Category Linkin Park

Art by vei

A/N: something I've thought up for the latest graffiti-dec challenge, posted there as a sorry draft (duh) and rewritten almost from scratch

A/N2: pretty disturbing

Mike had never really known why he wanted to be an artist so much in the first place.

But he could remember spending all days of his early childhood drawing, deeply shaken by the miracle of worlds coming to exist on paper as he was covering it with black lines and colorful smudges. There was no other way for him in his mind, he'd been dreaming about it for so long he couldn't imagine being anything other than a painter when it came to making first serious choices about his life. And he really thought back then that it was only a matter of time before he was going to start making some kind of a career. He knew nothing about how the world really was back then and he thought that it simply owed him at least that much - enough of a recognition in his adult life for him to be able to get by while being an artist.

Nothing was ever that easy though.

And getting by proved to be just this one something that was getting in the way constantly. His parents cared enough to make certain people see his paintings even while he was still in high school, hesitating over choosing this art school over that. Those right people, they said he wasn't the right material for a great painter at all while eying his loose pants conspicuously. He couldn't help but believe that it was but a foul play, but he went with it when his friends laughed off his talk about moving out of his parents' house and going to study whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted. Soon enough, he joined on their cheerful laughter, too. He hadn't worked a day in his life up to this point and the idea of having to support himself on his own was making him physically sick. He'd always thought he was going to be permanently above such mundane matters after all, being an artist and letting others bother with these things.

He was never sure if it had been the right decision to start studying illustration, deluding himself in turn that he might have even started drawing comics or something like that eventually and spend the rest of his life thinking up fantastic stories and musing over fates of non-existent worlds with some buddies over beer. One day, he was going to blame himself for not studying painting like he should have been back then, because maybe then he could have learned this something he always supposedly lacked soon enough to fake having it all along. And maybe then, everything could have been all different.

As it was, by the end of college his aspirations started becoming a tad bit more realistic. He didn't have the guts to turn down the job of a designer that his father had arranged for him. There were times during the following years he spent working on shoes' and toys' and covers' designs when he was thinking that he was honestly meant to do this all along and almost managed to delude himself into thinking that it was what he had wanted ever since too. He was more successful than anybody had thought he ever would be, his job paid for a nice big house in a quite fine part of Los Angeles, a brand new Acura and a nice girl he married not having to work herself at all. But then again, this life left him feeling so empty.

This must have been the reason for him to try his hand at painting yet again.

In the matter of months, he went from a high that making a move that he believed was going to change his life into what he'd always wanted it to be put him on to almost slitting his wrists once he was faced with the opinions of the critics.

He could remember that day clearly still. And he was probably going to remember it this vividly right to the end of his life. He was sitting on the floor of the luxurious bathroom in his sickeningly nice house, young, healthy and rich and holding a knife to his wrist and thinking that indeed, after all these years, it was understandable that he had become more of an artisan than an artist.

Anna barged in at just the right moment to stop him from actually ending his life. She was so shaken too. Throughout all these years, he was so dedicated to his job and to her and to everything that life had to offer, he was always smiling so brightly and she just couldn't grasp what must have been wrong all along. That he was pretty much a mediocre half-amateur when it came to painting ? Not like it was changing anything or endangering his success when it came to design really, and being one of the best in this trade it should have been all he cared about.

He didn't dare to tell the therapist she was all wrong when she put him on antidepressants, advising a bit less work too and no painting for him, no exhibitions, especially. It was supposed to make him better. Make him into less of a suffering artist lacking the talent and skill to really be one and more of the successful young man he should have been all along.

Either these advices or the pills he was given were making him constantly sick though and it was after he vomited for what seemed like the tenth consecutive time in one day that he figured that the fact that he couldn't sell his own art wasn't equal to him being unable to sell any art at all. At the very least he could surely pretend he could do that for the sake of getting close to some young talented artist who somehow knew what to do to have critics boasting about his genius after his first exhibition.

