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Courtney and the Violin of Despair

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There may be some content not for younger kids. However, there is nothing here they wouldn't say on the Total Drama series.


A kinder, gentler "Courtney bashing" story, from the author of Legacy. This story has a page on TVTropes.org


This story takes the little bit of Courtney-hate that resides deep within us all, uses Gideon's trademark storywriting abilities to create a humiliating tale that allows us to embrace that hatred, and then uses his remarkable ability to communicate emotion to make us ashamed at taunting the poor girl.
--Sunshineandravioli, co-author of Total Wikia Elementary



Prologue

There was once a Hungarian prince named Niklaus Esterhazy. As with most high-ranking nobles of his day, Esterhazy’s employees included a private orchestra and composer. Indeed, Prince Esterhazy is best known today as the longtime employer of the famous composer, Franz Joseph Haydn.

The Concertmaster (which is the first-chair violinist’s formal title) in Esterhazy’s orchestra was one Johann Baptiste Mitterer, a dignified, slightly balding man in his late 40s. The second-chair violinist was a worldly, slightly younger man named Ludwig Ernest Rittersohn.

Messrs. Mitterer and Rittersohn got along well enough for several years, but Rittersohn eventually became discontented. He grew envious of Mitterer’s greater prestige and, frankly, of the Concertmaster’s larger salary. For a time, Rittersohn waited patiently for the older violinist to move on to either the afterlife or another employer, either of which could have happened on relatively short notice; for the good Prince was not the most generous of employers, and people generally did not live as long in those days as they typically do now.

Finally, no longer able to abide his better’s disinclination to either expire or seek employment elsewhere, Rittersohn took matters into his own hands. In the Year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred seventy-three, Rittersohn poisoned the good Concertmaster; and Haydn and Esterhazy, suspecting nothing, straightaway appointed Rittersohn to his victim’s position.

The new Concertmaster had a violin of exceptional quality, but Mitterer’s instrument was even better, so Rittersohn took his predecessor’s violin as his own. This led to the schemer’s downfall, for the late Concertmaster’s instrument was now accursed and haunted by that worthy’s vengeful spirit. Rittersohn met with an accident soon after, and his own discarded violin likewise became haunted and accursed. These musical Hope Diamonds—Mitterer’s coming to be known as the Violin of Doom, and Rittersohn’s sometimes called the Violin of Despair—wrought more than their share of havoc over the next two centuries.


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Chapter 1: The Gift

Gentle Jane was good as gold,
She always did as she was told;
She never spoke when her mouth was full,
Or caught bluebottles their legs to pull,
Or spilt plum jam on her nice new frock,
Or put white mice in the eight-day clock,
Or vivisected her last new doll,
Or fostered a passion for alcohol.
And when she grew up she was given in marriage
To a first-class earl who keeps his carriage!

-- W.S. Gilbert, Patience


In the Year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred ninety-eight, a seven-year-old girl named Courtney learned how to play the violin. It quickly became apparent that she had a great deal of natural talent, and her friends and family soon came to view her as something of a child prodigy. Unbiased observers were less effusive, but readily acknowledged that Courtney had the talent to go places as a violinist if she applied herself.

As Courtney’s 11th birthday neared, her wealthy parents decided to encourage her musical studies with a grand gesture. Sparing no expense, they searched for and eventually located an antique violin of exceptional quality that its owner was willing to part with. Because Courtney was such a responsible little girl, and because there is no substitute for the right equipment, her parents scarcely blinked at the five-figure price tag. The overjoyed Courtney received this remarkable instrument—of a quality that most professional violinists would envy—on her birthday, and received a new bow as well.

The bow was simply a bow, albeit one of the very finest quality. The violin, however, was none other than the one inhabited by the restless spirit of the treacherous Ludwig Ernest Rittersohn—the fabled Violin of Despair. Courtney’s parents could not have known this, of course; and even if they had, they would surely have dismissed it as folklore.

