You hold up your hands in a questioning pose, as if that will help any communication between you and the mysterious prince. He frowns, releasing one hand from his reins and keeping the lead hand, his left, close to his chest. The hand almost mimics yours, and he mouths something in your direction.
“What?” you ask, almost yelling at the painting.
As if in reverse, the prince’s mouth moves again, the same words. The same silence.
Despite the urge to slam your head against the painting-mirror-thing – that would do neither you nor the prince any good and even you can see that – you take a deep breath for three seconds and readjust your stance.
“Okay, so you’re trapped,” you say, in your attempt to reason with a painting man who can’t even hear you; “saying this is true, and not simply conjecture, how am I supposed to get you out? How is anybody?” You realise how silly this is sounding, but you press on. He’s got to be able to read lips… Right? “Okay, so smash the painting—mirror, damn it—but what good does that do anybody?”
You glance up, into the eyes of the prince. Despite still standing on his horse, his arms are crossed and he is raising one eyebrow.
“Right, right. Yeah, sorry.”
You almost mimic his expression—after all, this whole goose chase is ridiculous, just like… No. You stop those thoughts.
A rustling sound echoes through the stables. Your blood runs cold.
Who else is here? you vigorously mouth. But the prince shakes his head, jostles the reins in his left hand, and he and his pony canter off into the distance.
He’s gone, and you’re stranded here again. What’s worse, though, is that the sound is getting nearer. You strain your ears and flatten yourself against the painting. The rustling is nothing like footsteps through hay, as you would wish it, but is filled with heaviness, as if something is shambling rather than gliding its way in your direction. Heavy and…viscous. Oh god.
You close your eyes. No prayers, just chants.
You can get through this. You dart behind one of the horse stalls, and, inch by inch, lift yourself upwards. The movement is stalled; the world is quiet. Until you see…