As much “fun” as jumping between movies is, you feel like you’ve had enough near death from fictional characters for one Halloween. Besides, if even Victoria doesn’t know what’s going on, maybe it’s better to investigate where this all started. Shoving Jim along, you hop through the portal to the theater, vision filling with white light once more. More falling, then you land on the familiar worn red carpet, nearly dropping your axe from the shock of the landing. Huh, you weren’t really expecting that to come with you, but you’ll never say no to a weapon on Halloween. Wow, kind of shows how fucked up your Halloweens are, doesn’t it? Not as bad as Arbor Day, obviously, but fucked up nonetheless.
There’s a scream from behind, and you swing around with your axe raised, only to find that the noise came from Jim. He’s hugging himself… no, wait, he’s hugging his costume and all the various substances hidden under the gauze. Looks like you found something to snap Jim out of philosophy, and it’s more or less exactly what you thought it would be. Victoria is there too, once more clad in a vampire’s garb, and you’re in a werewolf costume as well.
“Interesting.” Victoria scans the empty chairs facing the screen, which has frozen on an image of deathites, claws outstretched like they’re trying to break through. “This isn’t our theater.”
“MMfrrrmGrahrpa!” Jim has gauze in his mouth as he unwraps part of himself, hurriedly gaining access to his stash. You can, sadly enough, translate fairly well though. This sort of thing happens more than it rightly should.
“I think Jim was asking why that matters.”
Victoria takes her time answering, looking to the screen and the chairs a few times, checking details you can’t discern. “It matters because that means we were moving through points in space. These worlds are real, in a way, pocket universes with fixed exit points. When we moved from one to another, we actually moved. The easier way to achieve this effect would be to have it be illusionary, or hypnotic. To conjure fictional beings into a physical plane requires much greater power. It still doesn’t tell me what we’re dealing with, but any information might prove to be valuable.”
Another scream fills the theater, and you’re about to tell Jim to calm down when you remember his mouth is stuffed with gauze. Also, that tone sounded higher than his voice, along with being slightly muffled. It must have come from outside this room, in the main lobby. Now that you’re listening, you can hear a lot of similar noises, none of which sound pleasant.
With a look to Victoria, who nods that she hears it too, and then to Jim, who has just stuffed a bag of something into his mouth and is smiling cheerfully, you decide to advance. Down the small ramp and the dark hallway, you carefully shove the door open and peek through. You aren’t entirely sure what you were expecting to see, but it is definitely not the utter shit show that’s waiting behind that door.
Monsters are all over. Francis Dream Stabber has come to life, menacing a group huddled near the bathrooms with his infamous clawed shoe. A shadow runs along the floor accompanied by the sounds of beating wings, occasionally swooping low enough to give you glimpses of Murdercrow, the scarecrow possessed by the souls of dead birds. A trio of goblins, clearly from the film Goblin Your Flesh, run out from the snack bar with arms full of candy. It’s utter chaos, monsters menacing everyone in sight like the worst kind of cameo-stuffed experience possible.
“I don’t get it. We were the ones being drawn into the movies, why is all this stuff in the real world?”
“I’ve told you before, reality is more subjective than you seem to believe,” Victoria says. “However, you do raise a good point. We found the same system in place in both films, so why are things working differently here? The monsters were contained.”
There’s crunching in your ear as Jim moves closer, bag of popcorn in hand. Where did he… right, abandoned theater means abandoned snacks. “Ours are still stuck, maybe the other people sucked at knowing how to beat their monsters.” Throwing a thumb back, Jim gestures to the screen, where the deathites are trapped, claws extended. Come to think of it, you don’t see Umpire Mask out there anywhere, and this is definitely his type of scene. He might just be somewhere out of sight, but it is a weird coincidence that one of the most classic slashers of all time isn’t in the fray.
“Truth from the mouths of fools. A classic motif, if ever there was one.” Victoria peeks past you, getting a better look at the lobby. “I suspect Jim is right. When we won our movies, we were given the chance to leave. Perhaps the same was true for the monsters. The ones who triumphed escaped into this realm to continue harvesting fear. Not everyone immediately went into a theater, after all. There were plenty of humans left to prey on.”
“Does that mean everyone from the other theaters is already dead?” For a guy who was happy to leave a bunch of possessed people on fire, you’re sure picking weird times to grow a conscience.
“It’s impossible to say for certain, but I doubt it. One must be alive to be afraid. Even now you can see that the monsters are going for injury over murder, keeping the humans alive and terrified.” Victoria points to Francis Dream stabber, who throws a kick that leaves a gash on a woman’s arm as she dives away, allowing her to keep struggling. She’s right; they want people scared more than dead. That said, there are a few people littering the grounds who look pretty messed up. Maybe they killed a few to keep the rest all the more afraid.
More crunching, then a bag being crumpled as Jim has somehow already downed his entire thing of popcorn. “We should help them. We’re probably the only ones who can, plus having more eyes might help since we have no idea what we’re looking for.”
“They are mundane, and therefore largely useless in a situation such as this,” Victoria counters. “Even if it is possible that removing sources of fear could weaken our adversary, I favor finding that enemy first. The movies seem to be the source of all this, and their central hub is the connected projection rooms on the next floor. If there is one place we could find a clue, I would expect it to be there.”
“Or maybe in the employee areas,” you toss out. “Think about it. Whoever did this must have had some kind of access to put it all together. There’s bound to be somewhere private back there that they could use.”
Victoria nods. “A valid theory. With so little to work off of, any option is as good as another. Trust your trouble-finding instincts and lead us deeper into danger, Merlin.”
You’re pretty sure that’s a vote of confidence from her, but the more she says stuff like that the less certain you are. Regardless, you’re in a building full of movie monsters, so standing around waiting for one to notice you all is a bad idea. Time to get your axe in gear.