Chapter 15 – Rival

Disclaimer: Twilight is owned by Stephenie Meyer. I am only borrowing a few of her characters. The remainder of the story is my own. No reproduction is permitted without my written consent.

Author's Note:

Merry Christmas to my readers! I know it's been forever, and I have lots of excuses but it just boils down to real life taking priority. Don't worry. I'll keep plugging away at this story.

Since I have such a long time between chapters I've been told I need to provide a summary to get everyone caught up with the story. Here is my attempt:

Lost Soul is the story of Bella, a young teacher looking for a fresh start in life after the sudden death of her husband. She gets a job in a small town in upstate New York, where she buys a little house in the country. There she awakens the soul of Edward Masen, a WWI soldier who is buried in the cemetery where she lived. Eventually, he breaks through to her and they learn to communicate with each other. In the last chapter, Edward was trying to use Bella's computer with disastrous consequences.

Diary of Rosalie Masen

June 30, 1918

I'm so happy to have Edward home safe and relatively sound. He doesn't seem happy though. He hobbles around with his cane all day, and I fear he will always walk with a limp. Aside from that first night though, he won't let anyone help him with anything. He just gets frustrated with himself. I hate to see him struggle, but he snapped at me the one time I tried to help him. He apologized immediately, of course, and I could see in his eyes that he was truly sorry.

He hasn't said much about his time at the front. He talked a little about his training, but that's not what bothers him. Something haunts him. I just don't know what it is.

July 6, 1918

It was one year ago that Jane and I went to that fateful dance. One year since I caught the eye of Royce King, and was rescued from his treacherous intentions by Edward and Emmett. If only I had known what joys and sorrows the year would bring I'd…

I would like to say that I would have done something different, but I don't know what it would be. I wouldn't change a thing that led me to Emmett. I wouldn't know what to change to keep Edward from going to war. I still can't help but think that it was only the slightest measure of faith that kept him alive.

July 27, 1918

Royce has started calling in the evenings. I'm forced to sit for hours as he prattles on about his work and his father's connections. Edward has taken pity on me. He sits with us and keeps Royce engaged in conversation so that I can avoid him as much as possible.

Royce isn't happy about it, but he can't say anything about our self-appointed chaperone.

Once he finally leaves, I can feel Edward's eyes following me as I hurry up the stairs to my room. He knows I'm going to meet Emmett, but he doesn't say a word, good or bad. I do catch a look of pain at times, but it doesn't seem to be his leg that ails him. He's longing for something he's lost, or maybe never had.

September 19, 1918

Emmett has resolved to ask Father for my hand. He says he can't stand Royce's taunts any more, or the thought of his lips on my hand as he leaves for the evening.

I love him so. I hate being apart as much as he does. For better or worse, we'll know what our future holds tomorrow night.

September 20, 1918

My father hates me. He is determined to see that I live out my life in misery, denying me anything that will bring me happiness.

I watched in anticipation as Emmett arrived. Father sneered at his impertinence in requesting to speak with him, but led him into his study.

It couldn't have been a minute later when the door slammed open again into the wall with my father's voice booming, "You will have no such thing!"

Emmett staggered into the hall, obviously shoved by my father. I could see that he wanted to fight back, but he restrained himself.

Father continued his tirade. "You think you're good enough for my daughter? I'll see her married before the year is out to a husband from an outstanding family! Someone with the proper upbringing and ties!"

"But what about what Rosie wants! Don't you want to see her happy?" Emmett insisted.

"Happiness! What she needs is someone that will put her in her place and keep her there! I have just the man for the job! Now get out of my house and don't show your face in my factory again!"

Emmett looked up at me with stricken eyes. "Sorry, Rosie," he said before departing humbly from the house.

With that, Father slammed the front door, but he wasn't finished. He turned to me.

"And you! Don't think I'll tolerate any more sneaking around! Royce has been begging me to announce the engagement. I thought some more time to get to know one another was in order, but I can see now that it was wrong. He'll be delighted to hear that I've changed my mind. We'll announce it next week at the dinner party when he and James return from New York."

"I won't marry Royce King! You can't make me!" I shouted.

"I can and I will! Now get to your room!" he ordered.

I burst into tears and ran. It's taken me all night to calm down enough to write this out. Poor Emmett looked so forlorn when he left. He's lost his job and I have no idea what will happen now.

God, please don't let him give up on us.

