Our Favorite Colors“Alright...yes...I know. He was a great man. Yes, I’m sorry about that, I truly am.” said Dex. He held the phone between his right cheek and shoulder, wishing desperately to end the conversation. He just wanted her to shut up, and when she finally did, he threw down the receiver.
“Well, at least we know it wasn’t the yellow one.” Clyde said. He was the tougher of the two, the less broken. Even after nineteen failed trials, he remained mentally unscathed.
Dex sat down at his desk. He put his head in his hands, and let out a loud sigh.“Ready for the next one?” Clyde asked, cheerily.
“Sure,” Dex replied without budging. Clyde reached behind his computer screen to push the button on the wall for him to make the announcement.
“Number 436. Please report to the testing center. Number 436.”Within a few minutes there was a knock on the control room door. Clyde snapped his fingers and the door slowly slid open. A young man about seventeen-years-old stood in the hallway gripping a piece of paper in his left hand. He had a very typical, drab sort of look, wore black jeans, a plain grey shirt and a raggedy baseball cap. He chewed gum and was about six feet tall, but not quite. Nothing about him seemed the least bit special until he opened his mouth to speak.
“Hey.” he said very plainly. Clyde glared at him. It was
odd enough having a volunteer so young, but the boy’s level of nonchalance was
completely unexpected, even insolent in Clyde's eyes.
“Hi.” Clyde replied.
“What’s up with him?” The boy said, looking over at Dex who still hadn’t fully recovered.
“I don’t know,” Clyde turned to his computer screen, “Number 436...Chandler, right?”“Yeah, Dylan Chandler.” He looked down at his shoes and chewed on. Dex lifted his head up slowly to get a good look at the boy.
“Chandler?” he said, “Chandler....are you related to Manning Chandler?”“Yeah, he’s my grandpa. Or was.”
“Right...” Dex stared at him, trying to make sense of the situation. Old man Chandler was a well known philanthropist and the owner of the Ultimate Lux hotel franchise. He was a good man who’d help anyone that he could. Why would his grandson end up here?
“Since you’re a minor, I’m going to need to see your parental consent form.” Clyde said. Dylan shook the piece of paper, and moved slowing across the gray control room floor to place it in Clyde’s hand.
“Testing will begin in a moment, I’m just setting up the next set of vials.” Clyde said, concentrating on the screen.“Why are you doing this?” Dex asked Dylan.
“I told my dad I needed something to do, and he sent me here.”
“He must hate you.” Clyde muttered. Dylan laughed and adjusted his baseball cap.“He’s not my biggest fan, but I think he’s coming around.”
“Do whatever you need to do to prepare. Take your time.” Dex said. He smiled weakly and for the first time he actually began to hate himself deeply for taking the job. Anxiety and shame had frequented his mind, but this feeling was more potent.“I’ll be fine.”
“Ok, kid. The room's all set up,” Clyde looked up through the window and pressed a button near his keyboard to turn on the light in the other room.“Sweet.” He popped his gum and headed into the room slowly, and showed no obvious signs of distress.
Once inside, he looked about. The entire room was white and seemingly infinite. He was aware of the four confining walls, he knew they were there, but could barely see where the walls met or how high the ceiling really was. In the center of the room there was a table and a chair, as plain and bland as his attire.
On the table were the vials. A blue vial, a red vial, and a green vial.
“I’m assuming you know the drill. Just have a seat at the desk.” Clyde spoke to him through the speakers. Dylan slid into the chair and stared down at the vials.
“Are you sure you want to go through with this?” he heard Dex say.“I’m sure. I’ll be fine. I’ve done stuff like this before.”
“You can talk it out,” Dex assured him, “if it helps you to speak out loud, feel free.”
“Remember,” he added, “This takes time. You have three vials, you can only drink from one vial. One of them will kill you instantly. One will kill you over a period of five hours. One is flavored water. Don’t let the colors deceive you. You know the only thing that will help you is-”
“Luck.” Dylan said. He picked up the blue vial, and twirled it in his hand.“Have fun.” Clyde chimed in without a hint of enthusiasm. The room went silent.
“Blue is a pretty safe color.” he mumbled. He uncapped it and brought it to his lips, then he paused.
The red and green were equally as mesmerizing as the blue, once he really looked at them. He started to put the blue down.“Are you sure about that?” Clyde said.
“It’s not going to be the blue...” Dylan mused,” “The red and green are too obvious. It either is or isn’t, you know?”
No response. He thought about what his father would have done. He’d go red. Maybe blue, but never green. What would old man Chandler do? Nothing, unless it was to save a life. And his mother? A thousand thoughts raced through his mind, but he didn’t let them show through his facial expression. He sat still for a few moments. He then took each vial and held them in front of his face for examination.
He opened the green and poured a few drops on the table. It fizzled. He did the same for the other two. They fizzled just as much.
“Don’t be fooled by appearances.”
“Dammit, Dex, just let the kid focus.”
Dylan poured some of the liquid in the red vial into the blue. It fizzled even more. Quickly he poured it back into the red, then the green, then the blue again, and then the red again, and went on like this for some time.
“Careful, Dylan, be careful” he heard someone say. “Be careful, Dylan.”
He continued mixing and shaking them up. Drops of liquid dripped down staining his jeans and burning his shirt.
“Dylan, be careful.”
Dylan kept going and going and all of a sudden he took a gulp of a vial. He began to shake and tried to scream. His vision blurred and then he gained a new sight. He sat back and watched as the black began to consume the white and vice versa. The entire spectrum, more light than could be described in words, was visible to him. His body then became still, and a smile came across his face. He had won.