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The Stench


I had been living in my *new* apartment for just over a month now and it was still almost totally empty. There was plenty of furniture in the basement to choose from, but I was always drained. I had left all my friends and 98% of my family behind when I moved from California to Vladivostok and I was desperate to make new friends. This meant a lot of clubs, a lot of bars, and plenty of wandering through city parks and "department stores" which are actually closer to what you might call a "mall" in the States. Every night I'd get home late, and I'd be exhausted. I had barely enough energy to throw some food together and collapse in front of the TV to watch some bizarre Russian adaptation of an 80's or early 90's American sitcom. Seriously, that's a thing in Russia...

The apartment had some strange quirks, which I was discovering little by little while I lived there. When I first moved in, I walked through the entire apartment with my iPhone and took video to send back home to my folks. My mother in particular was desperate to know I had found a decent place to live. As I was moving through the apartment there were definite "cold spots" particularly in one of the two bedrooms, and the main living area. Another strange thing was both of the apartment's two closets, were still full of the previous tenant's clothing and shoes. One closet had clothing that appeared to belong to an older man, and the other one - an older woman. These were the ONLY belongings that seemed to have been left behind and when I asked the apartment manager what I should do with them, his equally odd answer was "Eti koo-var-tiri seychaz..." (It's your apartment now.) I tried to give these items away, but people in the building were completely uninterested. The majority of this stuff ended up meeting its end in the building incinerator chute.

It was around this same time that, seemingly from nowhere "the stench" began. I actually gave it a name because it became a common-enough, though entirely random event for the rest of my time renting that apartment. The smell was over powering, but nothing too specific. I couldn't say it smelled like "death" or "something rotting" because it didn't. It had an odd metallic smell to it for sure, and it could easily make you sick if you stayed around it too long. Beyond that, the odor is beyond my powers of description. At first, I simply assumed the crazy lady who lived down the hall was correct. That the building was infested with huge mice and one had died in my wall, or under some appliance. So I moved my refrigerator and oven, emptied and searched my cupboards and cabinets, checked the exhaust duct for the stove vent, I even took apart my sink drain... Nothing... No cause.

The other very ODD thing about this stench was that it seemed to move around the kitchen area. Most of the time, it was confined to the ceiling area over my refrigerator. I'd sniff it out to that spot, but there were no vents or anything that would allow the smell to come through. Sometimes however, it would be in the far corner of the kitchen. Or, sometimes in the dining room. It would last a few hours and vanish. After a few days of searching, I did finally contact the building's maintenance guy. He showed up, looked around, but of course - as is typical, there was no trace of the smell. The next day, it returned and was just as strong as ever. I called them back, and once again - the odor was gone. This time however, I refused to allow the maintenance guy to leave right away. I showed him some corroded fixtures in my shower and asked him to work on that, hoping the smell would return while he happened to be inside my apartment...

The smell did return, with a vengeance... An over-powering stench filled the entire kitchen and drove me out. My eyes started watering and my throat began to burn the longer I stood there. I ran to the bathroom and brought the maintenance guy with me, who was at a total loss for words at what he whiffed. He told me he had been working in that same building for almost 15 years, and never experienced anything close to what we were now being exposed to. The next day, a contractor was called in and the two of them removed a section of plaster from the kitchen near my refrigerator. The wall was empty, no sign of any dead thing - nor of any mold or other cause for the smell. They removed a section of plaster from the far corner of the kitchen as well and it was equally fruitless. After patching both walls, he tried dumping industrial strength cleaner down my drains - I could tell he was grasping at straws but I too was desperate for some level of relief... So I stayed silent and let them work the problem through process of elimination.

Several days of troubleshooting and the odor did seem to fade on its own. I assumed the relief came about thanks to the efforts of maintenance and their contractor, so I thanked them both and closed the claim. That horrible smell stayed gone for almost four months before manifesting its self again. It always seemed to happen that way. Months of nothing, and then about one solid week of grotesque on and off stench which would move around the kitchen - then as quickly as it had come, it was gone. To this day, I have no idea where the smell came from, or what was causing it. I've been tempted to contact the new tenants and see if they're going through the same issues, but sometimes I wonder if knowing would really make things better, or worse.

