Having been given the wave of ‘finish up and get out’ from several security guards, Lilith started to pack her things. Sketchbooks, charcoals and research strewn everywhere in one of the public offices of her local modern art museum. Having arranged to use the space for help towards her dissertation, the museum instantly regretted the commitment it took to make her leave in the evenings as she’d refuse for as long as she could before eventually being escorted out of the premises.
Tonight was different though, instead of her usual final call and a brisk escort through the galleries and out of the back exit now that the front had been locked up for the night, she realised the lights had turned off one by one through the glass walls of the office.
Taking this as the ultimate hint, she opened the door and slinked through the first gallery, noting the newly placed yellow tape across the entrance as if to stop entry for the night-exhibitionists…not that there were any.
Music blasting through her earphones, Lilith took comfort in the familiar beats and lyrics she’d grown up with, she felt the music throughout her childhood helped her remember the experiences and, in time, draw themes and inspiration from the lessons she learnt from them.
While the song changed from one frolic down memory lane to the next, in that split second of silence she heard the distinctly alien sound of metal clanging. ‘Were the installing a new exhibition?’ She wondered to herself as she noted there were still no adequate lights lit above her head, she was wandering through the auxiliary lighting meant for alarms and fire exits.
Curiosity being her worst habit, she crept towards the noise in hope of getting a first glimpse at the new creation and maybe even a quick chat with the artist; the creator, as she preferred to call them, she felt it applied a finality to the art itself.
She rounded a corner, hand brushing against the curving white walls, triple her height to allow for the larger exhibitions, and found who she assumed to be the artist lying on the floor.
In a pool of his own blood.
Walking towards him slowly, she briefly thought this could possibly be the exhibition and the artist had walked away, clanging his materials as he left. On approaching however, she realised this was no display. He was dead.
The clanging came again, from the next space this time. Not knowing what to think she found herself dashing for the wall, not wanting to be exposed and vulnerable. It was a heavy sound, continuous the indistinguishable noise of heavy metallic objects clashing and scraping against the floor and walls of the museum. Patterns emerged quite quickly, a long scraping followed by a series of short bangs.
Not knowing what to think, and terrified, Lilith turned to proceed to the exit. Gathering her belongings in her arms, not wanting to draw any unnecessary attention to herself, she lightly padded towards the next corner, now wishing the layout of the building was more traditional compared to this twisting and turning maze of white-washed neutrality.
A security guard passed a the threshold of one of the spaces and, feeling the urge to call out, Lilith quickened her step to catch up to the familiarity of another human’s interaction, she was so confused, dizzy with what she’d just seen.
On catching up, she touched the guard’s uniform and he whipped around, not expecting to be with company. Shining a light in her eyes she recoiled from the sudden blast of light and the guard burst into the usual slurry of disapproval at her being her past closing time.
Apologising quietly, Lilith begged the guard to be quiet as she rubbed her eyes, trying frantically to rub the disorientation away before the scraping approached, as she could hear it following behind. It rounded the corner and, still unable to see, she knelt to the floor, alleviating herself from the weight of her bag just for a second to rub both eyes. She listened to the guard’s reaction as a reliable assessment of the situation.
“Who goes there? Show yourse-”
With a sharp whistle, the guard stopped, and gargled the rest of his sentence in his mouth. Regaining her eyesight she whipped her head up to see what had happened.
A large metallic barb had embedded itself in his neck, slashing it open. He fell to the floor and Lilith then turned to the thing on the other end of the corridor.
It was a large creature, an indistinguishable formation of several different metals all smelted together to form reflective surfaces to catch even the faintest of light sources and reflect them around the room. As the light ricocheted off the creation and onto the walls in varying copper and silvery shades she studied its movements, its behaviour, remaining completely still not wanting to risk drawing attention to herself.
With no obvious eyes, it must detect movement through other means, those being sound or something else, she couldn’t think. Having stared at it as she does to the other creations she found herself for once at a loss for coherent thoughts to string together.
Turning to find the exit, she took shallow solace in the dim green glow of ‘fire exit’ in the far gallery. She was almost out. Deciding to leave her bag, if she got out she could simply request it from the lost property at a later date, valuing her life over her life’s work, she turned on her feet and sprang into a sprint.
Instantly sensing the movement, she creature began its dragging clash towards the commotion, seeking to claim its third victim, assuming the creator and the guard have been its only victims that night.
Wishing the door closer, Lilith had her arms outstretched and ready to depress the bar and spring out into the world outside. She felt the stale night air rush past her face as the clashing and clanging gained on her, moving faster now with a series of appendages over her own two legs, she never considered herself a runner.
Colliding with the door and making an uproarious noise, she whipped the door open and debating whether to close it on the creature a metallic projectile slashed its way across the gallery and sunk straight into the wall behind her, embedding itself deep into the plaster.
Pulling the door closed, she smashed it against the frame, unable to be closed without assistance from the fire brigade, she took down the narrow corridor to the exit, tears stinging her face in the thought of never being able to stay past closing ever again.