“Can you believe they’re just tearing this place down?”
Midway through the lobby, you turn to see Bill, the theater’s maintenance man, leaning against the snack bar. Walking over, you shake your head ruefully. “Not me… for some reason, I thought the Marquee would be around forever.”
He rolls his eyes. “You and everybody else. Problem is, everyone likes the idea of a town landmark, but nobody actually drops by to keep us in business.”
You can’t blame Bill for his bitterness. Just last month it was announced that after 57 years, the town’s old movie house would be closing its doors forever. Once a state-of-the-art theater, years of declining attendance have transformed it into an old, run-down building that’s more dark and creaky than anything else… but for you, that’s part of the charm. You’ve been coming to the Marquee for as long as you can remember to watch movies on one of their three screens in the old-school plush chairs while eating popcorn made with real butter. Now one of your favorite traditions is about to disappear forever, along with the job Bill’s worked at for 40-odd years.
But at least it’s not a total loss. To celebrate their years in business, the Marquee has been having a number of special events lately. Two weeks ago it was an all-day showing of spaghetti westerns, and before that a Humphrey Bogart mini-marathon. But they saved the best for last- it’s Halloween night, and you and your friend Jake have just stepped out of a back-to-back-to-back screening of three of your favorite horror films. Bill, who besides fighting a losing battle with the decaying building also mans the projector, consulted with you personally, as one of their best (only) customers, to make sure it would be a good show.
And it was, but now you’re ready to head home. You’re about to say goodbye to Bill when you notice a commotion at the lobby door. Before you can react, Jake peels away from the group of 20 or so moviegoers and trots over.
“Hey, something’s wrong… the doors are stuck, they won’t even budge. Bill, do you have ke-”
Jake cuts off abruptly as the power dies, plunging the lobby into darkness. Shrieks and curses erupt from the direction of the thick, windowless wooden doors. Fortunately, Bill always carries a flashlight in his toolbelt; flicking it on, he hurries over to the cluster of moviegoers, you and Jake trailing behind.
“Folks, no need to be concerned,” he says, quieting the barrage of voices. “This here’s an old building, it isn’t the first time the wiring’s gone. As for the doors, they’re on an electronic locking system I installed a few years back… probably locked by default when the power went. If you’ll stay here and keep calm, I’ll go to the electrical room and get this sorted out right away.” This seems to placate the crowd, though you hear a few muttered comments about free refunds. As Bill starts to walk away, he grabs your sleeve and hisses “Follow me, don’t say anything” in your ear. Curious, you join him at the other end of the large lobby, where he looks around furtively and starts speaking quietly to you.
“Listen… something very strange is going on.”
“Strange? What are you talking ab-” you start to say, but Bill cuts you off.
“For one thing, there IS no electronic locking system; I just made that up. All the doors, including the emergency exits, have old-fashioned bolt locks, and the owner and I are the only ones with keys. I know for a fact that he’s visiting relatives overseas right now… so who just locked the doors?”
Before you can reply, he continues. “That’s not the weirdest part, though – last night I dreamt this exact scenario, right down to the last detail. When I woke up I figured I was just upset about the place closing, but now… I mean, I even knew from my dream which three movies you were going to request. How is that even possible?
“And the thing is, after the lights went out in my dream…” He pauses, looking at you with an almost pleading expression. “Look, I’m not crazy, I KNOW this sounds nuts, but… well, the creatures from the movies sort of… came to life. I know, I know, but there was this weird flash of light and then there they were. They…”
Bill trails off, reading the skepticism in your face. “You think I don’t know how crazy this sounds? I wouldn’t have believed it either, but… it just felt so real, and everything in it has come true so far. I mean, this place IS old, I’m always hearing weird noises and getting chills late at night. All I’m saying is-”
As he continues babbling, you mentally wonder how you’re going to escape to summon the men in white coats. Just then you glance over your shoulder in time to see an eerie blue glow emanating from down the hall where the individual theaters are located. Bill’s words trail off as the light grows in intensity, pulses three times, and then disappears. Before either of you can say anything, you hear the sound of heavy footsteps hitting the floor, and… was that a growl?
As you stand there gaping, Bill whispers in your ear, “See? SEE?! They’re alive!”
You’re not sure what to think: it seems impossible, but isn’t that what they always say in the movies too? Your heart sinks as you recall exactly which films you just finished watching…