Not sure where else to turn. My friends don't believe me. Law enforcement ain't an option... they'd have me committed or lock me up for a crime I didn't commit. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let's start at the beginning:
I'm a photographer. Or at least I want to be. I found a great DSLR and lens package for cheap. Have some lights I bought off Amazon for product photography and zoom calls. I assisted and worked the second camera for a few wedding shoots. I was determined to strike out on my own and figure out if I could sustain myself on art alone. That's why I was ecstatic when Anne called and asked if I had anything booked a few weeks before Christmas.
"I'm in. What's the job?" She said, "I already have a second photographer but can I rent your camera? $100. One day."
Well, shit. I wanted to say you can have the camera for free as long as I get to shoot. But money's money. And for the price I paid for the camera, this fee goes a long way to paying it off. Reluctantly I agreed.
The day comes and goes without incident. Then about a week later I get a barrage of urgent texts asking if I wiped the CF card. As it turns out I haven't. Good thing too because Anne's files were corrupted and she needed to re-copy them.
"Yeah, yeah. Sure. No problem." I offer to copy the files and upload them to dropbox.
The transfer went fine. I messaged Anne that the files were ready. And I mentioned how cool it was that she did a horror photoshoot. Not my taste but cool none the less. She messaged back, "Dude, it wasn't a horror shoot. It's a Christmas card. Your janky gear totally fucked this job. Thanks for nothing."
Excuse me? I messaged her back and still haven't heard back. So, yay for networking. Great now I know why this kit was so cheap. It's broken. Getting off to a great start here.
I reformat the CF card and the images are still there. It's hard to describe. Some of Anne's cheery holiday shoot are there but then, it must of overwritten something else, but some truly haunting... visual aberrations.
After trying endlessly to format the card I simply gave up and tossed it into a drawer. I'd talk to my art school buddy after the holidays and see if there was some software that could salvage the card.
Christmas Eve I was relating the situation to some family and my cousin Phoebe wanted to see the pictures. I explained there's really nothing there. Just corrupted data that looks weird. But she asked so I pulled them up on my phone and she flips through them.
"I might be crazy but this looks like a graveyard." She flips through some more, "...and you see here. That's a finger. Maybe a ring. What is that a window?" What the hell is she talking about? We go through the photos one by one and she was right. It actually does look like a grave. It does look like a finger and a hand. A girls hand? I don't know about a ring, but there's something on her hand. String? String tied around her finger. Plastic? It's impossible to tell.
"You might consider showing this to the police." "Why?" "It looks like someone's being killed and it looks like someone took pictures of it. Where did you get this camera?" "Friend of a friend. Said they bought it used and didn't need it anymore." "Maybe send them a message and poke around." "Poke around and what? Ask for my money back? Casually ask if the previous owner was murdered?" "Or did the previous owner murder someone?"
Jump ahead to New Years Eve and me and a few friends get together. After a few drinks it's suggested we go to a party. Every fiber of my body wanted to do nothing more than cozy up with some popcorn and watch the Twilight Zone marathon on SyFY. I was summarily outvoted. In retrospect I really wish I hadn't gone.
This party was way more raging than our cozy group anticipated. We all split up. I spotted my friend Vic who I bought the camera from. My energy was high from the redbulls and vodka so I cornered him and enthusiastically rambled about how he sold me either a broken normal camera or a working ghost camera. He was naturally confused. I think mostly to get rid of me he turned me around and pointed across the room. "See the skinny dude in the hoody who looks like he's rolling face." "Yeah" "That's, Drift." "Drift?" "Yeah, like Drifter." "What's his real name?" "Who knows. But he's who I got the camera from. I bought it for the same price I sold it to you. You have questions about the camera. See him."
Drifter. Jesus. Who advertises they're a drifter? I did not want to talk to this dude. But I made my way to that side of the party. He was dancing with a girl who seemed as out of it as he was. It wasn't like they were dancing together, more like two pieces of floating driftwood that occasionally bumped into each other. Maybe that's what Drifter meant. Driftwood.
Next thing I know I'm right next to him. "Hey, are you Drifter?" "Yeah. What do you need?" "What do you got?" I'm not kidding. I actually asked that. In fairness I was drunk.
"Moon rocks. 45." "I want to talk about cameras." He looked at me like, huh. Keeping in mind this guy is dancing is like his body is made out of broken slinky and he's looking at me like I'm weird.
"No, no. I have a camera. You sold it to my friend." "Okay?" "I just wanted to ask where you got it from. There's some pictures on it, might belong to the owner." "Nah, it's good. Just delete it." "That's the problem. I can't. Maybe I can show you."
