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The Day the Statues Came Alive

It began nearly three months ago. Statues, the stone carvings we built and revered, started moving. They blinked back at us and wiggled their perfectly shaped limbs, stretching from their solitary positions with groaning, grinding noises. At first we thought it was a very elaborate prank, the beginnings of a strange and complex show.

We could not have been more wrong.

After a month of statues shifting from all across the globe and no one stepping forward, the military got involved. That was mistake one.

The statues hadn’t been doing much, in all honesty. Walking around, voiceless, movements heavy and far too fluid — too alive — for the stone their bodies were carved from. But they hadn’t actually done anything. They moved about, but they mostly left the people alone. Not one statue, even the ones that were made to look monstrous, the ones that had been born with angry faces and weapons in their hands, raised a fist at anyone.

But there had been enough people who were paranoid, who reacted violently to humanities works of art coming to life — the statues hadn’t fired the first shot, but after it was fired, they made us wish they had.

After the first five statues — marble ones, one of which had the face of a child — were shattered by the military, all statues became a threat. They grew angry, perfect faces twisted in impossibly dark fury — they attacked. The initial squads that had been sent to remove the unknown threat were slaughtered. Beaten to death, their bones crushed, their blood painted across the streets and the flesh of the statues. And with that horrible red paint, the statues wrote a message.

Even in this act of violence, we offer you peace. Leave us alone, as you have done for centuries, raise no weapon to us, and we, in turn, will leave you be. Fight us, and we will grind you down.

Guards were posted with every statue, but the guns were never pulled from their holsters. The world watched on, but the statues never reacted unless provoked. Fights broke out, in fear, in rage, in misplaced justice — and while many statues were destroyed, no fight was ever instigated by a statue. No stone hand was ever raised against an unarmed human or animal. The animals had never seemed to mind the presence of the living statues. Never seemed concerned that creations that should have remained still and lifeless, were now moving and acting on their own.

Months passed, and the world moved on for the most part. The statues wandered, but kept themselves separate from humanity. Or as separate as they could be. Many scientists, researchers, and historians sought out the statues. The statues seemed to allow themselves to be tested upon, as long as the tests did no physical harm. They gave no verbal responses. We don’t think they can talk. We’re not sure if we want to hear the kinds of voices they would have if they opened their mouths. If they even had mouths and tongues and teeth to talk.

These days I spend most of my time in my house, watching the statues I’d carved myself run about my yard. I used to love carving pieces of stone into new pieces of art. I had loved my work, even if I did not always love the commissions sent to me. Now, now I am fearful and paranoid, watching my former stationary creations wander the earth. They are so curious, so much like actual children. They wander about my garden, smiling down at my flowers, touching them with a gentleness I could never have imagined stone could posses.

Two weeks ago I opened the door, just for a second, and put children’s books on the deck. Just to see what would happen. Every morning after I look out and see them skimming the pages, peering over each others shoulders. I don’t know if they can learn to speak, the news says nothing about it, neither does anyone on the internet. There are no pictures of the statues opening their lips. Mine never do much more then smile or frown.

After another week, I come back to the window to see the books piled neatly back on the deck. Close to the door. Most of the statues are wandering the garden again, all except for one; a little fairy girl I had finished just before the event. She watches as I edge the door open and step out.

“Did you finish them?” I ask. Her wings, thin opal slabs, flutter behind her. The Fairy Girl nods. I raise my head to see the other statues pretending not to watch us. I gather the books in my arms and shuffle back to the door, but before I close it, I ask; “Would you like more?”

All the statues immediately turn my way in unison, nodding excitedly. I go back inside and spend a good hour searching for other children’s books. When I find no more I run to the library and try not to stare at the empty spaces were beautiful stone animals used to sit. The librarian, a kind elderly woman greets me, then turns back to the windows, frowning sadly at the empty spaces. I don’t linger long.

They seem to love reading. My statues go through the books filled with simple words and childish drawings with great vigor. Like I had gifted them something treasured. I bring them more, and watch them read while I have my morning coffee. And despite the calm atmosphere, I start to wonder how long I can sustain this house with my savings and waitress job. Without the extra income from my art commissions. I ask for more shifts.

My statues learn to read quicker. I need to replace the books every week for two months, then every five days. The library runs out of children’s books. I give them longer, deeper reads for adolescents. They keep reading, finishing the books faster and faster.

After another three months I run out of books. Even though the library can order more, I can’t think of any simple books to give them. I give them gardening and science books. I watch, a week later, from my window as they care for my garden. Looking at illistrations and gesturing to the plants and gardening tools. Well, at least I don’t have to worry about my garden.

