I... I remember thinking to myself- thinking... that I had wanted to go to the movies. And now here I am.
I mean, that’s all. That’s all I can remember.
And now I’m here.
This lobby. A movie theater. Short, red carpeting. Concession counter. Small circular lobby. I turn around, look at the walls. All covered with movie posters- old:
Casablanca, Metropolis, Citizen Kane, The Seventh Seal,
A door behind me; I try the handle; locked. Only other way out is down the hallway across from me, right of the concession counter.
Deserted, I notice. Weird. It was day (Wasn’t it?) when I left, so not busy but-
No one at the concession counter. The popcorn is full in the clear glass rectangle, boxes of candy splayed like a hand of cards, but no one to serve them. I do the only thing I can do: walk.
The hallway is straight, with similar decor:
The Birds, The Graduate, Maltese Falcon, A Clockwork Orange,
There is a man. On the right, at the end of the hall. Staring at me. Smiling, I think. My breath hitches and clogs my throat, I almost cough, but am struck dumb with horror. He does not move- just stands, and... smiles, I think. I steel my strength, unlock my knees, and walk.
His frame expands and his features sharpen in definition as I get closer and so I see that yes, he is smiling. And wearing a brown sweater-vest over a white button-down with blue stripes, with glasses, and beige khakis. And old: a snowy mountaintop scalp ringed with fluffy, white hair. And, he was holding something. Out to me. A ticket. I reach out my hand, accepting it. His smile widens, breaks into a toothy grin, which cracks open and says, “Enjoy the show.” He slowly extends his right arm, beckoning me further down the hallway. I look down at my ticket: completely blank, except for the phrase “Enjoy the Show” printed in the center. My stomach revolts, but my feet carry me on- unwilling, almost.
So I continue. Down the hallway, leaving the smiling old ticket taker behind. The hallway becomes noticeably darker, and darker. I go on.
And on, hands and knees shaking with terror. Too dark to see: I put my hands out in front of me. I stumble on.
And on, until all light leaves, leaving me in darkness, hands stretched and clutching the ticket. Until I feel a wall in front of me.
I scream and leap back, accidentally throwing the ticket into the air which is immediately swallowed by the darkness. I regain control of my breath and slowly walk back to the wall. This time I feel around. There is a door in the center. With a knob. I turn it: it gives. I push the door: it gives as well. Light blinds me from the doorway, and red, hallucinogenic bubbles of light bloom into my vision. I shield my eyes to dull the pain. Entering the room, I hear the door shut and lock behind me. My eyes adjust, and my jawbone clenches and hisses with fear.
I am staring at red carpeting, a concession counter, and movie posters:
Casablanca, Metropolis, Citizen Kane, The Seventh Seal,
I spin around and try the handle, knowing already that it would be locked. For a moment I am simply frozen. Reason thaws me, and I decide to simply demand exit from the ticket man- if indeed he is down that hallway (behind) in front of me.
I start out, looking for a second time at the hallway’s posters, and soon enough his form comes into view. I slow down when I get closer, because he is no longer smiling- instead, deathly grim. I nevertheless march up to him. But he simply extends his right hand, again offering me the ticket.
“Please enjoy the show,” he says, almost begging. I simply accept the ticket, and follow the lead of his arm again down the hallway. We never break eye contact as I walk by, and it seems as if he is almost about to cry.
Down the hallway, the light again begins to dim; I am gradually walking again into complete darkness. It is less unsettling (Demon you know beats the demon you don’t, demon you know beats the demon you don’t, demon you don’t demon you don’t.) this time; I still stick out my hands once I can’t see but I no longer stumble like I did, actually anticipating the door. I walk and walk in the darkness, feeling for the metal of the door- and then it comes. My hands collide into the cold wall and search for the handle.
I touch it, and all at once the lights snap on.
I freeze, allowing myself to adjust to the light, and turn around to get a look of the end of the hallway.
I am not alone. It is not the ticket man.
Standing a few feet in front of me is a man, or I would assume as much based on his attire: a sharp black suit that looks one size too big for his body. I barely register this- I am too transfixed on his face. Or rather, lack of one. The man, (It) had a gaping black hole where a mouth should be, the rest of the face was simply a grotesque swirl of skin. Like a fleshy whirlpool, the area above the mouth spiraled into a small, black hole where one’s eyebrows usually meet.
I feel- actually feel It draw in breath, and before I can even react It lets out a high, piercing shriek that rebounds throughout the hallway: a splitting, primeval screech with the whooshing intensity of an oncoming train. My scream finally escapes me, but it is drowned out by It’s own.
It advances, still screaming, and I claw at the handle of the door behind me. Finally opening it, I collapse into the room beyond and shut the door behind me, reveling in the locking sound as it shuts.
The scream stops immediately, and I am back in the lobby. I scramble to my feet and whirl around to face the door. Soundly locked- and I breathe. But halt when I take a good glance into the lobby.
All the posters have changed. To a portrait of the It with the hole for a mouth and a swirl for a face. I run forward, wanting only to get to the ticket man; the only source of benevolence in this. I find him in his normal place, but pacing back and forth while tearing out tufts of his snowy white hair, leaving beads of blood in their place. He is constantly babbling incoherent gibberish loud enough to make an echo in the hallway. I approach him, but instead of a ticket he only offers one of the freshly torn tufts of hair: a cotton ball dabbed in blood. I reach for it, but the ticket man only screeches and dashes away from me as if scared, chattering at me faster and faster. He lurches toward me, so I swat him into the wall and he crumbles into a heap, sobbing and gibbering.
I try to forget about him as I continue forward, but I hear him frantically screeching behind me. I turn to see him claw at his raw and fleshy scalp, drawing even more blood from the places where his hair had already been torn. He rubs his palm around his head, smearing blood in between his fingers, and wipes it on the portraits surrounding him, all the while speaking to them in his incoherent gibberish.
It is too much for me, I run away as fast as I can.
The hallway grows dark faster than usual, and before long I run into the metal door again. In pitch blackness I try the handle, but it does not budge. I yank, forcing it willing it praying it to move. But it does not. There is no movement in the perfect blackness- only the sense of touch and the distant, primate like chittering of the ticket man-
Something touches me in the black: two hands on my shoulders. They turn me around (Icannotresist) and draws me for-w--a---r----d. I...i. i i am ki..ss..ed, the hahahahahaahahahole mov-in...g ove-...r myeyeeeyeeyeeyeeyeeye mouth. That....maw: locks and breathes—in an..d in a-and my lips, encased by Its, ripripripriptear off and-
-are swallowed by the darkness.
Hole: gaping in permanent scream but eyeeyeeyeeeyeI try to scream but no longer have anything to scream with.
The light screams on,and swirlohGodohANYONE the fleshy swirl. I feel my teeth being excavated from my gums, torn away and sucked into the black. My breath is Its.
And then the claws.
And then the black.