It was the best of times, it w…

11 November 2018

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light. The Renaissance; the painting before me a scene stolen from the era.

I stare at the masterpiece in front of me, an ideal representation of the Renaissance, combining both elements of Greek Classicism and French Romanticism, it has an anomalous kind of entrancing quality to it. Beguiled by its cataclysmic beauty, I amble up to the painting. It’s as though the ‘Raft of Medusa’ has summoned me towards itself, my legs following its silent pleas to stalk up to it with nothing more than my subconscious consent. This is what I’ve come to the Louvre for after all. By now I am inches from the painting, giving me the ability to lean in and marvel at the precision of the brush strokes and the artfully constructed details visible even after so many centuries. A cacophonous bang snaps me out of my trance, only to find myself alone in the dim darkness of the aisle, in the museum. An obscure feeling swims in the depths of my stomach; I ignore it in favour of reverting my attention back to the looming presence of the painting, but not before noticing the lack of any sort of security for one of the Louvre’s most prized possessions.

It was the best of times, it w… Essay Example

I push the thought and the impending sense of foreboding doom, which refuses to leave my gut, out of my head and choose to focus on the almost too life-like, writhing bodies and anguished faces searching for escape on the canvas in front of me. They seem real, as though they are trapped not on a raft, but in the agonisingly perfect brush strokes, struggling to burst into reality. I take yet another step forwards and after much hesitation, dare to place a wary palm on the surface of the masterpiece. “What’s the worst thing that could happen? There’s no one” – but before I can finish my thought, a violent surge of adrenaline fills my body, leaving my heart thumping and engulfing my eyes in a darkness far too black for them to get accustomed to soon. With another raucous noise, I feel myself fall onto damp wood accompanied by an excruciating sting to my spine. The state of disorientation my mind is in makes it arduous to judge the amount of time passed, but eventually my eyes begin to detect vague traces of light. Sitting up, or rather, trying to – for I am stopped by rough hands aggressively pushing me down, back towards the rotten dampness and putrid stench of the wood – I attempt to map my surroundings.

Twisting my head around in the little room that I have, I am greeted by the numerous faces of those like me, struggling to get back to the edge of the loosely tied together wood, where there is enough airspace to, at least momentarily, breathe comfortably. With whatever little strength I have left in my limbs, I grope and forcibly push my way amongst the masses of entwined limbs, to a more spacious spot on the decrepit raft, I take a deep breath – though instead of the sweet satisfaction of oxygen, all I feel is the sharp sting of salt in the air. The air of chaos on the raft is inescapable, nausea fills my body; I am overcome with fear. Looking up, all I can see is grey and black filling up the entirety of the heavens, the promise of an impending storm making itself visible through their incessant rumbling. Just as the clouds threaten to carry out their fearfully anticipated promise, a strong sense of déjà-vu strikes me, and like a submerging corpse in a quicksand, dread sinks its fangs into my heart. The miserable faces, the writhing bodies, the entwined masses of flesh – it all makes sense now. I have somehow entered the ‘Raft of Medusa’.

Fierce bouts of lightning strike threateningly close to the raft, which is now my only ‘safe’ haven. I would be lying if I said the dark cloud that has settled ominously over the raft hasn’t caused a similar cloud of depression in my head, deluging any rational thought that may have previously occupied my brain. The tumultuous waves seem not to care about my newfound depression and, take the opportunity to toss me about the edge of the raft. It is only after the waves have relented in their violent assault that I notice the cut on my upper thigh. It is small, and blood hardly flows out, but the salt in the ocean water makes tears sting the back of my eyes, but I do not let them spill. I am sure more than half a day has passed now, and with my eyes better adjusted to the paltry amount of light, I can recognise the corpses of many I’d seen previously alive. I wait for that oh-so-familiar bout of anxiety to settle itself in my gut, but it never comes.

Looking around, I can spot those still alive, feebly pushing corpses into the water. My eyes follow the motion of the bodies in the murky water as they splash about amongst the already bloated corpses floating around. Contemplating the corpses further, I can detect faint marks on their limbs; almost like those left behind by teeth. I shun the thought – my eyes must be deceiving themselves. It’s a small miracle that I’m one of the few still surviving, then again, it appears I’ve joined the party a little later than most others. Ignoring my relentless thoughts, I look down at my thigh again, using my wrinkled fingers to remove the flimsy cloth covering my leg, only to discover the putrid stench of yellow pus. Even blood was better than this.

The underlying nausea of it all finally takes over and I haul my face over the edge of the raft, and get rid of the acrid bile that has been trying to get itself out of my system for so long. I am rooted to the spot; now I am truly trapped and with my recently developed state of helplessness, I now notice the roving eyes of those left settle on me. I almost want to be put out of my misery now – their stares still haven’t abated, and the anxiety of anticipating why seems worse than anything their intentions can contain. My skin is wrinkled seemingly beyond recovery and of a pallid hue, my fingers too withered to even move, and the infection on my thigh making me feel practically paralysed. I fight against closing my eyes, and giving in to the call of the blissful void, the darkness. I have lost the ability to even estimate how much time has passed – hours, days, weeks? I do not know, the only constant in my struggle being the incessant bawling and unforgiving gazes of those remaining. Before I can sink further into the quicksand of my disconcerting thoughts, I am dragged out of numb stupor by the oppressive presence of those remaining.

I am now hyper-aware of the warm huffs of damp air I can only assume is their breath, and their glaring, predatory eyes. My heart starts thumping furiously again, making my chest feel like a cruel cage, and I am almost comforted by the action’s morbid familiarity. Just then, I feel a sharp intake of air behind me, and in a flash, a pair of canines sink themselves into the flesh of my paralysed neck. I don’t screech, or react in any way at all. I am somehow incapable of even reacting, frozen to the spot, shock paralysing me further as I can feel more teeth join in, and I lie there, helpless, waiting in trepidation as the feeble ray of light, that my eyes could previously detect, fades into darkness.

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