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 hand walking 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.


NOTES:

This chapter expands on an incident in Total Drama Island episode #5, "Not Quite Famous".