Upon my arrival at the address my apprentice had scrawled on a scrap of paper I found much to my surprise not a house as I was expecting but a dilapidated graveyard. This sort of error could not be tolerated, I made a mental note to reprehend the scoundrel upon my return. I was just about to turn and leave when a tall moustachioed gentleman stepped out from behind a large tomb and held out a hand in greeting. Sir Wightmare, as I would later discover he was named, was by all accounts a rather jovial fellow which seemed rather at odds with his rather extreme gaunt appearance. I took the offered hand and found it to to be equally if not more desiccated as his face.
Sir Wightmare assured me I was in the right place and escorted me to meet the rest of the family. They were a pleasant enough bunch if like Wightmare perhaps a tad in need of a decent meal or two. I pondered this as I set up my camera, it was rather odd that they could afford my services and apparently a butler but all appeared grossly under weight. Being the upstanding Victorian gentleman that I am needless to say I kept this observation to myself, it wouldn’t do to insult the clients even if Lady Wight appeared to be almost skeletal.
Sir Wightmare and his nephew Wightprince were the only members of the family who were apparently ready for their portrait to be taken, dressed as they were in their finest outfits, also because I am an upstanding gentleman I did not mention that said finery was clearly not of the latest fashion. It almost seemed as if they had been wearing it while rolling around in the dirt, stained and frayed as it appeared.
The way Wightprince ran around with the family hound made me think this was likely ti be the case.
Lady Wight was in something of a state over her dress, she went through a number of costume changes all of which were in a rather rich chocolate colour. After many such changes I felt time slipping away from us and suggested that perhaps she should just go with her newest garment, an outfit who’s lower half featured a strong sharp outline and interesting if somewhat plain fold design. It was clearly within the fashionable trends of the era we are living in, if perhaps a tad basic for a Lady of her apparent standing. Again as the gentleman that I am I did not make this last point to the lady herself.
Lady Wight’s husband King was perhaps worse than his wife. Arriving late and refusing to remove his work clothes he was in the end persuaded to put on his most fancy work garment which featured frilled cuffs and a high collar. His brother in law also managed to get him to put on a rather sharp looking waistcoat and tie. I had to admit with the pocket watch as a fine embellishment he almost appeared the very model of a fine Victorian gent. This despite his refusal to wear any shoes.
I never did discover what line of work the head of the household was in, something to do with civil servants I believe.
With all members of the family gathered the next task was getting them all to stand still while the photographic plate was exposed, there was a near constant creaking, Lady Wight had to lean both against a tombstone and her son so frail did she seem. I was glad however that all the horseplay had exhausted the hound since the bat that became entangled in the Lady’s hair almost caused the picture to become blurred with its frantic attempts to free itself.
The delay to calm it gave one of the families butlers time to wander into the frame apparently to offer refreshments. I hate to say it but I lost my composure removing the lens cap I bellowed at the servant to remain perfectly still.
Being the gentleman I am I of course apologised for my outburst as soon as I had replaced the cap and allowed the family to move again. It turned out the family did not feel overly aggrieved by my shout, the butler in question had been with them a great length of time and was now rather ancient.
I did note however that somehow old Skull was decked out in the most up to date of butler attire perhaps he wasn’t as senile as they seemed to think.
I declined refreshments as I indicated that I must be on my way my next appointment. The family seemed rather upset but I insisted.
When they fell on me and I noted my life flowing out of me I did not make a fuss.
I was, after all, a great Victorian gentleman.
When I came to open the photography emporium I am apprenticed to I found the masters camera and belongings left on the step of the rear entrance. Of the master there was no trace which was unusual since he is a most punctual man and often reprimands me for my tardiness, even when I am in fact never late.
Once my morning duties which mainly involved the cleaning and upkeep of the store were taken care of I set about developing the plates that had been in the masters bag. By force of habit I also checked the camera and with little surprise found one plate still inside. The master could be somewhat forgetful at times.
The resulting photograph was somewhat shocking featuring as it did what appeared to be a family of skeletons posing in front of a crypt. An otherworldly purple sky was contrasted by eerie green clouds, or trees, or possibly both.
I had to admire despite the subject, that the master had managed to frame the image almost perfectly I did feel however that the way the interior of the crypt was the same colour as the sky needed some slight correction before I handed over the final image.
Applying a selection of chemicals to a number of copies of the original image I managed to produce a number of variations. Most shocking was the variation that seemed to reveal a portal, to where, my sane mind would not let me imagine.
I spent the rest of the day behind the counter awaiting my masters return. Near closing time when he had not I set about wrapping the days photographs for delivery, I would hand deliver a number of them upon closing the shop.
The image for the Wights I would pay to have delivered.
Until next time .