I'm not sure if this is a ghost story at all, but it really happened and it really frightened me at the time.
About five years ago I was driving back from Scotland to London with my family. We stopped overnight in the city of Leeds and stayed in a rented apartment near the railway station.
The apartment was great, but after the kids had gone to bed and my wife had settled down for X-Factor, I got a bit bored and went out for a pint.
Areas in cities near railway stations are often a bit scuzzy and Leeds is no exception. The streets were pretty empty and I wandered around for a bit looking for a pub. Eventually I found one near the railway arches, a small, traditional pub that looked quiet. Just what I had in mind.
When I entered, I found that it was really full with lots of people laughing, drinking and smoking. I went to the bar and waited to be served for about 4 or 5 minutes before giving up as the barmaid seemed to want to serve everyone but me. She didn't just ignore me, she didn't even seem to see me. I told myself that this must be a locals' pub and that they just didn't like strangers, but in reality I couldn't wait to get out of there as I had a really bad feeling about the place. I wasn't being stared at or menaced or anything like that, it just all felt "wrong" somehow. I walked around the corner, found a chain bar (All Bar One or something) and drank an overpriced beer in a totally empty bar.
As I sat, I figured that there were a number of things that were just not quite right about my experience in the other pub.
1. Everyone was smoking. This was a long time after the smoking ban and people just didn't smoke in pubs anymore. A landlord could lose his license if the police caught even one smoker, and there must have been 20 or 30 puffing away.
2. There was no smell of smoke. It should have reeked in there and my clothes ought to have smelled of smoke even after just a few minutes, but there was no smell at all.
3. The pub was very loud inside and there was music playing, but from the street there was no sound at all, which is why I thought it was empty.
4. The other customers seemed to look dated. Not old-fashioned, but the under-30s all appeared to have hairstyles and clothes that didn't seem up-to-date.
5. Everyone seemed small. I'm 5'11 but I felt like I towered over everyone there.
6. The fear that I felt, the fear that made me leave so quickly, had no cause. It was just a pub with a lot of people having a good time.
I made some joke to the east European barmaids before I left about everyone being at the pub round the corner but I just got blank looks.
Back at the apartment I didn't tell my wife about my experience for some reason. It all felt wrong and I wished I'd stayed in watching X-Factor.
I've never been back to Leeds so I can't tell you if the pub is still there or even what its name is.