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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2212310
Tickets to die for? Screams!!! 2/7/2020.
The Exhibition

The tickets sold by word-of-mouth, although word-of-finger would be a more accurate way to describe it. No one was quite sure where it originated from, but the message was clear; you want to be there!

Some wrote it off as a money-making stunt, but that made no sense. No money was involved. You simply typed in your email address and if you were lucky, you'd receive a ticket in your mail to print out. This would grant you admission to 'The Exhibition'.

Who would want to go to a mystery exhibition, you might wonder? That was the thing though; that was the draw that brought people clamouring, that hyped up the hype. No one seemed to know what they would see and that made them more determined to be there to witness the secret.

I couldn't believe it when I received the email. Two tickets! Exactly what I'd asked for. Now I just had to convince my boyfriend to make the trip with me.

"Hey, you sure seem delighted about something," Simon said, when I literally ran into him.
I held out the newly printed tickets. "Look, Si! Isn't it great!"

He'd somehow resisted the almost hysteria that had taken hold of so many of my friends. He took one of the tickets and studied it for a moment, before looking back at me. "You do realize this place is nearly fifty miles away?"

"Fifty miles is nothing. People are going to be traveling hundreds. Please say you'll come with me..." I gave him my most appealing smile, but still he hesitated.

"I don't know, Mia," he began, before shrugging and saying instead: "Sure, why not!"

The exhibition was not until the following day, and that night I had the strangest dream. We were in this building, hundreds of us all squashed together, waiting for the exhibition to begin. All that I could see was a single plinth on the stage, covered by what looked like a large sheet.

There had to be more than one item, though. I looked around in my dream, searching for more until the lights dimmed and the plinth was lit up. All eyes were fixed in a hushed and expectant silence when some kind of claw-like device descended from the ceiling and began to lift up the sheet.

I woke up with a jolt, sat straight up. What had I seen? I couldn't remember, and it didn't matter anyway; it was just a dream after all.

Simon called round for me in the afternoon. We'd decided to travel by train rather than drive into the city. Parking was always a nightmare there, and the road name was not one that we knew. Luckily, the email that had accompanied the tickets, also included directions, otherwise I don't know how we'd have found the place.

There were already a good few people on the train when we climbed on board. As the train stopped at more stations, it became packed. The passengers could have been heading anywhere, but by the snippets of conversation I overheard, it seemed clear that many of them were also going to the exhibition.

"Do you know what it's of?" I asked a girl who I guessed was about my age.

"Search me, but I've heard rumors that Shane Riley is involved."

Shane Riley was only one of the hottest performers these days. Just a mention of his name was enough to guarantee a sell-out. I frowned. "But why the secrecy?"

The girl shrugged. "Maybe he was worried too many would turn up without tickets or something." She turned away from me and began talking to someone else.

Simon bent forward and whispered in my ear. "Shane Riley? Really? Come on, surely you know that's not true."

As we continued our journey, I let my mind puzzle over what sort of exhibition the singer/guitarist would hold. I couldn't come up with anything, unless he had hidden talents that he had indeed kept hidden. Perhaps it wasn't an exhibition at all, but a private concert? Or maybe a photographic exhibition from his latest tour?

"Earth to Mia, come in." Simon interrupted my thoughts. "We're pulling in to the station. You need to get back down to Earth and away from those stars!"

"Yeah, yeah," I said, and laughed with him about how gullible I was being in believing a stranger. She'd have no more idea than us.

There must have been easily a hundred people walking in the same direction as we were. Most were youngish, although a few looked to be middle-aged. There was a real feeling of excitement as we turned into the side-street that was home to the gallery.

A man in a suit stood either side of the door to take the tickets, check them over and let us in. The fact that they wore masks that made them completely unrecognizable was a bit disconcerting to me, but everyone else seemed to accept that it was simply part of the show.

We all found ourselves gathered in some type of foyer. Two large doors stood to one end, blocking us from going any further. I guess the ticket holders had all arrived for the men from outside walked slowly and steadily towards these new ones, when, in a movement that must have been rehearsed many times, they simultaneously pulled the two large doors open.

The crowd was mostly well-behaved, after a couple of eager entrants had pushed their way to the front. There were rows of seats arranged in rows before a stage. I looked towards the stage and felt myself grow pale, for I was hit by a sense of deja vu. There on the stage, just like there had been in my dream, stood one single covered plinth.

Simon must have sensed something. "Are you okay, Mia?" he asked.

"Yeah." I couldn't tell him about the dream so thinking quickly I said: "I'm fine. I just felt a bit dizzy, that's all." I forced myself to look away from the stage to give him a smile.

There were a lot of murmurs coming from around us. We clearly weren't the only ones to have been confused by the lack of exhibits. Before it got too out-of-hand the lights began to dim, leaving nothing but that plinth lit up.

When the claw-like hook began to descend, I grabbed Simon's arm. "I think we should go."

"What? Come on, Mia, we've come all this way. We might as well see what all the fuss has been about."

"Please, Simon," I tugged on his arm, trying to get him to move. "I don't like this. Let's just go!"

An audible gasp went up from those around us. Simon turned to see what had inspired it, and I felt it... he solidified, turned to stone. The entire place was in silence, and I looked from one person to another. Each looked as though they had simply been frozen, petrified.

I bit back the scream, let out just a whimper instead. I wouldn't look, I told myself, as I tried to push my way through what was now a roomful of statues. I might have made it too, if it had not been for that hiss. The sound made me stop, turn...

A Medusa head, alive with writhing snakes had been uncovered. But this was no sculpture or model. I try not to look, I really do, but her eyes are glowing like a couple of red lasers and I simply cannot make myself look away.

(1254 words)

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