Flash Fiction Friday

Stories in under 500 words.

Mrs. Longwood clinked her spoon against the inside of her teacups as she stirred in the sugar. Shifting in the old fashioned armchair, she lifted her head to Mr. Bates. The man stood beside the fireplace and looked up at the painting hanging above it.

“It does an especially good job of capturing the contrast between light and shadow, don’t you think?” said Mr. Bates. “I worked especially hard on that point.”

Mrs. Longwood looked up at the painting. Bold colors swathed the canvass and seemed to jump into the room. Within the frame, a hundred horrified faces gaped out. Pulling their hair or tearing their clothes, the painted people opened their mouths in endless, silent screams.

“I am already buying it. You do not need to sell it anymore,” said Mrs. Longwood. “How much did you sell your last piece for?”

Mr. Bates took his eyes from the painting to her face. “Twenty thousand.”

Mrs. Longwood raised an eyebrow. “Well, you will not get so much for this one.”

A coy smile crawled across Mr. Bates’ lips. “Very well. Fifteen thousand.”

Mrs. Longwood snorted. “Eight.”

“Twelve.”

“Ten.”

Mr. Bates scratched his chin. “That will do.”

As Mrs. Longwood rummaged inside her purse for her checkbook, Mr. Bates moved to the armchair. “If you don’t mind me asking, what was it that drew you to the painting?”

Mrs. Longwood peered at him over her spectacles.

“I only ask for my own reference,” said Mr. Bates. He took a delicate sip from his teacup. “I find that learning my clients’ likes in artwork helps inspire me for my next piece.”

Clicking her pen, Mrs. Longwood scrawled her signature on the check. “I couldn’t say really. I guess there’s something beautiful in their terror. It’s so pure and undiluted.”

Mr. Bates smiled and the corners of his mouth curled up. “I am glad you think so.” Leaning forward, he plucked the check from her hand. “I am glad, since you will be spending so much time with it soon.”

“I suppose so.” Mrs. Longwood stood and straightened her jacket. “When can my men come by to move it?”

“Oh, that won’t be necessary,” said Mr. Bates, grinning. “I will move you to it.”

Mrs. Longwood opened her mouth to ask what he meant, and was shocked to discover that she couldn’t say anything. Glancing to her left, she stared at a man standing beside her and looking forward with a horrified expression. Behind him and all around him, stood more people, each equally as petrified. Mrs. Longwood attempted to step away, but discovered that she could no longer move.

Turning her gaze forward, Mrs. Longwood saw the room before her, huge and expansive. Mr. Bates stood in front of her, his face enormous. His grin was sickening.

“I am glad you like the painting,” he said. “You will be spending a long time in it.”

Panic contorting her face, Mrs. Longwood tried to scream, but there was only silence.

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