Hungry Ghost stories: Horror in 'Theatre Four' for moviegoer


This Friday (Aug 12) will be the Hungry Ghost Festival, and for the next few days leading up to that, we will be publishing stories of a ghostly nature sent in by our readers. For more articles on the Hungry Ghost Festival, go HERE.

We want YOUR Spooky Stories!

Who doesn't love spine-tingling tales? Do you have any stories of the supernatural to share? Write to us in 700 to 800 words (in Word or Text format). There is no payment for submissions, and we reserve the right to edit all submissions. Email lifestyle@thestar.com.my with the subject "Spooky Story".

When something happens that you cannot understand, something no one would believe, there’s nothing you can do except force yourself to forget.

I grew up as an avid film buff, and developed a habit of frequenting the cinema every week. It was supposed to be a brief respite from the mundane hustle and bustle of work, a time where I could drain my mind of all the worries plaguing it.

When I walked into the cinema that one fateful night, I noticed that it was unusually empty. The place wasn’t always empty, sure, but it was the first time I had ever been truly alone in the lobby.

Maybe it was because they had only one movie playing that day. I was bummed at the lack of choices, but curious as well.

Intriguingly, it had neither title nor poster, which should’ve been a massive red flag, except that I had already handed over the money for the ticket.

“Theatre Four, second door to the right,” the ticket guy said as he handed me the change.

My brain worked on autopilot as I strode down the hallway. It was eerily quiet, and upon reaching theatre four, I heaved open the door and slid into the room before the door slammed back shut with a sinister bang.

Scanning the room, I saw that it was entirely empty. Something about the room made me uneasy, like I was trespassing somehow, but I shrugged it off as post-work stress and tried to enjoy the fact that I could sit wherever I wanted to.

I chose a seat smack-dab in the middle of the room, just far back enough to see every corner of the screen. I wished that I had popcorn with me, but there was no one manning the concession stand I passed after buying the ticket.

Settling into my seat, I finally focused on the screen, which was playing some random commercials. I hadn’t missed any of the movie, though I wish I had when the trailer popped up.

It was a random coming-of-age chick flick, and the preview scenes showed the typical cliched things a girl trying on dresses, standing up to her bullies, going on a date.

The usual. However, the next scene had nothing to do with the trailer. It flashed by so quickly that I could only get a glimpse of it. It was a shot of a figure, hooded from the shoulders up. Then it was gone. I had assumed that it was just a weird glitch. But it wasn’t.

Suddenly, the scenes for the teen movie started speeding up, and it was riddled throughout with random images.

Prom, a bloody knife, cheerleaders, a petrified tree, a sleepover, the same hooded figure. Soon enough, the movie faded and it became a display of unconnected, disturbing pictures.

A statue of a winged angel, the hooded figure again, a bloody eyeball, the knife, the hooded figure once more, a demonic mask.

I was frozen to my seat in a trance, stuck watching this horror show while my heart fought to escape my chest. I couldn’t look away, couldn’t close my eyes, couldn’t move.

The screen halted on the image of the hooded figure. Its eyes were covered, but I felt as if they were staring into my soul. Every bit of my sanity told me it was a screen, and yet my stomach clenched and my heart sank.

It then cut to black, and out of nowhere bloodcurdling, ear-piercing screams blared out from the speakers. I snapped out of my self-induced paralysis to curl into myself, as if to physically shield myself from the noise. It was so loud, so terrible.

I couldn’t imagine what was so awful to make a person scream like that, and I didn’t want to know. I just wanted it to stop, stop.

“Stop!” I yelled out – and the room fell silent.

All of a sudden, the screen turned on again to display a dark room, with rows of seats facing the same direction. Like a... cinema.

Squinting, my heart stopped when I saw myself on the screen, seated on the exact chair in the exact room. I stared at it for a second, my mind racing as to how this was even possible. It had to be a prank. There had to be a secret camera.

“OK, you got me,” I stood up and waved my hands about. As I tried to signal someone, I froze again upon realising that my doppelganger was unmoving. It wasn’t live.

The screen cut to black for a split second, and I jumped out of my seat at what popped up next. The very same hooded figure was standing behind my doppelganger, and as I watched, a very inappropriate smile crept onto his face.

Holding my breath, I saw the hooded figure creep up and violently slit my onscreen throat. I gasped audibly, my hand reaching for real me’s throat as blood spurted out of my onscreen counterpart’s. My trembling fingers made contact with smooth, intact skin.

The screen flickered again, and suddenly the hooded figure appeared again. It was so close to the camera that the entire background was out of view. I took action this time.

I pulled myself up and dashed for the exit, running from the theatre to the lobby. I ran all the way to my car and sped home, locking all the doors and windows before collapsing onto the comforting embrace of my own couch. Then, and only then, I felt truly safe.

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Hungry Ghost festival , horror , mystery

   

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