Continued from 96/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 9)
The creature reached the dot of light. It was small, almost a pinprick, even when it was right next to it. It could smell the people on the other side of it, and it became ravenous. It dove for the pinhole, pushing its head through hard and shaking itself in an attempt to widen the hole.
When it came back into the world, it found itself inside, sitting on something. Someone was very near it, and it dove, slamming into a shelf just a moment too late.
Samuel pulled the car into Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium and found it looking much the same way it had before. The dark windows filled with boxes of various camera equipment and films.
“So, where’s this girl?” Dylan asked.
“Gabby,” Samuel said, “I don’t know. I saw her leave before we left last time.”
“Maybe she came back?” Dylan asked.
“Maybe,” Samuel said, putting the car in park and shutting off the engine.
They got out of the car and walked up to the glass doors. Samuel cupped his hands around his face to block the sun on the glass. Inside was the same. Nothing had moved since he had left. He knocked a few times on the door, hoping that Gabby was back, but saw nothing move around inside.
“Anything?” Dylan asked, peering through the glass himself.
“No,” Samuel said, feeling a little defeated.
“I’m going around back,” Dylan said, pushing himself from the door. “Wait here.”
“I’m not waiting here,” Samuel said, looking over. Dylan was already at the corner.
“Then hurry up, before someone sees us,” Dylan replied, waving him over.
Samuel looked around for anyone nearby and ducked around the corner with him. An old truck sat in the parking lot out back with fading blue paint and a few rust spots showing through around the wheel wells. It was the kind of thing that under normal conditions, he would have taken a thousand pictures of it.
Dylan was already at the back door. “Hey, check this out,” he said.
Samuel pulled himself from his distraction and walked over to the back door.
“The jam’s broken,” Dylan said, “Someone broke in here.”
“How do you know?” Samuel asked.
“I may or may not have participated in criminal activities that involved the entering of properties with or without proper permission or access. I cannot comment further at this time,” Dylan replied in the best New York accent he could, smiling at him.
“You’re insane,” Samuel said, shaking his head.
“We can approach my sanity on another day when cameras don’t make people disappear,” Dylan replied, pushing the door open.
“Hello?” Samuel called into the dark interior.
“That’s a great idea, let the person that broke in know we’re here,” Dylan whispered at him.
Samuel waved him off and walked inside.
Annette had only just managed not to be crushed by the shelf as it slammed into the one behind it and showered her in film. She crawled as fast as she could, trying to get to a place where she could hide, or buy enough time for Mr. Kennison to help her. As she reached the end of the aisle, the snake caught up from behind, and she felt the scales sliding over her legs as it wound around her.
“No!” she yelled as she began kicking against it.
“Ms. Potentia!” Jane yelled. “Mr. Kennison, do something!”
Annette heard the shuffling of feet and the crashing of glass on the other side of the shelf as she fought off the snake as best she could.
“Hold on, Annette,” Mr. Kennison said, very close to her.
Annette felt hands on the top of her head, and she looked to see Jane reaching for her.
“Jane!” Annette cried as she felt the snake begin to squeeze her legs. Mr. Kennison came into view and grabbed her as well as they started trying to pull her away from the snake.
Samuel walked through the back room, around the table where several tools and papers sat.
“Maybe Gabby’s number is around here somewhere, and we can call her to get her back here,” Dylan said as he started shuffling through a desk on the other side of the room.
Samuel walked around to the workbench, where a small journal lay open to its last entry.
The internal workings of the camera seemed simple enough at first, not unlike any other camera from the generation, but the deeper I got, the more I found. Many of the gears and the lens are made of a tinted glass that I’ve never seen in a camera before. I’m not even sure how the gears don’t break every time the gears move. It’s been years since I’ve been this excited about camera repair. I had to make a diagram of the internal workings just to keep track. This is clearly a project of passion by some long-forgotten photographer.
Samuel flipped through the journal and papers on the table but didn’t see anything that looked like a camera diagram. There were service manuals and boxes of film, but nothing that looked like his camera.
“Find anything?” Samuel asked as he set his camera case down on the table.
“Not yet,” Dylan said, going through. “Just a lot of old receipts and whatnot.”
“What should we do now?” Samuel asked, looking through the doorway out into the shop. “Gabby isn’t here. Mr. Kennison died. Mom and Jane are gone.”
“You could leave,” a voice said from behind him.
“Who are you?” Dylan said as Samuel turned to see Gabby standing in the hall to the back door.
“I’m Gabby,” she said, “Why are you in my grandfather’s shop.”
“Gabby! I need help! Do you remember me from earlier?” Samuel said, walking forward.
“Oh, it’s you,” she said.
“We were looking for you, and the back door looked like it had been kicked in. The camera you gave me is making people disappear,” Samuel said. He turned to see the spot where the camera had been was empty. “Where’d it go?”
“You mean this camera?” Gabby asked, holding it by the straps. “The one that I needed to be sure worked before I collected it.”
“What are you talking about?” Dylan asked.
“You see, I’ve had this camera for a very long time,” she said, a wicked smile spreading across her face as she unclasped the case. “It was broken, and I didn’t know how to fix it. So I brought it here for Mr. Kennison to fix-”
“You mean your grandfather?” Samuel said.
“He’s not my grandfather,” she said, lifting the camera in front of her.
“Hide!” Dylan yelled as Samuel dove through the door to the front of the shop. There was a flash in the back room that lit up a section of the shop.
“Dylan,” Samuel whispered, looking toward the door as he scrambled for the end of the counter.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Gabby called around the corner. “You can ask your friend. Did you hear him cry out in pain when I took his photo?”