The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Pictures or it Didn’t Happen
by Bailey Hunter
Ray opened the package of fresh photos. The trembling of his fingers caused him to slip and get a nice deep papercut that ripped him out of his fearful focus, if only for a moment.
He didn’t want to look inside. But he had to. Some macabre place buried inside him forced him to. The combined weight of knowing of what he could expect in the packages, and not knowing who kept sending them clawed at his brain, and his anxiety.
Ray took a deep breath and held it as he pulled out the contents. A fresh stack of photos, each one detailing a day in his life, but not one he’d lived yet.
At first he thought it was some sort of elaborate prank sent by one of his more creative friends. He went on a public tirade about it at work, and on-line when no one would come forward. Random pictures of him at places he’d never been, doing things he had not done… at least not at the time. As the packages and the days continued, it became clear that these snapshots in time were of what was to come.
The first week they showed up, they were benign. Quick snaps of him having coffee at his favourite shop. Him at the post office, or on his way to work. They could have been any day, really. A whole week of stills of Ray just living his normal life.
The following week’s images were a bit more obvious. Ray being slapped by a woman. A date he hadn’t been on yet, but where he foolishly said something that did not go well. A trip to the dentist – in the dentist’s office – which turned out to be an emergency root canal. Ray bumping into someone on the way out of the coffee shop and spilling his hot coffee down his shirt. Each time the event happened, he remembered the photo detailing the moment before it came to be.
Last week when the package showed up, the images it held were worse. A broken leg at the ER. The police at his door. The tires on his car knifed. Each event unfolded before him no matter how hard he tried to avoid them. He had slipped on the stairs outside his apartment complex due to some child’s errant toy. The police showed up because his date made claims that he physically assaulted her – while she’s the one that slapped him. She probably was the one to knife his tires too. He’d been a bit crude, but certainly not enough to warrant that. It had been a week from Hell.
Ray stared at the stack of photos from the latest package. He had to know, yet at the same time a deep fear grew. Whatever they held, he realised he couldn’t avoid them. He wondered if they came true because he looked or if they were simply fated to happen whether he saw them or not. Ray shoved the photos back into the unmarked envelop. He wasn’t going to look. He couldn’t face each day waiting for the captured future to become his present reality. He had to be able to live.
He placed the envelop on the top of the fridge. “Out of sight, out of mind,” he mused to himself, knowing full well that it was going to gnaw on his brain like a tick burying itself.
Ray steeled himself to go out. He pulled on his coat, and hobbled to the elevator, the crutches digging into his armpits with each awkward step. He was going to get his coffee and do his best to pretend that this wasn’t happening. A mantra of “If I don’t look, it’s not real,” ran on loop in his head.
The elevator doors slid open and he thrust himself in, turning to push the G, That’s when he saw it. A picture of him, this moment, taped to the button panel. It showed only his face turned upward, twisted in a scream, his eyes were bulged in abject terror.
Ray felt the floor drop and his heart thrust up into his throat as the elevator plummeted him eighteen stories to his imminent death. His eyes bulged and an involuntary scream flowed from his mouth all the way down.
Fiction © Copyright Bailey Hunter
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More about Bailey Hunter:
Bailey is a publisher with Dark Recesses Press.
Dark Recesses Press is a publishing house dedicated to providing high quality dark fiction in its many forms to the reader. Our end goal is to impress and entertain, no matter what dark recesses we dare shine our light on.