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This week, we have a story that was sent to us by a fan, who had a strange encounter with a spirit back in 2013.
Back in 2013, I’d moved to the town of Lawrence, Kansas – a borderline oasis compared to the nothing that surrounds it. I was being housed by a family of a friend I’d made there, so I was quick to join them in things like household chores and weekly excursions. Every Wednesday, they went to church, so I usually tagged along as a sign of good faith.
Not that Wednesday. That night, I had one of the worst migraines of my life. It was straight to bed, head under the covers, plus a pillow for good measure. The rest of the family headed out and the house was quiet. Thankfully, I fell asleep fairly quickly, and hoped to sleep off the pain.
At some point, I felt myself waking up. My eyes began to open. The only things I could make out were the blue walls of the room, the sunlight still spilling in through the curtains, and the blurry shapes of furniture.
Instantly, the pain in my head was immediately excruciating again. My eyes snapped shut and I made a small, desperate cry in frustration.
That’s when I felt the bed next to me dip. Almost carefully, a heavy weight settled next to my left, like someone had sat down by my side. I struggled past the pain to open my eyes again and saw a man sitting there.
He looked like anyone would, only the light from the window was casting him in shadow, making it hard to distinguish any real features.
Now, it’s important to note, I didn’t think I was seeing anything out of the ordinary. I assumed it had to be the dad of the family, stopped back home for something, and checking on me in the process.
I did, however, note one very odd detail: the smell of cigarettes. And not just any cigarettes; the strong, unforgettable scent of Marlboro Reds.
No one in the family smoked – in fact, the mom was a health nut – so even thinking it was just the dad, I remember feeling like something wasn’t right.
Between the smell and the light still coming from behind the figure, it felt like an assault to my senses. I let out another pained whimper. The man’s hands reached towards me and pulled the blanket up, gently tucking me in. I still remember the feeling of knuckles grazing my collar as he did.
“Shhhh,” a gruff, but calm voice said, “you’re all right. Go back to sleep now.”
With the agony in my head, all my barely-conscious brain wanted to do was adhere to his advice. So I did. I listened and closed my eyes again.
When I did wake up, it was to the sound of the family returning from the church service. Fortunately, the migraine had subsided a bit and I was able to greet them and ask how it had been.
That’s when I asked the father in the house when he’d stopped back at home. He was the only person who was large enough to match the shape of the man, so I figured it was him. The dad gave me a confused look.
“I didn’t come back,” he said, “why?”
That was immediately concerning. Before, I really hadn’t thought anything of it, but if it hadn’t been the dad, who had it been? My first instinct was an intruder, but that didn’t make any sense. What intruder randomly comes in and tends to a sick person?
But that left other options, ones I was definitely too skeptical to consider.
There’d been someone there, that much I knew. I hadn’t hallucinated, and migraines had never made anything like that happen before, and above all, I’d felt someone.
The family could sense my panic, see my growing concern, and asked me about it. I told them everything – how I felt him sit down, how he’d tucked me in, what he’d said. I tried to describe his voice.
And then I mentioned the smell; the Marlboro cigarettes.
There was an audible gasp. One of the sisters excitedly asked me again if I was sure while the mom’s eyes began to well up with tears.
That’s when I learned about their grandfather: a kind man with a gruff voice and a penchant for Marlboro cigarettes, who’d only passed away a year ago.
The family were avid believers in spirits and the paranormal, so they began excitedly talking about how he’d stopped by. How wonderful it was that he’d taken care of me. Meanwhile, I couldn’t wrap my head around the thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d actually come in contact with a spirit of some sort.
It took years for me to admit to myself that I still can’t logically explain what happened that day.
But I know one thing: I always feel a twinge of fondness when I catch the stiff scent of a Marlboro Red.
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