He wasn't sure what he meant to do, really. Steal technology of being successful in this field, which was supposedly so delicate and unforgiving ? Or just celebrate success as an artist, if not his own success then at least someone else's. He couldn't tell really, but somehow it was still making a great lot of sense in his mind.

Soon enough after he'd first asked, Brad came up with someone he could become an agent to and called him with the news, talking animatedly about some supposedly talented sculptor that New York city was surely going to dig. Or at least it was what everyone kept saying.

Brad was still eying him suspiciously when he sat opposite him at the table in a restaurant where they'd agreed to meet each other. They'd been buddies for a really long time and yet Brad couldn't believe Mike had been at the verge of attempting suicide either. Apparently, nobody had been ever taking his dreams of becoming an artist seriously. Or maybe they just failed to realize that he might have still wanted to be one in the real sense of the word even while being as successful as he was when it came to design.

"So ?" Mike asked after half an hour of idle chat and munching on food.

"The guy's awesome. His works are awesome, he's looking awesome, his attitude is awesome and apparently he used to sing in three or four rock bands in the past." Brad listed off. "All he needs is a push in the right direction, really."

"Hey, if it's that easy then why can't I make it ?" Mike couldn't stop himself from asking.

Brad ran his hand through his afro in a nervous gesture.

Of course, both of them knew well enough that he couldn't make it simply because he sucked. He was quite well aware of that at this point. Brad wasn't going to tell him that, but he didn't really need to. The shoes he designed sold. The art he made didn't. Maybe it was simply the other way around with this guy, he noted, smiling a humorless smile to himself.

"Where's the catch in there then ? Why wouldn't someone more experienced take care of his career ?" Mike asked.

"Because he doesn't want just anybody." Brad shrugged. "Supposedly, he claims only another artist can understand him."

There it goes, the reason for Brad not to take care of this guy himself, Mike thought. His heart sank at this notion. If the guy truly wanted another artist, meeting him was only going to bring him down more, because there was no way for him to meet such a criterion either. And yet he agreed to that, thinking that maybe just observing someone who was supposedly going to make it so big might have done him some good.

When he finally met Chester, he proved not be what he might have expected at all, even while he was just that, all at the same time. He was wearing outrageously rebellious clothes and great portion of his body was covered in colorful tattoos. His eyes had that maniacal glint to them and he was making Mike uneasy, even while he figured he'd never felt this comfortable talking to someone in years, if not ever. Something just clicked between the two of them soon after they laid their eyes on each other for the first time and by the end of their few hours long talk about art and money and weather and music Mike was almost sure that Chester wasn't going to tell him to go away after all, even when the dreaded question came and resounded loud and clear inside the empty spacious room of the gallery they were walking around.

"So, you're a designer ?"

"Yes." Mike agreed reluctantly.

"Why the sudden interest in sculpture then ?" Chester inquired, rubbing his tattooed arms absently.

Mike couldn't help but blink a few times to get sure when he noticed Chester lacked the small finger in his left hand.

"Some accident ?" He asked, motioning to Chester's hand with a move of his head.

"Yeah. Art the way I make it isn't all safe, nice and clean, you know." Chester shrugged before putting his hands into his pants' pockets. "Why do you want to help me ?" He asked once again, stopping in front of one of the displayed paintings, a naked female body lacking a head displayed on vibrant yellow background.

"Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my job." Mike lied smoothly. "But I've been to art school, I used to think I was going to be a painter one day for a really long time. Things haven't quite gone that way in the end, but I think I still need this. To do something for true art that doesn't serve purposes and fill expectations."

"I like this a lot." Chester muttered, moving his face closer to the painting and smiling a small smile. "If you wanted to be a painter, then you surely must have had some skill. Why not start painting again now, see where it takes you ?" He asked, turning to face Mike.

"I tried." Mike admitted solemnly.

"And you didn't make it." Chester nodded to himself. "Maybe once I have a serious exhibition they will say my statues are shit, too..."

