The weather report didn't matter. The temperature, humidity, and sunlight (or lack-there-of) was always the same in the Marans' basement. The wood paneled walls were hidden in darkness except for the occasional splash of light from an unshaded lamp. Even those bits were soiled with the stark shadows of whatever knick-knacks and half-filled soda bottles were strewn across the desks which lined much of the room.
In a corner sat Brian, hunched over a drawing pad which lay flat on his desk. The page before him was blank, but he stared at it, muttering to himself, reading under his breath. In frustration, he threw down his pen and rubbed at his eyes as if he had been sitting in that uncomfortable, hot chair for hours. Days, even. In reality, he had only just sat down for a few minutes.
He turned sideways in his old chair, the wooden arm of it digging into his side. His unkempt hair matched the shadows on the wall both in color and shape. His glasses were equally dark and abnormal. He stared through them across the large cave of a room to another desk. Upon it sat several jars, bottles, beakers, and other clear containers. Each was connected to the next with a straw or tube of some sort and liquid pooled in differing colors; blue, green, yellow, black, clear. The liquids sat unmoving, unbubbling, unchanging.
Brian pushed himself from his chair as if the effort itself drained him and he trudged across the room. He slapped his hand on the desk and drug a lighter over the rough wood, only then curling his thumb to pick it up as it teetered on the edge. In one quick movement, almost uncharacteristic of him, he snapped the cover off and flicked the lighter on. The tiny flame danced from his fist and he reached out and held it under a mason jar of blue liquid.
Forever he stood there, the flame licking the glass, the shadows dancing on the wall, the light taunting his eyes, and the jar began to sweat but its contents had no reaction. Brian lifted the lighter closer till the flame had no room to burn between its fuel and its foe, but still, nothing. He stared into the flame until the spots overcame his sight and he could see it no more. His eyes relaxed and snapped back, trying to focus on what had blinded him, but Brian didn't move.
Florescent light ruined the effect and a woman's voice came from far away.
"Brian?! You better not be smoking down there!"
He answered her in his head, "I'm not, Mom!" but his lips didn't move and no sound came from him.
Blinking, he threw down the lighter in anger.
"What?! What Mom??"
By this time, she had come halfway down the stairs and was looking at him as if he had just pulled a gun on her.
"What are you doing?"
Brian didn't turn from his desk.
"I'm writing! Leave me alone! Please!"
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry. What do you want for lunch?"
"Nothing, Mom, I'm fine. I'm not hungry. Just. Please, leave me alone for now."
"Well, let me know soon. It'll take time to make it. Don't wait till you're starving to come upstairs."
Her steps were soft and reverberating and the click the lightswitch made when she shut it off replayed in Brian's head over and over and over. He felt as if he had been standing all day and decided to go sit back down in his chair. Once there, he stared at the blank page of paper again. Hours later, he let out a sigh.
At some point, a plate had appeared on the desk next to him. It had three halves of ham sandwiches on toast with a full slice of cheese on each. He barely recalled eating it, but the roughness the toast left on the roof of his mouth and the crumbs on the plate gave away its history. Brian turned to look at the liquid across the room. Still as ever.
The light flicked back on again and the familiar footsteps came close.
"We're all ready to go. Are you coming?"
Brian sighed again. He lost count of the number of sighs which now hung in the still air around him, but he was certain it totaled more than the years that would last his life. He pushed himself and his chair away from his desk with a harsh scrape against the concrete floor and stood. Turning without looking at the juices, he climbed up the stair after his mother.
The light clicked off, but no one was there to hear its sound repeat over and over in their mind. Heavy footsteps came from above as they walked and shuffled across the house. Then a heavy door opened... and shut. The slam of it made tiny ripples in the liquid. A hundred circles grew within each other till they could grow no more, and then reversed and came back on each other. Even after the vibration of the door had passed, the ripples kept on, growing bigger with each wave until the liquid began to bubble. The bubbles grew larger, and more fierce until it pushed up into a straw and into the next soda bottle of green, turning it into a beautiful teal.
The teal concoction began to bubble next. It churned and danced and bounced and grew. It grew so great that it flowed into the yellow liquid and the black. They bubbled up and rose out of the jars and popped on the wall, leaving round ink stains which dripped and bled downwards leaving new symbols and signs and words and pictures.
The bubbles eventually filled the room in black and teal and purple and orange and every shade of blue and green until barely any liquid was left at all in the bottles and jars. When Brian stepped down the color-wheel stairs what seemed like mere moments later, he scooped up his pen and drawing pad, sat cross-legged on the floor, and began to write.