This is part of a text adventure series to celebrate the spookiest of months, October (and beyond!). Full information about what’s happening can be found here. It is free to read, but in order to vote on what happens next, you will need to be a Patron. To become a Patron, you can find my Patreon page here.
Map of the known area [click here]
- A small flashlight with dead batteries
- Nick’s car-related paperwork
- A generic fast food straw
- A napkin containing some mushed-up sausage rolls
- A lighter
- Half a packet of mints
- A pen
You take a moment to explore the room you’re in more thoroughly. Specifically, you direct your attention towards the room’s many paintings.
As you picked up from your earlier investigations, there is no consistent theme to the artwork on display. Each of the paintings are ornately framed with a range of finishes that seem to complement the various subject matters.
As you also picked up on, the same artist seems to have been responsible for them all. There’s a distinct heavy-handed style. The favoured medium is oil, and the paint is slapped on thickly and with skill. Judging by the style and ageing, you feel safe in assuming that these works were done last century, if not earlier.
The still lifes are nice, but – in your humble opinion – a bit unremarkable. I mean, they’re better than anything you could do, but there’s only so much you can appreciate a bowl of fruit from different angles and in different compositions.
The landscapes in particular are moody but colourful with dramatic shadows. They appear to capture – what you imagine – what must be the local area. From what your still-addled mind recalls of the trip to the party, the moors are rolling and huge with some truly substantial crags. The artist was probably a local.
Finally, among the more numerous subjects, are the portraits. Four people in particular are present. One person is clearly the favoured subject: A woman who, in the parlance of older literature, one might describe as ‘handsome’. Her eyes are dark, her hair is white and straight, and she has the same stern expression in every picture. She has a wide brow and a broad chin with dramatic cheekbones. You give an involuntary shudder. Something about the way in which the eyes are painted makes you feel watched. No – more than that – like you’re being studied. She is painted more often than not with plants. You think it must be a greenhouse of some description judging by the glass-paned background. The bright foliage and flowers don’t do much to soften her.
There is also a man painted. He somehow manages to look young and old at the same time. His hair is white and wild, and his eyes are bright and full of life. The creases around his eyes and face suggest time spent laughing. He looks like the sort of person you’d enjoy a drink with. His complexion is ruddy and his body language across his various poses is friendly and accommodating. He doesn’t seem to have taken to the exercise with the seriousness one might expect.
The next woman is a stark contrast. She looks more like a retired ballerina – the no-fucking-nonsense I-spent-a-life-working-for-my-art type. She’s easy to imagine speaking with some thick Eastern European accent chastising young and hopefuls into tears with a rod of perfection. Her hair is dark and pulled back in a severe bun. She doesn’t look appreciative of the artist. In fact, there is only one painting of her. You imagine she didn’t agree to a second sitting. A shame, because the artist really managed to capture… something.
Last, but by no means least, there is a single painting of someone you recognise: It’s Violet, or someone who looks very much like her. Perhaps it’s a relative? In her portrait, the young woman looks… well… less spaced. Her eyes are a darker shade of blue for one thing and her skin is flushed and healthy. She doesn’t look happy per se, but certainly attentive. Focussed, even. Her dress is distinctly Victorian with a high, elegant neckline and fine frills.
You lean in to take a closer look at the picture, curious about when it might have been painted or by who.
You are taken aback when you peer at the artist’s signature: You’re very sure that it reads ‘Violet’. In fact, when you look at all the paintings within squinting-range, you see the same distinct set of squiggles. If the first painting wasn’t enough to convince you, then the others are.
What a strange… coincidence.
What would you like to do next?
- Use the telephone?
- Examine the room’s knick knacks?
- Go into the corridor through the now-open door?
- Go back outside?
Vote for what happens next on my Patron page before 8pm GMT tomorrow. The next update will be 8pm GMT on the 21st of October.