Moonlight poured through the windows and onto the canvases. Lofty ceilings hoisted up by arches of marble protected the artwork. The wing of the museum could have been mistaken for a painting itself. The only thing breaking the still of the hall were the paintings themselves. Sleeping portraits danced. Beautiful landscapes rustled with the wind. The sounds of majestic horses trotting through a stream filled the room. The worlds on each canvas came to life when nothing alive was around to witness.
A door creaked and in an instant they froze.
A chubby security guard sauntered through the corridor whistling off key. His footsteps echoed through the hall slowly getting more and more distant from the canvases. As soon as the chubby guard was out of earshot, the canvases woke again.
Two shadowy figures darted into the room and near instantly the paintings went still.
“Did you hear that?” said Al.
“Hear what?” said Bill.
“Horses? We are in a museum you goddamn idiot. Where the hell do you see any horses?”
“Why would I make that up?”
“Well, maybe, it’s coming from the paintings.”
“Don’t mock me.”
“Well, then don’t talk like a fucking idiot when we are working, Al. I’m going to go grab the Westmyer in the other room remember don’t touch any with the gold frames those will set off the silent alarm. Grab at least two canvases and meet me back at the drop zone,” said the bigger of the two men. “Got it?”
“Got it,” said Al.
As soon as confirmation was made, the burly burglar crept out of the hall, leaving Al alone. Al didn’t look like a burglar. His face had a soft expression his eyes were warm, but his skin was rough. He was tall and lean, not fit for brute work but had obviously done enough of it. He was dressed in black from head to toe however his shirt was much too big for him and his pant leg only went down to his ankles. He had on black gloves and a black ski mask rested on the top of his head.
Al strolled through the hall, past the canvases as if time was not a constraint. He came up on the horses and the stream, paused, and went to keep walking. As he walked away, the horse canvas came to life. He spun around and the galloping stopped. His face had a look of utter disbelief. His eyebrows raised as he peered over his shoulder.
“The fucks going on?” he said.
The hall was silent.
He turned toward the canvas and paced back slowly to assess the situation.
The horses drank from the stream birds chirped.
Standing directly in front of the painting, Al stared in awe.
The two horses stomped around the creek as sun came down through the leaves of the tall trees and bounced off the stream.
Al kept creeping closer and closer to the painting until he was face to face with the canvas. He put his hand on the outside of the frame to position himself better. As he did this, the horses looked up spooked the wind whistled through the clearing. The horses turned and galloped away.
In the hall one of the doors swung open. Security guards rushed in.
“Put your hands where I can see them,” yelled a guard with his weapon raised.
Attempting to face the guards his hand shifted and went through the painting as if the canvas had gone from a solid to liquid. This threw him off balance and as a result Al fell right through the painting, landing on the ground hard.
As he pried open his eyes, a bright light blinded him. Slowly, yellows and greens faded in with the white until the picture became clear. Al sat himself up against a tree. He clenched his ribcage as if the fall had busted one or two. By the expression on his face, it was obvious he started to recognize his surroundings, but he could not believe his eyes. The stream he watched the horses drink from glistened in front of him. “This isn’t real,” Al said. He looked around and tried pushing himself up with the tree at his back. He started to limp away around the stream. “Where the fuck am I?” he said in pain.
“I think you already know the answer to that question,” said an elderly voice from behind him.
Al’s face went white and as he hobbled to get a look at the voice. A short but stocky old man sat on a ledge on roots and stones behind Al.
“Am I dead?” asked Al.
“How am I supposed to answer that question for you, boy?
Al sat there in disbelief.
“You are here, now aren’t you?”
“Then that’s the only place you can be,” said the old man. The old man grabbed the whittled cane sitting to his left and pulled himself up. Walking in the opposite direction of Al. “I thought the same thing when I fell through but later, I realized I was just meant to be here.”
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