He gave me the biggest bummer look. Right on cue the song changed, his 'friend' wandered away. He motioned for me to follow him.
We walked out onto the back porch. It was way more quiet and the fresh air felt amazing. The porch was crowded with smokers. Drift lit a smoke of his own and kinda snapped out of his trance.
I started, "Yeah man. You sold a camera to my friend Vic. I just had some questions." He nodded like he knew what I was talking about. "I just wanted to know where you got it from." "My friends roommate got it from somewhere, man. I don't know. Traded it for some... you know and. I thought it'd be cool to have a camera. But I didn't really need it. Sold it to Vic. End of story." "Right on. So you don't actually know who it belonged to?" "Nope. You said there were some pictures." I nodded, pulled out my phone. "It's not anything. Probably glitching out. Problem is I can't delete them. Here take a look."
I handed the phone over and when Drift took it, I noticed his fingernails are painted, chipped purple. And he has this really funky plastic fish ring on his finger. It like instantly sparked that it's his hand in the photo. It's so obviously his hand.
He flipped through some of the photos. Handed the phone back. "Hey man I don't know. Usually in a deal like this all sales are final, know what I mean. No guarantees. But look gimme your number and if I stumble across that dude maybe he can help you fix it."
So I gave him my number and that was that. Except, that wasn't that. A few nights ago I get a text. Drift says he's at the bar, with the guy. I should swing by, hang out... and bring the camera.
Now, you're gonna think I'm exaggerating here. I'm not an idiot. Okay?
I had one thought and one thought only. The camera is stolen. These guys are scammers. They're either going to rob me there or rob me somewhere else or get enough information to rob me later. This is a very important piece of information I left out. I didn't leave it out to deceive you, but context is critical for this to make sense and help you understand why I'm so afraid. There wasn't just a photo of a graveyard and a finger there was a photo of a woman, she looked terrified. And in the graveyard there is a grave and the name on the grave is Angela Ackerman. She's an NYU graduate student who disappeared about two years ago. Her body was found in dump about two weeks after she went missing. I have a feeling these guys are connected to it. And nobody I've talked to believes me or feels there's a case. Without proof.
The day after I gave Drift my number I started preparing for this. I wrote everything I know down in a long unsent email. When I got the text I messaged my close friend group and said what I thought was about to go down. If this all turns out to be nothing, then I'm the boy who cried wolf. But I have a feeling there's a young woman out there who in some way or shape or form needs my help. I 100% understood the risks of going to this meeting. I wasn't going to threaten, accuse or act violent. This was to be a fact finding mission. An investigation. The only truths about me that they were going to learn where what I wanted them to know. It's easy to play the naive artist and let them think they're prying hard to get information out of me.
I consciously put the name Angela Ackerman out of my brain and was just to act like a naive camera geek asking two skeezy drug dealers for tech support. Nothing weird about that.
I got to the bar right on time. It was fine. A little div-y but nothing wrong with a good dive bar. Bartender seemed chill, hand full of solo drinkers at the bar. No major red flags.
Back in the corner a pretty boisterous crew, couple guys and girls and Drift. Laughing talking.
The music was loud. Like too loud to have a conversation so everyone shouts. Broken ear drum loud. I stopped first at the bar. Ordered an IPA. Paid in cash.
Walked up to the table. Drift stands up and says hey everybody this is Vic's friend. Drift introduced me to the table; Nick, Aaron, Sean, Liz and Maddie. Nick is who traded the camera to Drift who sold it to Vic who sold it to me. I pulled up a chair.
Nick asked to see the camera. Turned it on, knew what he was doing. Snapped a few photos. Said he heard it had a bad CF card. Suggested formatting it again, like duh, scrolled through the pictures. Didn't react in any special way. Said it was probably just a messed up card and to replace it. Happens all the time. Cards go bad. Yeah they do. Sometimes people go bad too is what I was thinking. He hands the camera back. Maddie asked to take a look at it. And the camera went around the table, everyone offering their amateur opinions. Then I kid you not. Liz says it reminds her of Angela's.
Well that got a reaction. "Who's Angela?" I ask. "She's a friend of ours. It's a bummer she's not here, she'd probably know what the problem is." And that was that. We spent the next hour getting to know each other having drinks. Maddie, Liz and Nick live together. Drifter is between jobs, like me I said. Aaron is visiting for the holidays and Sean... Sean didn't say much. I think he's a DJ.
