Working graveyard in a dying mall? “No problem” I said!
So I ended up getting a job for a regional security contracting company and the first post that I was assigned was a mall. Okay, no big deal. It's one of the company's busiest sites so I considered myself lucky, at least I don't have to sit around bored all day because nothing ever happens. Occasionally I get to see some action involving police, which is more than what some of my friends who work other posts for the company can say. It's a great site and I'm glad I'm here, but…
When I started at the post they had me all over the place. Mornings, mids, and closings. Now the mall is pretty dead, it used to be pretty popular when it opened up in 1960 but after the construction of the larger mega-malls around it, the place just couldn't compete. Now it's mostly filled with just the elderly who are reliving the Glory days of this place. So needless to say it's pretty slow most of the time, save the occasional soliciting homeless person or shoplifter. About 3 weeks after arriving at the site I was told that I need to start doing overnights. Our several previous overnight guards have left the site abruptly without really giving much of an explanation. That's fine, I thought, there are plenty of guards out there that don't like the job and only give a bare minimum. I try and hold myself to a higher standard. I care about my job, after all.
But the turnover rate for night guards here is 10 times what it is for normal day guards. I've mentioned to supervisors that maybe if there was more than just one person scheduled overnight that might help the turnover problem, but of course cost comes first. When I started talking to the other guards and the housekeepers here, mentioning that I'd be transitioning to overnights, I was largely met with a solemn, "God help you." It turns out there are very common rumors of the mall being haunted and a lot of unexplained phenomena occuring after hours, around 2-3am. Now, I'm not one to normally believe in the superstitious, so I usually laughed it off as them trying to just scare the new guy and generally giving me shit.
Now I'm not so sure. Now I think there might have been something to their warnings. I've only been on overnights for a week now but there are some occurrences that no matter how hard I try to, I just can't seem to explain.
First of all, my first day on site I was warned about a door labelled "NON EXCAVATED SPACE" that's to always remain locked and never to be opened under any circumstance. It's a "room," if it can even be called that, that leads underground underneath a parking garage. It's basically just a massive pitch black cavern filled with rubble for as far as the eye can see. We were warned that there's a very uneasy feeling surrounding that room. Supposedly there are rumors of hearing voices not only in there, but throughout the whole mall, specifically in the labyrinth of back service hallways behind the shops. I could go on and on about the alleged sounds and what's most likely just paranoia associated with being here in the early morning hours, but I digress for now. Tonight, while conducting my routine lock checks, I noticed something.
The door was unlocked and ajar.
Now my immediate thought was that possibly somebody had wandered in before close and made their way into the room, as it's a short distance from one of the main entrances. But as I turned on my flashlight and peered inside I immediately discarded this theory. The air was heavy and dense with dust, no person would be able to stay in that room without a respirator for more than a couple of minutes. I had almost erupted into a coughing fit and I didn't take more than one step in. But standing in that dirt and debris I felt something. My flashlight works just well enough that I could barely make out the corners of the room, and I knew there was nobody there, but it was as if something had their eyes locked on me from the moment I opened it. Again, I could probably just chalk it up to paranoia about the rumors, but I began feeling very uneasy and unwelcome in there, as if I had intruded in something's personal space. I returned back into the hallway and closed the door, but I couldn't lock it. The key for it no longer works as it should. As I walked back down the corridor the sensation followed me. I glanced over my shoulder a number of times and nothing was there, but my senses told me otherwise.
I've had similar feelings many times in these back halls; it's almost a primal feeling of being stalked, like something that humans developed thousands of years ago as a predatory defense but has gradually gone the way of the gall bladder or wisdom teeth.
Secondly, and I was warned about this early but didn't believe it until I saw it, there's an old freight elevator from the original construction that just sounds like death. I was warned to never use it while working alone at nights as all of the elevators have a bad tendency of becoming stuck. When you call it and the large metal doors and gate opens, it lets off a deafening beeping for about 5 seconds. And when the elevator moves it thunderously shakes and trembles, echoing in the entire building. Every time I ride in it I'm worried that the cables are going to fail and it's going to plummet down to the bottom of the shaft. Anyway, this elevator has a tendency of moving randomly at about 2am. The mall is dead silent so it's not hard to hear when it starts up. As I go to the doors to investigate there's never anybody inside of it.
Finally, and perhaps the one that made me the most uneasy, was last night. I was eating lunch in front of the camera monitoring station at about 3am. Suddenly out of nowhere, I hear a calling whistle from out in the lobby. Knowing that I'm the only person in the mall, that alone had me mildly spooked. I exited and locked the office to investigate and found nothing, of course, but when I returned to the security office all of the cameras, save three, had gone dead. They were working only a moment before when I had left the office, but now they're all disabled. I never touched the computer that controls them so there's no way it could've been user error. They still remain like that now. I've been trying to think about it in a technical sense but I'm completely stumped.
As I said, this is only my first week on graveyard and it's mostly calm, save for having to kick out a few sleeping homeless and some skateboarders. But I've heard rumors of the mall radio turning on in the early morning hours to serenade the silence with classical opera music for a few minutes before returning to silence. I'm almost hoping that one is true. Only time will tell.