The Dartist

Submitted into Contest #142 in response to: Write about somebody who likes to work in silence.... view prompt

18 comments

Fiction Horror Funny

This story contains sensitive content

Warning: Some reference to mental health, and of course, Violence and gore.

*****

   She adjusted her eye patch and focused her one, good eye on the infinite potential of the blank canvas. Tongue between lips, she paced on silent socked feet …turning, visualizing, imagining. She felt the hum of inspiration that sprouted in the back of her mind; growing and blossoming as it crept forward in her consciousness. Tapping the end of the paintbrush on her lips, she cocked her head and narrowed her eye. On her next inhale, she saw it; the canvas burst to life in her mind. 

   “That’s it! I see it and it’s beautiful! Genius! I’ll be more famous than Van Gogh! It’s perfectly clear now. It’s the most beautiful painting I’ve ever seen! It’s a…”

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

 “—blank canvas. No! No! I had it!”

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

   “How dare they interrupt my genius process? The nerve of some people! Plowing into people’s lives whenever they want!”

   Angry thoughts replaced the inspiring vision as she stomped down the stairs. 

   Peering through the peephole, she shot daggers out her good eye at the foul, idea-murderer standing on her front porch. 

   “I’ll give this person a piece of my mind you just watch I’m gonna…oh wait. They have cookies.”

   Daisy opened the door.

   “Hello, Mith Daithy. Would you like to buy thum cookieth?” The toothless, piggy-tailed girl grinned up at her. 

   “Of course I’d like to buy some cookies, you insolent, freakishly-adorable beast! Now that you’ve killed my inspiration with your barbaric interruption, I might as well spend the day sulking and eating my feelings.”

   Daisy bought nine boxes and slammed the door.

   She ate a box of Caramel Chews while throwing darts at the furniture. Tiny holes marred surfaces, and various sized darts protruded from walls like porcupine quills.  

   Thwonggggg….WHACK! Bullseye!

   As she devoured a box of Skinny Minty cookies, she turned her attention to a holey poster of a dart-throwing championship from ten years ago. Without aiming, she let the dart fly on its own. 

Whoosh…THWACK!

It stuck near the date on the poster: Oct 3–the day she won the World Crate Dart Championship. Of course, she also lost her eye that day in a rogue ricochet incident, but that never slowed her down. It didn’t even impede her painting talent.

   Museums and art critics revered Daisy as one of the finest painters in the world. 

   “You say, she only has one eye?”

   “Yes. Isn’t that remarkable?”

   “There’s such depth to her artwork.”

   “And to think she accomplished that with no depth perception.”

   Daisy’s problem wasn’t her depth perception, though. Her over-sensitive hearing, however, caused her great distress and delayed her painting progress. When she lost her eye, her hearing became almost supersonic. Unfortunately, sounds caused the worst possible suffering of distraction for Daisy. Every little noise threw off her concentration and threatened to drive her bonkers. Even worse, she couldn’t paint if she couldn’t achieve complete silence. 

   An artist who can’t art is like a ticking time bomb ready to explode—and woe to the person who causes the explosion.

The pressure didn’t help. 

   “We need another painting from you, or we’ll have to withdraw our payment.” The Gallery of High Art, threatened and prodded in hopes of jarring Daisy’s motivation. 

   “What’s the big deal, anyway. It’s just a little noise. Can’t you tune it out?” Well-meaning friends rolled their eyes and changed the subject; thinking Daisy’s problem was insignificant.

   “Work out your frustration in your art. Combine your artistic expertise. Use the darts to help you refocus when the noise distracts you.” Her therapist suggested techniques of coping; without the slightest concern of Daisy misinterpreting her words.

   After devouring another box of cookies, Daisy took a deep breath of determination and scratched out a sign:

Artist at work. Do not interrupt.

Violators will be stabbed in the eye hole with darts.

   She taped the sign to her front door and went back to her painting.

   “Ah, that tantalizing aroma of paint, the perfect air temperature, and complete silence. The primo atmosphere for artistic creation,” Daisy thought as she smiled and lifted her large flat brush.

“Cadmium Yellow! I see it now.” With tongue poised on lip, she dipped the brush in the paint, mixed it with a little white to ground it and then…

BARK!BARK BARK BARRRRRRKKK! 

   The brush took on a life of its own—and not in a good way. Smearing, jabbing, careening globs of yellow and white paint down the canvas as the sadistic brush seemed to laugh maniacally and launch itself to the floor. 

BARK BARK BARK BARK…

   Daisy growled with frustration. She grabbed a handful of darts and stomped toward her neighbor’s yard where they frequently abandoned their toy poodle, Rimrod.

The hyperactive, overly coifed little noisemaker wagged his poof of a tail and turned in circles at the sight of Daisy. 

   Daisy aimed her dart; confident that puncturing the perpetrator responsible for the latest interruption would end the barking. 

