Continued from 94/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 7)
Annette sat in the passenger’s seat of the truck with her camera ready as she searched for any sign of movement. Mr. Kennison drove quickly through the streets, looking for more of the monsters he had dubbed changelings. The drive to Kezar falls only lasted twenty minutes, but it had felt significantly longer.
“The gate’s closed,” Mr. Kennison said, stopping the truck.
“I’ll get it,” Annette said as she pulled the handle, opening the door and dropping out of the small truck.
As Annette walked around the front of the truck, Jane came barrelling into view, pedaling as fast as she could, her face a mask of terror.
“Jane!” Annette yelled as she waved her hands over her head.
“Ms. Potentia!” Jane yelled as she pointed toward the sky.
The creature felt triumphant as it folded its wings into its sides and began accelerating down. It had followed the truck for miles and knew it could reach the woman when she got out of the truck to open the gate.
With its mouth salivating at the prospect of tasting flesh again, it failed to notice the girl on the bike until it heard her yell.
“Ms. Potentia,” the girl screamed.
The creature watched as its target spun holding a camera. It thought of changing course, but it was so close. It would be able to make it in time. It willed its body to become more streamlined and gained more speed. The camera came up in front of its meal too quickly, and it screeched as it saw the flash.
All it felt now was rage in the black expanse within which it found itself. It turned around, searching for any speck of light in which it could escape.
“How did you do that?” Jane asked, bringing her bike to a stop. “Where did it go?”
“Get in the truck,” Annette said, looking around for more of them. “We’ll explain inside.”
“We’ll?” Jane repeated as she jumped off her bike and slid into the cab of the truck.
“Hello,” Mr. Kennison said, seeing the young girl get in.
“What’s happening? Where are we?” Jane asked as Annette got in a closed the door.
“I’m not really sure,” Annette admitted, “Do you know where Samuel is? Did anyone else have their picture taken with the camera?”
Jane shook her head. “Just me. How is this possible? What was that thing?”
“Changelings,” Mr. Kennison said, looking around. “Have you seen any others?”
“Yeah, there was one by the falls, but it chased after a deer,” Jane said.
“Then Samuel is figuring it out,” Mr. Kennison said. “I don’t think we will see any more people here now. Where would Samuel go now?”
“I don’t know,” Jane said. “Maybe my house? Or his?”
“What about the camera shop?” Annette asked. “Maybe we should go back there and see if he comes?”
“You could drop me off at your house,” Jane said, looking at Annette, “I could call you if anything happens over there.”
“Your phone won’t work,” Annette said, shaking her head.
“It took some work to get the truck started, and it doesn’t really like running,” Mr. Kennison said as he put the truck in reverse and backed away from the gate.
“Samuel is a smart kid. He’ll probably bring the camera where he can get more information on it,” Mr. Kennison said. “I think the shop is our best bet.”
“The shop is further away than my house,” Annette said.
“How will we know if he goes anywhere?” Jane asked.
“You said that the changeling you saw went after a deer?” Mr. Kennison asked.
“Yeah. It was chasing me, and I fell. It would have gotten me if I hadn’t, but then a deer just appeared in the clearing, and it chased the deer,” Jane said.
“He’s figuring it out. So he’ll figure out how to get a message through. I’m sure of it,” Mr. Kennison said, shifting the truck and driving back the way they had come. “At the very least, we need to get you a camera.”
“I’m Jane, by the way,” Jane said.
“Albert Kennison,” Mr. Kennison replied.
“So, do you know how to get out of here?” Jane asked.
“Not yet,” he replied. “Ms. Potentia and I are working on it.”
“How did you know I would be here?” Jane asked.
“Samuel told me he was going to the falls with you and Dylan before I got trapped here. He wanted to use his new camera, so I figured one of you, if not both would be here as well,” Annette replied as they sped down the road for the shop.
Dylan and Samuel arrived at the spot where they had left their bikes. Three of them were still there, and the boys exchanged a look of pain at the sight of Jane’s bike. Samuel looked back up the path toward the falls, hoping that Jane would be catching up to them.
“Alright, so, what do we do now?” Dylan asked.
“I don’t know,” Samuel replied, looking down at the case. “I don’t think I should take any more pictures with this, though.”
“Agreed,” Dylan said. “Have you looked at the film yet?”
“It has to be developed,” Samuel said.
“Maybe we should get it developed then,” Dylan suggested. “Maybe it’ll have something in the picture that can help us.”
“The camera came from Mr. Kennison’s shop, and normally, I would bring it there, but he died two weeks ago. His granddaughter was there earlier, but she left after I got it,” Samuel said.
“Maybe she went back?” Dylan said. “We need more information about it. I’ll break into the shop if I have to.”
“You might be right,” Samuel said. “We can check. Otherwise, we can go to the photocenter at the drug store, if they can even develop it there.”
Dylan grabbed his bike and threw his leg over it. “Jane’s going to be pissed when she doesn’t have her bike,” he said.
“I think that’s only a concern if we can get her out,” Samuel said.
“What about your mom? Your house is closer. Maybe she could give us a ride?” Dylan asked.
Samuel felt a twinge of guilt in his gut. “I think I may have accidentally taken her picture before I left.”
“It went off when I was putting it back in its case with the film and-” Samuel paused. “Hold on.”
Samuel set the case down and opened it carefully.
“What are you doing?” Dylan asked.
“Mr. Kennison left me a note in here,” Samuel said as he slowly reached around the sides of the camera.
“Hold on,” Dylan said, pulling his sweater off. “Hold his over the lens. Maybe it’ll stop it from taking a picture of us if it’s covered.”
“Good plan,” Samuel said, taking the sweater.
He covered the entire camera with it and lifted the camera gingerly from the case before setting it on the dirt path. He removed the film next, placing it on the ground as well. The envelope sat in the bottom, and Samuel grabbed it and tore it open with a shaking hand.
“Here we go,” he said, pulling the paper from inside before reading it out loud.
Dear Samuel Potentia,
Here at Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium, we have a tradition of gifting cameras to talented, aspiring photographers on their 18th birthday.
Your mother showed me some examples of your work, and I must say that you are indeed a very talented photographer. The angles, light, and subjects of the small portion of your work spoke to me in ways that I haven’t seen in a long time. I truly appreciate the uniqueness of your eye.
This camera came into my possession recently and seemed an appropriate gift for your unique talents. I have never seen a similar camera as it can only take 120 roll film that has been cut into individual exposures. It took a bit of doing, but I managed to get the film set up in a way that you didn’t have to worry about exposing it to light while loading and unloading the camera. When you need more, come back, and I’ll teach you how I did it.
Happy birthday Samuel,
Mr. Albert Kennison
Owner of Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium