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The Polaroids

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I think everyone wants a hobby that they can feel better at than most people. For me it’s been street art. Not the graffiti you see on walls with just fancy text saying the tagger’s alias, but for me I like to use stencils made from photographs that I vectorize and print and cut out. I don’t do anything too political or banksy like, I usually just take some iconic figures and plaster them on a wall. Now I like to picture these on a fairly large wall before I present them to the public and living in an apartment with a room-mate can make that difficult to do at home so I used to just go around in the late afternoon looking for some abandoned or condemned buildings. 

I would usually keep to the industrial district of my city looking for a nice little building where the previous business just couldn’t afford to stay in business. But I was having a particularly hard time finding one this other night however so I decided to venture to the outskirts of the city, I was riding my bike down this road that lead away and into more of a country area, I took a couple small roads and ended up at this pretty gnarly looking house. You should have seen it, the grass there looked like it hadn’t been cut in years. The house itself looked pretty barebones. It looked unpainted but the wood wasn’t rotten or old. In fact I’d say the house couldn’t be more than a few decades old. The house was pretty out of the way and I couldn’t see any signs from the outside that any person had even gone in the house in a good few years so I decided that this would be the building to tag in. 

I hopped off my bike and began a treacherous journey through the waist high grass, constantly stumbling and nearly face planting a few times before I reached the front door. The door itself had a rectangular window with a stylistic blur on it that allowed me to see basic forms of the inside of the house. It didn’t seem that well lit in the house so I couldn’t make out too much, but I did see what looked like a couch and a hallway extending further back into the house. I gave the doorknob a try and found, to my surprise, it was unlocked. The door squeaked like no door I’d ever heard before though, which made me cringe as it broke the otherwise pleasant silence. 

I entered the house and filled the interior of the house with the daylight from the outside world. I could see everything in there so much clearer now that there was light and no glass to block my vision. I saw the couch, which actually turned out to just be a loveseat. and the rest of the living room which contained a circular glass coffee table fairly low to the ground and a TV on a TV stand. It looked all untouched, which surprised me, for I imagined the house would be empty from either the fleeing residents or perhaps some looters. If it hadn’t been for the dust that had been accumulating over everything I would have thought this house was still being lived in. I walked up to the TV and tried to turn it on from the power button on the front. No surprise there, it didn’t work. I considered taking this TV with me but it would be nearly impossible to carry on my bike all the way back home. I actually thought about bringing my car here and furnishing the rest of my apartment with all of the things the previous residents had left behind, it was like the jackpot find. 

I was excited and decided to explore around the house for more valuables before spray-painting, I entered the kitchen and was met with a pungent smell, and soon found the source looking in the refrigerator. I let out an audible “Bleech” as I was punched in the face with the smell of the rotten milk that lay in front of me along with the mixture of other rotten food. I did however see that they had a few cans of beer in there, so I tried one of them. It was flat as I expected and tossed it into the sink making a loud clunking sound. I was done with the kitchen, the smell itself might have been the reason for that. 

I made my way back to the living room and I noticed the hall way. Most of it was lit up well from the light of the door still pouring in. I made my way down to the first door on the right, this room was very dark so I went over to the curtains and window to open them. The light revealed the room was barren except for the few objects on the floor. There was a camera, a photo album, and a shoebox turned upside down. I was curious to know who the previous residents of the house were so I picked up the photo album. On the front was a Polaroid photo being showcased. It was a picture taken of the family in the living room of this house.

There was a pretty tall, thin man in a dress shirt tucked into his ironed out black business pants with curly black hair grinning goofy to the camera in a superman pose who looked to be around thirty, a woman with brown hair tied back wearing a white blouse and blue jeans who seemed to be facepalming but also smiling happily who was around the same age, and a little girl sitting on the floor with her legs crossed who looked to be around eight years old grinning up at the camera. I flipped the picture over and saw that the date had been written on it. It was dated about three years ago. I looked through the album and saw photos of the family at various places. 

I put the album down and picked up the overturned shoebox and photos came pouring out of it face down. I saw dates on the back of every one of them and they looked to be in order. Thankfully they hadn’t scattered around too much so I was able to neatly slide them together and flip them around. I was greeted with a very plain photo of the hallway I had just been in. Everything had been there that I’d seen before: the two doors on the right, the one on the left, the brown carpet with the dark brown outline, and the vent about half the size of me at the end of the hall. The picture seemed to be taken at night with flash which made me even more curious to the point of the picture. 

I couldn’t see anything wrong or out of the ordinary so I started to think of possible reasons, but suddenly I was interrupted by a white small shape from the corner of my eye, I heard a purr and I looked to see that the source of the disturbance was a white short haired cat coming to me. I was surprised to see such a clean and domesticated house pet out in a place like this, and I wondered to myself whether this was the previous owner’s pet and just couldn't understand how they could leave it behind. It then rubbed against my leg and I reached down to pet it. As I did its purrs grew louder and I said, out loud, “You’re so adorable.” It meowed to me as if in response and continued purring. I stopped petting it and went back to the photos. I shuffled through the rest and they looked all to be like this one. 

