The museum wasn’t such a popular place anymore. Several years ago, people would come to admire the art galleries and fossils, but now, most had little interest in such historical record. They all had what they assumed were better things to do, and of course, these “better things” were mostly little time wasters. Television, films, and whatever they could do on their fancy technological equipment held more interest for them, so most of those pieces of the past were neglected in their favor. The curator would keep everything shiny and clean and happily greet the handful of people who had any interest in such things, and whenever a young person would come by, he’d do whatever he could to influence them to come back. This rarely worked.
However, one visitor kept returning. This young woman named Karen Stevens took a lot of interest in paintings and she often would draw and sketch, wishing to become an artist herself. She had recently graduated from high school and sought a job working at the museum. The curator recalled how one of their young janitors had mysteriously disappeared and assumed that he had just quit his job without warning, so he offered her that position. Without hesitation, she took the job. She kept the floors very clean and would wipe down the glass cases to sparkling perfection. She enjoyed her job very much, hoping to eventually be the guide for whoever came to view the exhibits. Since there weren’t many visitors, her job wasn’t too hard, but one thing always bothered her.
There was a locked room that none of the keys on her belt could open. Being inquisitive, she had to wonder what was behind that door. Was the curator hiding something from her? She just had to know. With each day she worked there, her curiosity grew. Though she was only paid minimum wage, she had enough to purchase a set of lockpicks from an online bidding website, and with enough practice, she was starting to get pretty good at picking locks. Mischievous ideas danced through her mind. She could’ve sold a lot of the things locked away in the glass cases and made a break for it to get more money, but she knew her conscience would’ve punished her for it. After all, there was only one thing she wanted. She wanted to see what was behind that door.
She finally had enough courage. She cleaned up the entire place and she finally approached that locked door. All sorts of ideas ran through her head about what might be in there. Was it just a storage closet? Maybe there were priceless artifacts inside. Or maybe it was just broken junk? She didn’t know what was in there, but she absolutely had to find out. Her blue eyes shifted about nervously. As she picked the lock, she never imagined that the door was locked for a reason. All sorts of junk was in there. Nothing seemed impressive at first. Some of the items stowed away were statues and such that had been taken off display due to damage. A few paintings were also in there, probably ones that were far too expensive to restore. She cautiously moved a few, only finding one that seemed to be in perfect condition. Why was it in here? Shouldn’t it be hung up? She looked it over. It appeared to be a self-portrait. The young man in the picture was quite handsome. Who was he? She smiled faintly, slightly charmed. Yet as she touched the painting, a sharp pain jumped up her arm. She cringed, only opening her eyes to realize that she couldn’t move. She was now looking into the rest of the storage room from where the painting was, trapped inside. She saw the young man who was in the painting in that room and he swiftly made a break for it. Now Karen was trapped inside that painting, able to see but do no more. If only someone else would take her place inside that accursed painting. Nobody ever saw Karen again after that.
The next day, the curator spotted the young man who used to work there, curled up in a corner next to an exhibit on Native American history, mumbling senselessly about a cursed painting. The curator only sighed. He thought he had hidden that thing away well enough. It was a family heirloom, so he felt some strange attachment to it. The jostled young man was promptly sent home and scheduled to see a therapist. Of course, the curator would never tell anyone that there was any truth behind his maddened ramblings. He walked into the storage closet to examine the painting, along with all the other apparent “junk” inside.
“Oh, Karen. I thought you were smarter than that. I suppose that we’ll just have to wait until someone else gets a little curious, won’t we?” A disappointed sigh escaped him as he left the room. Picking up the lockpick collection, he pocketed them and closed and locked the door behind him. Hopefully, this would be the last time someone got a tad too nosy. He hated to imagine what would happen if someone found that ancient puzzle. It would be even worse if someone found that book written in the mysterious language that he couldn’t identify. Shaking his head, he rubbed his temples. It was hard to be a collector of rarities, especially when his workers were as curious as kittens.
Now, behind that locked door, Karen awaits her freedom. She isn’t the only one. Joseph is trapped in a book written in a mysterious language. Eleanor found her way into a strange realm after solving a puzzle that released an odd being into the world. Who knows what other things could be hidden inside that room? But you can ask the poor young man that was trapped in the canvas that now holds Karen captive. Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Written by Shinigami.Eyes
Idea contributed by Thethingunderyourbed.