The Demon Artist

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  • Published: 31 Jul 2013
  • Updated: 31 Jul 2013
  • Status: Complete
Zoe longs for more. For a life of vibrant colours, of hope, of promise. Her hopes and dreams lie in the form of a mysterious artist, but sometimes our dreams can become nightmares ... Winner of the Mortal Instruments scary story competition :)

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1. Short story

‘The Demon Artist’ by Yasmin Khan


As I sit here staring out, cold and trapped in his clutches, my mind wanders back to memories of having once given him undying love and devotion. His once unrivalled allure had been a deceitful facade, a demonic entity hiding beneath a handsome figure and a blinding smile. The talent he holds in every brush stroke had once captivated me, his skilful ability to observe life and imprison it was so strong, it took my very life away. I don’t know who he is, or what he is, or where he came from. Perhaps I never will. It matters not now.

The day I saw the gallery, the vibrant poster in the window, warm tones, vibrant amongst the grey shops, my heart had soared above the dull grey clouds that cluttered the winter sky. I remember those fateful steps, peering into the dirty glass, beaming with delight as I noticed movement inside. I saw my reflection, noticed my plain face, curly brown hair hidden under a lop-sided beret. Of all my friends, I had always been the plain one, pale and thin, no feature, no fashion. Being an art student, the mere thought of meeting a real artist made me ecstatic, living in such a small village meant there was no one who had travelled out of the area. I wanted to leave the village, head off to the city. The village was too grey to paint, cobbled streets and dark buildings striking no inspiration. I longed for the city, of the Paris lights that lay beyond the hills, the sounds of vibrant souls and living, breathing art that erupted through the café strewn streets my friends so often spoke of. My whole life, art had been the only way I could truly express myself; it was my passion, my heart, my soul. I was so intent on fulfilling my dreams of being an artist, escaping this life, finally being someone, anyone, other than the village girl no one noticed nor heard.

 

Maybe I should have appreciated life itself. Appreciated being able to breath, walk, sing, smile. I was blinded by excitement and anticipation and hope. A veil of orchestrated promises had already been drawn over my naïve mind.

The opening night of the gallery was greeted by rainfall. I waited beside a small number of silent men and women, their faces a blur of grey from beneath their identical black umbrellas. I pulled my hood down a little further, staring intently at the door, heart bursting with a rush of enthrallment as the door knob rattled, a lock clicked, the door opened. A warming male voice welcomed us inside, his strong, elaborate declaration told me he was the artist though I failed to catch sight of him as I was pushed through the doorway. Inside was much like an artist’s pallet, every colour of the rainbow adorned every wall. The room was long, walls ornamented with works of art, rich shades and enthralling tones drawing me in like a moth to the evening light, every picture a work of sheer passion and heart. I stood along a wall of beautiful portraits, their realism a sign of true artistic flair. The eyes especially were beautiful, almost tearful as they looked ahead blankly, with stars glistening in their irises, their lashes long and casting deep shadows. There were two that stood out from the others, their appearance as striking as they were haunting. The first was a girl, her silky black hair crafted as though each strand had been painted individually, her piercing blue eyes watched me as I passed, my mind ushering me that I was imagining the movement of her outstretched hand and the slight stir in her fingers. The other masterpiece depicted an older woman with wide green eyes, her skin a delicate shade of bronze, head elevated to show her perfectly symmetrical face, a tear rolling down her cheek. I was so transfixed on their realism, blinking in an attempt to banish the sight of their supposed movement, that the sound of a muffled whisper seemed to escape from the painted woman, fading as I walked closer to the pictures.

A chuckle broke me from my trance, turning to see a man behind me, my heart fluttering as I saw his face, my mouth suddenly going dry. He had a distinguished figure, tall and lean, with a visage more handsome than any I had ever beheld. His tanned skin complementing his dark features, a smile revealing a set of perfect white teeth. I met his stare, those eyes an almost reddish brown that seemed to illuminate in the soft lighting of the room. Looking down nervously, I saw paint flecked across his strong hands.

“Forgive me,” he said beside me, “I couldn’t help but notice your unwavering attention to my prize pieces.” His voice was warm, his easy manner drawing me out of my usual silent ways, my quiet nature seemingly melting away.

“These portraits, they’re so...” I started.

“Lifelike?” he finished my sentence, placing a steady hand on the picture, stroking the woman’s bronze face, “I enjoy feasting my eyes on the human soul...”

“That’s my favourite area of art...portraits,” I stuttered.

“The soul is a creature best imprisoned in paint,” He murmured, his voice lower, hissing the words. He shook his head, smiling wider as he looked back to me, “Do I have the honour of meeting an aspiring artist?” His surprise and genuine pleasure made me blush, shaking his outstretched hand cordially. 

