The year was 1992, and my friend Mike and I were really looking forward to the Stephen King film, 'Sleepwalkers'. It first came into theaters, and like a lot of horror fanatics, we are fascinated with all things Stephen King related. We loved The Shining; where Jack Nicholson flipped his shit. And from the local Blockbuster, we even got a DVD copy of Silver Bullet. We loved that too. Stephen King movies were kind of our thing. Mike and I were really, REALLY looking forward to the premiere. But we weren't ready, for what happened. Mike and I were about twenty-two years old, and lived in Travis Indiana, where the actual movie was first filmed. And like I said, Stephen King films are kind of our thing. The day of the big premiere came and Mike and I went to our local movie theater. We saw mostly the people from school there. You can't really call those people friends, because Mike and I were both sort of loners. We tended to be off by ourselves. We got to the theater early and got pretty good seats. The place was full of teenagers and college students, so it was a pretty rowdy crowd. Everyone cheered and the lights went down, like you'd do. So Mike and I figured we were in for a good time.
The vibe in the room was perfect for a horror movie. We sat through the trailers, mostly for other horror movies, Mike and I spent the whole time making notes, deciding which of them we wanted to see, in which to give a pass. Both of us agreed that Wes Craven's New Nightmare was totally cheesy, like the rest of it's franchises. But we would like to see another John Carpenter movie, as long as it didn't look too played out. Just before the movie started, we heard some shuffling off to the side. I looked over to the darkness toward the sounds, and I couldn't believe what I saw. I saw one of the teenage college students (who went to use the restroom) having her life-force sucked out of her, by a tall, lanky man who looked to be in his mid twenties, in a hoodie and dark jeans, and he walked down the aisle.
When the picture on the screen changed to something brighter, you can see that the hoodie was black. At first, I thought that this was just a horror fanatic pretending to suck the life out of a victim. But the thing about the guy this night, is that he did not show his face to anyone. And the girl did not move at all. She just, laid there. Motionless, as if she is actually dead. I felt as if all the air went right out of the theater when I found out that the man in black had actually killed her, by taking her life-force, just like the Sleepwalkers from the film. The rowdy vibe, was gone. The theater had two aisles of course, the man walked down one aisle, crossed the front, then walked back up the other. When he came to the aisle Mike and I were in, he stopped. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest. Then the man looked up at me, moving his head really slowly, revealing his face from underneath the black hood.
And that is when I about jumped out of my skin.
Because not only did this guy sucked the life-force out of one of the female kids at my school, he also revealed his face to be that of a cat; just like Charles Brady from the film, with a set of cat-like fangs. Hundreds of tiny daggers in his mouth, and he pointed at Mike and I, then licked his fangs, showing us his gums, black as tar. Then, he kept walking up the aisle. Now I should explain something about Mike and I, we've been friends for a long time, and that's true. We've been friends since we were kids. But recently in the last year or so, we've been thinking about being, more. Both of us are pretty nerdy looking guys, we've never had any luck with girls, and it just seemed right with Mike, spending time with him. Though I was never with Mike in that way. I think both of us were too terrified of the idea. Like I said, Mike and I live in a sleepy little town of Travis Indiana, and everyone's attitude was if you want to be out and proud that's fine, just do it someplace else.
In fact, the last guy to be openly gay at our school was dragged behind a four wheeler for a mile and a half, and needed reconstructive surgeries. And the guy who did it only got seven months, plus probation, cause his uncle was the local sheriff. It's that kind of town. We're all supposed to be 'super liberal', but it's all for show. They'll all say the right things, but at the end of the day, you don't know what they'll do. And that was the thing about this guy. I wasn't ready to be out, while I wasn't ready to admit it to myself yet. But something about him about the way he looked at us, and the way he smiled at us. Made me think he knew. I looked over at Mike, and he looked just as scared as I felt. In a weird way, that it made me feel happy. If we felt scared together, then maybe we're connected. He laughed nervously, and that made me feel a little better.
"What a freak." He said, nodding at the man.
Eventually, the movie started.