Rittersohn’s spirit contemplated, as well as a disembodied spirit can, the fate of its soul object’s new custodian. The sort of sticky end that had befallen so many violinists who had the misfortune to cross paths with this embittered spirit seemed inappropriate—not because of any sense of mercy or pity on the spirit’s part, but because a little girl seemed unworthy of the effort. No, Courtney would not die. Not physically, anyway; but a spiritual “death of a thousand cuts” was another matter.

The spirit was patient. It would wait for opportune moments to erode Courtney’s spirit via public humiliation.


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Chapter 2: Oh, Cana...Oh, Crap!

When Courtney was 13 years old, she entered a drawing with other promising young musicians, and won. The prize was an all-expense-paid trip for her and her parents to see the Toronto Blue Jays’ home opener, where Courtney would play the national anthem.

In the fullness of time, the moment arrived for Courtney’s first performance before an international audience. After the lineups had been announced and a local celebrity (an actor by the name of Chris McLean) had thrown the first pitch, the players stood attentively on the foul lines, awaiting Courtney’s entrance.

Dressed in a formal black evening gown, Courtney strode, nervously but proudly, toward the microphone that had been set up near the pitcher’s mound. Because the visiting team was from the States, Courtney would play both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Oh, Canada”, with the visitors’ anthem coming first.

When Courtney had taken her place, the Public Address announcer directed the crowd’s attention to her. As that disembodied, faintly resonant voice briefly explained how the young violinist had come to be there, Courtney touched her bow to the strings, nervously checking her instrument’s tune one last time.

The D string broke.

Oh, crap! Courtney thought, as a rising tide of panic threatened to engulf her. I don’t have time to change the string! Everyone’s going to think I suck!

“Please rise for the playing of the national anthems of the United States of America and of Canada, performed by Courtney Sales,” the P.A. announcer concluded. Under other circumstances, the sound of Courtney’s name would never have sounded sweeter to her. As it was, though, at this moment she wanted nothing more than to crawl into a hole and disappear from the face of the Earth.

Courtney was good enough that, with a bit of practice, she might have been able to play the anthems decently on three strings, but practice time was a grace that was not meant for her. She would have to do it cold.

As Courtney struggled through “The Star Spangled Banner”, working around the missing string as best she might, the crowd quickly realized that something was wrong. The consensus opinion was that the girl was either unable to overcome her nerves or was simply overrated—“not ready for prime time”, in either case. The spectators would surely have been far more sympathetic had they known the truth, but they suspected nothing.

As Courtney played, each missed note lacerated her soul like a hot knife. As she became increasingly rattled, she began making mistakes (not many, to be sure, but enough) that could not, strictly speaking, be attributed to the missing string. It could scarcely have been otherwise, for maintaining full control under Courtney’s circumstances requires a level of emotional maturity that is beyond the ken of most 13-year-olds.

Finally, after what seemed to her like days, Courtney finished the visitors’ anthem. She could fairly feel 30,000 pairs of eyes boring into her like lasers. How many more were witnessing her humiliation on television, she could only guess, but she assumed it was millions.

Courtney’s tribulation was not done, for she still had to play the Canadian anthem. The television broadcast had mercifully cut away, but Courtney had no way of knowing that. For all she knew, she was about to embarrass herself anew before pretty much the entire population of North America.

To make matters worse, people tend to be less tolerant of having their own anthem butchered than of having someone else’s so served. Whereas the crowd had maintained an uneasy silence during the U.S. anthem, a smattering of boos and catcalls now arose as the hapless lass struggled through “Oh, Canada”.

The booers and catcallers numbered 20 or 30, at most. To Courtney, though, it seemed that the entire crowd was demanding her head on a platter, for she was 13 years old; and who is more adept than a teenager at amplifying personal misfortune? Besides, for all her virtues, Courtney did have a bit of drama queen in her.

At long last, the final tortured notes of “Oh, Canada” faded away. Polite, subdued applause arose from the stands, but the spectators clearly did not approve of the performance. Courtney heard but did not notice, for her mind was in turmoil.

