“The Palace is closing.”
It wasn’t news that should have shocked Phoebe, but nevertheless, it stopped her dead in her tracks. “Yeah, I’ve heard those rumors, too,” she shook it off - hadn’t everyone heard that at least every six months for the past five years or so? Every time sent a shiver down her spine, though, because she knew that one of those times it would be real. She didn’t want to believe it, wanted to think the Palace would always continue to be there, just like it had been her whole life, but she knew it was bound to happen eventually. She just hoped it wasn’t until after she’d moved away.
“No, it’s not a rumor,” the woman insisted. “Their last day is Halloween.”
“Oh.” She still didn’t believe it entirely, but there was a bad feeling growing in the pit of her stomach. “Oh, that’s $4.55.” She took the woman’s money, then handed her DVD on the other side of the security gate. She felt a deep desire to go outside and smoke; there were still a few customers wandering around the store, so instead she pulled the ice cream sandwich from the shelf in the counter next to her cash drawer and opened it up.
The freezer for their ice cream had been malfunctioning since they got it, making everything far too hard to eat without letting it sit out for at least ten minutes before. Phoebe had become a bit of an expert at guessing how long any given customer that came in would browse before leaving, generally empty handed, so she would try to time the starting of her thaw so it would be ready by the time they left, so she could take her ice cream outside, eat it while she smoked. The filling of the sandwich was still a little harder than she liked, but she felt like she needed to do something.
She wasn’t even sure why they had an ice cream freezer in a movie rental store. She had assumed the company had just seen that its competitors had them, and added them so they wouldn’t be the only ones without. Perhaps they would sell more if it was ever restocked, but as it was, she sold one a week, if she was lucky. She was glad it was there anyway, though by the same token she hated it, certain the constant temptation, and fact that she gave into it more often than not, would wind up making her fat. It hadn’t yet, although that didn’t stop her internal debate every time she took one of them, positive that one of these days all the calories that seemed to vanish when they entered her body, leaving her the same stick-thin, scrawny sixteen year old she’d always been, would pounce on her all at once.
That was, after all, what her co-worker, Michelle, claimed had happened to her. Phoebe wasn’t sure she believe that entirely, since she’d learned long ago to take everything that woman said with a grain of salt, but it seemed plausible enough that she gave it some credence. And she definitely didn’t want to end up like Michelle. Not necessarily because she was fat - she wouldn’t mind being larger, at least in certain areas - but because she was a horrible, annoying person.
She wasn’t even the worst of her co-workers. That would probably be Ariel. When she’d started her job, Phoebe had been sure Ariel would be the coolest, since she seemed like the only one who actually liked movies, really loved them. After all, she had a plethora of movie related tattoos, most of them things from the 80s, like the Ghostbusters logo, and Gizmo. Yet Phoebe had never heard her say a single word about movies, other than her obligatory, “It was great”, whenever a customer asked her opinion on their pick. Disappointment was the main reason Phoebe disliked her, though a close second was how often she showed up to work high, and even more useless than normal.
Michelle and Ariel were much older than her, somewhere in their late twenties or early thirties, at least - she’d never bothered to ask. The only person even close to her age that worked there was Whitney, who was nineteen, almost twenty. She could actually be cool on her own, but she worshiped the other two. She even stopped by the store when she wasn’t working to hang out with them, which generally meant huddling up in the corner opposite Phoebe’s, talking quietly, probably about her. Phoebe’s parents had told her once that sort of thing stopped once you got out of high school. Clearly, that was a lie, unless they had meant that once you got out, the whole world magically knew to stop talking about you behind your back. Sometimes, she wanted to yell over to them that she might be a loser, but at least she was just a teenager, so she was expected to have a crappy, dead end job, and what was their excuse? In the long run, though, she knew that would just make things worse for her, so she always held off.
And yet, despite all of that, Phoebe still loved her job. The money wasn’t great, but it was just as much as she’d have made at McDonald’s, and for something far easier. That had never really been the point, though. What she loved was the movies. They didn’t have the largest collection, but it was big enough to keep her busy. Her parents had joked when she started that she was going to save them a fortune since they wouldn’t have to pay for her rentals anyone - it was true, though. She had been there only a few months now, but according to the computer’s count, she’d rented nearly half as many DVDs as Michelle, and the older woman had been working there for a year and a half.
She managed to finish her ice cream, and was just licking her fingertips clean when her next customers approached the front of the store. Quickly, she tossed the wrapper into the garbage can, wiping her fingers on her pants to dry them, getting ready… But they just walked by her and through the exit. She felt a tiny bit better after her snack. It annoyed her that she wouldn’t have anything to snack on during her smoke break now, though it was just as well. She needed a hand free anyway.
She dialed the number on her cell as she pulled on her jacket, patting the pockets to make sure her purse was still there, and her cigarettes and lighter inside that, before unzipping the purse and pulling the former out. “Yeah, Kay?” she said, tapping a cigarette out of the box. “Have you heard any rumors about the Palace recently?” She listened for a moment, just standing there, seeming to forget the cigarette in her hand. “Huh?” She shook her head finally, feeling rather silly. “No, I heard you. Thanks.”
She hung up, slipping the phone into her pocket as she slid down, sitting on the sidewalk. “Well, damn,” she said quietly to herself. “Damn.”
Part 1: Arrival
There was nothing particularly impressive about the building - it didn’t even have a marquee. Phoebe often wished for a theater with a marquee. They looked so classy in movies, and much more interesting than just having the name of the theater written across the front wall. If you drove in from the back, which Phoebe usually did, you could easily mistake it for a warehouse, and only discover your mistake when you made your way to the front.
