Picture This


She stopped at the door. “Oh, hey,” she called. I looked up at her as the flash from her camera went off.

“Kelly! I told you guys not to shoot me, dammit!” I felt a hot flare of anger flush my face and it bugged me. She pulled her lips back over her cheeks, looking down at the viewer on her camera. I turned back to my work, irked.

“Hey, what happened?” The tone of confusion caught my attention and drew my gaze again.

“What?”

Her brows drew together and the smile faded. Quick.

“What is it?” I repeated. She looked up at me.

“I … don’t know? I mean, I can’t, like, tell what’s wrong, you know?”

I got up and huffed a sigh, paced to the door and reached for the camera. She handed it to me without hesitation.

I rolled back to the shot, and gasped. I almost dropped the camera. I felt the color drain from my cheeks and the blood drain from my brain. I almost collapsed, passed out.

“What?” Kelly said. “What is it? Are you, like, okay?”

I tried to speak, tried to say no, I wasn’t okay, to scream and scream and scream, and nothing came out, the sound jammed in my throat and prevented me from swallowing, from breathing, from speaking. Kelly stared at me.

“You’re, like, freaking me out.”

I handed the camera back to her. “It’s nothing. Bad … lighting … in here, I mean. Don’t worry about it. And don’t shoot me again.”

She gave a huff of disappointment. “Fine. See ya.” She left me then.

I listened, frozen in place, as her rapid-fire, nervous stamping steps retreated down the hall. My breath came in shallow, quavering gasps, and I moved with clay feet to the desk and took my own camera in hand. I pointed the lens at me, and leveled it so I saw my reflection in the lens, then snapped, and snapped, and snapped, and snapped. I pulled the zoom out as far as I could and stretched my arms out and snapped, and snapped, and snapped, and snapped. I set the timer, with trembling hands, and put the camera on a stack of boxes atop the table, backed against a wall, and let the camera snap, and snap, and snap, and snap.

I took it in clammy hands and switched to the viewer, and rolled back, and looked at each shot, and every one of them punched me in the stomach with adrenaline. My fear left a coppery, metallic taste in my dry, cottony mouth. I felt the sweat roll down my brow, the tears sting my eyes, and I slumped to the floor, in shock, in disbelief. I don’t know how long I sat there, but someone found me, couldn’t get a response from me. I couldn’t answer them — hell, I don’t even know if I heard them. An ambulance, more questions — can you hear me, squeeze my hand if you know your name, that sort of crap. I don’t know what happened after that. I ended up here.

So now I’m in this rubber room, waiting, writing for the nice lady with the soothing voice and white coat who comes every morning to see what I wrote the night before,. I’ve been here for a week now, because they couldn’t find anything wrong with me after a few days in the hospital. I still can’t speak, and no one would believe me anyway. I’m the only one that knows. I hope the pictures are still on the camera, but I have no way to know.

Almost two weeks to the day after I saw the shadow on my Grandma’s picture, she died. They said it was a heart attack — natural causes, right? — but I know that thing got her. She died of a heart attack because she had a weak heart, but seeing it is what killed her. Shan died two weeks to the day after I took her picture and the shadow demon loomed over her, too. But Shan was young and didn’t die of fright. She was torn to shreds. Two weeks to the day, pretty much, after I see it, the person it’s hovering over dies.

I’ve got about four, maybe five days left, now that it’s looming over me.

You know what’s funny thoug

-fini-

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