As a young man I read Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Convenent series. Convenant, a leprosy victim, experiences brief, periodic meetings with a character he refers to as the harbinger. These events always presage his transition from an ill, socially isolated man in the mundane world into a healthy anti-hero catapulted into The Land, a place of magic and mystery.
I’ve seen these creatures in my own life; the shapes of men, silent and strange. The harbinger, he’s an outsider’s outsider, alone on the path, even when in a crowd.
I encountered another one today and the experience has left me a bit shaken.