The Bathroom Ghost

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Word spread and soon everybody was saying the same thing. A ghost haunted the boy’s bathroom. A sniffing ghost. No boy dared to enter the bathroom alone, we always paired up. Two is better than one. It’s quite the story, one I haven’t forgotten. The story of the bathroom ghost.

Submitted: June 05, 2019

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Submitted: June 05, 2019

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A.J.Mortimer
The Bathroom Ghost
Did you hear that? It sounded like it came from behind you. You didn’t hear it? The sound of footsteps slowly creeping up behind. You sure you didn’t? Nothing at all? Must be my imagination, my apologies. I’m easily spooked, freaked out by the slightest of sounds. I’m the jumpiest person ever to walk the earth, I’m sure. Shhhhhh! You hearing that? Listen closely, the sound of controlled, deep breathing? Somebodies here! Don’t turn around, don’t do it. Shit, we have to get out of here! Come on, hurry, don’t just sit there, get a move on! What’s that? It's all in my head, no one is actually here? My mind is playing tricks? Okay, okay. Fine, I’ll sit back down but you better be right. I don’t plan on being ruthlessly murdered tonight by some psycho with a thirst for blood. Imagine if that happened. Some guy in a hockey mask comes charging towards us, blood-stained knife in hand, wanting to gut us both like fish. He grabs you first by the wrist, breaks your legs so you can’t escape, throws you on the floor then chases after me. I do my best to fight but he’s too strong, too overpowering. He grabs me by the throat, pins me up against the wall and forcefully drives the knife straight through my face, piercing through to the back of my head. The blade fractures my skull, blood spirts everywhere, staining the wall. He tugs the knife out of my head, taking chunks of my brain, drops my body, turns around, slowly makes his way over to you. You try to escape. Adrenaline pumps through your veins. You use all of your strength in your arms to crawl along the floor. Shouting at the top of your lungs for help but it's futile. No one is around beside the psycho with the knife. You try to crawl as fast as you can but it doesn’t matter, your arms don’t have the same strength as your legs. Looking back, the psycho enjoys watching you desperately try to escape. It brings him joy but not as much joy and entertainment killing you would. He grabs you by the ankles; you scream in pain as he pulls you under his legs. He saddles you, pins both your arms above your head with one hand and uses the other to glide the knife skillfully down your chest in a straight line. He thrusts the knife between each of your ribs, twisting the knife as it pierces your skin. The whole scene is a loud, bloody mess. Then he........ you want me to stop? Too much is it? Too much gore for your taste? Okay, I’ll stop, I’ll stop. You know what I just did? I jinxed it, wait and see, we’re both goners. Tonights going to be our last night. Bugger. You know I’ve experienced paranormal activity. I’m not trying to pull your leg, I’m being honest. It wasn’t only me who experienced it either, plenty of other people experienced the same incident. It spooked all of us for months on end, trembling with fear. The incident happened when I was still in school, year ten I was in. Word spread and soon everybody was saying the same thing. A ghost haunted the boy’s bathroom. A sniffing ghost. No boy dared to enter the bathroom alone, we always paired up. Two is better than one. It’s quite the story, one I haven’t forgotten. The story of the bathroom ghost.
