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The Ghostlight

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*****
1932
The Hiddleston Theater
Vivian Heminger stood over the bleeding body of Danny Codere, her long elegant cream gown drowned in his blood.
“Sweetie, I’m sorry,” he gasped, ”You’re still my star, but, I just, you don’t really fit the part.”
“I loved you!” She screeched waving the stained dagger and glaring at the man who controlled her career, now sprawled on the floor in a pool of his own blood.
“This isn’t helping, you’ll get caught, call a doc-”
“I won’t get caught, and of course this is helping. Talented actress miscast, director pays for it. It’ll be all over the papers sweetheart, I’m gonna be a star. I’m gonna be free.” She licked her scarlet stained lips and walked over his body, the hem of her dress dunking into his blood. Vivian opened a closet full of elegant costumes, and rummaged around until her long, graceful fingers fell on a thick noose. Crossing back to her vanity table, she used her plush stool to reach the ceiling, and started to prepare for her own dramatic end.
“You! Can’t do this!” he gasped, struggling. The multiple punctures across his body oozed more, making him yelp in pain.
“Oh, honey I can,” she hissed, kneeling next to him while he struggled, “Why do you think I’m letting you die here slowly and painfully?” Her crow black hair gleamed in the lights from the vanity. “You get to see me in my best role yet, and then you’ll regret not casting me, I’ll be free from you and everyone else in this world. If I can’t act, why should I live?” Setting a dainty high heeled foot on the stool, she began her ascension. Danny screamed and begged her to stop. All the while, Vivian wrapped the noose around her petite, white neck. Admiring her own figure in the mirror, she turned to Danny, “It’s show time,” and, kicking the fluffy stool out from under her, the lights faded away.
*****
2012
The Abandoned Hiddleston Theater
Four teenagers sneaked down the dark alley behind the Hiddleston theater. Mist from the rain mixed with the yellow glow of the streetlamps giving and eery feeling. Arriving at the stage door, they ducked into the elegant archway. “Everyone here?” Reese Boemat asked her friends, ringing out her thick, strawberry blonde hair. Marcus and Camille, two of her best friends nodded, trying to brush the rain off as best as possible.
“I can’t believe this place is haunted,” Peter admitted staring up at the old theater in front of them, scratching his head in disbelief, making his chocolate brown hair stick up.
“How could it not be?” laughed Marcus scanning the building, “It is freaky as all get out here.” He pulled a large bag of M&Ms and passed them around the circle.
“Why exactly is it haunted?” asked Reese politely refusing the bag, though her stomach roared in protest.
“Well, rumor has it some actress killed her director there and then killed herself. They shut the theater down because weird stuff started happening.” he looked at Reese with concern, and her sallow, tired face peered back innocently.
“I’m really not hungry, I swear.” Her bony fingers grabbed his arm in reassurance, the four others shared a look.
“Well, let’s go in and see, shall we?” teased Camille, trying to break the tension. Soon, with a little wiggling on the old lock, the heavy stage door clanged open, revealing the dark, musty building beyond.
“I’ll go first,” Reese flicked on her flashlight and continued on, ignoring the looks of pity and anger in her direction. Soon they were in the stomach of the Hiddleston Theater.
*****
“Wow,” Reese sighed as the group made its way onto the well-worn, but still intact stage, ”This makes me feel smaller and more insignificant than I already do.” She peered out into the dark, shining her flashlight into the audience, the rows of blood red chairs staring back.
“Stop it Reese, you are beautiful,” assured Camille she put an arm around Reese’s thing shoulders. Reese smiled gratefully, but admired Camille’s long dark brown silky straight hair and dark complexion more than her own.
“Doesn’t it make you want to dance around, being on stage?” teased Marcus tickling the two girls and spinning around everyone. “Oooooh we are heeeere! In this creepy plaaaace!” Throwing his limbs this way and that, Marcus entertained the others and soon they joined in. The flashlights danced all over the ceiling and walls, one bouncing off another.
“Well, well,” giggled a woman stepping onto the stage dramatically. Everyone froze. Camille squeaked and Peter put a protective arm around her, and Marcus, his current dance partner Reese. “Guests, little amateurs trying to be talented.” Vivian smirked and stepped closer, the clump shrank back.
“Who are you?” Peter stammered, “It’s her,” he whispered to the rest of the group.
“Well, why don’t we get better acquainted?” and with grace and strength completely inhuman she whipped a dagger out of her belt and lunged. The group scattered like ants trying to avoid her catlike advances, but Camille was too late. Vivian shrieked and slashed, making a long thin diagonal cut across Camille’s face bridging from her forehead, over her nose to her jaw, blood leaping across the stage. Camille let out a blood curdling scream. Her friends rushed to her, grabbing her arm and pulling her with them, trying to get off the stage towards the door.
