A dry laugh rolled across the stage.

Cal drew her under his arm. “Who are you?” he called out.

“Oh, there are many names… I prefer anonymity, however. Attractive, young pianists just adore the sense of mystery.”

Maren felt her cheeks flush. The air conditioner turned on and the heavy stage curtains swayed in the sudden draft.

“But this is just… Delightful. Caught like two mice in a trap! Which of you shall I eat first?”

He strode between the swaying curtains, his silvery face lit with an unnatural glow. His smile was like the sharpened edge of a knife. “I know,” he continued, the evil smile falling into a dangerous scowl. “I’ll eat the one who usurped my claim.”

“You don’t own me!” Maren stepped in front of Cal. Her insides shook worse than a bobble-head as she faced the poltergeist, but damned if she’d let some two-bit ghost hurt her best friend.

He smiled, then vanished. A strange, harsh wind blew by them and died as suddenly as it began.

Behind her, Cal cried out. Maren whirled to see him staggering to keep his balance, his hand on his shoulder. She grabbed his arm and he yelped.

“What happened?”

“I think… I think it got me,” Cal said drily. He lifted his free hand from his shoulder and blood seeped across his shirt. He took a breath and probed it with his finger. He gave her a wan smile. “Just a cut, but I think he means business.”

Maren’s stomach twisted into knots. Cal put his hand on her shoulder and leaned in. His lips softly brushed her ear as he whispered. “You say this freak only showed up when that strange piano arrived?”

“Yes.”

“Then we have to destroy it. It’s probably where he’s getting his power from.”

Maren nodded again. She was certain of it now, that piano was possessed.

“I have a butane lighter in my office. We have to get it and then find out where he’s stashed his hideout.” He retrieved his flashlight from the floor where he had dropped it.

Maren gripped Cal’s good hand as together they started toward the front of the theatre. The shadows seemed to cling and move like oily, sinister things around their little circle of light. They hustled. After what seemed like ages, Cal’s office door appeared like an oasis in a troubled desert. Together they slipped inside, and Cal threw open his desk drawer to rummage inside. Maren held her breath, glancing nervously about the little room.

Cal smiled and withdrew the long, slender form of the lighter. “Now let’s go show this bastard that this isn’t his theatre.”

* * *
This is part of an ongoing story — catch up via the Serials page!

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