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Dreyk, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Vegan93 (5 stories) (9 posts)
6 years ago (2017-10-30)
Did you ever think that since you removed the old clothing maybe it could be the spirits that passed away become upset?
notjustme (19 stories) (852 posts)
6 years ago (2017-10-25)
Loved all your stories. Saved in favs. I do not have much to add. Imprint of blood theory crossed my mind, demons possibly crossed my mind, but I lean most towards what Emma said. I need to look that up myself. Chinese people often have a "kitchen god" statue in an alter by the kitchen. Might be similar to that... Have some googling to do...
annie16 (13 stories) (53 posts)
6 years ago (2017-10-23)
I just recently read this and it's so weird because I've experienced the same thing. We moved into our house approx 2 and 1/2 years ago. Approximately a month ago we had this foul smell in certain areas of the kitchen. It smelled as if someone passed a really foul wind right beside you. Believe me, we search high and low and could find no explanation. The phenomenon only lasted about 2 weeks. Then one afternoon, I saw a white blur pass me into the corridor. I thought it was my dog and went looking only to find her outside. She cannot come in unless I let her in. But since then the smell is gone and we haven't experienced anything else. Sooo weird.
Dreyk (9 stories) (27 posts)
6 years ago (2017-10-11)
Wow EmmalineTexas... Now there's an old skool idea about what it could have been. Thats really cool and I'd never considered that. Supposedly Domovoi like to live in the house's stove and watch over things. Actually, according to Russian folklore every house in the world has one. Depending on how they're treated they may protect the family or act more like a poltergeist. I'd probably be more inclined to believe it was a traditional ghost, rather than a creepy bearded gnome spirit who protected homes from their owners... Who knows though, maybe the ancient slavs were on to something.
EmmalineTexas (10 stories) (163 posts)
6 years ago (2017-10-10)
Dreyk - I loved your story. As I was reading it, I kept thinking Domovoi (some long forgotten reading I'd done, probably) and I remembered that they live in a kitchen and if they're not given milk and bread occasionally they become unhappy and the stench can become unbearable. I wonder if you inherited a domovoi who was left by the same people who left clothes in the closet. Just a thought. Keep writing please! Your stories are fascinating.
Erebras (2 posts)
7 years ago (2017-02-13)
For whatever reason, I feel very strongly that I'm relating to what Dreyk experienced. The very quickly overpowering sense of it. The sickening aspect. The difficulty of describing it. This is notable because so many smells and odors, no matter how noxious, can be fairly well described: smoky, floral, rotten eggs, whatever. It's not the same with this. You know what it smells like, but all you can do is describe it using an imagined scenario, like I did with "a car in the summertime with the windows rolled up" to kind of describe the "staleness" and sense of heat and stuffiness it also evokes. If it has any basis in the supernatural, it most certainly is not some spook just dropping by to say Hello if it has other aromas in its arsenal it could use, instead.

Another thought about the "overpowering stench back with a vengeance." The illegals upstairs from me in my Knoxville apartment were cooking up methamphetamine or something one afternoon while I was at work. By the time I got home late at night the smell had dissipated quite a bit, but was still unpleasant, and most certainly would have been an eye-watering experience had I been home. Perhaps Vladivostok has similar problems with home chemists? I've heard such fumes can be lethal during certain phases of the cooking process.
toosexysof (4 stories) (18 posts)
7 years ago (2017-02-08)
Interesting. That was creepy considering you lived alone. In our province, awful smell is attributed to a presence of a hag. Never had an experience with it though. What I once smelled was a perfume while I was walking along the corridors in our school alone (no colleagues, no staff, no students except for the guards).
KikiGirl (8 stories) (207 posts)
7 years ago (2017-02-02)
Bibliothecarius, as always, presents another angle to the story!

You know when Dreyk explained that the elderly couple had been deported because their visa had not been renewed, I immediately thought, well then there isn't anything else to consider on this point. However, people can also bring spirits with them or become satisfactorily acquainted with a spirit that already resides in a flat or apartment while living there.

Maybe the old couple acknowledged that the spirit was around but didn't pay it too much attention. When you moved in, the spirit was unsure as to a new person and how you might react. It realized that you were not as aware of it nor did you pay it as much attention as the last owners, so, it made itself known, but fortunately was not too livid with your presence so it made itself known / distinguishable through a faint smell, only.

It could have also been a ghost that latched onto the couple but did not really have a strong connection with them. It probably was not even aware that they were leaving the flat and going to another country as a deceased Mother or relative might intuitively know. The spirit now had a place that it was familiar with and its previous experience with the humans/tenants was not so bad. 0nce again, the primary way in which it made its presence known / you made contact with it was through a smell.

Just a thought!
Dreyk (9 stories) (27 posts)
7 years ago (2017-02-02)

I did find out what happened to the couple. Their conditional work visa expired and for whatever reason, it wasn't extended. So, they were both deported back to Vietnam. That its self is pretty weird. They must have either failed to apply for the extension... Or, were rejected for some reason but that's a little odd since the cable installer said they had been in-country for years. Possibly tax violations (that's a big deal) or one of them committed a crime... I doubt they were given much time to pack.

The furniture was removed by the building staff, they just forgot to check the closets.
Bibliothecarius (9 stories) (1091 posts)
7 years ago (2017-02-02)
Greetings, Dreyk.

