THE PHOTO TRAVELER

By Arthur Gonzalez All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Scifi

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

I’ve been thinking a lot about the picture that was left behind for Bud and Estelle. Who’d leave a picture of the vials behind for them? I need to figure it out. I messed up majorly in the Trials, finding this could help me redeem myself. I can figure out who’s behind it, and maybe put an end to it once and for all. All I have to do is find the photo.

Once I’m sure that Bud and Estelle are out, I tiptoe down the stairs and into the kitchen. I search through all the cabinets, under the couch cushions, behind frames. So far it’s nowhere to be seen. If it’s not in the house, then there’s probably one other place it’d be.

I creek the door open, gently so not to make a noise. The full moon eyes me in solitude, against the blanket of stars. I pull off the faux patch of grass and lift the basement door.

My nerves rattle and my heart thrums in my ears. I descend into the area, pulling on the chain for the light—which is not going to be much help when searching through all the packed boxes. I go one by one, sorting through storage and various items they’ve packed away in preparation for the move.

I walk over to the brick. Which one was the loose one? I feel around until my one of the bricks barely shifts under my palm. I pull it free and almost instantly the violet lights seeps from the brick’s edges. I grab the stone box and lift the cover, stealing a quick glimpse of the vials. But the light is too bright and I close it abruptly. Luckily, though, the light against the wall, filling the hole with light, and sending a spotlight over the photo that was resting just beneath the box.

I grab the photo, replacing it with the box. Like Bud and Estelle explained, it’s nothing more than a photo of two similar vials. The only difference, is that it looks like it’s night time… Bud mentioned it was daytime.

I don’t waste any time. “To this time, allow my travel. Take me there, let time unravel.”

It’s definitely night time. Also, the building doesn’t look abandoned like Bud and Estelle described. The balconies are peppered with lively plants, and a pair of white pants hangs over one of the balconies. From where I stand I can see the bright fluid shining on the footsteps.

I know that something’s been altered. My travels, even the small changes I’ve made, have somehow had some ripple effect on even these small details—which is tripping me out right now.

I search around me, but I don’t see any signs of anyone. I wait behind a bench on the opposite side of the street. Fifteen minutes slide by without a peep. Maybe I changed more than I know. Maybe no one is around. I walk up to the footsteps and reach for the camera. Some cheap digital camera. I scroll through the pictures, but there’s nothing besides the picture of the vials. So sign of who the owner could be.

I reach down to grab the vials. I hear a loud grunt and then something strikes me against the back of my head.

I don’t know how long I’ve been out, but when I wake up the vials and camera are gone. The back of my heads throbs and my arm is scraped from hitting the ground. Someone hit me. I look around I’m out of here. “Take me home to what is mine. Back to the present, back to my time.”

As soon as my feet are back on the basement floor, I shove the photo back its place, and cover it with the brick. I sprint up the steps, gather the grass over the door, and hurry inside.

I shut the door and the lights turn on.

“Gavin?” Estelle calls from the top of the stairs.

“Oh—hey. Did I wake you?”

“You scared the crap out of me. What’re you doing up so late? Why were you outside?”

“Walk. Couldn’t sleep. I need some fresh air.” I hurry up the stairs.

“Well, be careful. It’s late out.”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare ya.”

I give her a kiss on the cheek and scurry to my room, massaging the back of my head.

Someone saw me tonight—but who?

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