The Exhibit 10: Overwhelming Fear

Officer Braxton Lyle stumbled into the first opening he came to after a rough shove from his guide. Darkness overwhelmed the room until a glowing ring of red light lit the stage. One piece of the stage glowed in a bright red insignia, The Artist’s Mark. Braxton knew that mark from when it first appeared in a news room after The Artist “beautified” a guard. It came after a short escape from the lower security prison. 

“He wants you to stand on the stage,” the guide said.

The Artist’s Mark pulsed its glow, as if to warn Braxton of any further action.

“I don’t think I want to,” Braxton said. “It’s not like he will know if I didn’t.”

“The Artist monitors all his pupils, at all times. He takes special care to observe one such as you, protege.”

One moment was all it took for Cass Lawrence to think he saw a spark of union. The small instant of curiosity stemmed from confusion as Braxton stared at the haunted house room. Instead, he found a spreading of muscle, tissue, and sinew. A single red light lit the room. Braxton shuddered at the memory.

“On the stage, before you anger The Artist.”

A cocking shotgun gave Braxton all the motivation he needed. Braxton stepped up and waited. The guide grunted. A chilling voice filled the air.

“Brax, my protege,” Cass said.

An unfamiliar tremor shuddered across Braxton’s body. Cass’s voice sounded deeper than in the court room twenty years ago. Braxton didn’t dare fight the title, worried about the shotgun. Think like a cop, you’re a cop. Get him talking. Braxton cleared his throat, hoping it would make him feel more confident. It didn’t.

“Cassius, you’ve accumulated quite the following,” Braxton said.

Muffled curses came through the speakers, and venom almost leaked out of Cass’s words.

“Do not call me by such an unholy name,” Cass said, “You may call me Cass, but never my false name.”

It was a cheap jab, since every police report, medical evaluation, and media record showed the man hated nothing more than his own name. That he thinks in holy and unholy is interesting. 

“Cass, why do this? Why take these people hostage?”

“You’re not even concerned about yourself?” Cass asked. “So honorable Officer Lyle. I always knew you as a gentleman.”

“I already know why you want me here,” Braxton said. “But these high society art socialites don’t want to see your work.”

“They will adore my work by the end of their tour,” Cass said, “or shocked into silence at my genius.”

“You’re avoiding my questions,” Braxton said.

The room was filled with silence. Even the guide shifted their weight from leg to leg. The red light on the stage dimmed with the crackle of a microphone.

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One thought on “The Exhibit 10: Overwhelming Fear

  1. Pingback: The Exhibit 11: Sticks of Stone – Myers Fiction

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