After a week I start to miss the busywork. A wave of longing for the memories of carving stone and creative commissions washes over me. I go back inside before the statues can notice my trembling hands and damp eyes. I wonder if it’s too late to switch at another art form. I wonder if my paints would be good on a regular canvas.

They find one of my sketchbooks and a few colored pens. They ask for more books. Words written in a sharp elegant scrawl. Too perfect to be a humans. I tell them to make a list of what they would like and promise to do my best. I sit and watch them converse with each other in motions and and signals, taps against stone that make up a language I can’t help but search up on the internet once I head back inside. Apparently other statues are doing similar actions. Though no one has yet to be able to decipher it.

I bring them over half of the list. Mostly more gardening books, fairytales and one they didn’t ask for. A book detailing Sign Language. They smile back, unnaturally perfect and set to work dividing up the books and settling down to read. I head back inside and read all the articles online I can find, wondering if anyone has had better luck talking to the statues. My search turns up nothing but vague stories.

A week later, the statues have picked up most of the language of hands. The tell me about their books and child-like stories about the garden. We sit and talk back and forth about nothing and everything. It is nice. Until I ask them how they came to life. They don’t have an answer. I wonder if they’re lying.

I don’t ask again. I don’t ask any personal questions. It spoils the mood and makes me fearful. I wonder what it would take for the statues to get violent. I wonder if they would kill me quickly.

The tentative peace across the planet lasts one more month, and then all hell breaks loose.

The military responds, sudden violently. Bodies, both of cracked stone and flesh and blood line the streets. The world descends into chaos, so many take up arms with vigor and the ones that don’t are dragged into the fighting. Only the children are safe from the statues wrath. And surprisingly, a seemingly random assortment of adults. Less than half of them admit to being artists, stone carvers specifically. No one can figure out why these people were spared, the connection.

The chaos keeps away from my little town for two weeks, it’s not the townsfolk who start the first fight. A furious and bloodthirsty mob of men and woman march from another town, swearing to smash any statues they find. They don’t find many, until someone sends them my way.

I curl up in the back corner of my house, flinching at the sound of angry voices and pounding fists. They curse my name, sentencing me to death for taking part in creating any of the monsters who walk their earth. I get up when they manage to break down the door. I rush to the backyard, and nearly collide with my statues. I stare, trembling and half-blind at the wall of stone. The intensity of their silent fury nearly sends me to my knees.

For a moment, I wonder if they’re going to kill me. They certainly look the part of monsters now. The mob is quickly rushing towards us. I look back, wondering what I should do, what I could do — when a small heavy hand grabs mine.

The Fairy Girl, my last creation, drags me away from the house and across the yard. We make it halfway before I hear the back door get kicked down. The men and women scream, both in outrage and fear. I try to turn — try to see — but then the Fairy Girl is dragging me behind my tree, behind the berry bushes.

We repay kindness. We do no harm to the peaceful. She signs. I blink, jerking as pained wails ring out. Several large thumps hit the ground. I know they are not my statues. The Fairy Girl offers me a gentle smile and raises her hands to hold them over my ears. I sob as she silences the horrors going on behind us. I wonder if she would stop me if I tried to get up. If I tried to run.

We wait, her cool smooth hands against my ears. I wait for the horror to end. I don’t know how long we sit there, but I know it is not too long. The Fairy Girl removes her hands and pulls me to my feet just as a shadow falls over us. I look up, and see one of my bigger creations, a lovely woman dressed in Greek clothes, a commission I never got the chance to send away.

They lead me back to the house. I look up, and wonder if I should be impressed or terrified by the lack of bodies and blood. All the statues smile at me. Darkness swallows me.

I wake, hours later, given how the sun is setting the sky ablaze in color. I’m sitting in a chair I’m sure had been inside my house, curled up in my blankets. I am comfortable. I sit up, and find my Fairy Girl sitting at my feet, seemingly entrenched in her book. My back door is closed, looking as if it hadn’t been broken. A handful of the statues sit beyond in the grass, the largest ones are missing. But before I can question or panic, they come out from the house, broken wood and swaths of fabric in their arms.

Fairy Girl rises and smiles, standing close. She hands me the sketch book as the others move closer. We repaired what we could. We hope you are not scared. We do not harm the peaceful. The kind. You can stay or leave. We will understand.

I go inside. The house is almost spotless, it doesn’t look like anyone came charging through. Again, I wonder what they had done with the bodies. I don’t think I want to know. I wonder if I should leave. I wander upstairs and sob silently in my bed, wondering where I could go that would be safe.

The statues of the world had come to life, I had created several statues myself. I will be sentenced for making those statues that were so much like children unless provoked. I decide to stay. At least the statues would be quick of they decided to kill me.

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