Sunday 3 July 2011

Five Voodoo Polaroids of Five Haunted Places

Welcome to the Xeroversary! From Sun 3rd July to Sat 9th July we celebrated 1 year of the Xeroverse with guest flash fiction posted every day. Join the festivities, enjoy the fiction, say hi. =)

The Xeroversary is over, all that remains is the afterparty... (with full guest list)


Five Voodoo Polaroids of Five Haunted Places

by David Senior

An old worn shoebox beneath a bed. Generations-old photographs are piled inside, fading, pale, curling at the edges. The faintest smell of must.

Fingers remove five pictures.

#1. The reception desk of a derelict hotel. Torn electrical sockets gape like death in the walls and wiring hangs loosely from the ceiling.

Items left on the counter: unidentifiable paperwork, a rusting desktop bell, a third-full bottle of viscous-looking brandy with the cap removed. A picture calendar featuring the image of an orchard remains on the wall behind.

Photograph taken at dawn.

#2. A stretch of urban waterway beneath an access road overpass. Dim orange streetlamps are reflected in, and ripple across, the dark canal surface. Indecipherable graffiti tattoos the concrete pillars that elevate the road into the night air. Undergrowth stuffed with litter recedes into the murk.

The first police would not arrive until 6.40am.

Photograph taken some time between 2am and 4am.

#3. A shot of shattered ceramic tiles. They remain fixed to a wall, but no wider context is provided.

The tiles appear to be a faint lime in colour, a subtle chalk texture design patterned across them. The splinters and cracks emanating from the bullet hole in the centre of the picture allow, at this close distance, a spiderweb association.

Some sharp pieces of tiles are missing altogether. Dead grey dried adhesive is revealed remaining on the wall beneath.

Photograph taken at 2.40pm.

#4. Photograph taken in an office building ready for demolition and disused for over a decade. A shot of a long grey windowless room. All fixtures and furniture removed years ago. As with image #1, electrical wiring exposed like bloodless arteries.

Against one wall are propped seven doors, all at a rough 80° angle. Standard wooden internal workplace doors, all feature a strip of horizontal window on the right hand side. All said windows have been smashed, leaving only the wire mesh beneath.

The shattered fragments of glass are scattered across the floor of the room.

Photograph taken shortly before noon.

#5. The charred shell of the Funland amusement arcade. Three of the individual neon letters fell off the sign during the blaze, so only the word ‘UNLA’ remains.

The large windows that made up the entire front of the building are missing entirely. The brick immediately surrounding these empty frames are particularly blackened and charred.

Burnt rubble and arcade machines can dimly be seen inside the premises. Screens shattered, plastic melted in the intensity of the heat. The fire is long since extinguished yet the force of violence and noise remains apparent.

Photograph taken at around 6pm.

More photographs are removed, examined, shuffled like a Tarot deck. Years, places, stories rearranged, reorganised. Placed beside one another to fuse new narratives together. Some of these pictures are the only remaining images of places long dead and long forgotten.

Eventually, they will return to their shoebox. For now, though: look.


David likes custard and pickled eggs. He does not like mushrooms or wafers.

Xero says: I work with David. He’s very driven to his photography projects these days and it’s easy to see that influence here. You should definitely check his blog out; his photography makes me wonder if the apocalypse hasn’t already happened, and we didn't just carry on in blissful ignorance...


  1. I was once asked to describe a picture, but I had to make sure it was just the picture and not my emotions behind the image... where on heck were YOU, David, when I needed a good example to draw from?!

    I'm going to check out your blog... after reading John's words on your work, I definitely think it will be extra inspiring!

  2. *smiles* I was instantly reminded of your photographs as I was reading your piece, David.

    Excellent imagery... Makes me want to venture into the first derelict building I come across and take pics. So when can I read your novel? ;)

  3. I like this idea of photographs as tarot, and David captures some great details in this flash. Reading this, I find myself creating a narrative to attach to the pictures.