It all seemed to be working just fine, until we had a bit of thunder this afternoon. I immediately shut down the computer and turned it off to protect it from any power surges, but then the thunder stopped and we hadn't even had any rain or visible lightning, so I turned it back on again. And I got this lovely message:
Data Error Reading Drive C: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?
Refusing to panic, I restarted, and this time it brought me to another screen, offering me a chance to start Windows 98 in Safe Mode. So I did, and this time I got the message
While initializing device VKD: Windows Protection Error
And then it froze up and refused to do anything more. I tried restarting again several times, always to get some variant of error message 1 or 2; then I ran Scandisk from the command line and it helpfully told me that Drive C was perfectly OK. Yeah, right.
In the end I resigned myself to reinstalling Windows 98. I stuck in the boot disk, got the A: command line, checked my two hard drives C: and D: to make sure all the directories were still there (they were) and then realized that I have the wrong boot disk for Windows 98 -- the one I have is for Windows 95 -- and that it wasn't going to recognize that I have a CD drive installed, so I couldn't run Windows 98 setup. Argggh.
The happy ending to all of this is that after rebooting the system from the floppy disk and then restarting the computer for about the tenth time, Windows finally loaded correctly and now my computer is behaving as though nothing whatsoever happened.
I'm afraid to shut down and restart again, though. And I have no idea what I'm going to do if this happens again. *weeps*