The Photographer’s Tale
by Daniel Mills
‘Shall we proceed?’ asked Arthur.
‘Of course,’ said Lowell, nodding. He had already prepared the collodion mixture and adjusted the lens. All that remained was to open the shutter. Taking up the flash box, he slipped his head under the cover and placed his eye against the viewfinder.
The powder vanished from Mrs. Whateley’s brow. In its place he noted the swelling of an under-skin bruise. As Lowell watched, horrified, the colors deepened and spread, leaching through flesh and tissue to collect in a series of purple bruises down the woman’s neck, creating the imprint of a man’s hand around her throat.
Lowell’s stomach clenched. The air left his lungs, and he gasped for breath that would not come. She looked up at him then — perhaps only to wonder what was taking so long — and in her eyes he saw a silent suffering, such as he had once glimpsed in the eyes of another, and all at once, he understood everything.
Whateley had come to him seeking concealment. Like many clients, he wanted an image of false happiness, another mask for the violence and cruelty they both strove to hide — he with his airs and false benevolence and she with her daubs and powders. Mrs. Whateley gazed back at Lowell through the viewfinder, her eyes bloodshot, sightless.
He swallowed. ‘I’m—sorry,’ he said and withdrew from the hood. He stepped backward from the camera. ‘But I cannot go through with it.’
About the Author
Daniel Mills is the author of the novels Moriah (2017) and Revenants (2011) and of the 2014 collection The Lord Came at Twilight. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. He lives in Vermont.
About the Narrator
George Cleveland lives in Tamworth, NH where he cares for cats with Attention Deficit Disorder. He is the Executive Director of the Gibson Center for Senior Services in North Conway. For many years, George was known as The Voice of the Valley on New Hampshire radio, where he conducted over 3500 interviews with newsmakers from all parts of the world – George has spoken with most major Presidential candidates, a representative of an interplanetary confederation and many noted authors and musicians. An avid collector of tales and legends, he sniffs out new hauntings and reports of long lost treasure. He has frequently written on people and places of interest, including musicians and artists and has appeared before numerous historical and school groups in the United States and Hawai’i speaking about his grandfather, former President Grover Cleveland. He was featured on C-SPAN’s ‘American Presidents’ series when they broadcast from Cleveland’s birthplace in Caldwell, New Jersey.