There was no consensus whether or not that morning’s rainbow was an omen. They were scientists; they didn’t generally believe in such things, but their hand was being forced by the times. The year was 1972 and research was still years behind the drug culture of the sixties.
That’s why the facility existed. It was supposed to help them catch up in various fields, most of them involving the strange psychosis-inducing substances that had leaked into the counterculture of the past decade. While their regulations were strict, their moods had to be loose and flexible, for beyond those bland brick walls, strange things happened nearly every day.
Aaron ran a hand through his longish blonde hair and sipped at his coffee. He rubbed his fingers together. His hair felt greasy. How long since the last shower? He had no idea. He was on some good stuff, pink stuff swirled right into his coffee, and three days could’ve been a week. He tried not to let it show. He stared through the glass, into the enclosure, and pretended to observe closely.
Sniff was black today. That wasn’t a good sign. They’d classified him as a chimpanzee, but who really knew at this point? The jungle he’d been pulled from was half torn down and half drowned in hallucinogenic pollen. Had they taken an animal at all? Were they all just seeing things, observing an empty glass box?
Wanda walked up beside Aaron, holding one hand to the glass. He remembered that she fancied herself a sort of psychic now, and let her try to read the ape’s mind without interruption. He wondered what she was on. They probably put her on a regiment of blue and yellow, if he had to guess.
“He’s black today,” Aaron said, taking another sip. He wanted to know if she saw the same thing. There were footsteps above them: probably the people monitoring them while they monitored Sniff. She took her hand down. He noticed her hair looked worse than his own. Her lab coat was wrinkled and there was a tiny booklet for some unidentifiable Eastern religion in her pocket. A few pages were dog-eared.
“Yes he is,” she answered simply. Aaron breathed a sigh of relief. He pictured the scientists above them, staring throught the one-way floor, and making a check mark on their clipboards. “Do you think the female will respond? She might confuse him for the night itself.”
“He’ll change for her,” Aaron insisted. He tried to beam a message into his shorter colleague’s mind, but she didn’t look over. The beaming had worked the other day. Was the pink stuff they were giving him wearing off? Or maybe the stuff they gave her made her immune to his thoughts, so he tried a quick experiment, one of over six thousand happening in the building at that moment. He called out, with his mind, to his colleague Lorne.
Thirty seconds later, by the count of three of the five clocks on the wall, Lorne burst in. He looked the most disheveled of all, with his glasses askew and his fingertips covered in potato chip seasoning. He plopped himself into a spinning chair and continued to snack.
“What do you want?” he asked in response to the psychic message. “I was just reliving some guys’ war experience. ‘Nam is a rough place.”
“What do you think of Sniff’s new color?” he asked Lorne.
“Lack of color you mean. I think the chick’s going to hate it.”
“I think that too,” Wanda added with a nod. She kept nodding, even though no one was speaking.
“Well let’s find out!” Aaron shouted. This ought to throw those guys overhead off their game. Any spike in the data was good data; that was his philosophy. Plus, he was tired of people judging Sniff. They were kindred spirits, lovable infrequent-bathers. Aaron slammed his hand down on the control panel, hitting the big rainbow button he had painted just for the occasion.
A door flew open in the side of Sniff’s enclosure. The chimp’s head perked up, its body blending into the tire swing its rested in. Out walked a female chimpanzee of a much more normal subspecies: dark brown fur, wrinkled lips, and dainty knuckles for a knuckle-dragger. She was their control. She was Sniff’s only hope.
Their current data suggested that Sniff was the last of his newly discovered subspecies: the moodanzee. Their fur changed color with their temperament, at least that’s what these three scientists saw. Who knows what the ones stalking around on the second floor thought, or the ones on the third. Sniff’s jungle was being paved over. They captured him, red with rage, as he attacked someone and shipped him off to the American facility where all science was trying to catch up with the times. They were currently handling computers that could play table tennis, so surely a monkey wouldn’t be much of a burden.
The female chimp’s name was Candy, and Candy did not seem impressed. She ignored the endangered ape, walking around the enclosure and searching for bits of food. Aaron smacked the button again, trapping them together. Sniff could do it. He had talents. Talents enhanced by drugs.
“Come on you damn horny ape!” Aaron shouted, banging on the glass. “This is for your subspecies! Save them!” Riled up by his enthusiasm, the other two scientists joined in. They cheered Sniff on, telling him to make a fool of himself for love. They broke protocols and spoke to the animal directly. They sent psychic messages in a volley, half of which landed where they were supposed to.
Sniff dropped out of the tire swing. His fur and face flushed a new color: purple. A king’s purple. A top-selling musician’s purple. A new prescription med’s label purple. One that could really knock you out of our shoes. Candy liked. She escorted Sniff behind a bush. The scientists cheered. Maybe the apes weren’t even there. Maybe it was part of the experiment being done on them, but they couldn’t help but cheer.
They were still in the beginning of a truly messed-up age. Nobody knew where the receding tide of drugs and jungle wars would take them next, but it would be somewhere with purple monkeys.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by Maddyn13 during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop bytwitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!