Fluttering about like the flight of a butterfly as it gently descended downward above the sidewalk of what once was part of a busting metro area walkway, the photograph finally came to rest. Remaining still only momentarily until the breeze swept it up only to land again just a few feet away, where it would lay until another breeze came along to loft it up into the air. It held within itself the captured moment of a camera click, stored forever in the memories of those individuals in the photo, and the person who looked through the viewfinder to position themselves and take the shot. A capsule of time held forever in that moment, never again to be repeated.
Stepping out from a taxi the man appeared on the sidewalk, he too had been part of what once was the bustling metro area’s population. He returned here to write a story documenting the abandoned city, and the fallout that occurred after the contamination. As he began along the walkway, memories of the city’s sounds echoed in his mind with busy people and commuter traffic moving about in rhythmic harmony with their daily routines . . . He came upon the photograph and leaned down to pick it up. As he held it in his hands, he too became part of the captured moment in that framed memory he was holding. Connecting more to the scene as he began to study the black ‘n white moment of a camera click, once known only to those who had been framed in the view, and to the photographer. Placing the photograph neatly in his jacket pocket, he signaled for the driver to wait, deciding to finish his walk another time as he headed back to the awaiting taxi.
Returning back to his office — once an engaging newsroom filled with energy, rapid typewriters, and ringing telephones — he placed the photograph on the desk and moved the reading lamp over it while seating himself. Seemingly compelled to have a closer look, he felt drawn to the photograph, as if he were part of the memory it held. Written on the back was a phone number and a date from eighty years back, along with an address that he was all too familiar with, a bizarre twist of coincidence as it was the office address he was currently using to examine the photograph, and the digits of the phone number included the current date and year . . . As he sat quietly pondering over how this could be, he turned the photograph back over and reached for the magnifier as he leaned in for a more thorough inspection.
The captured frame was that of a newsroom filled with eight of the journalists of that era posed with a framed front page newspaper article about the interruption of time and memory due to the Earth’s axial shift, believed to have been caused by the presence of atmospheric rogue space bots — a dissident troop of AI bandits — programmed to disrupt the Earth’s natural balance. One of the two men holding the frame caught his attention because the man also had telephone receiver held in place on his shoulder by his tilted head, appearing perhaps to be receiving a congratulatory phone call (?) just at that moment as the camera shutter clicked on them eighty years prior to this (his) viewing of the photograph.
How could this be, he thought . . . His choice to stop at that walkway, the eighty year old photograph in his path, and the address on the back having been the same address has his office ? The sound of a ringing telephone interrupted his pondering thoughts, but that old desk phone hadn’t worked in many years, it was a souvenir from the old newsroom, with a crack in the shell from being pulled off the desk . . . No one knew he was there as he sat oddly still, and the telephone kept ringing . . . Reaching for the photograph once again and the magnifier, he examined the telephone receiver being held by one of the men in the photograph, then the base as it sat on a desk behind him. It was then that he noticed the same cracked shell of the telephone, and another man leaning on the base with his hand as if holding it in place . . . Perhaps so that it doesn’t get pulled off again (?) He though to himself . . . Almost hidden behind the man there was a smaller figure also present that day, that of a young boy barely seen in the background with his shoulder bag stamped ‘Newspaper Carrier’ amidst the frenzy of that moment eighty years ago . . . He was entranced . . . Could this be why he felt so drawn to the photograph (?) Had he been present on that day through another level of existence (?) He had in fact had an after school job of delivering newspapers as a young boy . . . His discovery seemed hauntingly bizarre and yet so strangely familiar.
The telephone was still ringing . . .
As he awoke from his detoured reality, he stood up and headed over to the old desk phone, and sure enough the same phone number (date) had been written in the center dial of the old rotary style desk phone . . . It had been sitting there quietly for years even though it no longer worked due to a fall from being pulled off the desk one to many times by those who then liked to talk and walk around at the same time while getting exclusive information about the latest story . . . He was compelled to left the receiver anyway, and as he raised it to his ear . . .
The familiar sound of a dial tone . . .
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