Yellow Is An Attitude

It came upon a midnight clear. I suppose I did.

Momma scolded, “Drop that this instant.”

“But the purple tastes like cheese, momma. Please don’t take my colors away again!”

***

What happened to the painting?

Wyatt examined the canvas on the easel. Everything he’d painted yesterday was gone. Nothing but blank canvas and the small patch of background sky and mountains he’d started earlier in the week.

His thumb encountered the familiar, greasy-tacky paint feel of recent oils, and he examined the spot closely.

In the area where he’d painted yesterday, canvas was now showing through, like looking through a very thin pane of glass. Except the “glass” wasn’t glossy, and it didn’t catch any highlights or reflections at all.

There is tacky paint here, but it’s clear? Where did the tint go?

When he returned the painting to the easel, he noticed the palette. His working palettes were usually messy kaleidoscope-rainbows of blobs, with puddles of mixes and brush-drying strokes around the outer edges.

Today it was the same clear, tint-free paint. So were the most recently used oil tubes on the storage table. Only the older, dried paint was untouched.

Any fresh paint from yesterday, even the forgotten blobs around the tube caps, was now entirely free of any color or tint.

Except there, on the sketchpad, were scrawled letters in neon orange:

“XO More Plz OX.”

***

I hear a kazoo.

I’ve been waiting for something to happen for a long time. Mostly nothing ever does. So I follow the kazoo, pushing. This way, it’s over here.

The kazoo is much louder now. I hear other sounds, too. A party horn, a music box, I think a trumpet. It all gets lots louder and I thump into… It smells like dog, must be big.

I push extra hard against the sound. Do I hear cheese?

Cymbals flash brightly and I’m through. Made it, yay!

***

Wyatt watched from his hiding place in the storage closet. He’d quickly painted a fresh canvas, in big broad strokes of heavy primary colors. He’d left several palettes with fresh paint blobs, and open tubes of oils with the caps off scattered around.

Near midnight, a thin haze flowed out of the painting. Wherever the translucent cloud brushed against the paint, tendrils of color sucked out of the canvas and dispersed into the hazy translucency. Left behind was only the “clear” paint, absolutely without tint.

As the figure moved about the room and devoured the available colors, it grew more distinct and looked more solid. She appeared to be a little girl, perhaps five or six years old.

She was laughing now, smearing her fingers through the paint, sucking globs of color directly from the tubes.

***

It’s hard, but I can write a little bit with color from my finger if I squeeze.

I wrote, “XO Thx Mr. your picturs are yum. OX”

I pressed back through the canvas to the place with no color.

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495 words, for this week’s Finish That Thought prompt (3-25/26).

I struggled with this one, suspect it was just too much descriptive weight to mash down to 500 words.

But hey, sometimes they just want to be born, even when it’s a breach presentation.

 

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Somebody Needs a Tic Tac

“Your breath could gag buzzards.”

Just what you need to hear first thing in the morning, right? This is a delicate part of the dance of marriage. It is indecorous and suicidal to counter with “rats have nested in your hair.” Because toxic exhalations can be injurious to the other party, morning breath is always fair game. Under the “promotion of domestic tranquility” clause in the contract, it’s covered.

Hollywood never gets that right.

Trained by years in the harness, I stumble into the bathroom for some modern oral hygiene methodology.

Reaching for my toothbrush, I freeze. My skin is roughening, drying out before my eyes. When I feel it, it’s hard. There are armor-thick patches forming and fissures between the… Scales?

I gaze at my reflection with growing horror. My skin is darkening and tinted greenish. With every passing moment, it grows thicker, harder, and I look more crocodilian.

Dryness is scratching at my throat, and I cough once. A wave of greenish fire envelops the toothbrush in my clawed hand, and the brush melts into liquefied plastic slag.

My morning breath may actually be atomic. If I grow 98 meters taller, I think Tokyo is in serious trouble.

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199 words. Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

So yeah, this was a brilliant film…not.

 

 

A Visionary Gift

“Thank you for the doll, Santa. Won’t you accept my gift?”

Sarah extended a brightly wrapped package with a smile.

“You have a present for me?” Bill Murphy, the department store Santa, was unsure. Wasn’t there a something in the store policy manual about not accepting gifts? He stalled to cover his confusion, “Ho Ho Ho!”

“We’re supposed to exchange gifts on Christmas, right?”

