Great Paint Catastrophe
A Dark YA Serialized Novel
Who knew the madness that would be unleashed by the fervent mental renderings of three children! Mayhem, certainly, he would've known, but chaos that he was, he spoke no word of it, except for tiny whispers into Mischief's ear. Oh, and that boded ill for anyone outside their sacred circle of three for she was ever protective of her brothers. Yes, brothers. Though Mayhem was the eldest and leader for all intents and purposes, Magick was the youngest by just over a decade, still forming words on lips wet with drool that longed for teeth. And so it was that Mischief remained firmly ensconced between them both.
They lived in a house with Mother and the Mister, as Mischief so adoringly referred to her stepfather, while Father wandered around securing world peace with his wand. It was a nice enough abode, each child to a room, the parental units in their own space. Even Mop, their mystical Shih Tzu, had his own corner. It was here that most of their adventures began.
Chapter 1: Arts & Crafts with Mischief
Mischief hadn’t woken up that particular morning with any of her namesake in mind. She hadn’t, she would insist much later in the day, intended for any of it to happen at all. But Mother was only supposed to be gone for an hour, away at the market to gather this and that for the evening meal. She had left Mayhem in charge of his siblings, and he had left Mischief with the task of watching over Magick while he finished a level in his goblin-stomping video game.
The itch she had instead was artistic, and with her baby brother in hand, she had wandered out into the solarium where they kept, as Mother said, all their artistry “restrained” from the rest of the house. It was evident that such artistic exploration did need some proper restraining , as there was a flurry of paintings and drawings covering paint splattered walls. Chalkboard paint peeked between canvases and butcher paper banners with smudges of ideas, some completed in an alternate form elsewhere in the room, some abandoned after chalking.
Mischief liked to paint, and since she had successfully painted at Magick’s age, she agreed (with herself) that this was, in fact, the best way to pass the time until either Mayhem finished his game and ordered them into another activity or Mother returned and required assistance with dinner.
She plopped the baby into his high chair, where he began smacking his hands rhythmically atop the tray. She pulled out a large section of butcher paper spooled at the top of her easel and clipped it down. Curling corners always made the paint run funny. She poured water into the water cup, dropped brushes into their cup, and dragged the footstool across the room to the paint cabinet.
“Don’t go anywhere,” she shook her finger at her brother. He gave her a smile and a particularly juicy raspberry before returning to his initial percussive endeavor.
Mischief stood before Mother’s painting pantry with a mild awe. She touched the key and had a moment of pause as that little voice in her head whispered madly that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t as brilliant an idea as she believed it to be. After all, was she supposed to be in the solarium by herself? Was she old enough to be inside the pantry? Could she really handle all the paint and glitter and…her eyes widened, as she smiled.
She had forgotten about the glitter.
“Painting is good fun,” she said, quoting Mother and pushing that voice far back in her head. With one swift turn, the key clicked inside the lock and the doors opened just a little bit. Mischief realized, her fingers slipping into that small slit of space now visible, she was holding her breath.
For as certain as she was that said paint and glitter did sleep within this cabinet, she was equally certain that Mother had left other things in there as well. Magical things. She peeked over at the baby, who was trying to reach his feet over the top of the tray and ignoring her completely. Magical things that should not, perhaps, be introduced to her little brother.
But her hand had a mind of its own, and the doors drifted open with the pull of her fingertips, revealing shelves of art supplies.
Her heart caught in her throat for a minute before racing forward, upward with her eyes gazing over the massive amount of choices. The paper was lower, with the sponges, colored pencils and markers. Above that were the stampers and ink pads, and above that…yes, that’s what she wanted.
She pushed the footstool against the exposed pantry shelves and clambered up. Being twelve made her taller than Magick, but not tall enough to reach the paints without the stool. “Just like Mother,” she whispered.
She pushed up on her feet until her eyes could just peer over the end of the shelf, fingers holding onto the edge of the wood until the tips turned white. Colors as far as her brown eyes could see…she snagged a red and a blue bottle, stepped off the stool and walked the paints over to the table near the easel.
“Bbbbbbb?” Magick asked with a sock in his hand touching his mouth.
“Pretty colors, huh, Magick?”
Trip after trip, she took, pantry to table, until the pantry was empty and the table was full. She stood there, elbows akimbo, and surveyed her plastic tube forest. A niggling in the back of her head said she was missing something, but what could it be? Every color was accounted for, to include the purple one she had pulled out of Magick’s mouth.