"I know."

Chester smiled.

"But if you're still in for the job, I think you'll do."

Mike's anticipations weren't all wrong, for once. Chester thought that he was good enough, in the end.

For him, Mike was quite enough of an artist, at least as long as he was patiently waiting for the day when he would be ready for an exhibition and buying him all the drugs he requested in the meantime.

"See, it takes a long time to acquire certain things, take these away from the world, reinterpret them and finally make them into portions of a work of art."

Mike smiled hearing Chester talk like this. He was walking down the row of wooden figures standing next to the wall, one right next to the other. They were all the size of average men and initially used to have legs and arms and hands and heads with sculpted faces and empty eyes. Now, they were mutilated to varying degrees, lacking limbs or fingers, some decapitated, their heads lying at their feet. Chester attempted to explain to him that this was only where the art began - with chopping off portions of statues he'd previously made, almost transforming them back into the shapeless pieces of wood they used to be right at the beginning.

Mike walked back towards Chester along the row of statues, observing him on the way, following the moves of his tattooed arms moving swiftly through the air with his eyes, marveling at the way the knife he was holding in his hand was shining, creating arcs of light in the air as he was attacking yet another wooden figure with it, chopping off pieces. Wooden fingers were falling off from a sculpted hand, one after another.

Chester's art was one of creating only to destroy.

Mike couldn't wrap his mind around it, even after staring at his works for hours on end, as if he could see something special in them if only he looked long enough. It all clashed too much with this amazement the idea of art always evoked in his mind, one of a child being given his first box of crayons and a piece of paper and creating things that weren't there out of thin air with these. Destruction defied art in his mind. And yet he had to agree with Chester that it was making ordinary things different and more unique.

A row of average quality wooden statues of men was only mildly interesting, but when they were all half chopped into sawdust it certainly earned points for originality.

Mike stopped next to the statue Chester was working on, his sweat covered skin shining in the dim light, the colors of his tattoos standing out more so than usual.

"What's this ?" Mike inquired, reaching out towards the statue's face and touching the strange beige material it was covered with. He pulled on it, mesmerized by its elastic feel.

"It's the last thing they need to be complete." Chester answered, swatting Mike's hand away, while still holding a knife in his hand.

"Dude, you want to chop my hand off ?" Mike asked, holding his hand protectively to his chest, faking hurt.

They'd shared enough beers together to be considered buddies at this point and Mike cherished it, a lot. Chester wasn't into big words and discussing exotic painters nobody had ever heard about other than by accident and that, in and out of itself, was refreshing. In fact, he hadn't even finished art school at all. He used to be a vocalist in a rock band, putting out a record here and there and then, one day, he seemingly just decided to become a sculptor. Mike still couldn't understand his reasoning.

"Dude, you know I wouldn't hurt a fly." Chester answered cutting off the wooden statue's hand with one more swift move of the knife. It fell to the ground with a dull thud. "I think I'll be ready soon." He added, tugging on the material covering the statue's face to make it fit more tightly. "Ready to show them to the world, I mean." He motioned towards the row of statues.

"You're going to put it on all of them ?" Mike asked, pointing towards the beige material.

"I'd like that." Chester nodded. "As bothersome as it may be. I want my exhibition to be really special, after all."

"Say, Chester..." Mike spoke up a while later, turning his back to the statues because their empty wooden eyes were starting to creep him over. "How has it happened that one day you just decided to leave your band and pursue a career as a sculptor ? Has something specific... inspired you ?"

"Well..." Chester walked over to the table in the corner of the room and took a bottle of beer off it, offering another one to Mike. "I guess I've just gotten randomly inspired." He answered with a shrug, taking a swig from the bottle to cool himself off. "A really powerful inspiration it was, too. Lyrics couldn't really tell anything about that, you know. I decided I needed visuals. Or better yet, an almost live demonstration. Or maybe even..." Chester's voice faltered as he seemed to fall deep in thought.

