by Travis Brown
The Bloodbath at Bill's Kitchen
The summer I turned 16, I started my first job ever working at the local Bill's Kitchen (a greasy spoon lunch spot popular with college kids). I was young and excited, with all these ideas of making enough money to buy a car. My employment at Bill's Kitchen lasted a grand total of two shifts and involved the worst night of my entire life.

I arrived for my afternoon shift early with my uniform freshly washed and ironed. My goal was to make a good impression with the manager but the restaurant was so busy she barely noticed me other than to park me at a cash register and tell me to ask the other cashier any questions that popped into my head.

Luckily, the other cashier, Thomas, was more helpful. He walked me through the process of taking orders and using the register. I sat down with Thomas during our break. One of the perks of working at BK were the free meals. I was just finishing off my last fry when Thomas gave me one last piece of advice.

“Whatever you do, newbie,” he said, “don’t be alone here after dark. If you have a night shift, make sure you have a partner. We always lock up in pairs.”

“Is that a safety thing?” I asked. “Like protection from robberies?”

Thomas grinned. “No. You don’t want to be here after dark because this building is haunted.”

He explained that, before it was a Bill's Kitchen, the location was a small family diner called Johnny and Peggy’s. It was run by a couple (Johnny and Peggy). According to Thomas, the pair were deeply in love...until one day, Peggy was unfaithful. Somehow, word got to Johnny and he just snapped. The man came into the diner the next morning wearing his apron and carrying an axe.

“Johnny went full-on psycho,” Thomas said, stealing some of my fries. “He killed seven people that day, staff and customers, including himself. There was blood everywhere, dripping from the walls. You can still see a dark stain on the ceiling in the bathroom. So keep your eyes open, you might see some weird stuff here even during the day. And absolutely, never be here alone after dark.”

I chalked the whole conversation up to Thomas pranking the new guy but I have to admit that I was uneasy for the rest of my shift. There were weird cold spots all over the restaurant, unexplained musty smells in the freezer, and Thomas was right about the stain in the men’s room. It was dark brown in the shape of a half-moon.

The bathroom was also where I encountered the first unexplained sighting. I was finishing my shift and stopped in to wash my hands. The bathroom was empty except for someone in the handicap stall. I saw a pair of feet under the door in the reflection of the mirror. The creepy thing was, I thought I saw bare feet, no shoes, and they were surrounded by a puddle of dark liquid. I whipped around to check under the stall but saw nothing. The feet were gone when I looked back at the mirror, as well.

I hurried out of the bathroom.

All in all, I felt good about my first shift. Before I could leave, my manager stopped me and asked if I’d mind working a double. A few folks had called out of the evening shift so they were short-staffed. Being eager to please, I was happy to volunteer.

The night shift went by just as busy. After the sun went down, I did start noticing more and more oddities. The cold spots got colder. There was a knocking sound from the walk-in freezer and lights would occasionally flicker over a few of the booths in the dining area. By the end of the shift, I was itching to leave. I wouldn’t be volunteering for any future night shifts if I could help it.

It ended up being just me and my manager there for the final closing. She was walking me through the checklist for locking up the building when her cell phone rang. I don’t know what the call was about but my manager’s face looked distraught.

“I’m sorry,” she said when she hung up. “I have to go, family emergency. Here’s the checklist. You’re doing a great job, I’m sure you’ll be fine with closing.”

Just like that, I was alone in Bill's Kitchen.

I locked all of the doors and flipped the sign to CLOSED. The lights were still on but the dining room seemed darker, the lights growing dimmer and shadows sticking to the corners. I glanced around nervously as I went through the checklist. Oven: off. Fryer: off. Freezer temperature at-

There was a banging noise from the men’s room. I froze. The lights in the dining room were definitely weaker than they were a few minutes ago. I decided to hurry through the rest of the checklist. I mopped the floors and wiped down the tables. Next on the list was cleaning the bathrooms. I glanced at the door to the men’s room. I desperately did not want to go in there but it was my first day and I was being trusted to close up. It had to be a good job. I took a deep breath and pushed into the men’s room.

The first thing I did was look under the stalls. They were all empty. I let out a sigh of relief and then glanced at the mirror. I gasped. There were bare feet under all of the stalls in the bathroom’s reflection. A dark puddle oozed out under and between the feet. All of the stalls began to shake. I backed up into the men’s room door unable to think, to even breathe.

The lights went out.

For a long, panicked moment, I couldn’t find the handle to the door. I finally pawed it open and fell into the dining room, slamming the door shut behind me.

“Not real, not real, not real,” I whispered over and over.

My eyes were closed and I huddled on the floor too scared to see if anything followed me from the bathroom. When I finally worked up the nerve to peek, I instantly regretted it. There were people in some of the booths. All of them were bloody and disfigured. Six dead faces stared down at me.
One woman, her skull split open, almost seemed sad the way she watched me. She looked up at something behind me. The room was getting colder, my breath rising as steam. I turned to see a man in a bloodstained white apron standing over me holding an axe. He was pot-bellied and muscular, eyes completely black.

I screamed and crawled away. Stumbling, I managed to get to my feet just as the man swung his axe. I shrieked, throwing my hands up. The lights flickered and went dark. All of the dead people disappeared in the blackness.

I ran.

The lights kept snapping on and off. Whenever the room was lit, I saw the man with the axe getting closer, his victims watching. Then, in the darkness, they would all be gone. The worst moment was when I had to fumble for the keys to the main door. I fell out into the parking lot and hit the ground running. When I finally looked back and saw faces at the window in the flickering light.

My manager called me the next morning to tell me I was fired. I’d left the Bill's Kitchen half-open with the door unlocked and the checklist unfinished. My manager also got in trouble for leaving me to close alone on my first day. It didn’t matter. There was no way I’d ever go back to work at that restaurant ever again.

I was able to find a new, less terrifying summer job that year. There was a robbery later that month. Two people got shot. A few years later there was a fire and more deaths. I don’t know if a place can really be cursed but, if one can, that Bill's Kitchen is.

I still live in that same hometown and drive past the old Bill's Kitchen now and then. If I pass the place after dark, I’ll maybe catch a glimpse of a face reflected strangely in the window staring out into nothing.

I’ll never go into Bill's Kitchen ever again.