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Blood Red Wine

Did that figure move? No, he couldn’t have. It was an illusion. Something about light splitting through the window bars in contrast to the natural dull, gray cell. A brilliant effect on the beaten, crawling prisoner with a torn shirt and bloody back. Every prisoner in the shared cell… torture chamber… was in poor condition. Shirts lay shredded, while bodies were scared and bruised dark purple. A few were missing fingers and toes, while others howled. Blood spots stained the cell walls and floors. The longer the observer stared, the more lifelike everything appeared. It was more than paints on canvas; it was pain absorbed and revealed through artistic styling.

The observer shifted uneasily. A horrific tingle clawed down his spine like his body was warning him against this artwork. The feeling was amplified when the old, slander artist appeared with two glasses of red wine. The colour was eerily similar to the blood of the prisoners. “Intrigued?” he said with a deep, raspy voice, rolling his ‘r’.

“It’s sadistic.” The observer leaned closer, hypnotised.

A wicked cackle forced his attention, and having it, the artist held out a glass. “Brilliant. Shall we toast?” he said, as if to an old friend.

The observer glanced into the thick wine, which formed the shapes of prisoners trying to escape. “I’m not a drinker.”

“Hm. shame.” The artist gulped the first glass, and then the second, while the observer watched. Shivers burned through his body like a wildfire. The two shared a glance, but the artist’s deep, black eyes and crocked grin frightened the observer back to the artwork. He couldn’t stare away. Fear paralysed him, but… Wait, that prisoner against the cell bars reached for him. Stared with terrified eyes like he was telling him to go. The observer leaned closer to examine the scene in greater detail. The crawling man now lay in a pool of blood. Dead. The observer’s breathes grew heavy and his natural fight-or-flight instincts kicked in. He had to go.

The observer turned to escape, but he wasn’t in the art gallery anymore. He was in a prison cell. No, not just a prison cell. The prison cell. His eyes glanced through the bars to see the artist wave beyond a portrait, still wearing a wicked grin.

“There’s no escape,” said the prisoner against the bars. “Insult the host…” words were stuck in his throat, but were too horrific to speak, “pray for death.” The prisoner leaned defeated over the cell bars. Another failed attempt to keep someone out. The observer’s attention returned to the window to the real world. A woman shared wine with the artist and laughed at the brilliantly chilling artwork. A modern art masterpiece. The artist’s ears perked up at the praise, but his eyes glared beyond the generous critic to the once observer. “Wasn’t that easy?” his eyes tormented. Very easy.

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