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 closing note of uncertainty, leaving room for a sequel when there are no plans for a sequel, is a common device in science fiction stories, especially the sci-fi classics of the 1950s. In the unlikely event that a sequel ("Courtney and the Violin of Doom", obviously) ever sees the light of day, it might be something like The Perils of Pauline and would probably be openly pro-Courtney.

The original title of this story was "Courtney and the Violin of Doom". The title was changed mainly to facilitate the sequel hook.