Courtney did her best to put a brave face on this disaster. With head held high, but with misty eyes and trembling lip, she swiftly and stiffly strode to the first base dugout, where her parents waited. She tried to tell them what had happened, but found that words would not come (for losing one’s voice is a common stress reaction), so she dumbly showed them her crippled violin and pointed out the broken string.

Courtney’s parents did their best to console her, but it was no use. As the three took their seats behind the Blue Jays’ dugout, Courtney could contain herself no longer. What remained of her composure dissolved in tears, and the spirit was content for the nonce.


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Chapter 3: Wait For It!

When Courtney entered high school, she quickly rose to the rank of First Chair in the school orchestra’s violin section—the first freshman in living memory to hold that lofty position at her school. Others may have been as talented, but none could match her instrument’s beautiful tone; and it was to this that Courtney partly owed her rapid ascent.

In January of that year, the orchestra assembled in the auditorium for its first concert of the spring semester. The audience was noticeably larger than normal, for a short violin concerto was on the program; and word had got about that the soloist, in addition to being very talented, had a violin of such quality as one simply did not find in school programs.

After three “light classics” pieces, the time came for the last selection before Intermission: the finale to Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony.

This mostly fast-tempo piece starts with everyone in the orchestra playing a couple of notes in unison, pretty much as loudly as they can. The strings then work their butts off for a couple of measures, after which the orchestra is completely silent for two beats, as if to catch its breath. The players then do it all again, after which the main melody (from a Russian folk song called “The Little Birch Tree”) is introduced.

Tchaikovsky Symphony No 08:53

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, 4th mvmt

Finale - Tchaikovsky Symphony #4

The orchestra at Courtney’s school was a good one, so nobody had any reason to suppose that anything untoward would happen during the performance. During the initial run, however, the curse exerted its subtle power. Courtney lost count and jumped the gun, belting out a loud half note on the very beats where complete silence should have reigned.

The orchestra’s cohesion and composure were swept away in a gale of laughter. Not one of the teens on stage (with the exception of Courtney, of course) was immune. The teens laughed, not because they were especially cruel or because they had any particular dislike of Courtney; but because the sheer blatancy of her error was, in and of itself, killingly funny.

Many in the audience were now laughing as well, some in spite of themselves, because the kids’ laughter was infectious. Courtney, naturally, was mortified. She saw the great mirth around her as a repudiation of everything she had accomplished to that point, and thought she would never live down her hideous blunder; for she was something of a teenaged drama queen, as has been told of before. Utterly unprepared for this perceived rebuke, Courtney went to pieces.

After what seemed like 10 minutes or more, but was actually closer to 10 seconds, the conductor (one Larry Wallace) succeeded in restoring order. As the laughter died, everyone with a line of sight to Courtney (who had no one between her and the audience) now noticed that the ill-fated Concertmistress was bent over, with her elbows resting on her thighs and her face buried in her hands, her shoulders shaking visibly. An uneasy silence descended, and the people on stage and in the first few rows of the audience could now hear that Courtney was sobbing softly.

Mr. Wallace knelt down at Courtney’s side and, speaking soothingly, suggested that she leave the stage and return to the rehearsal room, where she could take whatever time she needed to compose herself. Courtney presently rose to her feet. Now more embarrassed at her loss of control than at the gaffe that had led to it, she hung her head in such a way as to conceal her tear-streaked face from the audience and her colleagues as best she might without making it obvious, as Mr. Wallace escorted her from the stage. As she departed, the audience applauded politely, as they might applaud an injured athlete being helped off the court.

As Courtney collected herself in the rehearsal room, Mr. Wallace returned to the stage and announced a change in the evening’s program. Rather than try again on the Tchaikovsky piece before intermission, the intermission would begin at once. The symphony movement would now be the last piece of the night, following the show tunes medley that was originally to have been the closing number.

With Courtney able to regain her composure during intermission, the rest of the concert went off without further incident, and Courtney’s miscue was quickly forgotten. Forgotten by most, that is. There were a few students at the school who would not let Courtney forget.

Chief among these Furies was Brittany Reid, a former friend with whom Courtney had recently had a serious falling out. Brittany’s habit of throwing the concert incident in Courtney’s face at every opportunity destroyed whatever chance the two girls might have had for reconciliation, and they remained bitter rivals for the rest of their high school careers.


