A girl visits an art museum and finds that it is haunted by a ghost of an angry artist.
|The Art May Take Your Heart!
“And that’s when a zombie jumped out!” Grandpa says. My siblings and cousins scream, but me being the oldest, stay quiet. I never believe Grandpa’s silly stories. Monsters, zombies, mummies? Seriously?? We were staying with our grandparents while Mom and Dad went on a vacation to the Bahamas. Grandma’s usually pretty chill and fun, but Grandpa just keeps telling stories, trying to give the little ones nightmares.
“Come on kids! Time for bed!” Grandma yells from in the kitchen. In the background, the faucet is running.
“One more story, please???” Ben, my 7-year-old cousin pleads to my Grandma Beth.
“No”, Milly, the youngest says. “I no wanna go to night-night. I have nightmares.”
“Oh, it’s okay, honey. Come now, I’ll tuck you in.” Grandma Beth says in her soothing voice.
“Remember, big day tomorrow! We’re visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art!!”
I’ve always been fond of art, so I was excited to visit one of the most famous museums in the world. But right now, all I want to do is go to bed. So, I climb up the cushioned stairs and crawl into the bed that I’m sharing with Milly because apparently, she has “nightmares.” I sink my red hair into the soft pillows on my Mom’s old bed and fall fast asleep.
RING!!! RING!!!!! My alarm startles me, and I reach my hand over and slap it. Milly is still fast asleep, so I creep out of the room and down the stairs.
“Morning, honey,” Grandma says. “You ready for the museum?”, she says, flipping the greasy, steaming bacon over in the pan.
“You kidding? Ready is my middle name.”
“Well then, Miss McKenzie Ready Johnson, better get out of your bathrobe and your slippers then.”, she says, laughing.
I run back up the stairs. Milly is still sleeping, so I grab a pair of jeans, a T-shirt, and my favorite sweatshirt, gray with a big, black crown, and under it, the word QUEEN. When I wear it, my dad calls me Queen McKenzie and it makes me feel special. I pull my bright red hair into a messy bun and put some blush on over my many freckles on my cheeks. I slip my Nikes on and run down the stairs.
“Hey honey, would you mind waking up the cousins and telling them to get up?” Grandma asks.
“Sure, let me grab my air horn and some cold water.” I laugh.
I run up the stairs AGAIN, and open each door and yell, “Get up!”
All of them are reflected back with the same response: “MCKENZIE!!”
Eventually, all the kids are ready to go and in the car. After 45 minutes of hitting, punching, yelling, and other normal sibling stuff, we arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I run out of the car, terribly excited.
“Wait up!” Grandma says, laughing softly.
We all walk in and the museum curator hands us a map. I look up and say, “Thank you, sir.”
His eyes are devilish red and his smile as sly as a fox. “You’re welcome,” he says in a strange, hoarse, voice.
I shake the feeling that is riding down my spine and run to the first exhibit, “The Story of The Met”. It has a bunch of pictures of people who had created the paintings, and numerous stories about the history of the art museum. I am just leaving, excited to explore the rest of the museum when something catches my eye. There is a small exhibit over in the corner, one I somehow didn’t notice before. I walk over to it. There is a portrait of a strange looking man and under it a short paragraph. I read it.
Julio Von Rockingham was a very talented artist. He wanted nothing more than to get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, we denied his request, as we were full at the time and could not fit any more exhibits. Three days later, Julio came back and committed suicide in the museum lobby. Rumors around New York City say that he still haunts this museum.
Suddenly, a wave of realization sweeps over me. I recognize the man in the painting.
“The curator,” I whisper. “The curator is Julio Von Rockingham.”
Suddenly, out of nowhere, it feels like a gust of wind comes out of nowhere and slams the exhibit door. BANG! I can hear the click of the lock as I nearly faint of fear.
I bang on the door, hoping someone will come rescue me.
“Oh, there’s no one out there to help you, sweetie.” I hear. Wondering where it is coming from, I jerk my head around. Julio Von Rockingham is standing right in front of me, and the painting in the corner no longer has Julio in it. It is now just a blue background with no sign of the artist.
“Now, I have a proposition for you….. and you better listen.”
“Okay”, I say, feeling very vulnerable.
He comes closer and pulls out a small watch. “If you don’t convince the museum to let my artwork in by 9:00, your family gets it.”
“Ha! Well, the joke’s on you because my family is right…..” I look out the door, but all I see is black.
“Missing something?” he laughs a cruel laugh and the screen on his watch changes. My family is all tied to chairs. They have blindfolds around their mouths, and Milly is snuggling close to Grandma , her face fear-stricken.
“Tick, tock. Tick, tock,” he says, swinging the watch and waving in my face.
“Okay! Okay! I’ll do what you say! Just please… don’t hurt them.”
He laughs a sinister laugh, and with a wave of his hand, the door opens. “Your time begins NOW!” He laughs the same sinister laugh that I am sure is going to haunt my nightmares, and I run out into the hallways of the museum. The art that has seemed beautiful every other time I’ve been here now scares me. Mona Lisa’s smile seems sinister. Vincent Van Gogh in his self-portrait seems to be staring me down with mischievous eyes. The little girl in Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer at 14” seems to be fearful and cold.
I run into another exhibit, “Native American Masterpieces from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection” and find something horrifying. All of the people who had come to the Native American Exhibit, expecting a fun, art-filled, joyride, were now dead. A small girl, maybe five, is clutching to her father, who has an ax driven in his head. The small girl’s eyes are stone-cold and she seems to be frozen. Maybe a heart attack, I think. But more importantly, this is getting serious. I look at my watch. 2:00. I have plenty of time, but I still have to hurry, before Julio does something even worse.
I run to yet another exhibit, “The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Segers”. This time, there is a loving mother who looks almost mummified, her arms wrapped so tightly around her triplets, she is choking them. Their eyes are black as night.
I look at the time. 7:00? Already? I panic. I only have two hours before my family and everyone else in the museum is gone forever. I run through every corner of the museum, but all the exhibits are the same. No one. No one to talk to about possibly getting Julio’s work back in the museum. I am running out of time. It’s 8:30.
I might as well give up, I think. I run over to an empty exhibit and put my hand on the light switch. There is already a hand there. The light flickers on and when they do, the only thing I see is Julio’s face.
“Giving up so soon?” he asks.
“It’s useless,” I say sadly.
“Well, I guess that’s the end of your short, sad life then. Any last words?” he says sinisterly.
I was not expecting what happened next. Julio waves his hand, and all of the sudden, I’m in the air. With a wave of his other hand, a long streak of paint flew into the air and wrapped itself around my throat. “Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.” were the last words I heard before the blue paint eventually turned purple with the mixture of my blood.