Soft fingers only lingered in the air, making no sudden movements. Curious eyes found it impossible to move away from the vibrant splashes of colour decorating the wall, in fear that they may just fade away if one were to simply blink. The view was breathtaking, unlike anything the girl had ever seen. No other sound was heard except for the soft breathing emitting from her pale dry lips; the only detail setting her apart from the surrounding statues.
Then, a voice began to hiss in her ear, causing her breath to hitch in her throat, and her body turned ridged.
"c O m E ( n A m E )"
Panic overwhelmed her as her body began to move on its own, the raised hand inching towards the painting. She had just about felt a stroke of green before the picture began to glow, rippling like water. It was as if her mere touch had brought it to life. She watched as the scene changed from a bustling gallery to a sinister and dark labyrinth. Once again, fear found itself crawling up her neck, causing the hairs to stand straight up. She was petrified, yet somehow could not escape the spell controlling her entire being. Any attempts to run were futile, as the strong force held her in place. First went her hand, painlessly merging itself with the painting. Next was her head, with body and legs not far behind.
The (h/c) haired girl breathed a sigh of relief when she felt herself land on all fours on a plush red carpet. She ran her fingers through it, trying her best to calm her beating heart. Gaining the courage to move again, she got up from the ground, dusting her clothes off.
Then she saw it.
Glistening from the very corner of her eye, causing her entire attention to be focused on it. Slowly, she made her way towards it, each tiny step seeming to take an eternity. She watched how it shone. A beautiful, pure white rose. The beating of her heart increased once again, and her moments were no longer slow. In one swipe, the girl swiftly removed the flower from it's vase, holding it close to her chest. She didn't get even a second to admire it's beauty before the ground shook. In her panic, she grabbed the table that the vase was on for support, yet the shaking only got worse. The same hissing voice she heard earlier was there again, shouting at her from all directions. The helpless female fell to the ground, the table collapsing on top of her. She caught sight of the wall, and blood splattered everywhere, repeating only one word.
It caused her to scream.
Clutching the rose even tighter, she ran until her feet were sore, she could barely hear her own ragged breaths over the shouting. Shadow-like hands reached out of the wall to grab her, and she barely avoided them. No, they were more like claws. The paintings on the wall came alive, growling at her. Some just cackled, eager to watch her demise. The girl recognised one; the Lady in Red. She had seen it in the gallery not long before she was sucked into this place; her own personal hell.
She ran past, and it crashed onto the floor. The lady started crawling after her at lightning speed, her hungry red eyes never leaving the younger female's form.
A shadow-claw reached out suddenly, tripping her in the process. The shouting was louder that ever now, the word "thief" forever being printed in her mind. She knew it must've been because of the rose, but for some reason, she was desperately against parting with it. If she did, she had a feeling that something terrible would happen - but that didn't matter now. She could sense them all closing in on her, ready for the kill. All she could do was curl up into a ball and cry her eyes out. The salty tears would be her last memory, and she was ready to accept that.
"A rose... Could it be... You're just like me...?"
The soft voice caused her to hold in her whimpers, and instead look up. There, she was met with dazzling violet eyes staring into her own. The boy offered a kid smile, and offered a hand to her. Instantly, she took it, in fear that he would disappear if she didn't. He pulled her up, her weak legs losing balance in the process. Luckily, the boy was there to catch her in his arms. She steadied herself, quickly pulling away from him. The rose was still in her hand, and she wasn't about to let it go. Then she remembered. The hands!! The paintings!! The Lady in Red!! They followed her here - where did they go?! Cautiously, she turned to look behind... And nothing was there.
She couldn't have possibly imagined the whole thing. No, that was real. So why... Why did they go now...? Her actions caused the lilac-haired boy to chuckle, and she turned to face him once again. She had to admit it - he was quite handsome. The way his hair covered his left eye made him look cute, and he seemed to be only a slight bit older than her.
"They're gone, I promise. Nothing can hurt you now."
She nodded, eyes cast to the ground.
"You came through a painting too, didn't you? Then you took that rose, and they started chasing you, calling you a thief. Now you feel lost, alone..."
He came in closer and she gained the courage to look up at him. Now he was holding a rose, much like her own, to his nose, a content smile on his lips. This rose was royal blue, and she had to admit it suited him. This one had a few more petals that hers, but it was equal in beauty.
"So, your rose is white?"
The boy smiled again.
"My name is Garry. What about you?"
She felt the lump in her throat disappear, and she found her ability to speak again. It was as if this stranger was calming her down with every word, and she didn't understand it.
She was surprised at how confident she sounded, and Garry's smile never left him.
"It suits you." His gaze travelled to her rose once again, and he held his hand out. "May I?"
A thousand voices in her head were screaming at her no, but she paid them no mind. Garry was exactly like her; a prisoner of the gallery from hell. She could trust him.
The white rose easily slipped into his hand, and she shivered at the contact. He felt cold, and though that should have been expected, it made her feel uneasy.
Garry stroked one of its white petals, and sighed. The same sensation was felt on her cheek, and it frightened her.
"This rose..." The violet eyed boy began, "is just like you."
"What..?" She tilted her head.
What he did next made her widen her eyes in shock.
He had plucked a petal straight off.
It made her gasp in pain. It felt like someone had slashed at her arm with the sharpest knife in the world. Garry didn't seem to notice this at all, and he continued.
Another petal was harshly removed, and she squealed, the pain in her arm becoming greater by the second. All she could do was watch as it floated gently to the ground.
He did the same thing with each word, and she clutched her arm, biting her tongue to hold in her cries. She couldn't understand what was happening.
"So fragile..." She had reached her limit and couldn't hold back a scream. It was like a dagger had stabbed her in the leg and was slowly making it's way down. The agony was too real, and she knew that it had something to do with that cursed rose. That was when she remembered the sign she had seen upon taking the flower.
When this rose wilts, you too will wilt.
Garry had seen the very same sign when he took his. Then... Why was he trying to kill her?! She screamed and screamed, yet he showed no sign of stopping.
The girl tried to beg him to stop, but the pain got worse as the next petal was plucked from the stem. All that was coming from her throat now was her screams. She staggered forward, trying to snatch the flower from him, but it was out of her reach.
"So stupid." That counted six, and she fell to the ground once again. Garry looked blankly at her tear-stained face. He waited until her screams were no more, and she was left a whimpering mess on the ground. A sad smile was on his face as he looked at the final petal of the once precious white rose. She knew what he was going to do, and she knew she couldn't stop him. Just one more pluck, and she would be no more. He would kill her.
"Why is this so hard..?" He muttered, gaze fixed on her once again. It was as if Garry were about to break down, the look on his face had the saddest expression the girl had ever seen. "I've just met you, and yet I don't want this to happen. I don't want to hurt you. I've never believed in it, but is this what love at first sight is, (Name)? I feel like I want to protect you, not destroy you..."
Garry looked so confused, and the (h/c) haired female didn't even know if she hated him or not anymore. The only thing she could think about was the agonising pain consuming her whole.
"But... I have to. If I ever want to be free, I have to... Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, living down here with you forever, but I can't stay here any longer. I'm being driven insane. If only there was a way we could escape together. I'm sorry... Your sacrifice... Is necessary for my survival."
Rapidly, she shook her head. "P-please, don't..." The violet-eyes boy leant down to kiss her forehead before standing up again. There was no stopping what was about to happen, and she was ready to welcome sleep. She was ready to die.
"Sweet dreams, (Name)," Garry whispered.
Her vision started clouding with black as the final petal of the once beautiful rose floated softly to the ground.