I possess a combination of imagination and practicality that allows me to be scared silly one minute and completely over it the next.
It’s quite a nice trait, actually. When I’m in the mood, I can let myself become terrorized by a scary movie. I hide my face in my pillow because I can’t watch and scream when the ax murderer jumps out of the closet.
But then, when I’m ready to go to bed, I can tell myself that it was just a movie and put it out of my mind. I don’t have nightmares. I don’t lay awake all night worrying that the ax murderer is going to come after me.
There are some things that scare me more than others, that are harder to “turn off.”
For instance, I was absolutely sick with fear (and motion sickness) after Blair Witch but, unlike my friend Nan, I didn’t keep me up that night.
But an episode of Ghost Hunters? Or a true crime story? Those might interfere with my sleep just a little. Not enough for a completely sleepless night, but they are harder to put out of my head.
It’s obvious why true crime stories get to me. They’re true. Those particular ax murders could actually be lurking outside my door, or ones like them.
I’m not sure why Ghost Hunters bothers me, though. Something about those dark houses and all that ghost hunting equipment, I guess.
Anyway, it’s a good thing I can choose whether or not to be scared because I spend a fair amount of time wandering around a dark, empty theater.
That’s someplace for the easily frightened to avoid.
There are a lot of nooks and crannies for ax murderers to hide in inside a theater. Crouching in the rows of seats, in the lighting booth, just about anyplace backstage, in the grid.
And there’s a lot of ways for an ax murderer to kill you in a theater too. Drop something on you, toss you off the grid, electrocute you.
Now that I think about it, they should make a horror movie set entirely in a theater. There could be a limitless variety of death scenes.
But I’m perfectly happy wandering up and down the aisles or into the wings. Unless someone leaves something where it isn’t supposed to be, my chances of accident or death are slim.
There is just one part of the theater that gives me pause, and it’s just a simple staircase.
To get from the theater to the green room (with the kitchen, dressing rooms and laundry facilities), you can either go up on stage and then down a rather steep, old metal staircase, or you can exit from the house directly to a nice, wide, new staircase.
I tend to take the newer stairs.
In order to stop light from the staircase from bleeding into the theater as people come and go, you have to go through two sets of doors.
Theater, door, two steps, door, stairway.
Those two steps are usually taken in complete darkness.
Then you throw open the door to the stairs and, after a short delay, the motion sensor light comes on.
It isn’t being trapped between those two doors in blackness that bothers me. It’s that short delay before the light blinks on.
In the few seconds it takes, I envision one of two things happening.
First, I wonder if the staircase has fallen away and I’m about to take a step into nothingness.
This could never happen short of an earthquake. The staircase was built just ten years ago and it’s made from cement and metal. It’s incredibly solid and not going anywhere.
But when I take that step through the door and the light hasn’t turned on yet, I worry, just momentarily, that I’m stepping into an abyss.
That would suck.
And then I wonder if there’s someone standing on the landing above me. That ax murderer I keep mentioning, for instance.
Can you imagine standing in a dark stairwell, then the lights turn on and there’s a madman wearing one of those masks like the ones they wore in The Strangers looming on the landing above you?
I find those masks that make people look like a blank, featureless face much scarier than a Jason hockey mask or that Scream mask.
I know that the stairwell isn’t going to disappear and most likely a murderer isn’t hanging out on the landing, but it always crosses my mind.
I’m also partially convinced that this particular staircase is haunted.
Theaters have a long tradition of ghosts, maybe because they are dangerous places, maybe because they kill so many dreams of being a star, or maybe because too many people have seen The Phantom of the Opera.
I’ve never seen a theater ghost, although we were always told in college that the theater on campus was haunted by a nun. Sister something… Sarah, maybe? Or am I just thinking of the John Wayne movie?
What can I say, it was a Catholic school. If the ghost wasn’t a nun, it would have been a priest.
I feel a little stupid for saying this, but the reason I suspect the stairwell may be haunted is because it always smells like freshly baked brownies.
I mean every time I use those stairs, I think “brownies.” Usually right after “Are the stairs still there?” and “Is there an ax murderer on the landing?”
Don’t ask me why I associate the smell of brownies with ghosts. I don’t know. But I can’t think of any other explanation why the stairwell smells like a Duncan Hines test kitchen.
Maybe it’s the ghost of an old rock star, making pot brownies in the kitchen.
Luckily, I’m practical enough to not let any of these fears of the green room staircase stop me from doing my job or wandering around the theater in the dark.
But I did install a flashlight app on my phone. Just in case.