For this post i am going to jump back in time a bit so you can get a full appreciation for how messed up the aura of this building was. When we first moved the village when i was around the age of six my mum started work in the small chip shop. It was slap bang in the centre of the village and therefore was quite busy. I am not sure what the building was before it was a chip shop but for a long time and to this day that is what is still is. One of the assistant managers Greg and his wife Jane worked there as long time employees so it was safe to say they were known by most local folk. Jane was a lively and bubbly character and from what i remember of her husband he was the quiet sort and he always used to wear the old fashioned check style flannel shirts that were all the rage in the 90’s. A bout a year after my mum had started working there news broke in the village that Greg had committed suicide at the property. The poor soul had gassed himself in his car in the garage at the back of the shop. As you can imagine it was a shock to everyone but his was one of a spate of suicides in the village around that time. I have stated in a previous post how it was a strange place but it really did have a high death rate for a small rural place. My mum would joke in a rather macabre manner that you were lucky to make it out of there alive especially with the drug related deaths included.
Mum continued to work there as well as our family friend Gemma and by the time i was in my early teens me and my best friend Ab’s had a part time job in the shop washing pots. We both ended up working there on and off for about seven years. Jane still worked there but by this point she had developed a drink problem which was an open secret amongst all of the staff. Our bosses at the time were A Greek man by the name of Chris and his English wife Frances and they had three children the oldest two girls were around my age. They lived above the shop and it was not uncommon for me and Ab’s on days off to go upstairs and hang out with the girls or go on days out with them. They were lovely warm people and i remember them fondly.
One night about a year later (i stopped working for them for a while so i could focus on my schoolwork) mum had the evening off and we were at home, when Gemma came round in an excitable state of panic.
“The shops on fire Sam, i tried to put it out as soon as i saw it but it spread really fast…It’s pretty bad.” She rattled off, her hands were shaking with nerves. They both dashed up there to see if there was anything they could do to help or any equipment they could save. It turned out as Gemma had been serving she got a whiff of something burning and turned around to see that one of the extractor fans was pouring out with smoke. Within a minute flames started to come out of it and Gemma being the unflappable one in most situations tried to use a fire blanket she had grabbed off the wall to smother and extinguish it, when she realised that wasn’t working and the fire was spreading she and the boss tried to use a fire extinguisher but the fire was coming from behind the extractor it was useless. They had to evacuate everyone and watch as the shop was gutted. The fire department managed to put it out but everything was wrecked and it would take a few months before the shop would be back in use.
Three months later Frances’s brother who lived elsewhere in the country died in a horrific house fire, the irony was not lost on us that these two similar events happened so close together. But life plods an and soon enough i was back there working and even got a promotion to work as a server, it was nice to be back working besides all my nearest and dearest and we used to have a laugh. Three nights a week on the evening shifts after school i would be working with Gemma and another lass called Bea and even though Bea was lovely she was a huge introvert and had a lot of issues in her home life, her aunty was seriously mentally unwell and would regularly call her at the shop during a shift threatening to do harm to herself in a hysterical state. Now i knew that her aunt had been hospitalised several times and i had heard some of the stories as to why she was like this, which i will not go into here but after hearing that it was not surprising she was the way she was. It was such a common occurrence that towards the end Bea’s only reaction was to tell her to calm down and say that she had to go back to work and if she so needed her aunt could call the hospital. That may seem harsh to some of you reading but this happened nearly every shift and i think Bea had exhausted all her efforts in trying to get her help.
Then it happened. I can only imagine Bea’s guilt not knowing that as she put the phone down on one of her shifts that would be the last time she spoke to her aunt, She sadly carried through on her threats and went missing on day, only to be found a week later in a farmers shed a few miles up the road. Bea left us shortly after that and i truly hope she is in a better place now as the burden of guilt was evident. We all tried to reassure her that there was nothing more she could have done as she had tried to help her aunt for years but it seemed like a hollow sentiment watching this young woman barely out of her teens with the weight of the whole world upon her shoulders.
