Napsal Amras (») 8. 11. 2021 v kategorii Horror short stories [ENG], přečteno: 454×

All windows of the office complex Union Centre were dark. Well, except for one double-winged window on the penultimate seventeenth floor. Bianca Stephens was in the middle of a new project. That what she usually did when she had an idea and a Muse. In her atelier she had soft pink wallpapers which were complemented in a few places by drawing of grass. There were a lot of coruscant awards, prizes and goblets from various competitions on the shelf. Despite the fact that Bianca was only twenty-nine years old, she had already had a very good career.
But her childhood wasn't happy. Her father was a drunkard and often beat mother. And he even whipped Bianca with a worn leather belt several times with no reason. Father simply found any reason. But one day the girl couldn't stand it anymore. After another beating she locked herself in her room. She quickly packed a few things in the backpack, took thirty dollars from a drawer which she tucked in the back pocket of her pants, and waited. At about half past one she opened the door, peeked out carefully and listened. There was silence all over the house. Only from below came her father's ear-piercing snoring. It was the highest time. She ran quietly down the stairs and opened the door.
She grew up on the street, shifting several jobs - basically just part-time jobs. But she always had a notebook with pencil. She drew something every free moment. And then one day she got an idea that she try to choose her best pictures and exhibit them in various places around the city. She found out that hyperrealistic drawings were becoming her domain. Actually, she didn't know why she should show them, she just thought about that. She was later discovered by one agent and offered her to have own exhibition. That was the first step. Now she already had her own design studio. Beside the painting she created various models. Very realistic.

Bianca always insiuated that she had always had her talent in her. But it wasn't quite true. She just wanted to forget about it but he had just visited her today and reminded her of it all. That promise she gave him those years ago...

It happened that night where as fourteen-years-old she ran away from home. She had absolutely no idea where to go. She had no many friends so she just prowled around the city. Eventually, she headed for the deserted street of the already dirty city. She leaned against a brick wall next to a container at the back entrance to a local bar and she slowly slid down the wall to the ground. So she will spend today like this and tomorrow she will see. Suddenly she heard some kind of a clanking sound as if someone had kicked into an empty can. That's fucking cool, just a few moments after my awesome adventure some dirty junky will slip my throat, Bianca thought. Instincively she crouched more even though she knew it would be useless for her. She heard footsteps, so she glance peered out from behind the container but saw no one. But yet there was a clatter of soles.
"Don't worry, young lady. There is nothing to be scared of," a dark velvet voice said above her.
Bianca looked up and there was standing a tall man in a long black coat with a high hat with a red ribbon which was in fashion in about the middle of the nineteenth century. She couldn't see his face but the reason wasn't that was completely dark (there were a couple of street lights); the man simply looked as if his eyes were completely black without whites.
He smiled at girl, revealing the whitest teeth which Bianca have ever seen, though they seemed to be rather translucent with diamond reflections. But from those eyes which actually weren't even eyes she had some kind of vague writhing feeling.
"I know how you feel," the man continued calmly. "I was also forced to leave my homeland." He paused for a moment again, slowly examining the girl from head to toe.
"I like you. I will help you. But it won't be comletely free."
"W-what do you want?" asked the girl quietly.
"Not so much," replied the man and grinned. "I know that you like drawing. And you're really talented. I'll set up your own studio. That sounds great, doesn't it?"
"Oh yes," the girl said and smiled.
"You'll have a lot of ideas and orders," the stranger continued. "I will just visit you once every fortnight and bring you a photograph of man or woman. Your only task will be to redraw them faithfully, and - what's the most important - you will draw the outlines with this red pencil when you are finished." He reached into the inside pocket of his coat and actually pulled out an ornate fountain pen for copper writing.
The girl looked at the man questioningly, but as soon as she saw a wide smile, white teeth, and the strangest eyes she had ever seen, she automatically took the pen without asking. She studied it admiringly. It seemed to be very old but also new at the same time, as it had been carefully kept all along. The body was an imitation of wood with golden ornaments.
The girl fixed her gaze on the man's face again and for a moment her heart stopped because she suddenly saw pure evil in his eyes. Later she convinced herself that it only seemed to her, because a second later there was nothing sinister in the stranger's eyes. They remained normal again - well, still the most mysterious.
The man turn and slowly began to leave.
"Wait," the girl called after him. "Who are you anyway?"
The stranger stopped and tilted his head just a little.
"The name doesn't matter," he said in a low voice. "Just keep drawing, don't stop. Someone will contact you soon. But don't forget about our promise."
Bianca wanted to add something else, but in the meantime the man had disappeared into the mist that mysteriously appeared in the alley. The girl slowly slid down the wall again and bent her legs. She slung her hood over her head and fell asleep within a few minutes.
She woke up sometime around half past five when the first people started going to work down the broadway. Bianca was surprised but, strangely, she wasn't very broken. At first she thought it was just a dream yesterday. What else could it be? But it was too real for that. She remembered some promise. Associated with her beloved drawing. She smiled because she remembered what the mysterious man had promised her. Bianca was fourteen at that time. She didn't realize that it looked a little bit simple and suspicious.

