He turned around.
He turned around again.
He turned around again to admire the spiral of blood. His blood.
The arc of the flow fascinated him. There was no pain—not yet—and the frayed skin cuffing his forearm retracted, exposing shredded muscle and splintered bones. Such vibrant colours, the artist mused. To have them on my palette . . .
A distant thought: I may be in shock. But creativity trumped horror in his world. For him, art was all. God knows I need the inspiration. Once a Turner Prize contender, he’d produced little of note since the furore died. And here he was, chopping wood until the muse appeared from the woodpile.
He’d assumed that severed limbs would spurt blood in a single fountain, but his veins dripped in competition with the gushing arteries. He rotated again and raised his left arm—just a little—to increase the circumference of his art. With a gradual oscillation as he turned, his arterial jets formed loops while the slow drips added pattern and texture. A flower emerged, with him on the pistil.
He reversed his rotation, dropping his arm sharply to bisect a petal and the spray sliced across the palm of his twitching, excised hand, clinging to the chainsaw’s teeth by its entrails, soaking the sawdust around it; fresh meat on a bed of bloody couscous.
Dizziness interrupted his thoughts. Have I spun too many times, or is it loss of blood? His clarity ebbed as the gush slowed to spasmodic spurts.
A final thought: Help? He could call out. Someone might come to save his life. But his masterpiece neared completion. My finest work. A few more turns will make it perfect.
His spatter flower waited, his mind stalled, his blood slowed. Life or art?
The muse smiled behind the woodpile.
What if he turned just once more?