MYSTERY

A police car rushed to the scene  of an accident  where a young man committed suicide by jumping from a  window  of a  high-rise  building. A woman, who was the young man’s  neighbor, had informed  the police  about the accident. Detective Sean wondered what could  have made the man  kill himself. His first thought was that it might  be due to drugs.

 By the time he drove up to the scene of the accident many people      were  gathered there. Some of the women felt bad  about the young man’s death.   One of them  pushed her way through the crowd towards the detective.

 

‘Hello,  the detective. It was me who  I informed you about this accident.  We were next-door  neighbors so I knew him very well. 
He was a kind man, calm,  and refined. He never argued with anybody and his home was always  a quiet place. 
He was a  very good painter.  Once  he even   painted  a  portrait of me. The detective  listened  to her very attentively.

 


A few  other neighbors came up to the detective. Everyone respected their dead  neighbor.    No one could think what could have had  happened to him that  caused him to  make such a decision.

One of the neighbors even suggested that he might have been pushed from the window.
‘Everything is possible’. thought the detective.
  The  detective went to the painter’s  apartment. His name was George;  he was living alone  in his flat. His flat  was kept  clean but it sharply smelled    like paint.  The  woman came with the detective to the painter’s flat.

‘This is his door and this is mine. There  is  no one  on this floor except us. I would invite him often to my place to have tea  together and  he would always  show  me his  paintings. Now you can  see them yourself;  he was a very talented artist.’

Detective  Sean noticed   paintings  of  the same  young  woman. She looked stunningly beautiful.

 


‘Who is this  woman on these pictures? Do you happen to know her?’  asked  the detective.  
‘No, I don’t  know her. I have never seen her here at his place. George has, sorry had,  a friend, named  Peter.   Perhaps he knows her.’

‘Do you know where he lives?’



‘I don’t know where he lives  I know that he  is  a history teacher.
I remember George telling me that he works  in   the archives   and teaches history at a  university.   So it won’t be difficult to find him.’

The detective  was scrutinizing a picture with  great interest.

‘What  castle is this?  Am I right that he didn’t just paint  portraits only?’ 

‘No, he didn’t.. He  painted  anything he wanted.  Like I said,  he was a great artist.’

The detective kept observing the room.   If he  committed suicide there  must   be a letter or at least a note left.   So far,  the detective wasn’t able to find anything.
‘Thank you  very much for  the information that you  shared with me. You helped me a lot.’

The detective was just about to leave.

 'I just remembered something. I was going to take out the trash and then call on George when I noticed that the front door was open. I heard him talking to a young woman.  I think he was painting her. Of course I came back because I didn't want to disturb them.'

 'Thank you very much, ma'am, once again. Goodbye.'

The detective decided to go the university to  find the dead man’s friend there.
He was told at the university that  Peter didn’t have any lectures that day and that he might be at archives, or at his friend George’s place. They had been  friends since  childhood. No one knew  about his tragic death at the university and the detective decided to
 withhold the information.

He went to the archives right away.
‘Hello,  my name is Sean, am I a detective from  the local police department. I need to talk to one of your co-workers, his name is Peter.’
 
‘Hello,  it’s me. What can I do for you?’
‘Your friend George committed suicide by jumping from his flat’s window this morning.’
‘What? He committed suicide?’  He turned away from the detective. He was crying.
‘I am sorry, detective.  He was my close friend.’
‘What can you tell me about your friend?  One of his neighbors told me that  he had a guest in the evening yesterday, a young woman. Do you know who it might have been?’
‘No, that’s impossible.’
‘But his neighbor heard them talking.’
‘You might consider me crazy, but I am quite sure  that he never knew the woman  you are talking about. 
'He didn’t have anyone, especially the woman. The conversation that his neighbor heard was a monologue. He was talking to the picture of the woman.’

‘Do you know her, Peter?’

‘Yes, I do. Or maybe I don’t?’

‘What do you mean, maybe you don’t?’

‘The girl we are talking about  got lost, disappeared  a long  time ago. But  her paintings  are still here  and George  was talking  to one of them.’

‘So when did she disappear?’ asked the detective.

‘Many, many years ago, in the seventeenth century.’

 

‘What? That’s nonsense. You are pulling my leg.’
‘That’s not nonsense I told you that you might think I am mad.’
‘All right, Sir. You had better go home now  and have a rest.  Can  we meet at 3 o’clock tomorrow? I would like you to accompany me to his flat if you don’t mind.’
‘No, I don’t mind.’
The next day  they both met each other at George’s place  as  it was arranged.
The detective walked into his room first. 
'Come in,  Sir.  Were you talking about this girl on the picture?’
‘Yes, this is the woman who disappeared   in the nineteenth century.’
‘Here we  go again’ said the detective.
‘I received a letter from George yesterday.’
‘From George?’
‘Yes,  he wrote it,   then sent it to me,   came back home and killed himself.’
‘Show me this letter, please.’
‘I will, but not now. I am afraid you won’t understand. I need to tell you something.’
‘All right. I have one question. Whose portraits are these?’
‘Please, listen to me.’

