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The Artist

By Kenneth Allan All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Horror

The Artist


Madeline loved art especially painting. She studied all the masters, all the techniques and went to college full-time but her mentor was her grandmother, Peggy. Grandma Peggy was a superb artist. All her paintings were so lifelike, so real, that you could almost feel the subjects talking to you and the detail was perfect in everything whether it was buildings, animals, landscapes or people.

“Madeline,” she would say,” You must absorb the subject totally into your paintings”

Madeline had another love in her life, David, whom she had known since she started college. They fell in love with each other almost at first sight but lately they had been seeing less of each other and fighting more. The increasing stress in their relationship began to affect the quality of her painting much to the disgust of her grandma then one afternoon Madeline discovered David kissing another girl. David was horrified Madeline should discover him this way and assured her that he was going to break up with her that evening. Later, David told her he was going to marry Heather, his fiancée, and he was sorry for any hurt he caused. Madeline stormed off shouting that they both would be sorry and sought out her grandma for sympathy.

Madeline ranted on about killing them both but her grandma convinced her that it would not be a good idea. Instead she suggested, Madeline should paint they’re portrait as a wedding gift. At first Madeline thought her grandma had gone senile but when she calmed down she could see the sense in this. Painting always had a calming effect on her and if David had moved on she would just have to get over it. Her grandma had other ideas however. The seeds of hate had been sown and just needed a little watering.

David accepted Madeline’s offer gratefully and although he no longer loved Madeline he still valued her friendship as they had a lot in common. Grandma Peggy suggested Madeline use her studio to do the portrait and she accepted and the sittings started off well. However, David’s obvious deep affection for Heather and her reciprocation began to eat at Madeline. It did not help that Heather was actually a very nice person nor did Grandma Peggy’s comments about how nice a person Heather was and how suited they were to each other and wouldn’t they make a nice wedding couple and perhaps it was all for the best. The seeds of hate sprouted successfully.

As the hate plant grew so did something about the painting. It was developing into the best she had done yet. The detail that was developing was astounding and the young couple were also very happy about it. So much so that Heather asked if she would do one of the baby they were going to have as she had just discovered she was pregnant. The hate plant grew to full height as she asked them to attend the final sitting. Late that night she stared at the painting and an intense burst of hate broke through at both of them. Picking up a pot of paint she was about to throw it at the painting but something stopped her. Instead, she picked up the bottle of Scotch, thoughtfully supplied by her Grandma and downed it.

The next morning found her again in front of the painting nursing a hangover. She was looking at the painting in a different light however. Strangely she no longer felt any hatred of the couple. It was as if the painting had absorbed it all. Startled she lifted her head and it seemed like she had heard moaning and pleas for help but all was quiet except her throbbing head.

“It must have been the hangover” she thought.

She decided to take the painting over to David right now and wrapped it up in brown paper but when she reached David’s apartment his flatmate said that he was not there. He had gone out the previous evening and had not returned. He had said something about going to his girlfriends place but when Madelaine arrived at Heathers she found her flatmates in a panic. Heather had taken a sleeping pill the night before as she hadn’t been sleeping well for a few nights and had gone to bed. In the morning she was missing and her bed had been slept in. Disturbed, Madeline returned to her apartment and put the painting back on the easel. Each day she kept looking for David and each night she stared at the painting till one day the police arrived at the door.

The police were making enquiries about the missing pair and asking when and where was the last time she saw them and then left. That night she woke up from a nightmare to the sounds of cries for help. She staggered into her studio and the couple in the painting had their arms outstretched begging for help and to be released. She rubbed her eyes and blinked so that when she looked again all was normal but she knew it wasn’t. Without even bothering to get dressed she drove to her Grandma’s and woke her up.

“Heavens above child what’s got over you”.

“What did you make me do to them grandma”.

The elder woman just looked at her and replied “I did nothing. It was all you, just you and your hatred of them” she paused then said” Come with me.”

She led Madelaine into her gallery and stood amongst her paintings.

