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He stood there, rooted to the spot, clenching the black Polaroid camera in his left hand. Sweet dripped down his brow and ran through his blonde beard that was perched on his chin; a figure cloaked in shadow walked away from the stunned man.
Upon leaving, the figure hissed: "As easy as that."
The Day Before Morning
George, an amateur photographer from Detroit, sat with his family around the old kitchen table. His son Marcus fiddled with a knife, but promptly put it down as his father shouted at him. All went quiet in the kitchen.
His wife stormed in. She carried a pot of coffee and then thrust it down on the table. George looked up at her with puppy-dog eyes. She looked down at him with a fierce glance.
"God damn it, George, why'd you gotta lose that job? All ya care about is that cock-a-doody camera you got there, but guess what bought that Polaroid? Your God damn job, and now you gone and thrown this family in a whole load of shit. Well, what ya gotta say for yourself?"
Her husband's innocent eyes turned into those of a wolf. He stood up so that she came up only to his chest. His thick hand rose up behind his head. His wife cowered as a cold tear dropped down from her eye.
"No, daddy!" Marcus screamed.
"Get out of here, ya little son-of-a-bitch!" George bellowed in answer. "I'm about to teach your mother some manners."
His hand swung down, cutting through the air like a bullet. George's wife shrieked as the wall of skin came closer and closer.
George stared at his hand for a moment, dumbstruck. He recoiled it quickly as a terrified whimper flooded out from between his pale lips. He tried to speak, but no words would emerge from the gaping hole of his mouth. His wife backed away in fear, clutching her son in her arms, tears fell down the family's faces.
"Please, please don't tell anyone..." George began.
"It's over, that's the last time I let you treat me and our son like shit on a stick. Ever since you got that camera you've just sat up there in the room fiddlin' with it. You ain't the same man I married. Come on Marcus, we're leaving your asshole of a father."
He dropped to his knees, defeated.
That night, George slumped up the stairs and to his room. He opened the solid oak door and paced to the desk that sat at the corner of the room.
A large Polaroid camera rested atop of a cushion, fingerprints lining the sides of it. The black plastic casing was worn near the lens.
Carefully, he picked it up. The hard case vibrated at his touch. A wry smile spread across his face. "Don't worry, dear, she's not here to hurt you anymore," George cooed.
He turned his head sharply and yelled at the open air. "Why'd ya have to ruin everything? Huh? It was all fine 'til you showed up."
"You acquitted me, now you will submit to me." He replied to himself.
George's face turned grim. He turned his head to the camera and grabbed it. The plastic creaked in his grip. One hand let go and stuck its finger in his eye. Clear fluids sprayed out as he screamed in agony. The camera dropped to the floor on the button.
The room was ablaze with the white light of the flash.
The mechanisms in the Polaroid whirled into action. A cardboard square ejected itself as the image began to develop. George scrambled to reach the picture, his bloodied hand snatching it up.
A head faded out of the blackness, followed by his quivering body, a figure stood behind him with its finger in his eye.
His breathing quickened. The voice inside his head faded as the picture developed into more detail. He stepped back slowly, turned around, and belted down the stairs.
What the hell is happening? I... I don't even know what's been goin' on these last few weeks. I been in and out'a my head like a Goddam yo-yo...
A gun rested on the table. He looked at it as he ran past, but paid no further attention to it. I gotta find them, I gotta explain that I didn't mean no harm.
George jumped into his old Mustang. He hit the throttle with all his might and sped onto the main motorway. Where the hell could they be? Where would they be hidin'? he thought for a while and then his eyes lit up like lights in the dark. The tires screeched and the car turned.
It was early morning now. The sky was light blue and the last of the stars were fading. The old Mustang pulled up on the drive of a house.
He knocked on the door.
The only place they could be, her sister's house. Silence filled the night. It seemed as if nobody was home. He turned away but his movement was cut short by the sound of a handle being turned. A woman emerged from the door.
He shot his head around to face the woman. It was his sister-in-law.
"She ain't here, ya piece a scum," she spat.
"Look, I just wanna say-" He stopped short when the door began to close. George threw his body forwards and it hit the woodwork with a crunch.
A woman screamed upstairs. His gaze shot upwards and he instantly forgot the crumpled body lying on the floor behind him. He bolted up the stairs towards the guest bedroom.
George kicked the door open. His wife and son cowered inside but they were not alone. The shaded man from the picture stood with them. George lifted up his hands pleadingly but stopped when he saw what was in them:
A gun and a camera.
His family screamed and backed further up to the wall. Tentatively, he tried to move his right hand, the one holding the gun, down but it wouldn't budge.
He shook his head and the shadowy figure stalked forwards. It crept past him and hissed:
"As easy as that. Just like taking a picture, you just press the button and bang, it's all over."