Madelyn Victoria Richardson

Personal Statement

Hello! My name is Madelyn and this is my piece for the Lion’s Pride! I’ve always been bad when it comes to anything scary so I tried writing horror as a way to build up immunity to it, and here’s an example of some of that! This is a short story about a painter losing his grip on reality as his obsession with perfection begins to take its toll on him and the people he encounters. I hope you enjoy it!


I am the envy of those around me, I am the talk of the town, I have been called the second coming of Michelangelo. My art is beauty, my brush a treasure to this world. I have but one goal on my mind, to strive ever further to perfection. To feel like art is not enough, the subjects I paint must be real as flesh.

So I paint more. I paint more.

Today has been eventful. I was asked to draw a banquet, to spare no detail on the food and wine. My work takes me late into the night as always. The smell of paint is overwhelming as always. My art is a treasure, as always. Everything is captured, every scrap of meat, every crumb of bread. It all looks so real you see. So real, it seems I can even smell the aroma of the feast.

My client is happy with the painting, of course he is. I have made something so beautiful, but I still feel I can perfect my craft even further. So I paint. I paint more.

No clients today. That’s fine. It gives me more time to paint on my own project, to work on her. I stay in my studio, I smell the fumes of the wet paint. The pigments today are so vibrant, so beautiful. A good step, but not enough. She must be perfect. I will accept no less. So I paint. I paint more.

I have a new client today, a man asking me to paint the family dog that had passed on. He gives me a description of the dog, and so, my work begins. My studio is small, but I like it that way, less distractions to deal with. I’ve even sewn shut my curtains and bolted shut my windows so the outside world will never bother me. Here, I paint ever further, further. The smell of the paint makes me gag, but I ignore it. I keep painting. I must must must keep painting. I have not achieved perfection yet, but it’s improving. I can hear the dogs barking outside as I paint.

My client seems happy. Of course he is. I have given him the gift of my work. Oh how generous I am. I return to my studio to work on my project. She’s beautiful. Her smile widens by the day. She must be perfect as I when she’s done. I keep painting.

I have no clients today. I take the time to go into town to pick up supplies. The people in town are so awestruck when they see me. They just can’t stop staring at me as I walk past. Even a cat crossing my path stops to look at me. Ah, I’m just too good. I return to my little studio. I must keep working on her. She must be perfect. I take care to make my own pigment if I can for her. For red today, I have a rock I found at the market. It’s heavy, really more of a small boulder, but it has a small blotch of a beautiful shade of red I can make paint from. So I paint. I paint more.

Actually, when did I pick up this stone?

No clients again today. That’s fine. More time to work on her. Something smells awful in the studio today, but soon the smell of my paint overwhelms it. She’s beautiful today as well. The red paint I made really makes her cheeks so rosy. Yes, she’s getting more and more beautiful each day, but she’s not perfect, not yet. So I paint. I paint more.

I have a client today, the same one who I painted the banquet for. He’s so funny. It’s only been a few days, but he talks to me like it’s been so long since we last spoke. He seems hesitant, but asks me for a portrait of his wife. An easy feat for someone of my skill, he need not be nervous about it.

She comes to see me later that same day in my studio. She’s so well behaved. She never once moves. She never says a word to me, but I prefer it like that. I can’t bother with conversation in the middle of my work after all, and work I do. I capture every detail. Her beautiful golden hair, her gray skin, her hazy eyes. I didn’t notice it before, but with the exception of her hair, she’s actually quite horrid looking. Goes to show how wonderful I am at my craft though, If I can see a person past who they are at a glance. I’m amazing am I not?

It’s so strange then, that I never got to deliver this painting.

My client was nowhere to be found when I was done. I went to his house, but found no one was home. Rather rude of him to leave without telling me anything first, especially seeing I wasted so much time on this portrait. What a slob. His daughter must be following her fathers example. The window was still shattered, her fault no doubt.

I just returned to my studio in a huff. That stench from before is here again, worse than before. Perhaps it’s from my paint? I can see that some must’ve spilt on the floor, as a green-ish bile colored liquid is splattered on the ground. What a horrid shade, and it smells awful as well.

When did I even buy it?

I go to the market. It’s overrun with rats. Apparently the local mouser cat was killed, head smashed in with a rock. Poor thing. I do feel sorry for it, but I pity myself right now as well. I get I am a wonderful painter, but the people of this market seem almost afraid of me. Price I pay for fame I suppose.

