Hello, all! I hope you’re having a fantastic start to your week. It has been a weird month to say the least. My writing times have been flipped into chaos. But I’m still going, still typing, and here we are.
I have to apologize for having mentioned a few stories in the last few posts that will get written and posted. They ARE being written, but today I thought I would drop a story bite of a true happening that occurred on a date I was on with my now-husband, John, several years ago while I was visiting him in North Carolina.
Now, the following events truly happened, but you are the only one who can decide if you believe in supernatural events or the paranormal. I certainly do believe in a lot of unexplainable events and ghost stories myself, but I always encourage everyone to believe what they feel is true which may not agree with what I believe is true. And that’s okay, but please no rude remarks or any disrespect. Again, the following is what did happen, and to this day neither John nor I can explain it.
At the End of the Theater Aisle
Long-distance relationships are difficult, trying, but worthwhile once you finally are together and can have a normal date night. Or date day in our case.
We drove to the local movie theater in John’s North Carolina town, and I’m excited to enjoy a relaxing time of holding his hand in the dim yet comfortable setting of theater seats, with overpriced popcorn that comes in a giant bucket, and a shared coke that could supply you with a month’s worth of sugar in one drink. It was my fall break from university, and though flying from the Will Roger’s Airport in Oklahoma City always tested my short supply of courage to fly, I always found it worth it when John and I are able to share a good visit together.
We didn’t think much of going to the movies except that we would get to have a fun time together. We were going to see the live action Disney film of Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie, a movie he said his two young boys didn’t have much interest in watching, but we were dying to see. We just never expected…whatever this was that occurred.
But it did. And we still can’t understand it.
It was a Tuesday early matinee, so the tickets were half-priced. We found a mostly empty theater room with rows of empty seats. Only one aisle at the top was taken by a group of other movie goers as well as some seats on the floor arrangement where a family with a wheelchair user occupied most of the chairs there. But the middle row of the entire theater was ours, and we had so many vacant seats that wouldn’t be taken up by crowding families with noisy kids or oblivious texters with bright phone screens to annoy us.
Now, the group of movie watchers at the bottom of the theater had a couple of young kids who were coming in and out of the theater at random. I don’t know if they were going to see another movie or were just visiting the bathroom or snack bar a lot, but I hoped that when the film started that they would either stay or go and not cause a commotion.
I’m a very picky movie goer. I’ve had many poor theater experiences, including a time when some kid threw their chewed gum and it stuck to my Doctor Who TARDIS sweater, and several times I swore I wouldn’t waste money to be annoyed while trying to enjoy a movie ever again. That is, until John suggests, “hey, wanna see a movie?” And the promise of hot, buttered popcorn is enough to clean my bad memories.
This time, though, felt better and easier. Which should have been a hint that something would prove amiss.
I never could have imagined this, though.
The movie started and we immediately were enraptured by Jolie’s stunning performance as a long misunderstood villainess, a guardian fairy of the forest turned into the Mistress of Evil. I had been wanting to see this movie, and I felt so lucky that I was with a guy who not only was open about loving Disney films but was willing to go see them with me at the movies.
But then I noticed, some small amount of time into the movie, John wasn’t looking at the screen. His head was turned to look to our right, over me and down the aisle of empty seats. I mean, staring straight down, his expression quiet and serious with hard eyes.
I looked but didn’t see anything. So I figured maybe he was just distracted and continued to enjoy the movie. I noticed he kept looking over, sometimes turning his face back to the screen, and I felt irritated at what he could possibly be seeing that was so important.
Then something moved at the far end of my vision. At first, I thought it was the shadows cast off to the side from the glare of the giant screen. The bright picture always makes the shadowed parts of the theater appear darker when you’ve been staring at the bright light of the picture after all.
But no. My eyes settled on something, a figure made of black, that was completely solid and undoubtedly there. At first, I noticed it at the end of our aisle, hunched and squatting low to the ground.
As if in a confused daze, I simply stared at it and blinked.
It moved in that blink, no longer squatting at the final seat of our row, but then my eyes caught the scuttled movement.
Whatever it was, what looked like a person, was crawling down the movie theater stairs, barely lit by the aisle lights that traced the steps so one could find their way down. The thing crawled past the gaps of what I could see at the ends of the chairs in front of us.
My brain was eerily calm as a logical thought popped into my mind: It’s one of those kids from the family seated below. They were messing about before the movie played and now they’re running around the theater. They’re going to pop out at the end of the stairs and run back to their family, probably only to run off again. With my run of ill luck at the movies, it only made sense.
