The longer he stared at the painting, the more his grip on reality began to fragment. His work had begun so innocently but, now that he had become so captivated by this painting, he knew his collection was far from complete.
He finished his lunch and made his way out of the museum. Every day he spent 45 minutes, vaguely noticing that he was eating because he was so moved by Botticelli’s depiction of these women. He was hypnotized by the way they seemed to be suspended in time. He wanted that for his masterpiece. He wanted to capture the very essence of life standing still as the famous painter had been able to achieve on his canvas.
The day dragged on and his thoughts turned to his work in progress. If he put his artwork into perspective, it was a little over half-finished. He knew he had a great deal of work to do before he could compare himself to the master.
As the office day came to a close, he gathered his artist tools and ventured out into the waning daylight to get inspired. His black van wound through the streets and he steered towards the park. He saw her from a distance. Her blonde hair danced in the breeze and he was mesmerized. Her had found her. He had found his Flora.
He pulled up under an overhang of tree branches and, after a great deal of effort on his part, coaxed her over to the van. He could see she was nervous and he enjoyed the ruse more than the actual abduction. He had told her how much he wanted to capture her vitality on his canvas and she was duly flattered. She didn’t see the syringe until it had been plunged into her upper arm.
When he arrived home, he flung her over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry and took her to the basement to meet the others. The three Graces huddled in the corner, chained together, while the man who would portray Zephyrus lay unmoving in the corner. Flora had not yet regained consciousness and he placed her gently on the mattress in the far corner, making sure to bind her wrists and ankles and chain her to the wall.
He was so close. He only needed Spring and Venus to complete the picture. He, of course, would play Mercury and, when all of the pieces were found, he would recreate Botticelli’s masterpiece in a living, human tableau. He was convinced he would be able to display his masterpiece beside the original painting in the museum.