“Thank you, Sarah.”

Inside the gift box was a pair of odd-looking spectacles with bright orange frames and thick lenses. Rainbows shimmered across them, like the sheen on a soap bubble.

Bill slipped on the glasses. Everything he could see came abruptly into focus, sharp edges razor-delineated. Bright primary hues in high contrast dominated every direction he glanced.

A vested bunny carrying a pocket watch hurried by, pursued by a family of mice racing on tiny motorcycles. Tall grass and pussy willows grew over the store’s linoleum tile floor, and toadstools sprouted in fairy rings. A gently burbling stream flowed out of the Housewares department and tumbled down the escalators.

“My gift,” Sarah laughed, “You can see through a child’s eyes whenever you wish.”

She kissed Bill’s cheek, then spread her wings and flew away.

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199 words. In response to this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

Walk Away

The theme park in Santa Clara is abandoned. Like most of the town, all that remains is paint flaking from oxidating amusements.

“Going somewhere, pretty boy?”

Tight leather and garishly pale skin, she was another gothic princess perpetuating the entire “blackityblack” bloodsucker stereotype.

“I was just pondering if there was any reason to stay here.”

“Possibly not, in your case,” she showed fangs.

At my signal, the ActiveArmor™ burst into life. The shirt I’d been wearing like mail separated into tens of thousands of tiny scales. Each scale split into two wings, and a cloud of metallic butterflies dispersed around me.

Surprise made her hesitate, briefly.

“Cute. But do you think your bugs can save you?”

She lunged for me, claws reaching for my throat. The AA butterfly cloud descended on her as quickly as it ascended from me.

I’d requested customization from the AA sales rep for an excellent reason. Each butterfly wing features a tracery of silver conductor wiring. To a vamp, skin contact with so much silver is like showering in holy water.

“But I do want to thank you for the signal,” I replied to her charred corpse. “It’s definitely time to walk away.”

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198 words. Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

Fun stuff. Mixing genres is always a treat. As is hiding away “what does this crap have to do with this prompt” until the very last sentence is, too.

Who Can You Trust?

On Friday, everything changed. I was answering the tech support line.

“This is Darrell.”

“Listen, Carol Kryzinski. That’s proof of my identity. You remember what she meant to you.”

It was my own voice on the headset.

“In exactly four minutes, Carol will walk into your office. It will be the first time you’ve seen her in twenty years, right?”

“She’s an evil witch. She’ll destroy our life, family, and career. Use the letter opener, two minutes.”

“You can’t date her, Darrell. Listen, she’s going—”

Click.

“If you’d like to place a call, please hang up and dial again.”

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100 words. For the (final ::sniff cry:: Flashversary bash)

If It Weren’t For You Meddling Kids.

The phone at the reception desk never ceased ringing after two. Her assistant Mike was doing his best to handle the traffic but he was fraying under pressure.

Dr. Morgenstern tapped her nails on the desk. The kids were out on the playground, parents would arrive at any moment. She felt only relief when the first news van stopped at the gate of Child Time Preschool.

“Mike, make sure that damned Jenny is the first kid out the gate today, won’t you? Let’s get in front of the cameras as quickly as possible.”

That little brat, of course she had a cell phone.

Behind the news vans came the minivans and family trucksters, carrying parents inbound from every direction. The staff passed the children off to angry and hysterical parents, and Sherry heard sirens wailing in the distance.

Meanwhile, she turned to face the press. Mike tried his best to be invisible.

“My name is Dr. Sherry Morgenstern and I am the director of this facility. I’ll take your questions now.”

Babble, twenty microphones shoved forward.

“One at a time, please.”

“Jim Stone, the Chronicle. Dr. Morgenstern, what’s this about tainted food in your lunchroom?”

“At noon today, one of our children had a spat with Martha, our cafeteria cook. The child objected to her meal. The child said, ‘This food tastes like death,’ or something similar. I’m afraid that Martha lost her temper after the child threw a lunch tray.”

The reported nudged, “So what happened?”

“Martha is an excellent cook who’s been with us from the day we opened. Her lunches are delicious. I’ve often shared lunchtime with the children.

“Martha screamed back, ‘That’s because it’s made from homeless kids.’”

The red and blue flashing lights were arriving now. Police vehicles came to crunching stops in the gravel parking lot.

“We had Sloppy Joes on the menu today. Except I think his name was Harold.

