“So, what story should I tell you today?” asks Mom as she tucks the twins in bed. “How about the Doughnut Robbery?”
“No, we heard that one already!” says Tyler.
“Tea Trouble?” asks Mom.
“No!” says Laura.
“What story, then?”
“Could we hear one of the stories about when you were young?” asks the twins.
Mom hesitates. “Oh, all right then.”
The twins look eagerly at Mom.
“I woke up late for school. I had slept very late that night because I was up reading the Villan comics. My friend Sally had lent them to me and I was supposed to return them the next day.
I really liked the Villan comics and I couldn’t find that one comic anywhere in bookstores or libraries so Sally gave it to me. The time was about one-thirty when I finished the comic and went to sleep.
I needed to have a good night’s sleep in order to wake up early. I was a good student and arrived at school early every day. I never went to school late- except for that day, of course.
The school gates always closed after the time we’re supposed to arrive at school. Luckily, the guards had forgotten to close the gates so I got into school after all.
I quickly went to my locker and got my things for Art. That was the first subject I had for today.
I spotted Sally in front of the classroom and handed her the Villan comic. Then. I took my seat.
The Art teacher, Mr Arthur handed everyone a small canvas. He told us to help themselves with the acrylic paints and paint a portrait.
I’m really bad with acrylic paints. It’s so much easier to paint with watercolour but Josh Adwin, a boy who wasn’t good at studies was really good with them.
Josh was the best in the class when it came to Art. It was the only subject where he didn’t have to think. His work was really great. He was Mr Arthur’s best student.
On that day, Mr Arthur told him to give a blue envelope to the principal. Josh went out of the classroom with the envelope. I was curious about the envelope and went followed him out with an excuse of going to the toilet.
Josh didn’t go to the principal’s office at all but tore opened the letter and pulled out a sheet of silver paper. He read it and threw it into the rubbish bin. He went back into the classroom. I didn’t know what to make of it.
I went back to the classroom and wondered whether to tell anyone what I had just witnessed. Mr Arthur would be furious if he knew what Josh did.
I decided to keep quiet and not tell anyone. I tried to focus on what I was supposed to do. I had to paint a portrait.
I got some acrylic paint from Mr Arthur’s table at the front and squeezed them on my palette. I tried to paint Sally as best as I could but it was hard to not make her skin blue.
Josh was having the time of his life. He finished his painting in three minutes! He painted Mr Arthur and it looked so realistic! It was a masterpiece! His work was ten times better than his usual ones!
Mr Arthur hung the portrait on a nail in the front of the class and we were dismissed. He walked out of the class, beaming.
There were all kinds of gossip about Josh. About how his art suddenly got better. After we finished school, we all got ready to go to college. Josh left. He didn’t continue. He disappeared.
Then, graffiti started appearing all over the place. On everyone’s walls. There was a huge building called Elixon and one day, the whole grey building turned a shade of shocking orange. I had a feeling this had something to do with Josh.
Drawings started moving. It scared the whole city. Dead people were found with their faces painted black. And then, one day, Josh showed his face.
He introduced himself as “The Artist”. He wore a painted mask with a black hoodie so no one would know who he was. But I knew.
The Artist continued his terrible work. Killing, vandalizing… Then, he went missing again and never showed up since.
Rumours said he went inside the Elixon building and got killed. But… rumours are rumours. You never know whether they’re telling the truth.”
Tyler and Laura gape at Mom as she ends the tale.
“Wait- there was The Artist in the Villan comics too!” says Tyler excitedly. “Is he the one in your story?”
“Maybe,” shrugs Mom.
“Is this story true Mom?” asks Laura. “Or is it just made-up?”
“Well,” says Mom. “I suppose I have to let you guys decide that.”
She plants a kiss on the twins’ foreheads and with a click, turns off the light and shuts the door.
Mom sighs. She’s never told anyone that story before. Not even her husband.
There comes a knock on the door. Mom answers it, wondering who’s there at this time of night.
She opens the door and looks around. There is no one there. Only a paint spatter on the ground. Mom looks suspiciously at it.
Suddenly, a dark shadow emerges.
“Nice bedtime story.”
Mom’s heartbeat goes wild.
“Josh?” she gasps.