A man held something in front of his face. If anybody had seen him, they would’ve probably thought him crazy. The object appeared to be a simple, purposeless rectangle of metal. It wasn’t bigger than a wallet and as thin as a leaf, one side was of silver, the other was a black screen. When a hidden shutter on the front soundlessly opened to reveal a lens, the screen showed a perfect image of what the camera was aimed at.
A woman on her knees. Her face was pale and gaunt, its expression missing. Behind her back they stood in a semi circle. The photographer lowered his camera for a moment in silent respect. Perhaps he imagined what the woman had been through.
Infront of her a pit had been dug out. Inside lay the bodies that had once been her friends and family. All they had was eachother. She was the last one left, except for the camp guards, who would kill her for nothing other than the culture the she was born into.
One tap of the screen and the picture was taken.
The photographer put away his camera. Sure, people could read of these events in history books — but his work would give people an insight into the certain moments, and they could never be interfered with. People often say, learn from history; but how can you do that when it’s always changing?
A press of a button and the camera produced a pen. The photographer jotted down ‘The Last in Trostenets’ on the screen.
He sank down to his knees and rested his head in his hands. After a few long seconds of silence came the noise of two gunshots, fired in rapid succession.
After this long day he abandoned his work for a walk along Minsks avenue. All colour had left the sky, left was only a dark canvas, free from any stars to be looked upon. The street lamps were unlit, only a few still turned on window lights illuminated his path. They weren’t much help, the thick darkness didn’t allow him to see much longer than an arm’s length in front of him.
He pulled up the collar of his coat and put his hands down its pockets. For twenty years he’d worked as an photographer, he’d been successful, it wasn’t until now he reflected upon his career. This trip would be his last. He’d been chosen and promised a large amount of money. The only thing important was not to interfere, not to get involved, not to help. But he was haunted by all the vivid memories of killings and bodies and anger and pain… of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen and of executioners.
After walking a couple of miles he noticed a lit lamp post. Slumped down against it sat a man, around the same age as himself. His arms didn’t rest on his knees but had slid down the insides of his legs. His chin laid against his chest which slowly rose in pace with every hollow breath.
The photographer kept a distance from him and waited a while.
“Excuse me, sir? Are you unharmed?”
No movement. The photographer slowly approached. He crouched down infront of the man and asked if he was alright. The man remained immobile. Carefully, the photographer grabbed the mans shoulders and laid him back against the lamp post. His eyes were sunken and dry. His face looked tight, as if the skin strained against his skull. His mouth was open and lips chapped. The photographer threw down his bag on the ground and grabbed a bottle of water. Luckily it was still full. He placed the bottle opening against the mans mouth. He held it there until the man signaled for him to stop.
After a while the man said: “I cannot believe it. I had given up hope.”
The photographer turned pale. He had expected the mans voice to be rasp, but it came out clear and eerily familiar. As the photographer had this thought, a shiver ran down his spine. The voice he’d recognized was the same as the one narrating his own thoughts. The same voice as himself. A frightening coincidence, but that was all, the photographer told himself. “Do you feel any better? Who are you, haven’t you got anywhere to live?”
The man let out a single laugh. “Don’t you recognize me? It was your choices that put me here. Long have I waited for you to nurture me. You have disregarded me for your own gain. You have let innocent families suffer. You tell yourself that it’s only your job so that you can continue, only because you’ve let your greed grow bigger than any other part of you.”
The photographer had nothing to say.
“Is the money you make worth the price you pay?”
The photographers heart sank down deep into his stomach.
“I am that inside you which you’ve ignored, stepped on, and tried to forget. I am what you tried to replace with money, alcohol and lies. I am truth. I am honesty. I am goodness. If I am not a part of you worth keeping, so let me die.”
The man stood up and left. The photographer watched as the man disappeared into the darkness. He felt tired and confused. He sat down agai nst the lamp post as the man previously had. He pulled up his legs to rest his arms against them, lowered his head and waited for the feeling to pass. Time went by, but dawn never came. His head fell down against his chest whilst his arms slided down his legs and came to rest on the concrete.