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The Power of the Great Paint Pot

by on June 3, 2014

There is no warning rattle at the door. No, that giant snake comes slithering smoothly right in to the room, all coil and fanged menace. But you’re not worried. You could be. That snake could make you melt into a whimpering puddle of terror, but no, you’re standing there completely fearless. Why? Because you’re Hadley Veronica Baxendale, you’re a sentient shade of mauve, and you are the best darn detective this side of the Andromeda Galaxy.

That was the narration playing weakly in the back of Hadley’s mind. She liked to narrate sometimes to herself, as an encouragement whenever circumstances grew dire. Things were very dire indeed, but her inner narration wasn’t helping at all. She would’ve liked to say it was true, that she was really completely fearless, but she wasn’t. It wasn’t as bad as a giant bunny, but it was awfully close. The snake was far bigger than any snake had a right to be. Worse, once it was fully inside the room, it began talking to her, in a voice so basso profundo that it shook her to her very photons.

“So…Miss Baxendale. Welcome to hell. Will you be staying with us…long?”

“Erm, no,” Hadley said, “I’m just dropping by. Quick visit. In and out. Like that. You’ll hardly even know I was here, Mister….um…” It occurred to her that she didn’t know the snake’s name or title. How did one address a snake anyway? She knew the proper way to address a mouse, but snakes were something else.

“Ah,” said the snake. “You don’t really know who I am, do you. Didn’t you read your holy texts? Well. For the time being, you might call me-”

“Oh, oh yes, I know that one!” Hadley broke in, flustered yet triumphant. “I am a Chromai, I’ve read all our texts, about the Great Paint Pot in the sky from which we all come, and the Holy Brush which spreads us across the Canvas of Existence.” Then she paused. “But, then, in that case, you must be…”  Her mauve eyes widened in horror. “The Dark Paint Stripper!” She made a gesture with her hands. “Back! Back you foul thing! Begone!”

“Miss Baxendale,” said the snake, “I am not a paint stripper.”

“Only the Dark Paint Stripper lies about his true nature!”

“Fine. I am the Dark Paint Stripper.”

“I knew it!” Hadley said. She made another symbol with her hands, attempting to ward him off. “Begone! Back! By the power of the Great Paint Pot I command you, shoo!”

The snake gave up. Obviously she wasn’t going to listen to him. She was clearly deluded anyway, and she might as well be left alone. After all, she was only a smear of color. What possible damage could she do?  Without another word, the snake turned and coiled away, leaving Hadley alone.

She hadn’t actually expected it to shoo. “Well,”  she said, and paused. Now what was she going to do? She’d come to hell in order to get answers about the destruction of her planet, not to mention the unleashing of the bunnies. The snake didn’t seem inclined to provide answers. “I suppose I’ll have to find out myself!” she said.

Just then, she heard the tramp of marching feet in the corridor. It was a very loud and decided tramping, and Hadley didn’t like the sound of it at all. What could she do? She didn’t have weapons. If she’d been a Red she could’ve formed herself into a laser, but who ever heard of a mauve laser? In desperation, Hadley flashed back to a memory of a pet bird she’d had as a child. She had found that bird fallen off its perch one morning, its little feet sticking up, and she had been very distressed. Quickly she threw herself to the floor, closed her eyes, and contrived to look as dead as possible.

The door banged open. A shadow fell across her. Maybe, she thought, a tiny peek, just a quick one to see who it was. Couldn’t be that bad, right? A quick peek, and-oh no. Oh no no. Bunnies.

For previous stories about Hadley, go here. Thanks for reading!

  1. Brilliant! Your imagination knows no bounds.Bunnies! LOL! Love it.

  2. Michael, think you could BOLD your print…this is really difficult to read ; the print so tiny, soft and faded. Thanks.

  3. I love this. Hadley Veronica Baxendale is my new favorite heroine. I’m off to read more of her adventures!

  4. I love what you have done with those bunnies from weeks ago! “She knew the proper way to address a mouse, but snakes were something else” made me laugh, alone in my kitchen, as did “who ever heard of a mauve laser.” I’m amazed each week by how seamlessly you weave the prompts into the story.

    • I’m always happy when someone literally laughs aloud in response to a story. Thanks for that. 🙂

  5. I can’t decide what I like best – the Dark Paint Stripper, or the fact that the bunnies are hanging out in hell. Either way, great job with the prompts. Oh, and FYI, I don’t have any trouble reading your font.

  6. “Coil and fanged menace” – brilliant imagery. “Only the Dark Paint Stripper lies about his true nature” is pretty awesome too!

  7. Meg permalink

    I just love Hadley to bits. She is funny, brave, honest…a great protagonist. And bunnies!

  8. Oh my, I can’t tell you how much I loved this -which we all come, and the Holy Brush which spreads us across the Canvas of Existence.’ Just awesome. F bunnies 😏

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