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ONCE upon a time there was a beautiful young woman, named Melissa, a

princess in her own right, she was approached by a female photographer. This woman

wanted Melissa to do an individual photo shoot for her dressed as a pixie. “Your features”

she said staring strangely at her “They're deliberate and delicate, very like the fey.” The

woman said this while openly gawking at Melissa, and Melissa couldn't help but feel

flattered by what she believed was a compliment. The photographer suggested a place in

the wilderness to emphasize the natural beauty of Melissa’s pixie like features. Intrigued

by the woman, and vain enough to feel honored Melissa agreed on the stipulation that

she could pick the location. The photographer agreed, saying, “A place you are familiar

with works better because you feel more at ease and natural. Your comfort will reflect well

in the photos.”

Melissa suggested a place she knew well, a beautiful place with bulbous

boulders and a bubbling little stream. It was a place that she had gone to for years to

meditate and work out the problems her busy mind had a harder time solving in the city.

Every time she went there she thought of nymphs flitting through the trees and precisely

placing the plants and pebbles among them.

They decided for an overcast day for Melissa's complexion, looked at the weather

forecast, and set the date. When Melissa showed up she talked to the photographer for a

few minutes, the woman was a few years older than Melissa and had a costume ready for

her to wear. She had Melissa dress in a short clingy teal silk gown and let loose her hair

ruffling it before posing her among the rocks, along the stream. She felt like a well known

little green clad fairy, and was excited for the photo shoot. While Melissa had changed,

the photographer set her camera up in the spot that she wanted. Her camera looked

ancient the kind where you had to develop your own film. The woman began taking

photos and, Melissa began to feel decidedly wrong.

Every time the woman touched her to re-position her an electric shock passed

between them. Then as the woman would walk away to take the photo every step she

took felt as if she pulled along a string that was attached to Melissa’s gut. Once the

camera snapped the photo, this notional string would disappear and it left Melissa aching

and weak. She felt as if the woman was walking away with bits of her soul and Melissa

was missing them immediately.

As the day progressed she felt more and more weak and felt as though she were

becoming transparent. What was worse, the weaker she felt the more aggressive the

woman with the camera became. Until finally the woman came to Melissa and put her

hand on her shoulder gripping tightly, she chuckled and whispered into Melissa’s ear,

“Goodbye now” Pushing Melissa forcefully down to her knees, the woman

stepped back and snapped a photo of the young woman’s terrified and confused

expression, and Melissa was gone. The woman cackled ominously and walked away from

the now empty meadow. Melissa’s soul captured inside the antique camera the woman

was slave to.

When Melissa came back to consciousness, she had this horrifying feeling of

having her heart torn out and she looked around frantically, feeling paniced and paralyzed

The first thing she realized was that she was not alone.. she couldn’t find anyone though

and from what she could tell, she was in the same meadow she had been when that

woman was taking photos of her. She could hear people though and it sounded like

there were thousands of them, many were screaming, others sobbing, praying, cursing,

pleading, and others were just talking as if out of pure desperation to be heard. It sounded

like it was coming from all sides, every direction Melissa turned she could hear them like

they were right in front of her.

Melissa got up slowly and began to investigate. The first thing she did was pull

out her cell phone which she had stowed in her bra. Nothing, it was completely blank as if

it were dead. She sighed and began to wander around, she seemed to be in the exact

same place, though she could tell there was something significantly off about the area. It

was as if it were too quiet, but there was definitely noise. The gurgling of the stream the

chirping of the birds even the breeze made sound as it blew through the trees. No... It

wasn’t to quiet, it was all the same noise over and over again like a broken record, the

same chirps and tweets of the birds and the same gurgle and glug from the stream. She

walked to the stream and put her hand in the water to see if it would do anything. Her

hand went in but it didn’t change anything, not the sound or even the shape of the

surface. When she pulled her hand out it was dry and there was no evidence that she had

even tried.

It was the same moment repeated to infinity. Her hand went right through weeds

and tree branches, and Melissa assumed it must be the photo, a moment frozen in time.

She began to hike all around her photo, climbing boulders questioning why they had

substance where the trees and weeds did not. She wanted to get higher up to see if there

was anything but the meadow to see. As soon as she reached the top of the waterfall

though she knew it was the same meadow, same boulders, same little stream ,and trees

on all sides forever. She climbed down the rocks and stomped off into the forest to right of

the waterfall and immediately came back through to the left of the waterfall.