When I read your response to valkricry, that the entity "seems to have played a nice little trick on me" I shuddered; "nice" has nothing to do with what you were experiencing in that apartment. To the best of my knowledge, there are 3 major types of paranormal phenomena associated with strong disgusting smells: demonic (I don't think this is your phenomenon), *some* elemental spirits (I don't think this is right, either), and malicious spirits (I think this is more likely, here). If this had been a demonic event, there would have been several more symptoms than "the stench," and the smell would have been rotten and/or fecal in nature. The elemental spirits I've read about which are accompanied by a smell --many do not have a noticeably strong scent, others have a pleasant aroma-- had been displaced or summoned (inadvertently) from their environments and had become "stuck" somewhere they found disconcerting or upsetting. Malicious spirits, on the other hand, can behave in all manner of unpredictable ways because they're aware that they've died, they feel resentment or a sense of injustice, but now feel like they can get away with behaving however they want, including tormenting the living. The smell's apparent ability to move, leave for months at a time, and to disappear before someone else could verify its existence sounds to me like you were dealing with a conscious entity with a serious grudge against someone; because you had not wronged it directly, the only reason it would trouble you would be because you'd moved into the apartment and thereby intruded into its space.

Do you know what happened to the elderly couple who'd lived there before you? Removing all of their furniture but leaving behind their clothes sounds like a) inheritors, b) debt collectors, or c) the landlords seizing property to defray unpaid rent. In all 3 of these hypothetical cases, used clothes are just not worth the bother. Was there any correlation between your disposing of the clothes and the arrival of the stench? Was there any sort of suggestion that the old couple had any long-standing grudges against other tenants, or had been the victims of foul play?

I am, as always, just curious.

Dreyk (9 stories) (27 posts)
7 years ago (2017-01-31)
valkricry - there were no heating ducts. Heat in all units were provided by hot water radiators...

Well, I'm glad I wasn't the only one stumped by these events. Whatever it was, seems to have played a nice little trick on me.

Thanks all for your comments!
valkricry (48 stories) (3245 posts) mod
7 years ago (2017-01-30)
Ok, that is definitely weird. Smells can be weather related, but it's usually heat related. If this was caused by something in the heating ducts, I'd think more than you would be affected. The fact that the smell 'moved' is also interesting.
Did you have any other experiences while there?
KikiGirl (8 stories) (207 posts)
7 years ago (2017-01-30)
Dreyk, I've awarded you with a karma point! I'm glad that we've looked at the other angle/s because its really important when making certain of an encounters authenticity. And, you also, want to be sure of what you encountered and its source. It may definitely have been 'something'! More seasoned experts on the site may, indeed, have some, idea/s as to what!
Dreyk (9 stories) (27 posts)
7 years ago (2017-01-28)
Erebras & elnoraemily - I've heard the smell of old blood stains described as having a "metallic" odor. So, I suppose it could be that. I've never been exposed to something like that, so I'd have no way of comparing. It was definitely sickening...

KikiGirl - Over the course of the couple years I lived in that apartment, the smell kept coming back, at random every few months. So, I had plenty of time to sit around and dwell on what the cause might be. Building maintenance said they'd never smelled anything like it before, they actually seemed pretty shocked when they were exposed to it. That would generally rule out the issue coming from another apartment. I suppose it could have been an outside source, being carried by the wind. But why would it only manifest in my kitchen - not near any of the windows. The odor also occurred in the winter time, when the ground outside was covered in 2 meters of snow and temps hovered around -15C...

This was definitely not my only experience at the apartment.
KikiGirl (8 stories) (207 posts)
7 years ago (2017-01-27)
Dreyk! Hi there and thank-you or sharing your story. I know that you said that was the entirety of events at your apartment but, why then, did you choose to share it on a ghost stories website? Was there anything else that you may have not mentioned? Even, if you don't have anything else to add, you have put forward your suspicion of activity within your story. Was it moreoverly combined with a sick-sense?
You did say there was old belongings in the cupboard, did you think it may have a connection to the smell?

The other aspect, I can put forward to you is that, if it was happening in the frequency you mentioned, it could be a faulty pipe drain/sewer leak added with weather actors such as; a damaged pipe in the apartment above you being knocked and further damaged and releasing an awful smell. It could account for the metallic smell. A sewer near by or a fungus growing in an area nearby, and the wind picking it up and carrying the smell to your apartment. If another apartment in the building was infested, it could also manifest in various parts of the apartment.

Let us know if you have any more stories!
elnoraemily (guest)
7 years ago (2017-01-27)
" It had an odd metallic smell to it for sure"

Like the smell of old blood, maybe?

Smells are tricky, especially in an apartment building, so I'm afraid that I don't really have anything constructive to say about it.
Erebras (2 posts)
7 years ago (2017-01-27)
I had similar experiences in a mobile home I lived in as a teenager outside of Charleston, SC. The best way I could describe the smell was like curdled blood in a car that's been sitting in the summer sun with the windows up. Not metallic, not like a dead animal. The smell would show up suddenly and then in a short while be gone. It wouldn't manifest in the same spot (opposite ends of the mobile home, in fact) and there were no drafts or breezes to explain it suddenly disappearing. Many years later I'm renting an apartment in Knoxville, TN. A smell would come and go in the same way, but this time it was different, like the chemical-floral smell of a cheap perfume I imagine an old lady would wear.

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