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PROLOGUE

 

Beth had no idea where the images she painted came from. All she knew was that she had to put them on a canvas. There was this uncanny need to exorcize them from her mind by painting them. Her studio was filled with paintings. What was depicted on them was the stuff of nightmares. Screaming demons, naked men and women with their eyes and tongues ripped out. Butchered animals. Monsters dwelling underneath the earth. She had amassed quite a fan following among the lovers of this kind of dark art. She couldn’t really like her work herself. She hated the darkness, the goriness of the images. She was actually a pretty upbeat person herself. She liked the sunny kind of country music, not the dark country kind. She dressed in pink, not black. Most of her fans expected her to be this goth looking young woman, not the blue-eyed freckled brunette she was.

The piece she was currently working on was another bizarre one. It depicted a young man, well more of a boy really. The boy was standing in the dark. A small gaslight illumanited him. Above the boy, barely visible was some kind of demonic looking creature with glowing red eyes. The boy seemed unaware of the danger above him. She couldn’t understand how she was able to perfectly illustrate the boy’s face. Like she’d seen him before. She pretty sure she hadn’t though. The last few months she actually didn’t leave the house that much anymore. She just had to paint, paint and paint. She couldn’t stop. Like an addiction.

She screamed. She couldn’t say how loud as she had lost her hearing already ten years ago. But she did, startled by the image that was suddenly standing behind the painting. It was vaguely humanoid. A sinewy, tall man with grey, stringy hair, hollow eyes. The man smiled. His teeth were yellowing, grimy. It was the kind of man she would paint, but it was right there in the room with her.

She stood from her chair, stepping back from the easel she was working on. The man stepped forward, right through the canvas if it wasn’t there. It reached out a hand. The fingernails were dirty and chewed off. The man spoke, but Beth was unable to read his lips. The man’s jaw dropped open, started to stretch. He vomited a bunch of writhing maggots.

Beth was standing against the wall, screaming again. The maggots made their way across the floor. She tried to crush them with her foot, but stepped right through them. Then the man was gone. The maggots were gone. It was as if nothing had happened.

She looked at her watch. Just when she was expecting company. She would have to gather her wits quickly. She wouldn’t want her visitor to think she was going crazy.

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Jochem Vandersteen

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