September 21, 1918

I tried to sneak out to see if Emmett returned to meet me, but Mother caught me on my way out the door. It seems that Father has put her on alert. She had been oblivious to me all this time, but now I'll never get free.

Edward hobbled into the room as she was turning me around to send me upstairs. He caught my eye and gave a small nod. Mother stood there tapping her foot, so I couldn't talk to him, but I heard him go out the front door a few minutes later.

I waited for what seemed an eternity, but finally heard a soft knock on my door. I helped him in and settled him in a chair near my bed. He looked exhausted but smiled at me.

"That beau of yours seems pretty determined. He was just about to knock the door down and kidnap you when I found him."

"You saw him? What did he say?" I was beside myself thinking of him there alone, waiting for me. "He didn't think I'd given up, did he?"

"No. I told him that Father has set Mother on the task of chaperone and nanny. It's funny. She should have been in the role all along, but now that it's almost too late she's embracing it with passion." He didn't laugh at his joke and neither did I. "He told me that he is going away for a while and asked me to keep an eye on you."

"He didn't say where he was going? How can he just leave me like this? Father intends to marry me off to Royce any day now."

"He does seem pretty determined," Edward acknowledged reluctantly, "but I won't let it happen. I'll steal you away to New York City myself if I have to. Give him some time, Rosie. The man lost his job. He needs to get settled and wants to take you somewhere safe."

"But what about Royce? Just sitting in the same room with him makes my skin crawl. I'd rather run off and join a convent than marry him."

Edward burst out laughing at the thought. "I don't think you are cut out for a life of prayer and obedience," he said still chuckling. "Just be patient and go along with whatever Father asks of you. Emmett won't be long. He won't risk it."

A serious look came over his face.

"Rosie, there's something else you need to consider. While Emmett was working for Father he fell into class three for the draft. Now that he is unmarried with no job he'll be moved to class one. He could be drafted at any time."

It was the last straw. I broke down crying in Edward's lap. He sat there with me until I calmed myself again.

I almost lost Edward to the war. I couldn't lose Emmett too.

October 4, 1918

I am now officially engaged to Royce King, or at least Royce and my father consider me to be.

Father called me down to his study where I found Royce waiting with an evil grin on his face.

"Ah, the fair Miss Rosalie," he said.

"Mr. King," I replied with just a trace of disgust.

"Not in the mood for pleasantries, I see. Well, I'll cut to the chase. Your father and I have reached an understanding. All you need to do is say yes." He held out a small box covered in black velvet. When I made no move to touch it, he opened it with a small sigh.

Inside was a ring with a large oval pink topaz surrounded by twelve smaller diamonds in an elaborate gold setting. It was huge and gaudy and I hated it on the spot.

I just stood there stoically as he slid it on my finger. I wanted to cry and rage, but it wouldn't do any good. I would bide my time until I could get away.

"Ha, you see, Royce, she's settling in nicely. I knew this would be just what she needed," said Father

Royce looked displeased. "I had hoped for a bit more enthusiasm."

Father slapped him on the back. "All in good time, my boy. You can't expect miracles over night."

He pulled out a bottle of scotch and poured two glasses. Handing one to Royce, he toasted, "To my future son-in-law, may you finally be the one to tame the wild Rosalie." Royce lifted his glass and they both drank.

"Can I go now?" I asked in a monotone.

"But my dear, we still need to set the date," said Royce.

"It's not like you'll give me any say in the matter."

"Be gone then," said Father. "We'll tell you when it's settled. At least planning a wedding will give your mother something to keep her mind occupied for a while."

I escaped as quickly as I could to Edward's room. He held me as I cried again.


Mike Newton!

I thought surely Bella knew someone else who could fix her compu-typewriter, but no, apparently he was the only one who can do the job. It was probably for the best. I had a feeling that if she had lived here longer I would have been trying to figure out how to scare off many more potential suitors. I had yet to find any man in this town that was good enough for Bella. I wanted her to be happy, but a small part of me prayed that the day she found someone was a long way off. That would be the day I would truly die.

Bella was wringing her hands, as she waited at the window for his arrival. I played a few minor chords on the piano, trying to express how sorry I was for breaking it again.

"Edward, I told you, it's not your fault," she answered without looking away from the window.

It was my fault. Electricity and I didn't seem to mix so well. I could handle simple devices like the switch on the player piano, but more complex ones were far beyond my comprehension.