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Chapter 4: Meditation and Revenge

That same year, Courtney auditioned for and was named to the All-Province Orchestra (APO). Moreover, she earned the First Chair spot in the violin section, becoming only the third freshman ever to hold that lofty position.

The Second Chair violinist was a senior named Julie. Although she was decent enough in most respects, Julie resented Courtney’s position. While Julie recognized Courtney’s talent as well as anyone else, the older girl had felt robbed when the APO’s director, one Robert Jeffries, installed Courtney as the Orchestra’s Concertmistress. The Second felt that she was just as good as Courtney—at the very least—and that the only reason the younger girl had got the coveted First Chair spot was because she had a higher-quality violin with a nicer tone. It didn’t help matters that Julie’s suspicion was probably correct.

In the spring, the APO held its annual concert. After the last scheduled piece on the program had concluded, Mr. Jeffries announced that the orchestra would be playing an encore: the “Meditation” from Jules Massenet’s opera, Thais.

M 06:41

M. Kamio - Meditation from Thais

"Meditation" from Thais

The “Meditation” is virtually a violin solo, with a very light orchestral accompaniment. It is a slow piece, a thing of passion rather than pyrotechnics. It is a violin standard.

When Jeffries named the encore piece, Courtney groaned inwardly. She did not like to play the “Meditation”. Over the years, her parents and various visiting relatives had asked her to play it far too many times, and Courtney had gotten sick of it. To make matters worse, she knew exactly why her relations were so fond of it: being a slow, lyrical piece, it was ideally suited for showing off her violin’s beautiful tone, but Courtney didn’t think it a fitting vehicle for showing what she could do. Indeed, heartfelt passion was not Courtney’s performance strength. She was marvelously proficient technically, but with a soul that seemed a bit… empty, for want of a better word. This relative lack of fire was the main reason why Julie believed herself to be a better player than Courtney.

Nor could Courtney discourage requests by merely going through the motions, for she was a perfectionist and an overachiever, and it was simply not in her nature to give any undertaking less than her best.

Resigned, Courtney searched through her music folder for the sheet she would need. Her search grew frantic, attracting Julie’s attention.

“What’s wrong?” Julie asked quietly, so as not to attract Mr. Jeffries’ attention.

“I don’t have the soloist’s part for the 'Meditation',” Courtney whispered urgently, with a touch of panic in her voice.

“Of course not,” Julie replied, with the air of one stating the obvious. “Every violinist at this level knows the ‘Meditation’ by heart.” That wasn’t entirely true, but the older girl saw an unlooked-for chance to put this uppity freshman in her place, and she wasn’t about to waste the opportunity.

“Tell you what,” Julie continued in hushed tone, “I’ll play it. You can bow synch, so you’re not just standing there looking like a complete idiot. Jeffries will have an idea what’s going on, and the rest of the violin section might notice, but most of the audience probably won’t be any the wiser.”

Courtney bristled at Julie’s emphasis on the word “complete”, but there was nothing she could do. The two girls’ relations were civil, but by no means warm, and Courtney was not blind to Julie’s frustration at being a senior who was literally playing second fiddle to a freshman. There was really no recourse but to let the older girl enjoy Courtney’s humiliation, unless Courtney wanted to admit to everyone that she didn’t know this simple violin standard. Accepting her fate, the Concertmistress rose and walked forward to the soloist’s position, prepared to do what she must.

So it was that Julie played the “Meditation” from her seat whilst Courtney bow synched in the spotlight, dying slowly of embarrassment the while. Although Julie normally had a florid playing style, this time she kept her movements as simple as she might, so as not to expose the deception; for although the Second was much pleased to take Courtney down a peg, she was not the type to inflict suffering for no other reason than because she could.

Oh, what Courtney wouldn’t have given for a power failure, a fire alarm, a plague of locusts—anything that would have allowed her to leave the stage unnoticed. But none of these events came to pass, of course, so for the next five minutes (the duration of the piece, which seemed like so many hours to Courtney) she could only continue her bow synching and pretend that she knew what she was doing.

