There was something a little odd about the portraits I found on the walls. The largest dominated the room, with its many staring eyes, and placement at the center of a short wall opposite the entry, picked out by the natural light in the space. The central figure was clearly not thrilled to be sitting for a portrait. For that to leak through the artist, he was either very much not thrilled, or the artist was taking a liberty that he may not have survived.
The Count was pictured at his prime. While he presented a humble appearance in his pose, clothing, and setting, he was still the primary figure in a portrait on an eight foot tall canvas. Somewhat contradictory messages there. He was posed among his pride and joy, a large family of bats. Somehow, the artist had captured the sense of pent-up nervous energy that even a sleeping bat exudes. These bats are all awake, and their eyes follow you as you walk around the room.
With the bats providing an effective distraction, it was surprisingly hard to see other details in the painting. With effort, I blocked the bats from my mind, and noticed the several ornate typewriters that were also depicted, arrayed near the subject. Each was loaded with paper, and there were supplies of plank paper and stacks of completed pages near each. On such a large canvas, it was possible to read some of what was showing on the pages emerging from the typewriters.
Or at least, it should have been.
Try as I might, I cannot remember what I read. Only that I believe I did read something, and that it almost made sense. Or that it was entirely abject nonsense. I simply can’t tell now.
In fact, attempting to read the pages left me so disoriented that I could swear that the subject was watching me from shadows the entire time I was admiring his portrait.
It’s a shame that that the painting was over a century old.
And that the large ornate urn in a niche near the painting was long understood to contain his ashes.
Or did it really?
The man himself couldn’t possibly be alive?
And why are there bats everywhere I look in this mansion?
That way lies madness.