 
2016, term 3, fourth period, history class. The classroom had six tables, two across, three lined up behind each other. I sat in the back right corner of the classroom alongside my two mates. The class ratio was three students per table, I sat on the left edge of the table, closest to the gap running between the two rows. My mate Nathan sat in the middle while Abe sat on the right edge of the table. Abe sat at an angle, head resting on his hand, legs stretched out under the table. Nathan had sunk back in his chair, legs stretched out in front resting on top of Abe’s, both elbows on the table, eyes starring into space. I sat slouched over, legs spread apart, elbows on my thighs, hands together resting my head on top. We weren’t paying attention to what our history teacher Mr. Dasher was teaching. To us he rambled boring facts about medieval Europe. Literally in one ear and out the other. Mr. Dasher was an interesting man. He had a dad bod, a plumb and squishy tummy. He skin was olive, hair black, thin, wispy and falling out creating a bald patch on the top of his head. He had cheeks of a newborn baby, chubby, red, irresistibly pinchable. Mr. Dasher always dressed the same five days a week, ten weeks a term. He wore dark, greyish, blackish pants, polished, pointed dress shoes; the type that make the high heel sound when worn. A navy blue, collared shirt imprinted with the school’s logo and a black, polyester sweater vest. He taught history with a passion like no other, specifically modern history although he still dappled in ancient history. The three of us lazily sat on our chairs, bored out of our mind. Normally in a boring situation we mucked around, disrupted the class with our antics. But we didn’t resort to childish behaviour, didn’t piss Mr. Dasher off, didn’t disrupt the class. We just sat there in boredom, off in our own worlds. Sweat on our foreheads, physically drained. The classroom was warm, enough to make you feel uncomfortable in your clothes. The air was stale offering no respite from the sticky warmth. I looked blankly towards Mr. Dasher’s direction, my eyes weighted with heaviness, almost closing completely shut. My clothes stuck to my skin, clinging to every nook and cranny of my body. Butt sweat drenched my seat. I couldn’t take it anymore, being trapped inside a furnace. I raised my hand to get Mr. Dasher’s attention. He saw it as soon as I raised it, ignored it, continued rambling facts about medieval Europe to the class. Looked at me again, saw my hand still raised and asked what I needed.
“May I go to the bathroom, sir?”
“Yes, but make it quick.”
“Cheers sir.”
I pushed my seat back, stood up revealing the butt sweat on my seat, walked out of the classroom into the fresh air. My headache went away as though breathing fresh air killed the monster causing the ache. My thighs rubbed against each other with every step I took, my clothes clung to my skin making me uncomfortable and itchy. Before going to the bathroom I diverted to the bubblers for a much-needed drink. The water was liquid gold, cold water running down my throat, crushing my thirst. I spent a solid minute taking gulp after gulp till my body said I couldn’t take anymore. I wiped my mouth with the side of my hand and walked into the bathroom. The boy’s bathroom was dim lit by a lone light bulb placed in the centre of the ceiling. The white bathroom tiles stained, the grout stained a dirty yellow and brown colour. The walls and ceiling were plaster, painted a light, Pacific blue. On certain sections the paint peeled off, creating the visual of white claw marks here and there. The left-hand side of the room had a metallic trough, two white, marble sinks with silver taps and a clean 60-inch mirror. Two cubicles stood next to each other on the back wall facing the door. On the right side of the wall stood an automatic hand dryer, 32 inches from the floor. I stood in front of the mirror inspecting my appearance. My hair was a flat, unruly mess. Massive sweat patches were visible under my armpits, regardless whether I kept my arms pressed tightly against me. I turned the tap on, wet my hands and did my best to neaten the messy hair. The sweat patches were a big concern, easily noticeable from metres away. So I unbuttoned my shirt, held the armpit area under the hand dryer till the sweat had completely disappeared. I slipped my shirt back on, tucked it into my pants and looked towards the mirror. My hair was neatly in place, sweat patches gone as though they were never there. I stood facing the mirror. Alone. The place smelt of eucalyptus disinfectant, clean and clinical. It was better than being stuck in a hot, musty classroom learning irrelevant facts, figures and dates. I walked into the left side cubicle, closed the door, twisted the lock and sat on the toilet with the seat still down. I sat with my shoulders resting on my knees, head resting on my hands, daydreaming, thinking, slowly nodding off, eyes slowly closing. I was still conscience, aware of sounds and my surroundings. It was peaceful, the only audible noise being the quiet, low buzz of the ceiling lights. Quiet, peaceful and a touch eerie. I sat there for five minutes doing nothing. Then it happened. The noise. The noise sounded again, then silence, then again. A sniffing sound disrupting the silence. The sniff of someone who's sick with a runny nose followed by five seconds of eerie silence.
