Depends on How You Look at It

It’s not a particular camera or anything. It’s me. I see those things when I look into any viewfinder. These are gods looking down into our world, grimacing, as if they hate us, as if they want to wring our necks every bloody moment. And I can see them. Whatever I look through.

I used to be a photographer, you know, and I was very happy. I photographed kids, families, old couples sitting on park benches. Stuff that made you smile, stuff that you would get as email forwards and not know who clicked it.

The first djinn showed up when I was drunkenly photographing a pair of friends with my phone camera, trying to steady myself on the bar. He was looking at them.

The next day, I tried to convince myself that it had been my mind playing tricks on me, but then they kept showing. Anthropomorphic tribal gods, fractal deities that extrude into our world from other dimensions, drunken gods of revelry trying to find worshipers in the melee. I thought it was that particular camera, so I started carrying a small point-and-shoot. But that wasn’t it. It was every camera.

Sometimes I feel they’re broken, and they want me to do something to fix them. They want us to see them, to know them, perhaps to fear them. I stopped being a photographer soon. I developed an aversion for anything with a lens.

Then I saw one in the mirror. Standing behind me as I brushed my teeth, smiling at me when I paused. I removed the mirrors from my house. I no longer go out much. There are too many reflective surfaces around. I covered my windows with old newspapers.

I sleep with a knife on my bedside table. One day, I might wake up and see that they’re now inside my eyes. Right under the surface, where I can’t stop seeing them. I have to be ready. I might have to use the knife.