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Trapped Souls

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Have you ever heard of that old legend that when someone takes your picture, your soul is trapped within that picture? It was created when the camera was a new invention, and probably because it would run portrait painters into ruin. Now it's something to laugh at, something that no one really gives a second thought. After all, there's no such way to trap a soul, is there? It's just a myth, there's no need to be afraid of a camera.

But why did we think that? Was it because the soul is supposed to be some precious thing, and that we need to be careful with it? Is there really such a thing as a soul? Or was that all just make-believe created by some dickwad a few thousand years ago so that he would have followers for his religion?

I'm sure you had those thoughts every once in a while. I did too, mainly when I was a teenager and I wanted to rebel from my super-Christian parents. (Christian, hah. They don't resemble what a real Christian is supposed to act like in the slightest.) So, of course, when I heard this legend and decided that I had to get my hands on one of these "Trapped Souls", my parents were in complete disagreement. Fortunately, this was shortly after I had moved into my own private apartment and they couldn't control me anymore. So, I got as many of these old photos as I could and set them up around my house, each one having a plaque with the names of the people in the photo and the year it was taken inscribed upon it.

My favourite was one that I had found in an auction. It had belonged to an elderly woman who had recently passed, and the only note that the auctioneer had read was that this photo was to remain covered at all times.

The photo was of a young woman, probably in her mid-teens. 17 at the oldest. She was wearing one of those Victorian style dresses, there was a cross around her neck, and her hair was light enough that it matched her pale skin in the sepia photo. She was looking off to the left, and was clutching what I assumed to be a diary in her hand. Her photo was so perfect, so beautiful, that I had to put her in my room, right above my headboard. Her name is Eve Lilith Carpenter, and her photo was taken in England, 1865. I was a bit confused by her name, I know enough of my biblical studies to know that Lilith was supposedly Adam's first wife. She essentially refused to bottom to him, and because of that Adam and God cast her out, only for Eve to be created. She was then made the mother of all demons. (I call bullshit, that story had to have been made by some religious wing-bat that wanted to keep women oppressed.) Judging by the cross around her neck, she was probably Protestant, and the fact that she was named after the Mother of Demons is probably what made me like her even more.

I remember showing her off to my neighbours, inviting them in for some coffee and doughnuts while I showed them my antique picture gallery. Several of my neighbours were offput by her, saying that she felt creepy to them. I didn't understand what they were talking about, all I saw was her beauty. I decided that my neighbours just couldn't handle the idea that I had a picture of someone that I never met and had never heard of in my bedroom, and stopped showing her off. She would remain there, only to be seen by myself.

Months had passed, and things were looking good. I had gotten a promotion at work, I finished my degree, I had met a girl that I really liked, and my parents had stopped bothering me about my official stance as agnostic. I was happier than I had ever been in my life, and it was showing. I looked better than before, I was practically skipping everywhere (my neighbours sure got a laugh out of that), and I had a smile that was almost always on my face.

Of course, something had to come crashing down and ruin my beautiful high.

I was getting changed in my bedroom when I looked over at Eve, mainly to check if she had to be dusted. That's when I noticed something a bit odd - her eyes were open, staring at me with a look of shock. Had she looked like that before? Or was I just imagining it?

Writing it off as the latter, I left my apartment and went to work. The entire day my mind was on Eve's face. It looked like she was shocked to see a woman changing in front of her. Deciding that I would look at her again when I got home to put my mind at ease, I went to work. Hours passed, my shift ended, and I was allowed to go home. I caught the bus at the last minute, and time seemed to fly between when I got on it and when I got off. Weird thing was, I caught a couple taking a photo of themselves on the bus seats to my left. As the flash went off, for a moment I swore I saw something drag itself into the camera. It happened so quickly, so suddenly, that I figured I must have seen something move behind the flash.

