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Last week, when I was working my shift at the local museum, something happened to me. Something that can only be described as an unspeakable horror. I will try and recount it to the best of my ability, although I already feel the shackles of suppression pulling on the memory, trying to bury it as down deep into my subconscious as possible. Maybe if I get this off my chest, I’ll be able to get some sleep.
I was at my post with a fellow coworker. We were stationed in front of the brand new Glass Gallery. The gallery was only open for a week at our museum because it was a traveling collection. Needless to say, there was an implacable rush of people coming to see the pieces in the exhibit. And for right reason; I had never seen such impressive glasswork in my entire life. The last groups of viewers were making their rounds through the gallery on the closing night of the exhibit, and my coworker and I were bidding them all a goodnight. Just as the last of the guests were exiting, a strange, elderly man walked through the front door of the museum and approached us.
He looked as though he was sobbing. His lower lip was trembling, his eyes were red and puffy, his voice was shaky and fragmented. But most peculiarly, he kept repeating the same damned phrase.
“I’m so afraid I’m going to break something.”
It was difficult to make out what he was saying the first few times between the whimpers, but he was like a broken record; he never stopped repeating that line.
He moved slowly in a crooked, awkward sort of way.
I tried to tell him that the gallery was closing up and that he probably wouldn’t have enough time to appreciate the pieces, but it seemed as though he didn’t hear a word I said. He just kept sobbing his sad line, and limped right on through the entrance to the gallery. I looked at my coworker, and he just shrugged at me. I could hear the words “going to break something” fade as the old man walked deeper and deeper into the exhibit. After about five minutes, when every other patron had left, my coworker said he was going to go check on the old man. At this point, he was the last guest in the gallery, and I think we both were a little concerned about a crooked old man alone amongst millions of dollars’ worth of art. Maybe he actually would break something.
My coworker disappeared, and I stood at the entrance for what felt like forever. Neither the old man nor my coworker resurfaced. Confused, a little worried even, I decided to go into the gallery myself and see what was going on. I walked my path with slight pace, not leaving the pieces unnoticed. It really would be a shame if one of these were to break; they were gorgeous.
I turned the corner and continued through the exhibit. I didn’t see either my coworker or the old man. I kept walking.
There was one more turn in the gallery before it looped back around to the exit. As I approached the corner, I slowly started to hear sobbing, no, crying. My heart started to beat faster, and I noticed that I broke out almost into a run. The crying increased. The corner was about five or six feet away from me. There were no windows in the gallery, and the head lights had gone off. The only lighting in the entire corridor was that of those illuminating the individual pieces, baking them in an orange glow. Around the corner, a similar type of orange glow cast a shadow on the floor, and I could see the crooked silhouette of the old man. I remember thinking that he looked at lot more crooked than the first time I saw him. And then I turned the corner.
Standing there, almost right in front of me, was the old man, crying harder than I remember. But there was something different about him. He wasn’t repeating that phrase any longer. He was whimpering something else that I couldn’t quite make out. I decided to look past him, and then I saw it, what was making that shadow on the floor.
I saw my coworker. He was lying on the floor. His face was in a freeze frame of anguish. But his back. His back. His back. It was snapped at a disturbingly unnatural angle. It looked like his spine had been severed in half. His legs were pointing in one direction, and his torso was pointing in another one entirely. He was quivering. Horrified, I looked away, unable to conjure a single word. I then heard what the old man was saying.
Between his bouts of tears and breathlessness, between his cries and wails, the words he was now saying were, “I did it. I broke something.”
Credit To: Emmett Breda