The Ghostly Dog
I lived with my parents in a small town in Texas. We had a three-bedroom house at the end of the block. It wasn’t much to look at, but it was my home. My parents were a common lot of the time. Dad worked, and Mom had a part-time job. We didn’t have a lot of money, and it was hard. My family had no issue with letting me know about the fiscal problems we faced. A block walking in either direction was a school one way was the elementary school, and the other way was a junior high school. In Texas there were small wood frame homes that would sit on cinderblocks, they had no basement underneath a little skirting around the bottom, and that was it. We didn't have central air-conditioning or heat outside the house had those asbestos shingles. Every house was built pretty much the same the only difference was the color when someone says I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks well I can say that and mean it. The tracks separated the poor part of town from the better homes. The main street of the town had a hardware store and old restaurant and the Conoco the Conoco was a gas station and a beer hall and also had the only surviving centipede game that I know of... When my dad wasn't at the Conoco drinking, he was sitting on the front porch drinking everybody in the neighborhood would do the same thing. At 9 o'clock at night, the whole town would rollup, and everybody would go to sleep it was just a quiet little town. There was also the creek that my mother said was off-limits, so that meant I had to play there it wasn't much just to ditch that ran for miles. There were always rumors of satanic rituals going on down there, but nothing ever came of it. I tried to fish in the little ponds that were left after the rainstorms Our house was a few miles from an Air Force base; the town was full of kids from the Airforce that had it better than me. I didn’t care at the time or even notice, but later it became harder and harder to ignore.
On Sundays, we would go to church like most other families. My mom was raised Roman Catholic, and my father was a Baptist. However, we ended up in the Catholic Church. I was an altar boy, and I enjoyed my early days in Church. It wasn't uncommon for a church to have fares or potlucks to raise money for different activities and of course every Easter and Halloween it was a big get-together church every Christmas there was a big play Mary and Joseph pretty active church. One time the church had an auction for a dying Nun. An old painting from the basement was up on the block. It was a hideous monk with huge eyes, and it was plain ugly. No one bid on it but my dad and it came home with us. It hung on the wall over his chair, and it watched me, it felt like the eyes were following my every move. It felt as if the ugly old monk with the piercing eyes could look into my soul. The picture was colorless just grays and whites framed in black. It was about two foot by two foot, and the story was it had been saved from a church that had burned down years before. Someone named Nugent had painted it, and from what I had later learned he was a monk himself in the early seventeenth century.
That picture was about the creepiest thing it was the face of a monk, but he wasn't a happy monk he had these cold steel eyes staring out at anything that moved. He had a very serious look on his face that just told you-you were in trouble. I didn't hate that thing I just knew there was something more there, seriously who buys a painting from a church that has burned down and the painting refuse to burn. I don't get it I'm not sure my dad wasn't paying attention I think he was drinking beer, and it was something to bid on that nobody else was willing to. I think he hung it in the house because he had won it in the auction.
So little history about me I always had a little bully problem in school. I started school a year early that made me a little smaller than the rest of the kids now you would think that would not be a big deal but you would be wrong. Kids are cruel Every day was a new form of humiliation that I had to endure due to my size and lack of coordination all through elementary school and into junior high. In seventh grade, I started with a cough and made a hacking noise that sounded like a dog barking; it was terrible. It was deafening I was disrupting class, so I was moved to a room and left completely alone.I wasn't even allowed out for meals I just sat there during recess looked out the window and ate my lunch. I hated to be alone, and I could hear the kids between periods walk by laughing, in my mind, they are always laughing at me. My isolation only served to make me feel like an alien to everyone else. I was in that room for a whole school year. When I was brought assignments, I was treated like a leper people feared because they thought they would catch my illness. My parents took me to the doctor, and he was at a loss at how to help me. They took me to a specialist and finally after months of tests and drugs and nothing helping he said that I had whooping cough. It was not curable, and it would have to go away on its own. The expense of all this caused my family to sink deep into debt, and things got awful. We had to get food from the church, and my dad took to drinking more.I can remember my father just staring at me in the living room and that painting right behind him and, and I know what he thought if I had just not had this kid, or he just died my life would've been so much better. The cough did not seem to go away, and I was sent home from school until it did and I could not return to class.
