"Malcolm at work" - Rothkoization short story bit no. 2

by phil on Sunday Aug 20, 2006 8:43 PM

I may or may not be trying to publish a fictional short story soon. The story centers around Malcolm who experiences some kind of synesthesia where colors directly affect his emotions.

Honda is working on some concepts for a "green" car. The designers have already been working on the idea for a year, and the models are just about ready to be pitched to the higher-ups to sign-off. The corporate objective is to speak to the environmentally-minded consumer who feels a communion between herself and nature. A car that connotates compatibility and adaptation is evident in organic motifs with curvey and elegant lines. So far, the designers within the company are brewing with anticipation. All that remains now is to pick a color for the exterior.

Malcolm Nanders walks into the white room, trailed behind by five lab coats and clipboards. In the ceiling of the room, there is a diffuse, white ambient light that illuminates as many details of the model car as possible. Currently, the car appears as a leaden shiny thing, a cipher grey, due to the differing reflections sent to different eyes. This clean confusion is exciting to Malcolm but somewhat irritating to the lab coats. Malcolm designed this room in such a way so that he can engage one-hundred percent on the models. The room has an admixture of ivory whiteness and a new pair of Converse sneakers. Malcolm's Beta waves spike up and he is sent into a meditative state.

The head lab coat whispers to him that the designers have proposed a few mock colors. Malcolm nods hesitantly. The lab coat goes to the touch-screen at the edge of the room and selects a mix of chartreuse and olive drab. An indiscernible light turns on in the ceiling and reacts to the filmy paint on the car. All of a sudden, the car is green with excitement like an object washed under a black light.

"Since this is being marketed as a 'green' car, the design team wanted to make the theme explicit. This color ... "

Malcolm walks up to the model, up to the hood of the car, and looks at it square on, like staring at a hyena in his head lights. He invokes a slight gag reflex while his arms prop up to the side, as if preparing to choke a serpent. His fingers form the shape of spider-legs, like he was hurtling fireballs at the car.

The head lab coat folds his arms across his chest, then frowns, and then motions with his chin for the others to start taking notes.

One of the note-takers breaks some lead while writing, and Malcolm immediately fixates on the speck on the spick-and-span white floor. The head researcher then directs the coats to clean up after themselves.

Up next is coral red. Malcolm is reacting more positively to say the least. He first moves at an angle to the car's front, a meter away, while he tilts his head as if pondering the price of a painting. His hands are folded across his chest. He stands still in that position, making the others impatient. One of the note-takers whispers, "watch his eyelids." Malcolm, while seemingly still as a rock, is squinting his eyes with minuscule gradualism.

Malcolm abruptly sits on the floor, his legs crossed and laid out, his arms folded as he leans on one elbow. Outside of Malcolm, the lab coats are awash with awkwardness, but inside of Malcolm, the weather is sunny.

"We looked at the attachment females had to their cutesy red VW bugs, and the design team wanted to key into that chipper, guileless motif with the coral red."

"Don't you mean tomato," Malcolm responds back with calm aggression.

Teeth start grinding, and Malcolm walks up to the touchscreen, keying in some RGB values. Two seconds later he taps the "Apply" button. The colors instantly change, accompanied by a quiet, bassy sound announcing the switching of lamps in the background.

The team immediately gets the picture and Malcolm is smiling from ear to ear.

"What color is that?"


"But how did you know?"

"Let's wrap this up in the Denim room, and I'll explain."

Malcolm lets the researchers file out ahead of him. He then latches the door shut and flicks the light switch off. The white zaps out of the room, but is left glowing for a few moments.

Creative Commons License