   Whoosh thwack! 

   The dart stuck in Becky, the poodle-owner’s, jugular. Becky went down hard, like a stack of bricks—onto an actual stack of bricks.

Rimrod trotted eagerly after Daisy to get a closer look at Dead Becky. 

   “Unbelievable! I’ve never seen such a pure and vibrant crimson!” Daisy scooped up a jar of warm, sticky, blood; while Rimrod licked the red puddle beneath his previous owner’s crushed skull. With her new pet tucked under her arm, and refreshed pep in her step, Daisy jaunted back to her house.

   In order to become better acquainted with his new home, Rimrod immediately claimed complete ownership of the previously white couch. Daisy, who’d never owned a dog before, giggled with delight at the bloody smudges Rimrod created when he rubbed his face on the couch. He added muddy brown swipes as he furiously pawed at the cushions while turning in circles. Finally, he flopped like a rag doll onto his chosen pillow and slept. Daisy ate another box of cookies, then rushed upstairs to her studio to finish her masterpiece.

   The blessed return to silence enthralled Daisy and lifted her inspiration to a higher plane. She combined the newly-acquired tint she called, Bloody Crimson with Titanium White and whisked it onto the canvas. She frowned. Something wasn’t right with the painting but she knew how to fix it when…

   DING DONG

   Somehow, Rimrod knew better than to utter a peep. Besides, he was just as annoyed at the interruption as his new master. He ran upstairs and stared at Daisy as if to say, “Well? Aren’t you gonna do something about this?”

   DING DONG DING DONG

   Daisy grabbed her darts and raised the window in her studio that overlooked the steps leading to her concrete patio and front door. 

   “Unbelievable! Can’t you read?” Daisy shouted to the man in blue at her door. He looked up at her just in time to see two darts— the last things he ever saw. The man toppled backwards down the concrete stairs and came to rest, head first in a fire ant bed. Blood and viscous fluid streamed into the groaning man’s ears from his punctured eye holes.

   “Oh what a gorgeous effect! A triangle of golden sunlight sparkles against the bloody clumps of ant-infested sand on the man’s temple. It’s the perfect contrast to his Midnight Blue suit and Jet Black hair.” Daisy gasped as she noticed the man attempt to move.

“NO! Stay very still! You’ll ruin everything!” The man wasn’t listening. Nobody listened to Daisy. She scowled and hurried to grab something to help the man—her five inch javelin darts. 

   THWACK THWACK! Bullseye! Two in the skull!

The man stopped moving, probably due to a massive brain hemorrhage. 

   Daisy felt something wet on her shin. She looked down at Rimrod wagging his tail.

   “Who’s a good boy? Huh? That’s right, Rimrod’s a good boy! Come on. Let’s go get some more Bloody Crimson paint.” With the dog at her heels, she dashed out the door; empty bottle and pocket knife in hand. Daisy plucked the darts from the man’s noggin and blood gushed out of every hole. Rimrod enjoyed a tasty snack from the bloody fountain flowing out of the man’s busted head while Daisy filled the bottle with redness. 

   “Watch out for those ants, Rimrod.” Clumps of ant carcasses floated in the bright red “paint”. “ The clumps of ants will create the perfect texture contrast on the canvas.” She used her pocket knife to cut herself a sample of the blue suit and black hair. When she turned to leave, the sun ricocheted off something shiny that caught her attention. 

   “Look, Rimrod! It’s a genuine police badge.” Daisy pulled the badge off the man’s lapel and leaped back up the stairs to her studio with the dog close behind. “Mixed media art is all the rage right now, isn’t it my little poodle baby…isn’t it…yes it is.” She crooned and baby-talked to the dog who wagged his tail and rolled over. Daisy rubbed his belly, leaving smears of Burnt Sienna, blood-dirt across his belly.

   She looked out the window at the corpse of the man in blue. Ants wiggled over his face and hands; making his skin appear to shimmy. Flat, orangish-pink lesions formed on his exposed skin as the ants carried off chunks of flesh. Some of the ants abandoned their anthill and colonized inside the corpse where the very walls, ceiling, and floors provided a readily available food source. 

   Altogether, the scene inspired a new kind of artistic expression for Daisy. She went to work; arranging everything she’d found into a magnificent work of art and producing the most famous gothic/realism/mixed media painting ever known. 

   “What did you name that painting, Daisy?” A fellow inmate tapped her shoulder and asked, several years later. Daisy removed her government-issued, noise-cancelling headphones. She looked at the girl with her one good eye, and petted Rimrod; who was, strangely enough, allowed to accompany her to her new home in the mental ward of the prison.

   “I called it, “Silence for the Dartist.”