“Do you know why they are all so lifelike” Grandma asked and without waiting for a reply she said “because they are lifelike. I have hated everyone in those paintings and it was my hatred that created them. Everybody there did something to hurt me. That one there” she pointed to a young man standing in a portrait, “was supposed to leave his wife for me but at the last moment decided he loved his wife more than me and that one there” pointing to another painting of a young woman floating in a Lake obviously dead “was his wife. That one was a banker who denied me a loan and that” pointing at a painting of a dog “bit me once”

“Who was this one?” asked Madeline.

“Ha, she was the one I hated the most. She was your mother. She wanted to take you away from me. I wanted to train you in my art but in her words ‘she was not going to let me fill you with hatred’. She didn’t understand that hatred is vital to my art.”

Aghast Madeline stared at the portrait of her mother. She had always thought she had died at childbirth.

Turning to her Grandmother she said” Tell me how to release them or you will never see me again and I don’t care if you turn me into a painting. ”

She stared into the pale grey eyes of her grandmother totally unable to read the expression in them.

“Ok” she said” just destroy the painting. That will release them”

Madeline hurried back to her apartment only to find the whole block on fire and as she stood there in shock a friendly arm went round her shoulder. It was Georgia her friend.

“I came as soon as I saw it. I’m so sorry”.

“My painting I must get my painting”

“Maddy,” Georgia said, “nothing will survive that blaze.”

She led her back to her apartment as Madeline did not want to go back to her Grandma’s. Georgia let her stay there and a week later the police arrived.

“Madeline Jones? “.

“Yes that’s me”

“We are investigating the deaths of David Wilson and Heather Brown. They were found burnt to death in your apartment”

“What!”

“Can you tell us what they were doing there and why you never reported their presence to the authorities.”

Madeline could not.

“I afraid you will have to come with us to the station”

They questioned her for four hours trying to find out why two people that had been missing for two weeks were found burnt to death in her apartment and she never reported it. Madeline could not give an explanation. Eventually the police charged her with murder.

Her lawyer eventually briefed her on what to expect.

“They have dropped the murder charge. They can find no evidence to suggest they were dead when the fire started and the fire was definitely accidental. It started in the next door apartment. They are going for the maximum manslaughter charge. There case goes like this. First you cannot explain to anyone, including me, why they were in the apartment. Two, they must have been unconscious when the fire started. There was more than enough time to get to safety when the fire broke out. Also, sleeping pill medication was found in the girls body although none was found in the man’s. So their theory goes like this. You lured them into your apartment and drugged them intending to do something to them but the fire broke out first. This makes you responsible for their death. Their case is weak but is bolstered by your unwillingness to give a reason for their presence in your apartment. They are going to for the maximum penalty but are willing to reduce that to manslaughter with five years. You would probably be out in four. I recommend you accept unless you can come up with a reason they were in your apartment.”

Madeline nodded dumbly that she would accept the plea bargain.

Madeline pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years with parole after four. During all this time she never spoke to her grandma and her grandmother never spoke to her until three and a half years later she got a phone call from Madeline.

“Grandma, grandma I want to study under you. I want to become as good as you”

“Oh”she replied.

“Yes grandma, I have made a painting. You will be really proud of me. Please come and see it”

“You will be out in a few months dear. You can show it to me then”

“Oh please come, I want to show you how good I would be. I want you to be proud of me”

Oh well, Grandma thought, what harm would it do and when they finally met in the visitors room she was stunned in the changes to her granddaughter. No longer was she the gentle attractive girl of four years ago. The person in front of her had hair that looked like it had been sheared with scissors, she had a scar from the corner of her mouth to the top of her ear, a tooth was missing and her left eye had a large bruise. The biggest change though was her eyes. Instead of the baby blue gentle eyes they were ice cold orbs of pure malevolent hate.

Perfect, she thought, she will create even better paintings than myself with that hate inside her.

“Here grandma, here is my painting” Madeline whispered. The woman took it eagerly and unwrapped it and a look of pure horror came over her face. She dropped it as if it were red hot metal and ran from the room. The visitors room became filled with Madeline’s hysterical laughter and it took three warders to subdue her. She was taken away and declared insane. Grandma was never seen again and the painting hung in the prison wardens staff room and eventually tossed in a cellar where it rotted away.

The end.

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