“There won’t be any need for that sir, and you’ll find that all lines of communication have been cut off.” The Painter said, smiling wider than humanly possible.
The smoke began to waft into the living room, roiling like storm clouds as they moved with startling speed. Coughing, David backed away towards Sharon, drawing the Painter out of the kitchen and towards the couch.
“What are you doing here? Why are you bothering us?” Sharon said, catching the Painter’s attention. The Painter’s expression softened and he looked at David sadly.
“You didn’t mention any women would be involved.” The Painter said remorse heavy in his voice.
“I didn’t tell you anything you lunatic, now get out of my house!” David yelled, pointing towards the front door.
“I’m afraid it’s not that simple.” The Painter said, waving an arm towards the wall. Wherever the smoke touched now burst into flames, scorching the wood and plaster alike as the fire burned hot and bright. The Painter waved at the front door, where flames sprung up from the carpet, billowing black smog into the air that whirled and swirled like clouds of cotton candy, snaking their way along the walls while leaving trails of fire in their wake.
“What are you doing?” Sharon screamed, backing away from the fire,
“Stop that! Stop that this instant!” David shouted, moving forward and striking the Painter firmly in the face.
David screamed, pulling his fist away from the strange man’s face, skin peeling off and blood drizzling across the carpet. His fist looked as if it’d struck a piece of hot iron, burning in response to the great heat that the Painter seemed to exude. Looking at him now, as he walked around the couch and towards Sharon, she could see the trail of fire he left in his wake.
“No! Stay away!” She screamed, tears streaming down her face. David, his hand bloody and scorched, leaped over the back of the couch and tackled the man to the ground, the sound of raw meat hitting a hot flat iron sizzling throughout the room. David screamed as the Painter took him into his arms, cradling him like a child, making shushing noises to calm him despite the fact the man was being scorched by the very touch of the Painter.
“Now, let’s not have any of that. Let’s play a game!” The Painter said, grasping David by the thigh, his long fingers burning through his jeans and into his skin and muscle quickly. In a matter of seconds, he’d seared off the leg, burning through the bone and rendering the leg a stump some two inches from the hip. Holding the smoldering leg up in the air, the Painter tossed it high over the couch and into the flames dancing behind it.
Sharon was screaming as her husband convulsed, his body growing pale as he went into shock. The Painter shook his head and gripped David painfully by his cheeks, forcing him to look at the end of the couch.
“You always said you wanted children, didn’t you Sharon?” The Painter asked a cruel smile playing on his lips as the cries of newborn babies tore the air above the crackling of the flames. Crawling on their hands and knees, with ashen skin and malformed heads and crumbling bodies, flaming infants began to make their way to the couch, leaving a nasty black trail of scorched carpet in their wake. Their eyes, blue sapphires just like David’s, were glued to Sharon, their tiny mouths, as twisted and malformed as they were, were uttering one phrase.
“Momma! Momma!” The babies chorused, climbing up the fabric of the couch while simultaneously burning it. Sharon backed away from the tiny cinder children, but a searing agony overtook her at her arm. Looking back, she saw the Painter gripping her arm at the elbow, his grasp ironclad.
“Why?” She cried, looking at the Painter, looking for mercy.
His pitiless orbs spared nothing save for curiosity. Curiosity for when the children caught up with her and began crawling up her legs, burning through her leggings and skin. Curiosity for when the children reached her midsection and began to burrow into her stomach and womb, seeking a place to call home. Curiosity when her blood, pouring out of her numerous wounds, began to sizzle and pop, steaming up in red clouds of smoke.
His curiosity faded right around the time she did, leaving him holding an arm that was barely connected to a flaking skeleton. David was hardly faring any better, but then again, what could he expect? The house was on fire.
The firefighters spent the better part of the night battling the inferno that had engulfed the Martinez house. Some would swear the fire had a mind of its own, dancing to and fro to avoid the powerful streams of water being fired into it. Others claimed they saw eyes, smiling eyes, within the billowing clouds of smoke coming off the heated column of flame. All agreed that it was a tragedy, and they were thankful that nobody had been injured by the fire. How it started, they had no clue.
It wasn’t until the morning when the last of the fire gave way to the blasting fire hoses did they find the skeletons of the two lovers. They were perplexed why the larger skeleton was missing a leg, the smaller an arm. What vexed the investigators even more was that something had survived the daunting fireball without a single burn.
A painting of a crying child.