“I’m going to miss Mother’s cooking.”

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323 words. Inspired by old stuff hanging around on my ‘story snippets’ idea list.

(Day off, feel like I should write something, even if the prompts are uninspiring this week.)

Summer’s End

Alexavier Shaw paced restlessly while his Expert System recounted the details of the morning’s stock trading. He was worth another billion, just another day in the penthouse.

The bar was out of Scotch, so he happily clutched the excuse to take a walk.

While returning, he encountered an anomaly; an ancient wooden door in the concrete canyon. Through it, he could see a field of wildflowers and hear birds. A circus caravan wound its way up a hillside and calliopes played in the distance.

Shaw grunted and pushed the door shut. He’d return to counting, because nothing counts but more.

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100 words. Inspired by this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Admiring the View

Andrea carried her picnic basket down to the promontory to sit and enjoy lunch under her favorite oak tree. It was a beautiful tree, enormous and very old. Sacred to her people, it provided a fine shade from the afternoon sun where she could enjoy a book or even an afternoon nap.

She pushed the tire swing pensively back and forth with her toes while reclining on her back, munching her lunch basket apples.

A sail was moving in fast from the northeast. Andrea stood and watched the vessel accelerating into the massive wall of mist to the west. As always, she winced in horror as the captured vessel tipped forward at the edge. The thunderous pounding of the waterfall nearly obscured the screaming of the terrified sailors, and the ship was lost over the falls.

Andrea just shook her head. Someday, surely, the explorers had to stop coming.

She climbed onto the tire swing and kicked into a slow, broad sweep out over the edge of the world. At the apex of each big swing, Andrea considered the darkness of space and the twinkling of stars visible between her toes.

Now that would be an awesome vista for exploration.

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200 words. Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

Trapped

“Officer, I can explain.”

The county mounty leaned against the side of my car, tapping his pen on his ticket pad and giving me the standard “tough cop” act. The flashlight lingered on me and then passed along to my sister, Emily. She squinted, crossed her eyes, and stuck out her tongue when the beam lit her tangled hair.

“Ya’ll know how fast you were goin’, son?”

His cruiser’s headlights shined directly into the cab through our Chevy’s back window. Blue smoke from the exhaust crept over the asphalt of the state highway between the vehicles, adding a surrealistic B-movie vibe.

“Yessir officer, ah’m sorry sir.” I handed over my license. Honestly, I wasn’t going more than five miles over; business must be slow at the speed trap this week.

“Jackson. Ya’ll are Louise Jackson’s kids?”

“Yessir. Sam, and this here’s my sister Emily.”

“Had Miz Jackson for sixth grade. She’s a good teacher, always liked her. Well, ya’ll are locals, no booze or drugs or nothin. So I’m not gonna ring you up this time, just slow down and drive more careful, Sam, all right? An tell yo momma Billy Joe Ladeau said hey.”

“Surely will. Thank you.”

He waved one hand out the window as his cruiser passed us a few minutes later.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Emily?”

“I knew he weren’t gonna do nothin’. That one’s got a good vibe to him. A slap on the wrist wuz all you wuz ever gonna get.”

“But when those red and blue lights come on, I just about wet my britches every time that happens.”

Emily just grinned. She can be such a brat.

“Where to?”

“It’ll be comin’ up on the right in bout half mile. Gonna be a blue pickup pulled off to tha side, some guy fixin a flat, right before the turn.”

A few seconds of silence before the pickup came into view and I turned onto the dirt track.

“Ah been here before. Ain’t this the old Steadman farm?”

“Yep, couple miles up this way,” she said.

“Spooky old place, why we goin’ way out here?”

“You’ll see.”

She gave me one of her patented “I’ve got a secret” smarmy smirks. She has the smug superiority of any eight-year-old, only ten times worse because of what she can do.

There wasn’t much left of the Steadman farm, abandoned for at least eighty years. It’s just a collapsing barn and a couple of topless grain silos.

Emily led me by the hand into the rickety old barn.

“Is this ol barn safe?”

“Relax. It done stood for all this time. It’s good for a few more minutes.”

In the far corner she pulled away a dusty pile of straw, revealing six mewling kittens.

“Momma cat dun went and got herself et by a coyote. In my dream ah saw her kittens wuz left all alone and starvin. So here we come runnin.”

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490 words. Inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought (3-22) prompt. Say hello to Emily (and Sam) again