This short story was written as part of my CampNaNoWriMo April 2020 project, "Mallory's Botanical Emporium." Please do read, comment, and enjoy!
I inhaled the early morning air and reached up towards the fading stars. There was a stillness in the time before the sun crested the horizon. Like the world dreamed while I was the only person awake to seize this moment.
I wouldn’t wake up this early, but it was for a good cause. A paramount necessity.
I smiled, readying my Polaroid to take another shot of the encroaching dawn. My feet hooked into the gargoyle of the clock tower roof as an anchor.
The clock tower was the highest point of the entire of Halwood. It had the perfect vantage point to photograph the dawn over the sleeping town.
It was also the perfect time to climb it to avoid trouble with Sheriff Nealy.
CLICK CLICK… churr…
I took the printed photo and placed the Polaroid back in my bag.
I’m sure there are building codes that prevent any buildings to be taller than it. I looked down at my feet hanging over the edge. …also sure it’s because the town council refuses to move past old-as-time traditions.
Hearing their voices become more frantic, I waved to my friends with the developing photo in hand, motioning that I would start descending the tower in a moment. It would be perfect to give these photos to our fellow high school graduates during the graduation speech.
…and Nealy would be around sooner rather than later, if my experience with the law rang true.
Air tunneled around me. I lost my balance for a moment.
‘That was close…’
I grabbed hold of the gargoyle and tried to catch my breath. The last photo of my Polaroid session flew away on the wind.
A rumbling grew underneath me and my friends below cried out in alarm as they ran away.
Everything was shaking.
Shit…I had to jinx it…How to get down now…
The shaking got worse and more distorted shouts made it to my ears. Faint footfalls rushed towards the base of the clock tower.
I held on to the grotesque gargoyle for dear life, eyes clench closed.
Shit… shit shit shi-
For a moment, I was weightless. I felt the morning sun hitting my face. The air stilled.
Then I fell.
I knew I wouldn’t survive this fall. I heard the screaming, shouting, crying.
I didn’t even get the chance to graduate…
WHOOSH! whoosh! Whoosh!
I felt something catch me as the winds howled around me.
But in an instant, it vanished.
And my butt was on the ground.
I cracked open my eyes and saw the clock tower collapsing. It was sinking into the ground.
Heavy footsteps approached. They stopped next to me.
“What all the nonsense?” the gruff town sheriff Nealy boomed. “You okay sonny?”
I looked up at him as he knelt in front of me. “I think…the wind saved me?”
With a strange look in his eye, Nealy quickly shuffled me off to paramedics. I let the EMTs do what they wish, still staring at the sinking tower.
A blink later and I had a blanket over my shoulders, sitting in back of the van. The sun had risen, and I could hear someone trying to get a hold of my parents.
I tried to focus on the warm sun hitting my face, but everything was just out of reach.
…which is probably why I didn’t notice there were feet in front of me that weren’t my own.
“…I believe you dropped this.” I lifted my head to see an elderly man, Mr. Mallory, handing me a Polaroid photo.
It was the sunrise with a few birds flying towards the pink horizon. Or it looked like birds at first. Those things with wings were definitely not birds.
It confused me. “But sir this doesn’t–“
When I turned to him, he wasn’t there.
I had an unexplained photo and Mr. Mallory disappearing in the space of a blink.
…maybe I should ask my folks for therapy after all of this.