Continued from 93/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 6)
“Samuel! Dylan!” Jane screamed as she walked back to the bridge. “Anyone!”
Jane looked around in the silence of the world. There were no more squirrels or chipmunks, no more rustling leaves. The only comfort that she had was the fact that she could hear her voice. When she looked at the granite wall that made up the face of the falls, she could see water there, but it wasn’t falling. It was as though the world had pressed pause on her.
“What the hell is this place?” she said, scratching her head.
A piercing screech came from above her, making her heart leap to her throat as she spun. Sitting in a tree above her was an ugly creature that resembled a rotting bird of some kind. She thought it might have been a vulture at some point, but that it had died before then. The creature leaned forward and extended its wings, giving a few slow flaps that brought it off the tree and down to the ground.
Jane backed away slowly, holding up both hands, “Good birdy,” she said as she looked around for anything to defend herself. Her heel bumped into a branch, and she picked it up quickly, holding it like a spear. “Stay away.”
The creature tilted its head to one side and walked forward slowly, emanating a clicking sound from inside its beak.
Jane thrust the branch forward as hard as she could, but the creature moved quicker, leaning to the side and grabbing the end of the stick. She pulled on the stick to get it out of its mouth as she watched its skin begin to bubble.
Without letting go of the stick, the creature roiled in place, growing two furry legs as the feathers sucked into its black skin. The beak filled out and became a giant snout, with long sharp teeth. Its bird-like form was fully changing into something resembling what Jane imagined as a wolf on steroids.
The wolf snarled and ripped the stick free from Jane’s grasp despite her best efforts to hold onto it. Jane screamed as loud as she could, hoping it would scare the creature away, but instead, it dropped the stick and paced closer.
“Where did she go?” Dylan asked as he climbed the wall. “She was just here a second ago.”
“I-I don’t know,” Samuel replied, his hands shaking while he held the camera, “I-I just took her picture.”
“You’re messing with me, aren’t you? She’s around here somewhere, and you’ve been practicing this stunt,” Dylan said, looking over his shoulder with a smile, “She can come out now. You got me good, Jane!” he yelled.
Samuel looked down at the camera and thought back to the kitchen. He had accidentally taken a picture at the house, and his mother was gone. He had assumed that she had left the room, but the thought edged its way to the front, that she hadn’t moved. She was standing there when his finger had slipped.
“Come on, man,” Dylan said, jumping down from the wall. “You can drop the act.”
Samuel looked up at him, feeling the tears brimming in his eyes as he shook his head.
Dylan’s smile vanished. “You mean this isn’t a joke?”
“No,” Samuel muttered, “I don’t know how, but I think something happens when I take a picture.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I was checking out the viewfinder at my house earlier, my mother was in the kitchen talking to me. I was trying to get out of the house to come hang out with you guys while she was talking about returning the camera to Mr. Kennison’s granddaughter, and my finger slipped, and it took a picture. When I looked up, my mom was gone. I thought she had just left the room, so I left, hoping she wouldn’t stop me,” Samuel said, tears rolling down his cheeks. “I didn’t know it could do this.”
“Alright, bud. Calm down. We’ll figure this out. Maybe your mom did just leave the room. Maybe this is Jane pulling a prank on us. We still don’t know for sure,” Dylan said as the breaking of a twig sounded nearby.
Both Samuel and Dylan looked up to see a deer emerge from the woods and freeze when it saw them. The light brown of its fur barely standing out against the trees surrounding it. It backed away slowly and disappeared back from where it had come.
“There’s a way to test it,” Dylan said as he bent and picked up the camera case where the new film sat.
“I-I don’t know,” Samuel said, his heart racing in his chest. “I don’t think I should take a picture of you-”
“You could snap a picture of the deer,” Dylan said, pointing to the woods. “I’m not volunteering!”
“Oh,” Samuel said, reaching for the case, “right.”
Samuel pulled the used film from the camera and loaded a fresh piece. He and Dylan walked the way the deer had gone, careful not to make any more noise. Samuel had gone in first because he didn’t want to take Dylan’s picture as well accidentally.
After ten minutes, they came upon a small clearing where the deer grazed lazily. The deer’s ears twisted around toward them, and its head shot up to look at them. Samuel lifted the camera slowly, careful not to have his finger near the button while it wasn’t pointed where he wanted it.
Just as the camera was in position, the deer bolted.
“Take the picture!” Dylan yelled.
Samuel spun and pressed the button, hoping that the deer was in the frame.
“Holy. Fucking. Shit.” Dylan said. “Did you see that? It vanished just like Jane! It is the camera!”
Samuel felt a weight drop in his stomach, “How do we get her out?”
Jane was running through the trees as the snarling beast of a wolf gained on her. She was proud of herself for getting past it when it had lunged at her but was quickly realizing that she couldn’t outrun it. Ahead of her, a clearing appeared as she heard the teeth of the wolf bite hard into a tree.
Jane couldn’t stop the scream that came up as she fell into the clearing, and the wolf sailed over her head. She knew it was close, but she didn’t think it was that close.
It turned and lowered itself while growling at her.
“Just kill me already,” Jane said, opening her arms. “Why am I even talking to you? You don’t speak English. You’re a whatever-you-are.”
Jane’s jaw dropped as to her left a deer materialized mid-bound. The wolf turned its head to follow the creature at the sudden movement. It looked between her and the deer, and to Jane’s amazement, turned and ran after it.
Jane turned and ran back the way she came. She ran until her lungs hurt, and her legs burned. Before she knew it, she was back at the public parking lot, and she found their three bikes leaning against a post. She only slowed down long enough to grab her bike and begin pedaling back toward her house.