This story is by William J. DeProspo and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Now you see it
I was on my way to work, when I spotted a naked violinist standing on the corner. I almost fell off of my bicycle. I regained my balance and continued on my way. I was thinking about the violinist and nearly crashed into a wall of water. Well, it looked more like a fountain. Only the sidewalk wasn’t getting wet. I peddled over to it, bicycle wheel to water plume. It was my height, round in the middle, and had colors that would make a rainbow cringe. Each column was a different crappy brown hue, and they mixed into a cornucopia horn swirl of kaleidoscopic, fractal, patterns. It was… ugly. I stretched my arm over the handlebars and cautiously put my hand into it. Warm, but not hot. There was no moisture, but there was a mild offensive odor, and a texture akin to thick mud. I needed to talk to someone. I stopped a man about to sidestep my bicycle.
“Sir, what the hell do you think that is?” I asked pointing toward the fountain.
The man looked at me, then where I was pointing.
“What the hell is what? There’s nothing there,” said the man as he continued to walk away from me.
“What the hell is what? It’s a damn fountain,” I thought.
I’m not a Jedi Master, but I see a fountain in front of me, and it’s touching the wheel of my bicycle. I needed another opinion. One man’s opinion does not… I stopped a woman about to pass behind me.
“Excuse me, but do you see the fountain in front of my bike?” I asked.
The woman looked toward the front of my bicycle.
“Oh sure, the big marble one with the rearing horses. Looks lovely,” said the woman shaking her head and increasing the speed of her steps.
Okay, maybe I was having hallucinations. I checked my watch, gave an “Oh shit.”, stepped on the bike pedals and tore through the fountain in one push.
As I walked down the corridor toward my office, I felt something following me. You know, a sixth sense thing. There was a slight smell in the air, and each time I turned to look, I thought I saw the fountain as it moved out of my peripheral vision. I opened the door to my office, there, next to my desk was the fountain. The morning light filtering through the window, added a shimmer to the already swirling colors. The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight as the quills of on a frightened porcupine. I backed out of my office and looked around for my colleague Roger. I spotted him at his desk, and I called out to him. He turned, saw my waving and came over to my office.
“Roger, come in, I have something I want to show you,” I said.
I waited. Roger had no reaction.
“Do you see anything next to my desk? “I asked.
“No. I see nothing. What am I supposed to see?” asked Roger.
“Sorry, Roger. I know I called you in here, but please give me a few minutes to get settled. I’ll call you when I’m ready,” I said.
He gave me a quizzical look, but he left my office without saying another word. My telephone rang. It was my boss.
“Yes, sir. I’ll be right there,” I said.
Walking into the conference room, I had the same sixth sense feeling I had earlier, and the room had the same offensive odor. My boss was sitting at the conference table. The fountain was next to him. After the meeting I detoured downstairs into the cafeteria hoping the fountain was not following me. I kept mumbling to myself, “ignore it, it’s only a figment of your imagination.” I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese… I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat in a chair near the window. Outside, not ten feet from me, was the fountain. “Ignore it, it’s a hallucination,” I said to myself.
I headed back to my office and was sure the fountain was behind me, but I saw nothing. I thought this was strange since I had been the only one to see and smell it. Now, all I had was a feeling. I entered my office, and it was still at the side of my desk. I circled around it rather than walking through it, better safe than sorry. I stared at the fountain and thought, “What in God’s name does that ugly, smelly thing want?” After a full day of having this fountain following me, I decided, from now on, it did not exist. My resolve lasted one hour.
“What the hell are you?” I yelled.
“It’s about time, I’ve been waiting all morning,” said the fountain.
I almost fell off of my chair. Shaken, I steadied myself by holding on to the edge of my desk.
“Wah… wah… what are you?” I stammered.
“I’m what you want,” came the answer.
This was getting too crazy. “How is this weird thing what I want?”
I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself.
“Okay, I’ll bite. What do you mean, want?” I asked.
“I’m here to grant you your wish,” said the fountain.
“But, but, I didn’t wish for anything,” I said.
“Oh, yes you did. Do you remember what you said on your way to work this morning, when you saw that naked guy on the corner of the street playing violin?”
I took a minute to think back to the morning. I remembered that I said, “Well, I’ll be dipped in shit, look at that, a naked violin player.”
It was a loud crash that caused Roger to run to my office. When he opened the door, he saw my hands flailing wildly from the top of the largest pile of crap you can imagine.