I’ve told this to a select few. And while “creepiest/scariest” is subjective, in the context of my life, it truly is the creepiest and scariest unsolved mystery.
I was a freshman in high school in my home town of La Crosse, Wisconsin.
I was sleeping over at my friend Tom’s house. We were watching a movie in his living room when he suddenly got a phone call. I watched as he listened to what was being said on the other line. I watched as emotion poured over his face as he threw the phone across the room.
After moments of crying, he told me that a boy at my school had committed suicide. Now, I knew this boy only through seeing him in the halls. My friend Tom and I didn’t go to the same high school but Tom had gone to middle school with this boy. Apparently, Tom bullied him during those years. He wasn’t proud of it, and to be honest, I was pretty surprised because he was a great guy.
He had utter remorse.
We decided to sneak out and go for a walk. The year was roughly 1990. Maybe 1991. We were freshmen in high school.
Now, sneaking out was nothing new. We always did it. At the time, we weren’t into drugs, alcohol, or partying. We just liked the freedom of walking the streets at night. The discussions were always great.
Normally, we’d go walk through the big cemetery that was near my house. It was behind the train tracks that still run through La Crosse to this day. We loved the danger of the cemetery. The scares. We were kids. It was a rite of passage.
As we walked along the train tracks, leading to the cemetery, we stopped. To this day, I can’t explain why. We had walked into that cemetery dozens of times… and on scarier nights.
For whatever reason, we didn’t want to go in there. I don’t know if the thought of death on our minds due to my classmate’s suicide was a factor. Perhaps. Regardless, without really saying anything to each other, we stopped, turned around, and decided to head down a nearby street.
Now, in retrospect, I do have to say that throughout this walk, things seemed off. There wasn’t a car in sight. This was suburbia. Even walking through the town’s main street was odd because there just weren’t any cars. Odd. It was roughly after midnight. It was a weekend night. Where was everybody? Perhaps just a strange coincidence.
Lastly, there was something in the air. Both Tom and I felt it. We even brought it up.
“It feels weird tonight. The air. The lights.”
So we decided to walk down a dead end street. At the end of the street was a ditch with a simple up, down, and up trail that led to the street that I lived on. Simple enough.
Keep in mind, as I get into the horrifying part of this story, that we were in the suburbs. These weren’t old, creepy houses with strange individuals. And the trees were small. It wasn’t a brand new development, but it wasn’t that old either.
So as Tom and I are walking down this street, we’re looking down to the road beneath our feet as we talk. I don’t remember the exact conversation at this particular moment. Perhaps we were talking about the tragedy of that night. But it could just have easily been about Star Wars or Akira.
As we approached the dead end, which was a few houses away…
Tom and I suddenly stopped.
We did so at the same time without saying one word to each other.
Our heads slowly turned towards each other, both sensing something. The hair on our arms and backs of our necks standing high. Then our gaze slowly moved forward in unison, slightly to the right.
That’s when we saw it.
About two houses away, in a virtually barren front yard of a suburban home, besides some bushes, was a DARK FIGURE.
It was someone or something in dark robes.
No face. No features at all. Just the robe.
Now, this figure didn’t acknowledge us. Not yet.
It instead walked or moved in a certain way. I can’t articulate it correctly. As if it was walking in circles slowly… without really walking.
It held something that was blowing in the wind. And yes, the wind picked up a little bit as well.
Another odd element was the light that illuminated it somewhat. There was a street light a few houses up, but it wasn’t strong enough to illuminate this figure as it was.
Tom and I were frozen. In fact, I’m almost frozen as I write this. It’s been awhile since I have thought about this night.
So there we stood, frozen in fear, staring at this dark figure moving, yet doing so without moving.
And it was holding something. Or perhaps what was blowing in the wind was more of its robe. I’m not sure.
We stared at this… thing… for I don’t know how long… until…
IT STOPPED AND SUDDENLY LOOKED UP AT US, as if finally alarmed by our presence!
That was enough for us. We ran away as fast as we could. We cut through a side street that was to lead us to a parallel street towards my neighborhood. This street lead to a slight hill. As we rounded the corner and started running up the hill in a panic…
We stopped. Because on top of that hill, we saw another dark figure with its arms raised.
We turned around and ran away in the direction of Tom’s house, which at this distance was at least five miles away.
We ran. Time stood still.
The next thing I remember, we’re lying in the middle of a courtyard of some other neighborhood that we’d never been in, gasping for breath.
We sat up and without saying a word, we walked in silence back to his house. The air felt normal again. Although we felt like we were in a haze of sorts. Albeit out of danger.
We fell asleep in his house. I woke up that morning and went home.
A few days later, I rode my bike to the location.
Perhaps it was shadow play? Perhaps there was a certain tree or bush or maybe a For Sale sign or something that made it look like there was something else there?
Nothing. It was an open yard.
Here’s is the Google Earth image of where this happened. The white arrows represent the sightings of the dark figures, the first of which was the one on the left. You will also see the railroad tracks and the huge cemetery on the left of that as well. All the way to the bottom, you’ll see the address of my former home that I grew up in.
Tom and I didn’t speak of that night for a long time. Years later when I brought it up, he replied, “Yeah. What the hell was that?” As if no time had passed.
What was it? I have no idea.
We hadn’t taken any drugs. We hadn’t been drinking any alcohol.
I often wonder if it could have been a haunting, a specter, a ghost, etc. Maybe it was an alien abduction or sighting. We saw no craft but there was that unexplained light. Or maybe it was some other kids messing with us. But how would they have known we were coming? How could they be so prepared?
I just don’t know.
That was roughly 24 years ago, give or take.
Sadly, my best friend Tom passed suddenly a few months ago. I thought of this night during his funeral. I thought of returning to that site. I thought of the odd coincidence of unexpected and surprising death, just like my classmate that night. Is there a connection? Were we seeing some future fate for one of us, which sadly fell upon my best friend Tom? Was this all some dual hallucination (In my mind, no way)?
It haunts me at times.
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