There were some nasty accidents involving knives and Gemma had nearly taken her eye out with one as she used it to open a cardboard box, the vicious blade flicked up and cut her eyelid, thankfully she had blinked at the right moment. Next it was her turn. One morning she woke me up at home in tears, i can count on one hand the amount of times i have seen her cry in the near twenty years i have known her it isn’t something i am used too. I sat up immediately wondering why she was in a state and she told me her boyfriend who we were all friendly with had died suddenly. This was a massive shock as he was only 21, even more so when it transpired he had dropped dead of a massive heart attack. Now he had his demons and he had a substance issue in the past but he was clean and taking medication to help him with the cravings, the coroner believed that the medication had weakened his heart somehow.
Jane’s drinking problem got a lot worse and she was now sneaking sips of vodka at work which inevitably soon saw her unemployed, sadly it got the better of her and within a few months she had died of liver cirrhosis. She spiralled down hill fast so it came as a massive shock especially as she had only been in her late 40’s. It seemed that everyone who worked in this shop had some sort of massive tragedy in some way. Motorbike accidents, marriages breaking down, health problems, multiple miscarriages, financial ruin or the onset of serious mental health issues. It may be just pure chance as many people go through these things but already it was evident to some of us working there that there was some bad juju attached to the place.
A year after this Chris and Frances moved on to another place and new ventures and we had some new bosses. Niko and Elle another Greek couple had taken over. They were young and had a little baby son and they were laid back kind of bosses but very temperamental with each other. Elle was your typical Greek woman feisty, fiery and not to be crossed and i became good friends with her in time, and although the shops bad luck streak ran dry for about sixteen months their relationship grew more strained. They would regularly have blazing rows in Greek in front of the staff members and we soon learnt that when Elle was in a bad mood to stay well out of her way. They soon moved on and i was sad to see them leave, they took over a chip shop a few towns over and soon enough we all received some horrible news that Niko had been convicted and sent to jail for a pretty serious charge which would go on to change his life, and his now ex wife would move back to Greece with their sons. This was also the last time mum worked there she had to have a hip replacement and being on her legs most the day wasn’t an option. Around this time i had to leave home, i wasn’t kicked out as such but the relationship between me and my sister became so bad mum did not give me a choice which i was angry about and it damaged our relationship considerably, my mental health continued to spiral and it was from here i started reaching out to professionals for help.
The next employers we had were there so briefly i can’t even remember their names. It was a family of five The parents two elder daughters and a young son. They had strange energy and none of us were keen on them right from the off, the daughters seemed stuck up and would look down their noses at us, the wife was always upstairs online shopping and the father was a quiet sort but he didn’t seem to gel with anyone and gave off a sly vibe. Three months later they disappeared over night £260,000 in debt leaving everything there and us lot without a job. It was peculiar to say the least and none of us could figure out how they had managed to get into so much debt in such a short amount of time.
The next bosses we had were again an odd couple, now i am going to be incredibly blunt in this section because i did not have a good relationship with them at all and call me bitter but i can hold a grudge from this life and into the next. Mikey and Helen, he was from up north of the UK and she was Cypriot/Greek. They were an odd couple, he had an incredibly soft nature, i would almost go as far as to say child like and his dominating wife certainly treated him like one. Helen was a overbearing clean freak and i suspect she suffered with some form of OCD but it was us… her staff who had to bear the brunt of it. Working in catering you get used to keeping the work place spotless but she went above and beyond and it soon started to rub people up the wrong way. Her temper was mostly directed at me and one day completely off the cuff she fired me on the spot. I stood there dumbfounded and being as i was a lot softer back then i got quite upset. After a few weeks she called me and asked me to come back to work as they needed the help. No apology was forth coming but i needed the money so i agreed.
I had only been back there a few weeks when something strange started to happen at work. Even though this building was jinxed, in the employers eyes there was not really any paranormal activity as such. One night during a shift that all changed. Helen had made a couple of remarks a few days previously about the upstairs flat giving her the heebie jeebies and hearing strange noises but i didn’t take much notice. I just wanted to get on with my work and go home. Me and one of the younger lasses were out the back washing up the pots in the sink and Ab’s and another lady called Georgie were out the front getting cleaned down ready for closing. I heard Georgie call my name from the front of the shop, so drying my hands i walked to the open archway that separated the back from the front. I met her in the middle.
“What’s up georgie?” I asked her
“What do you mean, you just shouted me.” she replied looking at me like i was having a funny turn of some sorts.
