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A Gothic tale of self-sacrifice and consequence.

Submitted:Dec 15, 2012    Reads: 77    Comments: 16    Likes: 7   

Part I

It's brilliant … it's just fucking brilliant. Imagine what the next one will look like.

He drove his knife into the heart of the canvas, ripping his creation to shreds, paint spatter casting off the wall creating the obvious look of a horror show. When there was nothing left to destroy on the stand, the knife was thrown into the wall smashing the mirror.

"ARGHHAHAHA"!! He screamed hysterically.

He continued to scream and laugh manically as he plunged his fists into the broken shards of mirror on the floor. After his fourth clatter against the sharp reflective pieces his door swung open.

"Bernard! What the hell do you think your doing"!

"Fuck of Marsha, just mind your own fucking business" he spat venomously, bloody spilling from his knuckles.

"You can't go on like this, you're going to end up killing yourself, I mean just look at the state of you!"

Bernard looked down at the bloody pieces of mirror on the floor seeing his shattered reflection portraying someone he grew to reconised only quite recently. He remembered he would see a boy with such hopes look back at him with an optimistic smile. Someone that looked forward to a challenge and loved what he did, he would see someone happy. Now as he looked down at the half a dozen Bernard's staring back at him from the floor he saw someone desperate, a boy that would commit atrocious murder to create that wonderful piece of art he so desired.

Through his early years Bernard had been a natural. In primary school teachers would praise him on his paintings in which he was gracefully embarrassed about and he never matched their enthusiasm. In high school his work grew into something more, teachers would stand in awe at his work and show it off at local galleries and spout off such compliments.

It's so clever and from someone so young!

Look at the vivid imagery, such desire burning from the heart!

The symbolism is rather scary. I love it as much as I'm afraid of it!

He never really understood where the praise was coming from and most of the time he didn't understand it what the hell they were talking about, smiling and nodding seemed an efficient response however.

His cousin Marsha was the only opinion he was really after. She was honest and told him what was great and what rubbish. She was his guide and his best friend. Teachers patronized, parents never understood, friends were dishonest and rivals conflicted. Marsha told the truth.

Bernard fancied himself to be a successful artist one day. It was the only thing he could bare to do, the idea of following any other career path that didn't involve him standing in front of his canvas frightened him.

Marsha had just bandaged up Bernard's sliced up knuckles and lay him down on his bed of which she sat at the foot of.

"I'm concerned about you", she said worryingly.

He didn't respond so she continued.

"You have to stop having these … episodes. Every time you think your failing you put yourself in such unnecessary pain and I hate seeing you that way."

Despite a feeble tear dangling every so slightly from her eye Bernard refused to speak, he continued to stare into the swirly patterns on the ceiling. She got up and tidied the broken pieces of glass from the floor and threw them in the bin and turned to leave the room as Bernard crept his head up off the pillow.

"You just don't understand how close I am and how much I've sacrificed to create my masterpiece, my own fucking legacy."

"You already paint brilliant Bernard you used to paint for the fun of it. I've seen you burn your work that other artists could only dream of creating, you've got this ridiculous high standard of yourself that just makes you impossible to be around, I can't believe how much you've changed".

"Can you turn out the light?" he said coldly.

She did so and left him in his desolate darkness.

Part II

He never cared much about what his high school teachers said about his art. As far as he was concerned his fellow art students only choose the subject to avoid doing classes that frowned upon their shit doodles or whatever they passed off as art in their class, so naturally when anyone with any talent passed through Miss McKenzie's art class with a thread of talent they would obviously throw tributes all over it, not due to admiration but more out of surprise.

It wasn't until university where Bernard realised that he might be a good artist after all. Seeing other students creating spectacular sculptures out of wood, straw and metal on desks that seem fit enough to produce Frankenstein's monster itself was unlike anything he'd seen before. He walked around his new surroundings taking in his new breeding ground for his work.

After a year and a half he was a celebrity within the university. His works where being shipped and shown around the country and for the first time in his life he started to feel like somebody. Bernard consumed the attention like a wild whisky and was invited to various prestigious events and was introduced to various influential people, he grew great pleasure in indulging in his new found self importance and he grew fond of his new found fame and devoted himself in writing blogs and articles for art journals, something unheard of for a student at his age. After a few months of living big his art deteriorated. Only being able to bring fractions of his usual brilliance to fruition frustrated him dearly. Before his only worry came from that loving disapproving frown he got from Marsha to know that he was going in the wrong direction but without her guidance the glamorous lifestyle he unwittingly crafted for himself was in serious jeopardy. The idea of losing his talent forever and going back to an average life like the cretins that where called students in his high school class would be living was nothing short of disgraceful to him. He now craved the attention and the perks that came with it his artistry, but even that wouldn't be enough, it would be too tiring to keep producing magnificent work after work to maintain his life. It was time he moved one step forward and set out to craft something that would outlive him, something so great he could dine on it forever. The thought of formulating something immortal festered within him parasitically.

He grew impatient. Painting from a new emotional outlook was difficult for him. Desperation didn't suit him. He wanted to show to the world something that would live forever. Paintings where now being fully destroyed after he would be finished with them, they just weren't good enough. Each time he ripped down his wondrous work to start over to get that timeless piece he detected something odd started to happen within him. Like a piece of him was also being destroyed along with his work, he suddenly felt a little emptier like his soul had gotten a little lighter and even more worrying for Bernard, he felt happy about it. Each time he sliced up his own work he felt more detached from himself, he was cutting his emotional strings, allowing his sub conscious to roam free on his canvas.

