Our last official response (by Sept. 5) to this Jean-Daniel Photography photo. Thanks to those who participated! We’re not picky about deadlines, so you can still send a story any time on this or any other prompt or topic of your choosing. Send to FreeValleyPublishing@gmail.com.
He tried to turn his head but his neck would not move. His right arm felt stuck to the column he leaned against when he tried to lift it. The gaze of his eyes remained fixated on the street even though he wanted to look to the left, to see if he still had the camera. But his eyes would not turn. He lifted his right foot but it did not move. He tried his left and it felt stuck to the sidewalk. And then he wondered what he was wearing. He knew he had put on a short sleeve T-shirt, below the knees shorts, and tennis shoes this morning in the hotel. But he could tell that now he was wearing a long sleeve button up shirt and jeans, over boots like some kind of cowboy.
The thought of being a cowboy made him smile, or wish he could smile because nothing in his body moved but his mind. So, he thought how did I get into this state? Why can’t I move? What happened to me? O.K. slow down, empty your mind for a few minutes the way they taught you to at the workshop. Just relax, let your mind become sky like, let the thoughts pass by like clouds, breathe deeply. Then he realized he couldn’t breathe, his whole body was solidly immobile. But how was he seeing and thinking?
Then he remembered. He was walking down the street and saw a sculpture of a cowboy leaning against the column of an historical building. Just as he was reaching to open his camera case, the earth shook and a blindingly loud crash of light filled the street. A large insect that looked like something between a roach and a moth flew straight at him. Its narrow, malevolent, gray eyes stared hypnotically into his just before it flew into his mouth and he lost consciousness.
His mind screamed and he used every bit of will power he possessed to move but nothing happened. His consciousness roared at passing pedestrians to see him, to realize he was paralyzed and needed help. But no one stopped. No one seemed to even notice that he was stuck there. Then he saw his body walk toward him. It stopped, pulled the camera out of the bag, and took a photo. The eyes though were not his. They were the same malevolent, gray eyes that flew out of the light. As it stared, he saw clearly the reflection of that cowboy statue.
by Skywalker Payne Published with Permission
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