PROMPT: “Suddenly the stair disappeared into the darkness.”
The theater is dark, shadowy. She wanders in off the street, looking for a quiet place to escape the cold, and the holiday crowd gathered in her home. Climbing the steps, she settles into the best seat in the house—the very center seat of the balcony, first row. The place is dark, pitch black, and the lit screen of her cell phone doesn’t shed much light around her, but she wants to sit alone in the dark for a while.
She stares at the grey expanse of screen, surprised the thing is still intact and whole. As she closes her eyes, she can see the images flicker in front of her. The music swells, the story plays out on the backs of her eyelids, and she is transported back in time, into the screen, into the story of a woman who is loved by a man she cannot have. The story of her life, acted out by the old
Then, the tail end of the film makes a clattering noise as it slips through the projector. She opens her eyes, and she is sitting in a musty, chilly, dark theater once more. She realizes that the clattering noise she hears isn’t film…someone is there in the theater with her.
White discs of light flash across the wall to her left, and she slips quietly into the aisle, keeping low. She had probably tripped some sort of alarm, trespassing they will say. She takes the steps two at a time, pausing between each to hear the shuffling steps of what she assumes are police officers. She is hoping to get to the emergency exit next to the screen while they climb the stairs to the opposite side of the balcony.
How embarrassed will she be if she is caught trespassing in an abandoned theater. Who will understand that she just needed to get out of the house full of family and friends, to get away and find a quiet place? She had gotten the strangest looks when she said she was going out for a walk in the frigid night air. They will be appalled if she gets arrested on top of it all.
Suddenly she is bathed in a glaring pool of yellow light, and a baritone voice sounds from the opposite set of stairs, demanding that she halt. A split second later, she hears him take a tumble, and the light goes out. Counting herself lucky, she takes the last few steps at a run, intending to hit the exit door and beat a path for home.
Of course, things never go according to plan. Her cell phone suddenly rings, her foot slips on the third step, and suddenly the stairs disappear into darkness, as she pitches forward into empty space. Behind her, a deep, authoritative voice calls out for her to stop. Thanks to gravity, she does.