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The Prophetic Camera   By:

The Prophetic Camera by John McGreevey

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By John McGreevey

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy August 1953. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: Joey knew the old man had somehow faked his pictures; after all, nobody could photograph the future. But then the future began to happen!]

Joey Barrett set his camera carefully to one side and swung onto the edge of the desk. He knew this annoyed Nugent, and, at the moment, nothing gave him greater satisfaction than his ability to irritate the editor.

His heels thunked against the highly polished sides of the desk, and he shook his head very deliberately, in rhythm with the heel hammering.

"No," he said. "I don't think so, Nugent." He decided the drumming had lost its impact, so, he crossed his legs and turned to face the balding man behind the desk. "Why should I? This assignment's out of my line and you know it."

Nugent nodded. "I know. But this is an unusual story, Joey, and I'd like to get a photographer's slant on it."

"Want to find out how the other half thinks, huh?"

Nugent referred to a memo. "This is the address." He pushed the slip of paper toward Joey. "I think you'll find this Jason Ewing most cooperative."

"He's a crackpot." Joey shied away from the memo and slid off the desk. "That's why none of your brainy reporters will touch the assignment."

"He's eccentric." Nugent didn't bother to hide his impatience. "What inventor isn't?"

"He's an inventor?"

"New kind of camera. That's where you come in, Joey." Nugent leaned back in his swivel chair. "I want a photographer's reactions to it."

"What's so special about his camera?"

Nugent didn't look at Joey. "It photographs another dimension."

There was a moment's silence. Nugent was abruptly preoccupied with his hands. Joey moved slowly toward the desk.

"Another dimension! You mean stereoptican stuff? With depth?"

Nugent stood. "No. I don't think that's what Ewing means." He moved from his desk to the window. "I want you to find out what it is. Get all the information you can."

"Are you sure this doesn't belong on the comic page, Nugent?"

Dusk was settling over the city. Nugent stared out at the darkening skyline. "I admit it sounds crazy. But, it'll make a good human interest yarn." He turned back to Joey. "Just bring in the facts and one of the re write boys will put them in shape."

Joey Barrett's chin set doggedly. "You've got no right to ask me to...."

But he didn't finish. His editor had abruptly moved in very close. "You're in no position to quibble, Joey."

"What does that mean?"

Nugent's thin lips were tightly compressed. "The management's not happy with you." Joey's laugh was brittle. Nugent walked slowly back to his desk. "I've had more and more complaints about your work."

Joey was close behind him. "I take the assignments you hand me. And there's no one on the staff gets a sharper shot."

Nugent waved this aside. "It's your manner." He pushed a glossy eight by ten print toward the photographer. "You play up the grisly, the macabre."

Joey stared down at the picture. A slow smile narrowed his eyes. "I photograph what I see. I figure it's what your readers want to see, too."

Nugent sat heavily. "We had a hundred phone calls about that picture. Brutal ... sadistic ... morbid."

The print fell face up before Nugent. He turned it over. Joey laughed. "Sure. It's all those things. And they loved it." He leaned very close to Nugent. "You didn't have to print it."

"It was the only shot I had. It was print it or be scooped on one of the big stories of the year."

Joey's outward nonchalance failed to mask entirely his inner tension. "When I take a picture, they remember it."

"There's a difference between memorable photography and cheap sensationalism." The editor picked up the memo with Ewing's address. "All things considered," he said, "I think you'd better get this interview for me... Continue reading book >>

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