Working in a Haunted Mall (pt1)
Working in a Haunted Mall (isn’t all that great) (pt1)
I work in a shopping mall in central Texas.
It’s haunted. No, like, really haunted.
It kind of sucks.
I know most of us have worked somewhere “haunted” before, especially those of us in retail. There was some ghost of a manager who hung themselves in the back room, or the building used to be [generic spooky thing], but I think we all know it’s really just a rat or some other mundane reason anything falls off a shelf or a motion sensor goes off when no one is near it. Telling ghost stories is a way for use to break up the monotony of the service industry. That’s totally cool.
My mall isn’t like that.
My mall is a Grade A Certified hotspot for supernatural activity.
How do I know this?
I’ve worked there for years, and seen some strange stuff, or heard stories from the other long time employees.
The first thing you have to understand is that my mall isn’t anything special (except for the legion of undead that inhabit it).
It’s not built on some burial ground or old cemetery. We’ve never been cursed that I know of. There’s never been any civil war massacre or even a murder, gruesome or otherwise.
I don’t think anyone’s ever actually died in the building, which is maybe the most improbable thing about it.
But we have spirits out the wazoo.
And everyone who works here just goes with it.
I’d been there two weeks before I had my first encounter, and man, I’m still mad no one warned me.
We were closing up, and my new manager was in back counting down the till while I mopped the floor and finished straightening up from the Saturday night madness.
That was when I heard it. A tick-tick-tick-ticking of hard plastic. It’s the sound clothes hangers make when you’re going through a rack. You know the sound.
I immediately looked around, trying to pinpoint it. We’d thought the store was clear, but twice already we’d closed up only to find there’d been someone in the dressing room or somehow managed to hide amid the displays, so I was worried I’d have to explain to the kind of customer who already thought business hours didn’t apply to them that the computer system wouldn’t even be able to process a transaction anymore.
There was no one there, though. I shrugged, and went back to mopping, straightening a shelf here and there as I went.
Then I heard it again. Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick.
My head shot up, and I looked around, but again, no one.
I turned back to my mop, and just as I started to get back to work, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
I spun, mop held before me like I thought I was some martial arts expert, slinging water I was going to pretend was relatively clean on some overpriced merchandise, to face… nothing.
Feeling extremely silly, I went back to mopping after peering around to make sure my manager or some passing security guard hadn’t witnessed my acrobatics.
Then it happened again.
I ignored it this time.
Still ignoring it. It was probably just the AC blowing on one of the taller shelves. That was probably the movement I thought I saw. Yeah. That makes sense.
I rounded an aisle and I saw Her.
I couldn’t see her face, she was facing away from me, going through the clothes on the back wall. Her hair looked brownish, but also light, like there was some grey in there, but it was almost like it was dyed, not normal aging grey. She was dressed pretty raggedy, in really old looking clothes, like something from the 70s. This was back when the hipster style was starting to get into full swing so I didn’t think much of it.
I more worried about the fact she was dripping water on the floor, because I’d just possibly been slinging mop water around in a fairly indiscriminate manner.
I cautiously approached, already dreading the interaction. “Um… Ma’am? I’m sorry, but, we closed a little while ago.”
She didn’t react, just moved slowly down the rack.
A few steps closer, and the smell struck me, stale air and mildew and something chemical. Any cleaning supply closet you can think of has that smell. I immediately knew I’d got her with the mop and was going to be fired in the next few minutes. I sucked up my fear, and took the final step and tapped her on the shoulder.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry, are you okay? Would you like me to get the manager?”
She finally turned, looking right at me, and that was the moment I became a believer.
Her face was terrible. Pale and greenish and rotten. What few teeth she had stuck out yellow and broken from a mouth with no lips. Her eyes focused on me, sort of, in spite of looking vaguely liquefied, like they might just pour out if she looked down.
The worst part was the movement under her skin. Things were clearly crawling around insider her, protruding, bulging out. I felt sick just seeing it.
I threw up on her shoes, which, I noticed, were rather nice leather boots, probably European, and still looked decent if somewhat rotted.
She turned and went back to browsing the store.
I finally screamed, and made to run, only to back into my manager, Theresa, staring at me with a neutral expression.
I grabbed her, and turned to point at the apparition only to see she’d vanished.
I looked around, hyperventilating. “You saw her, right? She was right there!” I gasped.
Theresa looked uncomfortable, like she really didn’t want to have this conversation, and glanced pointedly at the mess I’d made.
“You’re going to clean that up, right?”
I stood there, gaping, mop limply held in one hand.
She waited for a response, and I, feeling numb, nodded.
Somewhat more sympathetically, she told me that once I finished with that, to clock out and some into the back office.
When I did, she was sitting in the “break room”, with a bottle of cheap liquor and paper cups on the table and motioned to the chair next to her.
I awkwardly set down, and gulped the beverage, coughing as it burned its way down my throat, and feeling even more sick to my stomach. This was my first drink.
I was a good kid, leave me along.
She sipped hers, heaved a long sigh, and, almost bored, began to talk.
“So, I need to tell you about Matilda.”