“I’m Zoe,” I confidently announced.

“Overjoyed to meet you my dear girl, a joyous honour,” He beamed. However, if I had looked through his façade, I’d have noticed an early warning, a look I ceased to recognise as hunger. The predator had found his prey, drawing me into his clawed grasp.

We continued to converse throughout the evening, I discussed my hopes, dreams and ambitions. His charisma grew stronger the more I learnt of him, discovering he had not been taught art, yet had been born with such talent that he had decided to journey across the world opening galleries. He had caught me in a net of charm, reeling me in closer with every smile, every compliment, using my wish to be noticed as bait. I had been chosen!

Throughout the time we spoke, people began to leave. I noticed we were alone when he asked me to see his workshop. Oh how weak I was to accept! His workshop was much like a storeroom, less glamorous than the art hall, grey walls and concrete floors lay bare and neglected. A white ceiling light swayed from its loose fitting above, moving back and forth as if the room was the hull of a ship, out at sea in the middle of a turbulent storm. Even then I felt uncomfortable, though I told myself it was the lack of colour, the grey sheets and surfaces too dull for my artistic appeal. Standing beneath the light, I saw stacks of covered paintings, golden frames glinting at me from underneath their blinds. He motioned me over to them and lifted the dusty cover to reveal a breathtakingly stunning portrait of a young boy holding a dog, his frowning face strangely gloomy, his eyes seemingly tearful and cheerless. In fact, the pictures intense stare had made me shift uncomfortably, strangely nervous. Alas, I did not heed the portraits warning!

“What a beautiful addition to my collection a stunning girl like you would make,” He smiled, my heart singing in glee as I turned to see him standing a few metres away, a large blank canvas resting on an easel beside him, a pallet of colourful paints held firmly in one hand. I had been so overwhelmed with anticipation and joy; I hadn’t even notice the twisted smile that sat upon his seemingly darker face. How quickly he had found me a stool, sat me down, my feeble mind oblivious to the return of his hungry look.

“Please keep still, this will take but a minute,” He began to paint in swift strokes, hands moving faster, eyes wide and bright in the dim glow of the rooms light. Soon my head started to ache, a dull pain made me feel lightheaded.

“You need to run!”

I looked to where the whisper had originated, watching as a stack of portraits shook faintly, the sound of a child crying making me jump, but yet again I blamed my overactive imagination. Focussing back on the artist, I stared, blinking in an attempt to remove the horrifying image before me, a scream rising in my throat. He wasn’t the man I had first looked upon in affectionate reverie. His eyes were darker, as though his pupils had leaked black ink that overtook the white. His hands were now claws, disfigured and sinister, striking the canvas, mouth twisted into a wide thirsty grin, revealing a set of pointed fangs. My first impulse was to run, to leave this mad man and his room of haunted paintings. It was too late.

Despite my efforts, I couldn’t move from my position, frozen in a seated pose, eyes locked on his grim form. I felt a force pull me forward, though I stayed in my seat, my soul being forced from my body with every new stroke he took. It were as though an invisible hand was dragging me out of my weakened body, away from everything I knew, everything I loved. Looking down, I saw my feet vanish, fading into the grey, along with my legs. I saw my arms disappear, the rest of my body fading faster until I was but two eyes staring helplessly at the fiend, his eyes looking up, claws held high, ready for one last paint stroke. I tried to call for help, to beg he spare me, to scream for my mother. Alas, no sound came as there was no mouth to form speech with. He smiled devilishly, hunger replaced with a selfish contentment, saliva dripping from his black cracked lips.

“The deed is done, by your mistake, with this brush, thy soul I take,” his voice was shrill as he sung the demonic chant merrily, a callous laugh emitting from his throat, hand striking the canvas, ripping me away from my life. I was his latest masterpiece. His treasured victim.

Now I sit in a painted prison, frozen in colour, displayed in his gallery as some soulless trophy, helplessly watching as he imprisons other innocent people. He takes us all around the world, to city’s I once dreamed of visiting. How I wish I’d never left my home. He preys upon the lonely, the unloved, the needy, the young. An eternity of feasting on souls making him a force unable to be vanquished. There is no salvation for us now. My voice joins the many others, trying to warn away those lured by him, whispering hopelessly to be freed from our torment, begging we be allowed to return home.

My life was stolen. My soul taken from the body I had once failed to treasure. Never will I feel the touch of my mother’s palm to my cheek, nor the gentle brush of lips against mine in the thrill of first love. I only have him. My demon who has never again looked upon me, whose clawed grasp I cannot pull away from. For ever. Alone.

Art was my dream, now it’s my nightmare.

 

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