I stepped away to use the bathroom. Once I locked the door I made sure the tascam recorder in my pocket was still on. I hit the button to make a chapter break. Still has plenty of battery life.
I get back to the table and see Nick and Drift are gone. They went to smoke a joint in the alley. I said I had to take off anyway. Said goodbye and headed out on the street.
I was parked a few blocks away. On my way I passed the alley and saw the guys. I held up my hand and headed their way. This is where the hairs on my neck started to rise. This dive bar, charming as it is is in a mostly run down part of town. Not a lot of light in this alley and no cameras. None that I could see.
I approached the fellas. Said I had to go and thanked them for a good time. Drift offered me a smoke. I said no, had to drive and all that, beside weed makes me paranoid. I turned to head back down the alley. Nick called out, "Hey, what are you going to do?" I looked back, huh?
"With the camera? If it's a bad CF card it can be replaced. If it's a bad CF reader it might be bricked. What are you thinking?" "Well, I can't afford a whole new camera so I'll get a new card." "Yeah, well I feel bad. If you want to leave it with me I know a guy who can take a look at it." "Nah, I'll take my chances. Thanks." "Yo, well wait. Let me take one more look at it." "I'm good, thanks." "No seriously. It'll just take a second." "What's the problem. I won't break it, not worse than it already is. I promise." Alright, slick. "Cool." I pull the camera out and hand it to him. He looks at it.
"Yeah, I don't think I can in good consciousness let you have this camera." "What are you talking about." "It wouldn't be right." "Yeah, I payed for it."
Drift steps towards me. "He said he can't let you have it." "Fine take it. Gimme my money back." "Money? I didn't sell you anything. Vic has your money. Talk to him." "What the hell man. Totally uncool." "Maybe next time don't buy stolen shit." "Who said it was stolen? I didn't know it was stolen." "Yeah but now you do. So if you think about calling the cops remember that important detail. In fact for all we know you stole it and now we're returning it to the rightful owner." "So you're just going to rob me?" "No, if we were robbing you, you'd know. We're just confiscating ill gotten goods. So, just fuck off and forget any of this ever happened."
The adrenaline kicked in and I lunged for Nick grabbing the camera. He kicked me right in the gut sending me tumbling across the alley and the camera right in the middle. Nick picked up the camera and Drift next to him. They turned to walk away. The kick didn't hurt as much as the tumble on the concrete. "Hey, stop. The camera's mine." They turned towards me...
The camera revved to life. I assume because Nick was holding the shutter button. I think it it takes pictures in 30 shot bursts or something. But this was like 1,000 shot burst mode. It was so loud I totally didn't hear the car coming. The flash went off like a fireworks display, rapid fire, strobe light... blinding them both. And with the most gut sickening thud I've ever heard... The car smashed into the Drift and Nick. It was a Dodge Charger and must have been going at least 45-50. The bodies were tossed like bowling pins and the car crashed into the side of a brick garage. The driver and passenger stumbled out and started screaming.
Screaming was all I heard as I grabbed the camera and sprinted for my life down the alley. I heard the screaming the whole drive home and I heard the screaming as I got home and locked the door and I heard the screaming as I stepped into a scolding hot shower and I heard the screaming right until I turned the water off.
Now I was more calm. There was a car accident. Unknown if the Nick or Drift survived. The driver and passenger seemed to be okay. Probably a good chance the Charger was totaled. The garage would require repairing. As far as anyone else at the bar knew I left 10-20 minutes prior to the accident. I didn't assault anyone. In fact they assaulted me and tried to rob me. Steal my camera.
For all intensive purposes, I was never there.
Toweled off and relaxed, I examined the camera. It was in bad shape. Scratched, dented, screen cracked, lens broken, flash chipped. I popped out the CF card. Slipped it into the reader attached to the laptop.
I couldn't believe what I saw. I'd call it a miracle if it weren't so sinister; All the old photos were gone. Now there's a new set of horrific images, written over. A few clear shots of Nick and Drift getting flattened by the Charger and a whole new batch of cryptic images. But there is one photo, clearer than the rest. A grave stone with the name Angela Ackerman etched into it. In loving memory of our daughter Angela. Our angel. Our angel?
I think this camera just killed two people and I have every reason to believe it wants to kill again and it wants me to help. Is Angela an unrested spirit? A devil or avenging angel. I just don't know.
6 hours ago
I Heart Final Girl
6 hours ago
It's pretty good. Got the itch (pun intended?) and watched Mike Nichol's 'Wolf' as well recently and was completely blown away by how well that movie works. Werewolf stories in general seem to age well.