“Aw, gee, don’t go,” the demonic showgirl was right in the way, flourishing her dagger. So, instead they started offstage the other way further into the darkness of the building. As they stumbled away, Vivian called to them, “Sorry honey, you were just too pretty, and I don’t like competition.” Cackling, she sauntered off and adjusted her now deep, dark, red dress.
Reese, Peter and Marcus helped Camille into the wings and set her on the ground to check her face. “I’m ok,” she sobbed her face smothered in her own blood. Giving her a sweatshirt to stop the bleeding, Reese asked, “Will you be ok?”
“Yeah, I think we just need to find another way out.” Whimpering and with the sweatshirt plastered to her raw face, Camille shakily got to her feet.
“She’s right,” groaned Peter, rising as well. “C’mon, let’s go.”
“Reese, are you ok?” Marcus looked down at her, still sitting on the floor.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she shook her head and slowly pulled herself up and walked off the dizziness.
Four solitary doors stood guard backstage left. They struggled to open each one.
“None of these doors are open,” whined Reese, “They are completely boarded up.”
“What about the doors in the audience to the lobby?” Marcus peered from backstage into the audience.
“Genius! Reese hugged Marcus and guided Camille gently to the door. Suddenly in slightly better spirits they stepped onstage.

*****
“Yup,” Marcus said apprehensively nodding to the doors, “No other way out but that, I feel like I’m in a horror movie.”
Suddenly the auditorium swelled with laughter, even though it was empty. The kids jumped and fumbled for their flashlights. They searched the seats for any signs of life. Then, the musty 50 year old lights illuminated them, and temporarily blinding them. “Yeah, let’s get out fast,” Reese squeaked, pushing them towards the stage door. Just then, the red curtain dropped in front of them and blocked their exit. The laughing crescendoed and soon applause filled the theater muffled by the red curtain. “Quick!” called Reese,searching for the center between the two curtains running down the dust covered aisles.
The others quickly followed suit. Soon, Peter dragging a viewing impaired Camille were through the door, and in the decaying lobby. Reese tried to follow closely behind, struggling. Marcus stayed behind her, making sure she didn’t parr out. But, as Marcus neared the doors, they slammed firmly shut with a thud, guaranteeing they would never open for him. “Marcus!” Screamed Peter, hammering the door with his fists, and trying to pry it open frantically. The other two tried as well,
“This isn’t funny,” sobbed Reese ramming her bony side against the door.
“Well, maybe if you ate some damn food once in a while so he wouldn’t have to take care of you!” Peter sued all of his strength, the door, not moving.
“Peter,” Camille warned glancing at Reese, hurt and to stunned to speak.
“I’m serious! Do you want to die Reese! Look at you! We love you, just- and now he’s,” he leaned against the door, his heaving sobs shaking his whole body.
“Peter,” she dropped to her knees next to him,” I know,” she wrapped skeletal arms around him. “I’m sorry, I have a problem, I know,” she leaned her head against his shoulder.
“Me too, It’s just, we all care about you, and, tonight is becoming too real.” He leaned his head on hers.
Grabbing his hand, and Camille’s Reese took a deep breath, “ I promise you two and Marcus that I will eat the second we get out of here, even better, I’ll eat some of those M&Ms right now.”
Rising from the ground and pulling up Reese with him Peter started throwing his body against the door with more urgency than before. “Well, then lets go get those M&Ms.”
“Kids, stop trying. It ain’t gonna work.” A dapper man around thirty in a crisp pinstriped suit approached them, his hair slicked back.
“Who are you?” said Peter desperately. “You look, like, like her. Like you came out of the 30s or something.” They all eyed him skeptically, still distracted by their lost companion.
“That’s cuz I am,” He chuckled, his smile more of a wince. He stuck his hand in his pocket, leaning on the window of the box office, “I was Danny Codere, the famous director, producing some of the finest entertainment in the country. My gal, that was Vivian.”
“Her?” Exclaimed Camille, still sopping the blood off her raw face.
“A sweetie right?” He joked. “When I didn’t cast her as the lead in one of my shows, she murdered me, and killed herself too.” Danny shifted his weight uneasily,” But you gotta get rid of her, us, the only way to destroy her is to burn down this hell hole.”
“But what about you?” Asked Reese.