Beginning to understand what’s going on she sat down to think. Getting

frustrated would solve nothing she needed to figure this out. She knew she could figure

this out, she loved puzzles and magic stories, this was the perfect combo. First was why

did the boulders have substance and the tree branches not. She thought it could be a

matter of time. The boulders and substrate had been there for thousands of years. Tree

branches and the like couldn't be more than a few decades old, weeds and grasses only

months and weeks in this meadow. If that were the case it would explain the water being

transparent as well. The water was constantly moving meaning there was new water in

each photo.

How about herself how did she get here. “This is a moment standing in time,”

she thought “I was caught in a photo, this is one piece of time ending my existence on the

earthly plain. What happened before this moment?” she remembered how every time the

photographer had touched her to pose her, she had felt that string, that pulling and

thinning of her existence. There had been so many pictures taken, they had started at 8 in

the morning and judging by the amount of sunlight left it seemed that they hadn't

“finished” until close to two in the afternoon. The camera she had been using looked

antique and Melissa thought maybe this was part of the cameras power. The

photographer never changed a roll of film during the whole process though, maybe it was

a digital camera. “Great!” she thought, “an antique, soul-sucking, digital camera.” Thinking

it was even ridiculous how could it even be possible? Melissa shrugged, she had always

been into fairy lore and the weapons and magic that is associated with the fey was

complex and beautiful. If there was a weapon that could transform a book into a walking

conniving evil in Ireland, then why couldn’t a camera possess a host, and capture its

victims by photograph here.

If I’m stuck in a digital camera that would explain why when I walked to the right I

came back through from the left. “My soul was stuck in moments of the past captured in

pixels,” when she thought it she got excited, “I was the last person that was captured

that’s why I can’t go to the right that would be forward.” She leapt to her feet and ran to

the left. If she was on a digital camera that would be the direction of the previous photo!

She made it to the trees running for a moment through the dark wooded forest and when

she came out to the right of the waterfall she saw herself posing in the meadow like a

pixie in her outfit. The Melissa in front of her exhaled with relief and as Melissa inhaled

the girl disappeared in front of her eyes.

Melissa felt stronger immediately; she could tell that she had absorbed the part

of her soul that had been trapped in this image. She began running as fast as she could.

She counted 128 photos before she came across a new photo.

Melissa skidded to a halt when she came into a photo with all new scenery. A

beautiful dark woman sat on a flat-ish boulder in a cove of trees among the scattered lake

rocks with a guitar in her lap. She was breathtaking, one of the fey in her own right. She

looked like she belonged to the trees, an elfin nymph here to bring beauty to her

surroundings. Like Melisa she was dressed in costume, a copper laced tunic and gray silk

tights and dark red brown suede boots, she nearly blended into the scene completely.

Melissa nearly shouted out before she realized the woman was playing a song, it

was soft and melancholy. She wondered if she realized what was happening to them. She

walked to the woman listening to her play the guitar, it was beautiful. When the woman

finally noticed Melissa she stopped playing abruptly. Smiling brightly and hugging her

guitar she laughed out loud before asking playfully,“Well hi there, what are you doing


Melissa couldn’t help but smile back. “Man you would not believe the day that

I’ve just had.” Melissa said sitting down next to the woman.

She laughed even harder nearing hysteria “Ya know, I think I might have a clue” She

shook her head and held her hand out to Melissa “My name is May. How did you get

here? Really?”

Melissa smiled secretively “I figured out the puzzle, we’re stuck in the camera.

The digital camera that the photographer used was able to capture completely a moment

in time allowing it to take bits of that objects soul. Our souls aren’t infinite within our

bodies. Its like my understanding of some indian beliefe systems, where there is a

collective soul/energy of all living and nonliving things. This collective soul is the same

that keeps the trees creating their food and helps the bears and animals know when to

search for food before a long cold winter. For monks who meditate each day to join the

collective soul and lose material meaning (or reach enlightenment) are dedicated and

strive to join that thread of thought through everyday meditation. For your average

ordinary person though there is only so much “soul” contained in each human body. That

“soul” is needed to give us our sense of self or identity. Humans are born knowing of the

collective mind set but are molded into different and individual forms by the events of their

lives. The sense of community or the idea of common sense those ideas tend to come

from the collective, the less someone feels these ideas the thinner their connection to the

collective is. . If you came across something that could capture bits of soul then things

that are more attached to the collective are going to stay grounded much longer than say

a superficial 'digital-world' human would.”

