My name is Micha Orlov, and I’m a photographer. Or at least, I used to be. Until I found what I call the Method. You see, my Grand Father was a priest back in Russia. Our family lived in Moscow until Napoleon burned it… The whole city. Including my grandfather’s church. I wasn’t there, but I remember the stories. The stories made it seem real to me like it was for them.
How my grandfather came running out of the church, robes, and hat on fire, carrying the bible under one arm and the box under the other. The Bible was fine, but the box was burned. That’s probably why it’s special.
It’s made of wood, mostly. Gopher Wood, my grandfather had claimed. Wood from the Ark of Noah, he said. The wood was blackened and charred on the outside, but still intact. Around the edges and corners was intricate silver inlay shaped like tiny silver leafy vines. The vines wrapped up over the Lid too, and in the back formed the hinge, and in the front, the latch. It’s beautiful, which is why we kept it in the family. The charred wood was a striking contrast to the bright silver vines.
In the church, it was on the alter and my grandfather’s prayer scrolls were kept in it… but it was said that the scrolls were just ash when he opened the lid.
I remember my grandfather’s hands. They were scared. As wrinkly as his skin was, the skin on his hands was tight, stretched, and mottled from the burns. In places, it was as if his flesh had melted. This had given me nightmares as a child.
They immigrated to America a few years later. My grandfather and his new wife, my Grandmother, was pregnant at the time with my dad.
When my Dad was still a teenager, my Grandmother, died of illness. Her ashes were kept in the box for years until my Grandfather’s Ashes were added.
It was when we moved west that we lost the ashes. The wagon wheel broke crossing a river and things went sideways. I saved the box from being swept down river… but my grandparents were gone. After that, the box was just used for keepsakes. Little special odds and ends that my father thought were too precious to just sit on a shelf. Like this pocketwatch that he never would even let me touch. It’s mine now, so I just wear it every day. It keeps perfect time, so it’s too good not to use, right?
I learned photography in school and found I had a knack for it. I even made my own camera. I couldn’t afford to buy one, so I used parts from the school’s broken cameras. lenses from one, shutter mechanism from another. I made the camera body and tripod myself.
The chemicals for development weren’t too expensive so I was able to make my own darkroom at home. What was expensive though, was the film.
I worked jobs around town to buy film. I worked as a cowboy and a ranch hand. Helped make deliveries for folk. But all the while, when I had time, I took pictures and practiced my hobby. I took photos of the town and the people for free at first, And when people saw the results, I started getting commissions and selling them to the newspaper. After that, I didn’t have to work so many jobs. Things were good.
When Mom and Dad passed on I used the box for my special lenses. And then later I put some film in there. Good high-quality stuff I wanted to use for special occasions.
That’s when I found the method.
That’s why I can take photos of them. The others.
The lenses I had put in the box, made the difference. You see, with just the film, film that I put in the box, I’d get these smudges during development. At first, I thought I screwed something up but I could see the smudges on the negatives too. Thought maybe it was something on the lenses, or in the camera. But I know my camera in and out. Then I found everything was fine until I used the film I had put in the box. The smudges were always different too. So I knew it wasn’t an artifact from something in the process. It was the box.
Then one day, I used one of the lenses I had kept in the box with the film. And the result was perfect clarity.
There is something about the box. I can only guess that the holiness of what had been the box was tainted by Napoleon’s burning of the church, and the box. My grandfather’s prayer scrolls, through the acts of hatred and evil. And that corrupts the purity of the silver that’s in the film. I guess. I don’t know. This isn’t really my area of expertise. I’m just a photographer, not an alchemist. I know how to use it, but I don’t know what makes it work.
Since I found the Method, I’ve been able to take pictures of the others. That’s what the smudges were… what I call the others. The others are… Well, most are people… people that died. But they’re still here. Look at these photos here. The crowds. Almost all of them in this picture… weren’t there went I took the picture. But the film caught them. See how the trailing edges are just slightly blurred? Those are the others… the ghosts. You can call them ghosts if you like. Or spirits.
See this picture? The bright person there? That’s an Angel. He’s following that girl. Look close at the faces. They look related huh? You know what I think? I think that angel is going to become her son. I’ve been doing this for thirty years. I’ve seen folks grow up, grow old, pass on, and I’ve seen their ghosts. And I’ve seen these angels in the flesh years later.
You’re going to ask about the other ones. The dark ones. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?
Yeah, I got pictures of them too. You don’t want to see them. Because you can’t take that back. You can’t unsee them. You can’t forget what you see. And you won’t be able to sleep right for a long time. It’s like finding out that all of your nightmares are true. I keep those pictures in a special book locked in my safe. Don’t want anyone to accidentally find it and look at them.
I showed the pictures to a priest that had come out from Denver. Good long-time Catholic priest like my Grandfather was. That was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done that to him. Heard that he isn’t a priest anymore… but I don’t know if that’s true or not. I would think it would strengthen your faith, not wreck it. And you don’t look like you have any faith either way. So I don’t know what it’s going to do to you.
Okay, If you insist. I’ll get the book. But first… Let me just get you ready for this. Demons are real. They walk the earth. They were never human, never going to be human… not like Angels. Angels are people that just ain’t been people yet. Demons… they’re corrupted. Chaos and hate made into form. Everything rotten and wrong with the world all condensed into these… beings of pure evil.
Okay, you ready to see?