"What was it ?" Mike asked, disrupting his train of thoughts.

"What ?"

"This powerful inspiration. What was it ?" Mike repeated his question.

"I happened to get to know how fascinating human body is on the inside."

"You're kidding me."

"I mean I've seen all the shit inside. Thousands of people have been portrayed over the centuries, but rarely with their stomachs open or their heads lying at their feet."

"What exactly happened ?" Mike asked conversationally even though the way Chester was looking at him was making him uneasy all of a sudden. He kept on turning the bottle of beer in his hands, not sure why he even wanted to know so much in the first place.

"There was this groupie on the tour bus, back when I was touring with my band." Chester spoke up, his voice sounding nonchalant, but somehow betraying to Mike that it was but a facade. "A nice young girl, black curly hair, dark eyes, really pretty. It was okay at first, we were talking, chilling out. But then she just didn't leave soon enough. The night progressed, the guys got drunk or high or both. Things got awry, I guess, too many people were trying to do too many things to her all at once and she just died somewhere along the way. Then the morning came and I happened to wake up first. With her cold body lying in the middle of the bus with her stomach cut open. They told me I started screaming so loud they couldn't stand it. We disposed of the body on the way. Nobody has ever asked about it."

"And now you...?" Mike looked at the row of statues questioningly.

"I'm seeing her in my dreams, every night, you know."

"What exactly have you done with her body ?"

"We chopped it to pieces and dropped them on the way."

"Tell me it's a lame joke, Chester."

"But it's not. My hands trembled so bad when they told me to cut her head off I lost this finger then." Chester started laughing all of a sudden, loud and obnoxious. "Hey, of course I'm kidding. But it's a good story to tell to the press, don't you think ?"

Mike didn't really know what to think as he joined in on Chester's laughter which was still sounding pretty disturbing and false in his ears.

"Cheer up, Mike." Chester nudged his side. "There's no big story behind this, really. I'm not doing anything that special. Exploring the boundaries of art as it is in their time is something artists do since ever, after all."

"What is this material on their faces ?" Mike asked once again the other day, some three weeks later. By this time, all the wooden statues but one had their faces covered with the beige material. "Where do you buy it, anyway ?"

"Not like it can be bought. It's human skin." Chester answered nonchalantly.

"Stop turning everything into a creepy joke."

"No, really. Take a bit to some specialist and ask him."

"Chester..." Mike sighed. "We have a week left." He pointed out. "I hope you're going to make it on time."

"It's just one more without the skin on its face. I don't think there are going to be any problems." Chester answered, heading out of the room.

Mike walked over to the closest statue, touching the material covering its face with the tips of his fingers. He cringed when it seemed warm to the touch at first. Warm, breathing and moving, oozing blood from all the wounds the wood it was made of had sustained.

He shook his head, deciding that he was getting paranoid. Must have been the excitement over Chester's upcoming exhibition. It was already surprisingly widely discussed among the right people and announced by the press graciously.

He was even wondering if it wouldn't have been possible for him to sell some of his older paintings while at it, just by placing them strategically among Chester's statues.

The last day before the opening of the exhibition everything was ready. The statues had been transported to their destination and placed there exactly the way Chester had wanted them to be, which only took two days and a great deal of everyone's nerves. The more official part of the party they'd had to celebrate the upcoming exhibition had been through already and the guests left Chester's rented house, taking Anna along. Mike didn't really mind, as drunk as he was.

She left with tears in her eyes, too, saying something about not recognizing him anymore. Not that he cared in his current state. There was something evil in Chester's eyes, she noted, as he was staring at her, his arm wound tightly around Mike's shoulders in a manner that looked almost possessive to her. She left in the end, wishing Chester for his exhibition to be an utter failure, causing Mike to loose all interest in him and come back to her and to taking care of his job whole-heartedly.

Soon enough, the two of them were left all alone.

