Ben held back one patron, who tried to lunge at an apprentice. The misshapen sculpture loomed over the survivors like a mountain of death. Ben was a bit lighter after each step away. Another step, another blocked memory. Ben knew his psychiatrist wouldn’t appreciate the approach to the situation, but he didn’t know how else to handle the chaos.
“Married, forty years,” the man said. “Tonight was our anniversary. Do you think they will take me next?”
The man looked at Ben without fear. Ben almost stopped walking, but a shove from behind pushed him forward. The man nodded and turned to the apprentice.
“Please make me beautiful,” the man said.
“No, you—” Ben said.
A raised hand from the Apprentice silenced Ben.
“We can’t make you beautiful yet, but we will.”
The Apprentice walked further ahead and whispered to another. The second one shrugged as they looked back. How casual can you make killing someone? Ben pulled the man in close to his side and whispered.
“Why would you ask them to kill you?”
“Without Ruby, there is no family left.”
Ben reassessed the man, not appreciating the man’s age before. His gray hair was still thick on his head. Then Ben realized that not everyone got married at twenty-one, as a majority of the local culture did. Ben supported a little more weight than before and the older man walked faster. It didn’t take long before they reached the next exhibit.
The person on stage stood larger than any of the other apprentices. The white hoodie material stretched thin and fresh blood dripped from the man’s knuckles. No one gasped in shock, cried in terror, or whimpered in defeat, instead everyone waited. Ben gave the old man’s arm a firm squeeze and then stepped away.
“Where’s your art Apprentice?” Ben said.
Why am I doing this?
“I am not an apprentice, though I dress like one. No, I assist The Artist in a more clerical manner.”
“Then why do you stand on his stage?”
The large man turned toward Ben at the question. The underglow from the red light exaggerated the taut jaw muscles and furrowed brow. Forgetting all senses of righteous superiority, Ben took a half step back.
“I stand on The Artists stage to deliver a message. Only one of you will survive tonight, as befits the survivor of before. Everyone’s inner beauty shall flow in the following stages. Ben, you will create your first piece of artwork soon.”
2 thoughts on “The Exhibit 23: Make Me Beautiful”
Pingback: The Exhibit 24: Recorded History – Myers Fiction
Pingback: The Exhibit 22: Breaking Parole – Myers Fiction