Squatters Pub Ghostly Encounter
There’s a brew pub called Squatters in downtown Salt Lake City. It's situated in a historic building that’s about as old as the city itself. They’ve got great food there. Better beer. And apparently, ghosts.
I went there for lunch with my wife, Jane, a few years ago. The main floor of the restaurant is bright and airy, with lots of open space. Far from the picture of a typical “haunted restaurant.” It was only when I went to the bathroom on our way out that I discovered the place has something of an ominous underbelly.
To get to the bathroom, you have to walk down a long flight of steps leading to the basement. The stairway is wide, carpeted, and well-lit. Nothing spooky. When you reach the bottom, you hook a left turn into a long, narrow hallway that extends the entire length of the building. The restrooms are about halfway down that hallway, and the walls are decorated with historic black-and-white photographs of the city’s early days.
From the moment I got down there, I felt a slight sense of unease – probably more associated with the fact I was alone than anything supernatural. I’ve never been the type to pick up on psychic vibes or anything like that. But something about that area of the building just felt off.
As I got closer to the restroom entrance, I realized I wasn’t alone after all. There were two very attractive women standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the hallway, kissing. Although outsiders might think that’s an uncommon sight in a city as steeped in religious conservatism as Salt Lake, it isn’t. Still, a small part of me felt awkward walking past them, almost as if I were invading their space. Averting my eyes out of respect, I stepped past them and through the men’s room door.
Once inside, everything about the atmosphere changed. The bathroom was small and cramped. There was only a sink, a urinal, and a single toilet stall against the far wall. Although the light fixture overhead was fully functional, something about it felt inexplicably dim – as if at any moment you might expect the light to flicker and go out.
I finished my business and washed my hands. Then, just as I reached for the paper towel dispenser, I became aware of a strange sound coming from the lone toilet stall.
I figured it was just someone else in there doing their thing – until I noticed that the door to the stall was slightly ajar. As I stood there drying my hands, I cocked my head and listened. It sounded like someone was in there, rattling the toilet paper dispenser.
The first thought that ran through my mind was that there was a rat in there, although there was nothing about the place to lead me to believe their sanitary practices would invite such an unwanted presence.
For a second, I considered walking to the end of the bathroom and peeking into the stall to find out what the source of the sound was. I tossed the used paper towel into the trash bin and took a step forward. That was when the most inexplicable sensation I’ve ever felt came over me, coalescing into a silent scream comprised of two words: GET OUT.
I won’t go so far as to say I heard a voice utter those words. I didn’t. I’m positive of that. But nevertheless, every sense about me perceived the command, and my body instinctively obeyed. I turned, threw open the door, and got the hell out of there.
Although I’d been in the bathroom for less than a minute, the ladies in the hall were gone. I realized with a sense of dawning dread that I was completely alone down there. And the silent words that had been thrown at me, that unmistakable command to GET OUT, was still there, even louder than it had been before, to the point where I actually found myself turning my head away as if to lessen their impact.
I didn’t need any more. There was something down there that wanted me gone, and I wasn’t about to argue with it. I hustled down the long hallway in the direction of the stairs, only once glancing over my shoulder to make sure there was nothing behind me. By the time I reached the stairs leading up and out of the basement, I was trotting – and before I’d reached the halfway point up, I was taking the steps two at a time. The entire time, it felt as if something invisible was chasing me up the stairs.
The moment I reached the top and found myself in the open light of the main floor, the sensation vanished. Just like that. To this day, I’m not sure if I really experienced what I think I did. But what troubles me most is that I’m not sure I saw what I saw, either.
Jane was waiting for me at the top of the stairs. The first thing she said to me was, “Are you okay?”
I didn’t answer. I knew that she’d been waiting for me the whole time, so I asked her, “Did anyone else come up here before me? Two women?”
She said no, then asked me why. Again, I didn’t answer.
I searched the faces seated at various tables throughout the restaurant. Something told me that if I could find the women I’d just seen downstairs, then maybe the rest was all in my imagination and I wouldn’t have to spend the next two nights lying awake worried that whatever chased me out of the basement might have decided to follow me home.
But there was nothing. Not a soul in sight fit the bill. I struggled to remember what they looked like. In my mind’s eye I could still see them, locked in a lover’s embrace, clothed in long white dresses that hung to their ankles and wearing impossibly out-of-date headpieces decorated with feathers. The kind you only ever see in age-old snapshots. Never once noticing me as I brushed past them. I felt as if I’d just visited a place I didn’t belong.
By now, Jane was looking at me with growing concern.
“What’s happening?” she asked.
I said, “I’ll tell you in the car.”
We left. And we haven’t been back since.