The Magic Painting
Once, a long time ago, there arrived a traveller in a village which
used to stand right here, and he unveiled a magic picture.
It was full of swirling colours, shifting and strangely disconcerting,
never standing still and many who came and looked at it thought there
was something truly evil about it, a presence or even a group of
presences, but even so, they could not take their eyes off it.
They were so mesmerised with the magic picture that they didn't notice
the traveller slipping away quietly into the darkness from which he
In the fading light of dusk, and then in the flicker of torch fires,
the villagers argued.
The priest said he would keep the magic picture in his house to
contain the evil.
The Governor said he should look after the magic picture because his
house was guarded the most and had the strongest, safest doors.
The teachers said that they should keep it as there may be something
that could be learned.
The leader of the hunters and warriors said that it should become a
trophy to grace their hall.
The wives said it should be theirs because it was a pretty thing, and
such a charming diversion.
The artists said that it would give them much and newfound
The clerics argued that they should lock it in their labyrinthine
basements and that access should be regulated with permission slips.
They argued all night long and their voices grew louder and angrier as
the fires burned lower.
Finally, they fought.
In their struggle, the magic painting broke and shattered into many
pieces and each and every one grabbed a part and ran away to take it
to their house, and locked the doors so no-one could now take it from
The pieces retained the magic and enchantment.
Many years went by, until a group of soldiers. lost upon their path,
came across the ruins of the village.
They found overgrown gardens, and long dilapidated structures, silted
wells and ruined houses.
But what amazed and scared the soldiers was that in each house, they
found a skeleton, or two, or three, and each still held in its bony
grip, a dust blind, age flecked mirror shard.
© SFX 2004