Mayhem at the Museum
The Petropolitan Museum of Art stood majestically over the sprawling urban landscape. The city twinkled in oddly shaped patterns. Lines of tiny red lights crawled out of the city like obedient ants returning to their queen. The lively music and laughter of celebrating party animals crept up the hillside, but was cut short by a grove of evergreens guarding Collywood’s famed cultural icon. The museum visitors had long emptied out through the manicured gardens and winding, tree-laden road that led to town. An ominous stillness gripped the hills.
Inside the dimly lit museum halls, paintings of the old masters looked down on a room empty of admirers. Towering statues of stone-faced canine gods guarded the grand entrance leading to the main gallery: Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, Ares, and Hades. But even the most powerful gods in canine mythology could only stand by and watch the events that were about to unfold.
At night, the museum belonged to Ollie McNally and Spike Spitz. The two aging guard dogs, both ex-Collywood police officers, made their nightly rounds with a swagger that shouted, “Hey, we own this place.” Despite a sagging belly that nearly scraped the floor and shoulders stooped by age, Ollie’s talented nose was as sensitive as ever. In his early days, Ollie had the reputation as one of the best tracking dogs at Collywood PD. His partner, Spike, was a police dog who pounded the beat in just about every neighborhood in Collywood. His aching paws and extra pounds did not slow his keen mind.
For many years these two best friends had walked the hallways of the museum protecting valuable treasures from imaginary art thieves. Spending their nights surrounded by art treasures, free from the rush of daytime visitors, was a great gig for two retired police dogs.
For their nightly rounds, they always met at the hulking statues of the canine gods. Ollie, the joker of the two, always engaged in a one-sided conversation with the statues. Knowing that the imposing gods, frozen in stone, could never break free of their moorings, Ollie felt free to smack talk the gods with all-in-fun insults, abuse, and one-liners.
On this night, it was Zeus’s turn.
“Good evening Mr. Zeus—you hard-nosed excuse for a pooch.”
“Be careful, friend,” Spike quipped. “That’s a thunderbolt he’s holding.” Ollie held up his paws and feigned fear from the paw of Zeus.
Continuing through the hallways to the museum’s grand hall, the two resumed their general chatter, which rarely changed from night to night.
“Hey, Ollie how many years have we been walking these halls together?”
“Too many to count.”
“And how many art thieves have we busted?” Ollie rubbed his chin and thought for a minute. Spike raised his voice, “Well, how many?”
Ollie started counting on his paw, “Let me see.” There was a long pause.
“None!” Spike responded with a raucous belly laugh.
Spike’s ears suddenly perked up. He held up a paw to silence Ollie. “Hey partner, did you hear something?”
Ollie listened intently. “Nothing—but my talent is in my nose, not my ears.”
Spike perked up his ears a little higher. “I could have sworn I heard something… strange.”
“The only strange thing around here is you, pal.” Ollie playfully poked Spike on the shoulder. Their words echoed as they entered the grand hall, a large, ornate room containing the museum’s most valuable paintings. A large, surrealistic painting by Salvador Collie dominated the room. A plate under the painting revealed the name: Everlasting. The painting hung on the far side of the hall, bathed in lights that caused its dizzying display of colors and shapes to seemingly leap off the canvas.
Ollie was strangely attracted to Salvador Collie’s great masterpiece. Each night, when making their rounds, Ollie would pause by the painting. His head would remain motionless, but his eyes scanned every inch of the canvas as if he were memorizing every brush stroke. Spike often found it necessary to physically drag Ollie away from the painting in order to continue their rounds.
As a working-class breed, Ollie had a limited education, but, over the years walking the halls of the museum, he had developed a strong appreciation for the art treasures that surrounded him. He enjoyed all the museum’s wonders, but his fascination with Salvador Collie’s Everlasting bordered on obsession. Like most of the great surrealist painters, Collie had hoped that his unusual style would stir up feelings and create controversy. The surrealist movement grew out of symbolism influenced by the founder of psychoanalysis, Sic-em Freud. Ollie had spent hours in the museum’s library trying to find the right words to describe his strong feelings for the painting. Its composition, the strange illusion of light, color, and movement, it all overwhelmed him.
“What is so fascinating about that painting?” Spike asked for the umpteenth time. Ollie, who had tried many times to explain his interest in the treasures around them, welcomed his question.
“It’s well known that Salvador Collie was a little bit batty, but his talent made him a legend. He loved controversy, and they say paintings like this one contain hidden messages.”
Spike had stared intently at the painting, tilting his head from side to side before stepping back to get a wider view.
“Sorry pal, all I see is a spattering of color of odd shapes.”
“My dear friend, I suggest, while making your rounds, pause by the painting and take a few minutes to study the brush strokes, the complex shapes and colors.”
Spike’s eyes shifted to the nameplate under the painting.
“Does the title give you a hint about what secrets may be hidden in the painting?”
“Everlasting?” Ollie pondered as he absentmindedly stroked the hair on his chin. “I’m working on it.”
As the two friends studied the painting, the lights in the museum suddenly flickered, casting an eerie pattern over the canvas. A minute later, the room went dark except for the light that spotlighted the painting.
A startled Spike said, “What the … who’s messing with the lights?” His words trailed off as the lights went back on.
Ollie was so completely focused on the painting that he did not notice the pained look on Spike’s face. Spike shook his head from side to side, fighting to reject the bewildering thoughts that blurred his mind. Suddenly, he advanced toward Ollie in a zombie-like trance. He paused momentarily, then picked up a small, marble statue and held it tightly in his paw. Sensing danger, Ollie’s attention shifted away from the painting. He gazed at Spike’s glazed eyes and bared teeth. A cold chill ran down his spine.
Spike’s head was spinning out of control. Wild, divergent thoughts flashed through his mind. You’re my best friend. I hate you, I hate you. I would take a beating for you. You are my enemy and I will destroy you. Stop! Stop! Kill, Kill.
Ollie was frozen in fear, staring at the statue held threateningly in his friend’s paw.
“What’s up buddy? Why are you looking at me like that?” Ollie retreated backward, his eyes focused on Spike’s oddly twisted face.
“Careful, that’s a 3000-year-old statue of Anubis, the Egyptian god of…” he gulped, “…the dead.” Ollie was in full-fledged panic. “Put it down! You crazy or something?” Spike stared at the statue, mesmerized by the strange animal head perched atop a human body. His eyes shifted back to Ollie. A stream of drool slipped down his jowl. He raised the statue high and crashed it down on Ollie’s head.