Last summer, I happened across The Storytelling Collective (formerly the RPG Writer’s Workshop), and took one of their many excellent courses on writing system-specific one-shot RPG adventures. This is not one of those. Rather, this is the first installment of their #FlashFicFeb event! They put out a short prompt every day, and you write 500-ish words of fiction from that.
“What fun!” I thought to myself. “I’ll give it a try!”
So here’s my first FlashFicFebFictionForay. The prompt was “Very Peri”, which is Pantone’s color of the year. I hope you enjoy!
It was the sort of color that wished it were something else...
Sky blue. Lavender. Eggshell white. The sort of color that wasn’t sure what compromises it should make, or with whom. Murph strained against the plastic bite of the zip-tie, watching the flashlights from the other room dance across the still-wet paint. She should have chosen a different color.
A crash, as the burglars upended a shelf. The sound of books tumbling to the thick, plush carpet. Muffled curses. The burglars had been at it for fifteen minutes. Fifteen ever-tenser minutes, from the tinkling pop of a broken pane of glass, to the guns waved beneath her nose, to now. Tied up in the guest room, discarded among the rest of the painting supplies. Rollers, drop-cloths. Paint scrapers. Her assistant Gabe lay beside her, unconscious or dead, Murph couldn’t tell.
They weren’t even supposed to be here. She was pulling overtime, she’d convinced Gabe to come with her to finish the work. That couple was moving in at the end of the week, ice-blond, stoic–reeking of money–and Murph wanted very badly to impress. She’d chosen the color as she had for the mud-room, or the downstairs library: picking the trendiest hue from the most expensive catalog.
Of course, she’d coordinated. She’d matched the cream-colored upholstery of the chez-lounge to the dark walnut shelving, picked gilt accents to fit the hideous heavy curtains her clients had insisted on. But here, now, forced to stare at the bland, purple wasteland of the accent wall–forced, literally, in what could very well be the last minutes of her life, to watch paint dry–she realized she hated it.
“Maybe yellow?” she muttered to herself.
In the next room, the frantic conversation stopped. Then, heavy boots stomped across the hallway, muffled in the 7600-pile-count carpet, rattling the frosted glass of the nearby cabinets. A figure, a dark fabric cutout of a silhouette, loomed in the doorway.
“Where is it?” he asked. A deep voice, gravel rough. When Murph didn’t answer, the figure knelt down next to her and grabbed her chin, tearing her gaze from the wall towards his watery, bloodshot blue eyes. “Where?” he asked again. When Murph didn’t answer, he scoffed and shoved her away. Her gaze, quite naturally, drifted back to the problem at hand.
The burglar’s eyes followed. He smirked at her and stood, then walked to the wall. He reached out, touched the surface– then recoiled, confused, at the cloying purple smear on his hand. He turned back to Murph, first annoyed, then, as Murph rose and let the zip-tie clatter to the floor, seemingly offended.
It was the work of one business-like swipe with the 5-in-1 Painter’s Tool to tear the man’s throat into two ragged ends. Dark red blood spattered across the purple wall.
Murph didn’t notice the man crumple to the floor, hands fluttering, boots spasming. She didn’t notice the gurgling, or the sounds of worried questions from the other room. Instead, she watched the blood drip down the wall with a feeling of relief.
Burgundy, she thought. Next year, Pantone’s color should be burgundy.