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by D.B.Adams

He looked at the faces in front of him, four of a man (serious)four of a girl (smiling), four of a young couple (their heads close), then inspected the reflection of his own face strangely distorted in the metal mirror.

The sign read INSTANT COLOUR PHOTOS - in than a minute - suitable for passports, passes and travelcards - £2.50. “That’s just what I need for my departure” he thought, reaching into his pocket to extract a handful of loose change, carefully sorting out two pound coins and a fifty pence piece.

Stepping inside the booth he pulled the curtain across, sat down and read the instructions, stood up adjusted the curtain behind his head (for passport photos use the plain white background). He spun the top of the stool in a clockwise direction, sat down stared briefly at his dark reflection in the half silvered window, not quite right, stood up again and once more adjusted the seat. This time he looked straight into the eyes of the reflection, lifted his chin slightly, perfect, leaning forward he pushed the coins one after the other into the slot.

He pressed the button, sat upright, a red light blinked somewhere beyond his reflection, he smiled and waited.

The first flash took him a little off guard, caught a sort of startled rabbit in headlights look in his eye.

He was prepared for the second flash, it reflected brightly back off the razor’s blade held beneath his left ear.

The third flash froze the second smile appearing under his chin.

The fourth flash was tinted red, like a darkroom lamp.

Less than a minute later the machine whirred and dropped its photos into the tray, as the dark viscous puddle spread unstaunched around the booth.

Copyright D.B.Adams , first published in Udolpho, 1997.

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