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(A short story of 5619 words)

Dream Factory

Horror Literary

by Philip Caveney

A couple of runaway teenagers create a secret world...
in a suburban cinema.

Brian woke from a dreamless sleep. He lay still for a few moments, blinking and yawning, running one hand through his long, greasy hair. He wondered vaguely what time it was.
He pulled off the musty smelling blanket and sat up, so that he could stare around at the gloomy, trash-littered confines of the platform. Above him, the screen towered, huge, blotchy and dead now that it was devoid of sound and image. Tonight it would come alive again.

He sighed and glanced across at Julie. She was still asleep, her face buried in the crook of her arm. She was wearing several old jumpers and this made her body seem more bulky than it really was. She complained of the cold all the time lately. Her straight mousy hair was so greasy it seemed to be plastered to her skull.

She don't tak e care of herself no more, thought Brian.

She moved in her sleep, disturbing the wrappers of several chocolate bars, scattered across her blankets and the crackle of foil woke her. Her large blue eyes stared at Brian for a few moments and then flicked away, as though she hardly cared whether he was there or not. She muttered something beneath her breath then buried her face in the pillow of old sacking.

'What's up?' Brian asked her good-naturedly. 'Still tired?'

'Don't feel well,' she replied, her voice as resentful as that of a little child. 'Been sick again.'

Brian frowned. She was always being sick these days and indolent as she was, she rarely even bothered to get up and move to one of the unused rooms. The floorboards around the bed were stained and sticky. Honestly, it was all a bit much. Julie was fourteen years old but sometimes she didn't act like it.

'A bit of exercise, that's what you need,' observed Brian reproachfully. 'I'm going down to get some scran in a minute, you should come along for a change.'

'Don't want to.' She sat up again, pouting at him. She began to search disconsolately through the sweet wrappers. The edge of her blanket had fallen down to reveal the incongruous curve of her belly, tight against the fabric of her blue dress. Brian chuckled.

'You'll have to give up eatin' all that choccy,' he observed. 'You're gettin' as fat as a pig.'

She directed a scornful glance in his direction and rubbed her stomach ruefully. 'I don't eat all that much,' she said.

'Bit of exercise. Do you the world of....'

'Oh, piss off Brian!' In the gloom, her white face looked abruptly rather startling. She kicked aside the blanket and got to her feet, went to glance down through the gap between the edge of the platform and the screen. From here, you could just make out the first few rows of stalls far below. Sometimes, when the films had started, you could make out a few people sitting in those seats, kids usually. They’d be eating popcorn or ice cream and generally, they’d have their feet up on the backs of the seats in front. But it was early yet and the place was empty. The music hadn't even started...

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