There, you’d see the ticket booth, currently unmanned, as it always was before 6 pm, flanked by glass doors, and the line of posters decorating the wall to either side of those. The plastic of the poster holders is old now, yellowing and cracked, and give the posters being held within the same look. Phoebe had always kind of liked that. It made the movies look like they were old, forgotten movies unearthed from another age. She had plenty of movie posters at home from work, many more than she had wall space for, but they just didn’t feel the same as the ones at the Palace. Of course, she knew that, should the posters be taken out from behind the plastic holding them there, they would look the same - that wasn’t the point, though.
The front parking lot was small, only room for fifteen or twenty cars, if that, but since it was the middle of the day, there was room for Phoebe to park there. She didn’t usually, preferring to park along the sides of the building, since she could exit right from her movie to get to her car, rather than having to go back out through the lobby, so long as she chose correctly when trying to decide which side to park on. She was in no real hurry to leave that day, so she pulled right up front and parked her car, staring up at the building. Even with everything, it still looked an awful lot like a warehouse, she had to admit. She wondered if that was what it would be turned into once it shut its doors that night for the last time. It probably wouldn’t take a lot of work.
It was a nice day out, certainly not appropriate for the occassion, whether that occasion be Halloween, or the closing. When Phoebe had thought of this day, she’d imagined it being dark and overcast, gloomy and solemn. The weather obviously didn’t want to cooperate with her vision. It was relatively warm out, too. It wouldn’t have been a bad day to spend outside, reading a book, although, even if she weren’t planning on spending her day at the Palace, she wouldn’t have been doing that - instead, she’d have been cooped up at school. Still, it was pleasant enough that she’d gone with her alternate costume, rather than her original, more traditional, and also boring, choice.
Before she’d gotten up that morning and seen what the weather was like, she’d had a pink, fluffy footed sleeper with a drop seat stuffed in her backpack. There hadn’t been much room for anything else in there, nor did there need to be, since she only needed the books for her first couple of classes, most of which she’d cleverly left in her locker over the weekend. Even so, she’d been a little nervous that her bag looked more stuffed than normal, and trying to come up with explanations for it.
She was a little disappointed not to get the chance to use them, but both excited, and a little scared, at getting to switch costumes. She’d quickly switched them out, slinging her backpack across her shoulder and heading downstairs to the kitchen. “What, no costume?” her father had asked, kissing her forehead as they moved past each other, him towards the table, her to grab a bowl for cereal.
She’d rolled her eyes. “I’m not four, dad,” she’d reminded him.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun,” he’d countered. “After all, it is Halloween.” She hadn’t told him that she would be doing just that, since he didn’t need to know how much, but she was glad she was facing the cereal boxes then, or else the grin that came across her face would have alerted him that something was up.
She suffered through the start of her school day, feeling even more anxious to be done with it than normal. Her best friend, Julie, had known what was up as soon as she saw Phoebe’s backpack slung across the back of her chair at lunch rather than it being in her locker. “I’m not invited?” she asked sulkily as she sat down at their normal table.
“No,” Phoebe told her bluntly. It wasn’t that she wanted to anger Julie, but it wouldn’t be the same with her. She wouldn’t be able to do what she wanted to with her there, and, besides, while she had plenty of good memories af her and Julie at the Palace, those weren’t the memories she was chasing that day. Her older sister, Rita, however, would have worked just fine as a companion, if she weren’t away at college.
Phoebe had called her to see if she could come home, and got a, “You’re old enough to take yourself to the movies now, Phoebe,” in response. It was probably for the best… Rita would never have let her cut school, even just half a day, for this.
“I’ll take you next time,” Phoebe promised Julie, quickly finishing off her food. There wouldn’t be a next time, of course, but since she hadn’t told her friend just what she was doing, that didn’t really matter. She was sure she could find some other reason to skip class.
As soon as she was dine eating, she was off, hurrying out the side door of the cafeteria to the parking lot, tossing her backpack into the passenger’s seat of her car before slipping into the driver’s seat and taking off. She’d had one stop to make before her ultimate destination, one she’d been debating with herself all day about whether or not she really needed. She’d overestimated the time it would take her to finish her lunch, her nerves likely just making her feel full before she really was, with the butterflies taking up more space than she’d thought, so she supposed there was really no reason not to.
She parked at the gas station, leaving her car running for a minute while she transferred the things she’d smuggled out of her house in her backpack back into there from the shopping bag she’d transferred them into when she got to school, since they weren’t things she particularly wanted anyone to accidently see in her bag. She turned the car off, leaving her bag on the driver’s seat as she went into the station, then came back out a moment later, grabbed her bag, and used the key she’d gotten to unlock the bathroom. It was one of the few gas stations left in town that had the entrances to their bathrooms outside, which was exactly what made it so valuable to her.
A few minutes later, she re-emerged, no longer a self-conscious teenager, but an oversized toddler. Her slightly baggy gray T-shirt was replaced by a pink onesie, ruffles sewn across the backside, snaps across the crotch. Instead of her jeans, she had a pair of thick, white, thigh high stockings, topped with a pair of tiny pink ribbons. She’d been the most unsure about those, but she could deny that they were cuter than the pair of normal tights that had been her second choice, and made it look a little more like a normal costume. Her Converse sneakers were now a pair of black patent leather Mary Janes. Her hair was tied into a pair of pigtails with ribbons, even more pink. And the thing she had switched her panties out for crinkled under her as she settled back into her car’s seat, making her blush while squirming slightly to hear it a little more.
She had left the key in the bathroom, assuming they had to have another copy of it that they could retrieve that one with when they figured out she wasn’t coming back. She hated to do it, but she didn’t particularly want to go back in there dressed as she was.