The first time this happened he thought he was imagining it, that it was some delusional feeling due to something monotonous like a lack of sleep or low blood sugar. However the more he destroyed his work the more he felt cold and empty. The hollow sensations he could feel intensifying away inside him caused him to create the greatest paintings he's ever done, but still he was unsatisfied. Nothing pleased him; the more he mentally mutilated himself by destroying his own art, the more it improved, it seemed the improvement of his art was limitless. It was something that he'd never witnessed before. Not long after he kept more himself, rejecting his university peers. All of a sudden attending a few social gathering with those famous lecturers seemed entirely worthless, the high life didn't appeal to him like it used to, eternal life enchanted him more and it was through his art he felt he could accomplish it, to construct something that will be discussed for centuries after he passed.

It wasn't hard for him to seclude himself from people, in his new psychological state no one wanted to be near him. He was no longer the lovable creature that everyone so adored. He produced no wit and reflected no charm to anyone anymore. Any attempt of connection that someone made to him was beaten down by harsh insults and taunts from Bernard.

He shocked his university by dropping out late into his second year to move in with Marsha. He craved the familiar surroundings that originally inspired him to begin with, hoping that combined with his enriched negative state of mind; it would further fuel his artistic avidity.

Week by week he would devote apart of himself to his paintings and deliberately destroy them, it was never good enough for him. Not good enough to last forever.

Part III

Marsha slammed the door behind her.

Bernard got out of bed at placed a new canvas on his stand and started blankly at it. He held up his brush and waited for his hand to stop shaking. After ten minutes his hand would not stop. With all his concentration he could not control himself. He thought it best to go back to bed. He sat upright and skimmed through a book, his eyes twitched along the words, struggling to focus, tiredness wasn't an excuse, since the night was still relatively young to him. The book was thrown to the ground in panic. His path down the road of emotional ruin was now starting to take its physical toll. The swirly patterns on the ceiling started to coil around, taking shapes before melting down onto Bernard's skin and burning him. He let out a scream and jumped out of his bed to run for the door which failed to open. Dizzily turning around he saw the room contort ferociously before him, falling to all fours he sank into the carpet, the now sticky fabric gluely attached itself to him keeping him down. His continuing screeches remained unnoticed. Shards of paper, brushes, paints and all his other painting materials fiercely flew around him. Crumpling noises overpowered his screams until he was set free. The room returned to its natural state as he ran to the door which remained locked.

"MARSHA … MARSHA"!! He howled.

There was no answer so he pounded the door.

"MARSHA! Fucking hell! MARSHAAA!"


"She can't help you now" said an unknown voice.

Bernard turned around and fell to the floor when he saw the demon that sat before him.

An abhorrent creature was sitting on his bed. To Bernard's eyes it seemed to consist of his recently ripped down canvas, taking a desperately distorted human shape. His brushes, paints and pieces of left over scrap metal, wood and clay also complied into the beings creation.

Bernard frozen on the floor could do nothing but stare at the horrifying sight of it.

"I'm surprised to see you so shocked. Can't you recognise me, a product of your deliberate creativity? For months you have been developing me, every time you rip a piece of soul out of your being to produce your art do you think it just disintegrates into nothing.

It stood up and continued to speak.

"No it goes into your work, into me."

"Ge … get back" Bernard joined him in standing and grabbed a lamp, swaying it rashly at him.

"I didn't create whatever the fuck you are, in fact this isn't even happening … it's just a mental dream", he resisted.

The monster struck him, forcing Bernard to the floor.

"We are the same, I am the embodiment of your disregarded essence and have been for sometime, yet you bring great agony upon me by stabbing me repeatedly, ripping me up with such disregard, each affliction more distressing than the last. One by one your lacerations that you would so blindly throw upon me done nothing but bring me severe pain when I should only know beauty, well no more" it boldly announced.

The sculpted beast viscously set about attacking Bernard, lashing at him, cutting him up, barraging strike after strike into his deprived body. It started to scream

"You wanted to create something that will last forever! Well let us do that together"!

Bernard lay curled up in a ball, helplessly watching as the molded monstrosity opened up stretching itself flat out to twice its size, violently swooping down to the helpless Bernard and engulfed him.

Part VI

Marsha woke up the next morning and quickly set about getting ready for the day. After brushing her teeth and drying her hair she set out to check on Bernard before leaving for work. She tip toed up to his room, creaked the door open and entered. He wasn't there; she observed the neatly made bed and surprisingly the equally tidy room.

He must have gone for a walk or something?

She was about to leave the room until she noticed a blanket over Bernard's canvas stand. Curiosity got the best of her and she approached it and wrestled the cover off to reveal the painting.

She threw her hands up to her mouth to catch her gasp. It was the extraordinary thing she had ever cast eyes on.

A supreme portrait of Bernard as she remembered him all those years ago stared back at her. She had desperately missed that smile, those eyes that glistened with hope, a face so full of life.

She stood in awe for a few moments in disbelief and walked out the room. Unable to hear Bernard's screams for help from within the malevolent masterpiece.


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