Okay, this piece is from a writer's prompt. I had a small fiction piece I worked on for Dana that goes with a much bigger story but needed something for the blog for today. Originally I was going to write a ranty thing but I decided to make that much shorter and post it as a status update and do some fiction. I really do love to write fiction. And short fiction is my favorite.
I had no ideas for another piece. So off to the interwebs to look for prompts. This one came from a site that was called something like "writing prompts that aren't lame" it made me laugh so I went and looked. And some of them were really cool prompts. Random collections of words that you would have to fit in to a story, that sort of thing. But the thing that makes a good prompt is that it actually prompts something. It triggers a story. It gets you going. This one gave me a little brain buzz.
I had no idea what the story was. None. I just really liked the prompt. It led to a second sentence and then BOOM! off to the races! So here you go... The prompt is the first line of the story.
Even though Jake ate the last of the pancakes Leonard couldn't find it in himself to get worked up about it. Which was really odd because Leonard liked pancakes more than he did most people; especially Jake.
But today he just couldn't be bothered. Or maybe it was more accurate to say he was so bothered that he didn't have room for anything else. He had woken up to his phone vibrating with the latest news alert. The number of "breaking news" news alerts he had received lately had made him pretty much numb to them all, but this one was different. Austin had fallen. He had hoped his home town would hold out longer. He knew logically that it wouldn't be able to hold out forever, but he still had hoped and even wished in the protected part of his heart that it might prove him wrong. But it didn't. Austin was no longer going to be kept weird. No more technicolor concerts, just beige and bland like the rest of the fallen.
Like the dust bowl of old it had started small and just spread. Beige. Not even black and white which they could think of as retro or artistic maybe...but no, just beige. Spreading like the world's blandest disease. Which it really was.
Beige. The United States of Beige. All of the life and color draining out of the country. Like someone had opened a cork in Oklahoma and the color was swirling down the drain. Spreading in a whirlpool outward. Pockets resisted. Kansas City held out for a surprisingly long time. But eventually the BBQ turned to sawdust in your mouth and the grass really did become greener on the other side. People looked like they were dying of a mysterious disease. But they didn't even care. That was the problem with the beige, it sucked everything away with it when it came. The color on the surface was just what you noticed, but the colors of your soul went with it. Everyone the same. Bland. Blah. Beige.
Anyone who could leave already had. People who saw first that it was spreading and had the means to escape did. But that was before the rest of the world slammed their borders shut. Which was ironic. The United States finally got that wall that long ago foot note president had campaigned for. Just instead of keeping out the brown people, it was keeping in the beige ones.
So he had a lot on his mind when Jake took the last of the pancakes. Blueberry pancakes, in case you were wondering. They still had color out here on the coast. Still had flavor. But he wasn't sure for how long. Which was another reason why he should have been more upset about the pancakes. Who knew how much longer food would taste like food and not just like nothing? Who knew how long the blueberries would be blueberries and not beige berries? But he still hadn't been able to find it in himself to get upset.
Which worried him. Was this the first sign? Had it started? No, it couldn't be, he was just tired. You can only live in fear for so long before it exhausts you. But he checked his arms to make sure they were still fish belly white. He didn't get out in the sun much. When the beige did come for him it was going to be the darkest tan he'd ever had. Which he had found funny the first time he thought about it. Now he wasn't laughing.
Jake wasn't worried. "If it happens it happens. It's not like they even remember what it was like to live in color. They aren't upset. It's just the people worrying that are upset. If the beige gets you then you just, you know, go beige."
Jake was not what you would call a deep thinker.
Leonard had tried not worrying for awhile. His girlfriend tried to convince him that if the beige was coming they needed to live every moment fully. To embrace all of the colors right now before it was too late. He had agreed right until he realized that by "embrace all of the colors" she meant sleep with her co-worker Dan. He had wished for her to be taken by the beige that night. He wasn't proud of it, but it didn't change anything.
But now Austin had fallen. His college friends were gone. The English teacher who had taught him to question not just what the author wrote, but what they left out to really understand the story he was being told, he would never question anything again. The bright red front door of his house. His parents...
It was all gone. They were all gone. He had checked after he got the news alert. He had texted his mother to see if she was okay. Her response was she was okay. They were all okay. Everything was okay. She was on her way to her job which was okay and she would do her okay work and then make okay dinner. Okay.
The beige. It was all okay.
Nobody knew how it started. Nobody knew how to stop it. Anyone who tried to research it lasted a few hours before they faded away and just didn't care anymore. They didn't even know exactly how it was spreading. Except outward and constantly. It seemed to slow down when winter came, but more than made up for it during spring thaw. It hadn't stopped spreading, it had just gone underground. When the snow melted it rose to the surface and covered everything that had been white with beige.
Leonard needed to get to work. As he passed by the kitchen he wished there had been one more pancake left to grab on his way out the door. He breathed a sigh of relief, he was still him.
He really did love pancakes.