Re: Strange Paradise Fan Fiction
- Hello folks! I don't usually write fanfic, but Mike's post here
started me thinking, and I got this vignette stuck in my head. It's
just a short little piece that takes place directly after the end of
the television series, and I'm posting it here in hopes of getting
some feedback on how to revise it into an even stronger story. I hope
you all enjoy it, but please let me know what you think, regardless of
your reaction. Thanks! P.S. If you haven't watched the series all
the way to the end yet, there are some minor spoilers here.
a STRANGE PARADISE vignette by Curt Ladnier
For the first time in an eternity, Jean Paul Desmond was a
happy man. Safely ensconced in a comfortable bed with Emily, weaving
languidly between consciousness and sleep after the first day of their
life together as man and wife, Jean Paul was truly content. His vast
riches had never brought him that, nor had his much envied
aristocratic heritage. His noble birthright had spawned a waking
nightmare, corrupting his first love, transforming her from a goddess
to an abomination. His Mark of Death pronounced sentence on all those
around him. But that was all over now, Jean Paul mused as he drew
closer to the sleeping form of his new bride.
Emily was everything that Erica wasn't. Where Erica was
flamboyant and vivacious, Emily was bookish and subdued. Erica loved
a life of parties, status and constant public attention. Emily wanted
nothing more than to settle down quietly with her husband, to begin
their new life together. And that suited Jean Paul perfectly. After
their honeymoon, he would make arrangements for his subordinates to
attend to the various family businesses, while he and Emily made their
own home and tended to the business of making a family. The only
curse he had to fear now was that of growing old and fat with the
passing years. Jean Paul smiled beatifically in his half-sleep at the
The smell of smoke was his first clue that something was
wrong. His eyes snapped open, adrenaline instantly awakening him at
the thought of a fire. Blinking several times, he looked 'round the
room for the source of the disturbing scent, but saw no evidence of
smoke or flames. His concern had no chance to subside however, as a
new shock gripped Jean Paul's soul. He saw that he was not in his
honeymoon suite at all. He was gazing over the ruins of his once-
luxurious bedroom on Maljardin!
For some moments he sat, awestruck, in the smoke damaged
wreckage that had once been his bed. It wasn't possible! A year
earlier, Jean Paul set his own centuries-old home ablaze in order to
rid himself of the murderous thing which was masquerading as his
beloved Erica, and to purge the spirit of his evil ancestor, Jacques
Eloi des Mondes, who seemed to have permeated every nook and cranny of
the great chateau. That had been last year, and a lifetime ago. He
hadn't as much as seen Maljardin since that day. How could he
suddenly be looking over the still-smoldering aftermath of that tragic
"Emily!" he cried abruptly, rousing himself from his stupor of
confusion. "What ..." But a shock even more profound than he had yet
experienced caused him to cut his question in mid utterance, and
struggle only half successfully to stifle back a scream. Drawing
aside the bedclothes in search of comfort in this moment of disturbing
unreality, Jean Paul did not find the sleeping form of the woman who
had so lovingly exchanged vows with him before God and witnesses less
than twenty-four hours earlier. Rather, in bed at his side lay the
badly charred and blackened corpse of a woman!
She had probably been beautiful once - before the flames had
ravaged her soft, defenseless body. Now she was nothing but a mass of
red blisters, and blackened flesh, partially covered by the remains of
an evening dress, the tatters of which had fused to her form in
places. The smell, mingling with the scents of the ashes and burnt
wood, was indescribable.
Unabashed terror lifted jean Paul with a wild urge to fling
himself blindly from the bed. In his haste to flee, he became
entangled in the remnants of the ruined silk sheets and landed in a
heap only a few feet away. Dazed, he sat there for a long time. The
situation was incredible, utterly insane. And yet, here he was.
Slowly, bit by bit, his traumatized brain began to allow him to
process his impossible surroundings. The fear was still there, but
Jean Paul managed to repress the panic. Losing control would
certainly do him no good, and whether the estate was in ashes or not,
he was still the master of Maljardin.
A sudden impulse caused him to rise and return to the
grotesque carcass on the bed, something he was almost certain he had
glimpsed at the moment of his panic. Yes, even a cursory glance
confirmed it. There, resting delicately around the dead woman's
throat - actually seared into the flesh - was a locket. Erica's
locket, which he had given her during happier days. A single tear
crept down Jean Paul's cheek, despair battling with revulsion within
his brain, as he realized that he had been lying next to the immolated
remains of his dead first wife.
Turning abruptly, he strode for the door. He had to leave
this room before he lost his reason completely. The rest of the
chateau was in the same state as the bedroom, ravaged by the inferno
through which Jean Paul had meant to cleanse his home, to cleanse his
soul. The main staircase was in dangerous condition, but navigable
with extreme caution. Some little effort brought Jean Paul to the
center of the great hall, barely recognizable now as the site where
the blaze had started.
He stood amid the ashes and smoldering remnants of familiar
furniture, almost unable to take it all in. This room held ghosts for
Jean Paul; so many people who had walked and talked here with him were
now dead. Dead because, in the depths of grief, he had defied God.
Alison, Dan, Vangie, and all the others - he had opened the deadly
Pandora's Box which took their lives. Now his guests - his friends -
whose single fervent wish had been to leave the island were permanent
inhabitants of Maljardin.
Had it really been only a year since the conflagration - since
Jean Paul had lost consciousness on the steps before the chateau, to
awaken days later and thousands of miles away? He had lived a
lifetime since that night, returning to the home of his youth, making
long-overdue connections with family members he had not seen in years
and, of course, meeting Emily. Facing horrors, too. Jean Paul
shuddered slightly at their recollection. The destruction of
Maljardin had not purged the taint from his family's blood. Still, he
had faced those demons too, and triumphed. How, then, was he here?
