Friday, September 24, 2010

week twenty-four: amber

Even as a very small child, she was always fascinated with death. The other girls drew pink ponies or stick drawings of their families; not Amber though, she drew horrifying things. They were some of the best drawings ever done by a child her age, but they were so frightening. Sometimes it was the Grim Reaper plunging his scythe into her aging grandmother, or it was a chariot from Hades dragging away little Lyle's father. One couldn't help but admire her skill, but her subject matter was nothing short of terrifying.

Her parents did everything they could to help their child with her problem. They encouraged her to draw nice things like pretty princesses or rainbows, but it was to no avail. So, they sought professional help in the form of no less than sixteen different child psychiatrists. None of them could find anything wrong with Amber except that she was fascinated by the prospect of death. They would ask, “Why do you draw such horrible things?”

And Amber would simply answer, “Because it's what I see in my mind. I draw what I see.”

The root of the problem was obviously what she was seeing. None of the doctors could answer why she saw such atrocities. Amber was nothing more than quiet little girl. Everything was ordinary about her except for her deathly drawings. Her parents went from hopeful, to helpless, and finally to desperate. And in their desperation, they sought the help of one a doctor in a very special field of study: parapsychology. This doctor was one Doctor Abraham Lanning and he is the most admired in a field of kooks with PhD's.

His very first question was very simply, “Has anything in her drawings ever come true?”

The answer is a very unfortunate yes. Amber's grandmother passed away in her ongoing battle with multiple-sclerosis and poor Lyle's father died in a car accident. How strange.

Their sessions together were documented, as a case like Amber's was rare indeed. Amber and Lanning sat across from another at a table. Before the little girl were some crayons and a piece of paper. Lanning only watched her at first.

She started every conversation, “Mommy says that if I'm good, we'll get ice cream afterwards!”

“Do you like ice cream, Amber?”


“What's your favorite kind?”

“Mint chocolate chip!”

“And where do you go to get your ice cream?”

“Depends. Sometimes Baskin-Robbins and sometimes Ben & Jerry's.”

“Which is your favorite?”

“Baskin-Robbins because it's pink.”

“So, you like pink?”

“It's my favorite color!”
“So, Amber,” Lanning cleared his throat, “why don't you ever draw with pink?”

“Because I don't see pink.”

“What do you see now?”

“I see you.”


“Well, yes, you know that, goofy. I'm talking to you!”

Lanning breathed a sigh of relief. Amber scared him. “Could you draw me a picture?”

“But I don't-” her eyes widened, “Yes, I see something!” She picked up the box of crayons and the first one she picked up was the pink one. How curious. She set up a background of mostly pink and then drew what looked like a young woman. Then the black crayon came. A black figure grabbed his young woman's neck and stood choking her to death.

“What is this a picture of?”

“She's going to die.”

When the session ended, Amber's parents followed through on their promise. Little was gained, but Lanning assured them he was making progress. After all, this was his chance to make his field be taken seriously. What a laugh.

They went to Baskin-Robbins, just as Amber would wish. The little girl ordered a cone of mint chocolate chip and enjoyed every last bite of it. But just then, a very beautiful young lady walked into the store and asked the attendant for a sample of their triple chocolate chip. The large man behind the counter handed her one of their legendary pink spoons full of the chocolatey goodness. She put it in her mouth just as another man tripped over the wet floor behind her. This man landed right on her and down her throat the spoon went. The young woman grabbed her throat! She choked!

Panic filled the room. Amber simply stared. There was nothing they could do. The young woman was dead from here on out. Oh well!

Doctor Lanning was told all about this escapade and he knew the truth. She could see the death's of others! What a gift, but what curse... But he would have to prove it, wouldn't he?

“Amber, I need you to draw me another picture.”

“I can't, I don't see anything.”


“There's nothing, doctor.”

“Amber, I need you to draw me a picture. Draw anything that comes to mind.”

“But I can't.”

“Sure you can!” He smiled a very false smile.

“No, I can't!”

“Amber, I need you to draw me a picture. Just try!”


“Amber. Now.”

She looked at him, into his eyes, and replied, “No! I can't!”


“Because, I don't want anyone to-” she saw it. At last, she saw it. “Okay, I'll draw.”

“Good!” Lanning grinned. He watched as she drew, preferencing red and and gray. She worked on what must have been a skin color. He could see eyes emerging. The grim reaper stood behind a screaming man whose neck bled.

“I'm done,” Amber replied angrily.

Lanning picked up the picture and noticed that it must be incomplete. “No, you're not. Finish it.”

“No! It is finished!”

“You're lying!”

“Am not!”

Lanning grabbed her arm, “Yes, you are, Amber.”

She noticed a sharpened pencil on the table. “No, I'm not lying. I finished. Stop hurting me.”



“Amber, I have had it w-” Suddenly, the pencil struck right through his neck. Blood blasted all over the little girl's face. She had punctured his artery. He tried to pull it out, but Amber kept it in. For such a little one, her grip was fierce. “Amber, stop!” Lanning whimpered.

“I'm finishing the picture,” she let go as he dropped to the floor. She picked her crayon back up and finished her picture. It was Doctor Lanning with the pencil in his throat. What a horrifying thing to draw!

Amber walked out of the room, leaving the picture behind. Her parents were shocked to find her out and covered in blood. “He wouldn't stop!” she sobbed as her parents learned what had happened. What to do with poor Amber? For years, her parents tried to raise her, but her mind slipped further and further until there was no choice but to put her in the funny farm. She likes calling it that. It makes her giggle.

She still draws her pictures and those in them still die, but they allow it because she reasons that only she sees the inevitable. No one considered using her gift to their advantage. Amber horrified everyone. And rightfully so. Maybe one day she'll draw a picture of you. Maybe it'll have pink ponies or rainbows. Maybe. But it'll probably have death, blood, and horror instead. Oh well, it happens.

A while back, I went on a horror stint. I wrote this at about the same time that Zombie a Week started. I guess I'm just saying that, while it may not look like it, this was a very experimental story for me to write. Was it a success, a failure, or something in between?

Beats me.

All I know is that it was a fun write. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


  1. Not your best one...
    Is it inspired by a movie?

  2. I feel like "little girl drawing prophetic pictures of death while hubris-laden doctor looks on and dies" has been done before, but I couldn't say where. No, it's not inspired by a movie.

    Honestly, I didn't like this story so much. The two things I really do like are the creepy use of innocence and the narrative breaking the fourth wall with the characters.