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"What is this supposed to even be?" Dennis shouted just loud enough for the guide to notice.
Dennis always had been a rude person when it came to things like abstract art. He was always complaining about how big a pile of nonsense some abstract art was, but he was especially angry today, because we were on a field trip to the Museum of Abstract Arts. Linda leaned towards me and whispered to me if I could do something about Dennis’ behaviour. I was good friends with him after all.
When finally the tour was over, we had to walk by ourselves through the museum, to get prepared for the test next week. No one cared about art, but if it’s about grades, everyone sought to do their best.
Everyone naturally split into groups. Mark, Linda, Dennis, and I first sat on a bench, to eat some of the snacks we took with us. Although this was not allowed in such a museum of "decency", we waited for five minutes for everyone to get out of the room, then we started eating, popping jokes at each other and just hanging on the bench.
We thought we had enough notes when the guide showed us the museum, so we didn’t really bother to go around again. We had seen weird abstract head sculptures, paintings, where you couldn’t even see what was going on, so it wasn’t very interesting to us.
After a while, we noticed that we couldn’t hear anything besides ourselves in the museum. No footsteps, no tour guides screaming, "DO NOT TOUCH THAT!"
Nothing. Mark was the first to notice.
"Hello?" he shouted.
"Shit, where is everybody?" he asked.
"Well maybe they are already at the buses, because they mindfucked themselves with the head sculptures," said Dennis jokingly, not worrying about a thing.
I saw that Linda wasn’t as calm as Dennis, I could see that it freaked her out, so I made her calm down by saying that we should find one of the teachers who went with us.
We walked past hundreds of paintings, or, as Dennis called them, paint-miscarriages, mannequins with odd hats and those weird head sculptures I mentioned before. The heads were even weirder now it seemed, probably because I didn’t really look at them during the tour, being as bored as I was. Mark said exactly what I was thinking at the moment:
"Those look weirder than before, like they have less livelihood about them." He was right. I thought the exact same thing. They looked like their soul was taken, like their existence on earth was over.
As Linda became more and more scared, also due to the fact the we hadn’t seen anyone the last 10 minutes, we decided to move on. The weird thing is, that we had almost come full circle, to where we first snacked. It was only 2:00 PM, half an hour before we had to go back to the buses, but we decided to go there anyway.
Right next to the room where we relaxed, should be the stairs to the bottom floor, where the exit was, but there weren’t any there. Instead there was another room, kind of empty, except for four mirrors. They all hung right next to each other, on the other walls there weren’t any mirrors, but there was a discolouration on the walls, as if there were mirrors before.
"This wasn’t here before, right Eric?" I nodded, knowing we were trapped. I had no idea how this was possible, it didn’t make any sense whatsoever.
Mark was also flabbergasted and Dennis looked like he was in trance. Dennis then started moving towards the four mirrors, 30 feet away. As soon as he saw himself in the mirror with his short black hair, he screamed, turned around and ran away. As Mark was injured from soccer the day before, I ran after him, leaving Linda and Mark behind.
Until then, I never knew that Dennis was such an athlete. He seemed like the guy that was always inside, always online to play games with me, and I never heard him talk about any kind of sport. Even in gym class, he didn’t seem interested in participating in anything.
To think that I, who plays soccer three days in the week, couldn’t keep up, was absurd. But it was happening. When we went through the room with the heads, which seemed to be even more soulless than ever, I lost sight, and let him run, knowing there was no way out. I walked slowly towards the room with the mirrors, catching my breath. I thought Linda and Mark would still be there, as I told them to stay where they were. At first glance both of them were gone, but as I looked further into the room with the mirrors, I saw Lisa in the corner, as if she was sobbing. I approached her carefully, not to scare her and called for her.
Then, the most helpless and sad face I’d ever seen looked me in the eyes, and she hugged me as if she had met her saviour. She was sobbing and crying uncontrollably, and she had a very hard time explaining what had happened in the five minutes I ran after Dennis.
"Don’t… don’t look, don’t do it… please… Eric, not you too." Not knowing what she was talking about, I took her to the place where we had snacked before. As she calmed down more, she started to explain what was happening.
"Mark was first trying to calm me down, to make sure I was okay. Then he started mumbling weird shit, I thought I misheard him, but when he said for the third time ’The souls, they are taken today’, I was sure he wasn’t kidding."
I asked her if she knew what it meant, and what had happened to Mark.
"The discolourations on the wall are the mirrors of our classmates, the mirrors are gone because their souls are too. I don’t know where they go, or where Mark is, he just walked to one of the mirrors, and screamed. At that moment I closed my eyes, and I haven’t seen Mark since."
"Did you hear Dennis run past?" I asked, although I knew the answer was going to be no.
Linda was clearly very tired, and at that moment I felt really tired too, even though it was 2:15 PM.
And then it hit me: I saw that all the paintings in the room we were in, had the soulless heads from the other room. This was very weird, I knew that at first they were unintelligible paintings, and now I could see the heads very clearly. Knowing that I was very tired, I blamed it on that, plus the situation was very weird to begin with. I turned around to walk back to the bench, but Linda wasn’t there.
I knew that this wasn’t a trick or a joke, she was way too tired for that. I walked slowly around the corner, and saw that only one mirror was left.
My hands started sweating, I started shaking uncontrollably and suddenly I heard from within my head, with Linda’s voice at its calmest:
"Eric, go and take a look, it will most surely free you." Before I knew it, I walked towards the last mirror, and looked into it.
The face I saw wasn’t that of a young guy full of life, it was that of a man, whose life had just ended, eyes without a sparkle behind it. As I saw this, all the power that was left in my body, disappeared, and I fell to the ground. My soul was consumed.