's 2019 Horror Write-off:

The Magic of The Colours (A Children's Fairy Tale)

Submitted by Shakara

Long, long ago, there was no colour to the animals. There was neither dark nor light, only a pale grey, dull and blank. The birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, the beasts in the fields and forests, were all grey. Dogs that chased cats, mice that hid in pantries and birds that sat on windowsills singing, were all grey. The cows being milked were grey. The horses that messengers rode on the country roads were grey. Not a speck of colour.

In this long-ago world lived a group of seven fairies, living high in the sky in a city of cloud. Three boys and four girls. Though they were happy, they were tired of grey. They’d often mistake each other, having no bright or dark marks to tell them apart.

“Oh, I do wish we could have some colour.” They sighed.

Looking down upon the world, they could see colour in nature.


The boy fairies went down to the edge of the clouds and looked down upon the world.

Garnet looked at the crimson poppies in the fields, swaying in the summer wind.

“I wish I were as red as those poppies.” He sighed.

Tawny gazed down at the towns, lighting fires to cook their foods and smelt their metals, a crackling orange.

“I wish I were as orange as those fires.” He sighed.

Saul watched as the bright yellow sun shone down upon the world, bathing all in a glittering warmth.

“I wish I were as yellow as the sun.” He sighed.

The girl fairies went down to the edge of the clouds and looked down upon the world.

Jade watched as the grasses danced in the cool wind, the air caressing their long bodies.

“I wish I were as green as the grass.” She sighed.

Lapis lay on her back, longingly gazing up at the endless sky, so close she could almost touch it.

“I wish I were as blue as the sky.” She sighed.

Iolanthe looked at the people mining gemstones, pickaxes striking off hard rock to reveal glittering amethysts.

“I wish I were as purple as those amethysts.” She sighed.


The youngest fairy was one named Iris. She sat at the edge of the cloud, looking at the flowers, the stones, the gems, the sky, the rivers, the clouds, the trees and the towns. Over and over, she could see the many, many colours that so captivated her friends. But she could not choose a colour that she liked.

As the days passed, the fairies would go down to the clouds, all picking their colours.

Garnet looked at the ruby necklaces upon the fair women of the town, redder than roses.

Tawny looked at the sunset, slowly fading into golden-orange as it sank into the horizon.

Saul looked at the fields of saffron, picked by the townsfolk, staining their hands yellow.

Jade looked at the forests, their ferns, mosses and lichens, endlessly verdant.

Lapis looked at the limpid lakes and rushing rivers, cool and blue.

Iolanthe looked at the hyacinths, heliotropes, lavenders and lilacs.

Iris didn’t know what to choose. She looked at every bit of colour in the world, from the smallest flower to the most wonderful piece of jewellery, but didn’t know. When the rain came, her friends went back inside their cloudy home. She sat there for a bit, waiting for the rain to end, not minding that she was damp.

“I don’t know what colour I’d like to be…”

Just then, the sun came out from behind a cloud, and the sky was filled with colour. A shimmering bridge of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet shot out, banding the heavens in multicoloured light.

“That’s it! A most beautiful combination of colours!”

When the rain ended, her friends came out once more. Iris watched as the rainbow faded into the sky.


“Look! Oh, look!” Garnet shouted, pointing down at the world.

The birds were flocking around something, slowly being filled with colour. Bright blue, shiny black, deep red, pale yellow, earthy brown… The animals gathered together in a crowd, slowly being filled with colour. Sunny orange, cool grey, cream-white and yellow…

“What’s going on?” Iris stood up. She flapped her grey wings and flew down into the field. Her friends followed suit, all of them buzzing with excitement.

Passing a river, the fish leapt from the water, shimmering blue, silver, pink and orange.

Insects flew about, electric yellow, bright green, shining red and brilliant purple.

“Where is this colour coming from?” the fairies asked.

At last, the crowd dispersed and the fairies could see what had brought the colour. It was a who. Specifically, they were a tall person with a collection of many, many arms, holding many, many paint brushes. Dozens of paint buckets surrounded them. Their skin was a combination of white and black. Their face was a mask of shining silver and gold light, like the moon and sun stitched together.

“Oh, hello!” they spoke. “I am The Painter. I saw the animals were all blank grey, so I took pity on them and coloured them in. What colour would you like to be?”

All the fairies jumped up.

“Red!” Garnet shouted. And so, Garnet was painted as red as rubies.
“Orange!” Tawny chirped. And so, Tawny was painted as orange as fire.

“Yellow!” Saul cheered. And so, Saul was painted as yellow as the sun.
“Green!” Jade requested. And so, Jade was painted as green as the grass.

“Blue!” Sapphire sang. And so, Sapphire was painted as blue as the sky.

“Purple!” Iolanthe whooped. And so, Iolanthe was painted as purple as lavender.

“Everyone looks happy.” Iris thought. “I may as well join in!”

As her friends danced and cheered merrily, she went up to the many-armed being.

“What colour would you like?” he asked.
“I wish to be painted a colour ever more beautiful than the rest! Paint me in every colour you have!” she sang, arms outstretched.

The Painter looked confused, fidgeting with their brushes. “Sorry, but I cannot do that. Besides, the colours would all mix if I make a mistake. … Ah. My brushes are dirty.” They stood up, walking to the river to fill a bucket of water.

“Wait there. Don’t spill anything!”

Iris said nothing, but scowled. Who was he to tell her she couldn’t be coloured in every shade of the rainbow? He probably wanted to keep the paints for himself!

Sneakily, she cut grass from the ground and tied it to a branch with a reed, making a brush for herself. Walking over to The Painter’s buckets, she dipped the makeshift brush in and began to paint herself all manner of colours. Nothing was spared. Each shade, each hue, dark, light, pastel… Before long, she was coated in colour.


She heard large footsteps. The Painter had returned.

“Right! My brushes are good and clean. Have you chosen your colour? … Oh, no!”

He jumped backward, nearly knocking the buckets over.

“What have you done?!”

The other fairies stopped dancing and looked at Iris, their eyes wide with fear.
“What is it?” she asked. “I am in every colour of the world! Red as roses, orange like fire, yellow as the sun, green of grass, blue like the sky, purple like gems… I am every tint and tone. Am I not lovely?”

“You… the colours have mixed! You didn’t wash the brush!” 

She looked at her branch-brush, horrified at the pitch mess it was, tarry and dark, swirling like the muddied water of a corrupted well. Iris ran to the river, seeing her reflection. She was a mess of midnight blue, lichen green, rusted brown, coal black… No colour complimented her. The polar opposite of the rainbow, a riot of mismatch. She screamed as The Painter ran, taking the brushes and buckets.

She leapt into the river, trying to wash the hideous mess off her, but she was stained too deeply. The water fled from her skin. She began to claw at herself, deep red mingling with the mishmash of colour. Flecks of painted skin hung to her nails as she tried in vain to clean herself. She did not stop even when her tendons flapped like flags in a high wind. The river clotted with dirtied paint and blood.

The other fairies flew away in a panic. Before long, The Painter had left forever. Not even the cries of the fairies could make him return.


Now, each time it rains and the sun is present, the fairies fly through the sky to mimic the many colours Iris had desired to be… The rainbow, a testament to their lost friend.


To this very day, if you’re very quiet by the side of the river, you can still hear Iris shouting desperately, “Come back! Am I not beautiful?” 

She has long since lost her mind. You can see blotchy, dark footprints dotting the field from her crazed run, chasing after The Painter who will never return. 

Oh. Also, that’s why the animals are all different colours.