And, as she sat in the parking lot of the Palace, she realized she wasn’t exactly looking forward to going in there in her get-up, either. She’d felt that apprehension before, knew it was best to just get it over with quickly. Still, she was glad to have something to occupy herself for another minute or two, as she transferred her money and cigarettes, into a cute, but pretty good sized, kid’s purse she’d found for just this purpose, shaped like a ladybug, that she’d already stocked with the other supplies she’d need, including a pacifier clipped to the strap. She debated just going all the way and using it straight off, but she knew she’d never get the courage to walk through those doors if she did that.
“All right,” she breathed, tugging up her stockings nervously. “Let’s do this.”
Part 2: Halloween
The walk to the entrance felt incredibly long, as if every step she took only extended the distance between her and it. Nobody else seemed to be in their cars, and there weren’t any new cars driving in, yet she was certain somebody would see her before she got inside, that they’d assume, despite the date, that she was wearing this outfit because she liked it. She could see the sign on the door, could just barely make out the list of special movies they were showing, today only, and the tiny print that she assumed mirrored what the website had said, about half-priced tickets to those movies if you were in costume, and it made her quicken her pace. That sign would be her armor, something to point to and say, “That’s why I’m dressed this way,” though hopefully she wouldn’t have to do even that. If there was one thing she’d learned in retail, however, it was that you could post all the signs you wanted - that didn’t guarantee anyone would pay any attention to them.
Finally, she was there, pulling open the door and stepping inside, relieved. It wasn’t the first time she’d wear a diaper here, but it would, of course, be the last.
The lobby was as quiet as it generally was at this time of day. She glanced off to her right, past the few arcade machines set up that she’d never seen anybody playing. The bathrooms there were actually quite nice. She’d been worried that if the workers actually saw her go in there and change into her costume, the discount wouldn’t apply, as silly as she knew it was to assume they’d care, or even notice. As if to prove how unwarranted her worries had been, she didn’t even see anybody manning the concession stand, which, during matinees, doubled as the ticket booth.
She took a step forward from the mat spread out in front of the door onto the tile floor. Most of it was white, but right in front of the doors it was black. The color continued on in a stream, growing thinner and thinner until it came to a point right in front of the cash register perched between the popcorn machine and a rack of candy. It always made Phoebe think of the yellow brick road, if The Wizard of Oz had switched from sepia to black and white, rather than color.
It was also the thing that had kept her from taking advantage of the theater as a place to practice her strange little hobby for a while, because of a time, long ago, when she’d unwittingly done something she’d only dreamed about doing intentionally, well before she would have gotten any enjoyment from it. It had been Christmas day, back when she was about four. It was one of her first memories, and as such, was pretty spotty. It was Christmas, though, so she was sure she’d been pretty excited, and likely a tad more sugared up than was entirely good for her. She remembered practically bouncing up and down at Rita’s side, giggling. Rita, as usual, hadn’t been too happy at being saddled with keeping track of her little sister. She could also remember being sure she didn’t really have to go to the bathroom that bad, right before she’d felt her bladder let go.
She thought she had a memory of actually seeing the movie they’d been there to go to - whether they’d gone home to change her or not, she didn’t know. She supposed her mother could have had spare clothes for her. She didn’t remember being particularly prone to accidents normally, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t. For the longest time, even after she’d started getting diapers for herself, and wearing them alone in her room, she’d been too scared to wear them to the theater, sure the workers would not only recognize her as the girl who had wet herself, and their floor, long ago, but also that they’d notice what she was wearing, put two and two together, and assume her potty training hadn’t gotten any better since then.
She pattered lightly down the black tile path, heart beating ever so slightly faster as she saw the cashier, a girl in her twenties, appear from the door behind the counter. She blushed a little, but did her best not to sound nervous as she said, “I’d like the Halloween pass.” She wondered if she should point out she was in costume, just to make sure the girl knew. The price was right without having to say it, luckily. She held her purse carefully, trying to keep the girl from being able to see inside as she got her money out.
“Do you need any snacks?” the girl asked with the same, bored tone she always had.
“Not yet,” Phoebe told her.
“Last door on the left.”
If she’d tried guessing which side to park on, she’d have been wrong. She was also pleasantly surprised to hear they were using one of the big theaters for this. There wasn’t much of a difference in screen size, but the theaters towards the back had more seats, which, as a result, she supposed, were more raked. Even in them, there was only one aisle, so getting out could take a while if the place was packed, but she didn’t think that was going to be the case this time.
She made her way back across the tile trail, cutting across the field of white at the halfway point. The tile floor gave way to carpet, a dull crimson color that she was sure had once been bright, and she walked past the ticket taker’s seat, empty now, as it would be until they started to use the actual ticket booth at about six. The hallway stretched out behind that chair, and the velvet ropes on either side of it, going back and back, past the doors that the other movies were playing behind. At the very end of that hall was another entrance, and another concession stand, but neither of those had been used for as long as she could remember. There were a pair of bathrooms halfway down the hall as well, though she avoided them if she could. They - or at least the ladies’ room - were small, just a couple stalls with thin walls, and a single sink that always looked like it would fall off the wall if you pressed down on it too hard.
Phoebe was both relieved and disappointed when she peeked her head into her theater to see that she was the only one there. She couldn’t recall the theater ever doing something like this before, showing a bunch of old movies, letting you see all of them for one price if you were so inclined, and had that much time on your hands, and she hated to see it ignored. Then again, it wasn’t like they’d have been able to do this again if sales were good enough even if they wanted to. And it was a Monday… How many people could really go see a movie at 12:30 on a Monday?
But she loved having the theater to herself. It wasn’t something that happened very often, sadly. When she’d been younger, and feeling sick, but not too much, if Rita was home, too, she’d take Phoebe to the movies, set her up at some kid’s show, then go off to see something by herself. There was just something about being in the big room by yourself, like the movie was not only being played only for you, but had been made specifically for you, too, a gift straight from Hollywood. Of course, normally that would have made her nervous, too, sitting at the edge of her seat as she waited for the movie to start, sure each sound she heard would be someone coming in to ruin things for her. Today, she didn’t think she’d mind too much.