“Should we take one last look?” she asked the munchkin. He answered her with a well-placed sock toss to her chest and a round of applause. She took that as an affirmative, kissed her brother on the forehead and marched back to the pantry for one last look.
No, she had gotten just about…wait, what was that? In the very back, so far back that her fingertips just brushed the cool glass of it, was a clear flask filled with gold…glitter? She strained forward, one foot off the stool while she precariously balanced on the toes of the other.
“Come on,” she murmured. “Come on!”
But it was just out of her grasp.
She settled back onto the soles of both feet and frowned at it. “I want that bottle.” She looked over her shoulder. “Magick, you want that bottle, too, don’t you?” He erupted into a wave of giggles, hands and feet everywhere. She turned squarely toward the pantry again. “We want that bottle.” She stomped her foot. “Now get over here!”
Now maybe it was the stomp. Maybe that moved it up just enough to cause the flask to tip over. Maybe, just maybe, it was that silly touch of special that happened between the two magnificent M children when they weren’t looking. Oh, Mischief smiled as she slid her fingers over the smooth glassy surface and moved the flask into her palm, she knew better.
It was most definitely that touch of special.
“Oh, little brother, look at this!” She dragged the footstool over to his highchair and showed the flask to Magick. “It’s so pretty!” Inside the glass—was it really warm? Or was she imagining that touch of heat?—a small ocean of gold flecks swirled as if alive. It ebbed and flowed against the neck of the bottle, like so much molten lava.
She flipped it over in her hand, and with one finger touching the raised letters, read aloud, “Poppin Dust: Use sparingly, lest chaos be unleashed.” She cocked her head to the side and pondered the flask. Chaos sounded fun. Chaos and paint sounded even more fun. After all, how much trouble could a little dust cause?
“Only one way to find out,” she announced to no one in particular. Mischief placed the flask on the table and began filling up paint cups with the appropriate colors for their impending fun. A little red for this one, a lot of blue for this one…one by one, she laid out a rainbow of colored cups at her feet.
“Now, to add that Poppin Dust!” She reached for it, but Magick must have had the same idea, because he did, too. Chubby, slobbery fingers grasped at air, as she moved it out of his reach. “No, baby, not for you. You’re too little.”
He grabbed a handful of hair instead and pulled with all his baby might.
“Magick, no!!” Mischief tumbled forward and threw her hands out to catch herself. “Oh, no!!”
The bottle flew through the air, tumbling stopper over bottom to hit the easel. The stopper exploded in a boom so loud, even the baby slapped hands over his ears. Glass fell into a tinkling rain of small shards beneath a cloud of gold dust that settled atop the mess that was now overturned paint pots.
“Oh, I think we’re in trouble, little brother,” Mischief whispered. He didn’t answer and when she turned around, her eyes widened. “Magick?”
Where her baby brother had been, just scant moments ago, now sat an empty highchair covered in a dusting of the Poppin dust and a spattering of purple paint.
Mischief chewed her bottom lip. Where could he be? He couldn’t have escaped the chair; she had had him strapped in it securely. Was he invisible? Was that the ‘chaos’ the dust had promised? She stuck her hand out, and no, to her dismay, her baby brother was not invisible.
Whatever was she going to do now?
She knelt down and look under the highchair. It was silly. She knew it was silly, but if she went to get Mayhem and Magick suddenly appeared beneath his seat, she would never hear the end of it. Her older brother would remind her of this incident until the cows came home. Or until Mother did.
She sighed again. Magick was not under the highchair, of course, and her choices were non-existent. She had to tell Mayhem, no matter what he was going to say to her, and they had to find the baby before Mother came home.
Mischief tiptoed out of the solarium, looking around each corner, beneath each doorway and piece of furniture. She even paused in the kitchen to look in the fridge, though that might have been more about remembering they had grapes than actually expecting the baby to be in there.
She popped a couple of the orbs in her mouth, chewing slowly, completely, in case grapes ended up being her very last meal. She could hear the video game from her solid stance against the wall outside the doorjamb adjacent to the family room. She practiced her little opening speech, inhaled, exhaled, closed her eyes and stepped into the room.
He grunted, “What?”
“Mayhem, I lost Magick.”
The little figure on the screen stopped fighting, the orcs smashing it into little bits. Mayhem turned slowly, and she could almost see the gears in his head turning as he absorbed what she had said.
“What did you say?”
She could feel the tears, big and hot, form in her eyes. “I lost Magick.”
This novel will be serialized with a new chapter released every Friday. Hope you enjoyed it enough to come back!