Field Report by Detective Karsh
By: Meena Rose
Location: A Wing, Second Floor, Belluschi Building, Portland Art Museum
Case: 5 people have been reported missing after visiting the Portland Art Museum. Security tapes have revealed faultiness in the cameras in A Wing, Second Floor, Belluschi Building, Portland Art Museum.
I had to blink twice to convince myself of my own surroundings. Not two seconds ago I was investigating a painting in the Portland Art Museum. The painting was rather dark with a great deal of shadows that concealed danger. I had to get close so I could better appreciate the finer details of the artist’s amazing brush work.
I remember my face being two inches away from the painting when all of a sudden I felt like I was being pulled in. I felt like I was falling into the painting. Of course, at the time, I thought I was experiencing some side effects from the new anti-histamines I had been prescribed.
I immediately was in a state of panic when I realized I had “stepped into” the painting. My suede shoes were covered in mud. The ground I had landed on appeared to be soggy and spongy with each step. The sounds. Yes, there were sounds. It was as though the whole jungle groaned so as to adjust and account for my existence. Shortly thereafter I started to hear some hooting and other bird calls. The sound seemed to come from all around. If these were birds then there was a whole lot of them otherwise it could be those humanoid shapes I had spied in the painting earlier and they had me surrounded.
There was something lurking in the murkiness of the river. I could not tell what it was exactly but it fill me with dread. Over head, the sky was overcast. It looked liked there was a full moon behind them because it was not as dark as it could have been. I was grateful of my habit of carrying a flashlight on my person wherever I went. At least, I would have some light for however long the batteries last here. I was not even sure how fast the time moved compared to the world back home.
I did decide to turn on the flashlight just to make sure it was operational. In that one flash of light, I saw 8 pairs of eyes looking back at me from the river. That light seemed to have spurred them into moving. This definitely was a turn for the worse and I was upset with myself for a lack of proper judgement. Just then, a roar erupted so loudly that the whole scene ground to a halt except for the orange and black flashes of swift powerful motion coming down the hill. My mind registered that it was a tiger albeit a special tiger who seemed to move faster than anything I had every seen.
The tiger was upon me in a heartbeat. As it knocked me over so I could drape across its body, it finally dawned on me that there might be 5 people somewhere in this living landscape. They could be dead or alive. Either way, I would have to find them or what befell them and figure out how to get back to the outside world.
Once we gained higher ground, the tiger finally stopped and deposited me unceremoniously on to the ground.
“You! Listen!” the tiger said. I nearly jumped out my skin at the sound and looked around. “Seriously, after all this nonsense you are telling me that a talking animal is hard to believe?” the tiger asked. I will record the exchange between us below.
Me: “Well, I suppose that was foolish of me. What is this place?”
Tiger: “Why can’t you people stop this? It has been such a long time since one of you fell in and now, in 6 days, 6 of you have fallen in. What changed?”
Me: “Look, I am a detective from Portland. I was assigned this case to look into 5 missing person reports. I was just starting my investigation when I fell in.”
Tiger: “Where were you when you fell in?”
Me: “In the Portland Art Museum. I was examining a painting that was part of a new collection for the season. The exhibit opened a week ago.”
Tiger: “Has anything about the painting changed? Anything at all?”
I flipped through my notes at that point and said: “The painting along with 3 others in the collection were reframed and taken out the silver frames. They were framed in a more suitable and complimentary tone per the gallery director.”
Tiger: “This is not good at all. There is a chance that ‘this’ may indeed be happening in other paintings as well. It is the silver that protects from this effect.”
Me: “The other 3 paintings are not yet on display. Listen, it is MY turn to ask a question!”
I was rewarded with a deep rumbling growl but I pressed on nonetheless: “Who are you? Why do you ask so many questions about the painting?”
The tiger looked me straight in the eye and said: “I am the painter. Towards the end of my career, I made 4 paintings and I could not decide which one most represented me. So I poured my artistic soul into all 4 of them equally. When I did that, I guess, my repressed self transferred on to these as well. That is the ominous feel of this place.”
The tiger paused before launching into the next bit. “All the people who fall in become the Shadow people unless they have a firm grip on who they are and can handle the weird and the bizarre without self destructing. That is why I had to whisk you away before fear consumed you.”
Me: “OK, I think I am understanding things so far. Explain three things to me. 1. How did you learn about the silver frame effects? 2. How do I get back? 3. Can I bring the others back?”
Tiger: “Well, as an artist, I always wore a silver chain around my neck. As I got older, I found I had to take it off to go to bed at night. On one of those nights I had to get something from the kitchen. On the way there, I felt a strong tug towards the painting like it was calling me home. Actually, I was being called into all 4 paintings which was maddening. I barely made it to the kitchen that time. When I came back with a plate of cheese and cutting knife, none of the paintings called out to me. After a few more trials, I learned the silver in the knife altered the behavior. I immediately set out to frame them in silver to neutralize the effect. At the time I was certain, it was just me who was susceptible to its pull.”
Me: “The thought to destroy the weird paintings never crossed your mind?”
Tiger: “No. Never. As far as how you go back, I think if you kill me then all the trapped people will be free to go. If I am wrong, that ominous spirit will be the only thing left.”
Me: “I can’t take that risk. Have you considered talking with the other and reconciling the difference?”
The tiger actually fidgeted and would not look me in the eye: “No.”
At that point, I took matters into my own hands and summoned the malevolent darkness to the hilltop. What was amazing is that both sides were afraid of each other. Even the malevolence acted more subdued. I used my mediation training and got both sides talking. The darkness was indeed the repressed self that has been begging for acceptance and has been pulling people in so that someone might accept it. Through the course of the conversation, it became evident to both sides that they needed to accept each other.
Once that was concluded, I saw the darkness enter the tiger’s mouth and the next thing I knew I was back in the hallway in the Portland Art Museum. It was not just me but 20 others as well. I found 15 more people than the 5 I was originally looking for. We will have to find out who they belong to.