The tension in the theater was incredible. But it died down as the silly parts came into view. I got to admit, this was a stupid movie. The first time Charles and his mother Mary showed incest towards one another, a couple of girls to our right screamed, and not a horror movie scream either, not a scream half filled with laughter. Their screams, were real. For my part, I could barely watch the movie. Which was kind of a relief for me since the movie was absolute garbage. First of all, I knew the story plot pretty well, so there wasn't a lot to keep my attention there. The reason Mike and I came was to see how they were going to handle the movie, and Charles would woo Tanya in order to feed off of her, and finally feed his starving mother. That kind of stuff. But I was distracted. I kept looking around the theater, looking for the guy with the cat-like face. And that's the thing. Sometimes he was there, sometimes he wasn't. You can always spot him, by his black hoodie. But he, wasn't always there.
Or could it be, that he was.... Invisible?
About twenty minutes into the film, I heard this guy cussing up a storm off to my right. I looked, and there was that man again, only this time, his appearance had gotten worse. He now resembled the cat creatures from the end of the film. The man cussing was trying to get away from him, tripping over seats and people to try and reach the aisle. I even heard some people behind me get up out of their seats and leave. It wasn't fun in that theater, it was REAL horror. At one point, they even saw the manager come in with a flashlight. He was obviously looking for the man in the black hoodie. Everyone stopped watching the movie, and paid attention, waiting to see what would happen. It was like the whole theater was holding it's breath. But the manager couldn't find anything. After that, I think we got a good thirty minutes of the movie without having to worry about the real Charles Brady in our midst. By then they were well along in the story.
Tanya fights off Charles in the cemetery after they're picnic went aerie. and the police officer who has been chasing after Charles is killed. This is where Charles yells out Cop Cabob. I lost myself in the movie for a little while. Then I glanced over at Mike during one of the scenes at the cemetery. The scene brightly lit the theater, and I saw the man. He was sitting in our row just two seats beyond Mike. He was back to his human form once again. I looked, and saw that the man had already pulled out from his coat pocket, a Leatherman tool; one of those Swiss Army pocketknife plier things. He'd open and close the blades, click the pliers, all kinds of things. And I realized, staring at this man, that he wasn't fidgeting with it anymore. I look at Mike, he was gazing up at the movie screen, like you do, and I looked at the man, and he had something wet all over his hands and shirt, instead of holding the Leatherman tool. And he was looking right back at me.
Those cat-like features came back, with a big grin of needle fangs on his face. I looked back at Mike, the scenes where Mary shot at the police cars with explosions came on the screen, so I could see him clearly. His jaw was slack, and his eyes were glazed over. I was just about to ask him if he was okay, when something hit my eye. I reached up, and brushed something wet off my face. Something was in my hand, I held it up to the light, and I saw that it was a chunk of something fleshy, covered in blood. A big wad of pink flesh pierced and bleeding! That's when I looked at Mike's chest, and screamed. Down on the floor was the Leather tool, the largest pocket knife blade was out, and it was working on Mike, impossibly fast. The man's hand was a blur, like it was a visual effect from a movie, a thousand jerky movements crammed into a single second! I couldn't even tell where his hand stopped or where the knife began. And it was stabbing him, practically turning his chest into a hamburger. This man... This, demonic, inhuman monster... Was stabbing the boy I thought I loved, over, and over again.
And I had no control over it...
At that moment, the screen went dark, and the lights in the theater came up. And all the people around us started screaming, yelling, and trying to get away. Reality came crashing down, like a meteorite. I saw the knife laying on the floor near Mike's left foot, normal now, no special effects, and I saw Mike.... Or... What was left of Mike. Slumped in the seat next to me. His blood and viscera was spread all around us, five or six seats in every direction. I looked around the theater, but I couldn't see the man.
He was gone.
I told the cops and homicide detectives everything, but, they didn't believe my story. But they DID believe that there was a man in the theater, and someone claimed that this man was holding the Leather tool back at the scene of the crime. But mostly everyone else in the theater that night didn't remember seeing a man in a black hoodie.
I think about Mike often, and went to his funeral. All I have to remember him by is a bunch of photos on my phone. Funny thing about the man though, I still see him all the time. Right now for example, I can see him out my bedroom window. Standing under the streetlight. It's plenty of wind tonight, the trees are whipping back and forth, but his clothes, his hood, or his hair, never moves.