The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Beyond the lens
by Linda Lee Rice
I found the camera in an old junk shop behind the train station. The proprietor was a grizzled gnome of a man, white hair, a big nose with a wart on his chin. He bartered with me on the price, stating that the camera was a good one. The owner said it worked, he didn’t want it anymore and seemed to be in a hurry to get rid of it.
It was a good bargain, and my camera had broken recently. Being that photography was my chosen profession, abet not paying much at the time, it seemed like a good deal. So, the proprietor and I came to an agreeable price. I tucked the package under my arm and whistled as I walked down the street to home.
Once home, I popped open the back of the camera and found a roll of undeveloped film. Hmm, interesting, I thought. The previous owner must have forgotten about it. I went into my darkroom and closed the door, and went to work.
The photos, once developed and hung, piqued my interest. They were taken in black and white and looked dated, which I thought was odd for a modern camera.
I hung and dried the rest of the film, which showed people in various poses. But the looks on their faces were ones of terror, their mouths looking as if they were screaming. Their clothes were old fashioned, and the woman’s photo showed her backed up against a wall, I could almost hear her wails.
A tall man wearing a fedora was on his knees as if praying, his hands held in a supplicant attitude. I had no idea to whom he was begging. The other photo had a couple clutching each other with tears streaming down their faces. The woman’s face halfway turned into her companion’s jacket.
Disturbed now, I let the photos hang, cleaned up, and left the darkroom. I didn’t know what to make of the images, who the people were, and what terrified them so badly. I went to bed and slept restlessly.
I arose the next morning, slipped into the darkroom, and turned on the light. The pictures had changed! They were all pointing at something beyond the image, looking both terrified and pleading. Feeling uneasy, I looked behind me, but nothing was there besides the camera. It sat there, innocent, and inanimate, just…watching.
As I watched, the red button glowed, a light flashed in my face, I blacked out.
I came to as I heard a whirl of film progressing and heat in my face. I put my hand up to cover my eyes to see better, all I could see was the eye of the camera looking at me as I was looking out of the eye of the camera.
Hearing the door’s click, I watched beyond the lens as the proprietor strolled up to the camera. He stroked the camera gently and peered into the lens and saw me. “Ah, another one, my pet! Excellent job!”
I stand here hands, over my face, while I scream and sob in this black and white world of nonexistence.
Fiction © Copyright Linda Lee Rice
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More about Linda Lee Rice:
Linda Lee Rice aka Ruzicka has poetry published in Twilight Times, Dark Krypt, Fables, Descending Darkness, Writing Village, Spine, and Page, Muses Gallery, Bloodbond, Lycan Valley Press Publishers, Alban Lake, Highland Park Poetry, Rosette Maleficarum, The Siren’s Call, Edify Fiction
and the June Cotner anthology, “House Blessings” and “Garden Blessings
She has short stories published in The Grit, and Reminisce, Haunted Encounters: Friends and Family, FrostFire Worlds. Plus, a personal essay at Mamalode. She also has various articles and blogs published online as a freelance writer.