It is enormous. Much larger in the inside than it appears from the outside. And it does look large from the outside. It sits next to a forest, or within it. A road leads to it, curving through the trees like an extended thick snake made of dust No city is close by. Some people stand outside, waiting to be go inside, trying to decide what to see, waiting for others to arrive, looking at the schedules, discussing the possibilities. The walls are thick and at least 3 stories tall. They seem ancient yet show no mark of age. Nothing is falling apart. Everything is just in the right place. The whiteness of the walls is pure and shiny. There are 3 entrances, each able to fit 20 people or more at a time. The sides of each entrance are adorned with multiple markings, strange symbols, magical hieroglyphics, mysterious sigils and Soda announcements. There is a constant rumble of echoed noise coming from inside. A vast conversation that never ends.
Inside, the lobby is covered in wall to wall red carpet. If the walls outside seemed three stories tall, inside the ceiling is so high it can’t be seen. There are stairways leading down and up, and to the sides, away from the lobby. The stairways divide and subdivide going to the inner doorways within. There are also transparent elevators that climb up to unsuspected heights and open up to further stairways. People walk back and forth in all directions. They hold things in their hands very tightly: food, brochures, jewelry. The crowds are coming up from the stairways, walking into the elevators, walking out of the elevators, walking down stairways. A long concession stand stands in the middle, selling all kinds of junk food along with strange artifacts. People stand in long lines waiting to buy at the stand. Each one alone or in a very small group. The echo of conversation rings loudly throughout the space, but with it come waves of isolation. Each one, each group, is by itself. Even the staff seems to be alone, lost in a vast complex structure that has no internal hierarchy. The manager, if there ever was one, has long been gone.
The stairways lead to enormous theaters where movies play continuously. The seats are arranged in layers of balconies, which extend so far into the back that the end can’t be seen. There are many empty seats but the place is so huge that it still holds a vast crowd. People are constantly moving, even while the movie plays. They move from seat to seat. They encounter others, then sit somewhere else, then go back out to the lobby. The light coming from the screen lights up their faces. An overweight girl working away at a large bucket of popcorn. A skinny young boy slurping Soda from a straw. Two young lovers caressing each other surreptitiously in the darkness. An old frail man bending over towards the screen, his eyes barely registering any kind of awareness.
It is easy to get lost in here. Everything that came before can be forgotten so quickly. There is a need to sit down and watch the movie. Lay back. Rest. Stop worrying. Let the movie play and be content in the darkness. Nobody will bother you. Everybody stays to themselves and there are plenty of empty seats between the patrons. There is no end to the movies, so there’s no need to worry about going home. No need to remember where or what home was. The movies will play forever. Maybe it’s many movies. Maybe it’s the same one. Every once in a while you may need to visit the concession stand, but even that can be rare. The seats are so comfortable. They fold back and cushion your head. Your eyes can focus on the movie and you can set aside all distractions. In the middle of the vast crowd, you are now finally comfortably alone and without any worry.
People scurry from one hall to another. Never content with their choice of movie. But you can sit easy. Relax. You made it into the theater. Now you can rest.