"Desmondton. Philip. The Mark of Death. Helena. The Key of
Life. Emily." he mused vacantly. "Can it all have been some wildly
Scarcely had the words escaped his lips when a peal of
raucous, mocking laughter assaulted Jean Paul's ears.
"A dream? Oh, no, Jean Paul Desmond!" a sickeningly familiar
voice thundered all around him, seemingly from everywhere at
once. "And yet, these events do not exist."
"You!" the exclamation escaped Jean Paul in a tight
involuntary hiss which caused him momentary pain. Whirling to face
the wall leading to the foyer, he beheld a sight which his reason told
him couldn't possibly exist. There, untouched by smoke or flame,
unscathed by any devastation, hung a wood-framed canvas. Its subject,
executed in dark heavy oils, was a handsome if sinister man in
cavalier dress whose appearance was strikingly similar to Jean Paul
himself. The portrait of Jacques Eloi des Mondes! The contemptuous
laughter continued to echo throughout the house.
"I burned you," Jean Paul gasped dumbly. "I set the fire of
the torch to your frame and watched it consume your damnable visage!"
"Fire? Destroy me?" the disembodied voice would have sounded
playful were it not for the sinister edge which sliced through each
syllable. "The master whom I serve has a palace filled with the
stuff. It will take more than flame to rid you of little old me."
"You devil!" Jean Paul spat. "Why have you returned to torment
me? The Desmond curse is lifted. You have no reason to plague us
"Poor Jean Paul. You're confused," his ancestor
laughed. "First you think you've been dreaming, and now you think
you're a free man. Whatever shall we do with you?"
"I've had enough of your mockeries to last me a lifetime,"
returned Jean Paul, crossing the room, closer to the portrait. "Why
have you brought me here? Where is Emily?"
"Emily ... Erica ... Erica ... Emily ... Why are you always
imploring me regarding the women in your life?" sneered Jacques. "Not
that I would mind having either one of them in my bedchamber. Or
"Enough!" Jean Paul shrieked at the spirit whom he thought he
had banished forever. "Why am I here?"
"We've brought you back where you belong," Jacques stated
simply, "and I even placed you back into bed with your darling Erica.
Isn't that what you begged me for all those months?"
"Monster!" Jean Paul retorted. "How could I have ever been so
deluded as to desire help from you, even when I was blinded by grief?"
Jacques' only answer was another rolling laugh, but the pause
gave Jean Paul a moment to regain a fraction of his composure.
"Besides," he told the portrait dispassionately, "it doesn't
matter why you've brought me here. Your prank is no more than an
inconvenience. The Desmond curse is broken, and you no longer have
any hold over me. I'll leave this island, return to my wife, and
never think of this wretched place again."
Jacques' laughter deepened, grew even more intense.
"You still don't understand, do you, dear kinsman?" the spirit
chided. "There is nothing to return to."
"What mendacity are you spouting now?" Jean Paul demanded.
"It's true," Jacques' voice assured him, assuming a tone of
mock injury. "A few moments ago you asked me about your precious
Emily. I should say that right about now she is determinedly
journeying toward Desmondton, a letter from Philip Desmond inviting
her to make full use of his family's library tucked safely in her
"Has insanity final taken complete hold of you?" Jean Paul
asked his ancestor, bewildered. "You're speaking of things that
happened last year, after my arrival at Desmond Hall."
"Now, Now, Jean Paul. What is time?" the spirit asked
enigmatically. "In my current state, having spent hundreds of years
imprisoned by an effigy, time means little to me. And to a man such
as you, who is eternally touched with the Mark of Death, it means
NOTHING AT ALL."
"Enough of your riddles! Explain yourself."
"The matter is simply this, my foolish fellow: for better or
for worse, we are both Desmonds, and both men who have pledged
ourselves to a darker power. For the master to whom we are both
bound, time is meaningless, a child's plaything to be manipulated - or
discarded - at his whim."
"But the curse is ended!" Jean Paul insisted. "We laid it to
rest in Desmond Hall. I would never have married Emily, otherwise."
"Which is exactly why you are here now," Jacques
concluded. "Dear fellow, you took and oath. Pledged a bond. The One
we serve will not release you form that, despite your foolish notions
to the contrary. Yes, you and your friends at our ancestral home did
manage to break the curse, to eradicate the Mark. You found your
happiness with your woman, and that is why He has brought you back
here, wiped your slate clean."
"What ..." was all that Jean Paul could manage.
"You will never be free," Jacques repeated simply. "Certainly,
you can leave this island. Go to Desmondton again if you wish.
Perhaps events will play themselves out in the same fashion again, or
perhaps not, but one thing is certain. Should you ever manage to
dispel the curse, to find peace, you will assuredly find yourself
right back here to begin the cycle anew. Time and again."
"No escape ..." Jean Paul heard a tiny voice which was his own
pitifully mumble, as the horror of Jacques' words gave flight to his
"so you see, truly, wherever you choose to run, Jean Paul
Desmond, whatever you do, your curse will follow you," Jacques Eloi
des Mondes pronounced. "And Life will be, for you, always a strange
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "mikeatwost"
> Has anyone here ever considered writing their own "Strange Paradise"and
> stories? I know it's been 35 years since the series ended, so if
> anyone's interested, it probably wouldn't hurt to come up with a
> timeline detailing any events post-July 22, 1970, such as Jean Paul
> Emily's marriage (they had yet to marry when the series ended), andthe
> other Desmonds today.
> I think this thread will get your creative juices flowing.