Page:Weird Tales volume 36 number 01.djvu/77

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low—that if you, or I, or both of us, hear this—ghost music—tonight, we're consequently demonstrated the reality of Alicia's spirit—and, naturally, of a whole spirit world. For telepathy does exist; we know that—and I can see no way in which we can eliminate beyond doubt the possibility that whatever music we may hear—might not have come to us direct from Pierce's brain at the moment of death. The human brain sends out strange and powerful impulses when it is about to die; visions of loved ones, sometimes startlingly vivid and real, sometimes speaking or otherwise transmitting definite messages. There're thousands of authenticated instances. So—whether the music originates with Alicia—or merely in Pierce's dying brain—that's a question we can never answer—"

John Chambers shivered, and his face went gray.

"Jerry! It's four minutes past twelve—and he's to die at midnight—!"

And in that instant—God!—from downstairs, through that quiet house, came the sound of furious, triumphal piano playing! It was jazz, but what jazz! Sophisticated, transcendental playing, a strong lifting rhythm glittering with embellishments and flying notes that transformed the saccharine melody into a surging clangor of glamorous sound. Not ten jazz pianists in the world could play like that, I knew—and of those ten only Alicia Castle had ever played that particular special arrangement. It was Alicia Castle, all right—playing as I had heard her play innumerable times at the start and finish of her coast-to-coast network broadcasts!

The piece danced along to its conclusion, a sparkling shower of notes that burst and coruscated like a musical skyrocket, and then the music was gone from my brain. The silence that followed was deafening. For a full minute we sat there, neither speaking.

There was no sound in the house; whatever we had heard had been heard by nobody else.

Then John Chambers looked at me, and his face was white.

"Did you hear it?" he whispered.

I nodded. "Loud," I croaked. "Loud as hell. Dancing in the Wind."

He licked his lips like a frightened dog. "I only heard it faintly," he muttered. "Just like the other time. You're—you're more psychic than I—"

We sat there dumbly, as though paralyzed, through long minutes. At last John's lips moved.

"Pierce is dead, Jerry; I know it. He died when we heard that music. And you're right in what you said; we can never know beyond doubt whether that music came from Alicia, somewhere in the infinite, or from his own poor dying brain. It's a thing we'll never know—"

I nodded. It was a thing we would never know—

Again we sat silent. Then, almost musingly and wholly irrelevantly, I spoke the words that were to lead us to—the unbelievable conclusion.

"Funny thing about that damned music, John," I said. "The B flat above middle C didn't play. It was missing, all the way through the piece."

"B flat above middle C?" he echoed. "That's a black note, isn't it?"

I nodded.

"If it's busted on that piano downstairs, and if I know that it's only been busted a few days—that would prove that Pierce, up in the death house, couldn't have known of it, wouldn't it?"

Again I nodded. I was beginning to understand what he was driving at. He jumped to his feet.

"Come on. Wednesday night we were playing poker down there and Bob Ellis' chair went over backward and broke a black key on the piano. Mrs. Thomas doesn't