“It’s worth it right? Getting you kids out, besides, it’s not really worth hanging around here anyway, especially with her.” He nodded to a side door leading back into the theater. “Go, find your friend, and light this place up.” Camille started toward the door, Reese pulled Peter along with her. They turned and thanked Danny who waved casually at them, a glint of sadness in his eyes. Suddenly a horrifying scream rang throughout the whole building.
*****
“Stop trying to be funny,” sneered Vivian “Your attempt at comedy is not impressing me.” Marcus lay in a crumpled mess at her feet. He groaned, and whimpered as she raised the the rope again and brought it down smartly along his back, the nails attached to it clung to him. His back arched in protest as he sobbed silently. “Time for the grand finale,” the monster squealed, she skipped over to the side stage, unhinged a brightly burning stage light. It was can shaped with a scorching bulb the size of a grapefruit inside.
“Please,” begged Marcus struggling weakly. “Why are you doing this?”
“Eighty ears here, sometimes you need to spice it up with a little action.” She leaned down to his level, her beady black eyes meeting his blues ones squinting in pains. “Enjoy the show!”
“No!: He moaned, but it was too late. Grabbing him by the scruff of his neck, Vivian grinned and shoved his head into the sizzling bulb. A horrendous noise and stench came from the light and Marcus moved no more.
*****
Sneaking through the side door, Peter, Reese and Camille turned their attention to the stage when they heard a thud. Vivian had placed the body of their friend front and center, his face as flaky, bubbly and black as a burnt marshmallow. A roar of anger escaped Peter’s calm facade as he stared at the smirking woman above. Animal like screams of loss echoed through the theater as Camille and Reese comprehended what was in front of them. “C’mon kids we’re just having a little fun,” she gloated, mockingly embracing the dead corpse at her feet. Reese knew it was time to end it. Taking a shaky breath, she marched back towards the stage, and right onto it, trying to ignore the corpse of her dead friend. Then she saw M&Ms scattered around his head like a halo. “You’re a crazy, vain, and stupid....monster!” She wailed shaking violently.
“Thanks,” she cackled, completely delighted with the destruction she created.
“Leave us alone! You’re just not as great as you think you are! And, I bet you never deserved any of those roles!” Reese spat, her face flushed as she advanced towards the monster. In a flash, Vivian had her dagger out, and had stabbed it into Reese’s arm, gouging a round hole, then bored, pushed her back.
“Better be careful pumpkin, you couldn’t afford a mark on your face.” Reese lunged, but was no match for the supernatural creature. Vivian flicked a blast of energy Reese’s direction way and sent her sprawling dangerously close to the stage light that had fried Marcus moments earlier. In a daze, Reese snatched the light and raised it, prepared to burn the place down when she heard Vivian squeal with delight. “Marcus!” gasped Camille looking from his disheveled corpse to the ghostly figure approaching.
“See? Kill me, and his ghost goes away too and you’ll never see him again. Don’t you feel guilty enough bringing all your friends here and leaving this one, all because your little body is too sensitive for food?” Vivian laughed nervously.
“Don’t listen Reese,” Marcus assured her, his eyes pleading, but commanding. Reese felt the world turning, Peter and Camille were screaming, clutching Marcus’ body, Marcus pleading with her to leave, his face full of sorrow and determination, and Vivian’s beady eyes boring into her face, waiting to see what was coming next. Screaming, Reese threw the stage light to the ground and it erupted instantly on the dried wood. In a burst of energy, Vivian shoved Reese to the flames. She caught herself, only after her hand become completely engulfed in the fire. Feeling woozy, Reese used the last of her strength and kicked Vivian into the fire. She felt arms wrapping themselves around her, leading her back towards the lobby as flames creeped after them. All she could focus on was the wailing of a ghost being destroyed, the shriveled corpse of her friend, and his ghost as he watched them leave, standing downstage center, a hand raised goodbye.
*****
Standing in the dark street across from the old building, Reese watched it burn to the ground. Spectators gathered on the cold night. They had assisted the three poor victims of the mysterious fire. A bandaged Peter, stitched up Camille, and an on the mend Reese clung to each other watching the smoldering remains of the building and their friend. “I’m sorry,” Reese whispered. With one last look at the building, the three headed towards their parents, waiting anxiously by the ambulance. Peter rushed ahead and came back, arms behind his back, smiling weakly. “You promised,” he said, pushing a granola bar into her hand.
“Yup, I did,” she sighed taking it, unwrapping it, and taking a tiny bite as they walked away. They turned their backs on the real life nightmare but it would never leave their thoughts. Nearby, an old and frail woman who had been watching the building burn down, turned and giggled, licking her surprisingly red lips. “Don’t worry sweetie, the show must go on.”




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