She went to buy a light breakfast and then she decided to go to a nearby park. She sat on a bench and pulled her favorite walnut croissant from a paper bag. She slowly took a bite after bite and watched what was going on in the park. It was after seven and no one else was sitting on the benches. Only about three people came there to take out their dog pets. At the fountain, a couple of little titmice performed morning hygiene and two blackbirds accompanied them musically. At one point, a small squirrel even peered out of a tall sycamore tree branch, then jumped onto the tree's next hand. Bianca watched it all with interest and was happy. She was glad that there was such a nice piece of nature just a short distance from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Without realizing it, she reached into her backpack and pulled out her sketchbook and pencil. She flipped through a blank page and, with her eyes still fixed on the park, began to draw. If anyone were standing there in front of her at that moment, he would surely be surprised - at least. Her eyes looked distant and lifeless. Bianca went into some kind of trance. Her hand slid quickly across the paper and her gaze remained glassy. After a few minutes, she returned to the normal world, without tricks and illusions. She looked at her creation on her lap and froze for a moment, unable to say a single word. She always liked to draw, from an early age. But they were more like doodles and simple pictures. But now she had something that looked exactly like a photo. Yes, only in black and white. The bark of the trees was brought to the smallest detail. It was as if someone in the park was making a movie, pausing it at one point, and then printing the scene right away.
During the day, Bianca sat just like this several times and drew. She was saving money because she didn't know how to make new ones yet. The day passed slowly. Bianca spent it partly wandering around the city and drawing. She bought a small tuna sandwich for dinner. Then, when she lay on the edge of the park later that evening, she thought she could use her discovered drawing talent. And so the very next morning she started with it. She drew everything she could - trees, buildings, birds, mailboxes, even figures. She always left the pseudonym Busta in the lower left corner. At the stationery store she bought a box of pushpins, duct tape, hardcover, and a new sheets of sketchbooks. Originally, the girl thought she would become a street artist who would make portraits while one waited. But she soon discovered that in order to create her hyperrealistic drawings, she had to be completely alone.

And so various pictures began to appear around the city. Bianca incidentally found an advertisement for the distribution of leaflets and shoes cleaning. It was nothing special, but it was enough for her to begin with. She was given the money right away, which suited her.

It had been exactly a week since she had left her home. She had just hung out her daily batch of drawings (she usually had about ten) and turned to go and buy dinner when someone tapped her lightly on the shoulder. Bianca jumped up and shouted. Behind her, she saw a man in an elegant tweed suit with gelled, charcoal black hair that he had carefully combed to the side. A silk tie hung around his neck.
"You will surely be Busta, right?" he addressed the girl in a deeper voice.
"Yeah, I guess I will," she replied, confused.
"My name is Malcolm Leathers and I'm Mr. Xaviér's agent. And this is for you."
He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out three keys with a pendant with the inscription 'U.C.' in gold lettering on the ring. Bianca stared at the bunch, unable to speak. She realized who Mr. Xaviér probably was, even though she thought it wasn't his real name. Who knows if he's even out of this world ...
The girl returned to reality. She looked in the man's face and he just smiled at her and brought the keys closer to Bianca. She somehow automatically reached out with her palm set, and Malcolm Leathers easily threw the bunch of keys at her. The girl studied it for a moment, then clenched her fist.
"Your studio is located on Main Street 1947 in the Union Center complex. Mr. Xaviér has also arranged a full service for you. In other words, you will be provided with meals and accommodation there."
The man said a few more things to her, but the girl didn't notice much anymore. She still couldn't understand that it wasn't a dream; that it's really happening.
And so it started, just like some fairy tale.