PETER’S STORY


‘A few weeks  ago George  decided to make  some sketches in nature. He would  often leave  to paint landscapes, staying for a long time there,  however he  came back quickly   in two or three days for the last time.
George called me and  said that  he wanted to meet  me in the archives  immediately. I was surprised. He came to the archives. He was anxious and extremely excited.
He showed me the sketches for  one of his paintings. The picture depicted an old castle. I recognized it at once.  There  were  only four castles  altogether including the one  on George’s   painting. One of them was here in our country.
It belonged to  a very  wealthy and powerful prince who lived  in the seventeenth century. I  easily found  some information about him in the archives. He was married and the only heir to his   huge  fortune was his beautiful daughter.
I showed him the portraits of the prince,   his wife and daughter. His daughter  mysteriously disappeared. No one could find her neither in the castle nor around it. The prince was looking for her everywhere. But she  still couldn’t be found neither dead or alive. In time,  after their death  the castle fell into decay and shortly after  collapsed.
It’s a desolate  place now where there is  nothing except for a forest. It is all the information I found in the archives. George told me that he had seen the prince’s castle. It appeared suddenly. He  saw  many people inside and outside the castle  and horse-drawn carriages. I even  told him that  it must have been a mirage. The  scientists admit this  natural phenomenon.’
  He was looking at the princess’ portrait uninterruptedly.
‘George asked me what was her name and I told him that her name was Ann and that she was only sixteen when she went missing.
George told me that he  wanted  to go there  hoping to experience the mirage again. It seemed  to me that something was wrong.
On the other hand it is quite possible that  if one witnesses  such a thing  it might cause  such  a reaction in him.  I hadn’t  seen him  since he left. Take his letter please  he describes everything in details in it. Now you will understand  what he is talking about in his letter.  It’s not easy to  realize everything that has happened, but I still think  that his mind wasn’t able to bear the stress.’
The detective took the letter and went home where in a peaceful environment he was going to read the unusual letter.


CHAPTER 3

 

THE PAINTER’S LETTER

Dear Peter,


I am going to tell you everything as happened. I still can’t realize what has happened to me. Do you remember when I left to make some sketches for my pictures? I myself didn’t know where I was going. I did like that spot I chose,  as there was a river  to cool myself  after work.  So I decided to put up a tent there. There was nothing  around  except for  a  forest, a glade, and the river.
I even thought that I stayed  there for nothing as  my eyes  wouldn’t land on anything interesting to paint.
I sketched the river, glades,  and then I would take a bath in the river, have supper  and sleep. 
I actually  thought of  finding another place.  When I woke up in the morning  and  went out of my tent  I was not able to understand  at once what had happened. My tent was located near a huge castle. I saw people  inside and outside of it and horse-drawn carriages. I was looking at all of this and I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was like in a fairy-tale.
I was curious  to scrutinize  everything  closely  and if possible to talk to the  people.
I got closer. The castle was  gorgeous, apparently it belonged to some rich man.
I  called the people that were near the castle,  but  they didn’t answer and I thought  that they couldn’t hear me and  I came close to them. But they  didn’t pay attention to me , this was when  I understood that they couldn’t see me. I  decided to touch one of them but I  couldn’t  feel them. I had the feeling that they were airy. I could see  them, but they couldn’t see me, I could hear their voices, but they couldn’t  hear  mine. I decided to see you right away and inquire about this castle in the archives.
I came back again,  again to that very same  place.  Owing to the  information you provided, I knew whose  castle that was.  But when I came back  everything was  just as before that is to say  there was no castle anymore.  I had been waiting for three days  and it appeared again.
I wanted to see the princess’ daughter. I was fascinated at her beauty, but she didn't show up.
But,  lo and behold, I had the  luck  to see her finally.  I was standing on  a side of the river sketching when I heard  some rustling behind me.
And I turned. It was his daughter  and she was coming towards the river. She was alone.
Oh, God how lovely  she was!  An idea flashed across my mind, what if  she  can see me. I came up to her  and I spoke to her.

