My experience with Batman

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Posted Sun, Dec 15, 2013

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AURORA, Colo. — The summer before my freshman year at Metropolitan State University of Denver, I was gearing up for school and taking advantage of all my free time. Spending every last second of daylight in the cool waters of my best friend’s pool, going to parties of friends I may never see again ‘till next summer, and most of all watching every blockbuster movie that came out.

I work, at a movie theater, so of course I get free tickets. I get to walk into the theater and see a movie that everyone else is paying an arm and a leg for, just so Robert Pattinson and Liam Hemsworth can come to life before my eyes. Let’s just say I had nothing to complain about. Well while the summer was coming to an end, and my twin best friends were going to University of Northern Colorado, we wanted to spend every last minute together. This brought us to the “Dark Night Rises” premiere that shook Aurora.

Now that it’s been a little over a year since it happened, a lot people ask, “Why did you go to that theater and pay for a ticket, even though you get free tickets at your movie theater?” Well my friends already bought their tickets to that theater, and I wasn’t going to be that girl, you know, the diva.

We bought our tickets in advance about a week before the premiere, because of course Batman was the most highly anticipated movie of the summer. To be honest, I’m not really a Batman fan. I’m more of a Captain America girl. But hey, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing my boy Christian Bale on the silver screen.

My friends and I met with four other girls that night, and we’re just messing around singing Katy Perry songs in the car on the way to the theater. We walked into the theater with our tickets in hand and waited about  two minutes line, nothing major and then go sit in our seats. We all got there about an hour and a half early so we could get good seats and even then, the theater was half full. Luckily we bought our tickets the week before, because those tickets were for Theater 8. If we had waited the night of the premiere, we would have been in Theater 9 — where I definitely did not want to be.

We were joking and laughing waiting for the movie to start, and I remember doing two things: We got up to go to the bathroom and the place was swimming with people. Then we got a little thirsty, so we went down to the concession stand, and I bought a bottle of water and some of those sour candies that look like pebbles. I can’t for the life of me remember what they were called, but all I know is I had about two out of the whole bag of a million and stuck it in my cup holder.

It’s kind of weird how perceptive you are without knowing it. As we were sitting there, I was just looking around and talking, but I thought I was just looking. But it turns out my mind was keeping a mental note of everything in that theater. I remember there were two young men sitting behind us; one was dressed up as Batman, the whole nine yards. There was a girl sitting in the front row with multi- colored hair, a pregnant women sitting against the wall to the left of me, an older man reading his book at the very top, and a family of about five sitting two rows down from me. I go to plenty of movies, and have never paid that much attention to my surroundings as much as I did that night.

Well the movie starts, as so does that fateful night. We get through all the previews, and then the opening scene comes abruptly on the screen. There was something going on with a plane and the villain Bane, and now that I think of it, we never got to see Batman himself. The whole reason we went there was to see Batman kick some butt, and all we saw was the villain tear apart this plane.

At a certain part in the movie; forgive me for not remembering, but I had a little more going on than what was happening in the movie. We heard gunshots go off in another theater. People around me and myself thought someone left the doors open to another theater, and we could hear what was going on in another movie. But when there were firecrackers going off by the entrances to our theater, everyone shrugged that off as well. This is kind of weird because a firecracker going off in a theater during the movie was a little bit ridiculous. Whatever hypnoses Christian Bale had on the audience was beyond me. We continued to watch. Then suddenly, a couple girls in the front row ran out. Then more and more people left.theater

At that point everyone stopped watching the movie and was curious as to why so many people were leaving. Then one of my friends got a call from her twin brother who was in Theater 9. He told her to leave, to get out because something was wrong and there was a gun. I remember just looking at her, waiting to hear the words, just kidding. But it wasn’t a joke. Soon enough the word had somehow gotten around to the whole theater and everyone was rushing to the exit doors. But the weird thing is once we opened the exit doors to leave, everyone quickly backed up and a sea of woes in triplets came out of everyone’s mouth. My friends and I were within touching distance to the screen at this point and no one would go out of the exit door. I still don’t know what was on the other side and frankly I don’t want to know.

I remember vaguely walking down the stairs and stepping over drips of blood and thinking what has happened? I didn’t see any one bleeding, but then again I remember those firecrackers being awfully close to that group that left early.

I rushed up the stairs to the exit door, and I seemed to be the only one out of my friends making progress. Everyone was incomplete shock and stunned. They were afraid because they didn’t know what was going on, and they didn’t know what to do. We went through the exit doors and ran through the lobby and out the front doors. You know that feeling when you don’t want to wake someone up, but you have to go right by them, so you tip toe and then book it. Well it was like that except we were looking out for a gunman.

We finally got outside the building and there were maybe one or two police cars and one ambulance. There were people lying on the ground bleeding and crying.  My friends and I called our parents and got in my car to go home. For a second we didn’t know what to do, to leave or to stay to see what was going on. But we decided it was more appealing to go home and watch it on the news rather than stay on the scene and see for ourselves. I got in the car and could barely turn out of the parking lot because there were so many firefighters, ambulances and police rushing in and at the same time blocking off the intersections.

When I got home my parents were asleep and for some reason I didn’t wake them. I just went to my room and turned on the news. I did a lot of things out of character, because I was still in so much shock. I don’t think I have ever shaken as much as I did walking through the theater. I was shaking from my hands to my toes. I remember how my fast my heart was beating. I thought it was either going to burst out of my chest, or I was going to have a heart attack that night. Anxiety before a speech doesn’t compare to how I felt by a long shot.

I didn’t sleep that night. I kept watching the news and checking Twitter to see whatever new advancements they have made. I wanted to know what was going on so bad, that I was glued to the screen no matter how much it hurt to see the numbers rise in fatalities.

The next morning my parents were up making breakfast, and I remember them watching the news, and once they saw the headline, they stared at me. I just looked at them without any emotion and said that I didn’t get to finish the movie. I had to work the next day and I was still in so much shock I had no idea what to do, but go into work to tell them what I had been through the night before. They sent me home and told me to get better and come back when I was ready. I took a couple weeks for me to laugh and smile again. I didn’t understand why this would happen. I also realized just how safe I thought I was. I’ve only ever heard of tragedies like these on the news. I have never experienced something like that before.

I didn’t know that even though I wasn’t in the theater where people were getting shot, it would affect me as much as it did. I was completely broken and couldn’t wrap my mind around something like that. I’m so thankful that my friends and I got out of there safely and were able to come home to our families. I would give anything to have missed that night, but it also made me more of a thankful person. I realized that the world isn’t as safe as the little community that I lived in. We’re cursed to live in a society that thrives off of violence. Now about a year and a half later, I have grown from that experience and still mourn for the families who lost loved ones.

About Kristina Vasquez

Kristina Vasquez is a Denver-area freelance writer.

View all posts by Kristina Vasquez

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