The doorway to the stage-left stairway was adorned with party balloons. On the other side, trapped “children” wailed and rattled the bars of a cage. Garish decorations were spread about the walls, along with fake bugs and other unpleasantness. At the bottom of the stairs, a boy in a horrid clown suit sprang out at us and pursued us into the next hallway. Here, a variety of dolls and doll heads hung from ribbons from the ceiling.
We stopped for notes. The freshman portraying Pennywise the Clown removed his leering mask and tucked it under his arm. Someone poked at the bulge of his false belly.
“You look like you’re pregnant.”
“Yes,” he replied, patting the rotundity. “It’s the child that I ate.”
We passed through the area that would contain the Psycho shower curtain (it hadn’t been put up yet), turned, and then ascended the Grudge stairway.
Red gels had been taped over the florescent, motion-sensitive lights, and bloody gauze was spread, cobweb-style, upon the walls and handrails. A severed arm hung from a string above the first landing, twirling lazily. It was quite a transformation from the stage-right stairway that I was accustomed to, having used it many a time to get from the cafeteria to the fiber arts room and back again.
From beneath the stairs, a girl crawled—or rather inched—out, making all sorts of awful noises. Having never seen The Grudge, nor having any idea what it’s about, I made a few quick guesses as to what was going on. Clearly, the girl under the stairs was an important character in the story. Did she have a grudge? Or was she a grudge personified?
It didn’t matter. I followed along behind the person in front of me to the top of the stairs, passing the hanging body parts and a girl crying in a corner.
At the top, we all tried to cram onto the small landing for notes. The nurses, whose hallway came next, slipped through the door to prepare.