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The Painting

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Shpee

Andrew was a normal university student studying art history. On his free time he loved visiting all kinds of flea markets, second hand boutiques and pawn shops both in hopes of finding something truly valuable, and just for his own joy.

One day in a flea market, he encountered a curious painting. It was a portrait of a family, painted clearly in the Victorian era. The father, an elder man with greying hair, sat in a leather arm chair and held a cane, and around him stood the mother - around the same age, two young men just about old enough to be his sons, and a young girl, maybe nine or ten years old. There was something very strange about the portrait, even though it could have been the stern, cruel look of the father, and serious, almost mournful expressions of all the others. Andrew, who felt the burning need to study the picture closer, bought it, and took it to his flat.

It was clearly painted during the era of realism, and the detail was amazing, though what baffled him was that it had not been signed anywhere. Any painter ought to be proud of such a creation. He studied the picture, first by himself, then by the help of his schoolbooks, library books, and the internet. He started to neglect his friends, turning down offers to go out on the weekends, then skipping lectures and ignoring school work. This went on for months.

To him, all this seemed to pay off, as the mysteries of the painting slowly unraveled before him. He realized what made the family seem so odd: Though dressed formally, all of them seemed to be clothed to slightly different eras, the little girl sporting a plastic hair clip shaped like a butterfly, which were in style during the eighties. As the horrifying secret of the painting finally revealed itself to him, it was too late for him to escape it.

Six months after Andrew had found the painting, a team of workers humorously referring to themselves as the 'clean-up crew' were sent to clear out the apartment of a university student who had been reported missing and found dead in his home. The apartment was filthy, and there were piles of trash everywhere besides the middle of the living-room floor, where propped up on a chair stood a painting of an elderly couple, three young men, and a little girl with a tear running down her face.

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