“Who's there?”, I called out from behind the cubicle door.
No answer.
“Hello?”, I said.
Again nothing but silence.
‘Is somebody in here?’, I thought to myself.
There had been no sounds to suggest anyone had entered the bathroom. No sound of the door opening and closing on its squeaky hinges. No sound of somebody using the trough, no sound of anybody using the opposite cubicle, no sound of the taps being turned and hands being washed.
‘What made that noise?’
After the three initial sounds the bathroom fell into a nerve shaking, hair tinkling silence. I remained on the toilet, leaning forward, holding my breath. Listening. Waiting. Nothing. Whatever had made the sniffing sound appeared to have left. I waited two minutes, motionless, breathless. The room was quiet except for the low buzz of the ceiling lights. I opened the cubicle door slowly with curiosity, stuck my head out in anticipation. No one else was around. I cautiously checked the opposite cubicle, jarring the door slightly, peaking through the slit. No one. I pushed the door all the way to make sure no one was hiding behind. No one. Shivers went down my spine, a chill ran through my entire body. I walked over to the sink, splashed my face with water and glanced up at the mirror.
‘Had I heard somebody make a sniffing sound?’, I pondered.
I was positive nobody had entered or left the bathroom, not since I had been in. I stood puzzled, slightly spooked, explaining to myself what just happened. The conclusion sounded far-fetched, stupid, unrealistic, the stuff you only read in books and watch in movies.
‘Is it possible? It can’t be. Ghosts? They aren’t real! Are they?’
Whatever had happened spooked me, activated my fight-or-flight responses. I hurried out of the bathroom, made my way back to the classroom, thinking how I could explain this without sounding like some tall tale rambling wacko. The class room door loomed closer and closer. I knocked before entering, waiting for Mr. Dasher to call me in. He didn’t, so I waltzed in head down and hurried to the back where my two mates were snoozing. Mr. Dasher didn’t acknowledge my presence, still rambling facts about medieval Europe. No one else payed attention when I walked in, all too bored and exhausted from the room’s warm, still, musty temperature. I sat down, leant back in my chair and starred at the ceiling. I tapped Nathan’s shoulder. No response. I tapped him firmly. Startled he turned towards me, eyes blinking. I leant closer to his ear and whispered,
“I think there’s a ghost haunting the boy’s bathroom.”
“What?!”, he replied.
“There’s a ghost in the boy’s bathroom.”
“Bullshit.”
“It's not. I heard it.”
“Heard what?”
“The ghost. It's a sniffing sound, like when somebody has a cold. Only one thing though, there’s no sound of somebody entering or leaving the bathroom.”
“Really?”
“Yes really! It's a sniff, followed by a dead silence, then another sniff.”
“And you're sure no one else was in there at the time you were?”
“I’m positive. It's a ghost. A sniffing ghost.”
Nathan grinned, snickered to himself. “You're so full of it”, he said.
“Go in there yourself and tell me there’s not a ghostly sniffing sound coming out of nowhere”, I replied.
“You're so dumb. Do you hear yourself? There’s apparently a ghost in the boy’s bathroom that sniffs. Nothing else, just sniffs.”
“Prove me wrong.”
Nathan smiled and shook his head. “I will”, he said raising his hand to gain Mr. Dasher’s attention.
“Yes Nathan?”, asked Mr. Dasher.
“I need to go the bathroom, sir.”
“Make it quick.”
Nathan rose from his chair, walked down the centre of the classroom and smiled at me as he left.
I sat in my seat, sweating in the oven classroom, starring at the wall waiting. Ten minutes went by and Nathan hadn’t returned. The class was busy answering questions one through to six on page 237 of the history textbook. Mr. Dasher was resting on a chair, facing the class, fiddling with one of his pens.
