Did you like the title? I thought that it was clever. This "ghost story" or whatever you want to call it has some laughs in it - particularly at my expense. There's definitely some spookiness to it though, too, so don't worry. It won't keep you up at night, though. Unless you spend your nights trying to explain it away like I did. Now you're probably asking "Explain what dammit?!?" so let's begin.
A few years ago I was a security guard. A "night watchman" as it were. If you read about "real" ghost stories or watch YouTube videos on the subject then you've probably noticed that a lot of that stuff comes from security guards. I blame the internet and stupidity on night guards thinking everything is haunted.
In my six day work week, I guarded three different locations from 2 p.m. To 12 a.m. Each with its own warnings of haunting from my co-workers. No post was more notorious than the recycle yard that I watched on Fridays and Saturdays.
By the time of my eerie encounter I had already been at that post two days a week for six months. Countless guards had come and gone. Some asked for day shifts, others refused to continue the assignment and a few quit outright. That was the most "haunted" place I'd heard of in my years as a night watchman. The stories were also the funniest.
"The motion detecting lights turn on - " some guards would say "but when I go to look for who is there, nobody is there!"
Duh. That's because it was a recycle yard in the open air. There are cats and rats and birds and skunks and all sorts of suburban wildlife running around there at night.
"I saw a strange looking thing in there one night. It was like a man, but it was decrepit and sickly looking. It made weird noises. It was like a zombie!"
Yeah. Welcome to Southern California. In the ghetto. That's a drug addict. It's a really big part of your job to keep them off of the property. You didn't do your job very well.
My absolute favorite "haunting" scare didn't I didn't hear directly from one of my co-workers. I heard it from my boss. I got a call one Sunday - my ONLY day off - and she asked me to cover the 10 p.m.-6 a.m. Shift. The new guard quit her shift after one night because when the sun came up, the SPOOOOKY GHOSTS CAME OUT! The containers started popping and everything made noise and there was nobody there and she cried and hid in her car to save herself from the evil spirits! Let me remind you that this was a recycling yard. Metal was everywhere. The metal to be recycled was kept in containers that were themselves metal. Night is cooler, day is warmer. The sun rises, the metal expands and creaks and pops. I knew that, my boss knew that, but the now retired 8 hour night watch veteran didn't know that. So, I got stuck with a seven day work week.
That Sunday night was a frightening one for me, though. I remember being in the car and on the phone with my boss pleading with her to just let me stay in my car. The company assigned had patrol tracking devices to every site and she called because I hadn't hit any of the checkpoints in over an hour. I was refusing, she was threatening to fire me. I said to her "If they just kept the copper inside the building in the middle of the place they wouldn't get robbed so much. If they didn't keep the copper outdoors in big, opened containers with the word "COPPER" painted on them in giant letters, they probably wouldn't even need a guard! But they do those things, so I feel as though I am possibly in mortal f*cking danger!"
There was a massive thunderstorm. I was a new father and I was worried that the copper would attract the lightning and that I would die if I happened to be passing by. My boss and the client agreed to let me avoid going near the copper for the duration of the storm. Lightning never did strike the yard that night. You thought that I was talking about a ghost or something, huh? Got ya. No, that wasn't until later. When I was on my regular shift.
I went in on a Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. As per usual. I did my patrol as per usual that afternoon. I fed the junkyard cats some tuna. As per usual. There was something unusual in the yard, however. In between two of my checkpoints lay a small refrigerator and what looked like a giant pocket watch the size of a wall clock. I didn't like the feeling of being around them.
There was an orange and white kitten who used to follow me around for a while after tuna time. I named him Rebel, because he was the only one of the junkyard cats who would get close to me besides his mom. He got really close. Never close enough for me to pet him. He'd run if I tried, so I stopped trying. He was following me that afternoon as I was passing by that refrigerator and clock. I stopped there. Being around those things scared me. I couldn't admit it then and I can barely admit it now. I hate the idea of admitting that I'm afraid. Being afraid of inanimate objects for no discernable reason is the height of humiliation. That's why I decided in that moment to inspect the objects and reassure myself that there was nothing to be afraid of. I was so steadfast in my resolve that I wasn't sure why I was still standing there several feet away.
"What do you think, Rebel?" I asked the kitten standing near me. Unsurprisingly, he didn't answer. "An ice box and an old clock." I said dismissively as I walked away without laying a hand on the objects. I continued to feign indifference toward the fridge and clock throughout the afternoon. It wasn't until shortly after dark that I no longer needed to pretend.
There were voices in the yard that night. That wasn't out of the ordinary. I'd often have to confront the addicts, the homeless, the thieves, the hooligan teenagers and, on occasion, the thieving, drug addicted homeless, teenaged hooligans. (TDAHTH vs. TMNT. I smell a franchise!) The encounters were usually very casual and respectful. I'd find an intruder and say "Sir/Miss, this is private property. I'm going to have to escort you out." At that particular site, that worked all but one time. A young man who I caught trying to steal the battery from a forklift in broad daylight charged at me with a pry bar. I picked up a rebar and ran straight back at him while screaming like a crazy person. If you're thinking that I shared that bit only to illustrate that I don't scare easily, you are correct.
