“It’s the darndest thing, Lou. Every time I take one of these kids’ pictures, I end up with a photo of some lady getting dragged into a well or something.”
Lou leaned back, knocking over his collection of hilarious venereal disease pictures. “I don’t know, Vinnie. Think the camera’s busted?”
Vinnie shook his head as he walked around the library, setting up the background for school picture day. This one had some nice trees in a field, complete with a homeless man being lynched in the distance. “I doubt it. I just took it to the shop a few weeks ago and had it checked out. The guy who worked on it said I just had to set it back to the factory defaults whenever it started showing the school’s gruesome past instead of the grade one class picture.”
Lou walked past rows of ruined books on rotted shelves, carefully walking across the remaining floorboards. “Did you try that already?”
Vinnie ignored the cold breath he felt on his shoulder, speaking louder to be heard over the constant moaning in the room. “Yeah. I’ll do it again, just in case.”
While he played with the buttons, Lou walked over to the door, passing a bunch of sentences that had been scratched in the wall. He shook his head, sighing in disgust. “Kids got no respect for school property these days. And what’s ‘AbySs HerE’ supposed to mean?”
“I think it’s some sort of boy band or something. You know how the kids love boys in make-up nowadays.”
He opened the door into the hallway, a single flickering light illuminating the one student standing there. He gestured for the boy to come forward, ignoring the kid’s constant muttering as he gestured him toward the chair.
The boy sat down, and Lou pulled up the camera, looking at the image on the screen. He rolled his eyes, crossing his arms as he looked at the boy. “Take off that silly mask, kid.”
The boy turned his head toward the sound, his empty eye sockets looking in Lou’s general direction. “My eyes…my eyes…”
Vinnie snapped his fingers to get the kid’s attention. “Hey, kid. Who’s your homeroom teacher?”
The boy opened his mouth, the words falling out without him having to move his lips to shape them. “No peace…no peace…”
Vinnie shrugged. “Nopees? Is that foreign or something?”
Lou looked into the image one more time. “Whatever, kid. Your parents will be the ones who get mad at you for not taking your mask off.”
He moved to hit the button, but then saw a hint of movement beside the boy. He could see the outline of what looked like a woman, her entire body bent as if her bones had been shattered to powder. Her limbs had been twisted, the skin bulging out against the pressure beneath it.
Lou began to sweat, gesturing for Vinnie to look through the camera as well. Vinnie was stunned into silence, then whispered into Lou’s ear. “Is that what I think it is?”
“I think so. It looks like a giraffe, or maybe a dog. I was never good at figuring out those balloon animals.”
They both watched it begin to make its way toward the camera, its movements stilted as it crept in front of the boy. Vinnie looked at it for a few more moments, seeing the woman’s mouth opening and closing as it grew nearer, and then he laughed. He reached around the front of the camera’s lens, wiping it with his shirt. When he was finished, the spectre was gone.
“Just what I figured. It was some dust on the lens, that’s all.”
Lou chuckled. “Glad that’s cleared up. This kid’s mom is gonna flip out on me as is without spectral women with broken bones being in the picture.”
“Yeah, she will. Anyway, I saw a snack machine oozing blood a couple of hallways back, near the impaled guy in that courtyard filled with shadow-shaped creatures. Want anything?”
He turned back to the boy, seeing him glaring right into the camera, his hands outstretched with his mouth open wide. “Nah, I’m good.”