I hadn't even noticed the box playing the music that night at the bar. It was the furthest thing from my mind, but when my frustration reached the breaking point at seeing Bella with Anthony that box of electricity bore the brunt of my anger.

The accident with the compu-writer should never have happened. I just wanted to talk to her. It should have been so simple to just press the letters and tell her how I feel. I was so excited! I finally had a chance to really tell her how much she meant to me; that without her I would still be drifting in a void of nothingness. I didn't register the panic in her voice until it was too late. My hope went up in a thin plume of smoke. Bella seemed to think it could be fixed, but unless Mike had a replacement vacuum tube I didn't know what could be done.

"He's here!" she exclaimed as she hurried from the door. Just as she was about to fling it open she paused and turned, her eyes sweeping the room.

"Edward, I know you're not crazy about him, but please be good," she said as if speaking to a wayward child.

I don't know when I had given her the impression that I didn't like Mike. It was the truth, but Mike was about last on the list of things I wanted to discuss with Bella. She just seemed to know some things about me. Though we had barely conversed with each other, sometimes it felt as if we were kindred spirits linked in some timeless fashion, always in tune like two instruments playing a perfect duet.

I hoped for Bella's sake that Mike could fix her little black box and get out. I could only tolerate his presence for so long.

I remained perfectly quiet like an obedient ghost should. Bella seemed to take this as acquiescence to her request. She turned and opened it just as Mike was about to knock. He stumbled forward as his fist met with no resistance landing squarely in Bella's arms. She should have just let him fall if he was going to be so clumsy.

They froze with his arms clutching at her shoulders, and Bella clutching him around the waist to prevent him from falling and taking them both to the floor. The whole scene looked like it could have been pulled right from one of the Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton movies that they used to show us at the USO tent when we were waiting for the fighting to start. Mike's look of awe at finding himself in Bella's arms paired with her eyes wide with shock was the most hilarious thing I had seen in ninety-five years.

I might have laughed if Mike hadn't decided to seize the moment that fate had handed him and plant his lips on Bella's.

As soon as Bella realized his intent she gasped and let go of him, scrambling back out of the way. A camera recording the scene would have logged Mike, bug eyed and fish lipped, as he finished his descent to the floor in what was surely one of the best comedic moments of all time.

I was so proud of my girl! I knew she wasn't going to put up with his floundering moves. Bella looked stunned for a moment until Mike let out a pathetic groan. Unfortunately he hadn't planted his face on the floor. Instead he caught himself on his hands with a thud.

His noise spurred Bella back into action.

"Mike, are you okay?" She asked sounding way too worried.

"Yeah," he said as he stood up slowly. "I think so. You need a hand rail or something for that step."

This guy was pathetic. All three of us knew what really happened, but Bella was polite enough to ignore it. I wouldn't be so nice.

"So where is your computer?" Mike asked getting down to business.

Bella was still eyeing him warily, but then her eyes flitted around the room nervously as if to see what I was up to. My girl knew me so well.

"Um, it's over here on the table. I really hope you can save it. It's got all my lesson plans for the first two months of the year, not to mention my portfolio from school." Ever since the orientation session Bella had spent most of her time pouring through books and typing away. I couldn't figure out where the paper was hidden. Apparently it was still inside.

"Trust me, Bella, I'm your man! If anyone can fix it I can," Mike said confidently, his earlier failure now forgotten.

Each word, each smirk, each confident glance in Bella's direction fuelled my irritation until it reached the breaking point. Just as he bent over to his bag I flung the first thing I could find right at his head.

It was a feather duster that I snatched from the top of the icebox.

Of course Bella, still glancing about nervously every few seconds, saw it and snatched it out of the air just as it was about to make contact. When Mike looked up, she awkwardly pretended to be dusting the cabinets.

"Whoa, keep that away from the computer. Static electricity and high-tech electronics don't mix well."

"Yeah, sorry. I didn't think," Bella stammered. She turned from him and mouthed the words, "Stop it, Edward!" to me as she shoved the duster into the cabinet under the sink.

I didn't want her to be angry, but it couldn't be helped. After all, my first attempt at chasing Mike away was rather pathetic. I could do better.

Mike proceeded to take a set of tiny tools from a kit in his bag and line them up precisely on the table next to him. "All right. My operating room is ready. Let's take a look at the patient," he said once everything was perfectly aligned.

"The patient?" Bella repeated in confusion.

"Your computer?"

"Oh, sorry." Bella slid the little black box across the table to him. "I don't know what happened really," she lied. "One minute it was fine, the next the screen flickered blue and smoke started rising from the keyboard."

