October is a good excuse to let the spooky side of your imagination have freer range than usual. Writing prompts at group this week offered a perfect jumping off point too–this rather creepy family portrait!
I’ve always found the whole Portrait of Dorian Grey thing rather fascinating, so here’s my attempt to play with that photos-capture-your-soul concept, featuring a very modern lad with a very old problem:
Casey stared at the daguerreotype in his hands in the kind of horror and fascination usually only experienced by people watching trains pitch off of bridges in disaster movies. “No way!” he insisted, fully aware he’d said that at least twice before, but unable to stop himself. “That absolutely cannot be me.”
“It’s the photo that was in your file at the orphanage,” the detective –what was her name, Kerrigan?–said, way gentler than any cop in a procedural ever did. “Casey Abbot Harrington, born 1869. Age four at the time this image was taken. There are records of you–aging, and forgetting, every time you hit your fifteenth birthday, and then you revert to the age you are in this photo.”
“And–are those my parents? They’re…like zombies.”
Detective Kerrigan’s face twisted like a Tim Burton jack-o-lantern. “We’re investigating the possibility that they were practicing some kind of magic,” she admitted. “Or possibly were being practiced upon by someone else. It would help explain how they look compared to you, if someone were drawing on them.”
Casey couldn’t let himself follow that line of thought too far–movie creepy was awesome, real life creepy mimicking movie creepy made him sick to his stomach.
“And what about me? I just turned fourteen a week ago. Do I only have a year to live?”
“We don’t know for sure. There have been a lot of advances in forensic magic in the last decade, there may be some treatments we can try that weren’t available last time around. And some spells do wear out, you know.”
“Why would I know that?!” Casey yelped. “None of this was real until you fished me out of that quarry two days ago!”
Kerrigan closed the folder and put her hand over it so that Casey’s view of his really horrific baby hairdo was inaccessible, thank the gods. “We’re here to help, Casey, just have a little faith.” She stood and headed to the door, pausing with her hand on the handle. “You just hang tight, okay, and I’ll see if they can send you up some lunch.”
“I’ve lost my appetite,” he grumbled, but pulled the tray table up to his waist anyway as the detective closed the door behind her. Her voice echoed in his head and shifted to something more familiar but no more comforting as it filled in the phrase that Casey shouldn’t know, but somehow did:
Some spells do wear out, you know–but curses never do.