“Why aren’t you answering questions one through to six on page 237?”, he asked me.
“Sorry sir,", I replied. “I’ll start now.”
Mr. Dasher nodded his head and continued fiddling with his pen. To my right Abe slept, slouched over on the table.
‘How come Mr. Dasher doesn’t tell him off for not completing frigging questions one through to six on page blah blah blah’, I thought.
 It was surprising Mr. Dasher hadn’t commented, “Where the hell is Nathan? I told him to be quick.” 
‘Maybe the ghost got him,", I thought. ‘Claimed his first victim.’
Just as I finished that thought the classroom door opened and Nathan walked in. He looked startled, like he’d witnessed something shocking. He smiled at me while he walked back to his seat. No one noticed him enter except for Mr. Dasher.
“What took you so long? I told you to make it quick.”
“Sorry sir”, Nathan replied. “The number two took longer than expected. It was bigger than expected to.”
Mr. Dasher shook his head and diverted his attention to his teacher textbook. Nathan sat down next to me, excitement and disbelief in his eyes.
“So?”, I asked him.
“I heard it”, he said face down, a grin across his face. “Nobody came in or out except for me.”
“See, what did I tell you. What took you so long?”
“I waited for it. The sniff. Heard nothing at first. I went into one cubicle, locked the door and waited.”
“And?”
“I heard it, one quick sniffing sound. I stayed in the cubicle then the sniff sounded again. I opened the cubicle door expecting to see someone but no one! Just the sound of the low buzz of the ceiling lights and a faint citrus smell in the air.”
“Hair tingling isn’t it?”
“I went back into the cubicle and closed the door without locking it.”
“Why?”
“So when I heard the sniff again I could burst the cubicle door open hoping to catch the person making the noise.”
“And?”
“Nothing. Same thing. No noise of somebody entering or leaving. I checked the other cubicles. No one there.”
“You believe me now?”
“As stupid as it sounded when you mentioned it, I believe you. There’s a ghost. A sniffing ghost.”
We sat starring down at the table, filled with disbelief about what we discovered.
“We’ve gotta catch it”, I said.
Nathan scoffed, “How?”
“I don’t know. We just have to.” Silence fell between us.
“Who do you think it is?”,I asked Nathan.
“The ghost? I don’t know, maybe a past student who died from a cold. Now his sniff haunts the bathroom.”
“Imagine that!”
“The legend of the sniffing ghost,” said Nathan with a smile.
“Sounds convincing enough, I laughed. "We could freak out the year sevens and eights.”
“That’ll be real fun.”
Abe started to stir, leant up from his sleeping position, stretched his arms upwards, turned his head rubbing his eyes. He pointed at us with two fingers sticking out.
“What you two idiots talking about?”, he said.
“Something is haunting the bathroom”, I said.
Abe laughed. “Bullshit.”
“I thought so too, but I went in and yeah, it's haunted,” Nathan interrupted.
“You two are so full or crap.”
“Go in for yourselve.”
“Nah, I’m all goods boys.”
Mr. Dasher had stopped reading his teacher textbook. Fiddling with his pen he starred in our direction.
“You three at the back”, he said. “Have you finished questions one through to six?” We didn’t respond. “What were you boys talking about? What’s so important to talk about that it distracts you from the work I’ve assigned?”
Abe stretched back in his chair, ready with a response. “Them two are talking about some ghost haunting the bathroom.” Most of the class had stopped working and were listening in, some with heads down, some with heads up, some pretending to continue on with the work.
“I’m sorry. Haunted by what?”, Mr. Dasher asked half puzzled, half pissed off.
“Some ghost sir. I don’t really know. They say it makes sniffing noises when you sit in the cubicle. They’re just idiots if you ask me, sir.”
The class broke into a small murmur, quiet snickering and conversation. Mr. Dasher hushed them with one glance then fixated his gaze on us.