I followed the voices back and forth on my patrols for hours that night. I couldn't catch where they were. It sounded like two men whispering, so I assumed that I was dealing with very sneaky and clever thieves. The yard was sort of "U" shape. There were walls all around. There was a building to which I did not have access in the middle and high walls all around. But, there was scrap everywhere. Any time I lost the voices, I would try to worm through the junk to see where they'd lost me.
I was doing my best not to collapse onto the ground and throw a toddlerish tantrum as I squeezed my body between two stacks of pallets and made my way back to my car to sit and sulk like a grown man does when he is out-smarted when I heard the voices again. I had them this time. The voices were coming from near the pile of car bumpers which I guess were somehow recyclable. No, not the pile near the entrance gate. Not the one by the mobile container full of copper which had "COPPER" (i.e. "come and steal this") written on its side in bright orange letters. It was the pile underneath the solar-powered yard light. I had them! And by God, I was going to use all of the power granted to me by the bottom tier security company for which I worked and the yard owner who couldn't just buy a f*cking dog to very politely ask them to leave!
I approached the bumper pile slowly - mighty flashlight in hand - and saw nothing. But, I still heard the men whispering. I circled around the mass of junked bumpers, anxiously awaiting the moment that these intruders realize that I outsmarted them and prepare themselves for a stern asking of when finally... I saw that I was back where I started. I circled the whole thing and I didn't see them. But, I could still hear them. It was at that moment that I realized that the voices weren't saying anything. Not in any language that I know.
"Sp ssp ha huh ha ss ss sssee ssah"
"Kah kuh sah sah vlenimeno mino" is the best that I can do to transcribe what I remember hearing all those years ago.
"Uh-" this was me and requires no guessing or translation "You can't be here."
It was quiet for a few seconds. Or minutes. I don't know. It got quiet after I spoke. The silence was eventually broken by a tumbling sound and a very un-manly yelp by yours truly as the bumper pile fell and three (yes, I counted) of them flew out in my direction. One from the middle, one from bottom and one from the top shot toward me like daggers as I jumped backwards and landed flat on my *ss. I sat there with aforementioned a*s and hands on the dirt until I caught my breath and felt confident that I could pretend the whole thing didn't happen.
After what felt like an eternity, I pushed myself up off of the ground and dusted off my uniform. It was gravity+cats×birds- a statue of John Wayne on every street corner that made that happen, right? Because I'm an American and this is America dod gammit and we aren't afraid of any what! That's just science! Yeah!
Except maybe "nah", because I still felt really uneasy. And I didn't want to look to my right. I also didn't want my kids to find out that I was afraid, which I was sure they somehow would have, so I glanced a bit that way. There was no way - absolutely NO WAY that I could see what I saw and be where I was. That's what I told myself. However, the only person who lies to me worse than my youngest daughter is me, so I didn't believe that *sshole. I yanked my eyes away from my shoes and saw that I was standing right next to an ice box and an old clock. I had been trying so hard to stay away front that area that it was actually a little difficult to believe that I had got so caught up in chasing invisible intruders that I didn't even realize that I was there.
"No. Nobody. F*ck no. No way. Nope. No." I remember exactly what I said when I saw that the refrigerator was open and the clock's face was on the ground. I was actually scared beyond fear. Despite the chill running up my spine, I had to go see that this wasn't real. I stomped toward that old refrigerator and got my hands all over it. I looked it over inside and out and I found nothing unusual. Except for the fact that I was trembling the entire time and I couldn't stop it. I glanced over at the bumpers near me every now and then. The ones that were blown over by an isolated gust of wind that I couldn't hear or feel and that effected nothing else. They were very still, as I always knew that they would be. There were also no voices, because there never were and I was just sleep deprived or hungry or something. Obviously.
I moved on to the clock. That's when Rebel showed up again. He popped up out of nowhere onto a nearby concrete block and stared at me, as was typical.
"Nothing here, Rebel - " I said to the cat and definitely not as a way to reassure myself. Not at all. Shut up. " - Just an old WHAT THE F*CK?!?!" I dropped the clock and ran away. Rebel ran alongside me toward for a second or two when I broke for my car. I lost sight of him before I made it to my little safe place, but I thought that was interesting. It was like he and I were human and cat bros.
Oh, yeah, you probably want to know what made me freak out. The hands on the clock were spinning. They were just going crazy. That probably doesn't seem too SpoooOOOOoooOooKY, but it scared the hell out of me. You had to be there to feel the fear.
You may not have been, but someone else was and someone else felt it. The next week I saw that the clock was still near where it had been before, but it looked as though it had been bashed in with a hammer. The refrigerator was tossed over the East wall.
The lesson that we can all learn from this is that you should not be a bloody security guard.