THE END












April 21, 2022 15:10

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18 comments

Fred Aiken
13:17 Apr 28, 2022

conceptually, it was a pretty interesting story and definitely was an enjoyable read. there were certain details that seemed to have significance at first, like the main character having only one eye, that didn't quite track all throughout. it was a bit tropey as well, the whole antisocial artist with a violent streak brewing within seems to have been done countless times. but i did enjoy your unique take and voice. it was a good draft, and probably just needs to be polished by fleshing out details about the character and her motivations, an...

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Sharon Hancock
23:08 Apr 28, 2022

Thanks so much for reading and for your helpful comments!

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Kate Armentor
17:57 Apr 25, 2022

You've struck me again with your signature dark humor. Seriously, Great work on the onomatopoeia, really brings life to your story. Love the character design of a possible artist serial killer with a completely and yet not-at-all-related eyepatch. Also loved the inclusion of actual art talk. That stuff really intrigues me. All in all, good job!

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Sharon Hancock
01:12 Apr 26, 2022

Thank you so much! 😻

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Howard Halsall
07:27 Apr 25, 2022

Hello Sharon, What a rollercoaster of a tale. I loved your story for its humour and the ending was inspired. My favourite line was, “Mixed media art is all the rage right now, isn’t it my little poodle baby…“ Well done and good luck in the contest. Take care HH

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Sharon Hancock
01:12 Apr 26, 2022

Thank you, Howard!😻

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Lavonne H.
03:14 Apr 25, 2022

Dear Sharon, Ok, there she is, on a psych unit in prison, and she "remove[s] her government-issued, noise-cancelling headphones." And I go, 'but I said to wear those' (to no one who could hear me) in the middle of the story, before the dart slinging!!! A few bodies would have been saved if Daisy had just listened to me (and not her therapist.) Seriously, I love your ugly, wicked, PG13 humor. I just have to be careful who is around when I start talking to your characters!! Yours in writing, Lavonne

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Sharon Hancock
01:16 Apr 26, 2022

Noise canceling headphones save lives! 😂 Thank you so much for your upbeat comments you always put a smile on my face.😻

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Riel Rosehill
19:57 Apr 24, 2022

Oh, how did I not notice this earlier? So much fun! Love the last line!! And the title... The Dartist. Dartist. Love this word. So good... five stars! And here: "Use the darts to help you refocus when the noise distracts you.”, great foreshadowing! I know your writing well enough now that as soon as I read this line, I KNEW bodies are gonna start dropping. The ending was AWESOME. Love that it was from the prison, and, the title of the art for the last line... perfect. Now this is my favourite story from you so far :D (I'm glad the dog wasn't...

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Sharon Hancock
01:39 Apr 25, 2022

Thank you so much, Riel! I am so glad you enjoyed it. 🍪🍪🍪

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Zack Powell
21:30 Apr 23, 2022

I LOVE what you did with the "dartist" concept, and how both of those aspects played an equal role in Daisy's backstory/characterization. That's super clever, fusing two words together like that and writing a whole story from it. I'm gonna have to give that a try. I don't know what it was, but this story made me way more squeamish than any of your others (probably, I think, because this one is so grounded in reality, down to the bootleg Girl Scout cookies, that it feels more like this could actually happen somewhere in the world). I had to t...

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Sharon Hancock
02:01 Apr 24, 2022

Omg I love your critiques so much! Thank you thank you! I’m actually pretty squeamish in real life situations. Looking at stitches or injuries makes me woooooozy! And do not ever look up “rashes” or “fungal infection” on the internet! I’ll never unsee those things. 😂 Thanks so much for reading and commenting!😻

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Michał Przywara
20:59 Apr 22, 2022

Heh, you definitely get that "focused artist" vibe, oblivious to the distractions of the world (well, other than noise, obviously.) The opening is good – I think anyone who's been interrupted while trying to work can relate. And I like the title, because I like puns. Also "eating my feelings" was funny and insightful. Obviously there's a dark side to all this, what with the murder and all, and the morbid use of blood as paint. But it's a neat idea too. A way to really give a work of art a "life of its own."

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Sharon Hancock
01:36 Apr 23, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and for the kind and thoughtful comments. I also love puns! 😻

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L.M. Lydon
15:39 Apr 22, 2022

Wow, this took an unexpected turn! I love the unpredictability of the dart-throwing prowess of the artist. The narrator's fixation on specific color is both interesting and slightly terrifying!

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Sharon Hancock
01:37 Apr 23, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and commenting😻.

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Mike Panasitti
18:32 Apr 21, 2022

This one induced vertigo in me, Sharon. I loved the premises despite how bizarre they are: a painter with one eye, murders by dart. The middle, when it starts getting gory, lost me a little, but it's a wonderfully innocent kind of gore. I hope you can win the contest at some point, too. It may take developing some writerly finesse similar to that of the karma point leaders, but I'm rooting for you.

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Sharon Hancock
01:31 Apr 22, 2022

Thank you for your comments and for reading! I would love to develop “writerly finesse.” I’m going to work on that. 😻

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