At this point my mother was at her wit's end, she had no idea what to do with me. My aunt Maude came over; she had asked my mother if she had tried God. My mom said she had prayed, but that is not what Maude meant. She was a faith healer, and for a small amount of money, she would exercise the demon that was causing me to cough. My mom had nowhere else to turn so she agreed. We went to Maude’s house. She lived across town it took about an hour to get there her house it was older a brick home the front door had a large metal gate in front of it with a lock. All the windows had bars on them, and I thought to myself what are they keeping in. We went to the front room it was nothing but old furniture a couch and table some lamps and one of those old TVs with the round screen I didn't know things like that still existed. She came out of the back room through a door covered beads, and she ushered in. There was the second couch in this room and a small table my young eyes it seemed like 100 candles you know the ones with Mary and Jesus on them you can buy at the grocery store. We sat on a couch, and Maude began to call out for the demon and demand its name and then out of nowhere she started to babble some undefinable language that made no sense over and over. We did this for hours to no avail. She apologized to my mom gave her back her money and asked her to come back next week, she had said that she would be more prepared.
The week went by just like any other, and then we went back to the little room with candles. However, this time, the room had five old ladies in it including Maude and once we entered the prayers began. They kept calling out for the name of the demon and then babbling, but this was different. I don’t know if anyone but me noticed, but they all babbled the same things over and over and swayed the same way and their eyes glazed over. I stopped coughing for the first time in two years. I was so excited and terrified at the same time it was hard to explain. My mom paid them thanked them, and we left for home. When I got home, there were tears in my mom's eyes something amazing had happened.
Chapter 2: Rudy
The next day, I was back in school, and I had to wear stuff from Good Will. I had to bring my lunch, and I was the prime target for bullies.One of my oldest tormentors, Rudy Blackburn, Rudy wasn't one of the Air Force brats he was a kid like me, well not like me he had been held back three or four times so if I was 13 in seventh grade Rudy was 17. He was in rare form today, and he decided to push me down the stairs and spit on me. At lunch, Rudy took my sandwich and threw it on the ground and laughed at me. I could not fight back; he was never alone. He always had his crew with him; I was just me. On the way home they would follow me for a little while and would try to goad me into a fight, but it would be foolish I hated them. When I got home, I would make dinner and go to my room to study, and I fell asleep. Something happened I woke but not as myself but as a ghostly black beast like a wolf running through the streets I can see everything and I know who I am, but I can’t control the beast actions. The beast is not completely solid like a black mist with a form when we crossed the street the headlights of a car caught us, and it made our form break up like dust in the wind, and we passed the light we reformed back into the beast. We move quickly with purpose, but I have no idea its destination. The creature stops outside a house and waits; it’s hunting the back door to the house opens, and Rudy walks out. I know now what we are doing as long as Rudy is bathed in the light from his house he is ok, I think. Rudy turns the corner to the garbage can and leaves the light only for a second, and the beast moves passing through the light attacking Rudy. Am I going to have to see someone ripped apart? I hate this person, but I am not ready for this. The beast’s claws pass through his body and rip out something incorporeal a wisp it tears it apart and eats it. Rudy falls to the ground without a sound. The beast howls wildly and turns and runs away I can feel our form change as the meal the beast just ate flows through us we get stronger the beast runs us into the woods. I am so tired now, and we sleep.
The next morning at school, I feel as if I had a dream nothing more the day starts off as usual. Rudy is at school but there is something different about him he is hollow he sits at his desk quietly and does nothing. I go up and push him to get a rise out of him, but he cowers in fear all the fight has been taken out of him. What have I done it feels strangely satisfying but also scary as the day goes on others notice the change in Rudy and his parents are called. What did the beast do that had such a profound effect I know how it happened as the day goes on one of Rudy’s crew decides to pick on me but it’s very minor, and I am not about to get too angry I am not sure what’s going to happen. My walk home is peaceful, but I notice a blackbird follows me everywhere I go I even try to ditch it going through the park but I can’t it seem to it knows where I am going it's very unsettling but not as much as the night before. As I step into the house, that damn picture is looking at me, but today it's different the monk has a smile on his face someone has to see this. I wait until my dad comes home, and I point it out to him, and he looks at it, and he responds” Son I never really looked at it that close” it was pretty much the same response from my mom. My dad did say there was something different about me I seemed more confident and asked if I had been working out? I go to my room and try to study, but my mind is filled with what has happened, and what I have become and will it happen again I try to stay up, but I fall asleep it's very late.
The next morning I wake my memories of the night are filled with dreams that are not all mine. I know why Rudy was such a pain his dad was a monster he beat him and his mother Rudy was a furious boy his dreams are filled with terror. The next day at school I keep having flashes of Rudy and his mom being hit, and then I see Rudy’s mom leave, and I feel a lonely feeling. I think the beast’s meal isn’t sitting well? At lunch, I don’t feel like eating, so I go out to the playground, and I hang out with one of my only friends her name is Marcy. She is a very pretty girl they say she has emotional problems and goes to special classes but she’s my age and is on the playground at the same time I am. She notices I am upset, but I can’t explain what’s going on. I don’t even know how, but she says that if I need to talk she will be there and that feels nice. After school, I went home and went through my dad’s video collection and watched a part of the Exorcist am I that? That damn picture is still looking at me what does that have to do with anything? Who can I talk to are there any answers after dinner, I am so tired, so I excuse myself and go to bed.
