When Ethan Davis saw the image, he wasted no time in taking a picture. He looked down from his 24th story dorm room window and saw the man walking on a path through the bare winter forest. Sporting a thick red and brown jacket, worn jeans, and a black knit cap, the man was better than half way through the small one-acre woods. A crest of eccentric Victorian monstrosities surrounded the forest on every side, seemingly choking it.
He had been watching the man walk with his back to the dorms for a few minutes before finally seeing it. Not just seeing it, but really seeing it--the way a sculptor sees a man trapped inside a thick slab of marble. Being a photography major at the University of Wisconsin, Ethan lived for stirring scenes like this one.
He reached his long hand over to a Nikon camera that lay on his desk. Placing the camera up to his face, Ethan brought the unknowing man into focus and snapped the picture before losing it forever.
Breathing heavy in excitement, Ethan ejected the SD card out of the camera and threw it into his MacBook Pro. He hunched over the computer and brought up the picture with blinding speed.
“It’s perfect,” he whispered to himself as the image popped up on the screen. His eyes perused the picture from left to right, always landing on the man walking, who was, of course, the focus of the picture.
Ethan felt the call of nature, and sprung to the bathroom to answer.
It was such a small thing, so small in fact, that he shouldn’t have seen it. Walking back into his room, Ethan saw that the picture was still up on his laptop screen. Everything was the same, except for the man. He was now walking the opposite direction, away from the large suburban houses and toward the dormitory tower.
I just overlooked it the first time, that kind of thing happens in the creative process, Ethan told himself, forcing a thin laugh. The sound of his own laugh made a shudder run through his spine. He closed his laptop, trying to shut out the idea that the picture had somehow changed.
Outside, the light had begun to fade, casting a dark orange glow over the snow dusted forest, and further, the endless sprawl of houses. Ethan closed his laptop and pulled out a thick, hard covered geography book. He found a stub of a pencil and his lab notebook, and began working on his homework, trying to shove thoughts of the picture out of his mind.
After completing his homework, Ethan flipped open his laptop. I’ll look at it, and it will be the same, he thought. If it’s not, I’ll delete it. Simple enough.
The picture had been left up on the screen. He felt his heart contract and drop into his gut as he gazed at the picture, his mouth open like a door with a broken hinge.
The picture now looked straight down the side of the building, where there were basketball courts lit by bright fluorescent lights. Walking across the basketball courts, toward the building, was the man dressed in the jacket and knit cap. The light had faded in the picture, and accurately represented the light that was actually outside. His heart beating faster, Ethan stood up from his chair and peered down the side of the tower to the basketball courts. A couple walked across the near side of the court, but there was no man, or tracks coming from the forest.
Rushing back to his desk, Ethan saw that the picture had changed again. It looked down at the man, who was standing at the base of the building. Looking up.
Ethan pressed the delete button for the picture rapidly. The screen gave a brisk flash, and then returned to the picture. The man’s head and shoulders were sticking out of a window around the third floor, looking vertically up the building. Smiling.
Oh shit, no. NO! Ethan thought, sweat beginning to bead on his forehead.
When he looked back at the picture, the man’s head was sticking out around the 17th floor. His features were sharp and handsome, yet malicious. Dark hair spilled from his knit cap, and he wore a grimace on his face that said: I am coming for you. I will kill you.
Ethan pulled the SD card out of the computer and tossed it in the garbage. It did no good. The next shot was looking out his window, along the east side of the tower. The man’s head poked out of the window of the room right next to his, looking towards Ethan. The man’s features were distorted; his nose sat where his chin should have been, his forehead spilled down the right side of his face, and his mouth, the gaping, tooth stuffed gash that it was, cut across his face like a scar induced by a rusty chainsaw. His eyes were popped out, dangling by what passed for a chin.
Blubbering, Ethan ripped the computer from the desk and threw it at the wall. The door from the room next to his creaked open, and the shrill sound of a crying baby came into the hallway.
He groped for the deadbolt, flying it into the locked position where it made a satisfying snap. As soon as his hand parted from the door, knocking sounded from the other side.
“No!” Ethan screamed at the door. “NO!”
It did no good, though. The lock blurred briefly before thumping on the carpet, twisted, cracked and smoking. The door flew open and Ethan saw the man, whose face was not the handsome man or the twisted facial collage, but his own. Its (his) eyes were gouged out, and the lips had been crudely removed.
Ethan bellowed as the thing fell upon him.
Jesse Martin is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin where he studies as an English major.
|< Prev||Next >|