Saturday, August 10, 2013

Black Dog in a Blackberry Bush

Here is another story from the Fortean Times - I got this from the It happened to me volume 4 which I bought at the November 2011 Unconvention in London. Another tale of an encounter with Black Shuck, the black dog or spectral hound. This is one of those stories that helps me connect the dots when I look at my theories of strange phenomena. Experiences with spectres like these in this way - transmogrifying from mist or fog - fits well with some of the theories out there that I believe. Reading the amount I have read into the supernatural and unexplained has given me a conclusion - some things we are not meant to know. I'm alright with that...

Here's one way of meeting the Black Dog (Black Shuck, Gytrash, Barguest)

Old Shuck
Black dog in a Blackberry Bush
In the early 1990s I used to live in a semi-detached house in Nuthall Road, Nottingham. It had a long garden with a disused railway line at the end blocked off with wooden fencing and a full 6.5 ft (2m) hedge to the right. The left hand side used to have a wire fence, but this had long since been removed, and growing between the old posts were blackberry bushes, with vast gaps in between through which you could nip into next door’s garden. The neighbour was an old lady we got on with well so it never seemed worth putting up a new fence – besides she had three marvellous apple trees ripe for the picking!

Anyway, one night a friend and I heard a noise outside in the garden. It sounded like somebody creeping about outside so we went to investigate: nothing. Not a soul about. It was a frosty night with not a cloud in the sky and plenty of moonlight. As we stood halfway up the lawn, we heard a rustling sound in one of the blackberry bushes, which got louder as we approached. We thought it was a bird rummaging about inside.

The bush was only a few feet high and we could see more or less all round it, but the sound continued to increase. We walked closer to investigate and I pushed the branches apart and peered in to see a large thrush looking at me. After staring at me for a few seconds it quickly darted under cover and the bush started to rustle violently. I jerked away and started walking backwards.
When I had away some eight feet (2.4m), the rustling stopped abruptly and a black funnel of fog or mist shot out and arched into the air. As it descended in front of us, it began to take the shape of a huge black dog – well, I say a dog, but it reminded me of the keepers or gargoyles in the film Ghostbusters. It was roughly four and a half feet (1.4m) tall and about 3 feet (90cm) across, black like a panther, huge fangs dripping with saliva and to be honest the most terrifying thing I had the misfortune to meet.

It landed with a resounding thud on the turf and started to make a dry, throaty rasping sound, building up to a deep warning growl. Then it opened its eyes – huge, red glowing, piercing eyes. It’s impossible to explain the feeling of terror and hopelessness this produced. We both stood transfixed, unable to move or scream or even run. It was as though it wanted us to run, was playing with us.

There was a definite intelligence behind those eyes and it was studying everything about us.
It felt as if we spend an eternity transfixed by its gaze. It stepped slowly forwards and I heard my friend’s footfalls as he frantically ran to the house, leaving me with this thing bearing down on me. That was it: the autopilot came on and I turned and fled, with tears rolling down my cheeks in absolute terror. I have never run that fast in my life and never will again; it was pure adrenalin fuelled panic.

I slammed into the back door that, thankfully, my friend had not locked behind him. It burst open and I fell through, expecting to be torn to shreds at any moment. I managed to slam the door shut, fumbled for the bolts and locked it, then fell crying against it in the vain hope my body weight would somehow stop the huge beast from ploughing straight through…but nothing happened.
My friend had collapsed in front of the freezer his face snow-white and his hair standing on end. He was shaking and mumbling, but I was too terrified to comprehend his ramblings, but after a few minutes we moved into the adjoining room and looked out the window overlooking the garden. There was nothing there.

I saw my reflection in the glass; I was too ghostly white and my hair was standing up. You read of such things, but unless you have actually seen it you wouldn’t believe how strange it looks. I stopped shaking after about 15 minutes, by which time my friend had managed to compose himself. We tried to compare what we had seen… to make some sort of sense of it. We agreed on what had occurred but could find no rational explanation. He left in a taxi a short while later and refused to talk about the subject whenever it was mentioned subsequently. He just said he never wanted to think about it again.

I myself never went into the back garden of that house again. I moved about 18 months later, without setting foot outside the back door, although other members of my family did without incident. I could never tell anybody what had happened. It was too crazy: large black dogs with glowing red eyes do not leap out of small blackberry bushes in back gardens!

I spent years terrified of the dark because of this encounter, wondering why it happened and what the hell was the point of its appearance. I had been struggling with a fear of death and worrying about the point of existence as a whole. I had become a complete nihilist set on a path of self-destruction; live fast and die young was a motto that I actively embraced and sought to live out.
The encounter with the black dog seems to me to have been an externalisation of my internal terror. I couldn’t cope with it and it was destroying me. I needed to be given a jolt somehow. The black dog did this….and did indeed ‘hound’ me out of Nottingham (to East Anglia, ironically, where I found black dog stories everywhere!)

I had been living out a myth of self-destruction – and it had taken a face-to-face encounter with a myth to bring me to my senses.

JD, East Anglia, 2004

Take from this tale what you will. Believe or not, you should not care what people think about your beliefs anyway. This story might not be real, this 'JD' may have made it up. But I like it. I like to believe, besides, I don't think it matters, it's a good read...

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