“I have a story about ghosts,” Marie said to Dalton and the others while trying to search for something meaningful to say in that awkward moment. Becky, Davis, Kyra and Dalton looked at her with amusement. “I mean…I never have seen… a ghost but…I experienced something strange one time.” She stated as she peered again with hesitation at Dalton and surveyed the darkness of the forest beyond their warm campfire.
“I was younger. I went to the city with my Dad. We went to a summer festival that day. There were festival tents all around this old Victorian mansion. It loomed above the wide lawn. It was all brick and three stories tall.” She paused briefly and looked at the campfire.
“I didn’t like the house. It gave me an odd vibe I couldn’t shake. But my Dad asked me if I wanted to go on the historical home tour with him. I said yes. We got in the house and were led into the living room space. It was an elegant old home and well furnished.”
“The tour guide began explaining the history of the house to us. She talked about the owners and the number of times it had transitioned from family to family. In the early 1920s, it had been turned into an orphanage for kids after the Spanish Flu epidemic. Their parents had died from the flu. The place was run by nuns and priests. Then for a while, it was supposedly a psychiatric hospital. In the 1980s, it was turned into a historical home and they began giving tours and stuff.”
She looked around at the others. “The tour guide began telling us about the hauntings there. Supposedly there is a Lady in Red that haunts the place, a young woman who had a botched abortion and died. She is crying and she begs at the front door to see a priest. There are some other ghosts there too. There are children from the orphanage. And they say there is an evil ghost there too on the first floor. He was a psych patient that committed suicide.”
She reflected on her memory for a moment before continuing, “That day, I followed the tour group into the hallway. I was standing in the hallway on the wood floor and I felt cold air coming up from the floor. It felt good cause it was summer. It was real cold like air-conditioned air. I felt it all around me but the others didn’t seem to notice it like I did. I remember looking down at the floor thinking the cold air was coming from a hole in the floor leading to the basement. I stood there for quite a while in the cold spot.”
“We continued to the dining room and I stood off to the left of the big table. The tour guide was talking but all of a sudden, I felt faint. I felt extremely faint. I was not sick but like I was gonna pass out. And I was having trouble seeing…. like the room was darkening before my eyes. I was so worried that I would faint on an antique chair and break it. So, I rushed over to the next room to the right. It was a library or den or something. My vision was getting worse and worse and I knew I had to get out of that house immediately.”
Marie no longer looked at the others around the campfire as she talked, “I stumbled my way to the front door, jerked it opened, and rushed down the concrete steps groping for the handrail. My vision was narrowing, the blackness was overtaking my sight. I bumped into a few people awkwardly and went around the corner of the house stumbling. With my hands in front of me reaching out to grasp air, I could barely see. My vision was decreasing to a tiny pinhole and then suddenly…… wham! I hit my face on the concrete sidewalk. I blacked out about one foot away from a tent spike sticking out of the ground and tied to one of the festival tents. I didn’t just faint like they do in the movies. I slammed my face into the sidewalk really hard as if I had been pushed by someone. When I came to, there was a crowd of folks gathered around me asking if I was okay. I was trembling and the whole right side of my face and neck was bruised, swollen, and bleeding from cuts.”
She looked up now at Dalton and said, “I had barely missed putting my face through a tent spike. If I had hit that tent spike, I would be dead for sure.”
Everyone at the campfire listening to the story was now silent. She continued, “The cops and ambulance came. They asked me what had happened. I told them about the cold air in the hallway. I told them I thought maybe there was some chemical in the air and maybe there was a hole coming up from the basement. I asked them to check because I was worried about it. Maybe it was carbon monoxide. They checked the entire hallway.”
Marie shook her head slowly back and forth, “There was no hole in that hallway. There was no explanation for the cold air at all.”
She shrugged. “I didn’t think much of it. I figured over the years, I’d just blacked out but one day I told a friend that was big into paranormal TV shows about it. She said…well, she said I might be something called a sensitive. She said maybe I was empathetic to ghosts, that I could feel things deeply…more than others. My friend said I experienced a cold spot in the hallway that day because I felt the presence of a ghost standing beside me, lingering around me. I felt it but could not see it. And the others, could not feel nor see either. My friend said it might have been the bad one, the evil ghost. It may have been trying to hurt me intentionally and pushed me towards the tent spike on purpose…”
She trailed off. “To this day, I still don’t really know what happened. I have never ever seen a ghost but perhaps, I felt one nearby that others did not feel. My friend said this ability to sense their presence was a gift.”
She stopped telling the story and looked up to see what the reactions were on the faces of her campfire friends. No one spoke at first. They all looked around uncomfortably. Then Davis interjected with a nervous laugh, “That story is crazy!”
“Good one, Marie. How long did that one take you to make up?” Asked Kyra and she smirked at the others.
Marie responded timidly, “It’s actually…true.” The others around the campfire exchanged quick sudden glances but said nothing further. Becky grinned some in disbelief and looked down to hide her expression. Davis took another swig of the Jack Daniels and looked to the forest to his right. Kyra pretended to be focused on warming her hands. Marie stopped smiling and looked down awkwardly. Dalton placed his hand on hers again and moved closer. She grasped his hand then and looked beyond the others to the forest and the moonlit sky.
J. Speer grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and is familiar with the Stull Church legend. She was later stationed at Germany and Virginia while working for the military. She now resides in Pittsburg, Kansas and works in photography/art framing. She has 4 books on Amazon and writes a blog at www.jspeerwritings.com.
Janea says about this piece:
“These two stories are actually part of a longer story I am working on and go hand in hand. The overall story is about a young woman who is a sensitive. She is able to sense or feel the presence of paranormal beings. The first story submitted is titled The Cold Spot and is a true-life ghost story she recounts to some friends around the campfire on a weekend trip to the lake. The second story is called Stull and happens the next evening as she and her boyfriend are returning from the lake and encounter the strange and mysterious small town of Stull. This is a real place located outside Lawrence, Kansas.”