It was my twenty-third birthday and I was staying at a hotel in Reno, Nevada. The hotel offered a shuttle to the downtown area so guests could take advantage of the bigger casinos, so I took a ride for some birthday gambling. I won a small jackpot at the nickel slots, but that’s not important to this story.
The shuttle picked up and dropped off at the corner of Harrah’s in the downtown area, so this is where I was waiting for the pick up. It was a blazing afternoon at almost 98 degrees and I was sweating, even in my tank top. The sun was absolutely relentless, broken only by the tall shadows of some of the towering casinos around me.
That’s what makes this encounter so weird. As I was standing on the corner waiting for the shuttle, which was late, I suddenly felt a cold chill. The hellish summer weather suddenly became like the middle of winter, to the point that steam was coming from my mouth. I was forced to rub my bare arms to try to stay warm.
Deciding that there must’ve been some kind of weird effect from the air conditioning inside Harrah’s, I started to move away from the doors to a warmer spot. The cold followed me.
“Hey, baby, whatcha wanna do?” said a man’s voice, just inches from my ear.
I froze for a second, and not because of the cold. The voice sounded harsh and aggressive, like I was being accosted by some angry street person. I decided the best thing to do would be not to turn around and slowly walk away, as if I hadn’t heard the man.
After moving a few feet away, I slowly turned around to look. The sidewalk was deserted. There was no sign of a person in that area at all, and there was no way someone could’ve slipped away without me seeing them retreating.
It was at this point that I realized the heat had returned. There was no more steam coming from my mouth and the goose flesh on my skin had gone down. Once again, it was 98 degrees and I was looking for a shady spot to stay cool.
The shuttle showed up a few minutes later and I was more than happy to jump in the van and get the hell out of there. I still wondered exactly what I encountered on that Reno street that afternoon. Was it really a street person looking for a handout? Had some strange man decided to hassle me on the street? Or was there ever really anything there?
I still think about that experience today. The street was set up in such a way that no one could walk away without me seeing them. There were no doors or alleys on that part of the street that he could’ve slipped through. About the only thing he could’ve done was duck behind a car, which would’ve meant I’d really encountered a creep.
But what of the strange temperature change? Was this really an effect of the casino air conditioning? If so, why did it follow me down the street and away from the doors? I’ve stood in front of casinos in Reno before and since, and none of them has ever had the same effect. It gets cold by those doors, yes, but never to the point of raising goose flesh or breath steam.
The only thing I could attribute to such a dramatic temperature change would be the weather. That evening, a rather nasty thunderstorm rolled in and caused havoc for the city. There were several lightning strikes in the metro area, one of which sparked a wildfire, and several transformers near the university exploded due to the lightning and air pressure drop. It’s possible the temperature change was caused by a downdraft from the approaching storm.
However, there is one thing wrong with this hypothesis. There was no wind. As soon as I walked away from the draft of Harrah’s air conditioning, the air was perfectly still. Not even a leaf blew down the street, yet it was as cold as a glacier on that sidewalk. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that a downdraft would chill the temperature to the point of raising steam. I am forced to dismiss it.
To this day, I don’t know what I encountered on that street in Reno, Nevada. It remains one of the most disturbing unexplained incidents in my life. I can only sit here and wonder exactly what accosted me on that sidewalk. Was it really some random jerk? Or was it something more? Whether it was paranormal or not, it was certainly strange.