Standing on a well-treaded concrete doorstep, you finally figure a dress was not suitable for today's weather: rainy with a chance of hypothermia. You are stubborn and formal, not minding the discomfort as long as you can keep up appearances. After all, you have a business to start, which is already gaining ground, a little antique store down on Main Street. What a marketer your sometimes irritating spouse is.
The house you visit is massive, obviously costly to the owner. Any windows you can see are suspiciously painted over, light peeks through bubbles in it. It's offputting, but you're only here to drop off something, right?
You knock on an old door before you, three strong thumps against the scratched wood. There is a knocker, but you see no use in it. It is quiet on the other side for a minute or two. Cars pass behind you, more than likely caffeine-induced commuters headed to work or parents taking their children to school. In your fingers, you clutch a few papers with words and designs on them: they are plans for something, the reason you are here in this busy neighborhood.
You want to make a sign.
Air rushes out from the newly-opened door and an unruly, meek-looking man wearing sunglasses stands there. He smiles, flipping the dark lenses up to reveal grimy clear ones that in turn uncover his studying grey eyes. On his hands are slightly singed leather gloves. There's a certain friendliness to him, accompanied by a jovial gleam in his eye, that compels you to push your nervousness at his oddities aside and hand him the prints.
You address Mr. Harold Donehugh directly, being blunt and telling him exactly what you want. He mulls over the colorful parrot now in his hands, looks up, and asks, "How much are you willing to pay for it?"
"Enough," you retort, pulling out your wallet, "when can you have it done?"
"Today," he replies immediately, no hint of that happy gleam reflects in his serious answer.
Obviously, you take this as a joke. There's no way a sign that complex could be created in a day. Not even a week is able to produce a decent copy. A sign such as the one he holds might take well over a month, maybe even two, to bend, color, and power. Laughing, you tell him exactly what you think. Donehugh chuckles as well, but not for the same reasons. He beckons you inside.
This is unexpected.
However, he promises to show you how he manages such a thing. Although you had other plans for today, like buying whiteboards to set up in your new shop's windows, you decide to humor him and see this joke play out. Silently fussing over a loose hair, you step over the threshold of his large home.
Immediately, a small neon sign reading "Welcome" greets you, flashing green consistently in a 1, 2, 1, 2, pattern. Its bubbly letters are quite appealing. You ask Donehugh about it, but he ignores the question and keeps walking. Saying no more, you catch up again.
A grey train with animated red wheels is next, then a yellow bee with blue wings, the words "I like to eat" appear in a messy kitchen. You know now that he is showing off his creations, maybe in an attempt to impress you. If that is indeed the case, his efforts are working.
Logos for famous companies appear in appropriate colors alongside their mascots, and more animals flaunt their stripes and shades. Some are moving pictures, others aren't, all have a charm you can't describe which makes them their own. While you walk, continually growing more enchanted by them, you ask with what little coherence you have, "They're pretty... wonderful, I mean... but don't the neighbors find them disturbing, say, at night? They must shine through the paint then."
"I have gotten complaints, strangely enough," he mutters the way someone might when arguing with a ridiculous ideal, "worry not, though, they get their sleep-- I mean, rest, so no one is too bothered..."
Passing another light, you lose concentration. He cuts the conversation short as you stare blankly at a stunning chameleon.
Cowboys, cars, and out-of-style phrases plaster rooms you would have never noticed without them. They block the clutter of said rooms, drawing your attention away from it, calling out to you.
"Come and look at us," they seem to say, "aren't we beautiful, colorful?"
"Wow," you find yourself repeating, unable to contain your fascination.
Your walk lasts a good ten minutes. You fail to note that the house has an impossibly labyrinthian structure. Donehugh's signs make the time pass by in a flash, or rather, multiple. He's made a rainbow with no real end, not until the signs burn out, anyway, and the prospect of that seems impossible.
You feel like you've just made hundreds of new friends.
When you find yourself out of the little trance bright colors and buzzing electricity brought, the two of you stand in a tiny basement room. A set of rickety stairs lay directly ahead, but Donehugh blocks them. His arms are open wide in a defensive gesture.
"This room is where I make my signs," he says, smiling proudly, "wasn't this what you really wanted to see?"
Peering around, you find that the room is void of anything besides the white paint covering each wall. All floorboards under your feet are the same, plain color as these walls. Seeing the trap you've fallen into, a sort of panicked sickness wracks your heart.
You hastily query as to why he corners you now. Does he desire money, self-gratification, or, worst of all, does he have an unquenchable bloodlust? To all these Donehugh shakes his head of wild hair.
"So why have you brought me down here, heathen?" The words are painfully strained, highlighting your emotions like bold letters on a page of italics.
"You just don't get it, do you, ma'am?" he shouts, voice echoing off the walls. "Even after I showed you all my signs, even after they spoke and got to know you, you refuse to understand?"
"What am I to understand, Donehugh, that you're a crazed person who's misled an innocent woman? I know all I need to!"
He suddenly cocks his head, a universal signal of curiosity, as he concentrates on you. His eyes seem to study harder than ever.
"My, I think you have the right amount of color..."
The parrot. Fear has made you forget all about it. He refreshes your memory by bringing some folded sheets out of a pocket on his blue jeans, scanning them with keen interest.
"It's amazing what a room like this can bring out in people, with a little stimulation, of course."
Glancing up again, his grey eyes flicker. The gleam from before had been more than a refraction of light: it was light. Slowly, mixed neon hues begin to swirl about inside his irises. The sight is so wondrous that you walk closer to have a better look...
... Just within reach of a certain Mr. Donehugh. Grasping your arm tightly, he keeps a hold of you as pure blue light seeps from it. The feeling is inexplicable, better than any earthly pleasure and coming honestly. Taking the other arm, he causes something similar to happen: this time brilliant red light rises instead. A familiar buzzing returns to your ears.
You urge him to "stop this foolishness," but more and more of your body shines. Eventually, the glow reaches the soles of your feet and tips of your fingers. The entire room is a magnificent spectrum of shades. The buzz drowns out each word he utters, but you can see his lips move.
Then, hollow, drilling pain fills you as he rips the light away like a poor sketch in a drawing book. The buzzing stops, of course, but you're left to suffer on the floor. Donehugh gasps, bends over, and pulls something from your hair. No longer can you feel anything as your chroma-less body is taken from you, giving one last jolt before falling flat.
"I almost forgot you," he whispers, his face much bigger than before, "Sorry, ma'am!"
His eyes are grey again, with that characteristic gleam. Giving a final wink, he clicks the dark lenses back down and sets to work making a sign. Forming the tubes around the light and bending them takes no time at all with the safety of gloves to protect him from burns. Soon, Mr. Harold Donehugh has a parrot others would be jealous of.
"Look at me," you say, flickering joyfully, stripped of everything else except your color, "aren't I beautiful?"
Written by SoDaft Potato