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The Little Girl

By RAR

There are many stories concerning the ghostly residents that seem to have made their home at the old Mounds Theatre. In all, there are three known entities: a young girl who on occasion skips gleefully across the stage, bouncing a small rubber ball; a middle aged man, who moves around the projection booth, seemingly distraught over long forgotten events; and an usher, dressed in a red uniform, who continues to direct people to their designated seats in the auditorium.

The story I'm about to tell is an actual account of my encounter with two of them. However there are many more experiences that are now etched permanently in my mind. Take note, it is immaterial to me whether you do or do not believe in ghosts, as I know in my mind that they DO exist. In reading the following account you have to judge for yourself. After opening the door I walked cautiously into the darkness over to the light switch on the wall in the ticket office. The overhead lights sprang on and I stood in the eerie glow of days gone by. I had just entered the Mounds Theatre, a 1920's silent movie house forgotten in time since the 1960s.

Sidestepping the rubble on the lobby floor I made my way to the entrance of the main auditorium. As my hand touched the door�s cold metal handle, the hairs on my neck stood up. What was waiting for me through this small single door? I was about to find out. Slowly the door creaked open revealing the piles of debris that had accumulated over the last 40 years, all of which was piled high on the tattered, dusty theater seats. After my eyes became accustomed to the dim lighting, I made my way down the aisle of the main auditorium. Suddenly I was keenly aware of my surroundings. There were empty popcorn boxes on the floor along with various candy boxes strewn throughout the seats, sitting as they did when the doors of the theater were hurriedly closed in the late 1960s. I had to wonder: why did the last owner slam the doors shut and leave in such a hurry? It was all very curious.

As I stood in the small theater aisle my breathing suddenly became labored. The air rushing into my lungs was now thick and musty and I found myself choking. As I became accustomed to the stale air, I began surveying the mounds of "treasures" piled high by the present owner who had been using the theater as a warehouse for the last 40 years. I forced myself to walk and proceeded down the aisle, making mental notes of the theatre's contents. There were old organ parts - hundreds of them, piled high, one on top of the other. Old boxes were strewn about spilling out their contents onto the seats... invoices, time sheets and personal information that dated back to the 1920s. My curiosity now aroused, I began sifting through the papers only to have them turn to dust in my hands, trickle through my fingers and then merge with the ancient layer of dust already accumulated on the cold cement floors. My gaze now fell on the stage. The old, yellowing projection screen hung tattered and torn from its riggings in the ceiling. Small pieces of the black masking appeared to be moving through some unforeseen force.

With my gaze transfixed on the movie screen I could see the vague outline of a person, but I'm sure it was only my eyes playing tricks on me... or was it? My eyes moved to the stage below the screen where I surveyed the mountains of old computers staring back at me in the dimly lit room, the silver mass of the computer cases with all of their small black knobs appeared to be watching me. Even though I knew that these were but inanimate objects, they seemed to possess a certain knowledge of the events that might have and still are taking place within the decaying brick walls of the theater. It was then I heard it. Something or someone appeared to be skipping across the back of the stage behind the rows of computers. I stood frozen, my eyes straining to see if there was someone else in the building. Logic however told me that this wasn't possible as there was really only one main entrance to the building. The skipping finally stopped abruptly and I heard a ball bouncing down the back stairs connected to the stage.

First one step and then two and then total silence. I looked down and at my feet was a small rubber ball. My instincts told me to bolt but I was unable to move, my feet feeling like lead weights attached to my legs, which were now starting to tremble. The skipping sound brought me back to reality and my gaze again was transfixed back to the stage. There I saw a young girl, possibly six or seven, dressed in a pink gauze dress that seemed to float around her as if a slight, unseen breeze was moving the transparent material slowly around her body. It appeared as a pale pink mist. Her hair hung in golden ringlets, bobbing up and down as she moved, making her way to the door at the opposite end of the stage. She then stopped suddenly, turning to look at me. Her crystal blue eyes locked on mine and it appeared that she was trying to tell me something, as the ache in her eyes was truly evident. She then vanished from sight as if swallowed up in the black abyss waiting to engulf her at the opposite end of the stage.

After regaining my composure I stood for a while in the darkness, not wanting to believe what I had just seen and heard. Who was this young lady and why had she chosen to reveal herself to me? I then looked down at my watch, knowing full well that I had only been standing there for a short amount of time. But I was wrong.... I had been transfixed in time for a good two hours and knew I had to leave. I took one more glance over my shoulder to the stage area, hoping to again catch a glimpse of the little girl whose eyes had beseeched me to stay. This was not to be, at least not on this particular visit. Turning on my heels, I walked slowly towards the dimly lit exit sign guiding me back to the theater lobby. Again I turned, not being able to shake off the image of the girl, but the only thing staring back at me was the old contents of the theater. I jerked open the lobby door and walked through, listening for the door to close behind me. It closed with a thud. Walking over to the box office I switched the lights off and set the ancient alarm system that had been watching over the theater for many years. It was the silent sentry on duty that called in an alarm at the hint of any unwanted intruders. The button flashed green. It was time to go.

Standing in total darkness now, I made my way to the front door. It opened slightly and it was then that I felt two cold hands push down on my shoulders and begin pulling me back into the building. I lurched forward, propelling myself out the door into the sunlight. I whirled to lock the door and with one desperate movement the lock finally went through the hole in the old metal clasp. My day�s ordeal had finally ended but I knew in my mind that it was only for the present. In a daze, I walked slowly to my car, turned on the ignition and began driving away. In passing the theater I looked up at the window in the projection booth. There I saw a man looking straight at me. I blinked my eyes but the apparition continued to stare down at me. A thin smile appeared on his gray, transparent face and then he was gone.

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