01 Feb Has Anyone Met a Backwards-Walking Person
Okay, so, I don’t usually go public with this kind of thing. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed – I have a feeling I’m freaking out about nothing here but you guys seem to have heard of every kind of creepy thing and I’m really hoping I’ll be able to connect with someone who’s come across this before.
Has anyone here seen or heard about people who only move backwards? Backwards walking people? I’m not sure what to call it. No matter how I say it, it sounds a little goofy. But I’m still really rattled by what I saw a few days ago.
Okay, so just to set the scene: I live in a medium-sized college town – not big or dense enough to be a “city” but still very walkable. I live in the downtown area, so I walk to and from my job, mostly via this paved bike path that connects the downtown area to a few other neighborhoods. This happened at a section of the path near the edge of town. It’s an elevated section that drops off on one side, so it’s flanked by a black iron fence on that side to protect cyclists. On the other side there’s a long brick wall, the back side of a row of shops. There are some spaced-out streetlights and a few nooks off the main path with benches and decorative bushes.
I work at a restaurant so I was walking home pretty late, about 1am. I noticed some footsteps on the path in front of me that were a little odd. They sounded clumsy and dragging, maybe drunk. A junkie, maybe. Great. I usually felt pretty safe in this neighborhood, but the bike path did sometimes become a hang-out spot for all kinds of people after dark. I tried to just keep my head down and not alter my pace so I could pass by unnoticed.
It sounded like the steps were coming in my direction so I kept an eye out and sure enough, a figure came into view ahead of me on the path. In the gap between streetlights it was difficult to make out specific features, but I could see the person’s awkward gait.
They had the sway of a very intoxicated person: a slight loll of the head, hands held out as if to maintain balance. Definitely just some sort of druggie like I’d thought, but something but something about the vagueness of the badly-illuminated form made me feel this sudden and intense unease. For a split second I actually considered turning around just to avoid the person but I talked myself out of it (I know, I know, gut instincts and gift of fear and all that). Turning around would have made my walk a lot longer and darker, and it was cold out and I was exhausted. I could see that the person was going slow, and that they were walking close to the fence, so I planned on just powering on past them. I even forced a little chuckle at the idea that I’d been doing so many mental calculations because I was spooked by some random person.
In hindsight, though, it really was forced. Even though I was trying to reason with myself, the uncomfortable feeling kept getting stronger the closer I got to this person. So I kept an eye on the figure as it began to shuffle into the light of one of the street lamps and become more clear. Soon, I could make out that it was a woman. She was slightly shorter than me and had a long, sloppy ponytail and a bulky coat on. And strangely, I realized that the reason her gait looked so awkward was that she was walking backwards towards me. He steps were clumsy and heavy but fairly steady, purposeful even. She didn’t seem to be having any trouble following the path, and though her hands were still held up she never touched the fence.
Once I could see her clearly, I started to notice that I was really afraid. It started small, just this clenched feeling in my gut, but it had this primal quality that I imagine must be what a prey animal feels when the shadow of a hawk passes by. Something on an instinctual level was telling me to get the hell out of there. The fastest way to get home, though, was to go past this woman. And she was just some lady, she was smaller than me and her hands were empty.
I was taking a deep breath to steady myself when she stopped. The silence was abrupt, her footsteps had been dragging across the pavement and on a cold night like this, there wasn’t any other sound from the nearby shops. She never turned to look at me, but I had the feeling that’s she’d noticed my presence.
“Are you okay?” I blurted out. The silence was too unbearable for me not to say anything. My voice sounded weird and pinched and way too loud.
“You…okay?” I felt a current of fear go up my spine. Her voice wasn’t what I expected at all, it was soft and breathy with a strange halting quality, like she was confused.
“Do you need some help?” I was making a desperate bid for normalcy at this point. She remained silent and did not move. I pressed on: “Because I can uh, I can call an ambulance or something, if you need.”
There was a long, silent pause. I didn’t move. She moved her head very slightly, as if reorienting herself, but did not turn to look at me.
“I can…call an am-bulance?”
Her tone was all wrong, not slurred like a drunk but careful, like it was saying the words for the first time. I realized with a pang of horror that she was moving slightly, inching one foot back towards me in a coiled slow motion that reminded me of the way a cat stalks a bird.
“Ambulance?” she repeated, and her voice was soft, almost a whisper, and eager in this deep and hungry way. She took a full step backwards, toward me. I had been rooted down by fear, but when she moved, I took a step back and I noticed that she reoriented again at the sound of my footfalls, like she couldn’t see me but was blindly following the sound. We were barely six feet away from each other at this point. My brain was screaming run run run but my logic told me that I didn’t want to upset her in case she was aggressive so what I did was speed-walk forward as fast as I could, hugging the brick wall. I so fully expected her to lunge at me when I passed her that I was fully coiled and ready to defend myself, I even curled my fist around my keys in my pocket in that probably useless self-defense way.
She didn’t move an inch when I went past her though, didn’t even move her head. I didn’t hear her take another step, either.
That’s important – she didn’t take a single step.
I mention that because I couldn’t help but turn and take one more look at her as I passed. Partially to make sure she was still there, partially because I had this awful curiosity about her face, partially because I was hoping she’d just look like some junkie and I could forget this whole weird thing.
When I looked back though, she was still facing away from me. Instantly, silently. And even though her back was to me it felt like she was watching me.
That’s when I did run. I know this is nothing extreme, almost anticlimactic, but I can’t explain how utterly, primally afraid I was when I looked back and saw that she was still backwards. I felt this surge of panic and I ran almost the entire way back to my house. She didn’t follow me, I never even heard footsteps behind me, but when I got home I still locked myself in right away and closed all of my blinds. I remember thinking it saw me, and then, why does it feel like an it and not a person.
This was about five days ago and I still feel horrible. I keep trying to rationalize it because honestly, it was just some woman acting strange. But for some reason I can’t shake it. I feel jumpy all the time, I find myself looking for this woman constantly. And once in a while I see someone just standing there, very still, facing away from me. I get this uncomfortable feeling like they’re watching me even though I can’t see their face. I don’t want to leave my house. What do I do?