She stood up from a seat in the third row back and flattened her faded yellow plaid dress. Her dry lips were held in a straight line and her pale nose was long and crookedly placed between the bags under her small, dark eyes. The two clapping gentlemen to her left shifted their legs so that she could pass into the aisle. A limp carried her toward the podium on stage as a young pregnant woman wobbled off of it. The audience’s applause trickled down to a stop. Everyone watched the hag as the sound of her uneven steps followed her down the aisle.
Once behind the podium, she used it for support, wrapping her bony fingers over the edge of each side with her bad hip’s bone bulging under dress. Her head was hung a little low on her shoulders and she scrutinized the audience for a long moment.
“The sto——,” she croaked, and then cleared her throat.
She started over in a low raspy voice, one at a much softer degree than her initial attempt: “The story I am about to tell you may disturb you. It may frighten you. It may make you wish you never set foot in this godforsaken building…” She closed her eyes and spoke a little louder: “If you have a little daughter, please leave.”
Everyone looked around at one another, entirely perplexed.
“If you have a little daughter, please leave!”
About twenty percent of the audience reluctantly got up from their seats, gathered their belongings, and walked out. A murmur rumbled through the room.
“If you do not wish to die, please leave immediately,” said the hag, much lower.
Ninety percent of those remaining got up from their seats, gathered their belongings, and walked out. Most of the rest of the audience looked around at each other as the lights somehow began to dim. The hag’s eyes shot open, and they were completely black. Blood began to ooze down the wall behind her from the corner where the ceiling met it. Faint sighs of little children laughing and crying weaved through the drastically cooling air.
“You have been warned,” her eerie voice roared beneath a mound of tension.
As the lights began to flicker at their new dim state, the few left of the audience looked around at each other, stiff…