An edited and improved version of this story is now available for purchase as part of the ‘Prophecies of the Drowned Oracle’ collection.
Prompt by u/Xedro:
Bad things always happen to people you photograph. You’re torn between treating this as a curse or exploiting it as a gift.
It was such a ridiculous ‘power’ that it took Lynn far too long to figure it out. As a child, being on vacation and playing with the camera didn’t seem at all related to the various disasters that hit her and her family. Who would ever come to the conclusion that taking a family photo was the thing that led to their car being stolen? That taking a funny picture of her brother was what caused his Nintendo-DS to fall and break. That the pictures she took of her cat is what lead to his disappearance.
Bad things happened to the people she photographed. It wasn’t until the first death that she started to suspect… But even then she convinced herself it was a coincidence, her teacher had been quite old after all. Three more people lost their lives before Lynn accepted the truth.
She held no regrets for her old high-school German teacher. He’d made her life a living hell for the three years she had his class. Did he deserve to die in the way he had? Maybe not, but she didn’t feel bad about it. If he hadn’t died when he did, she would have been subjected to two more years of his class. She doubted she would have survived that.
She did feel bad about the homeless man she used to pass on her way back to school. He always creeped her out with his mumbling, especially if classes ran late and it was dark by the time she passed him. He needed help, he didn’t need to die.
Did she feel bad about the boy who bullied her for years? Not really.
When thinking back on it all years later, she could see the pattern. She could see that as she grew older, the things she caused grew worse. That if she disliked the person she captured, they experienced a worse fate.
But while hatred made the fate of the ones she photographed worse, a lack of hate wouldn’t save them. Not even love could save her brother from her curse.
His death was what finally forced her to accept the truth. She threw away her expensive camera and taped over the lenses on her phone. During, and even long after, the funeral she often looked at the little sticker covering the inner lens of her phone. What would happen if she took a selfie?
She never gathered up the nerve to actually try it.
As time passed, the fear her brother’s death instilled in her waned the slightest bit. She loved photography and had been planning to go to college to major in it. As long as she just didn’t take pictures of people everything would be fine, right? She didn’t have to give up her dream.
So that’s how the stickers came off the outer camera again. How her Instagram started to fill with pictures of nature and buildings.
She never checked the news. Never saw the mysterious deaths of the people accidentally captured in the background.