I was twelve years old when I first became aware of the Ghost of the Santa Rosa Toys R’ Us. The legend had it that it had been a farmer who had refused to sell his land to Toys R’ Us, despite their persistence. He left no heir upon his death, and Toys R’ Us was able to seize the land and build another location.
Every so often, the morning crew would enter the store to find it vandalized; sometimes select items would be knocked over, more times it would be half the store. But no one had ever broken in. Whoever had been doing this was still inside when the doors were locked.
Or…they never left at all, even after death.
Legends like this spread quickly amongst imaginative kids, and soon, we wanted proof. More like, we wanted to be the ones who finally nabbed proof of this thing. So we bought disposable cameras and convinced the only friend we had to drive us down there one night. It would be a night none of us would ever forget, or speak of for years.
It was myself and three others, including the driver. Knowing nothing of Santa Rosa, we drove around aimlessly until finally happening upon the Toys R Us in question. The lot was completely empty, the store darkened inside. We were here, and most importantly, we were alone.
We pulled up in front of the store and waited. And waited some more. After two hours of nothing, it was suggested that we start taking turns sleeping and rouse the others if there was any sighting. I took first watch. Nothing happened; disappointed, I awoke my friend, who took over.
It was nearly four in the morning before we finally found what we were looking for. And we needed no
one to rouse us.
With a BAM sounded like something had been thrown against a wall, we were all forced from sleep. We rushed to the window, eager to see what we came for.
It came from the left, as if insulted by the irony; a ghostbuster proton pack was sent flying—struck—from the topmost shelf. But nothing hit it.
And then the pack after that one. And the pack after that one.
We then realized that this invisible force was making its way towards the entrance of the store.
Get the camera! Get the camera! We urge. A full-blown invisible maelstrom has commenced in the store, toys now flying indiscriminately at opposite ends of the store, as if a gang of burglars is having a field day. But we’re all acutely aware that we’re the only living people there. We know what we’re seeing, as the store is destroyed from the inside. But no one wants to say it out loud.
An action figure I don’t recognize—one with black eyes—is hurled against the glass in front of us, where it impacts flatly and falls to the floor.
We’ve seen enough. Let’s get the hell out of here…
We don’t say anything on the way home…except…we got it all on film!!
Newfound heroes we think we are, the next day turning it over t Walgreens and talking about what we’ll do with all of the millions, no, billions of dollars we’ll get when we sell these to the national whoever. Not the least of which, is drop out and nuke the school.
We’re all euphoric and giddy as if hopped up on pixie sticks when the call comes in. The film is ready.
We foot-race to Walgreens to pick up our winning lotto-ticket in photographic form…only to learn that there’s a problem. We don’t understand what until the pimple-faced clerk gives us our finished photos.
Not one photo, not a single one, developed.
We passed them around to each other, and only then did it really sink in what we had seen that night, one week ago.
We swore we’d never tell anyone, never speak of it again. We were afraid that we had angered it, and somehow it would break free of the Toys R Us and find us all in our sleep.
Blessedly, it never did.
From that day forth, although we never talked about it, we all believed in ghosts.
Thanks for reading.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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