When I was in high school, our local mall had a reputation for being haunted at night. I don't know if this urban legend has been perpetuated at all since our class graduated or if any of the kids who go to our school now would know about it, but everybody knew about it when I went there, and I can tell you exactly how it started.

I was friends with one of the two people who started it. Her name was Amanda, and she was one of those fiery, go-getter types who didn't seem to be afraid of anything. She was also really honest and sociable and most adults liked her right away. So when she started working in the food court at the mall in our senior year, her elderly manager let her stay late some nights and close up for him when he couldn't be there himself. I'm not sure what her duties were exactly, but they sometimes kept her there after the mall was closed and most of the other employees had gone home. She and her parents were okay with this partly because she was friends with one of the security guards, Rick. Rick was a neighbor and close family friend, and I guess she felt safe there knowing this guy had her back and would check in every so often to make sure she was okay.

My contribution to the story comes from the fact that at that time, I was a chronic night owl who didn't usually go to sleep until around 1 AM. So one night I'm on my computer scrolling through roleplay accounts on LiveJournal when my phone lights up with a text message. I don't recognize the number. All it says is "Peeing, flushing, footsteps, sink, towel. Pls send this to Amanda in 5 minutes. Thx."

Obviously this struck me as weird, so I immediately texted Amanda and said, "someone just told me to text you in 5 minutes. Everything OK?"

She just texted back, "Yeah."

I didn't know what this was about but if it was some kind of weird game I didn't want to ruin it for her. So I waited until the five minutes had elapsed and then passed on the text. All I got in reply was, "Thanks."

I didn't find out what the story was until we got together a few days later. When I asked she dropped her head and sighed, and I realized it was something serious.

"Amanda?" I asked.

Then she started talking, and it was like the whole story just came tumbling out of her. I didn't write it down at the time, so at best consider this paraphrased, but it's the closest I remember to what she said.

"I was just finishing up at the mall and almost ready to leave for the night when Rick came walking up with a weird look on his face. He told me he thought there was someone in one of the bathrooms but hadn't seen anyone go in, and none of the other security guards were nearby so would I please come with him. He just wanted someone to stand in the doorway while he went in to check, in case someone tried to sneak out he would at least know that there had been someone in there and he wasn't crazy.

"We went to the bathroom—it was the men's room specifically—and I saw that the lights were on inside. By that time of night they should have been off. Rick holds up a hand to wait and while we're standing there just outside the doorway, where we can't see into the bathroom because of the sharp turn just inside the entrance, we start to hear noises coming from inside the bathroom. First, there's what sounds like someone peeing into one of the toilets, like a gallon of peeing, and then it finally stops and the toilet flushes. Then we heard footsteps shuffle across the floor, followed by water running in one of the sinks, and then someone ripping a paper towel out of the dispenser.

"Rick went in to catch this person while they were presumably drying their hands. He walked into the bathroom, and then I heard him just stop. He went from stall to stall, opening them one at a time, and then after a few minutes he came back to where I was.

"He said he couldn't find anyone. We both knew what we'd heard, so I had him stand watch at the entrance and I went in to see for myself. I looked under all the sinks, and looked inside every stall. There was no other exit, and nowhere that someone could have hidden to avoid being seen. These bathrooms didn't even have a trash bin, there was literally nowhere for a person to hide.

"After that, we decided that we'd text each other everything we'd heard so that we could see if our experiences matched up. We didn't want to risk one of us seeing the other's text before we'd written ours, so I had Rick send his text to you and had you forward it to me, and I wrote my text and sent it to him while I was waiting for it. Our descriptions were exactly the same."

So, that was her story. I don't know what to think about Rick enlisting a teenage girl to help him deal with an intruder, but apparently it wasn't the first time something like this had happened, and he just wanted someone to vindicate his story finally, since the other security guards didn't believe him and nothing like that had ever happened to them.

As for what happened afterward, Amanda gave her manager two weeks' notice the day after this happened, and switched to the day shift until her time was up. Rick stayed on another week after that before eventually he quit too, citing work-related stress. They both swore up and down that the mall was haunted. Or at least, that particular bathroom.

Before you say anything, this was a few years before the toilets in that mall were replaced with the motion-activated type, which meant that you had to manually push a button on the back of the toilet to make it flush. The sinks were motion activated, but the paper towel dispenser wasn't. And that's what gets me. Because while I can believe that some kind of water pressure spike or faulty valve might be able to make a toilet flush on its own, there was no way for a paper towel to rip itself off of the dispenser unless there was a person there to rip it. And I definitely don't have any explanation for how a toilet could urinate in itself.


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