“No you just called me, i was in the sink i heard you.” I insisted. With that the young lass i was working with pipes up and confirmed that she had heard her call me from the front. Georgie went a bit pale and pulled a weird face.
“Sod off Amy, we just heard you shout my name…. how strange.” Ab’s had also heard me calling her from the back too, we were all pretty spooked by this but after making some jokes about ghosts trying to stop us from working we all went back to our individual chores. I carried on washing up when out of no where i hear a voice whisper into my ear.
“……… ……….. NOW” The hairs on my arms and neck stood up and i turned to the girl beside me in the other sink and asked her what she had just said maybe a touch too sharply. Even though i knew it wasn’t her, as this was right up against my ear and even though i could not make out the first two word’s i clearly understood the last word NOW. I could feel the heated breath from each word against my skin, it sounded like a man but i had to make sure that i wasn’t mistaken. The poor girl looked at me in shock and told me that she hadn’t said anything. By this point i was ready to down tools and get out of there, the tone of that voice had me unnerved.
About a week later we were cleaning down getting ready to shut the shop for the night and Ab’s had been round and swept the restaurant turning off all the lights on her way out. Where the main section of the shop joined onto the restaurant there was a large open window partition between the two walls so we could see who was in there and who needed serving. When entering the shop from outside you could either get a takeaway in the main section or walk straight through an open section and go take a seat to eat in. I was sweeping and cleaning down the surfaces when i saw a man walk past the partition, thinking he was a customer who had gone to the toilet before the lights went out i assumed he needed to pay his restaurant bill. I expected to see him walk around the corner. I went and waited at the till and when he didn’t reappear i became very confused wondering what some random guy was doing hiding out in the darkened room to the side of us. Past the window partition he literally had to walk around a section of wall about 2 foot in length then he was in the shop at the counter. I waited some more debating what to do, as far as i was concerned there was a man hiding just behind that bit of wall and my hackles raised thinking someone was going to hold us up for that days takings.
I shouted for Ab’s with a tone of urgency in my voice but trying to stay calm.
“Whats wrong Amz?” She asked as she approached me.
“Was there someone in there that still needed to pay?” I asked pointing to the dark room.
“No everyone has left.” She told me looking puzzled.
“But there is a man in there, he just walked past the window and is just standing round there.” I whispered, Sure that she had seen the last of the customers leave but knowing that i must have seen someone we both quickly took up arms….. which consisted of a broom and a mop, and crept around the corner. There was no one there, i flipped the light switch on to make sure no one was crouched down hidden in the shadows.
“Are you sure you saw someone?”
“As plain as day, he walked straight past but didn’t come out the other side.” I told her Both simultaneously turned our heads in the direction of the restaurant toilets.
“You can go first…” She told me pushing me forward, and i would be lying if i said i wasn’t scared. I gently opened the squeaky door and called out asking if there was anybody there. I got no answer and with Ab’s right behind me i first checked the ladies and then the gents loo’s. No one, nothing was even out of place. I was perplexed. We both went round the back and by this point Helen was shouting for us to get back to work. Ab’s told her what happened and they asked me what he looked like.
“Middle aged thin guy with blonde hair and he was wearing a blue and whited checked shir….” I tailed off and the goosebumps washed over me. I knew exactly who i had seen in that moment, it was Jane’s husband. Ab’s must have been thinking the same thing as me, we looked at each other stunned, and i am sure it was him who whispered in my ear. Not surprisingly Helen sacked me again shortly afterwards, she was stomping around in a rage one night and marched up to me and told me i wasn’t needed any more, furious i walked out then and there. A few weeks later the cheeky bitch even had the brass neck to ask me back again. Sensibly i told her no, I was not willing to be sacked for a third time just because she had gotten in a strop. Ab’s walked out a short while after sick of her behaviour and within a few months they had entered financial difficulty shut up shop and gone elsewhere. I never went back to work there after that but Ab’s continued on and off with new employers for a number of years, as far as i know the paranormal activity seemed to stop when they left and i don’t know whether the new owners suffered any misfortune, but given the buildings streak of jinxing anyone associated with the place i wouldn’t be surprised.
Do you think the place was Cursed or was it just a long running string of bad luck? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to know if any of you have experienced anything like this, i will be fascinated to hear all about it.
Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash