Why is she here?

…Why is she here?

"Ib! C'mon, let's go to the café!" Mary runs up to me to take my hand, but I flinch and snatch my hand away. She gives me a strange look. "Ib? What's wrong?"

No, this isn't right. Mary isn't supposed to be here. Garry told me she's not even real.

Garry… Mary killed him!

"Ib, what's going on?" Mom asks, looking concerned. I want to tell her the truth, but I can't speak. Mary came after us with a knife. She killed Garry! She's psychotic! What if she tries to hurt Mom and Dad?

"Mom, maybe Ib doesn't feel good…" Mary frowns. "Maybe we should just go home and let her rest…"

Don't call her 'Mom'! She's my Mom, not yours! We're not sisters!

"Ib? Answer us, honey," Dad says.

I feel dizzy. I can't take this. I…I have to run away! I began to sprint away from them, back into the museum.

"Ib?" I hear Mom yell. "Where are you going?"

"Ib!" I hear Mary shout. "Ib!"

She better not be following me.

I run upstairs to the statue of the large red rose and sit down next to it to catch my breath. I don't know what to do, but I can't go home with her. I have to think of something. Because this is wrong.

She's…she's a painting. How can she be real? Considering all that I've witnessed in the past few hours, honestly, I should be able to believe anything. But I thought this was over! That maybe it was all a dream!

But Garry is gone…and Mary is here! I wanted to leave this place and not look back, but I don't have a choice now. I need to figure out what's going on and fast.

I began searching around the museum again for some kind of clue. Something that could flip the switch. Return things back to the way they need to be: Garry being alive and Mary being a painting.

Looking at these paintings makes me shiver. Especially the Lady in Red. I feel like she might jump out of the painting again and begin chasing me. At least I won't be the only person here to see it.

I spot the painting of The Hanged Man. I frown. This was the painting that Garry was standing in front of when I first met him. I tried to speak to him, but he didn't say anything.



I jump and spin around. Mary is standing behind me with a monotonous look on her face.

"The Hanged Man, huh?" she crosses her arms. "You've been staring at this painting the longest. Any reason why?"

I grit my teeth behind my lips. I don't want to show any fear. She looks just as she did when she first pulled that knife on us.

"Wait…this is the painting that Garry had been standing in front of before…well, y'know."

Oh, yes, I know very well. And so do you, Mary.

"What, do you miss him?"

I almost want to hit her.

She reaches in a pocket on her dress and pulls out something blue. A rose petal! "Here, you want a souvenir?"

Now I do want to hit her. The look on my face is one of pure rage and frustration. I can normally compose myself, but this girl is sick. She murdered Garry. And for what? Was there any reason for it?

"Here. Take it." Mary walks toward me and I get ready to sprint, but…

"Ib! Mary! There you are," Mom and Dad approach us. I pause and Mary turns around to face them. "What are you guys doing?"

"Oh! I was just giving something to Ib!" Mary trots over to me and grabs my hand, sticking the blue rose petal into it.

"Oh, how nice, Mary," Mom says. "Now, are you guys done here? Does Ib still not feel good? Should we go home, or…?"

"No, that's okay! Ib feels better!" Mary answers. She grabs my right hand while I grip tightly to the rose petal in my left hand. "C'mon, Ib, let's go!" She turns to face me, a mischievous grin spread across her face. "Let's go have some fun…"

My face returns to its usual monotone expression, doing my best to hide my fear from her and my parents. Before we rush downstairs, I quickly turn back to the painting of The Hanged Man. For just a split second, I thought I saw a glimpse of Garry staring at the painting. But I blink and the illusion is broken.

I glance at the blue rose petal in my hand and have confidence that if I can survive this Hell long enough with Mary, I'll return to the museum and investigate a way to return Mary to the painting and possibly save Garry. I don't want to believe that he is truly dead.

For now, I continue to make my way out of the museum, still connected to Mary by her hand. As we move along, she glances back at me once more to utter something that I do my best to block out of my consciousness.

"We'll be together forever, Ib…"