and decide to leave the small bucket here. When I go downstairs I cannot resist entering the church again, looking after the boy. Is he still unconscious or did he wake up by now?

He's lying as I left him, looking like he's sleeping. Right now I envy him for his peaceful slumber. I look up at the crucifix and lift my hat to it. "Are you satisfied?" I ask with as much annoyance as possible in my voice.

He winks and me, slightly amused. Shaking my head I leave this church. This was not true, I assure myself, it cannot be. I just need a hot bath and a good night's rest and then I can think clearly again. Tomorrow, tomorrow will be another day I live to see - and so will he.