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This was the sort of place that the woman who sent him out on these endeavours would love. Extraordinarily old-fashioned, amazingly well-preserved, but abandoned, lost to memory. No doubt, given that memory was her very existence, that is why he knew she’d love to come here, if she ever left her home.

 

He was here to find the Auteur, the occupier of this old cinema. It was located in West Virginia, which was rather different from both his home in Rhode Island or the many places he had been on the East Coast that in the grand scheme were rather nearby. He had become something of an expert tracker, able to collate from rumours and gossip where even the most enigmatic soul resided. And now the woman who had saved him from his fate sent him all over the world to find those similarly lost.

 

He waited in the silent cinema. The gold-bedecked finery, the red velvet, tied it to another age. Maybe it was indeed a mystical place. He had heard rumours of ghosts, and though he both knew that strangeness and impossibility dwelt upon the earth, and disbelieved the usual accounts of it, he wondered if this place was genuinely peculiar. Maybe it existed in more than one city. Maybe the old projector illuminated the remnants of those gone before.

 

He shook his head and looked around. Up in the gallery, the Auteur looked down at him. Puzzlement, fear, anguish, he recognised the marks of a forsaker upon him. Calling up, his resonant voice redoubled in impact by the wonderful acoustics, he cried:

“For all who are lost like us are not meant to be lost forever, to live in the shadow of sorrow.”

 

The Auteur tilted his head and beckoned him.

 

Having ascended, he took the seat next to the Auteur. No dust rose from it, as he had anticipated. Turning to the still quiet man, he asked the Auteur for his story. Few ever refused his request, but the Auteur shook his head.

“No, sir, I shall not tell it. But I can show you. You have come to set me free. But before I will be free, let me prove my name, let me show you what I have done before I add the final frames and can leave this place.”

He pressed some switch hidden beneath a gilded rail, and the whirl of reels audibly began. The lights dimmed. The movie palace was home to its celluloid king for the last time.

 

 

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TimothySwann

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