Mum said it would be good for us to all go for a walk on Dartmoor. Dad said it was terrible up there this early in the year, even though it was nice and calm in Okehampton where grandma and granddad lived, that when you get on the moor it’ll be hell. Mum won the battle, after all she grew up there and knew what Dartmoor could be like. She knew the best places and the worst and said we’d be alright if we avoided the High Moor. It was all the same to a committed townie like dad 🙂
We didn’t go very far, just for a walk around Lydford Gorge which was open for the mild February half-term weather. There were lots of people around and I remember most of them saying we were having an early spring. There was lots of snowdrops around and I think people got very carried away – probably more townies like dad not realising that snowdrops are early bloomers and are usually seen in winter, more prevalent in mild ones like this.
There’s a wooden bridge crossing the gorge and it was on that bridge I saw The Cold Man again.
He stood blocking the entrance to the bridge but once again, only I could see him. He was clearer now in the day time. His skin was so white and I never thought “whiter than white” made sense until that day; he was so white that he looked cold, as though covered in a layer of frost. His face was completely colourless except for the curious red outline of his lips. It was like a clown’s make-up but too thin and almost blood red. As we got closer I could see his eyes were not completely black; the iris and the pupil merged into one black mass and his sclera was more like a charcoal grey. I was close enough to see that he wasn’t even looking at us, but somewhere behind us yet still I didn’t want to cross.
I stopped a few feet away from the wooden footbridge. Mum, dad and Lizzy just kept walking. They didn’t notice until they were right up next to him.
‘Come on!’ dad called.
I shook my head slowly and deliberately.
‘Are you tired?’
‘No,’ I replied.
‘Are you cold?’
A shiver passed down my spine at that word. In my mind he was The Cold Man now. ‘You can’t see him, can you?’ All I could see was him. Mum, dad and Lizzy seemed to just disappear into the background, shimmer and become transparent, a bit like water colours whereas The Cold Man seemed to get clearer and clearer. If my family were like watercolours, then he was like an oil painting… thick and clear and heavy.
With that he vanished. He had not moved form the spot and he at not point looked at us.
‘He’s gone now dad,’ I said and ran to join my family.
Later that day dad tried to talk to me about The Cold Man but all I told him was that I could see a scary looking man on the bridge and that he disappeared as soon as I asked dad if he could see him. I overheard mum and dad talking later. Mum thought I was seeing things because of feeling sad about grandma, I kept my thoughts on The Cold Man to myself and they thought no more of it.
It was a couple of years before I saw The Cold Man again and by that time I had almost forgotten about him.