Day 11- The Empress. We’re continuing our series of short stories accompanying photographs by Ana (you can see the full set and other sweet collections over at The Adventures of Ana Becerra ). Luis conjured up some scares for the first few but I wanted to do one too, so here we are.
This time the focus is on Marianne Fredericks ( Instagram | Twitter | Facebook) in awesomely detailed cracked/statue -like make up, and I got the idea for this short story (I would name the inspiration but it would ruin the story if I told you. Go forth and enjoy!
“David, the buddy system only works when you know where your buddy is. Where’s Matt?”
I had trouble keeping up with the rest of the tour. I mean,who wouldn’t? We are on a tour of the Palazzo Altemps, part of the Natural Museum of Rome; a building that has been around since the late 1800’s and holds collections that are hundreds of years old. My fingers traced the nooks & crannies in the walls as the musky chilled air engulfed the corridors, as if the spirits that live within the sculptures in this museum roamed free. When I finally caught up with the rest of the tour, our guide stopped next to a statue who showed the battle scars of time, with cracks adorning her facade.
“This particular piece is called The Empress. She was wed to John VIII Palaiologos and they were described as two bodies that shared one heart and one soul, very much in love. During a trip away from Constantinople, John received news of the Empress falling ill due to the Black Plague. He hurried back while the Empress awaited his return, hoping to see her beloved one last time. She did not know if John learned of her illness, and wondered if he was on his way. Towards the end she could not communicate verbally, and would frantically blink whenever someone tended to her, desperate for news of his arrival. Tragically, she succumbed to the illness before he arrived. John was understandably devastated, but he took comfort in something only he claimed to see late at night. While lying still in bed in the dead of night, if he kept his eyes wide open and refrained from blinking, he claimed to see images of a silent Empress, blinking,silently observing him above his bed. John died 12 years later, but the Empress still appeared some nights, looking for him, bellowing ghastly shrieks that reverberated throughout the home they once shared.”
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life” shouts David. The rest of the tour group snickered. Our guide ignored him but added,”The museum security rarely patrols this end of the exhibits, citing that they often came to investigate reports of sobbing and shrieks, only to discover slight changes in the posture of The Empress.”
“Pffft”- scoffed David.
The guide began to move onto the last exhibit since it was due to close in a few minutes and we were almost done with the tour. When we got the next display, I noticed David had fallen behind. I asked our tour guide if I could go back to look for him, but she said “He’ll come along soon enough”. I squinted in the general direction from where we came from, but it was too dark and could not make anything out.
“Matt? Where did you guys go? HELLO?!
David was exherting force, trying to move his legs, but he remained stationary. His eyes were wide open, staring into the dark corridors of the museum. He could only turn his head slightly, and when he looked at his shoulder, he saw a stone, crumbling, cracked hand, and cold breath on the nape of his neck. The chilled air being exhausted was now right next to his ear, and the following 2 words were the last words he would hear.
17 more days til we can go trick or treating! Stay tuned for more stories to spook ya and share/comment/write your own!