The Haunting of Cheema’s Landing

The Smell of Smoke

Suddenly, my eyes flew open in complete panic after being jerked awake by the undeniable smell of smoke—cigarette smoke—being maliciously blown in my face.  “Not again tonight!” I cried out to myself, as I lay in bed frozen with fear, while hearing the soft snoring of JD, my dog, curled up on his bed oblivious to my distress.  Slowly, I willed myself to sit up, straining to see in the milky darkness, as the persistent smell of smoke wafted around me filling my nostrils with its stench. 

Grabbing my loaded 357, a snub nose Ruger revolver, of which I kept strategically positioned on top of my nightstand, I quietly crept and turned on the light only to find absolutely nothing—no smoke—no intruder—nothing. Was I imagining it?  I knew the smell of smoke was real, as it had now occurred too many times to be passed off as just another one of my vivid dreams or a silly trick of my imagination.  

Yawning and stretching, JD finally decided to get up to check out what all the fuss was about.  He padded along after me, while I did what had now become my nightly search of the house.  Finding nothing, I lay back down, completely exhausted, struggling to get back to sleep.  Lying there with no sleep in sight, I found myself replaying the nightly events over and over in my mind, which raced with all sorts of possibilities, none of which were good. 

Finally, I concluded it was real and there was a “Smoking Spirit” living in my house, who found great delight in regularly scaring me to death! 

Cheema’s Landing

Every home has a history, as do its inhabitants, and Cheema’s Landing, my home and property, is no different.  Built in the mid-70’s, and positioned far off the road, the house sits nestled near a pond, a patch of woods, and a meandering creek, which separates the property from an old overgrown grass strip that is still evident from the air.  Hence, the name, “Cheema’s Landing,” was given many years ago and stuck.  

The setting is quite idyllic by most standards, and was a wonderful place to raise my children, along with the various pets who came and went, as well as relatives and friends who would visit quite often.  Mostly, the house was filled with laughter and happiness, but was not spared from its share of sadness, separation, and death, and had become quite spooky in the dead of night, given the recent string of events. 

“The Dead Relatives Room”

Years ago, my father-in-law died in my home, in the bedroom my children have since named, “The Dead Relatives Room.” Naturally, they thought it was creepy and perhaps haunted, despite my attempts at a cheery décor, being directly below my bedroom at the end of a long dark hallway.  It is filled with lovely antique furniture and pictures of my family—current and past—which just added to their imaginative story.  Perhaps the children were right about that room after all, as it seemed to make sense that any ghost would be hanging out there—in “The Dead Relatives Room.”

Quickly, I discounted my departed relatives from my list of possible ghostly suspects—targeting those who had enjoyed cigarettes throughout their lives—including my daddy and sister, as well as my father-in-law.  They would not have remained “on this side” after their passing nor ever wished me any ill will, but if not my departed relatives, who, then, was this ghostly intruder who continued to plague me?

A Chance Encounter

As time passed, by chance I met a very gifted woman and during our casual conversation, I learned she performed exorcisms.  My belief is there are no coincidences, and that there is a reason for all things, of which I was soon to discover.

What she told me was shocking! 

“The Smoking Spirit”

She confirmed, after returning from what appeared to be a trance, that the “Smoking Spirit” had settled quite nicely into my home, and clearly enjoyed wreaking havoc with me on a nightly basis. 

He was an evil and mean spirit, with a dark, smoky, undiscernible face, but the faint glow of a lit cigarette, hanging from his pursed lips, was quite evident.

Dressed in 17th century style black clothing, with wide crisscrossing belts supporting a long sword, a cape thrown across one shoulder, along with black leather gauntlet gloves, and matching tall black buckled style boots; the flumed wide brimmed hat sitting atop his mess of long matted hair, finished off the picture of the complete rogue ghost. 

Hovering and staring at me while I slept, he would exhale long trails of putrid smoke from his flared nostrils and acrid mouth directly into my face.  What a disgusting jerk!

She surmised he had tagged along with me by attaching himself onto some antique souvenir I had purchased, while traveling on one of my many worldly sojourns. I had never heard of such a thing!

The Black Carriage

Over the years, I have considered myself a bit clairvoyant but found myself sorely unprepared for what was about to transpire.  There was no question that he had to vacate my premises, as he was not only a ghost, but a really bad one!  He was quickly given his marching orders, along with a choice of his mode of transportation to go wherever it was that wandering “Smoking Spirits” go. 

His choice—a fine black carriage pulled by 6 black high-stepping horses—was quite fitting, I thought to myself, as I inwardly cringed.

The Departure

Then it happened…in my mind’s eye, I could see his dark, sinister silhouette looking down from the window of the horse drawn carriage, which was eerily suspended in the still, moonless night, as the horses—their muscles rippling—strained to climb higher and higher into the inky darkness. It was as if I, and all of the nighttime creatures, were holding our breath and not making a sound, as I could even hear the faint clip-clop of the horse hooves and the creak of the old oil lantern hanging from the swaying carriage, with its ghostly yellow light casting an unworldly glow on the scene below. 

As they ascended over my slumbering bee hives, over the murky tranquil waters of the pond and winding creek, climbing above the serene dark outline of treetops, and passing over the old grass strip, suddenly, a gush of wind whipped up a whirlwind of fall leaves, that seemed to be merrily dancing at having witnessed his dramatic departure. 

Then the wind stopped as quickly as it had started, and all the twirling leaves began drifting earthward, while the carriage faded into the blackness of the night.  The sounds of the nighttime creatures returned, as we expelled our combined breaths, which seemed like it was an audible sigh of relief in acknowledgment that it was finally over—that the “Smoking Spirit” was truly gone…

…or so I thought, until a few years later, when, at the witching hour, on a hot, dark, foggy August night, a pure white dove miraculously appeared on my doorstep and would not leave…

Katrina Cheema

October 2020