Author’s note: This is a follow up to a story I wrote for Mysterious Universe about a woman’s encounter with a bizarre, threatening man dressed as a priest. After the article appeared, I discovered this woman wasn’t the only person stalked by “The Priest.”
The stranger took Jared Thompson by surprise.
As the public train rumbled closer to Thompson’s home in San Francisco in April 2011, a male voice asked Thompson for the newspaper that sat next to him. Thompson looked up from his thoughts and saw the stranger.
He wished he hadn’t.
The man was dressed as a priest, but Thompson didn’t find that comforting.
“He was probably six feet tall,” Thompson, who stands 6’3”, said, “and he just felt wrong.”
The priest, balding with thin, “brittle” hair, stood before Thompson, his waxy, chapped complexion stained by a birthmark covering one side of his face.
“My gut reaction was that he was sick with something terminal,” Thompson said, “but then (the feeling) grew into something darker.”
As the man loomed over Thompson, terror grew in his chest.
“This guy was giving off the scariest vibes, and I am in no way sensitive to that sort of thing,” he said. “I thought it was weird that he was asking for the paper because at first glance I thought he was blind.”
The priest’s eyes were milky, but as Thompson studied the man, he knew the priest could see.
“His eyes were alert,” Thompson said. “He was tracking my movements visually.”
Thompson handed him the paper.
“When he reached to take it, the train lurched and he stumbled closer to me,” Thompson said. “I almost gagged. This man smelled. If you’ve ever had a rat die in your wall or cleaned up a mousetrap, it was the same kind of smell. It was sickening, sweet, rotting and oppressive.”
Thompson gagged at the smell, tears rimming his eyes. The priest took the paper and sat on the seat opposite him.
“But he was not reading the paper,” Thompson said. “He was staring at me with a huge grin on his face. In my entire life I have never felt the sick fear that I had when that priest was staring at me.”
Terror running through him, Thompson looked out the window, the city clicking past, and thought how much he wanted to see his wife waiting for him at home.
“The priest leaned over the aisle and said, ‘she wants to see you, too,’” Thompson said. “And then he gave me another awful smile. This was not friendly – it was horrible.”
Who was this man? Thompson wondered. A lunatic? Or something else?
“There was something about him that told me he had literally just heard what I was thinking,” Thompson said. “It’s not as if I was looking at a photo of my wife or texting her or something. I was just staring out the window, minding my own business.”
Thompson didn’t respond. He kept looking at the scenery speeding by, counting the seconds until he reached his stop.
“The train went for a few more stops and the whole time I was sweating, nervous and sick to my stomach,” he said. “I was so relieved when we came to my stop.”
Thompson shot up, grabbed his bag, and all but ran from the train.
“I turned around and saw that the priest was still on it when it pulled away,” he said. “I actually kept my eyes on the train until it was well past the station. As soon as I was standing outside in the fresh air, I began to feel better. I told myself it was just some creepy old man and that I was overreacting. Isn’t that what people always tell themselves?”
Thompson walked toward his car in the parking lot, relaxing more with each step. He climbed inside and pulled out of the lot, taking his eyes off the pavement for a moment to adjust his seat belt. When he turned his attention back to the road he slammed his foot onto the brake pedal.
“I saw a figure standing about 10 feet from my car, right in the center of the driveway,” he said. “It was the man from the train. Same priest robe. He waved at me.”
Thompson threw his car in reverse, spun its nose around and gunned toward the second exit.
“I have no clue how he got there,” Thompson said. “But I know for a fact that I wasn’t hallucinating. It was the same guy from the train. I would recognize him anywhere.”
Thompson hasn’t seen the “priest” again. He doesn’t talk about his experience. He hasn’t even told his wife.
“This guy left me rattled,” Thompson said. “If I think about him to this day I get a nervous creeping feeling inside of me. I haven’t the faintest idea what he is only that I don’t believe he is a human being.”
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s newest book on the paranormal, “Paranormal Missouri: Show Me Your Monsters,” is available at Jason’s blog, from-the-shadows.blogspot.com.