99/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 12)

Continued from 98/366 – Mr. Kennison’s Camera Emporium (Part 11)

The truck flew into the parking lot of the department store, narrowly avoiding the curb and a handful of cars parked near the entrance. Close behind, the two changelings followed. The first of the changelings slammed into a light post and began rolling in the path of the second, which tripped it up long enough to give the vehicle a few hundred foot gain.

Mr. Kennison slammed on the brakes as they got close to the doors, “Let’s go!” he yelled as he threw the truck into park, jostling the three teenagers in the back and Annette in the seat next to him.

Samuel jumped from the back of the truck, following Dylan and Jane as his mother fell in step beside him, and Mr. Kennison took up the rear. He checked the camera over as they entered the building and passed the registers.

“Where are we heading?” Annette asked.

“Home goods,” Mr. Kennison replied, pointing toward the back left corner of the store as he began running.

Annette spared a glance at the doors as Mr. Kennison took off at a run with the kids. Her heart leapt into her throat as she saw the changelings only fifty feet from the doors running at full speed.

“Here they come!” she screamed as she began running.

A cacophonous explosion ripped through the front of the building as the truck slid through the registers and came to a stop in the clothing section on its side.

“Samuel, I want my camera back,” Gabby hollered as she walked around the corner, followed by the other changeling.

Mr. Kennison had led everyone through the electronics section at the back of the store in a zig-zag pattern. When he heard Gabby’s voice, he stopped and ducked into an aisle.

“Where’s your mother?” Mr. Kennison asked Samuel, looking toward the back of the line.

Samuel turned around and moved to the end of the aisle. He could see the back of one of the changelings only fifty feet from them, but he couldn’t see his mother anywhere he looked. He turned around and mouthed the words, “I don’t see her,” and “Changelings” while pointing in the direction of their pursuers.

Mr. Kennison looked down and shook his head before waving the teens to follow him as they continued weaving their way toward the home goods section of the store. They left electronics and passed the pans and kitchen appliances. In the towel section of the store, Jane felt a hand on her shoulder and screamed as she spun.

“It’s jus-” Annette began, but the crashing of a charging changeling could be heard coming in their direction.

“Run!” Mr. Kennison said. This time he let Samuel, Jane, Dylan, and Annette pass him before taking up the rear. “I’m glad you found us,” he said as Annette passed.

The crashing grew louder behind them, ultimately crossing the path they had taken as the shelves collapsed. When they reached the lamps and clocks, Samuel could see the mirrors filling the aisle on the other side of the main throughway.

“There they are!” he said, pointing.

Everyone rushed forward.

“And here I am,” Gabby said, bringing everyone to a stop as she stepped out in front of them. “You really thought you could get away from us that easily? Do you even know how much time and effort went into getting me on the outside?”

The crashing from the other changeling continued to travel across the store behind them before doubling back in its path.

“It looks as though this is as far as you go,” Gabby said, a wicked smile spreading on her face. “You don’t have your precious cameras to try to trap me again, and you only have one shot left in the camera to get out. Who will you leave behind, Samuel? Will you sacrifice yourself for-”

Mr. Kennison rushed past Samuel, carrying a long brass pole that connected hard with Gabby’s stomach, driving her backward. He twisted the pole and turned, slamming her into an aisle. The crashing from the other changeling shifted directions and came in a more direct line toward them.

“Go!” Mr. Kennison yelled.

Samuel, Jane, Dylan, and Annette crossed the aisle, and all but Samuel grabbed a mirror. They turned around just as the second changeling barreled through the far shelf.

“Set it down!” Samuel said, pointing to the floor of the aisle. “And slide it to the end.”

Dylan slid his mirror over so it could look where Mr. Kennison fought with Gabby. Samuel had everyone crouch down at the end of the aisle and moved to get Mr. Kennison in the shot.

“Wait!” Jane said, moving another mirror.

Samuel pressed the button, and the world turned sideways. He could hear the roar of the changeling, as well as Gabby’s scream as though through a tunnel.  The amber glow suddenly became vivid colors, and everyone found themselves in the real world as shoppers pushed carts past them, giving them suspicious side looks.

“Everyone okay?” Samuel asked, seeing Jane, Dylan, and his mother.

“Mr. Kennison?” Annette said, turning the corner. Samuel watched his mother stop, and the color drained from her face. She turned to look back at him. “H-he’s not here.”

“What did you do right before I took the picture?” Samuel asked Jane.

“I set up a mirror so you would see yourself,” Jane replied, her eyes falling to the floor. “I didn’t think it would block your view of Mr. Kennison.”

“It’s okay,” Annette said, rubbing her back. “I don’t think he was planning on coming back with us at the end there.” She turned to Samuel. “Can I see that camera, please?”

Annette took the camera gingerly at first. Afraid that if she moved it the wrong way, a changeling might come exploding out of it. She rounded the corner and walked toward another section of the store. All three teenagers followed her curiously. She set it down in the middle of the aisle in the automotive section, turned and picked up a large battery, and let it fall to the floor on top of the camera.

The camera flattened almost instantly, and the battery split slightly, spilling a little liquid.

“It’s over,” Annette said, looking down at the mess. “It’s done.”


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