‘Your Highness.’
Peter she heard me and looked at me!
‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’
‘I am an artist. I came here  to make sketches for my pictures.’
She  looked at me  like  people  look at something  amusingly incomprehensible. But  it was nothing she could see and  hear me that  was  above all. I was so afraid  all the time that  she would disappear.
‘May I ask Your Highness to make a  portrait of you?’
‘Oh, I am bored that everyone wants to draw  me. All right,  I don’t mind,  draw me,  but I would like  to appear on the picture with you.’
I was surprised . How could I paint her with me! But   she slipped her arm through mine , turned to me and said that  this is the picture she wanted  to see. I started to paint her immediately  still scared to lose her.  Three days later the portrait was ready. Everything disappeared later,   but  after four days  appeared again.  We became best friends shortly  after.   I knew how   crazy it was to be madly in love with her.   When  I said that I loved  her  she told me  that she had been engaged  and was going to get married soon.  I  was shocked. I didn’t think about   four  centuries  that separated us at all, but I was thinking about her husband that was going to be between us after their marriage. I was willing to  live there in my tent and meet her just like we were meeting each other   in the way that was like a  mirage or  a fantasy.  No matter how it is called, what counted was  that we could see each other. I didn’t want her to marry him. I was sure that   she loved me too although she never  told me  anything  about her feelings.
‘I should be going. It’s late already.  I must  return to the castle.’
‘I will be waiting for you tomorrow, Ann.’
She looked at me. I was not able to resist it. I kissed her  and she kissed me back. Then she put her head on my shoulder I knew she didn’t want to  leave.  At that very moment I noticed  people with  torches in their hands.    Obviously, they  were her servants who were trying to find her.   I took her in my arms  to my tent,  as she  was invisible  to them there. She fell asleep in my arms. I put her on my  improvised bed staying awake all night long  looking at her. I was afraid that she  would disappear.
I went out of my tent in the morning. Nothing again, the castle disappeared.   I worried about her at first,  but then  I was so happy  at the  thought that I could take her with me. But then I thought that if the castle disappeared she  must have disappeared  too. I rushed to the tent. She was still sleeping there. I approached her quietly   and bent my head  down to kiss her, but what I saw there made me recoil sharply. She was not breathing. I tried to wake her up by shaking her  and slapping her face, but in vain. She was dead. I couldn’t understand what  had  happened to her why   she had  died.  I even thought that perhaps she wasn’t dead and that she would remain in such a state until the castle appeared again. Unfortunately, I was wrong. It appeared  but  she was still breathless. I saw people looking for her  and calling her.  I was terrified. What if they found her  and blame  me for her  death. I was so scared. The castle  was remaining visible for a while  and as soon as it disappeared I decided to bury her. The only one place they couldn’t  see was my tent. So I buried her under my  tent.   The burial place wouldn’t catch attention  and I decided to come back home.  I felt so  depressed  that I didn’t even call you. I painted  about ten portraits of the  princess in a few days  and  hung them in my flat.  Our joint portrait was my favorite one. I was spending hours looking at it. Now I am going to let  you know  something terrifying. Once when I was  sitting  and looking at  the picture just like I usually did, it  suddenly came to life. I  saw  something that made me grow cold with terror. I didn’t want to live.  Then suddenly I heard  some rustling, that very same rustling I heard when I  saw her for the first time.  I  looked round  but there  was no one.  Feeling breathless I came  up to the window,  opened it ………..

At this point the letter was interrupted.

Chapter 4

Detective Sean finished reading  the letter.
‘Well, I think he was sick’ he concluded, after reading  George’s letter.  As the  detective  wanted  very much  to see their joint portrait he went to George’s place again.   He himself  felt  a change  in him after reading the letter.  That change made him look  at the painter’s  pictures differently then. Their joint portrait was  kept in the wardrobe this is why he didn’t see the portrait when he first  came there. He  took it out of the wardrobe carefully and started to  scrutinize it.
Oh God!  The picture depicted the princess’ murder.  A man was strangling her and that man was George.   The  strange behavior of the painter seemed  no  longer as  strange as it seemed  before to the detective,   but still  it could  not have been  completely  clear to him. The  detective felt  breathless  and went out  to the balcony.  He  leaned against  the balustrades  to look at the view  out of the balcony  when  he suddenly felt    that some inexplicable force  was trying to  throw him down but he managed to  jump aside from the balustrades  and   literally fell down on  the balcony.
And then  he heard  some strange  sound of rustling. 

The detective was  reporting on closing the painter’s case. A suicide note found in his flat  said that he had no desire to live anymore.
It’s a pity that such a talented artist  decided to end his life this way.
The detective arranged for the pictures to be handed to  the painter’s only friend Peter. It was going to be up to him  what to do  with them then.

The detective was  coming home thinking, he was thinking about the  painter.
Nothing was really clear to him in this story. Why did he kill her? How could he kill her, though?  But still  he managed to do it somehow.




One thing was obvious. She  took revenge  for her murder  and killed  him. She even tried to kill  the detective too.

But whom  is it  possible  to tell this to?  Who will believe?

THE END

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