It seemed to May that this could be a very good explanation for how they got

here. It still didn’t explain how Melissa had gotten into her photo and left her with more

questions than answers. “Okay then, that kinda makes sense. My question now is why

would something do that? And how did you actually get here in my photo?”

Melissa took a deep breath. “Well this part is pretty far out there. I believe the

camera is a bit of fey magic. Depending on who in the fey world created it, or owned it

last, would determine how the camera acts in the present. So I’m thinking it’s a bit of evil,

that has transformed over hundreds of years, that has the ability to possess a human

body. Once it’s taken enough of a persons soul that it can fit its magic into the host body,

it walks around looking for victims to feed the magic.”

May looked very deep in thought. “Why capture humans?”

“My theory is, it preys on human souls, because they are much more

independent than the soul of a tree, a fish or even a bear, it comes back to that collective

soul thing. The more attached you are to the collective the harder it is to capture you,

humans are very individualistic and claim their own souls therefore they are easier to

take. It’s easier to pull off an already broken branch verses a branch still solidly attached

to the tree right?” Melissa said and then shivered slightly, “Didn’t you feel weaker every

time the photographer touched you?”

May nodded, “Yea and every time that camera snapped a photo of me I felt sick”

She sucked in air through her teeth before nodding again and saying, “Okay I can

understand all of that. Now how did you get here? And. Can we get out?” May asked


Melissa took a deep breath and gave a noncommittal gesture “Well I walked from

right to left through my photo frame as if I were going backwards through the photos of a

camera. I walked through the pictures that lady took of me and I took my soul back.” she

finished with more confidence.

May stared at Melissa hard and asked, “And that just worked huh?”

Melissa smiled and shrugged her shoulders, “I guess so, I feel pretty whole but

I’m still in the camera here with you. It could take the power of several souls whole to be

able to break out.”

May contemplated. “So you’re saying that if I walk that direction” she said

pointing towards a white picket fence, “until I come across a photo that isn’t mine then my

soul will be complete again?”

“I think so, I ran through 128 photos of myself.”

May stood and stretched her long body. Swinging her guitar behind her back she

looked at Melissa and said “Well then let’s try it out.” She linked arms with Melissa and

squeezed, “You came from that direction right?” she asked Melissa pointing at the forest

behind them.

“That’s correct,” Melissa said nodding, “If we can get you whole, and find some

others to join us, maybe we can free ourselves with the intention of leaving.”

May took a deep breath and mumbled to herself, “Think of it like a digital camera

if I’m stuck in this frame go back or click to the left.” While she was saying this she was

pulling Melissa along by her elbow.

Melissa laughed “Don’t worry so much. It will be very relieving.” They reached

the picket fence. “You should go first May, just in case, I want you to be the one to see

your soul first.” She nodded and climbed over the fence.

“See you in a second” May said sounding excited and nervous.

“I’ll be there,” Melissa said as May disappeared, she waited a few moments

before climbing the fence and joining May. As soon as she came into view of May,

Melissa could tell it had worked exactly as she thought it would. May was pumped and

came running over to hug Melissa, “That was awesome!” She said swinging Melissa


Melissa laughed “I know I ran through my pictures I was so exhilarated, if you

knew me better you would be amazed by my endurance.” She laughed sticking her chin

in the air, “ I counted the whole way too, I told you that already though..”

May laughed as well, “128 right?” May jumped into a runners stance, “I’ll race

ya!” They laughed together and May began running. Melissa laughed again and began

jogging after her. As she climbed over her 128th

picket fence a thought struck her about

the hurdles of life.

May had been able to leap over each picket fence like it wasn’t even there all the

while with a guitar on her back, and she had waited for Melissa to show up in each frame

before she ran and hopped the next fence. It made Melissa wonder about May’s life

outside of the camera. It reminded her of the beautiful music that May had been playing

on her guitar when she had showed up in her frame.