Mike paused in his examination, looking skeptically at her. "You got a blue screen of death and you let the magic smoke out?" He scooted his chair back a foot. "You must be a heck of a conductor if you managed to do all that. I haven't heard of somebody breaking a computer that badly in a long time."

"Is there anything you can do?" Bella pleaded. It pained me to see her so dependent on him, especially when I was the one to break it.

Mike scooted back in, selected a small screwdriver and started to remove several tiny screws that I hadn't even seen.

"Honestly, if you smoked it then there probably isn't much that I can do. I'm going to pull out the hard drive and see if I can access it remotely." I couldn't understand his gibberish, but apparently Bella did. She heaved a sigh and sat back to watch him work. "You know most people would just toss it, but I've got a knack for these things."

Mike went on to bore both of us with several tales of computing devices which he repaired miraculously, or in one case, brought back from 'beyond the grave' as he put it. I'd had more than enough of his pompous babbling, and decided that it was time to make things more interesting again.

My first attempt was easily thwarted by Bella. I would need to be more subtle. The next time he set his tiny tool back on the table I sent it to the floor with a gentle flick.

"Oops, can't lose that," he said cheerfully, retrieving it from the floor.

I waited just a moment after he set it down I sent it to the floor again.

"Whoa, this little guy wants to get away from me," he said reaching down again.

The third time I didn't waste a second. As soon as his eyes were back on Bella I pushed it off again, this time making sure it rolled way under the table.

Bella's eyes grew wide for a moment. She knew what was happening.

"I think you need to have your table leveled," Mike said with a hint of irritation creeping into his voice.

"I'll get it, Mike," Bella said, peering under to see where it had rolled.

"No, don't worry, I think I can reach."

He ducked his head under the table and snatched up the screwdriver. Just as he was about to stand up I gave him a small shove. His head hit the bottom of the table with a sharp crack.

"Shit!" he screamed and rolled over onto the floor clutching his head.

"Mike, are you okay?" Bella asked rushing to his side. "Let me get you an ice pack." She pulled several cubes of ice from the freezer, placing them in a towel that she pulled from a drawer.

"Edward," she hissed into the frosty space, "I don't know what you're up to but stop it now." She slammed the door shut and took the towel to Mike, placing it gently on his head.

He winced but accepted it, capturing her hand under his as they both held the pack to his head.

After an awkward moment of tugging, Bella managed to get her hand back, but Mike still looked smug.

"Hey, how are Eric and Ben doing?" Bella asked changing to a neutral subject.

"Oh, Eric is Eric. Ben sends his thanks, though. He called Angela like you suggested. I think they met up in the city last weekend and 'declared their love' or something," he said swishing his hand through the air. "The poor guy has been walking around in a daze ever since, but he looks happy. He said he never would have had the guts to do it if you hadn't ordered him to call her."

"I didn't order him," Bella protested. "I just pointed out…"

"You told him that fate was going to kick his ass if he didn't call her. It was an awesome moment. Don't knock it."

"Okay." Bella smiled. Mike wasn't supposed to make her smile like that. "I'm just glad they're together." She settled back into her seat, holding Mike's screwdriver, and handing it to him when he needed it.

When Mike finally had all the tiny screws out he pulled a panel off the bottom of the device. The insides were green with what looked like tiny black bugs with silver legs. There wasn't a vacuum tube in sight.

"Hmm. The circuit board looks a little scorched. I don't think you'll get this thing to work again."

"No!" Bella jumped out of her chair and rushed around to look over Mike's shoulder. "It's going to take me forever to recreate all that work."

"All is not lost, my dear," Mike said in a dramatic voice. "The hard drive looks okay. Let me see if I can get it out and transfer the data."

Hope sprang up in Bella's eyes. Once again I was reminded that I had caused the situation, and she had to rely on Mike to fix it. I kept quiet hoping that he would do what he needed to do, and leave.

Mike pried an even smaller black box loose. It was attached with a ribbon of wires which he pulled free from the end. "Laptops are cheap, but the hard drive's data is the part that is irreplaceable," he said holding it up.

"You really think you can save my files?" Bella asked hopefully.

"Like I said before, if I can't then nobody can," Mike said pompously.

Mike pulled his own little black box out of his bag, opened the cover and turned it on. While a series of meaningless words flashed across the screen, he dug through a tangle of cables in his bag, looking at the ends of several until he found the one he wanted.

