Sapphire plucked the Polaroid camera from the stomach of the man spreadeagled on the hotel room floor. If she’d performed the ritual correctly, the object should have had enough time to absorb the qualities she wanted.
The book promised inter dimensional travel through illustrated portals, but she’d only have one chance to cross over, so she had to choose wisely.
Raising the camera, she took a series of pictures, starting with the window and pivoting between each snap until she faced the door. She placed the photographs in a neat line along the desk underneath the wall mounted television and then sat down in the armchair, tapping a rhythm on the arm while she waited for the pictures to develop.
The first image showed a gloomy sky filled with bizarre airships of inhuman origin. A terrified child crouched in front of the window, shying away from a horrible tentacled digit that stretched towards her from a figure behind the camera.
Pouting, Sapphire tossed the picture onto the blood soaked carpet and picked up the second Polaroid.
*Be our guest* had been scrawled in blood across the wall above the double bed. A corpse resembling a candlestick, dressed in gold with its head and hands encased in wax, lay upon the bed. Uniformed police officers obscured the finer details of the body from the camera lens as they worked the scene.
She sighed and flicked the photograph to the other side of the room, where it hit the wall and fell behind the bedside locker.
The third image showed an aerial image of the hotel in ruins. Soot blackened the ground and an enormous fire pit spouted flames where the lobby used to be. Dark shapes writhed and crawled out of the inferno, twitching in the photograph when Sapphire looked at them, so she quickly slammed the picture face down on the desk.
The fourth and final photograph revealed a figure silhouetted at the hotel room door. It appeared to be a broad shouldered man wearing a fedora, the collar of his coat popped upwards in sharp angles. Despite its apparent innocence, it filled Sapphire with greater dread than the previous three pictures. She took her lighter out of her pocket and set the photograph alight before dropping it into the metal bin under the desk.
She sank back into the armchair and surveyed the mess before her. Perhaps she wasn’t living in the darkest timeline after all.