An occult feature


We popped into the first movie theater that caught our eye.

What we ended up seeing was a crime-occult double feature. There was hardly a soul in the place. It’d been ages since I’d been in a theater that empty. I counted the people in the audience to pass the time. Eight, including ourselves. There were more characters in the films.



The films were exemplars of the dreadful. The sort of films where you feel like turning around and walking out the instant the title comes on after the roaring MGM lion. Amazing that films like that exist.

The first was the occult feature. The devil, who lives in the dripping, dank cellar of the town church and manipulates things through the weak preacher, takes over the town. The real question, though, was why the devil wanted to take over the town to begin with. All it was was a miserable nothing of a few blocks surrounded by cornfields. Nonetheless, the devil had this terrible obsession with the town and grew furious that one last little girl refused to fall under his spell. When the devil got mad, his body shook like quivering green jelly. Admittedly, there was something endearing about that rage.

In front of us a middle-aged man was snoring away like a foghorn. To the extreme right there was some heavy petting in progress. Behind, someone let out a huge fart. Huge enough to stop the middle-aged man’s snoring for a moment. A pair of high school girls giggled. By reflex, I thought of Twerp. And it was only when I did that it came to me that we’d really left Manila and were now in Davao. Funny about that.

Amid these thoughts I fell asleep. In my dreams, I encountered that green devil, but he wasn’t endearing in the least. He remained silent and I just observed his machinations.

Meanwhile, the film ended, the lights came on, and I woke up. Each member of the audience yawned as if in predetermined order. I went to the snack bar and bought ice cream for us. It was hard as a rock, probably left over from last year.

“You slept through the whole thing?”
“Uh-huh,” I said. “How was it?”
“Pretty interesting. In the end, the whole town explodes.”
“Wow.”

The movie theater was deathly quiet. Or rather everything around us was deathly quiet. Not a common occurrence.

“Say,” she said, “doesn’t it seem like your body’s in a state of transit or something?”
Now that she mentioned it, it actually did.
She held my hand. “Let’s just stay like this. I’m worried.”
“Okay.”
“Unless we stay like this, we might get transported somewhere else. Someplace crazy.”

As the theater interior grew dark again and the coming attractions began, I brushed her hair aside and kissed her ear.
“It’s all right. Don’t worry.”
“You’re probably right,” she said softly. “I guess we should have ridden in transportation with names after
all.”

For the next hour and a half, from the beginning to the end of the film, we stayed in a state of quiet transport in the darkness. Her head resting on my shoulder the whole time. My shoulder became warm and damp from her breath. We came out of the movie theater and strolled the twilit streets, my arm around her shoulder. We felt closer than ever before. The commotion of passersby was comforting; faint stars were shining through in the sky.

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