So I straightened up in my seat, peering straight down at the bottom of the stairs, and I waited.
Seconds passed, the movie playing on without my attention, but no child nor person appeared. Whatever I had seen, it was gone.
I swept my eyes around the aisles before me. Maybe the kid had crawled down a row and I missed them? But no, I didn’t see anything. The aisles were all now empty and I was the only one not paying attention to the film.
Until I felt John’s breath against my ear as he whispered, “What did you see?”
His question shocked me. Not “what are you looking at,” or “what’s wrong,” but a very specific and knowing question that he knew I saw something and his serious tone said he had seen it too. Or at least that’s what I assumed.
Bewildered, I gaped at him, unable to find the words. “I…I don’t…um…”
He shook his head at me, dismissing it, but not before he stands up and crosses in front of me and sits on the other side of my chair, sitting between me and whatever it was I had seen. Or what we had seen. He placed a protective arm around my shoulders, sitting straight and with a quiet alert that only made my nerves scatter more.
What had he seen? And why was it serious enough to make him switch seats as if to shield me from whoever it was?
Whatever it was.
It took a long time before I felt calm again, but the movie was a good distraction. I found myself glancing over less and less as the movie wrapped up, and before I could turn and ask John what was going on, he said, “Let me use the bathroom and you tell me what you saw, okay?”
Ten minutes later, we had both tossed our empty popcorn bucket with its layer of kernels and now cold remnants away, had used the bathroom, and were now eager to exchange perspectives.
I explained to John from the start what I saw: him staring off to the side, the shadowed figured that moved so quickly, and then how it crawled so rapidly away from view, all until him asking me what I had seen.
It was his turn now.
John explained that when he first looked down the aisle, it was because he also saw someone standing at the end of our aisle. He said it was weird but he couldn’t make out any details of the figure, just that it was a person’s figure standing and facing the screen. At first, he thought it had to be an employee just coming in to check on the movie, the screen and the sounds to make sure everything was working properly. But then, he said, he only glanced away for a moment before looking again, and he knew there was something very odd about that person.
They were seated only a chair away from me. And he still couldn’t make out their face as if cast in shadow. But what unnerved him more was that I was still sitting there, watching the movie, as if I didn’t notice anyone sitting so close. Immediately, John was going through what this person could be doing. We were surrounded by empty rows, almost the entire theater empty save for a couple of places, so why were they sitting right beside us? He thought for a moment it could be someone trying to mug us, conveniently trapping us in our seats. He knew he wanted to have us move and he turned to calmly tell me to get up and move down the aisle.
But when he did, the person wasn’t there. The seat and the rest of the aisle was empty again.
And I was watching the stairway, completely focused and watching for something.
I was watching for anything or anyone to appear at the bottom of the stairs.
But I never did. And John never saw anything for the rest of the film.
I’m not sure what unsettles me more: the memory of that unusual, darkened figure crawling down the movie theater stairs or the fact that John and I undoubtedly experienced it. However, I stand by this: I never noticed anyone sitting a chair away from me. Yes, I was watching the movie, but like John said, there would have been no reason why some stranger should choose to sit so closely in a mostly empty theater. I feel I would have heard the chair seat fold down or felt it shake the seats as it did, but I sensed absolutely nothing.
I called my mom back home and told her about it later. She suggested for us to go visit a local church and have a pastor pray over us, to make sure whatever it was didn’t try to follow us home or attach itself to us.
And my mom, for most of my life, has never been one to even entertain the thoughts of ghosts or paranormal happenings.
John had lived in that town for years, and he assured me that he had never heard any rumors of the movie theater being haunted in any way. We had been to that theater before and even after, but we had never experienced anything like that ever again. Neither can we really come up with ideas of what it was at all.
Unexplainable. Strange. Unsettling and creepy.
That’s about as much as I have to say about it, but we’ll never forget that day at the movies. I’m sure even if I really wanted to forget it, it’ll linger around the corners of our memories.
Like a shadow in waiting.
I hope you enjoyed this story bite At the End of the Theater Aisle. As I stated in the beginning of this post, what you read was written entirely from a true account and was not fabricated, as much as I sort of wish it was.
For more story bites, poems, and other writings by me, follow and subscribe to The World of Abigail Rose for notifications of future posts. Explore the archives as well as the page sections on past and current projects.
Be safe out there, make good choices, and have a great week!