"This is going to be so great..." Mike mused in a slightly slurring voice, a glass of champagne in his hand not even tempting him anymore. He was going to be a wreck the next morning, but since the exhibition was opening only in the evening he didn't really care about that. "Don't forget I've been the first to believe in your talent once you're going to make it all big too..."

"I'm not sure if you're not overestimating yourself a bit here, Mike." Chester laughed, removing the glass from Mike's hand.

Mike joined in on his laughter. It was true he hadn't been the first to discover Chester indeed. But then again, he was willing to overlook minor details, like the fact that it should be Chester celebrating his success the most and not him. Still, he thought that if he could get drunk just enough it could surely seem to him as if it was all his doing and his successful first art exhibition coming up.

"There is a teeny weeny problem with this exhibition though." Chester said, his hand sliding down Mike's side casually and starting to get a tad bit too well acquainted with his hipbone for Mike's taste. Not that he cared much in his current state.

"What ?" Mike asked, aggravated. He wasn't in the mood for problems. Actually, he'd been thinking earlier that day that he had all of those solved so far.

"Lots of people are going to see these statues tomorrow. In fact, there is a distinct possibility that some of them will figure out it is human skin on their faces..."

"Chaz, I don't think it's funny anymore."

"You don't believe me ?" Chester asked, sounding appalled. "You don't believe I would've had the guts to actually do the same thing I'm doing to my statues to a real man ?"

"Yeah, I don't."

"But how can you know ?" Chester kept on asking, his face with its burning eyes getting closer to Mike's. "Maybe I liked chopping this girl's body a lot in the end and felt the need for a repeat performance. And when wooden dummies proved not to be enough I moved on to humans yet again..."

"It really sounds cool, Chester. It'd surely do well for your image to talk like that, but stop it right now, will you ? I was in a good mood."

"Am I spoiling it ?"

"Yeah, quite a bit." Mike said, reaching out for his glass, only to have it moved out of his reach. "More so right now."

"I don't want you all drunk out of your mind on a night when we have so many important things to discuss."

"Chester, give me a break." Mike yawned before letting his head fall on Chester's shoulder and closing his eyes. "Wake me up in the morning."

"But I want to show you something, before you go to sleep. Come on."

Mike moaned in pain when he was violently pulled up to his feet. Chester was acting strange. He was dressed all goth and had his hair dyed black, the eyeliner he wore around his eyes was smeared all over his cheeks and his looks alone were seriously creeping Mike over.

"Wear something nice tomorrow." He muttered while being dragged down the badly lit corridor, empty eyes of skeletons staring at him from big anatomical pictures covering the walls.

"I think I'd rather go for the shock value."

"How did I know you were going to say that ?"

"You seem to know me quite well." Chester noted.

They stopped in front of a door at the end of the corridor. Chester pushed it open, revealing a small staircase.

"Follow me."

Mike nodded reluctantly. They started descending the stairs, step by step, seeing as Mike was swaying on his feet, even though the initial haze overcoming his brain had already lifted. There was some weird desperation to Chester's voice and his actions on that night. It was making Mike feel uneasy yet again.

"Sorry about that, but I've done a small research about you at some point." Chester spoke up, his voice echoing inside the small stairwell. "Your exhibition two years ago too. And your suicide attempt."

Mike stopped. Chester looked back up from a few stairs below him.

"Come on." He reached out a strangely cold hand, latching onto Mike's wrist, his fingers moving over the skin on the inside of it, as if searching for something.

"Stop that." Mike pulled his hand away angrily. "I haven't really done anything. I've been just sitting there holding a knife. Something you're doing all the time. I can't help Anna being utterly paranoid."

"Why have you done that ? Because people didn't like your art ?"

"Isn't that enough of a reason ?" Mike asked softly right as they reached the bottom of the stairs.

"It is enough. Of course it is. Art is enough of a reason to kill."

First thing Mike did taking into the sight of the inside of the small cellar was almost vomiting all the alcohol he'd consumed that night right away. There they were. Just like the wooden statues a floor above they were standing in a row and staring at him with empty eyes, randomly lacking limbs and heads. Lacking faces. All of them.

