The Painting

Sara and Calvin sat at opposite ends of the couch staring blindly at the painting hanging on the wall. The room was illuminated only by the flickering light of the candles spread around the room.

“That painting’s crooked,” mumbled Calvin.

“No, it’s not,” responded Sara flatly.

“Yeah, it is.” Calvin’s voice rose a notch.

“As if you really care.”

“Well, it’s irritating me.”

“It’s been hanging there for a week. Now you care?”

“Never paid much mind to it before, but it’s definitely crooked.”

Calvin sat stoically on the couch as if willing the painting to straighten itself.

They were stuck in a room they had barricaded to protect themselves from the blood-sucking night stalkers. Some people called them zombies for lack of a better term.

The invasion of their town by the murderous monsters started about a week ago. The windows were covered with thick sheets of plywood reinforced by 2×6 pieces of lumber. The door was blocked with several 2x6s that they could slide out if they needed.

“Apparently you think that I can’t hang a picture right.” Sara’s volume now matching his. “It looks fine to me.”

“Did you use a level?”

“Of course I did! If it’s bothering you so badly, why don’t you go get a level and check it?”

“I will,” Calvin spat, but he continued to sit on the couch just staring at the painting,

After a few minutes, Sara jumped up from the couch. “Oh, for crying out loud. I’ll go get the level.” She gasped as she doubled over in pain clutching her abdomen.

“Your incision from the surgery?” There was no concern in his voice.

“The one for the teratoma that almost killed me you mean?” Her sarcasm was biting. She popped open a few of the snaps on her nightgown and stared down at the still healing incision running from her sternum down to her pubic bone. Calvin looked away and didn’t answer.

“Is the level in the closet?” He looked puzzled by the possibility.

She turned and gave him a chilling look. He looked away again. The sound of the glass windows shattering went unnoticed by the arguing couple.

“Of all the things you thought we might need in this room, you thought a level would be one of them?” Calvin asked sarcastically.

“It was already in here and, because you’re so obsessed with this painting, apparently it was necessary.” Sara pulled the level out of the closet and walked toward the painting.

“What’s a tera… whatever?”

“It’s a freaking tumor. Weren’t you listening when the surgeon spoke to us?”

“Oh yeah,” he mumbled. “It had hair and teeth and fingernails and stuff.”

“Of course you heard that part.” Sara rolled her eyes and shook her head.

“What causes that?”

“One of my eggs decided to try to become a baby without the help of your stupid sperm.”

Sara placed the level on top of the painting. “See, it’s perfectly level.”

“Well, it is now! You moved it when you put the level on it.”

“No, I didn’t”

There was a scraping sound on the wood covering the windows.  The couple didn’t seem to hear it.

“Yeah, you did. I saw it move.”

Calvin was still sitting on the couch. He hadn’t moved an inch. Sara threw the level at him as hard as she could, hitting him just above his left eye. He stared at the floor, still not moving as blood trickled down the side of his face.

The splintering of the plywood could be heard throughout the room.

“What was that for?” he asked.

“For being such an ass. That painting was straight and you know it.”

“No, it wasn’t, but it is now.”

“Yes, it was. I just proved it.”

“No, you straightened it.” Blood continued to trickle down his face but he still didn’t move.

“No, I didn’t,” Sara screamed.

The first night stalker burst through the splintered Plywood.  Sara and Calvin stared at the monster in shock, then they turned towards each other. They knew it was the end.

Minutes later their lifeless, blood drained bodies lay on the floor with their dead eyes fixed on the painting about which they had been arguing.


copyright ©2017 Liz Leighton All Rights Reserved

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