She was glad when it didn’t happen anyway. The first movie was Halloween, the original, kind of a cliche choice, and one Phoebe had never cared that much for. She knew it was important, as horror movies go, for setting the conventions of the slasher movie, but since she’d seen other, better slashers before she saw it, she’d never been too impressed. It was her opinion, however, that every movie was improved by seeing it on a nice, big movie screen, and it was no exception.
There was a fifteen minute break in between each of the movies that were being shown that day - she decided to wait the first one out there. She got up and stretched, walking up and down her row of seats a time or two, glancing up at the light of the projection booth glowing above her. When she was little, that light had scared her, made her feel like there was always somebody watching her. Eventually she’d realized there was rarely anybody up there, since all that was automated nowadays. That thought had stuck with her, however, when she’d made her first, anxious attempts at public diaper wearing here, but it changed from something scary into something strangely exciting.
Now, however, she was sure she saw an actual shadow moving up there. That made sense - since it wasn’t just one movie played over and over, somebody must have to switch them out - but she hadn’t thought of it. There really was somebody up there now, and if they happened to look down, they could see her, looking more like a toddler than she’d ever dared before. That idea made her squirm in a not unpleasant way, and she playfully unclipped her pacifier from the purse and inserted it into her pouting lips before turning back around and sitting in her seat.
Just before the second movie started, she realized she wasn’t alone anymore. She wasn’t sure if he’d snuck in while she was staring up at the projection booth, or if she was simply spacing out that much, but sure enough, down in the far corner there was a man. It didn’t look like he had on a costume, so she wondered if he was just staying for this one movie, and not the rest of the event, before considering the possibility that she would be the only one dorky enough to wear a costume just to get a discount on tickets. Well, not “just”… But that’s how it would seem to anyone seeing her, hopefully. She settled down into her seat and waited for the next movie to start.
Part 3: Night of the Living Dead
Phoebe had been quite happy to see the original Night of the Living Dead on the list of movies to be shown that day. It was one of her favorites, and something she had always wished she’d been around when it first came out so she could see it on the big screen. And now she could, without even needing a time machine! She was glad this new person had sat pretty far away from her, so she couldn’t disturb him as she bounced in her seat, aquiver with excitement as she watched the car on the screen wind its way towards the cemetery, knowing exactly what was going to happen, but excited to see it unfold before her anyway.
She had found a seat that didn’t squeak, so the only sound she heard from herself was the crinkle of her diaper. It didn’t bother her much now - in fact, she liked it - but she could remember the first time she’d worn here, and how much it had worried her then.
It was summertime, and she had to have been about twelve. That was the year she’d started babysitting, and, consequently, the year she’d been able to do something about those strange thoughts that entered her mind whenever a diaper commercial came on television. She’d snatched a handful of diapers on her very first babysitting job, stuffing them into her backpack, her heart thumping like a jackhammer when she went to leave with them, afraid the parents would know she’d stolen. There was no real reason for them to care, since their daughter was potty trained now, the diapers from a box of unused remnants sitting in the garage, but that hadn’t stopped her anxiety.
That first time in her room, fishing one of them out from the back of her closet, unfolding it with shaking hands, then trying it on and realizing that it fit, despite being a bit tight, had been magical, but even then she’d wanted more. It was almost six months before she worked up the courage to do anything about it. At that time, she hadn’t even worn in front of any of her family, so she’d almost chickened out before she even left her room, almost given up and simply pulled on the panties and shorts she was planning to wear over it. She’d taken a deep breath, reminded herself that her Christmas accident had been so long ago that there probably wasn’t even anyone still working at the theater from then, and taped it on.
Rita was, of course, in charge of her then, which had been the worst part of the whole thing. Even though she wanted to, she knew she couldn’t ask to sit in the back seat without rousing suspicion, so she had to sit right beside her sister, doing her very best to keep perfectly still, sure that the light crinkle that came from every bump in the road would reveal her secret instantly. That had scared her so badly that, even though she hadn’t used it, she’d gone into the bathroom after her movie was done, while she was waiting for Rita’s to finish, and thrown in away.
She’d then spent the ride home lamenting the pointless loss of a perfectly good diaper, and thinking back to how fun it had been to sit there in the dark, diapered like a little baby, with nobody the wiser, and wondering when she could do it again.
By the time the ending credits rolled, her nicotine craving had gotten too bad to ignore, so she decided it was time to leave the theater. Somewhat reluctantly, she took her pacifier out of her mouth, clipping it back to her purse. The man was already gone by the time she got up, though she hadn’t noticed him leaving.
She wished the old back door was unlocked, since it would have been much more convenient to use it than walk all the way to the front, but of course it wasn’t. She stared down at the floor self-consciously as she passed a couple she half recognized from school in the hall. They didn’t seem to notice her, or didn’t think anything of her costume, since they didn’t say anything to her or under their breath after they’d passed.
She squinted as she pushed the door open, the sun seeming much brighter than it had when she’d gone in. It felt warmer, too, and she was even more glad she’d decided against wearing her sleeper, since it would have been pretty hot. She carefully pulled the cigarettes out of her purse, sticking one in the corner of her mouth while she searched for her lighter.
“Are you sure you’re old enough for that?” a voice asked.
She glanced up to see a man, probably in his late twenties, maybe early thirties - she couldn’t tell with adults, really - dressed rather nicely for just going to the movies in a dark suit. He was smoking, too, and smirking enough to let her see he was joking, at least mostly.
“Pretty sure,” she told him, cocking her head to one side. “Hey, could…?” Before she could even finish the question, he had his lighter out, a fancy looking Zippo, not the cheap disposable kind she used. “Thanks.” They smoked in silence for a moment, until she asked, “So, are you staying for the next one?”