By the time she caught up with May 246 photos later they were still in her photo

of the lake. May was sitting on the boulders again, this time looking very somber.

“Hey,” Melissa said, getting Mays attention

“Hey” May said sounding relieved.

“You done?” Melissa asked.

May nodded with a smile, “yep 245 picket fences later” she looked back out to the lake

and back to Melissa, “Why do you thing I had so many more frames than you did?”

Melissa shrugged and sat down with May. “Hurdles that’s what I thought of, I think it

reflects the depth of your soul.” May scoffed, “My soul has no more depth than yours”

Melissa shrugged again. “How would we know, we don’t know each other, your life could

of required you to reach out to the universe much more than I had to. Maybe that is what

give you depth. Or maybe I wanted my photo taken more than you did. Who really knows


May looked out to the lake again and nodded, “You’re right.”

Melissa took Mays hand in hers, “I definitely think you’re a stronger woman than

me just based off the few moments that I’ve known you. You whooped my butt jumping

those picket fences and at a dead sprint.”

May shook her head, “Speed in a race has nothing to do with strength.” She

sighed and looked out to the lake again, “I have always loved this place it’s just so

beautiful here. Even when we leave the photo I will go back to this place in reality. It

means so much to me, more even after all of this.” Melissa squeezed May's hand gently,

“Could I come with you one day, I’ve never been to such a beautiful beach it looks private

like it belongs to someone like its never been touched by an unloving hand.” They sat

there and stared for a few more minutes.

May stood, “Are you ready for the last hurdle?” Melissa nodded. May helped

Melissa climb the fence and they held hands as they began walking into the next frame.

When they came into the photo they found a gazebo with a lily choked pond surrounding

it. A young woman stood in the gazebo. She was tall and whispy with a parasol facing


“Excuse me?” Melissa called out still holding Mays hand. The woman turned

around and both Melissa and May exclaimed. It was the woman who had taken their

photos. She let out a girlish scream and feinted. They ran to her and tried to rouse her.

Nothing. “How?” May asked Melissa.

“Man I have no idea, maybe she is the last one on the camera, or err the first one

on the camera, at least this time. She must be the one possessed by the camera.”

Melissa’s mind reeled there was so much she didn’t understand about this in general. In

reality she was really just throwing out ideas to make sense of what was happening to

them whether they were true or not made no difference.

The girl came to a few minutes later. By then Melissa and May had come up with

a plan to get her to follow them out. They were going to trick her if they had to, but

hopefully they wouldn’t have to resort to that. They had come up with a signal to go along

if they needed to lie to her about what was going on.

“I’m so sorry, about that” the woman said struggling to sit up in her tight dress,

“My name is Lola. Do you know what happened?”

Melissa tilted her head, “What do you mean?”

Lola flicked her hair behind her shoulder, “Well I was doing a photo shoot with

Ken, He was so beautiful, tan skin light hair and tall enough I had to stand on my tip toes

to kiss him. Do you know where he went?” May looked at Melissa bewildered. Melissa

gave her the signal to go along.

“Ohhh” Melissa exaggerated “Yea I did see him he was going along pretty

quickly, did you scare him?” Lola blushed and dropped her head so that Melissa couldn’t

see her face.

“I promised him that I would be his forever.” When she looked up she had tears

in her eyes. “That’s what he asked for, why would he run when that’s what he asked for?”

May answered before Melissa could think of what to say. “Men never appreciate

what women have to give; they only want what they think they can’t have. Once you gave

it to him he was bored.” Lola let out a small sob.

Melissa took advantage of what May said, “Let’s go find him, we saw him go that

way.” Melissa said pointing the opposite direction of the picket fence they had come from.

Lola looked up hopefully.

May pitched in, “We’ll have to run to catch up to him though.”

Lola sighed, “We’ll never catch him there’s no way I can run in these shoes.”

They all looked at her shoes they were four inch stilettos,

“Wow girl the fact you can walk in those is bewildering,” she shook her head,

“how about you take them off so we can at least make it through the grass.” Lola nodded

and leaned forward to take her shoes off. Once she had them off both May and Melissa

had to help Lola up, gah this woman was helpless, and seemed to have a few loose


They began walking to the left and into Lola’s previous photo, Melissa had just

started panicking about how Lola was going to act when she saw herself in the next photo

when May said out loud “Oh wait Lola you go on ahead, I forgot my guitar back there

when you fell.” Lola nodded and continued forward.

