Today's Friday Flash Fiction is curtousy of a prompt by my twitter friend Nicole Wolverton (@nicolewolverton). If you're not following her, why the hell not?
Clara stopped licking her ice cream and looked up. She turned her head slightly to make sure she actually saw what she thought she had seen. There it was. A sign, with an old fashioned camera on a tripod, complete with man behind the large cloth cover and holding the flash powder over the contraption. Next to the picture were the words “One Thousand Words Cameras” in an old time styled font. Clara’s forehead creased and she turned around, taking a few steps down the cobblestone walkway to the storefront.
When did this place get here? She had walked down this little alleyway in Florence everyday since arriving here to work four months ago, and this store was never here. It wasn’t there yesterday. And yet, here it was, as if it had been here this whole time. The sign even showed wear and aging. What the hell?
She had to find out. So, she opened the door and walked in. The little bell chimed as the door opened, and again as it closed behind her.
The place was small, but crammed from floor to ceiling with cameras. Cameras of all shapes and sizes, makes and models, even some that weren’t made any more, and a few that Clara didn’t recognize. Must be state of the art models, though she figured she would have at least heard of them enough to recognize them. She was a professional photographer after all.
Still, now that she was in here, she was intrigued. This place had everything. Cameras, stands, film, books on cameras and photographers. It was like a camera buff’s wet dream.
She walked across the small store and stopped halfway to the back. There, on the counter, was a camera so unique and startlingly different she had to stop and take a look at it. It looked very much like a modern digital camera, with a screen and control buttons on the back, but the casing was wood. It had a tripod that was also wood, and the whole thing had a classic feel to it. It had a pretty advanced lens too, if she was any judge. And she was.
She reached out to touch it.
“Oh, I wouldn’t touch that one, if I were you,” a thickly accented voice said, and she turned around, surprised.
There was an old man there, wearing what looked like a suit from the 1800’s, and an apron, of all things. She could swear that he wasn’t there before. This was a little too much. She made her living with her eyes, how was it she wasn’t noticing these things?
“Why shouldn’t I touch it?” she asked. “How will I know if I want it if I can’t see it in use?”
“Oh, you don’t want that camera,” he said. “It’s cursed.”
“What?” she said, blinking. This had to be some bizarre nightmare.
“Oh, yes,” he said. “Cursed. Everything that you take a picture of with that camera… BECOMES the picture.”
“Come again?” she said.
“It actually becomes the picture,” he repeated. “It disappears from the real world, only to exist in the picture you took.”
“That’s ridiculous,” she said. Then, a thought occurred to her. “I want to buy it.”
“I don’t think you…” he started.
“Yeah, yeah,” she cut him off. “It’s cursed and you don’t think I really want to buy it. The thing is, I do. See, it’s the most unique camera I’ve ever seen. It’s beautiful work, and it’s a very high quality camera, from what I can tell.”
“Oh, it’s the best,” he said. “All to make it more appealing.”
“Exactly,” she replied. “And I want it. So, I’m going to write you a check, and you just tell me how much to put in there.”
“Madam,” he said. “This camera is not for sale.”
She was ignoring him now. His whole cursed shtick was getting old. She turned around and picked the camera up over his protests. She flipped the power switch, and watched as the screen came to life immediately. Nice. Even her best camera took a few seconds to warm up. She swung it around the store, looking at the view on the screen. It was sharp and clear, very detailed. Also very nice. She aimed it at the shopkeeper, who was now waiving his arms frantically.
She pushed the button, and the flash light up the small store, blinding her for a few seconds.
When she could see again, the shopkeeper was gone. She looked around for him, and then noticed something moving on the screen for the camera. She looked down at it, and saw the shopkeeper. He was in the picture she had just took, but he was moving, banging his hands against the screen and waving his arms frantically.
Had she taken a video instead of a picture? No, the setting was on picture. She looked back at the screen. He was screaming and pointing at her now. She practically dropped the camera.
Oh, My. God. He was telling her the truth. The damn camera really was cursed. She looked down at the screaming man in the camera. Then, a cold smile crossed her lips. She knew a few models that she wouldn’t mind getting rid of. Not to mention a few magazine editors. This was going to be fun.
She looked at the shopkeeper and grinned at him. Then, she flicked the power switch off.