“Oh, definitely,” he nodded. “A good ghost story… My favorite kind of movie.”
“Yeah, they’re all right,” she shrugged.
“Have you heard the one about this place?”
“Here?” Phoebe raised an eyebrow skeptically. Nothing ever happened in this town, certainly nothing that would cause a ghost to want to stick around.
“Oh, sure. Theaters are full of ghosts, you know. Especially ones that have been around as long as this one.” He said it seriously, until he got to the end, when he began to crack a smile.
Phoebe chuckled. “Yeah, whatever you say. Guess I’ll see you inside… I need to get something to drink.”
“That’s a cute costume,” he told her as she headed back inside. “You should have gotten more than just half off for that.”
Phoebe blushed, hurrying inside the door. She wasn’t sure how to respond to that, since she wasn’t entirely sure if she’d just been hit on or not, or what to do about it if she had.
Part 4: Poltergeist
By the time Phoebe had paid for her Mountain Dew and got back to the theater, there were a few more people in there. None of them had taken her seat, thankfully. She liked to sit high up, but not quite at the top… There was a certain spot that, to her, felt like the perfect distance. It wouldn’t have killed her to have to move, but she was glad she didn’t have to, and glad nobody was sitting behind her yet, either. If many more people showed up, she might give up her perfect seat for one slightly less good on the top row, since she didn’t like the idea of someone being able to watch her without her knowing it, especially now that she was restocking her already full bladder.
Not long into the movie, she started to put on the show she would want to avoid letting anyone see. She glanced behind herself, making absolutely sure she still had as much privacy as possible, then resumed her potty dance, fidgeting and bobbing in her seat like a toddler too into the movie to admit she needed to go use the bathroom. Of course, there was nothing stopping her from simply wetting her diaper, and, after a few minutes, she would, letting out a quiet sigh as she felt her diaper grow warm and squishy beneath her, but for her, the anticipation was the best part, and she wanted to get the most out of it while she could still do so without drawing too much unwelcome attention to herself.
It was a balance that had taken her a long time to master. The first time she’d wet her diaper at the theater had also been the last time Rita had taken her there the summer before she went to college. Phoebe had been sure it was her last chance to wear her diaper in public period until she could drive herself, so she was resolved to finally work up the courage to wet herself.
That was one of the few times she and Rita had agreed on a movie, and Phoebe was quite unhappy about that. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything else out worth seeing, so she’d found herself stuck in the theater with Rita, who loved the back row. Still, once the lights faded, Phoebe managed to convince herself that nobody could really see what was going on, an argument that she’d been using to make the idea of even just wearing diapers easier on her nervous mind.
She’d wet diapers at home before, locked in her room, pretending she was a little kid being babysat, trying her best to prove that she didn’t really need diapers by holding her pee in for as long as she could before having an “accident”. Every now and then, she’d imagine her babysitter was taking her out in public somewhere, but it wasn’t the same… There was a difference between acting like she had a babysitter who could have just left the room for a minute, and trying to convince herself that her room was the zoo, or the library.
If she were going to actually do it in public, for real, she knew it had to be then, so she’d ordered a large drink and gulped it down almost before the opening credits had finished. By the halfway point, her teeth were practically swimming, and she let her imagination take over, pretending she was actually young enough to be wearing her diapers, that Rita was watching her, and had begged her, for once, not to ruin her movie by making her get up partway through to change her. She fought and fought against it, until she finally couldn’t hold it anymore. She’d wet her diaper before, but there was something different about doing it there, not in her room, with other people, strangers, potentially as close as the next theater over. It was magical.
Some of the magic of her pretend humiliation wore off when the movie was through and Rita came down to collect her, only to ask, “Are you all right? You looked like you were about to pee yourself like half an hour ago.” Phoebe hadn’t been able to stop herself from blushing, which had caused her sister to exclaim, “You didn’t, did you?!”, pulling her away from the seat and staring down at it, checking for a wet spot.
Phoebe’d had no choice but to indignantly reply with a, “Jeez, Rita, I’m fourteen, not four!”, but it had been so shaky that she was afraid her sister wouldn’t believe her, and would continue her investigation.
This time, there was no Rita to embarrass her once the lights had come back up, for which she was both grateful and slightly sad. So many of her memories of this place involved her sister… It had been a bit disheartening how lightly she had blown Phoebe’s request off. Did those memories not mean as much to her as they did to Phoebe? Then again, she would never have worn this outfit around Rita, not even if she’d managed to convince her to wear a costume, too.
Her diaper wasn’t too damp, certainly dry enough to survive another wetting, and hopefully another movie. She did get a bottle of perfume out of her purse, however, spraying it on herself. She’d never noticed it, unless she was wearing only a diaper, and a very soaked one at that, but she always worried that people would be able to smell her wet diaper. She didn’t want to rely too heavily on the scent of baby powder drowning it out here, since she was afraid that would lead people to the correct conclusion, but not the one she wanted them to reach, so instead, she used a spritz or two of the only perfume she owned.
As soon as she’d heard about it, she’d known she had to have it. She could imagine it in her mind, the perfect fragrance for her, and once it finally arrived, it was just that. She didn’t use it often, only when she was playing. It never failed to take her back to a simpler time, to make her feel like a toddler in daycare. She smiled as the scent of Play-Doh settled around her, making her giggle anew at her squishy, though now slightly cool, diaper.
She glanced at her cell phone as she waited for the next movie to start. No new messages, though the clock reminded her that, had things gone wrong, she’d be on her way to work right then. That had been her original plan for the day… They weren’t allowed to decorate the store for Halloween, so she was going to go to work and provide the Halloween spirit the company clearly lacked. She was going to dress up - though not in anything like what she had on - and she had a list of Halloween themed movies rated PG or lower that she could show on the store’s TVs. She’d been looking forward to it, up until she’d heard the news and looked at the Palace’s website to see what they had scheduled for the day.