In later years, after her memory of the pain had faded and only her memory of the facts remained, Courtney was able to laugh about the incident, admitting, “The ‘Meditation’ got its revenge on me.”


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Chapter 5: Raising the Stakes

Courtney continued to keep up with her music, but by her sophomore year it had ceased to be her main interest. This was partly because she was reaching the age range where idealistic people start to think that they can change the world.

The other reason for her changing interests was that, under the influence of the curse, she was gaining a reputation in musical circles for choking when the stakes were high; and that was something her overachieving nature could not tolerate. Although she would almost certainly have qualified for the All-Province Orchestra again, she did not audition for it.

She did, however, audition for a new reality TV show, an elimination game called Total Drama Island. She was accepted; and the following summer, she and 21 other teenagers assembled at Camp Wawanakwa, a derelict summer camp in the Muskoka District of Ontario.

Courtney had been more than a little worried when she learned that the show’s host would be Chris McLean--the same Chris McLean who had, three years before, thrown the first pitch at the baseball game that had been the scene of what Courtney still regarded as the worst embarrassment of her young life. When Courtney arrived at the camp, however, McLean gave no sign that he recognized her, and she wasn’t about to refresh his memory.

After the contestant introductions, a brief orientation, and the first of many unappetizing meals that Courtney and her teammates and rivals would have to endure at the camp, the time came for the first challenge—the official start of the competition.

Ironically, this first challenge was one of the most dangerous of all: a dive from a 300-meter high cliff into a lake stocked with “psychotic, man-eating sharks”, as Chris put it. Courtney doubted that these sharks (or any others, for that matter) possessed enough brainpower to be either psychotic or sane, but she saw no reason to doubt their potential to be man-eaters. A messy end looked to be in store for any diver who missed the marked “safe zone”.

Chris called Courtney’s team, dubbed the Killer Bass, to face this test first. A brief delay ensued, because nobody wanted to be the one to test the waters, either literally or figuratively. Finally, though, the resident surfer girl, a pretty, blonde, girl-next-door type named Bridgette, took the plunge and heartened everyone by making her dive without incident. With Bridgette in the water to provide scale, the other contestants (or “campers”, as they were now called) could now see that the “safe zone”, which looked so tiny from atop the cliff, was actually large enough that it ought not to be especially hard to hit.

After several other Bass players had been called to dive, it was Courtney’s turn. Naturally, she was nervous. Even without the element of physical danger, a lot was riding on this. As she looked down to gauge her jump, however, she felt something else: mortal terror.

Courtney knew that this wasn’t just butterflies. She had been afraid of things before, but never like this. Her fear now was so intense that it scarcely seemed natural. Indeed, it was all she could do to control her bladder and bowels, both of which were threatening to empty themselves of their own accord.

Courtney could not understand why she was so terrified. After all, several of her teammates had already dived safely; and while Tyler (a self-styled jock with more enthusiasm than talent) and Harold (a nerdy beanpole) had had painful landings, neither had been seriously hurt. Why, then, was she so scared that she was in danger of soiling herself?

Although Courtney could not have known, there was a very good reason for her fear, for the curse was at work. Now that Courtney was a public figure, the spirit enforcing the curse was no longer content merely to humiliate her if it could make an end of her.

From the spirit’s perspective, the diving challenge was a win-win situation. If Courtney jumped, she would die, for the curse would cloud her mind enough to make her miss the safe zone. If she didn’t jump, she would be humiliated before an international audience of millions, for the second time in barely three years.

Courtney now knew that there was no way she could summon the nerve to jump, but it would not do to show any sign of weakness so early in the competition—especially if she wanted to be her team’s leader, something her Type A temperament saw as a virtual birthright. With a show of control and detachment that she did not feel, Courtney told Chris that she could not dive on account of a medical condition.

Chris assumed that this “condition” was simple cowardice, which was closer to the truth than he knew; so he needled Courtney, admitting that she could “chicken out” if she so desired, but warning that she could be setting herself up for an early exit if her balk wound up costing her team the challenge.

