's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Garden of Pink "

Submitted by Irene Vallone

At 7 AM, Henry woke up dimly to the sound of his phone alarm, set it to snooze, and immediately fell back asleep.

At 7:20 AM, Henry dimly woke up again to no sound. His phone had stopped going off. Upon realizing what time it was, he snapped awake and leapt out of bed. He was going to be late for work.

He dashed over to his closet and whipped the door open. Faced with a mass of shades of grey, he bent down and grabbed his work uniform off the shelf. Quickly, he grabbed a towel and dashed to the
bathroom, where he showered and brushed his teeth quickly, barely taking a glance at his grey-toned reflection.

In the kitchen, Henry stopped only to grab a bagel out of the bag. He didn't have time to toast it - he was already going to be late.

Henry twisted his doorknob, swung the front door open, and dropped his bagel on the ground in shock.

Standing in the front lawn of the house across from his was a cluster of plastic lawn flamingos. They were bright pink, almost unbelievably bright in the morning sun.
It was the first color Henry had ever seen.


"Alright, Barry," Melissa sighed. "Time to go home."


Melissa rolled her eyes. "Come on, Barry, your mom wants us to go back home."

Barry looked up at her imploringly. "I wanna go down the slide again," he whined.

"Okay, fine," said Melissa, trying to conceal her annoyance. "One more time." She let go of his hand, and he took off across the playground to the slide. Melissa sat down on a nearby bench. She was exhausted. She didn't have the energy or patience for babysitting, but one of her mother's friends had asked her at the last minute, and thirty dollars was thirty dollars.

She took out her phone and glanced over it. No new messages.

"Are you done over there, Barry?" she asked without looking up.

There was no answer.


Hesitantly, Melissa stood up and crossed the playground, over to the bottom of the slide.

"Barry? Where did you go?"

As the exit point of the slide came into view, Melissa saw a pink plastic lawn flamingo standing at the base of the slide, facing away from it, staring away from the playground into the distance. She didn't see Barry anywhere.

"Barry?" Melissa shouted. "Barry, where are you!"

Panicked, Melissa tried to yank the flamingo out of the wood chips. It refused to budge, as if it was welded to the spot.

She raised her head and looked around the playground. She saw dozens of lawn flamingos standing in a circle around the playground, looking inward at her judgmentally.


One morning, Jack woke up to discover that he could no longer move.

He wasn't well and truly paralyzed; he could still crane his neck to look down at himself, twitch his fingers, wiggle his toes, blink, breathe, go on living. But his limbs refused to work. He attempted to lift them, but they felt as heavy as lead.

Jack quickly accepted it. He had led a good life. He would leave behind three kids and seven lovely grandchildren. His wife had already passed two years previously. If it was his time, he was going to go out gracefully.

Jack shut his eyes, exhaled slowly, and woke up in six hours. Everything was the same, except a flamingo was standing over his right shoulder, looking down at him.

Jack was confused. Was this a joke?

He tried to get up, but to no avail.

Pinned down by some unknown failing of his body, Jack stared up at the flamingo for several hours before falling asleep again. When he woke up again, there was a second flamingo, standing over his other shoulder.

This went on and on, for what Jack figured must have been days. Jack was finally getting scared. What was going on here? Why wasn't anyone calling or coming to check on him?

Jack tried to get up. When he moved, he was struck with a pain, as though he was impaled on dozens of tiny poles that pierced his limbs. The flamingos stared down at him condescendingly, quietly mocking his efforts.


Gerard lay on his bed, cowering in the fetal position, facing away from the door. He stared into the wall, eyes wide in terror.

He knew they were still behind him. He felt them staring. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled when he thought about it.

"Go away," he mumbled. "Leave me in peace."

There was no answer. Gerard knew they wouldn't answer, but their silence made him angry all the same.

He suddenly sat up on the bed.

"Go away!" he roared, turning to face them.

Seeing them sent chills on his spine. They stood motionlessly in the doorframe, black stick-legs growing directly out of the floor and walls as they stood around the doorway. Outside in the hall, he could see the rest of them, covering every surface of the walls and floor.

He hated them. He wished they had never come.

"Leave!" he screamed at the flamingos. "Leave me alone!"

They didn't answer. Their black dot-eyes pierced him.

Gerard threw himself back down on the bed and screamed into his pillow. When he looked back up, he saw more of them outside his bedroom window, having sprung up from the outside walls of his home, peering into the window with their horrible eyes.


Sasha rubbed her eyes. Everything was still pink.

Everything was stained with pink. The houses, the sidewalk, the pavement, the furniture in her house, every individual blade of grass and leaf on every tree was bright bubblegum pink.

The lawn flamingos were already pink, so they stayed the same. Their black legs and yellow beaks made them stand out against the pink backdrop. Sasha tried to focus on them. All this pink was irritating her.

She rubbed her eyes again. It didn't help. She had been rubbing her eyes almost nonstop for days. Now they felt raw and dry, but she couldn't stop. They hurt too much.

She felt a buzzing behind her eyes. It felt like hot TV static. It was like a wasp was inside her brain. It was torture.

Sasha looked out her kitchen window, squinting at the pinkness of everything outside. The roofs of her neighbor's houses were covered in plastic flamingos, perched like egrets on the pink shingles. The sidewalks, streets and lawns were peopled with even more of them. They grew directly from every surface. Many of their bodies were twisted into impossible shapes. It hurt Sasha to look at them more than the pink everywhere.

Hesitantly, Sasha opened one of her kitchen drawers and took out a pair of scissors. She shook as she turned them over in her hand.

It had to be done. She couldn't stand the pink anymore.

As Sasha lifted the scissors and turned them toward her face, she heard what sounded like birds faintly honking outside.


"Carrie, are you going to stand at that window all day and night?"

Carrie didn't answer right away. She continued peering through the curtains, glancing suspiciously at the front lawns of the houses across the street.

"What are you looking at, anyway?" her father asked from his easy chair on the other side of the living room.

"Nothing," Carrie said without turning around.

"You're looking at the flamingos, aren't you?" he asked, with gentle humor in his voice.

"They creep me out."

"Aw, they're harmless," he joked. "They don't bite."

"I know," said Carrie.

"Those flamingos used to be really popular when I was a kid," her father went on. "They seem to be making a comeback."

"Mm," grunted Carrie. She didn't care.

"Everybody loves nostalgia," Carrie's father continued.

"Right," Carrie replied flatly. She kept staring out the window.

She looked over the flamingos in the lawn across the street - eight of them, scattered across the lawn and facing in all different directions. Something struck her as wrong about them.

"Dad?" Carrie suddenly asked. He had been uncharacteristically quiet for a moment. She wasn't sure if he was still in the room.

Carrie turned around. Her father had left.

"Dad?" she shouted out of the living room. He didn't answer.

Carrie shrugged and returned to looking out the window.

She counted the flamingos again. There were eleven of them.