I got off the bus, jogged up the 5 flights of stairs to my floor, and entered my apartment. Everything looked the same, but at the same time, everything looked a little different. Like everything had moved by the slightest degree. Especially that photo of my late cat, Mister. It looked like he was begging for some food, but when I had taken the photo he wanted to play with me. I dropped off my messenger bag and waltzed over to my bedroom, rubbing my shoulders while I did so. I opened the door and looked at Eve, only to freeze in place.

Her left hand, which had been holding the book by her side, was pressed up against the glass. And I don't mean just held up for the photo, I mean that I could actually see the pressure of where her hand was touching the glass. Her eyes were looking directly into mine, and when she realized that I could see, she smiled.

I ran into the bathroom, the only room in my apartment with absolutely no photos, and collapsed on the floor in a panting, sweating mess. No way. I had to be delusional, there was no way that Eve moved like that. It was then that I remembered the message that the elderly woman who had last owned Eve had left - to keep her covered at all times. What had she meant by that? It wasn't like I could ask her, she was dead. Hell, I didn't even know her name! It wasn't like I could summon her spirit or something!

I splashed my face with cold water, took off my shirt and wiped the sweat from my body, and exited my bathroom. I needed a clean shirt, after all. When I entered, Eve looked at me and slowly, slowly covered her eyes, a grey blush on her cheeks. I stared at her for a little longer.

"Did - Did you just -?" I stuttered, Eve peeked from behind her hand, her dark eyes meeting mine. Impossible. I felt the blood drain to my feet. Not. Possible.

Eve knocked on the glass, and I could hear the faint "thump-thump" that sounded. I grabbed the desk behind me, using it to keep myself up. She looked away again, waving her hand to my dressers. Robotically, I walked over and put on a shirt. She wasn't going to interact with me until I did so. It was only then that I could confirm that I needed to see a psychiatrist. I mean, moving photos? This wasn't the world of Harry Potter, for crap's sake! When I was relatively covered, Eve looked back at me, a smile on her face at the fact that I was clothed.

"Why - How -" I couldn't even finish a sentence. Eve looked at me, a smirk on her face. Her finger touched the glass, and as it traced shapes, a black substance was left behind. T-R-A-P-P-E-D. Trapped. She was trapped? My mind quietly went over the myth I had heard, and I sat on the bed as I spoke to her. For the love of - I had to be nuts. This was the only answer. "How?" I hadn't meant to say that. Eve smiled sadly. P-O-R-T-R-A-I-T. Portrait. Her picture? "Trapped... Because of this?" I asked, tapping the glass. The substance that had been sticking fell away, and Eve scowled at me, her eyes literally darkening. N-O. I was confused. No? C-U-R-S-E. A curse.

Yeah. This was totally believable. Shaking my head, I walked out of the room, ignoring the angry thumps that were coming from Eve's picture. I'd cover her later, go to bed, and then wake up and find out this was all one crazy hallucination. Only to hear a muffled meow from my right. I turned to look at my side-boy, to the picture of Mister. It was the only one that I had ever taken, and to my horror his tail moved, his brown eyes wide and sad. I covered my mouth and moved backwards, falling on my butt. No. Not possible.

Looking around, I could see all the pictures in my apartment moving around, looking. Well, all the pictures of living beings. There was the couple above my loveseat that were giving me disapproving glares, there was the little girl that was bouncing on her mother's lap, the group of young men that looked like they were trying to call out to me, and I could keep going on and on about this.

I ran back to the bathroom, and collapsed on the floor. No. No no no no no no no no. This couldn't be happening. There weren't such things as curses. There were no such things as moving pictures.

That night, I covered Eve's portrait, despite her muffled screams of anger, her curses to my being. I stuffed her in a box in my storage area, hoping that would be enough to stop whatever was getting to me. I later sold her to an art dealer down the street, but it never ended.

Is this my curse for taking care of her? I had looked up her biography recently, and found out that she had been convicted of witchcraft and murdered by her reverend father after that picture was taken - and it was the only picture of her. Had she been cursing me, or trying to warn me? Because now, I can't stand any photo. I can't stand to see all those poor, trapped souls, moving in their space, trapped behind glass.

After all, that's what we're doomed to for all eternity.

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