Right away, she’d known that her plans were going to have to change. There was no way she could let this slip by. But, unfortunately, by then everyone else had already asked off for Halloween. She asked Michelle if she couldn’t reconsider, which earned her a spiel about how Michelle just wanted to spend the day with her son, and why couldn’t she just have one holiday where she didn’t have to work.
Phoebe had resisted pointing out that trick-or-treating wasn’t even going to be going on that night, since it was Monday, and told her to forget it. Reluctantly, she’d turned to Ariel instead. She really hated having to owe favors to anybody at work, and she hated begging even more. By the time she was finished, both had happened, but she had her day off. She could only hope Ariel wasn’t a complete bitch about it, and call in her favor on Thanksgiving, or even Christmas.
That was a problem for another day, though, and one that felt especially distant as the lights began to dim again.
Part 5: Nightmare on Elm Street
“Come on, now, don’t be silly,” her mother had told her. “Of course we’re sitting together.”
She should have known it was a mistake right then and there, but she’d kept her hope alive. With Rita off at college, and a decently large collection of diapers bought with her allowance and babysitting money in her closet that were feeling rather boring now that she had only her room to wear them in, she had decided to take a chance. Her parents had asked her if she wanted to go see a movie, and she’d said yes, run off to her room to get nice and cozily pampered.
She hadn’t taken into account that her parents were most definitely not her sister, and that the unspoken bond between the two not to mention the fact that they were usually never in the same theater together was there for a reason. When she’d said she wanted to see a different movie than them, they changed their mind as well, then switched it back when she realized she wouldn’t be able to escape them that easily, resolving instead to just get some distance from them, and pretend they weren’t there.
But not even that worked. It had been months since Rita went away to college, and the memory of how much fun it had been to wet her diaper had drifted far enough away from the memory of the accompanying embarrassment that she hadn’t been able to resist the idea of recreating it, ordering herself a large drink despite her mother asking her if she was really that thirsty. Of course, when she ordered it, she’d expected to not be sitting right next to her parents while she drank it, and especially while the inevitable happened.
When her bladder had started to get uncomfortably full was when she started to really recall how clearly Rita had recognized what was going on. She really had to go, though, so she’d had to make a quick choice between getting up and going to the bathroom like a normal person, trying to hold it and risking being asked if she wanted to be taken to the bathroom - which would have been fun in a fantasy, but not in real life - or just letting going quickly and quietly.
She’d chosen the latter, and immediately regretted it. Peeing her diaper with her mom just inches away from her was terrifying, but once she’d started, she hadn’t been able to stop herself until she was finished, at which point she’d felt something she never had before - wetness on her legs. She’d known right away what it meant, and it very nearly brought her to tears right then and there. What was she going to do?!
She quickly calmed herself as much as she could, noting that she didn’t even know if it was noticeable, and that there was still a good bit of the movie left. As coolly as she could manage, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, “I’m going to the bathroom,” crossing her fingers as she stood that her mom wouldn’t insist on coming with her for some reason.
That theater was right by the hallway bathroom, so she ducked inside quickly, glad for that bathroom’s one advantage over the one in the lobby - it locked. She stepped out of her jeans, horrified to see there was, indeed, a wet spot there. She started up the hand dryer, holding her pants underneath it as she stood there in her soaked diaper. It was very wet, to the point where she knew that sitting in it in her jeans would just make the wet spot bigger, so she’d hung her jeans over the dryer as best she could and untaped her heavy diaper, tossing it into the trash. She cleaned herself up as best she could, then reluctantly pulled on her jeans again. It had felt rather gross to wear her pants with no panties or anything, especially since they were still slightly damp. She didn’t want to risk her mom coming to check on her, though, so she’d gone back to the theater and prayed that they would dry enough not to be noticeable by the time the lights came back up.
It was, quite possibly, the scariest thing she’d ever been through, a real nightmare come true. Thankfully, it had all worked out in the end, which gave it a happier ending than most of the nightmares she was witnessing on the screen in front of her.
She’d gotten much better at being able to tell how much her diapers could hold since then; that didn’t keep her from being scared that she’d overestimated the capacity of this one as her Mountain Dew hit her bladder with more force than she’d expected. At the very least, she thought, she was alone this time, and she didn’t have to get up right after this movie if she didn’t want to.
Luckily, her diaper held it all, though when she stood up at the end of the movie, it was doing its very best to sag despite having the onesie there to hold it in place. Her hands automatically went behind her, pressing past the ruffles on her bottom, confirming that she was dry, and, she realized, seeing another shadow moving in the projection booth, possibly giving someone a show.
Even if she hadn’t leaked, she definitely needed a change. And she needed to hurry, because she needed a cigarette as well, if she could manage it. She toddled out of the theater and up the hallway, glancing out the door to see that it was getting quite close to dark already. When had that happened? More concerning, however, was the question of when so many people had shown up. There were a few other people in costume now, but not enough to keep her from feeling self-conscious as she pushed through them all on her way into the lobby bathroom.
The bathroom was wonderful, at least as far as bathrooms went. The stalls were made of thick, brick walls, with heavy wooden doors that went almost to the floor, and there was a constant buzzing sound above them, from the air conditioner, she’d always assumed.The handicap stall even had its own trash can. She was pretty sure a person would need to have superpowered hearing to detect the crinkling of a diaper through all of that.
Her diaper had lasted longer than she’d expected - she’d packed two extras. Unless she drank a bunch more, she was pretty sure she only really needed one… But she hated to waste them. And she might as well go all the way, she thought. She tossed her old, wet diaper into the trash can, cleaning herself off with the baby wipes she’d had in her purse, then pulled out both diapers. She’d probably have packed even more than that, if there had been room, but it had been hard enough to get just those two - without them, her purse felt almost empty. She taped the first one around herself as she sat on the closed toilet lid, then carefully reached down, ripping a hole in the plastic before setting the second down beneath her and putting it on as well. She sprayed a puff of her perfume onto the diapers before fastening her onesie back up.