“I’m tired of this boys. I’m sick of death of your snickering, your antics, your silly jokes you make to each other. Stop disrupting my class.”
“It's true though sir”, Nathan said cheekily. “Sir long ago a student with a cold died and now his sniffing haunts the bathroom.”
By now the whole class had turned their heads slightly over their shoulders, their attention focused on us. Abe was busy snickering, Nathan was smirking, head down doing tricks with his pencil and I sat there slouched back feeling like an idiot. Feeling the same way an animal does when it attempts to cross the road but stops dead in its tracks, stunned by two blaring, white, bright lights. Mr. Dasher rubbed his eyes with the palm of his right hand, shook his head and sighed.
“Boys, this is the last time I will warn you. You're in year 10, all three of you. You should be past this childish behaviour and these silly antics. Okay, boys? Last time I will warn you or I’ll kick you out of my class and you’ll be staying in every lunch period, for the rest of the term, catching up on the work you miss. Do you understand?”
“Of course sir”, said Abe.
“Yes sir, crystal clear”, said Nathan.
“Yes sir”, I said.
Mr. Dasher dropped his gaze on us. The bell rang announcing class had ended. Everybody rose from their seats, butt marks visible on the chairs, back and armpit sweat patches soaked into every uniform. Mr. Dasher spoke before anyone made a dash for the door.
“Listen up class, if you have not completed questions one through to six on page 237 of your textbook, please complete it for homework. I’ll be checking everyone’s work next time we meet for class. If it's not completed expect to be spending your lunchtime answering the questions instead of spending it outside with your friends. The three gentlemen at the back, I’ll especially be checking your work so make sure it's done. Okay class that is all. Questions?”
No one dared to ask a question. We were all edging to leave the classroom and Mr. Dasher had wasted enough time with his dribble he spills at the end of every class. We all stood angrily behind our seats.
‘Oh, hurry for goodness’ sake’, I thought.
“Okay class, you're free to go”, Mr. Dasher finally said.
A sigh of relief spread from student to student as one filed out after another, out the classroom door. We were the last to leave the room. Mr. Dasher’s eyes sternly followed us out the classroom.
“You gonna show this supposed sniffing ghost you’ve mentioned?”, Abe asked in a condescending tone. Nathan and I glanced at each other with a “should we” look, smiled and lead Abe to the boy’s bathroom.
Abe became convinced a ghost was haunting the bathroom after his first visit. He entered all smug, cracking jokes at our expense about being “scared” of a so - called “sniffing ghost”, came out one minute later stricken with fear and disbelief.
“You weren’t joking”, he said. “There’s an actual frigging ghost in the bathroom.” He leant, right arm stretched against the outside frame of the bathroom door, slowly shaking his head with a “what on earth” look on his face. “We have to find out what the hell it is boys.”
The next few weeks the legend of the sniffing ghost spread throughout the school like wildfire. Spread down through the grades, sparking every students' curiosity. Every conversation during lunch break focused on the ghost. Most boys thought the story to be complete bullshit, until they went into the bathroom themselves and heard the mysterious sniffing noises. Soon every boy became a firm believer in the sniffing ghost, each sharing their individual experience. Abe, Nathan and I became school hotshots, the popular boys, since we were the first to discover the ghost. Nathan promoted his idea the ghost was the soul of a past student who died from a cold. That part, I must admit, is complete bullshit. Abe soaked up all the attention, elevating his ego. I sat back and went with the flow of things. We came no closer to seeing the ghost in person. No one did. Despite the rising number of witnesses who claimed they heard it, no one saw the ghost. A competition amongst the boys began, who could be the first one to have a visual encounter. Those not frightened ghosts spent their free time between classes in the bathroom waiting to catch a glimpse. They never went in alone, no one was that brave. They always went in groups of two or more. The boys frightened avoided the boy’s bathroom at all costs. They resorted to holding it in or asking permission to use the staff bathroom when the urge to go came. Surprisingly enough, the teachers gave the boys permission to use the staff bathroom. We had a feeling the teachers believed the legend of the sniffing ghost, though none openly admitted. They didn’t need to admit; it was obvious from their behavior. The male teachers avoided the rumoured haunted bathroom too, stepping nowhere near the vicinity.
