It was opening night at the Paradise. Despite their investigation, the three adventurers had been unable to find reason to stop Sara from putting on the show on-schedule. Despite her reassurances, Lupin and Derive 'knew' that something terrible was going to happen.
Lupin was on edge as the customers began to file excitedly into the theater, all of them eager to see the elven romantic comedy A Good Year In Suss Forest
. Lupin knew that his comrade Derive was somewhere in the balcony to keep an eye out for trouble. However, the halfling had lost track of Lucy in the crowd. He worried that she had gotten into trouble somewhere.
"No time to fret over her now," Lupin reminded himself as he watched the line of patrons from the darkness of the alley across the street. "Like Uncle Jan always said, 'when you aren't sure what you're looking for, look for everything.' Hmm ..."
Lupin furrowed his brow and a frown crept upon his face. "Then again, he was usually passed in the corner from his turnip wine."
Suddenly, a hand gripped him by the shoulder. Screaming like an eight year old girl, he scrambled away from his supposed attacker and bolted out of the alley. He tripped on the curb and fell into the street, turning around with his gun pointed at the alley.
"Whatcha doing?" Lucy asked curiously as she exited the darkness of the alley.
The halfling turned bright red as he heard the chuckling of theater patrons across the street. Lupin stood up quickly and put his gun away, then began to brush himself off.
"Keeping an eye out for trouble," he answered her as he cleared his throat. "What are you doing back there?"
"Chasing hobos," Lucy answered with an innocent smile.
Lucy's smile slowly morphed into concerned curiosity as she looked beyond Lupin at something across the street. Turning to follow her gaze, the halfling felt an icy chill run up his spine as he saw Jonathan Long entering the theater, his arm wrapped tightly around Sara's waist.
"Trouble," Lupin said bluntly.
Once everyone was settled into the theater, Lupin and Lucy joined Derive up in the balcony. The murmurs from below echoed hollowly throughout the chamber, though the halfling dismissed it as nothing more than odd acoustics.
"Have you seen Sara?" Lupin asked Derive.
"Yeah," Derive replied tensely. "She's over in the other balcony with Long."
A cheer rose up from the theater patrons as the film began. Lupin glanced intermittently at Sara and Jonathan, and every time it seemed as if Mr. Long had pressed himself more firmly against her as he whispered into her ear.
Suddenly the movie stuttered and stopped, the projector making a horrendous metallic squalling sound. Someone from the crowd called out "Focus!" in a friendly tone. Standing upon his seat to get a better view, Lupin watched in horror as the image of the dozen men in blank masks came into view on the screen. The theater grew very quite as a palpable feeling of malevolence began to wash over the room.
The silence was shattered by a scream as Long pushed Sara over the balcony railing. She plummeted to the wooden floor, landing on her head with a sickening crack. Screams and the hackneyed cries of "Dear Gods!" rang throughout the room.
Suddenly, the image on the screen went black as the floor to the theater collapsed, causing another chorus of screams to reverberate across the room. Rising up from the darkness of the hole, terrified patrons gripped in its slime-coated tendrils, was a massive amorphous ball of black and silver film. It lashed out with its limbs, snatching up fleeing patrons and devouring them.
"Tentacles," Derive grumbled. "Figures."