“So, you will go into the house, even though I suggest against it?” asked Piper.
“I told you already,” answered Flynn.
Piper threw out his arms, spreading scattering the raindrops back into the air. “What did you even bring me for then?”
Flynn didn’t turn to look at him. He did not take his focused eyes from the house. Not that anyone saw his eyes behind the cowl he used to block the storm. “I brought you to tell my family where I disappeared to if I don’t come back,” Flynn said.
Piper was having a lot of trouble standing in one spot. The rain was cold, the lightning grew closer with each strike, and the house was something unsettling even in the broad daylight.
“You know what they say about this place,” Piper said.
Flynn gave a nod. “No one who has entered says much of anything, far as I am aware,” Flynn answered.
“The reason is not a good one,” Piper shot back.
“Still seems all accounts are second hand. Hard to tell what is happening inside the house,” Flynn said.
Another crack of lightning lit the sky. The house in question sat further back on a hilltop. There were no special adjournments lining the home. There were no beautiful shrubs winning prizes from the housewives of the block. This was an old house; older than anyone’s memories.
“I don’t get the point of this. What have they taken from you that matters this much?” Piper asked.
He asked so many times and got the same generic answer.
“That is not the point,” Flynn said.
Piper slapped at his face in frustration and used the moment to wipe away the rain.
“There is nothing I can do to talk you out of this?” Piper pleaded one last time.
“Tell my family if I don’t come back,” Flynn said, turning to him.
Flynn’s eyes were determined. His shoulders were set. There was no way he was turning back now. Piper knew the former solider for most of his adult life. Once Flynn set his mind to something, he rode it out until the bitter end.
“I will tell them,” Piper resigned himself to the duty.
Flynn did not make a dramatic gesture of goodbye or make any last comment. He took off along the wet, soggy road toward the House of Color. Piper wished him luck, but, in his mind, he was making the speech he would tell Flynn’s wife.
The White Room
Flynn sloshed along the hill, the mud sucking at his dirty brown boots. Piper was right when he said, ‘It is better to turn back’. Flynn was not interested in being right though. Flynn was only interested in getting back what was taken from him.
Flynn stopped at the door to the house. There were no instructions on what happened once you entered. There were only rumors and gossip about what was even on the inside. The only thing agreed upon by everyone were the colors. Flynn lifted his scarred hand and tapped on the brass handle connected to the wooden door. It opened under its own volition. Flynn scanned the open doorway, looking for someone or something, but seeing nothing.
He was already this far and there was no turning back. He stepped into the dark corridor and the door shut behind him with a click. It did not slam but, all the same, Flynn felt the sense of entrapment.
Lights flickered on, transforming the room into the present time. Pristine white walls, not a speck of dust or cobwebs, white floors, white ceilings, and a small, knee-high man with sharp eyes, pointed ears, and tiny teeth greeted Flynn.
“Glad you took the time to join us, Flynn,” the small man said.
Flynn replied with a grunt. What did one say to such a man in such a place?
“The name is Olyante. Bit heavy on the tongue, I know. You can call me Oly if you please,” Oly said.
Flynn did not please to call the creature anything. He wanted what had been taken from him and then he wanted to go home.
“Before you start, you should know the rules,” Oly said.
As he moved across the floor, furniture, as crisp and white as the room, appeared from thin air. Oly stopped in front of a front cushioned bar. Behind the bar appeared a rather unremarkable middle-aged man. He was staring forward, eyes on nothing, as if he had no life within his body. Oly drummed his fingers across the white top of the bar and the man pulled a drink from nothing and handed it to him.
“What do you prefer to drink?” Oly asked.
Flynn glanced around the room. Where Oly moved through the room, the furniture faded back into nothing. Only the bar, with Oly sitting at it, remained as a fixture.
“I prefer only to get what you have taken,” Flynn replied.
Oly’s face scrunched, and he shook his head. “You have to know the rules,” Oly replied. He tapped the bar again and a second glass appeared. “Come drink with me.”
Flynn had not touched a drop of alcohol since after the incident. When his daughter was born, Flynn had been off in some bar. He couldn’t remember the first year of Amenna’s life. Even now, ten years sober, he only recalled vaguely what she looked like as a child.
“I would rather not.” Flynn clenched his fist.
Oly shrugged, took a sip of his own drink, and said, “You will have plenty of time to face those demons later.”
Oly put his glass back onto the counter. As he stood, it disappeared, along with the somber fellow behind it.
“Let us have a seat here then,” Oly said and sat into nothing. As he came to a seated position, a white chair appeared below his bottom. On the opposite side, an identical chair appeared, waiting for Flynn to join him.
Flynn was not any keener to sit in this chair, but he figured Oly was not likely to give up until he gave in. The cushion enveloped Flynn’s thighs and massaged at his back as he sat.
“Enticing, huh,” Oly said, a smile of pearly whites running along his face. “Most things here are much more alluring than one would assume,” he laughed.
Flynn shifted uncomfortably in the chair. The massage was nice, but the idea of something living in the chair unsettled him.
“Where were we?” Oly asked.
Flynn let his own encompassing thoughts spill from his mind. He needed to focus on the house and what he came here for.
“I want back what you have taken,” Flynn reminded Oly.
Oly shook his head. He did not need any reminders. It had been Oly or someone else from here who took from him. “There are rules you must follow,” Oly said, bringing up his earlier statement again.
“What rules?” Flynn asked through clenched teeth. He did not have time for games. Even now, it may have been too late. Oly may have been stalling him until his mission ceased to matter.
“Simple rules. The House of Color comprises seven rooms. Each room has a test for any who enter. You cannot leave the room until the test is complete. If you fail the test, try to run through the test, or refuse the test, then you are trapped forever. You cannot move backward after a test. If you decide to enter the first room, you must pass all seven tests before you can exit the house. You cannot skip a test or do tests out of order. Any attempts to cheat a test will result in automatic failure of the test. If you pass the test you move onto the next test. If you beat all tests, then you will be free to leave the house if you so choose,” Oly regurgitated lines he had spoken hundreds or thousands of times before.
Flynn thought about the rules. Oly was right, they were simple. And yet, if you failed them, the resulting punishment was a lifetime in the house.
“Do you still want to enter?” Oly asked.
Flynn had no doubts. What was taken was too important to be frightened away.
“How do I start?” Flynn answered.
“Each room is a different color. Each color corresponds with a different test. You must start in the red room. You will work your way to the violet room. If you make it there, I will see you again,” Oly stood, his chair disappearing from below him. “You follow the red door,” he said, pointing to a door that had not been present moments before.
Flynn was done with the conversation. He already hyped himself for the situation before entering the home. He told Piper what he would do here. He came to get back what they stole. His fingers reached out for the red doorknob on the red door. He let them encompass it and then he turned the knob. The white room disappeared from behind him. The house shifted and Flynn walked through the door.