Continued from 90/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 3)
Annette stood in the kitchen, watching Samuel put his camera in the case. A flash went off, and he vanished, leaving her alone in the kitchen, but it wasn’t her kitchen. Everything she could see had an odd golden glow to it with muted colors. The smell of the room had changed as well, to something reminiscent of what she remembered when her grandmother would flip through her photo albums, a sort of musk to the air. The light filtering through the window in the back yard had the same glow, but what caught her most, was the absence of sound. The birds in the tree out back had gone suddenly silent.
“Hello?” she said, pushing away from the counter. “Samuel?”
She moved to the spot Samuel had been standing and spun in a slow circle. The world seemed to still be around her, but she felt utterly alone in it. She pulled her purse across the counter and dug for her phone. She pressed the button on the side of the phone and swiped her finger across the reader. Nothing happened. She felt her heart speeding up again. The fear coursing through her as though she lost in someplace so familiar.
“Maybe he’s outside?” she muttered to herself, walking through the door out to the driveway.
The car sat there, in the same amber light as was inside. She ran inside, grabbed her purse, and returned to the vehicle, keys in hand. She got in and turned the ignition. Once again, nothing happened.
“Shit,” she whispered, running her hands through her hand as she looked through the windshield.
She got out of the car and looked around. The neighborhood, which usually had light traffic and children playing closer to the street than she liked, was entirely empty. Nothing moved, not even the trees in the seasonal breeze that would come through this time of year.
Annette rocked back and forth against the side of the car for a few minutes before she began pacing the driveway from top to bottom.
“Alright, I was in the kitchen, and Samuel was putting away his-” she paused, considering the reality in which she found herself. “That’s crazy. It’s not possible. His camera couldn’t have done this, could it? This can’t be real. I have to be sleeping.”
Annette closed her eyes hard and waited a moment, wishing to wake up. When she opened them, she found herself still standing in the driveway in the strange place in which she had found herself. She tried again and again over the next few minutes with the same result. The final time she thought back to the shop where the girl had met them. The girl had seemed not to want her picture taken.
“No, no, no, no, no,” she said, running her hands through her hair again and shaking her head as her eyes darted around. “How in the hell is this possible? How could she have known? The shop! Maybe I can find some answers there?”
Annette looked at her car, remembering that it was useless at the moment. She thought of how long it had taken to drive there, and the most direct route. She shook her head at the prospect of walking that many miles. It would take her far too long to walk.
“Samuel’s bike!” she said as her eyes glanced past the garage.
Annette pressed the opener in the car, and when nothing happened, she gritted her teeth and nodded. “Right,” she muttered as she walked through the breezeway and the garage door.
Samuel’s bike was leaned against the shelving on the far side, where he always left it. Annette took a deep breath and grabbed the bike. She navigated it through the breezeway since she wasn’t strong enough to open the garage door manually.
Once outside, Annette threw a leg over the bar, which was difficult as Samuel was taller than her, and took another deep breath. She couldn’t remember the last time she had ridden a bike. She shook her head, pushed off, and began pedaling, just a little shakey on the start.
Annette turned onto the street and navigated her way through the neighborhood toward the main road. From there, she would be able to get on the highway and make the trek two towns over to the Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium, where, hopefully, she could gain some insight into what was going on.
At the end of the street, as Annette passed, an odd creature watched from a rooftop, perfectly still and silent. It considered for a moment what it was seeing as it hadn’t seen anyone in a very long time. It tilted its head to the side as it watched the woman slow down before taking a turn shakily.
Perhaps I should follow, and see what it’s going to do, it thought. I haven’t eaten in decades. Maybe it will make a good meal.
It unfolded its leathery wings, clicked its beak twice, and hopped down from the roof. It could have flown, it knew, but the woman would see it in the sky.
It concentrated and felt its bones begin to shift and crack. The process was not pleasant, but what choice did it have. The woman could be dangerous, after all. When the transformation was complete, its wings had been replaced by long, gangly arms, and its short bord legs replaced by long, impossibly skinny legs that would make bounding much easier. It chose to keep its head, however. The beak was always best for tearing at flesh.
Annette pedaled hard up the on-ramp to the highway. She had never considered the incline of one before, but, then again, she had never had a reason to be on one outside of a car. She reached the top and began coasting down the hill. Her legs were burning furiously already, so the break was welcome.
As the bike increased in speed, she took the opportunity to look around. Everywhere she looked, she didn’t see anything move. The city looked the same as it always had, only eerily devoid of the sounds necessary for its existence. She noticed one thing that was markedly different, as fast as the nearby buildings and trees whipped by, there was no wind on her. Her hair stayed perfectly down.
Reaching the bottom of the decline, she began pedaling as she passed the sign navigating would-be drivers in the right direction.