imageQuinn Hernandez
The Collector

It was a cruel twist of fate that brought the picture into Cal'?s life. His grandmother, Ginny, had purchased it at a garage sale, not knowing what it was capable of. And it was her ignorance of its powers, its desire, that allowed her to hang it in the room her grandson used when visiting.

The picture seemed harmless enough — an exaggerated full moon, an even more exaggerated tree, and an abstract house with an impossible number of warped windows, each object casting its own shadows across an immense lush and green yard.

Little she knew, the next night Cal slept over, a small silhouette appeared in the large side window of the house in the picture. Being careful not to move too quickly so as not to bring any attention to itself, the small shade inched his way from the window to the door, out the door and across the lawn, until its black head filled up the entire picture.

It stood staring, waiting, ?making sure the coast was clear. And when it was satisfied no help would come, it climbed out of the picture to claim its prize. It had been doing this for fifty years?, ever since its creation. It collects out of loneliness. Each child is a temporary distraction from the emptiness it was born into. And once the newness of a fresh child had worn off and the boredom arrives, it stretches out into our world for fresh meat.

That's what its existence amounted to.

After a year had passed, Cal's grandmother, her heart broken, cleaned out the spare room, but left all of Cal's things.

She decided to have a garage sale.

Gracie Venton was just browsing through the clutter of outdated junk when her eyes fell upon the picture. And for the life of her, she couldn't tell what it was about the thing she liked. After all, it looked quite depressing: the large eye-like moon, the foreboding house with its crooked little windows. She squinted for a closer look and noticed, in minute detail, framed in every window of the house, little silhouettes with tiny sad faces.

She didn't know whether to be saddened or to laugh.

Anyway, for some reason or another, it had caught her eye, so she had to buy it. But where would she put it? Then she thought, why not in her son's room? It could use a little flair. And if little Jack didn't like it, she could always take it down tomorrow.