96/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 9)

Continued from 95/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 8)

“Alright, we’re here. Now what?” Jane asked as she followed Annette out of the truck.

“Now we wait, and hope that Samuel is smart enough to send us a message,” Annette said as she walked around the truck. “I know he’s smart, but this is definitely something none of us knows anything about.”

“Come inside,” Mr. Kennison said, unlocking the door and holding it open for them. “Before we have more changelings here.”

Inside the shop, the dim light from the windows was about all they had as the lights didn’t work. Mr. Kennison walked straight toward the back room where he kept the older cameras, while Jane and Annette stayed out in the front of the store, looking at the various films and attachments for the more modern cameras.

“Here we go,” Mr. Kennison said, emerging from the back room holding a lantern. “I haven’t used these things since the blackouts fifteen years ago, but they seem to be in working order.”

“What about this chalkboard?” Jane asked. “If we change the message on this side, would it change in the real shop?”

“It’s worth a try,” Annette said as Mr. Kennison shrugged.

“We’ll be here awhile most likely, so my advice is to do whatever you have to, to entertain yourselves. I’ll be napping in the back. If anything changes, let me know,” Mr. Kennison said as he disappeared once more into the back room.

Annette placed her camera on the counter next to the lantern and took a deep breath as she pulled the chalkboard toward her. “What should we write?”

*****

The creature in the camera had been searching for a way out for what seemed like days. It had changed its shape numerous times. It began as the bird but found that there was little to no air for it to fly, then it tried the wolf, but found the ‘ground’ was not so much solid as it was something more akin to a soft mattress. Finally, it landed on a great serpent, discovering that it could slither much faster than it could have flown or run through the void. Its stomach, used to being empty, seemed less happy about the situation given how close it had been to feasting once more. In its hungry desperation, it searched furiously for an exit, and, just as it was beginning to lose hope it would escape, a small pinprick of light appeared in the distance. Its heart pounded in excitement as it slithered as fast as it could for it.

*****

“Mom?” Samuel yelled as he walked through the garage door into the kitchen. The car was still in the driveway, so he had hoped that she would be home. “Are you here?”

Dylan waited in the kitchen as Samuel ran out of the room and up the stairs to search the bedrooms. The entire bike ride had been without conversation, so his mind was on Jane and whether she was okay.

“Hello,” he muttered as he picked up the car keys on the counter.

“Put those down,” Samuel said as he walked back into the room, “You don’t have a license. She’s not here. I think I may have taken a picture of her earlier.”

“You want to ride our bikes to Mr. Kennison’s?” Dylan asked.

“Not really, but I’ve at least been through driver’s education and have a permit. Have you driven before?” Samuel replied.

“A go-cart once,” Dylan said, shuddering from the memory of it rolling down an embankment. “Yeah. Maybe you should drive.”

“My mom is going to be pissed at me,” Samuel said, holding his hand out, “but I think it might even out if I can get her out of the camera.”

Dylan dropped the keys in Samuel’s hand and followed him through the garage to the car. Samuel turned the ignition, feeling his heart slamming in his chest.

“You’re looking a little pale,” Dylan said. “Are you sure about this?”

“I just realized I’ve never driven alone before,” Samuel said.

“You’re not alone. Hello?” Dylan said, waving his hand at him.

“You know what I mean,” Samuel said. “Without a licensed driver in the passenger’s seat.

“Well, if it helps, I can pretend to be an adult, and you can drive like you want to keep your privileges to the car,” Dylan said.

Samuel smiled at him and shifted the car. When he removed his foot from the brake, the vehicle crept toward the street.

“HEY!” Mr. Rutherford yelled from behind them as he walked behind the car. Samuel slammed his foot on the brake, making the car jerk. “Watch it!”

“Sorry, Mr. Rutherford!” Samuel replied, waving a hand. He looked to Dylan, who raised his eyebrows at him, “I don’t know that I like this.”

“It’s the best option we have,” Dylan replied. “I’ll keep an eye out for problems too.”

“Good plan,” Samuel said, releasing the brake once his neighbor was out of the way.

*****

“There!” Jane said, turning the board to face Annette. “What do you think, Ms. Potentia?”

“I think it should work,” Annette said, reading the white words on the slate surface.

SAM, WE’RE ALL HERE! MR. KENNISON, JANE, AND YOUR MOM. PLEASE HELP US!

“If he can get the message,” Jane said.

“If he gets the message,” Annette repeated, nodding grimly.

A light scratching sound began emanating from somewhere nearby. In the silence of the store, it may as well have been an airhorn. Both Jane and Annette froze, looking for the source of the noise. The camera on the counter began to slide itself toward the edge ever so slowly.

“What’s happening?” Jane whispered.

“Go get Mr. Kennison,” Annette whispered back. Jane wasted no time moving around the counter to the opening to the back room. “We should hide. I think it might be the-”

The camera exploded into a thousand tiny shards, sending the sign on the counter flying into a wall where it shattered, as a massive snake appeared, curling itself as it hissed at Annette. Jane disappeared into the back as Annette dove behind a shelf containing various photo frames, and the snake lunged for her, slamming into the rack.

 

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