"This baby ought to do the trick," he said as he connected it between Bella's hard drive and his own box. "It makes your hard drive look like a USB drive.

"Wow, I didn't know you could do that," Bella said, watching the process intently.

I had no idea what he was doing, but even I was grudgingly impressed.

"The moment of truth," Mike said ominously. He tapped a few keys, some lights flashed, and the little box whirred to life. With a few more clicks Mike spun the box around to Bella. "Ms. Swan, is this your missing data?"

Bella pulled the box to her and began reading and clicking frantically. I couldn't follow what she was doing, but as each second passed her smile grew.

"It's here! It's all here! My lesson plans, my portfolio, everything. Thank you so much, Mike."

Mike leaned back in his chair with his hands laced behind his head. "It's all in a day's work for the tech savvy like myself," he said smugly.

Bella flicked her eyes to him for a moment giving a little laugh at his pose. He didn't seem to mind because he just grinned back at her. He was getting way too cozy. I decided that it was time to show him the door.

"Ok, next problem. How do I transfer it to my new laptop when I get one?" Bella asked.

"That's easy." Mike dug in his bag and pulled out a little blue rectangle. "Here is a memory stick. Copy what you need immediately onto it. You can always work on one of the school computers until you get a new one. I also recommend you buy an external hard drive that you can use to back everything up regularly. I can help you set it up."

Bella took it and plugged it into the side of the laptop expertly. "Thanks. I guess that was never something I thought too much about. I'm still learning when it comes to computers."

"Don't worry, I've got you covered." Mike said with a self-satisfied smirk.

"Are you thirsty? I think I've still got a few beers in the fridge."

"Don't mind if I do," Mike replied. He opened the icebox door and gave the contents a thorough inspection as if he owned it. Finally he pulled out a can, popped open the top and took a long satisfying drink.

Bella was working intently on the laptop, and didn't hear the first soft chord I played on the piano in the other room, but Mike did. He looked around intently, but couldn't find the source. As he settled back into his chair, I began to play again.

The first string of notes in Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D minor were some of the scariest I could recall. I remembered getting chills as I learned to play them as a child. I hated to practice it alone at the piano, particularly on dark winter evenings. I hoped it would have the same unsettling effect on this unwelcome guest.

"What the hell is that?" Mike shouted, startling in his chair.

Bella just closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. "That would be my piano acting up again. Wait here. I'll shut it off."

Bella came around the corner and slammed the piano cover down over the keys. "Stop it, Edward," she hissed. Bella was gorgeous when she was angry.

She stomped back to the kitchen table.

"Sorry about that. The player mechanism is touchy," she said as she sat back at the computer.

I gave her a minute before starting on my next selection.

Nothing built a sense of impending chaos and doom like Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain. Its fast trills over the slower chords always gave a feeling of pent-up energy, straining against an unseen barrier, just itching to break through to reap destruction on the world.

"Hey! I get it! You're a Mickey Mouse fan." Mike jumped up and started waving his arms in time with the music as if he was directing a non-existent symphony. It was not the reaction I intended.

Bella rolled her eyes and returned to the piano. This time she pulled the plug from the wall.

"Edward, I mean it! Unless you want me to call in the Ghost Busters, leave him alone."

"I unplugged it. It shouldn't happen again," she said to Mike.

"Aw, I was just starting to have fun. I didn't know you could get the Fantasia songs on old piano scrolls," he said.

"You'd be surprised what comes out of my piano," she muttered sitting back down at the table.

Mike took a quick drink of his beer, but my performance had clearly had an impact. It dribbled down his chin and onto his shirt without any more help from me.

"Shit," he muttered, wiping at the wet spot on his shirt. Bella grabbed a towel and started dabbing at his chest. Judging by the grin that slid onto his face, he was enjoying it way too much.

I slammed the piano's key cover down with a crash. Mike jumped back from Bella, finally getting the message.

"Um, it's fine," he stammered. "Can I use your bathroom?"

"Sure. It's upstairs, first door on the right."

As soon as he left the room Bella began whispering loudly and furiously to me, but I didn't stick around to listen. I followed Mike up the stairs. It was time to get rid of him once and for all.

He flipped the light switch and shut the door, but instead of going about his business he stood in front of the mirror staring at his reflection. He waggled his eyebrows, smiled, frowned, and smoothed back his hair. "Lookin' good as always," he told himself with a wink.

Satisfied with his assessment, he pulled open the mirror, exposing a small cabinet set into the wall. He poked around in the contents for a minute and then pulled out a flat circular box and popped the lid.

"Just started a fresh pack o'pills. That means Mama's lookin' for love and good to go for the next three weeks. I've got to step up my game if I'm going to get laid anytime soon."

I didn't know why Bella would take the medication, but I couldn't miss the intention in his words. The thought of Mike Newton being intimate with my Bella was the final straw. It was time for the last act of my performance for the night.

A chill settled over the room causing Mike to shiver violently. He snapped the pill box back together and put it away quickly. Turning his back to the sink, he flipped up the toilet seat and unzipped his pants to take a piss.

He stood still for a moment, holding himself. Another shiver ran through him. He shook it off, widened his stance, and tried again.

"Come on, little Mikey, there's no one else here. No reason for performance anxiety," he said to himself.

Finally, after closing his eyes and meditating for a moment his stream began to flow. His face morphed into one of complete contentment and relaxation. Eyes closed, he didn't see the toilet seat begin to tip silently until gravity pulled it with a swift crash down to the porcelain.

"Holy shit!" he yelled, jumping back and pissing on his shoe in the process. "Damn it!" he cursed again, aiming the last few drops back in the toilet. "There's something seriously wrong with this place."

He grabbed a wad of toilet paper and wiped off his shoe, the floor and the seat as best he could. Just as he flushed the lights flickered off.

Frantically, he spun around and groped for the light switch. He found it after a few seconds of darkness and flicked it on and off several times. Finally on the fourth try, the lights flickered on with a crackle of electricity.

Mike froze. His eyes grew wide with fear as he read the words written in red on the mirror.

Stay away from Isabella. I'll see you in hell before I let you have her.

His eyes flickered across the message three times before he regained the ability to move. He yanked hard at the door handle before remembering to turn it.

He tore down the stairs and into the kitchen where Bella was rolling up cables and tucking them into his bag.

"Thanks for helping me, Mike. I don't know what I would have done without you," she said.

"Um, no problem," he said trying to get his fear under control. "Listen, Bella, I need to go." He took the remaining items from a bewildered Bella and shoved them haphazardly into the bag.

"Mike, is something wrong?" she asked cautiously.

"No… yes…"

He sighed heavily, and finally looked her in the eye.

"Bella, are you okay staying here by yourself? I mean, there's something strange about this house and I worry about you being here by yourself all the time."

"I know that some strange things happen here, but I assure you there's a rational explanation," she insisted.

Mike had picked up all of his things and backed himself up to the door. "I really don't think you should stay here alone. Are you sure you don't…"

"Mike," she interrupted, "I'm fine here. I'm happy and I'm not going anywhere." He nodded in acceptance.

"I guess I'll see you at school," he said weakly.

"Thanks again."

He slipped out the door, darted to his car, and as soon as it started, he was out of the driveway like a shot.

Bella watched silently out the window as he drove off. Her expression was unfathomable, and I wished for the thousandth time that I could read her mind.

When Mike was long out of sight, she turned and said in a firm schoolmarm voice, "Edward Masen, what did you do?"

Before I could answer she tore out of the room and up the stairs. By the time I realized what she was doing it was too late.

There in the mirror, her beautiful reflection was marred by the ugly words I had used to frighten my rival.

I hadn't thought what Bella's reaction might be. With a sob she tore from the room and ran back downstairs. She grabbed her purse and keys from the counter.

I tried to get her attention. I needed to apologize; to explain.

She wasn't about to listen. She shouted, "Stay away from me, Edward Masen!" as she ran out the door and drove away.

Author's Note:

Aside from being some of the creepiest classical music, Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D minor and Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain were both featured in Disney's Fantasia. Edward would have certainly been familiar with the first two, but could not have anticipated Mike's reaction since Fantasia wasn't released until 1940.

The first commercial radio station didn't begin broadcasting until 1920, but vacuum tube radios were used for communication in WWI, and amateurs were having fun with them in the 1910's. These radios would have been the limit of Edward's experience with electronics.

Thanks to everyone for staying with my little story. I haven't been able to travel for work during the past six months, and that has cut drastically into my writing time. Fortunately, that is about to change. I expect to be on the road about 50% of the time starting in February. I'll do my best to keep the story moving. Some of my favorite chapters are coming up.

Also - thanks again to Spikey for her mad editing skills!

Please leave a review and tell me what you think!