"You believe me now ?" Chester whispered hoarsely. "I do the same things to them I do to my statues. Only it's better. Human body is both softer and easier to maul and endlessly more complicated. You peel off a layer after a layer and it keeps on revealing things that are infinitely interesting. It is all different from the old boring wood..."

"It is not art though." Mike spoke up if only to stop Chester's words from coming, backing off towards the staircase hesitantly.

"Why ? Of course it is art. I only do this for the beauty hidden under the human skin."

Mike attempted to think even as his widened eyes couldn't stop staring at the mauled bodies. He figured he was really deep in this shit himself fast enough. Not like anybody was going to believe his claims about never knowing anything, in case he would have called the police and showed them this place.

"Don't even think about that." Chester spoke up calmly. "The exhibition tomorrow has to happen. We've both wanted it too much for too long to ruin it now, don't you think ?"

Mike stormed up the stairs, unsure of what he was going to do, but unwilling to stay in the cellar any longer.

"You aren't actually afraid of me now, are you ?" Chester inquired, following him up the stairs. He picked up a long knife before leaving the cellar. "I've been telling you this since the very beginning. Only another artist could ever understand me. And you do, don't you ?"

Possessive tattooed arms wound their way around Mike's midriff from behind.

"It is incredibly beautiful. In a morbid way, but still." Chester said. "There is something so sublime about death itself in the first place and human body can be artistically changed in so many ways... It's been my dream ever since we dumped the last part of her body off somewhere in the woods. To make an actual sculpture out of a human body..."

"You're mad."

"All true artists are. You're mad too. Why else would you have ever attempted to kill yourself over something so petty ?"

"Why have you shown me this ?"

"Because I've always wanted to show this to someone. True art always surfaces in the end."

"I..." Mike didn't really know what to say, but he couldn't imagine leaving this house with all these dead bodies inside and going on with his life. He wasn't sure that Chester was going to allow that either. He didn't know what to do about the sculptures ready for an exhibition, with their faces covered in human skin. He felt trapped.

And he removed Chester's arms off his body forcefully before starting to walk away down the corridor on unsteady legs, tears he wouldn't let fall clouding his vision.

"You've wanted me to choose you, haven't you ?" Chester's words followed him. "Because me choosing you made you think that at the very least one person thought you were an artist. I still think you are, Mike. I think you understand me."

Mike stopped, his shoulders slumped and fists balled tightly.

"Don't make me think I've made a wrong choice." Chester whispered from right behind him. "We should make this exhibition truly special. Something that wasn't seen ever before."

Mike cringed when cold keys were forced into his hand.

"Keys to the gallery." Chester explained. "Come on. I think we should add one more statue to the collection."

"You think... Do you honestly think I will just let you kill me ?" Mike asked the thin air in front of him, looking at the keys in his hand quizzically as if they could give him answers.

"Not like you have anything else to do with your life, have you ? Walking away from this is not an option, after all, or is it ?" Chester asked mockingly, running a trembling hand through his black hair. He wasn't sure if he was playing this right, but something about Mike's shoulders slumping even more and his hand closing over the keys it was holding told him that he was going to comply. His statue made out of human flesh. The work of art he was dreaming about creating for so long was going to become reality. It was going to cost both of them their lives, but he believed it was still worth it. "Do you realize what an impact we're going to have on people ? They will see this in their nightmares up to the last day of their lives."

It was with a tentative nod that Mike agreed.

They went to his car and he placed the car keys in Chester's hand, while still clutching onto the keys to the gallery in his hand. The long knife Chester had taken with him was shining in the light of the street lamps and there was something almost hypnotizing about the way its blade was reflecting the lights. This was all so beautiful, Mike noted, his artist's heart slowly getting ecstatic over the perfection of the death that was awaiting him.