Courtney replied that this was a “calculated risk” that she was willing to take. In fact, there was no calculation at all; for much as it galled her to take the easy way out, she saw no alternative.

Chris placed a chicken hat, symbol of cowardice, upon Courtney’s head; and she moved dejectedly to the “chicken exit”, deeply ashamed of herself. She would never know that her cowardice on the cliff had saved her life that day.


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Chapter 6: Deliverance

Some two weeks later, Chris announced that the next challenge would be a talent show, with each team performing three acts.

Courtney, by now the uncontested leader of the Killer Bass, took it upon herself to judge her teammates’ acts, and she was none too happy with them. While only Tyler was truly inept, the other acts ranged (in Courtney’s eyes, anyway) from unremarkable to appalling. She finally selected, without enthusiasm, D.J.’s rhythmic gymnastics routine and Geoff’s skateboard stunt sampler.

Fortunately for the Bass, Courtney thought, the scoring would not be cumulative over the team’s three acts. That might still be a tiebreaker, but Chris had said that the highest individual score would win. That meant that Courtney, performing a solo on her incomparable violin, could potentially carry her team alone. It was looking like she would have to.

After concluding the auditions and selecting the Bass’ acts, Courtney began practicing on her violin. Meanwhile, Bridgette entered a fateful wager with several of the other Bass.

Bridgette claimed the “talent” of being able to walk about on her hands for an extended period. Courtney had rejected Bridgette sight unseen; and in all fairness, it wasn’t the sort of ability that was likely to impress in a talent show. What the surfer girl had proposed to do was extremely difficult, however, and her teammates were skeptical that she could pull it off, so they placed their bets and encouraged Bridgette to strut her inverted stuff.

Courtney paid these proceedings no heed, for all that mattered to her was being Best in Show that night and winning the challenge for her team. As a result, she did not notice when Bridgette passed behind her, nor when the handwalking surfer girl got her leg tangled in a hoist rope to the overhead lighting. Bridgette, in her struggles to free herself, chanced to undo the knot at the base of the rope, whereupon the heavy lighting assembly came crashing down upon Courtney, causing the Bass leader to yield up her life then and there.

Or so it would have been, but the curse’s power had faded over 230-odd years. Furthermore, the strong-willed and overachieving Courtney had, all unbeknownst, developed a small degree of resistance to the curse. Indeed, that resistance, however slight, had been the direct cause of her premonition of death on the diving cliff two weeks before. In short, Courtney was slightly out of position, and so suffered only a mild concussion and superficial injuries to her arms and shoulder.

“Oh, crap!” Bridgette cried desperately.

For several moments, the stunned Courtney was only dimly aware of her surroundings. The glancing blow had knocked her on her back, causing her to hit her head on the floorboards, which was how her concussion had come about. When her head had cleared a little and Bridgette had helped her to a sitting position, Courtney’s gaze fell upon the lighting assembly that had so nearly eliminated her from far more than just the competition. Protruding from beneath it was--

No! Courtney’s still-recovering mind screamed, although no sound came save for a small gasp. Her hands flew to her useless mouth, and she gaped dumbly at the terrible sight before her.

Bridgette’s eyes followed Courtney’s unblinking gaze, and the surfer girl saw what had stunned her teammate anew. Protruding from beneath the heavy lighting fixture, Courtney’s precious and nigh-irreplaceable violin lay in pieces.

Bridgette made a desperate attempt to piece together the ruined instrument. She knew it was hopeless—the resonating chamber had been crushed—but every fiber of her being screamed, Do something!

When Bridgette’s feeble repair effort left the violin in worse condition than before, Courtney finally found her voice. She wailed disconsolately, as if at the death of her own child. No one could comfort her, for Courtney could not have known—indeed, would never know—the service that Bridgette had done her, however unwittingly. For with the destruction of the Violin of Despair, the curse was broken and Courtney delivered from it; and the troubled spirit of Ludwig Ernest Rittersohn now rests in peace at long last.