The onesie bulged much more noticeably with two diapers. Maybe a little too much. “Nobody’s paying that much attention to you,” she whispered to herself. “Besides, it’s Halloween. Nobody cares.”
She took a deep breath and stepped outside the stall, walking - waddling now, practically - over to the sinks to wash her hands. By the time she finished, she realized the next movie was about to start. Her cigarette would have to wait for later. She got her cell phone out and texted as she made her way back to the theater, telling her mother she’d been invited to a Halloween party after work, and not to wait up for her before turning the phone completely off, not wanting to know if she got a response that said she had to be home by a certain time so she could claim she didn’t know, that her battery had died. She would probably catch hell for it the next day, but she wasn’t going to worry about that now.
Part 6: The Exorcist
The Exorcist was another movie she’d never really liked as much as she knew she should. She supposed she was just too desensitized to all that stuff, but she’d never gotten the “scariest movie of all time” tag it got stuck with. She’d always thought it was a little boring, frankly, though the more times she gave it a chance, the less dull it got in her mind. She couldn’t see it ever becoming one of her favorites, but you can never really tell about those sorts of things.
None of that bothered her too much this time, nor did the fact that somebody was sitting in her row. The theater, while not packed, was relatively crowded for the Palace. It was a nice sight to see, a sweet send-off for the old place, to show that it hadn’t been completely forgotten by those seeking 3D, or comfier seats, or any of the other luxuries afforded by the fancy new multiplex downtown. There were people in the back row, too, but it was a couple, already making out by the time she arrived, and they were off in the far corner, so she sat down by the aisle.
It felt quite strange to be sitting there, crinkly padding lifting her up slightly higher than before. She had never dared to wear double diapers here before, and the effect, combined with her renewed dose of perfume, made her feel almost giddy as she sat there. Letting herself fall into her childish persona made the movie much more scary - she even let out a little shriek of fright at one point, and she found herself sucking on her pacifier without really remembering having put it in her mouth.
It had taken her a long time to dare to even bring her pacifier with her to the theater. She’d considered it many a time, when Rita came back home for the summer, but it wasn’t until she’d gotten a car herself that she’d finally done it. It was a little hard for her to believe that it had only been earlier that year… She’d always expected that she’d have plenty of time to do it again.
The first time she’d done it was another day she skipped school, too eager to catch a movie everyone had been raving about to be able to wait until the end of classes. She’d changed into her diaper in the front bathroom, then hurried to her theater, pacifier safely within her normal, non-lady bug, purse. She snuck it out as soon as she saw she was alone, was sucking on it before she’d even sat down. And then, halfway through the previews, she’d heard a noise and quickly spit it out, right before a group of middle-aged women had come in, fumbling their way to their seats in the dark.
It had been only a few weeks before she got the fateful news that she’d really been able to do it. She hadn’t been alone that day, either, but she’d sat in the very back, and just hadn’t cared. Michelle had really gotten on her nerves at work, and she just needed to unwind… She’d run home and grabbed a diaper and her pacifier, then ran right back out, before her parents could ask what she was doing.
There was very little as comforting for her as sitting in the dark, flickering light of a theater in her diaper, sucking on her pacifier. She almost didn’t want a cigarette once the movie was over, but she went out front anyway, where she was a little surprised to see the man. He held his lighter out automatically, before she’d even retrieved her cigarette.
“Still hanging in there, huh?” she asked him, puffing away.
“Oh, 'till the end,” he nodded. “You, too?”
She bobbed her head. “I’ll probably be dead at school tomorrow, but it’s worth it. I’m really not sure why they decided to do this on a weekday.”
“Well, because it opened on Halloween,” the man explained. “A long time ago. I guess they just figured it was only proper that they close on Halloween, too.”
“I didn’t know that,” she said. “That’s kinda cool then.”
He nodded his agreement. “I’m surprised you’re still here… No wonder you’re wearing diapers,” he teased. “Have they gotten bigger?”
Phoebe blushed as she followed his gaze down to her bulging waist, realizing that there was, apparently, one person that had paid attention to what she looked like before and after her trip to the bathroom. “Well, those seats are pretty old,” she forced a laugh. “I needed a little extra padding.” Feeling a little flustered, she quickly pointed out, “You’re still here, too.”
“Until the end,” he said with a small smile.
She quickly excused herself. Her stomach was growling, so she got herself a tub of popcorn and another drink, which she then tried to juggle as she attempted to hold both of them and open her purse to grab her movie pass at the same time. Her onesie was nice and comfy, and cute, but it would have been convenient for it to have a pocket, too.
“You’re fine,” the ticket taker smiled at her. “Don’t worry about it.” She wasn’t sure if the woman just remembered her from when she’d gone through before the last movie, or if, at this point, she just didn’t care.
“Hey, Phoebe!” she heard a familiar voice call. She winced as she turned around, seeing Cat there. Cat was Rita’s age, and was, in fact, one of Rita’s friends. Phoebe had never been all that fond of her, but had apparently done a decent job pretending to be. Cat had given Phoebe her first cigarette one day when she was feeling particularly lonely once Rita had gone off to college. She bought Phoebe all of her cigarettes now, and, as far as Phoebe knew, had never told Rita about it, which was enough of a reason to be civil to her.
“Hi, Cat,” she replied, slowly down only slightly. Being around someone she really knew outside of the Palace in this outfit made her feel especially self conscious, and she wished her diapers would be quieter, and, at least for a moment, less thick, so that her walk looked less like a waddle. “Happy Halloween.”