They reached the gallery in no time. Mike realized that every single time he was closing his eyes he was seeing them, standing in a row in the cellar. They weren't beautiful, they were only disturbing. And he was actually getting afraid that he'd turn like them.

"You will be more than them, I assure you of that." Chester spoke up in a slightly trembling voice once the car stopped in front of the gallery's building. "This is going to cost us both our lives. We have no other option but to make it special. Are you afraid ?"

"Not really." Mike shook his head. Everything was happening way too quickly for him to start being afraid already.

"Good. I'll show you the beauty in this. The entry to this particular exhibition costs one his life, but it is a sight to behold. I assure you of that."

Chester's eyes were so full of serenity, Mike noted when he turned to look at him, expecting rather this maniacal glint he could remember them having right in the beginning. Their lives were coming to a glorious, unconsciously anticipated end. And it felt great. It felt as if things had a meaning finally and as if the world was the way it should be.

They walked inside the gallery, opening the doors with the set of keys Mike was still clutching in his hand. The row of statues welcomed them inside. Mike looked into their empty eyes bravely for once.

There was no last chance to back off for him. The knife was pulled out and it just started happening. It wasn't quick nor not painful and in the beginning Mike almost failed to see the beauty in this, not screaming for mercy aloud taking all of his willpower. Then he calmed down. He could smell the blood oozing out of his wounds and he realized that he had shit his pants somewhere on the way. He could feel the knife moving through his flesh, inch by inch, never swiftly enough. And he started screaming again to the point when he'd screamed his throat raw.

Chester started to shake, his face contorting in a grimace unlike anything Mike had ever seen before. The world was all red, all covered in blood and dark spots and billowing. Chester's trembling was making things worse, his hands and the knife trembling painfully as violent tremors were shaking his body.

"Mike..." Chester called softly, his dead cold hand moving up Mike's arm. The floor seemed to be all covered in blood and there was some on the statues' faces as well, making them even more macabre. Mike wasn't sure how many arms and legs he still had. It seemed to him that not nearly enough, though. "Do you want to have wings ?" Chester asked, wiping the knife off on his black pants, the blood seeping right through them instantly.

Mike nodded weakly, almost biting off his tongue on accident while attempting to set his jaw and be brave and all that shit. He could feel tears running down his cheeks. And he could do nothing about that. He was being turned into a work of art, blind and deaf and silent and dead, unmoving, standing still throughout the centuries and living only in people's minds, triggering emotions and ideas in them. It couldn't have been an easy transformation.

And Chester made him have wings, breaking his ribs upwards and making them stick out of his back, cleaning off the blood and polishing the bones until they were shining in the dark with mysterious whiteness, reminiscent of broken, featherless wings.

"You are a work of art now." It was the last thing he whispered to Mike's dying face right as his wide open eyes turned glassy forever.

Mike's life was complete. He'd always wanted to sacrifice it to Art and he did, dying murdered as an offering on her altar. The moment he realized that his dying eyes saw the beauty at its finest in what was happening to him.

He died thinking how the world was going to notice him now. How all the critics were going to be left with their mouths wide open in shock that could be almost mistaken for amazement. How his image was going to burn their eyes forever, seen in nightmares to the last day of their lives.

How evil can Art really get ? How badly it can possess people ? Chester was wondering idly while putting the long knife drenched in Mike's blood to his neck and then to his chest, hesitating over the method of ending his life. He was angry, because he couldn't do to his body all these things he'd done to Mike's. His own body, probably the best material for a work of art he could have ever put his hands on, remained off limits.

In the end, he pierced his heart, falling down onto the floor of the closet he'd hidden himself inside of almost instantly. He hoped he wasn't going to be found soon. It wasn't him that was supposed to grab everyone's attention, after all.

And indeed, the next evening the exhibition was opened and everyone's eyes turned wide the moment they spotted Mike's body, ridiculous and elegant in its angel-like appearance. The flashes of the cameras went off before anyone could stop that, images were burnt at the backs of the eyelids. Art happened.