There have been few parts of my life that I remember in specific, lifelike detail. I'm not sure of this to be a blessing or a curse, as there are moments of my life I wish to forget completely. The most significant of which was the play.
I'm being quite vague when I say, "the" play, as I've seen plenty of stage shows in my lifetime. Presentations in the form of movies usually bored me, but there was something about the stage that just made a show different. Live actors (so long as they were good) made the experience much more real to me, and ever since I saw my first stage play as a young boy, I was hooked. I moved to the city and saw shows whenever I could.
Some stage plays can be quite expensive, but money was never an issue for something I loved. However, I was especially drawn in when I saw the poster for The Hearts of the Young. I had seen the poster for the show on the streets, not too far from the popular stage theater in my city. What attracted many to this performance was that it was free. Sure, this brought on assumptions that it would be terrible, but who doesn't enjoy free entertainment?
The show was being presented by the Masked Midnight Players, who I had never heard of. I had done some research on them prior to the show, but I couldn't find any information, which gave me the notion that they were a rather new group.
Something I should mention before I go on is that the posters for the show became quite numerous. As the night of the show grew closer, it seemed as if I couldn't stroll down a single block without seeing an ad stating, "The Hearts of the Young! Free Show! This Saturday!" I know that a group should have the right to make themselves known, but it got a bit ridiculous in my eyes. They placed ads on cars, put flyers in every mailbox possible, and even put posters up on visible, but private property. This started to become a nuisance to some until the day of the show finally came.
The posters must have had an effect because word of the show had clearly got out. Despite the fact that the show started at a late time of 10:30 P.M., the theater was still rather crowded. Not as packed as I've seen it at other shows, but certainly more so than the average night. Since the show was free, it had no problem attracting its crowd. Even still, I wasn't at the highest of expectations for the production's quality.
The time was 10:30, and the lights dimmed throughout the theater. Normally, a show would have a form of introduction at this point, but this show skipped it, as the curtains immediately opened to a lit stage.
The set for this scene was just a woman character, sitting on a chair in center stage. The woman wore a bright yellow dress, white gloves, and black high-heels. This would all appear to be normal aside from what she was wearing on her face: a pink mask that presented the face of a woman with a repulsing amount of makeup. The mask didn't look professionally made, as in its makeup details were poorly smeared across, like it had been done in five minutes. The actress just sat in the chair on stage for about 10 seconds, staring at the audience, and then began to softly sob.
Throughout the scene, the woman would appear to quickly glance to the left, off-stage, looking at something (or someone). It didn't look like it was intended for the show, as she would turn back quickly as if she had done something wrong. This all happened for about thirty seconds, with the sobbing growing louder at random intervals. I was about to leave the theater right there, until the curtains closed, abruptly, for the next scene.
The audience looked around in confusion. This was clearly going to be a poorly done play, but it was also going to be a rather strange one, which caught the attention of most. I had half a mind to not waste my time, but I thought I might as well see what else the production had to offer.
The curtains opened again to reveal a scene very similar to the last. The same masked woman was sitting in a chair, crying. There was another actor though, who appeared to be male, so I'll address him as such. He wore a black formal suit, with a red and yellow tie that appeared very out of place for the rest of his outfit. He was masked too, but he wore a large gas mask as opposed to the female in the chair. He was just standing behind the woman and the chair, with his arms in front of him. Because of the mask, one obviously couldn't see his face, but I could sense a sort of expression on it regardless. It felt like he was anticipating something, occasionally looking down at the woman with intent. The stage was like this for about twenty seconds, then the curtains closed once again.
At that moment, I had decided I was done. The show was different, sure, but I had better places I could waste my time. I was making my way to the exit when the curtains opened to a completely different scene. The set change seemed way too fast, for the curtain was only closed for a few seconds before opening again.
Everyone gasped at the sight. The same woman was on the stage, still in the chair, except she wasn't sobbing anymore. She was screaming.
Her dress that the woman had been wearing was torn, with some visible cuts to her skin on her legs and torso. She was tied to the chair, and her screams sounded muffled as if something was covering her mouth behind the mask. Around her were more actors and actresses, eleven in total, though it was hard to distinguish which ones were male or female. They all wore formal attire, similar to the gas mask man, who was now sitting at a piano near the left side of the stage.
The characters around the girl also wore masks, ranging from strange to downright hideous. The best way to describe them would be greatly disfigured faces, not torn apart, but arranged in completely inconceivable ways. Some had noses placed on the forehead, with large, bloodshot eyes placed where a mouth should be. Others didn't have certain facial features at all, with just mouths or eyes scattered about. Their heads were all turned to the girl in the chair, in a manner of eager anticipation, if I had to guess.
The gas mask actor looked at each one of the men and woman surrounding the girl, and then looked into the audience. Then, he began to play the piano. He played an overly upbeat and obnoxious jingle tune. I haven't heard it before in my life, but it sounded very similar to a sort of annoying Christmas melody one would hear on the radio constantly. I only heard the specifics of the song for a moment, as the curtains closed a few seconds after.
As the curtains were shut, the music still played, but it was drowned out by a series of stomps... then, sounds of struggle. It was a barrage of noises that all happened in a short time, so sorry if I'm not being very specific, but the woman's screams were louder than any time before. There were sounds of the chair breaking to pieces, then the ambiance of a crowd pushing and shoving each other. The audience began to gasp and scream themselves as there were very faint sounds of ripping, gnawing, and an occasional, aggressive growl from somebody behind the curtain. The woman's screams stopped after only a minute, perhaps less.
Everybody in the theater was completely silent. Nobody knew what to think, of what the point of this production was, or if it was even an actual production at all. I was only hoping that it was some sort of organized joke, or a startlingly good show designed to make a sort of sadistic point.
The piano tune still played before the next scene opened up, or what was left of it. The curtain opened to an empty stage, with the gas mask actor still at the piano. There were bloodied pieces of the chair on the center of the stage, with more red smears all around it. Aside from what appeared to be blood, there was no trace of the woman who was sitting there before. The gas mask man finished playing and then walked towards center stage. He then looked at the stunned audience, bowed formally, and exited to the right of the stage. The curtains closed, and everybody was left silent.
I suppose everyone was just as hopeful as I was to see some sort of conclusion to this so-called "show", but there was none. Once the gas mask man left, that was it. The theater was filled with panicked whispers and calls to family and police. The police arrived quickly, did a quick investigation, and evacuated the theater. The theater was closed for more than a month after the incident. I had no intentions of seeing another show for a while, anyway.
Following the night of the show, I, of course, had nightmares, as I imagine the entire audience did. I still clung to speculations that the show was still some sort of set-up, made to scare its audience in the most realistic way possible. I almost fully believed this, until the authorities finally released a report on the incident.
The crying and screaming woman, the one in the chair, was no actor. She was a woman who had gone missing shortly before the show. She had only been missing for a few hours, so there had been no reports of her missing. Nobody was able to identify her because of the mask she was wearing on stage, and her muffled voice was assumed to be because of a sort of mouth gag. The blood left on the stage was confirmed to be her own.
The "actors" involved with the production have not been identified. When the police searched backstage after the show, no trace of the suspects was found, aside from a single note placed the exit:
"The hearts of the young always taste best."
Written by Emeryy