The Impossible Colour

1st February 2022
Prompted by the colour ‘Very Peri’.

Genre: Horror

I have been working on this for months, trying to recreate what I saw that night in December. I used to have a fully equipped laboratory at the university to work in, I used to have assistants, and I used to have access to resources. Now I have been driven out by my erstwhile colleagues and those in the upper echelons of the management. I can have some sympathy with my former colleagues. The zeal I have approached this project and the fumes from some of my experiments must have been maddening.

Now I continue the work in my basement using items I have obtained myself. My partner knows well enough to leave me alone when I am working, but I understand this last few weeks must have been trying for her. I am so close now, I have managed to capture the faithfulness and constancy of the blue that I saw. I only need to find how to add the energy and excitement of the red.

I briefly reflect on how my obsession started. It had been on the last day the university was open before we broke for Christmas. The night was crisp with a clear sky and full moon, casting dark shadows on the frosty paths as I walked home. I thought the movement was a cat, or maybe a fox, but I could not make out a solid form as I drew closer. The colour was almost indescribable, a combination of blues, reds and violets. The colour moved with an intelligent, whispy, feline grace as it slunk across the pavement towards me. The tendrils wrapped around my feet and climbed my legs. I do not know what it was, but it was the most exquisitely beautiful thing I had ever seen.

And then it was gone, leaving just an afterimage in my mind’s eye. I need to recreate this colour and share it with the world. It is not fair that I alone have experienced this. So I work to find the missing element, the red. I have tried red ochre, carmine, vermillion, minium and other more obscure sources of pigments. In frustration, I lash out, smashing one of my mixing jars and cutting my hand in the process. The red blood drips into my latest sample, and the swirls as it dissipates takes me back to that cold December night. I have the answer now and only need more of this final ingredient.

I hear a light tap on my basement door as my partner, Peri, brings me a warming drink before she retires. Her timing is perfect, and I know now what to name this new colour, Very Peri. I tell her to enter and pick up my knife.

Copyright: Andrew Miles February 2022