“Holy crap, that was no good I shouldn’t have lied to her, how are we going to get

her to go through all her photos that girl is dumb as the camera were stuck in.” Melissa

said exasperated.

May put her hands on Melissa’s shoulders, “take a deep breath, we will figure it

out, you’re the one who got us this far. We can figure out this crazy woman together,” just

then they heard a high pitched scream, they looked at each other with worry in their eyes,

and ran to the next photo. There was no one there, they kept walking slowly through the

photos one after the last was empty. Until after only five photos they made it to a new

photo, there they found Lola sitting on a ledge to a cliff.

“I don’t know what happened,” Lola said she looked up at Melissa and May, “I

was there and then I wasn’t it was so scary I just kept running until I was out of the

woods.” Melissa and May looked at each other it was hard to tell if they wanted to cry or

burst into hysterics. Somehow Lola had scared herself into doing exactly what she was

supposed to. Now they were here. Where was here?

Lola? Did you see anyone when you finally got here?” May asked,

No, its just me here, I looked all over, there is no where to go. She stood and

started to walk around. “Like seriously what the hell is going on, because there is not a

single direction to go. This cliff goes on forever and i tried to go back to find you and there

was no going back I don’t even know how you got here? I mean we ran through a forest

right? Where did it go?” Melissa and May looked behind them, there was nothing but

boulders, where did the forest go?”

“We must be at the end” Melissa said to May getting excited they were almost

out of here.

“What? What did you say Melissa?” Lola asked

Melissa took a deep breath, “We, all three of us are trapped in a camera, this is

the end of it we finally made it to the beginning of the camera reel if all three of us jump

off that cliff we will be back in our world.”

Lola looked flabbergasted and completely appalled. “Oh my god your psycho, I

can’t believe I listened to a couple of psycho’s.” Lola screamed.

May got angry real quick. “You had better watch what you say, you ditsy little

tart, this woman here is my saving grace and if you don’t want to take part then you had

better just go jump off that cliff before I throw you.”

Lola took a step back, “ You really are crazy aren’t you? You wouldn’t really

throw me off would you??” Melissa noticed Lola took another step back, as if trying to get

distance from them, and hadn’t realized just how close she was to the edge.

Melissa took action and joined May at playing the bad guy, “If that’s what we

have to do to get out of here I will personally throw you off that cliff and out of this world;

because I will get out of this camera with or without you.” Melissa took a deliberate step

towards Lola and she took a reflexive step back with a appalled look. Her heel didn’t

touch the cliff and she lost balance and fell over the edge with a scream. May looked at

Melissa gaping “Oh crap. I guess she stepped off the edge herself.” May said with a


Melissa and May knew that they had practically pushed her over the edge, but what else

could they have done? One soul for two. They stepped up to the cliff and could see

nothing below except the clouds touching the side of the rock face miles below. Melissa

grabbed May’s hand.

“Are you ready May?” She asked May looking into her eyes for any


“Are you ready Melissa?” May asked back squeezing Melissa’s hand. Melissa

pulled May into her arms and kissed her before she lost all nerve.

“May I’m glad I met you on this adventure without you I don’t think I would have

made it. If we step off this cliff and wake up in different places it was truly an honor

meeting you here.”

May laughed out, her head falling back to let the bellows out. “Are you kidding me?” If I

weren’t here? Ha! Melissa if it weren’t for you I would still be sitting at that lake

contemplating my life’s ending for the rest of eternity. You are truly my hero! And I will

always appreciate everything we went through today.” May pulled Melissa in for another

hug. This time she whispered in Melissa’s ear “Are you ready?” Melissa nodded against

May, squeezing her tightly. May tilted their bodies towards the edge of the cliff so that

they were diving together over the cliff. They held each other tight until they couldn’t feel


When Melissa reappeared she was laying on the ground with her eyes closed.

She could tell it was real earth the warmth and feel of it was just enough for one hot

simple tear to spill out the side of her closed eye. When she opened her eyes May was

sitting up with her legs crossed with a cracked camera in her lap. They were in a forested

area that Melissa thought she recognized.

