" I'm telling you Gerald, that piano played by itself last night!" said Arnold as he and Gerald walked down the trail to Willow Whisp Hall. The cold air smelled crisp and woodsy. The early November sun peaked through the gaps in the trees melting the frost on the fallen leaves.
" You MUST have been dreaming. If it was playing we all would have heard it too!" exclaimed Gerald as they passed Windjammer Junction.
" But I wasn't! I felt the air suddenly get really cold!" aruged Arnold.
" It could have just been a draft!" said Gerald. They reached the hall. Nikki, Taja, Sid, Helga, Stinky and Pheobe were all sitting outside.
" Mornin Gerald. Mornin Arnold." mumbled Stinky inbetween mouthfuls of Cheerios.
" Morning." said Gerald and Arnold.
" How's you two sleep last night?" asked Pheobe cheerfully.
" Great!" said Gerald. Arnold didn't respond and changed the subject.
" Why are you guys eating out here?" He asked without hesitation.
" Too many people in 'zare and 'zee girl scouts were planning to attack us." said Taja watching a troop march by giving them dirty looks and saying something to Nikki in French.
" I swear. I'm taking Moisiour Martinez's advice about 'zee insterments as a weapon seriously if I go out 'zare." She added.
" Why don't you two go get some food...or whatevers left and come join us?" asked Helga taking a bite from a bagel. Arnold and Gerald walked into the hall. The room was filled with talking and laughter along with the sound of silverwear clinking. Each long table had a sign that read each cabins name. Arnold spotted Fox and his posse off in a corner behind North Star's table talking. He looked at Arnold amd smiled mockingly. Three girl scouts walk by them glaring ferociously. They made their way to the buffet table and started to fill their plates.
" I swear. That piano's not goot." Mumbled Arnold.
" Oh Arnold! Come on! That story was unbelievable! That piano is NOT haunted!" said Gerald.
" Whats wrong Arnold? Hear something go bump in the night and get all scared?" Jeered a mocking voice behind Arnold. He sighed and turned around. It was Fox. He stood there staring at Arnold and smiling gleefully.
" So you heard something last night huh? Oh no! It must have been piano girl!" Laughed Fox. he and his posse burst into laughter. All the people around Arnold turned and looked at him.
" HEY EVERYONE! ARNOLD'S AFRAID OF A PIANO!" Yelled Fox inbetween laughs. The entire hall quieted down. Everyone turned and stared at Fox. Even the girl scouts.
" THAT'S RIGHT! OUR FIRST CHAIR TRUMPET!!" Burst out Fox laughing even harder. Everyone turned to Arnold. HE could feel thousands of eyes atring at him blankly. Everything was quiet all except for Fox and his posse. He felt anger rising in his chest and his face turned bright red. Gerald looked at him wide eyed.
" Arnold I-.." He said then just sat there silent like the words ran away from him. Arnold back up and everyone continued staring. Then the silence from the crowd was broken.
" WHAT'S SO FUNNY FOX?" Boomed Martinez's voice from the back of the room. Some people turned and looked at him. Fox jumped and stopped laughing.
" I...Uh....I..uh...Just..W..Well.." he stammered. Martinez arose from the crowd. His golden eyes fixed on Fox glowing with anger.
" Quit stammering and tell me. Whats so funny!" He roared even louder. Arnold saw Foxes face go red as he continued stammering.
" Now quit laughing and GO EAT!" boomed Martinez. Fox scurried back over to his corner with Rex and Jonothon. Everyone stared at Martinez.
" Now." He said back in his normal rhaspy voice. " Go ahead and continue what all of you were doing. Orchestra, the old bat-I mean-Miss Zoltowsky wants you guys to meet her at the band shell in an hour." he sat back down. All the orchestra students smiled and chuckled. Soon the hall was filled with noise again. Arnold and Gerald finished filling their plates and ran back outside. The sun shinned brightly in the clear sky and the birds began singing.
" What happened?" asked Helga.
" Fox got it." smiled Arnold taking a bite from his blueberry muffin.
" Yeah ee-ot-usted." mumbled Gerald with his mouth full of bagel.
" We're sopposed to meet at the band shell in an hour." added Arnold. Everyone nodded their heads. Sid stood up.
" Well I'm going to go get a head start and get my insterment now. Anyone care to join?" He asked. Arnold swallowed his muffin and took a quick drink of orange juice.
" I'll come." He said whiping his mouth. He and Sid walked down the trail towards the North Side. The wind whipped through the bare trees and the leaves on the ground rustled.
" So." said Sid. " What's this about you hearing the piano?"
Arnold turned around.
" H..how did you find out?!" He asked shocked.
" I over heard Fox. He over heard you and Gerald." answered Sid. Arnold sighed.
" I heard it play last night." He grumbled. Sid nodded. They walked on. The trees grew thicker and thicker as they walked higher and higher. Finally they reached the cabin ring. Even in the daylight the Windigo had a creepy air surrounding it. Sid walked in first. Arnold stood on the deck for a moment and looked out into the woods. The wind picked up again and blew some leaves in a circle infront of him then back into the woods. The trees swayed and he could hear the wind chimes loud and clear. He felt a shiver run up his spine and he stood there.
