Please wait...

The Grim (Black Shuck)

The Grim Black Shuck

Estimated reading time — 9 minutes

It was a dark, foggy night, as it really should be whenever something eerie happens. I was walking from my dad’s house over to my mom’s. I’d had a fight with my dad about something, the topic of which I’ve since forgotten, and realized at 17 years old that I was old enough and capable enough to walk alone back to my mom’s house, instead of stewing in my room at dad’s. Besides, both of my sisters were asleep already, so I wasn’t worried about them not getting their homework done or needing help with dinner. No, my self-appointed duties were done for the evening, and the only thing that stood in between me and the relative freedom of my mom’s house was a brief walk around the lake.

A simple walk through the deep, dark night, so dark I could barely see the streetlights that were supposed to mark my path, let alone any friendly stars or moon above. A walk I was making alone, with little notice to my mom and none to my dad. I tried not to let the ambient drone of the night bother me as I made my way over.

My path would take me down my dad’s heavily wooded road, onto the lakefront, and slowly around its perimeter. It could be intimidating even in broad daylight.
Starting down my dad’s lonely gravel road, every little crunch or skitter in the dark made me jump. Although I was familiar with the crunch of little critters scampering around the woods, I was still inexplicably certain that danger hid just outside of view. Nonetheless, I continued. I refused to look anywhere outside of the halo of relative safety that my flashlight beam provided.

I’d made it down my dad’s road, empty expanse of the lake blooming into view in front of me, when my flashlight caught the glow of an animal’s eyes in the dark. Just ahead of where I stood, off my dad’s road and to the right, there was a beast. I froze, startled by its piercing eyes, and watched in awe as a huge dog emerged from the woods. It was nothing but a mass of long black fur, standing as tall as a St. Bernard. In spite of its apparent size, it hadn’t made a single sound to betray its presence, as if it had simply appeared out of thin air. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought it was a lithe, bloodthirsty wolf.

And it was approaching me.

Though I had grown up with cats, I knew enough about dogs to know that they could be dangerous. Even familiar dogs needed to be greeted in a safe, appropriate manner if you didn’t want to get bitten. And though he seemed to be in good spirits, huge tail wagging lazily, I really didn’t want to run the risk of getting bitten by a dog that seemed to outweigh me by at least 30 pounds.

“Oh!” I exclaimed, and the dog looked up. “Hi there buddy!” I tried to keep my tone as syrupy sweet and calm as possible, even as the dog nuzzled my hand with his wet nose. He pushed his head into my palm, and I was shocked by how warm and soft it felt. We were standing outside on a cool spring night, with heavy fog spilling off of the lake and obscuring the world around us. Although there was some dew that had collected on the edges of his fur, he was otherwise warm and dry. I could have almost curled up right there on the road, resting my head on the dog and telling him all my troubles.

The dog seemed to agree with my thoughts, and swished his heavy black tail across the ground in a gentle, placid wag. We stayed there for a moment, the dog wagging his tail as I cooed at him and patted his head, until the reality of our surroundings broke through our pleasant little meeting.

A branch snapped in the woods nearby, and we both snapped our heads up in response. The dog seemed immediately tense, sniffing the air and hunting for the cause of the sound. I knew logically that I should have been wary of an unidentified dog getting skittish, as one wrong move could lead quickly to a vicious bite. If he thought in his little dog brain that I would stand in the way of him hunting or somehow posed a threat to him, I would be dead meat for sure.
But I felt no fear. In fact, I felt somehow calm. Protected.

The dog wandered a few steps away and turned in a circle, whining and glancing at me.

I wasn’t sure if he was nervous about a creature approaching us, or knew he had to return to his own home. But whatever troubled his canine mind, it kept him moving. I had to keep moving too.

“Alright,” I called, drawing the dog’s attention again, “goodnight, bud!”

With that, I turned and continued on, walking towards my mom’s house. And, as I quickly realized, so did the dog.

I stopped again. As did the dog. I sighed.

“Aw, come on man.” I whined slightly as I hunched over, offering him two handed pets that set his tail thumping against the ground once more. I didn’t want to shoo the dog away, but I also didn’t want to lead him away from his home.

“Where are you from?” I asked, gently pushing aside the fur on his chest to look for a tag.

But I found no tag. In fact, I found no collar at all. The only thing I found as I searched his thick fur for identification was a very happy dog, who mistook my examination for a wonderfully thorough petting.

I pulled my hands away, crossing them in front of me as I examined the dog once again. He was too well cared for to be a stray, long fur neatly cut away from his eyes, so clean that he didn’t smell a bit. Not even like wet dog, which was strange in light of the damp air.

The dog stared back at me. He circled himself once again, looking towards my mother’s house across the lake, before sitting obediently in front of me.

I felt like I should have been wary of the massive, unfamiliar, completely unidentified dog that had found me all alone in the dark. At best, he could have been a beloved pet that was missing in action. At worst, he could have been rabid.

But I was calm, and far more comfortable walking with a cheerful dog than by myself. So I decided, just for the time being, that he was simply a new friend.

“Alright,” I relented, and the dog stood in anticipation, “Let’s keep going.”

I started walking again, accompanied by my new travel companion. Walking together through the night was a much more peaceful experience than walking alone had been. In fact, it was almost a nice walk. The dog wandered around the street as it walked with me, trotting ahead to scout the way and looping behind me to investigate weeds on either side of the road, coming up to my hand occasionally for more pets. I hadn’t considered myself a dog person before then, but walking along with the dog on such a night was starting to make me doubt that. I’d walked the road around the lake at night before, and knew how intensely unsettling it could be even in the best company. If I was alone, I know for a fact that I would have been positively sprinting to my mom’s house, yelping at every little sound and praying that no wild animals, or worse, would find me. Bitter experience from living in the woods my whole life had taught me that even a deer could be a terrifying foe in the right situation.