Melissa sat up slowly. “Did Lola make it?”

May shrugged “I have a feeling she didn't, when I woke up there was no one else

here.” Melissa shook her head; it was like it was all a dream, how did they even get out,

where were they now?

May interrupted Melissa's brooding, “I watched your soul float out of the camera

Melissa. I watched this beautiful blue, green, purple, golden, “thing” float from the camera

in my hands and then I watched it solidify and take form. I could see your soul take the

shape of you and fill you with life. It was crazy, straight from a dream sorta stuff.” she

stared at Melissa for a second before looking abruptly away.

May took a deep breath, “What do we do now? Do you have any idea where we

might be?” Melissa looked at her phone and laughed out loud. It was back on, glowing its

usual glow, and it showed a time of 4:23 on the same day she was caught by the camera.

“What?” May asked.

“Were in the same forest that I was captured in.” Melissa said, she hopped up in

the air with excitement. “I was only in that camera for about two hours.”

May scoffed, “Well color me jealous, so do you know how to get out of here

then?” Melissa closed her eyes and listened. Her heart skipped a beat when she heard

the stream gurgling to her right. She laughed out loud and pulled May in for a hug. “She

was walking the wrong direction, she was about two miles south of the waterfall.” Melissa

grabbed May's hand and guided her through the forest to the stream. at this point in the

stream it was closer to a river which helped Melissa judge how far they were from her

home. When the river came in sight Melissa jumped again and did a little dance. “Thank

God that I have lived on the edge of this forest my whole life I know it pretty darn well.”

She was still guiding May to a little foot path that followed along the river. “I've actually

been maintaining this path since I was little walking along to his favorite fishing spot

further down.” May smiled brightly it actually seemed like they were legitimately safe.

Then she remembered the camera in the hand Melissa wasn't holding and paused on the


“I hate to be a party pooper, but what about the camera.” Melissa made a face.

“I forgot about the camera. I noticed it cracked, maybe we should just finish off

the job and break it into pieces.”

May nodded vehemently. “I think that is a great idea. How do you suggest we do


Melissa shrugged and began walking the trail again, “Um I'm not sure, the

boulder field that I was captured in has a variety of rocks to choose from. The only

concern I have is, will that really work?”

May chuckled darkly “For real, should we really believe that a rock can destroy

the evil object that has captured countless souls?”

“We'll never know until we try right?” May shrugged this time.

“I guess so. I think it should work the boulders were the only thing in my picture

that had substance. So maybe they have something to do with the camera's weakness.”

Melissa turned around so abruptly that it startled May.

“High five,” Melissa said holding her hand up to May. May laughed at the

randomness of the comment, and slapped her hand against Melissa's. “That was a

brilliant link. I'm glad you said that because now I am sure that one of those rocks will

smash that stupid camera to bits!”

When they got to the clearing May could see why this was the place Melissa had

chosen for her photo shoot. It was a gorgeous setting and she looked perfect in it. It was

definitely her environment she looked at ease and happy climbing among the boulders.

Melissa started scouting around for a boulder large enough to smash the camera and

small enough to hold. May decided to venture around to find a good surface to for their

destructive mission. The boulder May found was large enough for both of them to sit on

with room to bust the camera up. It was along a cove of rocks to the right of the stream.

The boulder Melissa found was so big that she needed to carry with both hands. Melissa

joined May on the boulder with her rock and they decided they would hold Melissa's rock

together, put the camera on the boulder they were sitting on, and smash the rocks against

each other.

When the rocks crashed together they could feel the camera crumble beneath

the rock in their hands. Immediately May and Melissa were surrounded by blue red and

yellow tiny flames. The frames of peoples souls coming together and flying home to their

gods. Melissa stood mystified with one hand covering her open mouth and tears

streaming down her face.

May stepped up to her side and took her hand and squeezed gently. “I would

have been one of those trapped souls without you.” She kissed Melissa's tear streaked


Melissa grabbed May close and sobbed, “I'm so glad we made it together.

Without you I never would have been able to make it. If it had only been people like Lola

who were only concerned with their images then I would be stuck behind those people

screaming to be free. I'm lucky to have found a friend in the dark.”

The End.