Continued from 92/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 5)
Annette’s legs were burning as she pulled up to the front of the shop. The amber-hued world around her was still too quiet, though at one point she thought she had seen a flash of movement beside the highway. She shakily got off the bike and rubbed her thighs, trying to get the tingles out of them. The door to the shop flew open, startling her.
“What are you doing out there!?” Mr. Kennison whispered, “Get in here quickly before they see you!”
“Get in here!” Mr. Kennison said, beckoning her to him while his eyes darted around. “They probably saw you!”
It was at that moment that Annette saw something flash past the alley to her left, and she suddenly felt very unsafe in the open. She sprinted into the shop just before Mr. Kennison slammed the shop doors and twisted the lock.
“What are you doing here?” Annette said. “Is this-”
“Quiet!” Mr. Kennison said, holding up a finger as he leaned toward the door listening intently.
The doors suddenly shook violently, startling both Mr. Kennison and Annette. When the shaking stopped after a few seconds, the sound of breaking plastic and twisting metal could be heard before silence fell once more.
“There goes your bike,” Mr. Kennison said, nodding. He turned to look at Annette, his face set in grim acceptance. “He took your picture, didn’t he?”
“I-I don’t know. We were in the kitchen, and there was a flash-wait. Where are we? What is this place? What was out there?” Annette asked.
“Out there was a changeling, at least that’s what I call them, and I’m not sure where we are. I was working on the camera in my back room, it went off, and I found myself here. I assumed it was the camera, but the camera isn’t here,” Mr. Kennison replied as he walked past her.
“Changeling?” Annette said.
“Yeah. They change shape, or form, or whatever. They’re quick too. Nearly caught me going home, but I figured out a way to beat ’em,” he said, patting a small camera on his chest. “They vanish when I take their picture. Don’t know where they go, but they can stay wherever that is.”
“Have you-” Annette began.
“Tried taking my own picture? Yeah,” Mr. Kennison finished. “I’m still here, so that didn’t work.”
“The girl at the shop said you died,” Annette said.
“What girl?” he asked.
“She said she was your granddaughter,” she replied.
“I don’t have a granddaughter,” Mr. Kennison said.
“I was afraid you were going to say that,” Annette said, nodding. “Do you know who she is?”
“I’m assuming that you’re talking about the young woman that sold me the broken camera. I thought something was off about her when she sold it for cheap. That’s why I was going to give it to your son for free,” Mr. Kennison said.
“If she wasn’t with you, how did she have the key to your shop? And why would she give the camera to my son?” Annette asked.
“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I’ve never seen her before. Was there anything else?”
“She was talking about your will a lot. She also mentioned the film and a note from you to Samuel in the camera case,” Annette said.
“There wasn’t any film with it. I had to special order the right size for it. I also didn’t leave him a note. I had just finished fixing the camera when it went off, and I landed here,” Mr. Kennison replied.
“So, what do we do now?” Annette asked.
“The only way that I can think to get out it the same way we got in, but I don’t have any cameras like that here. Do you know where Samuel is with the camera right now?” Mr. Kennison asked.
“No,” Annette replied, shaking her head. “When I came here, he vanished. He probably thought I just left the room or something.”
Annette stood there for a moment, thinking about Samuel’s birthday. All the plans she had made to make it extra special for him.
“Wait! He was supposed to go to Kezar Falls today with his friends to take pictures,” Annette said.
“Well, his friends are dead,” Mr. Kennison said, sitting on the counter.
“No, they aren’t,” Annette said, “We’re going to go get them.”
“Why would we go out there? There are changelings out there, remember. It would be one thing if they were still at your house or something, but outside in the woods is not a great idea,” Mr. Kennison said.
“Those kids don’t know anything. At least you know about the cameras. We can both bring one and try to get there before anything happens to them,” Annette said.
“How? Are we going to ride bikes?” Mr. Kennison said. “I can promise you that my legs don’t work like they used to. It’s what, ten miles to Kezar Falls? There is no way I can make that.”
“You’re right about that,” Annette said. “My legs aren’t doing too well after the ride from my house. Do you know why my car wouldn’t start?”
“The digital cameras here don’t work either,” Mr. Kennison said, motioning for the shop. “The only ones I could get to work are the older analog ones. The lights in my shop don’t work either.”
“Wait, if you went home, why’d you come back here?” Annette asked.
“I live two buildings down,” Mr. Kennison replied, “It’s not like it was a long walk, and I feel better around my cameras than I do at home.”
“How can we get to the falls then?” Annette asked.
“My truck is a standard,” Mr. Kennison said, staring at the floor. “We might be able to jump it at a roll. It might work.”
“Where’s your truck?” Annette asked.
“Out back,” Mr. Kennison said, pointing over his shoulder into the back room.
“Get me a camera, and teach me how to jump a standard by rolling it,” Annette said, “We’re going to get to those kids.”