Reality: Stranger Than Fiction Part II

I never used to be so thankful for Fridays. When I worked at Walgreens, I always did a Tuesday to Saturday work week, so it wasn’t until I quit that the weekends felt good again and I looked forward to them. My mood is lighter and I feel as if I finally caught back up on sleep, despite this wicked thunderstorm that rattled our bare apartment walls and flashed bright heat lightning through our curtain-less windows.

We don’t move for almost four weeks but the place looks empty and messy all at once. The walls and windows are plain and undressed but boxes are stacked in every room. Drawers have been emptied and closets are in the early stages of being gutted. My bookshelf stands half-empty after I went through and sorted it between “books-to-keep” and “books-to-sell.” It’s all fairly depressing and my compulsion to clean and pick up cannot be sated; can’t vacuum, organize, and the only room that is untouched as of yet is the kitchen, which is my least favorite chore (we have no dishwasher, something I hope we can upgrade when we find a new place and yes we still don’t have a place lined up). I shouldn’t complain with my husband’s fast-moving progress; it’s amazing how much has been wrapped up (we even already have our storage rearranged and organized). Still I wish all the DVDs haven’t been packed away and worry we’ll miss a thing or two that are now taped up and labeled with a thick, black sharpie.

So to give my mind purpose and to put my stress into wordy action, I want to recant another touch with the supernatural I experienced. Perhaps you’ll find it interesting (if you haven’t, read the previous post of Part I that is the beginning of this series):

The Shadow In Theater Nine


(I do wonder if ghosts would enjoy a bite of buttered popcorn).

John and I are lucky to live in a place that is close to everything (our jobs are only minutes from the apartment, a gas station, walmart grocery, the pharmacy all only up at the corner). The best thing is having a movie theater only a couple of blocks away, which we would frequent a lot. Now this was a few years ago, back when I was visiting during our dating years, and we decided to go see Maleficent (so after a brief Google search, this was in 2014) starring Angelia Jolie. I really wanted to see it (what Disney kid NOT nearly pass out when they released the teaser of Jolie’s amazing “Well, well!” baptism scene?) and John wanted to make sure it wasn’t made too intense for his two young boys to see it later.

It was a Tuesday matinee, so tickets were cheaper and we had a refillable popcorn bucket you only had to spend a few dollars on rather than getting a throw-a-way bucket that cost more than the tickets. It was a nice afternoon date, plus the crowd was nonexistent. Inside the theater, only a couple of groups of people shared the space. It was a fairly large theater and we got to sit in the middle of the middle of the aisles. One group of people were seated up at the top of the theater, one section of adults at the bottom row, and a small family in the ground-level seats with the handicap section (one of the adults was in a wheelchair). Now only the family had a few small children, everyone else was older and keeping to themselves. I was excited because usually there’s always some people who have to draw attention to themselves whether or not they mean to (texting on their phone, talking to their people, sitting right next to me and chewing ice). This time it seemed tranquil and we were going to enjoy a well done film.

It wasn’t halfway through that something strange occurred.

Like all times in my life when something abnormal occurs, my mind immediately switches off the imagination and tries to be logical and skeptical. I’ll make up seeing shadows in the dark of night but when it comes to a real situation during the day I remain calm and cool minded. More often than not, there’s always an explanation, right?

To this day, I’m still unsure about this time.

John and I are sitting with his arm around me, watching Jolie killing it as the dark-horned fairy whose wings were stolen out of painful betrayal, but then I notice John keeps looking past me, to the right. At first, I glance over but see nothing. The three or so aisles in front of us and behind are completely empty, so I think maybe John saw someone down by the exit (he’s a character who needs to know his surroundings and to see when people are coming and going). I whisper “What is it?” but he only shakes his head and goes back to watching the movie, so I follow suit.

It’s only minutes later I notice his head turned again, clearly looking straight to the right, and I turn my head too, thinking “What on earth is he staring at?”

My eyes spot it then, some figure at the end of our aisle, moving low and down the stairs, a person but they’re not standing and walking down the stairs:

They’re crawling.

Their figure is completely cast in shadow, like they’re slinking beneath the seats. I can’t discern their clothes or their face, just this awkward jumbled figure crawling down and out of sight behind the rows of seats.

My first thought: one of the kids with the family has gotten away, bored with the film, and is messing about on the stairs. I told myself to watch the bottom steps and I’d see them jump out, get fussed at by an irritated parent, and be forced back into their seat. So I do this, staring hard and waiting. As moments stretch on, so do my wary nerves…why isn’t the kid coming out? My eyes dart around, searching for a child wriggling under seats. I even look over the opposite end of the aisle, just in case they’ve ventured down an empty row.

No one comes out from anywhere. I look over to the family down front, who are sitting quietly, their attention completely focused on the screen. I don’t see any empty seats between them, all of them there and accounted for. I look to the other groups, the ones down at the bottom row and behind us to the people near the top; none of them seem bothered or are looking elsewhere.

I thought, “Okay, don’t panic…”

John leans over and whispers ominously in my ear, “What did you see?”

Okay. I was panicking. Had he seen something too? What was that? Who was it? Why would he whisper that right in that moment?

I stared at him, mouth agape, and no complete words came to me. He shook his head and quietly said, “We’ll talk later.”

I nodded, trying to relax and keep calm. “It’s okay,” I mentally assured myself over and over. “It’s alright. Everything’s fine.”

I was able to convince myself for five seconds before John, ever the protective and wary type, stood up and sat on my other side, placing himself between me and whatever it was we both obviously saw. I should have felt more at ease, but the idea that John felt the need to do that unraveled my weak confidence. What was it?

The movie rolled on and we eventually eased out of our tension and were able to watch  the rest without incident. As soon as we broke out the theater’s exit doors at the end, I couldn’t wait and whirled on John, “What happened in there?”

John told me that he had seen a person standing on the stairs (I think a man but I’m not sure if he used that word. He said he couldn’t see them clearly, just saw a person standing there). He said when he first saw them, they were standing at the end of the row on my side, staring at the screen. He figured it was one of the movie workers, when they come in and watch the film from a few random spots to make sure the sound and visuals are working alright. He figured “no big deal” but when he turned to look back a minute later, this person was no longer standing at the end…

They were seated one chair away from me.

Now John isn’t paranoid, like I tend to be with my overactive imagination. He can be protective and carefully observant of sketchy places and people, and it made him suspicious how this person, who he began to doubt was a theater employee, chose to sit one seat away from me when we were in a large area of empty seats. They had a slew of chairs and rows, so why sit so close beside us?

And how did I not see them? He said that was another thing that bothered him, how I didn’t seem phased by a stranger all but sitting right next to me. He asked me this and with a meek shrug, I said, “I never saw them. Are you sure?”

Yes, he was very sure. He saw someone sitting there. After he looked back at the screen, for only a few seconds, he looked back and the chair was vacant and now, he said, I was staring at the end of the rows, as if watching something.

“What did you see,” he asked.

I hesitated but answered, “I saw a person, or something, crawling down the stairs. I never saw them get up or leave.”

It would be one thing if only one of us had seen something odd but we both saw someone or something that day. I told my mom about it over the phone and she grew quiet before suggesting we should go to a church and have a small gathering with the preacher. Now we didn’t do that but I couldn’t help the need to cross myself (I’m not Catholic but the gesture always made me feel safe and secure as a child).

We can’t explain this odd event to this day. We have never heard of a bad history occurring at the theater, no reported deaths or anything like that. I’ll never forget that image, though, of something writhing and creeping down the stairs like a character from The Exorcist. Holy water with your popcorn, anyone?


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