One of several ghostly encounters I have had in my life. Happy Halloween, Everyone!
I’LL BE BACK
By Richard Rothrock
In 1989 I lived in a one-bedroom apartment that occupied the second floor of a two-story house. One night shortly after moving in I woke to the sound of someone walking down the hallway outside my bedroom. At first I thought it was my cat. The hallway’s old wooden floor creaked loudly regardless of the weight of the walker. But then I saw my cat asleep next to me. I also noticed that the footsteps came not from the direction of my living room, but from the other direction, which dead-ended at my bathroom.
Before I could think more about it, a tall, slender man walked into the room. He paused in front of my bookcase, turned, and stared at me. He wore a blue windbreaker and a red baseball cap and looked to be in his early sixties. He just starred. I wondered whether this was only my imagination, but a quick glance at my cat revealed that he was staring at the visitor, too. I turned my attention back to the man.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
The man shook his head. “No. I was just looking around. I’ll be back later to talk.”
Without another word, he walked out of the room and back down the hall. When the footsteps reached the bathroom, they stopped. I pondered checking the bathroom but decided against it. I was too damn scared. Going back to sleep seemed the best recourse.
The next day I called my friend who had lived in the apartment before I moved in. I asked whether anything strange had occurred while she lived here.
“Blue windbreaker? Red baseball cap?” she asked.
She said he came into the bedroom one night shortly after she moved in. He told her he would be back later to talk but never returned.
And he never returned for me either.
Published in I Never Believed In Ghosts Until…. (1992)
Postscript: I had several other encounters while living in that apartment. There was a black and white tabby ghost cat who regularly strolled around the place. My cat Taffy passed away while living there. I managed to see him several times after that including one instance where an invisible cat batted and knocked decorations off my Christmas tree. When I yelled at him to stop, it did.
WARNING: SPOILER ALERTS BELOW!!!!!!
INT. EXECUTIVE OFFICE, HOLLYWOOD STUDIO - DAY
PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE (mid-30s but looking older) leans back in his chair. His eyes blurry from surfing the web looking for the next big thing. Door opens.
SEASONED SCREENWRITER (mid-40s but trying to look a lot younger) strolls in exuding either false confidence or an exaggerated ego. It’s hard to tell which.
Exec leaps out of chair.
EXEC: There you are! Thanks for coming in.
(hurries over to shake his hand.)
SCREENWRITER: No problem. No problem. I was glad to get the text. It’s an interesting conundrum you have here.
EXEC: I knew we could count on you.
(Gestures for him to sit)
SCREENWRITER: Come on! Impossible sequels are my specialty. Who gave you WATERWORLD 2: BACK TO THE BEACH or TITANIC 2: THAT OLD SINKING FEELING?
EXEC: Exactly! Exactly! I loved those scripts. Too bad they didn’t get made.
SCREENWRITER (sad): I know, I know. I still have hopes for KING’S SPEECH 2 though.
EXEC: Yeah, that scene where the king and queen skydive into Berlin and capture Hitler. Then they have to shoot their way out of town. "I'll be b-b-b-back!" Beautiful, man!
Exec gets comfy in his chair.
EXEC: So what have you got for me?
Screenwriter pauses to build up the suspense then spreads his arms wide.
SCREENWRITER: GRAVITY 2: UNDER PRESSURE.
SCREENWRITER: Sandra Bullock is back on earth. There’s no friggin’ way she’s ever going up in space again.
EXEC: Yeah, yeah. She hates space.
SCREENWRITER: That’s her new catchphrase, btw. “I hate space.” Plus, there is no way for her to go back in space anyway, seeing as how she single-handedly destroyed the USA, Russian, and Chinese space programs. All in 90 minutes!
EXEC: That’s a woman for you!
SCREENWRITER: So what does she do next? Well, she’s a scientist, right? Forget outer space. Think inner space. So she joins this super secret deep-sea mission. Kind of like VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA.
EXEC: What's that?
SCREENWRITER (ignoring him): They’re going down to the deepest part of the ocean. Wherever that may be. It’s called the Mariola Trench or something like that.
EXEC: Good, good. Keep it going.