But there were no foes that night, no sound that he wouldn’t investigate and send away. I’d never felt so safe, especially not in the presence of a large animal. It was truly an excellent walk.

Before long, we had made it within spitting distance of my mom’s house. We only had to pass by one more thick cloche of trees, and we’d be home. I was triumphant, and grateful to my canine friend, but also felt a creeping distress. I had no idea how I was going to part ways with the dog, and even less of an idea how I would explain to my mom that I had street adopted a 170 pound dog that looked like it would take our entire couch as a dog bed. I also wasn’t sure how the dog would react to either situation, if one choice or the other would sour its helpful disposition.

Then again, the dog was friendly, and seemed to be somewhat trained. Maybe he would wait outside while I discussed what to do about him without scaring the two cats inside the house, as well as my mother, half to death.

“Ok buddy,” I began, eyeing the outdoor stairs to my mom’s deck, “let’s see if we can-”

In an instant, the dog’s mood changed. It froze, staring into the trees with an eerie determination. I stopped too. I couldn’t tell what had gotten the dog’s attention, but whatever it was, it had my new friend completely locked in. I peered into the woods, wondering if it was a bear or something, only for the dog to slide in front of me. He placed himself between me and the trees, a low growl rumbling out of his mouth as he stared into the darkness.


Goosebumps erupted all over my body, and ice flooded my veins. Although it was not lost on me how dangerous the growl of a strange dog could be, what scared me more was the idea of what he could be growling at.

“Buddy?” I asked, taking a small step back.

The dog paced in front of me, eyes still locked on the woods.

I took another step away from him, towards my mom’s house.

“Is everything ok?” I held my hands up, trying to profess a peaceful, calming tone to the tense dog.

The dog stopped growling, and looked over its shoulder back at me. His tail wagged slightly, but only once. He had a look in his eyes that I never realized dogs could have. He looked…deeply sad. Almost wistful. Not guilty, like I’d seen in clips of dogs breaking vases or causing other trouble, but sort of forlorn. I realized that there was a strange intelligence behind those eyes, more than just that of a clever dog.

Something crashed in the woods, something big. I yelped, stumbling as I leapt away from the trees. Another crash rang out, closer. Massive, heavy footfalls approached us, louder than that of any creature I had ever heard. No deer, no bear on Earth could make the trees shudder like they did, trembling with every crash.

And before I could recover, the dog responded.

He barked, a huge, booming bark, a million times louder than the crashing in the woods. It scared the life out of me. I took off, sprinting towards my mom’s house. All the advice I had ever been given told me not to blindly run away from a predatory creature, for fear of it giving chase, but panic told me to run! Run until my legs gave out! Mom’s house was close, and I was very fast. Nothing about the situation was ideal, but I was willing to bet that in a short sprint like that I could have even outpaced a bear.

But it wasn’t a bear that the dog was now barking its head off at, somewhere behind me. I heard a creature respond, a bone chilling howl that I can’t place even to this day. The dog barked a few more times, before the sound of claws beating the pavement and furious panting told me that the dog was following me home.

He wasn’t the only one.

Slow, booming footfalls chased us the short distance to my house. The ground beneath me shook with each step, causing me to stumble between strides. The dog appeared again at my side as I wobbled, nudging me back up and yapping at the monster behind us.

By the grace of God and the black dog, I reached the steps before the creature reached me.

“Mom!” I shrieked, taking the crumbling cement stairs two at a time.


“Mom!” I ripped the door open, my mother yelping in surprise from her perch on the couch.

“What are you doing—” she started to ask.

I cut her off. “Mom, call animal control! There’s some huge animal out there and it’s coming towards the house!”

Darting into the back hall, I found what I was looking for. A brief, powerful interest in archery had provided me with the only “weapon” in the house. I’d never shot at anything but a stationary target before, but in that moment I was convinced that landing a shot on the monster chasing us was the only chance I had of saving my dog. I returned to the living room, clutching my bow and quiver of recreational arrows like it was my lifeline.

“Not the dog though!” I corrected, ignoring my mom’s bewildered stare. “They need to stop the other thing!”

“What dog?” Mom asked as I ripped the front door open. “What other thing?”

“Just call them!” I pushed through the storm door, ready to jump to the defense of my new companion.

I emerged on our stoop, scanning the road in front of our house for a huge black dog fighting a giant, unknowable monster.

But there was nothing. The night was still. The monster was nowhere to be found, not that I had been able to see it in the first place. There were no broken branches or disturbed foliage, no sign that it had ever been there at all.

I looked over the railing, hoping to see the dog sitting at the base of the steps, but no. He was gone too. Mom joined me, peering into the night and frantically questioning me about what I had seen. Asking me where it had gone. But I had no answer for her.

I never saw the dog again. I asked around, interrogating the other members of the lake community about their dogs and any other canine creatures they may have encountered, but none had ever seen the dog that I met that night. Some suggested that it could have been a stray, or the faithful companion of a visiting acquaintance, but no one could recall such an acquaintance visiting in recent months. Others thought it was a protector, a spectral guard that came to my aid before I ever knew I needed it. Still, others thought I was a liar, and made up the entire encounter. But I know what I saw. And I hope that wherever the dog is now, he’s safe. And happy. And getting a lot of excellent pets from whoever he decides to help.

Credit: TechniGoth


Please wait...

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed under any circumstance.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top