Like any other person, the middle-aged ‘uncle’ no one knew entered the cinema. He blended into the crowd with a peculiar semblance of invisibility. He dressed in what passed for the national costume these days: a Giordano tee, striped bermudas, slippers. You wouldn’t give him a second look if he passed you in the street.
He was not normal. Well, maybe, to a certain extent. He was, for instance, certainly a carbon-based life form. A human being, in fact. But the thoughts which passed through his mind were way out of the realm of normality. It’s hard to explain like this, though.
One saw an inkling of this carefully concealed insanity during tragic scenes, where plaintive strings wailed in the background and people, onscreen and off, shed tears. While others cried, or at least felt a twinge at their heartstrings, this man simply giggled to himself.
In the same row, there was a woman who was paying no attention to the movie at all. She let her eyes rove around the cinema and wondered why everyone seemed to be fixated on the movie. That was a bad sign. She looked further down the row, hoping to spot her quarry, but the description she had been given was annoyingly vague.
Forty-five minutes into the movie, there was a chase scene through a real-life Gothic church. The man got up, holding his soft drink, and started to make this way to the end of the row. He did this so politely, so quietly, that no one really noticed, not really the heard-core complainers.
If anyone had bothered to look at the man, the normal unassuming man, they would have noticed what he was holding. But no one in the audience did.
Now one other person had stopped watching the movie. She sat, conveniently, at the last seat of the row, and she saw him coming. Three seats to the end now. On the big screen, the protagonist climbed under a pew, his panting breaths echoing around the cinema.
A cold hand grabbed the man’s bare forearm and he let out a small cry. Her grip crushed the man’s wrist; his fingers began to tingle. When she pulled him out of the row, he could only follow. He felt the loosely veiled threat of something metallic poking at his stomach.
Silently, she twisted his wrist, turning the palm skywards. She tried to peel the man’s fingers loose. He set his jaw in defiance. Her smile froze. No one saw exactly what happened, but suddenly the thing in his hands fell into hers and the man crumpled silently into her arms. She pocketed it and carried the man out of the theatre.
And all eyes in the theatre were riveted to the passionate on-screen kissing. The whole thing had taken barely a minute.
Out in the safety of a deserted back corridor, the woman made a quick call, then shoved the inert form into another cinema. The man was safely nestled in three layers of dusty curtains and would not wake up for eight hours.
No one in the theatre would realise what had really happened, not for a day or two, but the woman had just saved all their lives.