“Yeah, you, too. Nice costume.”
“Thanks,” Phoebe nodded.
“Well, I gotta go, just thought I’d say hi.”
Phoebe felt a wave of relief come over her at that, and as she watched Cat turn and head for the exit. She didn’t think there were any other movies starting at the same time as hers, and she had really not wanted to have to sit next to Cat for what was going to be the last movie she ever saw at the Palace.
Part 7: Demons
It was the only movie that was to be played that day she hadn’t already seen, and one she’d been wanting to see ever since she’d heard about it. They didn’t have it at the store, though. Every now and then, they’d get a box of older movies from a store that had shut down and hadn’t managed to sell all their stock - even though receiving them was a lot of work, Phoebe still loved being the one to do it, seeing what they had gotten in that she’d always wanted to see. But Demons was one thing that never showed up. Between it and Night of the Living Dead showing up on the list for the Palace’s final day, she could almost believe the lineup had been chosen just for her.
And yet, she couldn’t concentrate. For the first few minutes, as the characters on-screen went into their own cinema, it was fine. She was even giggling slightly as she realized what a clever choice it had been to show this, a movie that took place inside a theater, last. Most of the other patrons in the real theater were gone again - The Exorcist was probably the main draw, she knew, even if she didn’t love it. Compared to it, not a lot of people knew about this movie. Plus, it was getting late now, past 10, and people had jobs and school to go to in the morning. She did, too, not that she cared.
While she’d been happy to see people there for the other movies, she was happy to have this one as a more private experience, and doubly happy that all the stragglers were sitting closer in front of her ideal seat, so she could move back to it. She could see the man she’d smoked with down, right next to the screen.
But despite all of that, as the movie went on, the movie-goers on-screen beginning to transform into the demons of the title, she found her mind wandering. She’d been to the other theaters in town, from time to time, mostly when she went with her parents, yet any time she imagined herself going to see a movie, she still saw herself here. There was nothing wrong with the other ones - in fact they were cleaner, more comfortable, their projectors didn’t tend to go crooked for half of a movie without anyone noticing - but they just weren’t the same, not least of all because, unlike this one, they seemed to be busy all the time.
She couldn’t imagine wearing a diaper to one of them. She certainly couldn’t imagine wetting herself there, or trying to change in their bathrooms. They were so quiet, the walls so thin… She knew she’d be petrified someone would hear her crinkling in the stall, the sound of her tapes coming undone, and would know.
She’d always wanted to try going even further than wetting, actually messing her diaper. She would never have done it if there was anybody else in the theater with her, but if she’d had it to herself, and had to go, well, maybe she’d have managed to convince herself to do it. She’d have been absolutely mortified as she toddled her way back to the front bathrooms, hoping her movie had gotten out early enough that there still wasn’t anybody in the lobby; that would have been half the fun.
Double diapers had always been a topic of her fantasy as well, though one she hadn’t expected to find a way to pull off. She just didn’t think she had any clothes that would hide the bulge well enough not to make it completely obvious what she was wearing. She could have gone with thinner diapers, she supposed, but then what was the point? She could just wear one of her thicker diapers and get the same effect.
She’d wanted a bottle, too. She didn’t have any at all, but once she’d bought one, she’d wanted to bring it with her, either already filled with apple juice or something, or empty so she could carefully pour the contents of the drink she bought there into it, so she could curl up in her seat and suck on it while she watched a movie.
There were so many things she wanted to do… Why had she waited so long? Why had it taken her so long to work her way up to this point, where she could do even just the basics? Why did it all have to go away now?
Before she knew it, there was a helicopter breaking through the ceiling of the theater on the screen at her theater, and shortly after, the credits began. She sniffled softly as she sat back up in her seat, wiping her damp eyes as she glanced down at the seats below her. The man was gone already; looked like he’d lied. Everyone else was starting to get up and file out - she was glad to see, in the rising light, that some of them were costumed after all, so she wasn’t the only one. She hunkered down in her seat, not wanting anyone to see her up there with her pacifier in her mouth, and not wanting to take it out just as much.
She wished she could stay there forever, but she knew she’d get kicked out eventually. By the time the credits were over, she’d managed to force herself to get up and start walking towards the exit. The pacifier stayed in until she reached the door leading into the hall.
The hallway was quiet, empty. Most, if not all, of the normal movies let out before now, she thought, realizing it had to be almost midnight. She stumbled over to one wall, trailing her fingers along it as she walked slowly down the hall. She wondered if she was the last one here, then quickly amended that thought to if she was the last customer here. She knew the employees were still there, somewhere, likely sweeping up the theaters one last time as she walked past them.
Too soon, even with how hesitantly she’d moved her feet, she was back at the entrance. She stared back at all the doors leading to the theaters, all the possibilities that had lain in wait inside, once upon a time. She wanted to say goodbye, but it felt too silly.
Instead, impulsively, she reached up and tore the sign on the door off, folding it up as she made her way across the empty parking lot to her car, slipping it carefully into her purse once she was there. There had been a lot of things she’d never gotten to do, sure, but she’d done some. She’d never even dreamed of dressing like she was in public, even to the Palace, and without something like this, she doubted if she ever would have, without something like this. And she’d managed to pull off her double diapering, too, the thing she’d been most sure would stay a fantasy.
She sighed as she leaned back in her seat, thick diaper squishing pleasantly beneath her. Her parents were most likely asleep by now, but the store was right on the way home, and it was definitely closed. She’d just drop by there and change in the bathroom real quick - it would be a strange feeling to be diapered there, even if nobody else was around. She felt tired, especially her eyes, and she didn’t look forward to getting up for school the next day. But it was worth it.
“Bye-bye,” she said quietly, waving to the Palace through her windshield before finally turning the key and driving off into the night.