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Chapter 7: Coming of Age

Freed from the curse, Courtney slowly began to rediscover her love of music. When it was her time, she entered college and began a course of study intended to prepare her for entry into Law school. As her primary recreational activity, she auditioned for, and was accepted into, the school’s orchestra. Within three semesters, she rose to the rank of Concertmistress, beating out actual music majors for the position.

Although Courtney was temperamentally suited to the practice of law, and had shown an aptitude for it as well, she found her studies increasingly unsatisfying. After five semesters, she abandoned her pre-law studies and her dreams of holding public office one day, for she had come to realize that a concert violinist was what she really wanted to be. This epiphany came about after she finally discovered the fire in the belly—the genuine and heartfelt passion for playing—that had been largely absent when she was growing up.

Courtney’s wealthy parents had not forgotten her talent; and since her 21st birthday was approaching, they decided to show their support for her new career path with a grand gesture: they would obtain a superstar-quality violin for Courtney’s coming-of-age present. Sparing no expense, they searched for and eventually located a Guarneri del Gesu violin—a breed said by some to be superior even to the legendary Stradivarius—that its owner was willing to part with. Because this was to be a gift that Courtney might use for her entire professional career, her parents did not flinch at the prospect of arranging financing for the seven-figure price tag. The overjoyed Courtney received this remarkable instrument on her birthday, and received a new bow as well.

The bow was simply a bow, albeit one of the very finest quality. The violin, however, was none other than the one inhabited by the vengeful spirit of Johann Baptiste Mitterer—the legendary “Violin of Doom”. Courtney’s parents could not have known this, of course; and even if they had, they would surely have dismissed it as folklore.

Mitterer’s spirit contemplated, as well as a disembodied spirit can, the fate of its soul object’s new custodian…



THE END?


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Author's Notes

  1. Prince Esterhazy and Franz Joseph Haydn are well-documented historical figures. All other characters in this story are fictional.
  2. "Messrs." is the plural of "Mr."
  3. The Hope Diamond is the world's largest blue-white diamond, and is famous for supposedly being cursed.
  4. Courtney’s travail at the baseball game is based on an incident at a Denver Broncos game. In the original incident, a small-time professional saxophonist struggled through the national anthem with a broken valve.
  5. Courtney’s family name is a tribute to a late coworker of the author’s, a woman who lost a three-year battle against colorectal cancer in 2008.
  6. Courtney’s faux pas at the school concert is based on an incident the author witnessed in high school, wherein the first-chair alto saxophonist committed the miscue. The original incident occurred during a rehearsal, so the only people who laughed at the hapless lad were the other kids in the band. Not being a drama queen, and with no serious consequences to his gaffe, he grinned and bore it.
  7. The orchestra director at Courtney’s school is named after the author’s nationally acclaimed high school band director.
  8. The Furies are minor Greco-Roman deities whose job is to torment wrongdoers.
  9. Brittany Reid is mentioned in TDA episode #23, “2008: A Space Owen”.
  10. The director of the All-Province Orchestra (APO) is named after another acclaimed high school band director, who moonlighted for two years at the college the author attended at the time.
  11. Courtney’s embarrassment at the APO concert is based on a story, told by the professional violinist who endured the incident, that the author heard during the intermission of a taped radio broadcast of a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert (if memory serves). Regrettably, the author does not remember the violinist’s name, so the man cannot be properly credited. In the original incident, the violinist who didn’t know the “Meditation” was not a member of the orchestra, but a guest soloist.
  12. The performance video of the “Meditation” from Thais accompanying Chapter 4 was chosen because the soloist bears a physical resemblance to Courtney (apart from being Japanese) and isn’t all that much older (21 vs. 16).
  13. Chapters 5 and 6 expand on certain incidents in the TDI episodes.
  14. The closing note of uncertainty, leaving room for a sequel when there are no plans for a sequel, is a common device in sci-fi stories, especially the sci-fi classics of the 1950s.
  15. The original title of this story was “Courtney and the Violin of Doom”. The title was changed mainly to facilitate the sequel hook.


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