the short story project


G.G. Hamilton

Atop a Cliff

“So let me paint the scene,” Marcus lifted his arms out wide and mimed the creation of a picture frame that encompassed the view of Winter’s National Park from the clifftop he was standing on, “We’ll underexpose the photo so you can see how the tree line transitions right into the sky.”
He turned to his assistant, Shelley, for confirmation, but her gaze was still fixed on the scene behind him.
Shelley lifted her arm and pointed behind Marcus, “Look.”
Marcus followed Shelley’s finger to a source of orange light in the distance.
“I think the trees have caught fire,” Shelley said.
Marcus continued to stare at the orange spot and watched as it grew in every direction.
“Give me the tripod,” Marcus said.
“I said, give me the tripod!”
Marcus turned back to Shelley, motioned to her backpack and snapped his fingers.
Shelley took off her backpack and opened it to grab the tripod.
“But, Marcus, the flame is travelling pretty quick, and we still need to climb down the mountain.”
“Never mind that. We need to get this shot.”
Shelley handed Marcus the tripod. Marcus set up his camera in order to capture the orange spot, which was now a massive blaze.
“Marcus, I really don’t think we have time. Look at how fast that thing is coming towards us.”
“Shut up,” Marcus mumbled, with his face pressed against the viewfinder.
“Marcus, I’m not kidding. We might not make it out of here. That wildfire is going to take out the whole park.”
“Goddamnit, Shelley!” Marcus stepped away from the camera, “These are once in a lifetime photos!”
“But, Marcus, they won’t be worth anything if they burn up in the fire. We don’t have time to take any more photos.”
“Shelley! I did not climb all the way up this mountain to get pictures of some mediocre trees!”

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