I propped the book on the shelf and struggled to read the ancient Sanskrit writing. I had spent years working towards this moment. I had symbols, statues, and gemstones scattered around my room. It looked like someone threw up a New Age store across my study. Everything here had a purpose.
I took a breath and closed my eyes. If I did this – if I dared – the next 2 hours would be the greatest of my life. The price was steep, and standing here I wasn’t sure if I dared to go through with it.
Then I glanced around my study. It was full of crooked mouths and uneven eyes. The jawlines were off center and the hair was so oddly shaped it looked like a hat. I had been trying to draw this picture for 10 years. Other than my ritual space the room was filled with stacks of thousands of papers. All of them attempts to draw this one person. It was never good enough, the drawing had to be perfect.
I could spend another decade trying, I had the time. Who knows, in another thousand drawings success may come. The only problem was the image was fading. The memories became blurry and the longer I went the details faded into obscurity. I had no choice after all.
I took a deep breath and stepped into the glittering candlelight. I kneeled and began to chant, stumbling over words at first, then with more confidence as time went on. Then came the point at which I knew I could not stop, the power pulled me forward until a black orb floated before my eyes.
A female voice echoed throughout the room “Thou seeker, you wish for clarity and purpose. In exchange I will have your soul for eternity,” the room reverberated around me.
“Yes, of course! It’s all I want!” I shouted, staring into the strange orb. It seemed to be made of nothing, it was entropy itself and I was making a deal with it.
“Prove your words,” came the response. Simple. Final.
I pulled out a razor blade and made two slits on my wrists. They were small and controlled. If I was right it gave me two hours to complete my work.
“We have a pact,” the voice said. “I honor my end now.”
A blast entered my head like a shotgun shell. Everything became crystal clear. Now was the time to focus it. I stumbled over to my desk on which lay pencils, charcoal and a single piece of paper. I had no eraser this time. I would complete this, my final and perfect work.
I sat and brought her into my mind. The fading of years cleared away and I saw it as if I was still there. I picked up a pencil and began to draw.
There was no preliminary drawing, no measuring or sketching. I picked a random corner and began. My hands flew over the work as piece by piece my memory flowed onto the paper. The hair came first, that wavy, flowing shimmering bronze that called me to her.
Next came the eyes, deep and penetrating. Her brows were raised and I drew every hair in them exactly as it was at that fateful moment. She was worth remembering in all her glory.
The mouth came next, her pillowy lips appearing at the waving movements of my pencil. My vision began to fade as my life’s blood poured out of me. I was running out of time. I needed every remaining minute. I threw myself on it with a passion. This would be the ultimate image of her in her most perfect state.
The pencil and charcoal wore away as I drew. Blood loss began to blur my vision. This prevented me from seeing her ephemeral beauty. It was a shame she was gone and not memorialized as she should have been. She would be now.
Finally, it was done. I knew I had only moments left to view it in all its glory. I squinted through greying vision to see it. Her hair wild, the terror in her eyes as her life ebbed away. The cut across her throat splashed blood exactly as I remembered. This was my masterpiece, it was the perfect death.
If only my camera hadn’t failed that day. The constant struggle for perfection in capturing it drove me to the unthinkable. I knew how long it would take, I killed dozens, measuring the length and time it took them to die.
The police would be here soon. I had made sure my tip would arrive when I wanted. Beside my masterpiece was a list of where each body lay and how it died. A manilla envelope was filled with the faces of death, except hers. The perfect one. Now I had it and my work was done. I would be remembered forever for my art of death.
I dropped to the floor into the pool of blood that had been forming through those 2 perfect hours. It was still warm, with a comforting stickiness that hugged my face. I have always loved blood I thought as my mind faded to blackness.