The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Don’t Let Us Go Violet
by Melissa R. Mendelson
The door was heavy, polished and unwavering. There was no doorknob. She would have to buzz me in, but she was too busy admiring her nails, posing her phone above the shoulder to show their latest design. It was like I wasn’t even there, waiting, waiting for a long time, holding these papers in my hands.
“You can go in now.” She looked past me as one red, sparkling manicured fingernail pushed the button under her desk.
She waved me off and focused on her viewers. “Like the design? They’re dragon red.”
“Speaking of Dragons.” I smiled at her glare.
The office was full of smoke. There was one window behind a large man, who propped his feet up on the desk and chewed on one end of his cigar, and the window was shut. The air was suffocating, and the large man folded his golden fingers over his enormous belly, eyeing the papers in my hands.
“My story,” I said. “I want you to read my story.”
“And?” He waved his cigar around, ash falling onto his sleeve, but he merely glanced at it, enjoying the burn. “And then what?”
“And if you like my story, and I hope that you do, you would pay me to have it published. Maybe, also produced.”
His laughter was like an ugly sucker punch. His lips curled around the cigar, chewing over his next words. He finally leaned forward, his golden fingers stretched outward, and he snatched the papers from my hands.
“What makes you so special?” He asked. “So many that have been granted access to this room, and not many, I might add, have come with great stories. Or so they say. It’s been done already. So many times done. Why should I pay or those like me pay for unoriginal ideas?” He flipped through the papers, and his cigar’s ash fell over them. “It’s good. I’ll give you that. Maybe, even some original thinking involved.” He watched me beam at his words, and he pulled three pages aside.
He ripped the rest of the papers up, showering them across the floor, and before I could react, he tipped his cigar, knocking more ash over them. The papers went up in fire and smoke.
“No,” I screamed. “Why did you do that?”
“They were garbage. I don’t pay for garbage.” The large man pushed his chair back and opened a desk drawer, taking out his checkbook. “I’ll pay for the pages that I kept.” He jotted across the check. “I’ll also include your name, so you get some recognition for it.” He handed me the check. “Thank you for coming in today.”
I stared at the burnt pile of papers on the floor.
“You could say, thank you.” He continued to hold the check out to me.
“Thank you.” I smiled and looked at the check. “That’s it?” My smile dropped. “That’s all you’re giving me?” I watched him shrug in response. “That barely covers the cost of food or gas.”
“Take it, or give it back.” His hand nearly smacked me in the face, his fingers lingering on the check.
“I’ll take it.” I quickly stepped toward the door.
“And do yourself a favor.”
I glanced at him, knowing what his next words were.
“Don’t come back.” He smiled, tucking the cigar between his lips. “This world doesn’t need writers anymore.”
“Have you looked outside?” I watched him blow more smoke at me. “The world’s gone violet and violent. There’s nothing out there to ease people or inspire them. All they see is other people on their phones and computers, showing their lives, and some things should not be seen. Beatings. Stabbings. Shootings. Live executions.”
“That’s our highest ratings. Nobody wants to miss a good execution, hanging, firing squad, or my favorite, the electric chair.” He stared at me for a moment and then crushed his cigar out on his desk. “Look, you dreamers and writers and poets once changed the world, and we thank you for that. But the times have changed. People have changed, and yes, everyone has a phone and a computer now, streaming their lives live. And people are watching them, and their lives are entertainment, whether they are an idiot, infamous or incredible. I’m not choosy, and it sells.”
“And you don’t have to pay them.”
“We don’t have to pay them,” he repeated. “So, go find a real job.”
The door cracked open. I stepped outside but then looked at him. I said, “You know, it’s not about the money. Well, not all of it.”
“Everything is about money,” he responded.
“No, it’s more than that. It’s connection. Inspiration. Humanity.” He rolled his eyes at my words. “You want to know why the world outside your window is violet?”
“Because that’s the way the world looks after you gut it.” .
Fiction © Copyright Melissa R. Mendelson
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com.
About Author Melissa R. Mendelson:
Melissa R. Mendelson is the author of the Sci-Fi Novella, Waken, and the poetry collection, This Will Remain With Us. She also has two self-published short story collections, Better Off Here and Stories Written Along COVID Walls. All the books can be found on Amazon/Amazon Kindle. If you’d like to learn more about Melissa, you can visit her accounts here: https://linktr.ee/melissarmendelson
Oh, nicely done!
Thank You! 🙂
Sadly realistic, more or less!
Thank You! 🙂
Excellently written and very timely.
Thank you. 🙂
Thank You, Everyone. I hope you all have a great weekend. 🙂