Various rooms of the house taken at night with flash. There were duplicates of each photo though, or at least I thought they were duplicates until I saw that there were different dates on the back marked consecutively. I started looking for differences in the hall way’s pictures but was unable to find any differences aside from a slightly different camera angle each night. I could see the cat had gotten bored with me at this point and dashed back out the window. I let out a disappointed sigh and went to the next set of photos of what I gathered to be the master bedroom. 

I hadn't gone in there so I took the photos and guessed that the door on the left in the hallway was the master bedroom. I was right, and there it was, exactly like the photograph. I opened the window to let the light and air in and started to inspect the room. It wasn’t particularly large, it was about the size of my bedroom in my apartment honestly. Just enough room for a wardrobe, bed, TV, and a closet. On the TV stand was another picture lying face down so I walked over and picked it up to inspect it. There was no date on the back of this one however, so I flipped it right-side up to inspect it further. It was a picture of this room, but it was different from the ones I found in the box.

It was taken at night still but it used no flash and instead of being taken from the doorway with no subject in the picture it looked to be taken from right outside the window and it showed to people lying in the bed sleeping. This picture made me feel a little uneasy. I was drawing all sorts of connections, even trying to connect it to why this house was so hastily abandoned. If it even was abandoned. I had thoughts of a serial killer killing the family and leaving the house behind. I got a little scared and stuffed the photo in my pocket. Luckily there was still daylight, even if it was the last light of the day. I might have pissed my pants otherwise. Yeah I get scared pretty easily. But, what can you do?

Anyways I went up to the closet and opened it to find it contained some jackets, shoes hanging on the wall, and some shoeboxes scattered about on the floor of the closet. I grabbed the nearest one and found it to be especially heavy and took it to the bed. I sat down and removed the top and found that it had been filled with what appeared to be salt and a couple scoops. I didn’t understand why salt was in a shoebox at all so I grabbed the other two remaining boxes. One contained a revolver and a plastic bag containing some of what appears to be some home-made crude shiny bullets along with several roughly forged knives appearing to be made of different metal. I was definitely taking this stuff, so I packed it all in my backpack. 

I opened the last box which was lighter than the rest to find a hand. Yes I said a hand. It looked like a Halloween decoration so I picked it up and inspected it. It was dried up but I was starting to tell that it was real. I shuddered and threw it back in the box and wiped my hands on the bed. I was done in this room, and I was just about done with this house, but I still had one room to inspect. I opened the last door expecting to find the little girls room, but I was met with a bathroom instead. The bathroom wasn’t as well kept as the others, it was dingy and grimy and there were brown spots scattered about the bathtub and floor. There were no toiletries to be seen anywhere, meaning no towels, soap, toothbrushes, or even toilet paper. I found no reason to stay in here as there were no pictures of this room. 

As I entered the hallway I heard what sounded like someone getting out of bed from the master bedroom, but as I stood as still as statue I heard nothing else. I knew it wasn’t my imagination so I pinned it on the cat to ease my mind. I went into the living room and sat on the loveseat as I looked over the last set of pictures, the little girl’s room. There were twice as many pictures of this room from what I can tell. The first picture being taken from the doorway like the other pictures of the master bedroom didn’t show anything unusual. Even though I did notice that this room had been the empty room I found these pictures in. I based this off of the position of the window in the room as well as the blue carpet. I continued looking through, the next picture was pretty much the same while the third had a slight difference. A black blur near the foot of the child sized bed.

It was completely unrecognizable and I was thinking that it might have been a blind spot on the camera, but I ruled that out as it looked more like a motion blur. It was about the height of a dog but much longer. I couldn’t see anything else so I moved on to the next photos. These were taken from inside the room with the bed being in the center of the frame, thought the window was still visible. I wanted to compare the rooms so I went back into the empty room and looked at the remaining photo. It was another photo with the bed in the center of the frame but the flash from the camera wasn’t affecting a portion of the frame. That portion being right in front of the bed. What I saw made me physically shiver. I saw a silhouette of what looked like giant frog. No a frog is a bad way to describe it. It’s more like its legs were frog like, extending out to the side while the long narrow torso bended in front of it. I couldn’t see any distinct head shape though, but as I was thinking to myself I heard the bed sheets move.

It was time to go, I’d seen enough here. I crept my way to the door attempting to not make much noise as I heard a creak from the wooden floor behind me that was out of sync with my own footsteps. I froze for a second and heard them still coming from the end of the hallway. I was close to the door so I sprinted to the door and tried for the doorknob, it was locked. I DID NOT LOCK THE DOOR. As I struggled to open the door whatever behind me knew I heard its presence so it picked up its pace in a full run. Its footsteps sounding like sledgehammers each time it impacted the ground, the growing volume terrified me like nothing else, but I managed to unlock the door and slam it behind me as I sprinted off to my bike and peddled for my life. I could her the banging and crashing of the door slam open but I was long gone.

I don’t think I’ll ever practice tagging in abandoned buildings anymore. I may just give it up. It’s been a few days and haven’t ever wanted to be alone since. I just remember those footsteps plus the fear I experienced and I still feel unsafe.

Oh and no, I will not disclose the location of this house so don’t bother contacting me about it.  

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