On my blog entry Ghosts and How to See Them, Jade.ent asked if I had ever seen a ghost myself.
I have seen one, and on another occasion a friend and I smelled one. We called it The Phantom Farter, because it smelled so unpleasant.
It happened many years ago, shortly after I started at university. I managed to get a room in the halls of residence but my friend had to stay in bed and breakfast accommodation while on the waiting list for a room at the college.
After a few weeks, she was told a place in the halls of residence had become free and she could move in, but her delight was short lived. It seemed the room had a reputation. A long list of previous occupants had either moved out after just a few days or given up their degree course entirely and gone home.
My friend soon thought she knew why - it was haunted, she told me. She hadn't actually seen a ghost in the room, but every time she was there for more than a couple of hours the room would get very cold and begin to feel extremely oppressive. Then a foul stench would develop. The only thing to do was to leave, she said.
She invited me to see for myself, so I did. We went up to her room together and at first everything seemed, and smelled, perfectly normal - although we did have a good look for any possible causes of the aroma my friend had mentioned. We searched under the bed and in the wardrobe for any unpleasant items that might have been left behind, and also had a good sniff at the sink in case the stench was caused by bad drains, but we couldn't detect anything.
Then, after about an hour, it suddenly seemed as though the room had become gloomier - although the lights were still on and working. The temperature seemed to drop by several degrees. We were both getting a bit scared by that time, which might have been the presence in the room or might just have been us getting ourselves worked up. Then I began to notice the smell. It was very unpleasant, like rotten eggs or sulphur, but it was hard to tell exactly where it was coming from and it was only present inside the room, not out in the corridor or in the room next door.
I must say that up to that point I had suspected my friend might be just imagining that her room was haunted. It is quite normal to get a bit depressed and homesick when you first go to university. I had thought that - combined with bad drains - was the cause of the problem. Now, however, I was convinced the room was really haunted.
But what to do about it? My friend didn't want to move back into bed and breakfast accommodation, which she would have to do if she gave up this college room. No one would take us seriously if we told people about The Phantom Farter, which we had by that time named our ghost. The only thing to do was to get rid of it ourselves.
"Do you know how to exorcise ghosts?" my friend asked me.
"Oh yes," I said, with the confidence of an 18-year-old who had read far too many stories about Carnacki the Ghost Finder but had no experience at all of exorcisms in real life. "Exorcising a ghost is a matter of will, you just have to convince the ghost that you have a greater will than it does. We will tell The Phantom Farter that this room is no longer his. We will say that we will give him an hour to pack his things and go. We will go to the bar, leaving the door open a crack, and we will tell him that if he isn't gone by the time we are back, there will be trouble."
And that is what we did - although I must admit I had a few qualms in the Student Union bar with my friend about exactly what kind of trouble I was going to be able to give the ghost if it didn't leave. I had some vague and Gothic ideas about searching the university library vaults for ancient grimoires, or talking a physics undergrad into building an electric pentacle, but I really hoped it wasn't going to come to that.
I was in luck. We went back to my friend's room after a couple of pints of cider and the ghost, and smell, were gone - never to return. My grateful friend treated me to several more pints of cider on subsequent evenings in the Student Union and the tale of The Phantom Farter grew longer with the retelling.
Although I have to say I'm not sure I'd have the confidence to exorcise a ghost now I'm older and wiser...
Carnacki the Ghost Finder (Wildside Fantasy)