MOON LIT

A creepy camera.. a disappearing island

Secluded Lake, Summer 2004

The branches of the tree that Nancy sat in framed the telephoto lens. she brushed them aside. She didn't want them in the pictures. She didn't know why she even bothered, by morning none of the pictures were going to show up in the camera anyway.

She stared through the view finder at the cottage on the island. The full moon was mostly hidden by a school of swiftly moving clouds, that swam across it. Still, the moon peeked bravely through as best it could. It left a long slender golden patch of light on the surface of the lake.

It back lit the tiny island in the glass flat waters.The cottage and a few pine trees were mirrored in the depths of the still waters. There was an outdoor light above the front door and railed deck of the rustic little cottage, and another one at the back. This second light served to reveal the bushes and undersides of the pines, that tiptoed up to the water and stopped before their roots ran out of island. There was the mere hint of the rest of the cottage, and a back deck that was hidden behind the bushes.

She leaned forward on the bird watching platform that she sat on. It was secure enough, but she didn't like to be this high up in a tree. She twisted the camera at different angles, and tried to capture the steeply angled dock at the side of the island. A small row boat was moored to it. Behind the island in the distance was the dark silhouette of the mainland. Pin points of light shone from it in spots. She sat back and lowered the camera from her face. She looked again through her strong binnoculars .. no island, no cottage, no dock, no boat!

She looked through the viewfinder again, and there it was in all it's glory, island, cottage, dock, boat. Just as it was before. When she put the camera down, the whole thing disappeared again. She would never get used to that, no matter how many times she raised and lowered the camera.

"Hey Nancy.."

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" Nancy screamed with a high pitched terrrifed squeal.

"Dammmit Scott!! Don't ever grab my shoulders like that again! We're up a tree, you idiot. I could have fallen off, I could have dropped the camera!!"

"You're no where near the edge, and even if you did drop that stupid camera in the lake, it wouldn't be any less useless than it is now. The only picture you're ever going to get out of it is the one on the original film. Any other film you put in it didn't work." Scott answered, annoyed.

"I know Scott, but there's something about this camera and this view that I just can't resist. When it washed up on shore a week ago, I was sure that we wouldn't get any good prints out of it. It was so charred, and beat up, it must have been through a fire, I think."

"You know it was, Nancy. The one salvageable picture in this camera showed that island, and that island burned down a decade ago!" Scott nodded his head toward the now empty spot on the lake where the cottage had been.

"I didn't specify which fire it must have gone through Scott. It couldn't have been the fire on that island, it burned right down to the water level and disappeared years ago!

There's no way a camera could remain mostly intact in the water for ten years. It must have been somewhere else, then that place must have burned more recently."

" I don't know, the whole thing baffles me. That camera gives me the creeps. I wish you would just throw it away." Scott tried to reason with her.

" Scott, I smell......Scott! You're smoking! Are you nuts? The pine needles all around us are as dry as paper. I thought you gave up that filthy habit. Throw it in the lake. You're a walking fire hazard."

"Fine. I'm almost done anyway."

Scott flicked the smoldering butt toward the lake. It didn't quite make the shoreline. It landed in fallen pine needles.

                                                           ............

Secluded Lake, Summer 2014

Two women stood in a dimly lit darkroom. They hovered over a workbench that held several shallow trays full of developing chemicals.

"It looks like we might get at least two pictures out of this old film, Tyra. Where did you say you found this camera?"  Allison said as she watched the print paper float in the liquid.

"It washed up on our beach. I don't know where it came from. The mainland is forty miles away, and I haven't seen any recent boaters around our island. Oh, look Allison, something is coming up!"  Tyra answered

"Let me see!"  Allison tried to squeeze up to the bench in the limited space available.

"Pushy, pushy. Wait till I hang them, and we'll see what we've got."

Allison stepped back as Tyra hung the two dripping pictures on a thin clothes line that stretched across the dark room. When they were securely hung by plastic clothespins, she turned around to face her friend.

"Give it a little while, let them drip. Then we can take a good look at them."

"They're done dripping now, Tyra."

"That's not possible. I just hung them. You saw me do it."

"I Know, but they look dry."

Tyra took them off the line and turned on the light by the door.

"They are dry, Tyra, not only that, but they look... old, at least one does. The other one looks slightly newer."

They put the pictures on a counter on the other side of the dark room. The older picture showed a cottage at night on a lake. The other one showed a man and a woman on a platform in a huge evergreen tree. The woman was looking through the view finder of a camera. The man was smoking a cigarette.

 

The End

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