We all know Payless ShoeSource. Here you can find everything from the wingtips you’ll wear to that job interview to the sneakers you’ll pull on before heading out for a mid-morning hike up the side of a mountain.
And if you happen to visit the Payless ShoeSource located in Banning, California, you might also encounter a wandering spirit.
Locals believe that the ghost which haunts this particular shoe store is that of a little boy, who died out in front of the store some years ago.
If the stories are to be believed, the little boy – who did not get the pair of shoes that he wanted and thus left the store in a pouting huff and a hurry – was truck and killed by a car just outside the store.
Ever since, he is said to haunt the break room, as well as other parts of the store from time to time.
This story has been circulating around for years, but up until recently, no one had ever claimed to have actually seen the ghostly child; typically customers and those who worked there described their interactions with him as being mostly feeling-based.
“I would just find myself getting really sad all of a sudden, for no apparent reason,” says one former employee. “One day I finally figured it out; it was the boy, and he was trying to communicate with me, but he could only do so with feelings.”
People experienced the ghost’s presence around Banning, but never saw him until recently…
Personal encounters with the Payless ghost have, as previously stated, been limited to the non-visual until recently, and as it turns out, that may be a very fortunate thing indeed.
“Seeing him was the single most awful experience of my life,” says Anna, a fifty-four year-old beauty salon owner who lives in the area and – surprisingly, considering her story – still shops at the Payless.
“I was in the store one evening, trying to make up my mind on a pair of slip-ons, and it was getting close to closing.
“I remember thinking that I had better hurry up and make up my mind about what I was going to buy, so I could get out of the store and let the poor folks who work there go home.”
She stares down at her hands for a moment…
“I bent down to take a closer look at one of the boxes, and just as I pulled the lid off, his head came up through the box.
“I was so terrified that I didn’t even scream – just stood there like the world’s biggest dope looking at this thing.
“He didn’t look like a little boy in the prime of his life,” she says. “He looked like he had been dead – and not preserved – for hundreds of years. He was still a little boy but he was somehow also old.”
Worse, according to Anna, his decayed body seemed to be mutilated.
“It was as if all of his parts were in the wrong places,” she says. “Like whatever hit him – if that’s even what happened to him – mangled him beyond recognition.”
What did you do when you saw this thing rising up out of the shoebox?
“I ran, of course,” she says. “And I’ve spent almost every day since then telling myself that it was a hallucination.”
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