I’m back at my studio. I’m sitting on my stool, brush in hand. I’m looking at her. I’ve been working on her. She’s so beautiful. Her hair looks perfect now. Long flowing golden locks, so life-like, so beautiful. She’s getting there, she’ll be perfect soon enough. I must keep working. I must keep painting. I must I must I must.

I receive a letter by mail. It’s a painting request. It’s strange, why would a client not want to meet with me? I, in my endless generosity, decide to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they’re sick or something. They have requested a landscape portrait, one of a sunset. The letter speaks of how they enjoy watching sunsets through the trees by their house. I know of a village near here that makes its trade in lumber, I assume that’s where my client lives then.

I’m by a river. A portrait is in front of me. It shows a man fishing in the river. Strange, no one is here with me. How long have I been here? I seem to have been just so engrossed in my work that I let the hours slip by. How clumsy of me. I look back to the picture I’ve made. It’s beautiful, of course. I run my hand over the canvas, I can feel the rocks by the shore, I can even peel them out of the painting itself. They rest in my palm. I smile to myself. Small white pebbles. A beautiful color, they’ll suit her well. I slip them into my pocket.

I jolt up. I’m in my studio. I look at her. She hasn’t changed. I then became aware of the foul racket that woke me in the first place. Someone’s pounding on my door. I understand all want a painting by me, but what a rude way of getting my attention. I open the door, surprised to see a policeman at my door. I don’t think he’s a client. He tells me that my previous client and his daughter have been found dead in his own house. They tell me someone appears to have broken and crawled through a window. Do they think me a suspect? I balk at the notion.

I tell the truth, that the wife did come by for her portrait, but that I hadn’t seen any of them since.

I run my tongue over my teeth. My teeth feel strange, almost decayed.

He nods, but looks at me strangely. He tells me that the wife has been missing for months now. His eyes are a beautiful green shade.

She’s ethereal now, so beautiful I can hardly stand it. Her golden hair, her white pearls, her red rosy cheeks, her green eyes, I could just kiss her now. I paint. I paint more. I must see her to completion. I love her so much it hurts. My hands ache. Blisters dot my skin as stars do a night sky. I keep painting. When did I get all these blisters anyways? Why do I keep forgetting things like this?

What’s going on with me? My head hurts from all the paint I’ve been breathing in. I realize my body hurts. I can’t remember when I ate last. I look back at my hands, or what remains of them. They’re boney, skinny, my skin hugs my skeleton. Several blisters have popped, fresh pus leaking from the open wounds. It’s the same color used for shading on her skin. When did I-?

I’m looking at my mail. I never got around to finishing that picture for the one client, the one in the forest. Did he ever send me a follow-up? I go through my letters. Unopened envelopes with nothing inside, a newspaper talking about a fisherman found drowned and without teeth, a missing person poster for a policeman. I eventually found the letter from my client, seeing that oddly enough, he never gave a name. The letter was different from how I remembered it. The paper was creased, and covered in several strange yellow marks. The handwriting was similar to my own, but it was scratchy, messy, desperate. Who wrote this? Who wrote this? Who? Who?


I turn to her. I scream at her.

“What is this?! What’s happening?!” I look at my shaking hands. My flesh looks like it’s rotting off my bones.

She looks at me. She smiles at me.

“You’ve been here a while.” She says to me, “You, my beautiful artist, gave me life. How I adore you for it.”

I blink. I laugh. She speaks.

She speaks!

She’s real as flesh!

I can’t contain my laughter. I scream uproariously. My throat rips apart in cheer. I fall to the floor. My feeble knees snap on contact. Hands brush against my neck.

“You’re beautiful. So beautiful.”

She smiles at me. A gentle beautiful smile.


Local artist Jean Martin was found dead in his studio, starved and strangled. He had been deceased for several days before authorities found him after reports of foul smells were reported coming from his studio. The studio itself was in disarray, several paintings were half finished and of horrid quality, most disturbingly being a massive painting of what appeared to be a corpse too grotesque for words. Horrifyingly, this painting had several traces of human body parts, including teeth, hair, eyeballs, blood, pus, vomit, and other such horrors. The terrors don’t end there though, as human remains were found being chewed on by stray dogs by Jean’s studio. Tests are still being done to determine the identity of the remains. The artist was known to be egotistical, but harmless, however according to townspeople, he began acting strange once he moved into his studio. Many reports that he began losing unhealthy amounts of weight, according to many, he resembled that of a skeleton when going into town. This is your reminder to all that when using paint to please open a window, the fumes can harm your mind and cause gaps in memory according to recent studies.


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The Lion's Pride, Vol. 16 Copyright © 2022 by Madelyn Victoria Richardson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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