The stranger on the riverwalk

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https://darknessprevails.org/the-stranger-on-the-riverwalk/

My former best friend and I used to go on a lot of walks together last year. We live four blocks away from each other and neither of us could drive at the time so it was one of the things we liked to do in order to get out of the house. It was in summer when this happened so to avoid the heat we usually went out after dark when it was cooler out. One of the our usual haunts was a park in our town, located near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that is within walking distance. To get there, you can walk on the sidewalk or you can take a shortcut on a path along the river called the riverwalk, which the route we usually took to get to the park as well as to leave it. This particular night we were leaving on this path around 10pm, when the park closes. The moon was pretty bright, probably a full moon or close to it, so we could see well and didn’t need flashlights at all, even though there are no lights along the path. As we were walking we passed this one spot that has a small set of steps leading down to the edge of the river. The conversation had lulled and I looked directly at the steps, probably to look at the river, and they were empty. I looked at her and commented on the weather being nice or something. When I looked back at the trail I immediately noticed in the corner of my eye a man sitting at the top of the steps, watching us walk past. Right away the air felt cold, similar to when you swim through a cold spot in a pool. I also only knew that he was watching us from the way his head was turned at us. I couldn’t tell from his face because it wasn’t there, even though I should have seen it in the moonlight. After all, I could see my friend’s face perfectly. Instead of a face, there was only a black void. I felt my body seize up and I couldn’t speak, only walk past almost robotically. That in itself was odd because even at this time of night in the area I live in you always at least acknowledge the people you walk past with a wave, a “hello”, or even just a simple nod. But I couldn’t speak or move my body in any way besides my legs. Now, I very rarely get scared. Startled, sure, but almost never actually scared. What I felt in that moment was a pure, instinctual terror. My friend and I walked in silence for two or three minutes until we were well out of earshot, then she asked me if I saw him too. As we talked we realized we experienced it in exactly the same way, so I know it wasn’t just my imagination. I’ve tried to figure out what that might have been, and there are a few possibilities, but I still pretty much have no idea. To this day, over a year later, I still never walk along that path when it’s dark out.

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