Escape from the Future, flash fiction by Lori Marchesin at
Jakub Schikaneder (Murder in the House)

Escape from the Future

Escape from the Future

written by: Lori Marchesin


Jeanine opened her eyes and took in her surroundings slowly because even the slightest movement caused her excruciating pain as if her bones had been broken. Her eyes began to water as an acrid smell hit her nose.
She had to leave that dark place with its single window because water was dripping slowly but persistently down the crumbling walls, making her shudder. She recognized the smell of pine needles that her moist garments gave out, but she was not in a wood; rather, she was in a painter’s studio. Then a recollection began to emerge from the agony. She had resorted to her buddy Jakub for financial assistance because she needed to get away from her abusive husband, who kicked and punched her day in and day out. She could no longer endure the violence; it was a sign of her demise. Jakub offered to assist her, to give her money to flee in exchange for her posing for a portrait.

What’s up, my friend? Why did you abandon me? She attempted to stand.

She got down on her knees and carefully rose to her feet while making cautious motions and gritting her teeth. She searched everywhere but failed to find the shoes. Jeanine felt she had to leave before terror rendered her helpless as her heart was in her throat and she was stumbling and falling. She lacked any means of protection and needed to get away quickly.

A thunderclap, loud and scary like her irate husband’s roars, made her stiffen. In fear and despair, she flung open the door, grabbed the handrail, and descended the stairs while trying to fight back the groans of anguish she was experiencing with each step. She recognized the confined, abandoned alley with uneven stones and water puddles as the location of Jakub’s studio.

Suddenly a hard shove in her back caused her to collapse. Her head hit the ground violently. While calling upon Jakub, she felt blood running down her face and flowing onto the floor. Then nothing.

Jakub awoke abruptly. For a brief moment, he was unaware of the location and the time, but then visions of Jeanine, dead in the alley, began to form in his head. Slowly, he moved his attention to the easel, where he had left the nearly finished painting. At first, to his horror, he saw only a blank canvas. When his heartbeat calmed and his eyes were no longer engulfed in nightmarish imagery, he saw the red and white brushstrokes that captured Jeanine’s fear: with just a few minor elements still to be added, the painting would be complete. He would call it – Escape from the Future –

He gasped as he heard a gentle knock. Jeanine stood at the doorway in her coat, hat, and purse.
“I’m all set. My friend will drive me to a secure location. I’m frightened by your portrait because, without your assistance, Jakub, that is exactly where and how I’d be.”

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