Indeed, Bianca had a lot of orders, which were undoubtedly provided by the mysterious Mr. Xaviér. According to the agreement, he also brought her a photo once every fortnight. The girl, who was slowly becoming a woman, took it as a game. She enjoyed it, and with each drawing it looked even better than the photograph. Just redraw and then retrace the outlines with a red pen. But she soon should found out that it wasn't so innocent.
Usually Bianca didn't watch the news on TV. But she turned them on that day. In Iraq, the bombers seriously injured ten people in the blast. Thailand is ravaged by floods. Scientists have discovered a new planet. Under mysterious circumstances, Dr. William Carter died. Only this report attracted Bianca's attention. Not that the name told her anything, but as soon as she saw a picture of the man on the screen, her eyes widened and she covered her mouth with her hand. She was bitting her fist unconsciously. It was the same guy she drew last week! But what, it can just be a coincidence. That's what happens, isn't it? But something inside her just didn't believe it. And she was soon to make sure that there was something more about it. But it's weird that she just didn't notice it before!
And so, when the great-secreted Mr. Xaviér came to her again, she couldn't stand it anymore:
"What is about those drawings?! And why are those people dying all of a sudden?
Xaviér sat comfortably in a large leather chair, intertwined his fingers, and put on the most glorious smile with that he had enchanted Bianca those  few years ago. There were flames in his eyes, but there was also something hidden, something terrifying. The man still said nothing.
"Come on?!" the young woman raised her voice.
"Are you happy, Busta?" he replied with a question, confusing her a little. "You have everything you ever wanted. Your own studio, away from the tyrannical father. That's what you've always wished, isn't it?"
The young woman was silent.
"People like when their dreams come true. But everything has a price. Even if yours isn't high, is it? You're doing what you've always liked. That's great, isn't it? The rest is secondary."
"Will you finally tell me who you really are?"
"I like to fulfill people's dreams. I've lived long enough to know exactly what they want. So it doesn't matter who I am. I'm just their salvation! EVEN YOURS! DO YOU EVEN REALIZE THAT YOU OWE ME WHERE YOU ARE?!!"
He lowered his voice a little again, and it looked as if he was speaking more to himself:
"Mankind is amazing. So, so little, so little is enough, just some their miserable and stupid dream and then they're so easy to manipulate."
He looked directly into the woman's face. Bianca wanted to look away, but something wouldn't allow her. Only now she did finally realize how inhuman those eyes were.
"It won't be long and you'll be all mine!" He paused.
"Or are you so naive that you thought something was for free?!" Xavier laughed. "Someone gasps for money, I have enough of what people have inside me. Thanks to their lust, desire and blindness, I've been here so long. Sometimes I'm called  'a soul eater'. I've been here since ancient times. AND I ALWAYS WILL BE!"
Bianca found out that she couldn't speak or move; as if her whole body was all paralyzed. It was only now that she  slowly began to realize it. God, how could she be so stupid? She realized that it wouldn't take long and she wouldn't be the same as before. What will actually happen to the body if it doesn't have a soul? She no longer doubted that such a thing really existed. And then when the soul just isn't? Then only an empty box remains from the body. No feelings, emotions or wills. All humanity will be lost. Only the zombie body remains. And this is exactly the fate that awaits Bianca...

The woman made a short screaming sound from her throat and fell to the laminate floor. Her body was twitching slightly at irregular intervals.
Xaviér leaned back in his chair, interlinked his fingers and grinning he smiled. This time it went better than ever.

The End

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