" Arnold?" said Sid opening the creaky door. " Whats wrong?" Arnold shook his head.
" Nothing." He said walking into the cabin. Sid sat down on his bunk as Arnold slowly walked towards his. The shadows of the trees danced on the floor. He sat down and sighed.
" You okay Arnold?" asked Sid looking for his music stand. " Darn music stand....You're acting like somthings bothering you." Arnold sighed deeply and looked over at the piano.
" No. I'm fine. Just embarresed from Fox." He lied. Suddenly everyone burst noisly into the cabin.
" Come one you two! We'll be late!" Said Eugene grabbing his flute, music and music stand. Everyone grabbed their stuff and headed out towards the trail. Arnold looked around. The trees began the loud creaking as the wind whipped through. He sighed tiredly. He had hardly any sleep last night and Fox kept glaring at him. Gerald looked at him.
" I'm really sorry he overheard you man." He said softly.
" Mmmmm...s'ok." answered Arnold tiredly. The trees began to thin out and they arrived at the band shell. It was enormous and overlooked Windwalker Lake. The entire orchestra was already there warming up. Arnold figured that the North Side would almost always be late. He sat down and yawned. He set up his music stand and just as he was about to take out his trumpet, he heard the wind chimes again. This time a little louder then before. He looed inbetween the trees and down at the lake. It sparkled in the sun and already there were some canoes out on it. He sighed and took out his trumpet. Miss Zoltowsky walked up to the podium and everyone quieted down.
" I assume you're all warmed up." She said.
" Oops." said Arnold softly to himself.
" Please take out your music in this order. Pines of Rome, Rhapsody in Blue, Strike up the Band, Crystal City Overture, Manhattan Blues, An American in Paris, Pachebels Canon and Oveture 1812. Try not denting the base drum this time Thaddeus." She added. Curly grinned. They began playing. Two girl scout troops walked by. Some gave them dirty looks and some stopped and listened. They played on. Arnold increasingly became tired and found it hard to keep his eyes open. By the time they began American In Paris, he found himself drifting off. He suddenly awoke at Taja's violin solo which was before his. He began to play; slowly and sulrty. The girl scouts who were listening stared at him wide eyed. Suddenly he felt something warm and wet trickling down his hand. He looked down and dropped his trumpet with a loud clang. His hand was dripping with blood. He stared at it horror striken as everyone stopped playing and looked at him.
" Are you okay?!" asked Gerald. A few whispers arose as Miss Zoltowsky walked over.
" Whats wrong?" She asked. The wind howled in the trees and the sound of the wind chimes was right next to him. His stomach turned into a block of ice and people began crowding around him. The blood continued dripping and everything started to haze around him. His heart beat faster and faster. He began to sway then....He suddenly met with the ground.
He awoke a few minutes later. Everything was still hazy and he felt a sharp shooting pain in his ribs. He could make out Mizz Zoltowsky, Gerald, Helga, Sid and Taja standing over him. He heard distant whispering around him.
" He's coming back!" He heard Gerald exclaim.
" Oh what a pity." He heard Fox add. Gerald held up two fingers.
" Arnold. How many fingers am I holding up?" He asked. Arnold squinted.
" Eight?" He asked in a groggy voice. " He's still outta it." Helga said.
" Arnold? Arnold! Are you okay?! What happened?!" Shouted Zoltowsky in a panick striken voice. Arnold moaned softly.
" I saw blood on my hand." He said softly. The haze was begainning to vanish. He could see everyone around him look down at him puzzled.
" How much blood?" asked Gerald. Arnold lifted his hand.
" See?" He groaned. Miss Zoltowsky stood up.
" Taja? Will you escort him to the clinic?" She asked. Taja quickly nodded with a confused look in her eyes.
" As for the rest of you, we'll continue. Gerald you play for Arnold." She added. Fox glared. Everyone went back to their seats and Arnold sat up. The pain in his ribs was excushiating. He huddled up against one of the polls and closed his eyes. Taja sat down next to him with her arm around his shoulders.
" What 'ees wrong?" She asked softly."
" My ribs." Said Arnold through gritted teeth. She put her arm around his back.
" Now put your arm around my shoulders for support." She said. Arnold stood up along with her and stumbled. Blodd still dripped off his hand. He leaned against Taja and started walking half dazed. Fox saw him and glared bitterly. They walked towards the clinic on the other side of Willow Whisp Hall. His side hurt even more and he stumbled once again.
" I could carry you 'eef you'd like." Laughed Taja smiling warmly.
" No thanks. I think it's the guy who carries the girl." said Arnold and smiled back.They walked on. Still half dazed Arnold heard the wind chimes softly again as if they were following him. They Finally reached the clinic. Mr. Martinez saw Arnold and walked over.
" What happened?" He asked concernedly.
" 'Ee fainted." Said Taja. Martinez looked even more concerned,
" I'll go get the nurse. Go ahead and sit down." He replied and left.
" 'Ow are your ribs?" She asked.
" They're not as bad." He said and looked down at his hand. " But my hand won't stop bleeding." He added. Taja looked at him with wide eyes.
" Arnold." She said shakily. " Your hand 'ees not bleeding." Arnold looked down at his hand again. The blood began to disappear.
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