The little town had one of those old-style movie theaters with one viewing room, the sort that showed whatever blockbuster they could get 3 months late and stayed alive mainly because the nearest real theatre was over an hour away.
Autumn could accept that; a lot of small towns had business that stayed open that way. The weird part was – well, the weird part began with the movie on the marquis, which was an unpopular horror movie from three summers back. That everyone in the town – and that was the second weird part – seemed to be going to see, at the 3 o’clock showing. The whole town.
Autumn waited until the 5 p.m. showing, paid the bored ticket-taker, and settled in to her seat. She was the only one in the theatre, as the creepy, badly-edited film worked its way around to the first murder, and the second… and then she wasn’t. A presence settled down into a seat next to her, and the film began to change.
A girl in the theatre. A teenager, alone, hanging out in the movies because there was air conditioning there, and it was 90 degrees out and rising.
A wanderer coming through. No-one hears her scream. No-one notices that she doesn’t leave at the end of the awful movie. No-one notices she’s missing for days, and by then…
Autumn reached for the apparition’s hand. “This isn’t the way,” she told the girl. “Where…?”
Behind the theatre was an old hardware store, with a basement no one went into anymore. In the back of the basement, in a barrel full of rusting nails…
“I’ll tell them,” she murmured. “I’ll make sure they notice.”
Slowly, the movie flickered, broke, and went black. Slowly, the apparition faded away. Autumn patted where the girl’s shoulder had been, and headed out to make an anonymous phone call.
Had the town noticed, she wondered? Had they known what they were doing? Or had the girl been calling out for help, drawing them all in, without anyone knowing what was going on?
While she dialed from the town’s old-style phone booth, Autumn drew a small glyph into the crook of her arm. Remembrance. She would take the girl with her – Amy, the fading missing poster told her – she would take Amy with her in her memories, and leave her story to be told by those who loved her – with a little nudge to get them going.
“Hello? I think there’s a body in the basement of the old hardware store.”
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