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The Spoils

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Although she loved history, Efosa always felt a tinge of guilt whenever she walked through a museum. The knowledge that so many pieces had been stolen from ancient peoples weighed heavily on her. She had been forced to come to the museum by her creative block. She only had a month left before the designs for her latest jewellery collection were due and she desperately needed inspiration.  So when she saw saw the mural depicting a woman crying blood, she did not think much of it. However, she did find it odd that the tour guide made no mention of the bright red tears. He simply noted that the woman’s hair and dress were typical of the time period, and then they moved on.

“These stone statues are the pride of the museum’s collection,” said the tour guide. 

“What does the red paint represent?” asked a young girl in the group.

This precocious child had been asking questions from the second the tour started.

“What red paint?” responded the tour guide.

“Under their eyes,” said the young. “It’s almost like tears of blood.”

Efosa had noticed it too. She assumed that it was some kind of motif from the era. But, the paint had a shiny quality, as if still wet.

“There is no colour on this statue,” said the tour guide. “It is the natural colour of the stone.”

“There’s red paint on all of these statues,” Efosa said.

The rest of the group murmured in agreement. The tour guide looked around in confusion.

“I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” he said.

“With many such ancient statues, the original paint wears off over the centuries,” said Efosa. “Could the red be a remnant? Perhaps they used a more durable red pigment that has stood the test of time.”

She stepped closer to one of the statues.

“As curator of this collection, I’ve worked here for over a decade,” the tour guide said. “I can assure you that there is no red pigment on any of these statues.”

The group looked around at each other in bewilderment.

“We can all see it.”

“It’s right there.”

Just then there was a scream from another room, followed by the sound of people running. The sound of screams, and feet and many voices filled the air. “Blood’ was the only audible word that could be deciphered from the cacophony. In attempt to calm his group, the tour guide raised his hands.

“Please stay calm,” he said.

The group gasped. 

“Your hands,” the young girl said fearfully, clutching her mother.

“What?” the tour guide said, now infected by the fear in the faces of the people staring at him.

He looked at his hands, back and front, then looked up searchingly at the group.

“Your hands,” Efosa said. “They’re covered in blood.”

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