I think chicken or egg as I turn the TV dial through the airwaves and get, wall-to-wall, the disaster emergency message they keep looping.
Focusing, I fix the lens to the camera body and admire its sparkling glass contours. Focus (that’s cute), that’s what I need.
I assemble the rest of the camera pieces just as lovingly. I sold most of my stuff and worked a lot of lonely overtime to buy this camera. All worthless, materialistic junk at the end of the day…
(Did I mention I take photographs?)
I take them because, well, they capture time, that’s it in a nutshell I guess. They say you can’t, that it waits for no man, but you can steal a tiny fraction of time out of the universe and you can keep it. There it is, forever; slip it in your wallet, frame it on your wall. No one will miss it. I like to steal those little moments and relive them at my speed. Take them out of circulation like a thousand dollar bill.
Heck, all that’s living in the past, that’s what you figure. Some people say I live in the future too, so someone’s wrong.
There have been a lot of them recorded since these things—these time machines—were invented. Everyone’s got their favourites, you name it: the Hindenburg fireball, Man on the Moon, Oswald getting shot, the tennis girl scratching her butt. For me, it’s all about the decisive moment.
I’ll be the first to admit those images are out of my league; I’m just a snap-happy amateur, functional more than artistic. But at this time and place, I’m in a position to take the most important photograph ever. The most important recorded image since … the first one. I’ll shoot the last photograph ever taken—
You see, in case you hadn’t heard, tonight the world dies.
It’s all crystal clear, sharply focused: out in space right at this moment an asteroid ten klicks across hurtles towards Earth at 20,000 miles per hour—a hundred million megatons of destruction; the world as we know it ends any minute. I hope the film isn’t over exposed when the world explodes, I don’t exactly know what happens when a planet burns out. Any professional will tell you though: in these conditions a fast shutter speed is essential.
I see a little red light flashing on the camera, above it the word ‘BATTERY’. The red light flickers and fades out slowly. When I see it I panic, tap the light and it glows brightly again. I take a deep breath (need to relax, not be wound so tight). As an afterthought I take my sunglasses from my jacket pocket and swiftly put them on.
What are you doing on your last night on Earth? Did you run?
Me? I’m about to go down in history. I just can’t believe no-one else sees it.
A blinding white flash swallows everything and, as I click the shutter, I figure eggs come before chickens seems obvious.
Bio: Scott Dingley has worked as a London-based copywriter, publicist and film reviewer for Channel 4, Film4 and various film websites. He is the author of novellas The Renegade Hunters and The Tied-Down Man, and his short stories published on the web include The Devil’s Elbow and A Hard-To-Shake Melody.