Two weeks came and went, then three weeks, then four, then five, then the term ended and a new term started. No one had yet made a visual of the ghost. We only ever heard its presence from the “sniffs” it made. The legend stuck in the minds of the students, maintaining its mystery. Accounts of the ghost grew wilder, more elaborate. Boys told stories of hearing the recognizable “sniff”, the lights widely flickering on and off, the taps suddenly turning on full blast, toilets randomly flushing and names appearing on the mirror written in an oozing font. The acts turned out to be mere pranks. The culprits senior students, the victims impressionable year 7 boys.

Mostly, the ghost only haunted one particular bathroom, until accounts developed claiming the ghost moved to the school library bathroom. Nathan rushed to me with the news.
“You sure it's the same ghost?”, I asked him.
“Yep, every detail. Dead silence followed by quick “sniff”. No sound of someone entering or exiting", Nathan replied.
“Is it another prank?”
“Nope. Doesn’t seem to be from what I’ve heard.”
“Wanna investigate?”
“Sure.”
Nathan and I spent two days stacking out the library bathroom, and the result was disappointing. Can you guess what it was? It turned out a student was pulling a prank on people who entered. They waited in the library for somebody to enter the bathroom, followed them stealthily like a ninja, waited until the victim sat down and sprayed a deodorant can to mimic the infamous “sniffs”. Nathan figured in was a prank when the aroma after the “sniffs’ didn't smell citrusy, instead smelt like a personal fragrance. The boy stopped the prank and the ghost no longer made an occurrence in the library bathroom. However, it didn’t cease to haunt the boy’s bathroom it had from the beginning.
“You know what I’m thinking?”, said Nathan.
“What?”
“The boy who pulled the prank with the deodorant can might have given us the answer.”
“For what?”
“Figuring out what is making the “sniffing” in the bathroom. It's not a ghost."
“What could it be then?”
“Think about if for a sec. There’s a “sniff” followed by a citrus aroma in the air right? Which means the “sniff” must come from an aerosol can, like the deodorant can the boy was using."
“But no one else is in the bathroom when it happens. You and I both know that. We’ve checked multiple times, meticulously too. No one is spraying anything.”
“You're right. No one is but something is.”
“What do you mean?”
“Come, follow me to the bathroom. I’ll show you what I mean.”
“This whole time we thought it was some kind of supernatural being but....”
“We’re idiots, seriously we are.”
Nathan and I stood shoulder to shoulder starring at an automatic air freshener system. “Sniff, sniff”, went the device. There it was, conformation no ghost existed. Two sniffs followed by a sweet, citrus smell.
“Should we tell Abe?”, I asked Nathan.
“Yeah why not. No point in not telling him.”
“True. How about other students? We going to tell everyone?”
Nathan sighed, still looking at the air freshener. “Well”, he said. “I reckon we could have a little fun with this. Keep it between us three, continue the narrative.”
“Sure. I see no problem with that.”
 
The bathroom ghost continued to “haunt” the boy’s bathroom for the rest of the school year. And the following year, and the next, and the next. Even after the trio of us graduated, stories, tales continued to echo amongst the students. Three sniffs followed by an eerie silence. So there you have it. A story about three boys spooked by an automatic air freshener. Let down of an ending for sure, no actual horror, blood and guts or gruesome murders but a ghost story to share with whoever you like. Just keep the fact the ghost was an air freshener device, a secret alright? Don’t go telling anybody you hear me. You never know, the ghost might appear in your bathroom.


© Copyright 2019 A.J.Mortimer. All rights reserved.

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