Together, Cal and Maren started out from the office. Maren had the uneasy sense the ghost was watching them as they debated where to look for the possessed piano.

“It really could be anywhere,” Cal said quietly. “Especially if this thing is as powerful as he seems to be.”

Maren shook her head. “I think he’ll have moved it to the stage somewhere. He’s so focused on it. It’s how he tempted me.”

“Whatever we do, we can’t split up. I refuse to let us be one of those horror movie characters who get killed off in the first ten minutes.”

“Right. Since we’re heading that way, let’s check the stage first, then hit up the other places.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

They slowed to a stop just outside the wing. Cal probed the darkness with his flashlight, but nothing lay amiss. They crept forward, and Maren held tight to Cal’s arm. The hairs on the back of her neck stood like antennae; she knew he was watching them, and it set her stomach to rolling. How on earth could she have fallen for his tricks? How could she have been so easily tempted? How could she have not seen the evil that piano housed? She glanced to her right, between the stage curtains and caught a glint of silver.

“It’s on the stage. Waiting for us,” she whispered in Cal’s ear. The thought did not make her any less apprehensive.

They crept forward, peering between the curtains.

That’s how I missed all the warning flags, Maren thought as she gazed at the ebony cabinet grand. It’s just too beautiful. The wrought silver flourishes crawled and glittered across its surface, stealing Maren’s breath from her once again. The open keyboard seemed to beckon to her.

Cal’s firm hand on her arm caught her at the last second, bringing her back to herself. “Don’t go out there Maren. Not yet.” He didn’t seem to grasp what she’d been about to do, that the piano had some kind of near-enchantment over her that she didn’t know how to get around. Practical Cal. He’d already moved on, skirting the edge of the stage to sus out the territory, and she didn’t have the words to tell him what he needed to know, so she let it slide. She prayed, instead, that she’d have the strength to resist, that they’d both live out the night.

Cal crept back to her. “Let’s see if we can shove it off the edge of the stage, break it up. It will be easier to light.”

“It will be noisy.”

“I don’t think it matters. I think he knows right where we are. I’ve been feeling like we’re being watched for this last while. We might be able to take him by surprise, however. On the count of three..”

Maren nodded, and readied herself for their wild run. Cal gave the signal and they sprinted across the stage, throwing their weight against the piano’s case. Ancient wheels groaned and squealed as the bulk of it began to move, then pick up speed.

It was like they hit a wall. The piano just stopped. Maren felt his hand on her shoulder, and she felt music rising in her like a tide. She needed to play…

“Maren, help, we’ve got to– Maren?”

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


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