Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Ghost in Aisle 15C

Here's a story sent to me by Amanda from California:

Dear Jason,

My name is Amanda Walker. A friend told me about your site. You have stories about hauntings on there but nothing like mine. I still have nightmares about what happened to me the summer after my sophomore year in high school.

I took a job at a large toy store in Sunnyvale. I’m not even sure where you’re from, Jason, but Sunnyvale probably wouldn’t fit your image of California. There aren’t any palm trees or beaches or celebrities driving around in convertibles. It’s pretty much just a regular boring suburb. Anyway, the store was pretty close to my house and since I’m a vegetarian, it beat working at McDonald’s, my other great summer-job offer.

The creepy stuff started on my first day. The other kids working at the store told me that all new employees started over in aisle 15C, as a kind of initiation. I just shrugged. “Whatever. Doesn’t matter to me.” Hey, I was only going to be there for two months. I could deal with some lame pranks.

So I got to work, stacking boxes and boxes of dolls onto the shelves. Bo-ring! About ten minutes into it, though, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I figured someone was going to give me something else to do, or maybe even ask me if I wanted to join them for lunch, since it was my first day and I didn’t know anybody. I turned around, but no one was there. I went back to my work, and then it happened again. I was positive I felt a finger tap my shoulder, but again, nobody was anywhere near me.
All right, who’s the comedian? I thought. Is this your version of “initiate the rookie?”

I went back to stacking when suddenly a blast of cold, rank-smelling air hit me right in the face. Whoa!I thought, coughing and waving my hand in front of my face. Did something crawl into the air conditioning ducts and die?

I took a step back and the temperature raised instantly, the smell of new plastic replacing the stench of rotten flesh. I was now officially freaked out! Not wanting anyone to think I was weird, though, and mostly not wanting to get fired on my first day, I just went back to work.

I pulled over a ladder and climbed to the highest rung so I could stack dolls on the top shelf. As I reached up to put a doll in place, I felt fingers running through my hair. My hair’s pretty long and I’m kinda proud of it, so it really freaked me out to think that some stranger was touching it. Then I remembered that I was on the top rung of a ladder!

I shrieked and lost my grip on both the ladder and the doll I was holding. The doll fell to the floor and I was sure that I was about to follow.

Reaching out at the last second, my fingers gripped one side of the ladder just as my feet slipped from the rung. Struggling with all my strength, I grasped the other side of the ladder and regained a foothold. As I caught my breath, the adrenaline still coursing through my veins, I looked down at the doll that had fallen.
The doll’s unblinking eyes stared up at me, its tiny plastic lips curled into a frown, and a small tear escaped from its left eye. “Help me,” it hissed. “Help me find Elizabeth!”

The first thing I have to do is get off this ladder, I thought, fighting to hold back the wave of terror sweeping through my entire body.
“Help me!” the doll whispered again.

Stay focused, Amanda, I told myself, concentrating intensely to find a foothold on the next rung down. I lowered myself, rung by rung, at what felt like a snail’s pace. One foot after the other. That’s it, girl. Gotta get to the floor.
And then I was down.

Stepping around the doll, I hauled butt to the ladies room.
Gotta calm down! I thought, leaning over the sink and shaking with fear. Turning on the faucet, I splashed water onto my face, again and again. Okay, that’s better.
I turned off the faucet and grabbed a paper towel. There’s got to be a perfectly logical explanation for all this, I thought as I patted my face dry. What that explanation might be escaped me at the moment.

Taking two deep yet shaky breaths, I headed for the door. Suddenly the faucet came on again, full blast, splashing water over the edge of the sink.

“I turned that water off!” I screamed, as if the sink itself could offer some answer.

I stepped back to the sink and turned off the faucet. When I reached the door I heard the water come on again. I didn’t even turn around. I just ran from the bathroom.

Either someone at the store was pulling pranks on me or I was losing my mind. I kept one eye over my shoulder for the rest of the day, but nothing else happened. I finished my work and went home.

The next morning I arrived at work and looked into the eyes of my fellow employees. People nodded politely but no one gave any hint that they were aware of the creepy stuff that had gone on the day before. If someone had been playing tricks on me, they were doing a really good job of keeping a poker face. I had almost convinced myself that I had dreamed it all when I turned, once again, into aisle 15C.