SCREENWRITER: So they get on this submarine and they dive down. Way deep. Down to the farthest reaches. Where there is no light.
EXEC (laughing): “Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission.” What are they diving for?
SCREENWRITER: I don’t know. Something. Does it matter? We didn’t know why they were up in space, did we?
EXEC: Something to do with the Hubble.
SCREENWRITER: Right. And who cares about the Hubble? So maybe, I don’t know, I’m riffing here. How about they go down because there is some new sensors or something that will detect earthquakes? It’s going to prevent tsunamis like what happened in that IMPOSSIBLE movie and that Eastwood flick too.
EXEC: Cool. Btw, how is that sequel to THE IMPOSSIBLE coming?
SCREENWRITER: Let’s just say IMPOSSIBLE 2 is the perfect name for it. Anyway, so they are down at the bottom of the ocean. And she is out in this diving suit. It’s like the latest diving bell thing.
EXEC: Do those exist?
SCREENWRITER: Does it matter?
SCREENWRITER: So she’s down at the bottom of the ocean and there’s an earthquake or something and the submarine implodes. So everybody’s dead except Sandra. She’s alone at the bottom of the ocean. It’s the same situation as before. She can’t go up to the surface because it is too far. And she’ll get the bends. But she’s also only got so much oxygen. What’s she going to do? She’s stuck. Under Pressure. [starts humming the Queen song].
EXEC: Is she alone down there?
SCREENWRITER: I suppose we could have somebody there. Ryan Reynolds, maybe?
EXEC: What about Clooney? We could have him back.
SCREENWRITER: Clooney died.
EXEC: Did he? He just kind of floated off. Then he came back.
SCREENWRITER: That was a dream.
EXEC: Or was it? (raised eyebrows)
SCREENWRITER: OK, no problem. I can figure out how to get Clooney back. Maybe he’s a guardian angel now or something. Need to get Ed Harris back too. It kind of works as a homage. He was in APOLLO 13 and he was also in THE ABYSS. So he is back again too.
EXEC: OK. That’s a start. But then what? I know! She could run into Atlantis or something down there.
SCREENWRITER: The Mariola Trench is in the Pacific.
EXEC: So? We’ll call it Pacificatis or something. But, yeah, aliens would be cool too. Or better yet aqua zombies. We need the younger market as well.
SCREENWRITER: Which is why I’m thinking that our big twist at the halfway point is Sandra meets her daughter. Maybe she was part of the dive team all along. She didn’t really die as a kid.
EXEC: It was a medical mix-up and she’s been living in this orphanage or something down south.
SCREENWRITER: And now she’s grown up and played by Miley Cyrus. (makes wrecking ball motions)
EXEC: I love it! I love it! Only Sandra doesn’t know it’s her daughter.
SCREENWRITER: And then they could have this kind of Darth Vader moment. “My daughter’s dead.”
EXEC: And Miley says, “I AM your daughter!”
They break out in fits of self-congratulatory laughter.
SCREENWRITER: Then it turns out these aqua zombies live in the ruins of Pacificatis. And they like come for Miley. And Sandra gets all Sigourney Weaver on them. “Stay away from her, you bitch!”
EXEC: This is gold! Gold! But how are they going to get to the surface?
SCREENWRITER: Good question. Um, maybe there’s a wreck of a Russian sub nearby. And they break inside and some of the missiles are still good. So they can drink some of the liquid oxygen when they are just about to run out of air. And then use another missile to crawl inside and blast themselves to the surface. Happy Ending. It's a movie!
EXEC: Will that work?
SCREENWRITER: Sure. Spielberg made us believe Indiana Jones could survive an atomic blast in an empty fridge.
EXEC: True. Try and work in something Chinese too. Every movie has to have something Chinese these days.
SCREENWRITER: Agreed. Well, what do you think?
EXEC (standing up): I think you’ve got something here.
SCREENWRITER: Do you think we can talk Sandra into this?
EXEC: We talked her into SPEED 2, didn’t we? Now go do that voodoo that you do so well!
They shake hands.
SCREENWRITER: Call me.
They laugh but there is worry in the Screenwriter’s eyes as he heads the door.