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Welcome to the official blog of horror, thriller and suspense author Todd Russell. He's written under various pen names including the name of this website, taken from AOL in the mid 1990s where he posted numerous twist ending short stories, six of which can be found in the horror short story collection Mental Shrillness. For Halloween 2011, he shared 13+ new stories in a collection called . His debut novel is now available in paperback and eBook.
|Read "Polaroid Pain"
Date Published: 2011-07-07 22:14:20
Summary: Read "Polaroid Pain" 633 words flash fiction horror story by Todd Russell. Previously published at AOL in 1996 and again at Indie Horror in April 2011.
by Todd Russell
Cameraman's booth perfectly netted Stephanie into its silky web.
Cameraman, himself, bore black holes where his teeth might have been, wore a scraggly mane of black hair and smelled as pungent as rancid socks. His booth, by contrast, held the most startling array of mountains, sea settings, icy storms and soaring sky views. Steph just had to stop by and finger his works.
"I can tell from your affection." Cameraman said, his voice brittle and low. "That you belong in my special collection."
She looked up, mildly disturbed, "No thank you."
He withdrew a photo album and opened it in front of her. "These are my fondest memories."
The pictures he showed her sucked. They were nameless, amateurish Polaroid shots of chairs, books, walls, doors. Steph's dog could take pictures this good. She smiled politely and walked away from the mall booth. Cameraman's awry voice called after her, "My collection needs you!"
That night Steph sat by the fire sipping a glass of wine, reading the newspaper when she came across the headline, GONE. It was a story about a family in Fairview, California that one day disappeared. Like that eerie Twilight Zone episode "Where is Everybody?" where the guy walks around and can't find any people.
Fairview, she thought, about fifty miles south from her town. It chilled her thinking about a town waking up one morning and finding one family GONE. Not some silly, stupid April Fool's joke, just ... gone.
The doorbell rang and Sheba, her black doberman starting growling. She patted Sheba, put her glass of wine down and went to the door, looking through the eye hole.
In the porch light was the face of Cameraman, Polaroid camera in hand. The wind waned as he smiled, showing his rotting, ebony mouth.
"Oh my...what are you doing here?" she said from behind the door.
"I followed you, my collection beckons." And he raised the Polaroid camera. "I want to capture your beauty!"
She dead bolted the door and ran to the phone. She picked up the phone and heard nothing. Her pulse ramped up, she went to the window and looked at the pole outside.
Gone. As if it had never been there.
Suddenly Steph saw a white flash and heard the pzttttttzzzzzzz sound of a Polaroid camera. The sound of outside loudened. Steph went to the hallway and Cameraman stood in the doorway. The door was...gone.
Cameraman shook the white photo and walked toward her with camera in hand. "My collection," he said and the rancid smell made the nausea rise in her throat.
She turned and Sheba was growling so loudly that spittle was flying from her teeth. Sheba lunged at Camerman's leg, ripping into his flesh. Cameraman yowled in pain, dropped the photo and steadied the Polaroid at Sheba and pzttttttzzzzzz! Sheba disappeared except for her teeth lodged in Camerman's flesh. He yanked Sheba's teeth out and came staggering toward Steph, raising the Polaroid.
"NO!" Steph screamed, backpedaling and then lunged forward to try and knock the camera out of his hands.
They struggled as the wind whipped inside, then a flash of light and pzzttttttzzzz-
"Yep, Sergeant, looks just like Fairview." Detective Jones shook his head as he examined the dried blood and the Polaroid shot. The faces of the couple embracing, their beauty captured together for the last time.
Sergeant Walker picked up the camera laying on the floor and examined it for a second.
"There's still some film in this thing," Walker said, staring deep into the lens. "Not a shred of evidence except for this dried blood and dog's teeth. Weird."
"Not a shred," Detective Jones echoed as he saw the white flash and heard the accidental sound of pzzzttttzzzzzz!
And then the onlookers began to scream.
Enjoy the story? You can read more short horror fiction by Todd Russell in Mental Shrillness a collection of six twist ending horror short stories. Available in paperback or ebook in various e-formats. Todd Russell's debut psychological thriller/horror Fresh Flesh will be published in Summer/Fall 2011.
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WIP (Works In Progress)
Novella #1 (1st draft)
NOVEL: Pain Plane (final)
NOVEL: Fresh Fetus (1st draft)