“Who did this!?” I screamed, pissed beyond belief. The dolls I had so carefully stacked the day before were scattered all over the floor, as if some jerk had spent the night yanking each one from its place on the shelf.

This little game has gone too far! I thought. I hurried down the aisle toward the employee lounge in search of my obviously demented co-workers. I no longer cared if they thought I was crazy, or even if I got fired.

I swung around the end cap display of toy trucks and turned into aisle 14. There, spread out across the floor were about 50 skateboards arranged into letters spelling out a single word—“Elizabeth.”

I turned and ran, cold sweat now pouring down my face. As I passed the toy trucks again, they came flying off the shelf, one after another. I ducked, covering my head with my arms. The trucks slammed into me, almost breaking my wrist and elbow.

I ran, faster now, scooting past a group of large colorful rubber balls, which were all bouncing up and down by themselves. The lounge was just ahead. As I reached the door, a glint of metal caught my eye.

Stopping dead in my tracks, my eyes locked on an image that made my heart stop. The picture haunts my nightmares to this day. Not more than a few feet away stood a man wearing overalls and a red flannel shirt. A brown bushy beard covered his dirty face. In his left hand he gripped an axe. Its blade dripped with fresh blood. Where his right foot should have been there was a jagged stump, bleeding all over the linoleum floor.

“Elizabeth!” the man whispered, reaching his right hand out toward me, staring me right in the eye. “Help me find Elizabeth!”

Stifling a scream, I yanked open the lounge door, ducked inside, and slammed the door shut, imagining the cold blade of the axe slicing through the door behind me. Once inside, I found a group of my co-workers staring at me.

“You lasted longer than most, Amanda,” said Todd, who had worked at the store for about five years. “I was surprised you even showed up today. But it should get better. They usually only bother the new people.”

Still wide-eyed with fright, I managed to stammer, “Todd, what’s going on here? There is a man with an axe covered in blood right outside the door!”

Then Todd told me the story. One hundred and fifty years ago the land on which this store was built was a working ranch. A man named Johnny Johnson, a traveling preacher, moved out to California to work as a hired hand on the ranch. He quickly fell in love with a young woman in the area named Elizabeth Yuba Murphy Tafee, only to discover that she was engaged to an East Coast lawyer. Elizabeth soon left the ranch, leaving Johnson with a broken heart. A short time after this, he accidentally cut off his right foot while chopping wood and bled to death.

His spirit has haunted this land ever since. In the 1970s, some famous psychic named Bertha Silver held a séance at the store and made contact with the spirit of Johnson, who still pines for his beloved Elizabeth.

It turned out that everyone who ever worked at the store knew about this. Some stayed, some left. Maybe it did get better after you worked there for a while, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out. When Todd finished his story, I rushed out of the store as quickly as I could, not daring to look and see if Johnson was still there. The rational part of my brain told me that I didn’t believe in ghosts, but the events of the past two days felt all too real.

No job was worth putting up with this. I decided right then and there that even though I was a vegetarian, next summer, I would take the job at McDonald’s. At least the only thing there that scared me was the food!



Anonymous said...

This is the Toys R Us in Sunnyvale, California. It IS totally haunted. Everyone knows it!

Anonymous said...

tThis Toys R Us has been haunted for a very long time. It is said that the ghost of a boy might be from a family that had owned the property way before the Toys R Us was built. The story goes way back and is interesting. i have been there before and toys are always on the floor in the morning on isle 15

Anonymous said...

You made a long story. My sister is scared of that story.

Carly said...

A man with an ax in a toy store?????? that certainly wouldn't win any childrens toy of the year award, would it, now?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

that was officially weird

Anonymous said...

Wow. I want to work there! I live in Indiana, so I haven't ever heard about this.

scarygirl said...

I love that story, but I'd quit if I worked there.

tay said...

OMG that is so strange I have to check that place out!!!

Anonymous said...

i actually did go there once with my friend. every single time i walked through the aisle, i had a strange feeling that something or someone was following me.

Anonymous said...

my sister lives in calafornia im going to ask here about it and see if she wants to work there

Anonymous said...

that ghost sounds really scary whith an axe and a leg choped off

Anonymous said...

that is so creepy

Anonymous said...

that once happen to me but in toys ur rus

Anonymous said...

cool o love that story i have the book and ur story is in it! I read it alot of times its my fav. im fot scared becuz i read it late at night and i live in california. i loooooove it :)