I am again the beast we are moving through the city I know where we are going, and I agree with my other self. We are going to Rudy’s house we are outside the beast circles the house looking for a place with no light to enter it is a very good hunter after a while it finds a place and passes through solid walls. We find Rudy’s father watching TV most of the lights are off in the living room. We stand behind him a few shards of light hit us from the tv screen. We are stronger now, and this light from the tv is not so bright it only blurs our form. The man gets up he sees me he says, “My GOD” he scrambles for a something, and he shoots us. The bullets pass through me, and we move swiftly towards him on all four legs once we are upon him we change we are now are semi-solid we look like the old werewolf out of the Universal movies. The beast knocks the gun from his hand and slowly pulls a glowing essence from the man very, very slowly. I can see the man feels it. I know he deserves it I think the beast is taking direction from me. I don’t think I am just a passenger. The essence or whatever, it is smaller than Rudy’s it is dull it doesn’t glow as much, and when we consume it, we don’t feel as strong. I wonder if I am going to have nightmares tonight?
Well, I have made it to Saturday, and I have eaten two people sort of as I get out of bed I am resolute in trying to figure out something of my new condition. It seems that by eating Rudy’s dad, I ended my nightmares and flashes I have no idea why but that’s a relief. My first stop is my local priest it’s hard to broach the subject with Father Cruz. Father, I ask what do you know about possession? He tells me that it's very rare and that it’s not a subject he’s comfortable speaking with me about without my parents, but he does say that possessed people usually act out wildly. That doesn’t seem to fit my condition. I know about the Curse of the werewolf crap that’s just fiction, and it doesn’t fit either. The rest of the day I walk around town trying to come up with a game plan. One thing I know it only happens at night or in the dark I have to wonder if I went into a closet would I transform? It is something I need to try, but it is too dangerous to try with my parents home.
Sunday comes with its typical rush we are off to church the grind, as usual, I am a bit apprehensive what might happen, but I have no choice we are going. It’s pretty standard nothing scary happens it seems whatever I am is pretty comfortable in a Catholic church service. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not. I sat out in front of the church for a few minutes and tried to think of anyone else who might be any help. After a while, I thought of Pete he's a portly older gentleman that ran a role-playing game every Friday night he even welcomed me when I had my annoying cough. I don't know how much help he would be, but there aren't a lot of options. I head over to his house, and I find him watching cartoons you have to wonder what he does for a living. He asked me what I'm doing gets me a soda, and we sit and talk it's pretty hard for me to admit what's happening I don't believe it myself, but after a while, I tell him. The funny part is he believes me he says he's never heard of anything quite like that and he gets out his beast book this is a book that he draws creatures and dragons out of when we play our games. It takes a few minutes, and he says the only thing even close is a shadow hound, but I've never heard of anything that eats someone soul. For a few minutes I sit there I hadn't thought about what I was doing at night I mean vampires suck blood but in truth is that's what the beast was doing how horrifying. He said shadow hounds guard graveyards and are not necessarily evil, but I have to do some more research why don't you come back tomorrow and I'll see what I can find..
Well, Monday comes, and I go to school just like any other day, and it's odd no one seems to pick on me I go through the hallways unharassed like a dream come true. I wonder If I am giving off some glow or aura I have no idea but its beautiful. At lunch, I go to my place and wait for Marcy but she doesn't show, and it worries me, but I have no real way of getting in touch with her I don't know where she lives. The three O clock bell rings, and I go home, and that's it for my day. That damn bird keeps following me but so far it is not much of a threat. I have noticed its roosting on a tree outside my window, I think is a pervert. My dad just got home he had the oddest story, it seems someone who works with him at the plant just walked into work pale as a sheet mumbling and stood in front of his machine doing nothing all day until Human Resources was called and had him taken away. I asked him who he, he said; Mr. Blackburn isn't that odd, I hear his son had a problem also? We sit down and eat dinner but I'm not hungry. I had a few bites and asked to be excused. I go out of the house is not unusual for me to leave and play basketball or something in the evenings. I go down to Pete house, knock on the door and walk in, and their Pete is with all his books laid out in front of him, his glasses on, and he says I've been waiting for you. This is what I've come up with that picture in your house is a picture of a monk that was locked in his room, in the monastery ,alone until he died his order believed that he had the plague, so they sealed him up in a room alone and fed him through a slit in the door. I say that's awful how long was in there. Pete says, well from what I can find out 30 to 40 years give or take that's not the worst of it it seems that this guy wrote the Codex Giga's which roughly translates to the Devils Bible. I say that's bad I can't believe that we have a picture of that guy hanging in our house. Pete says not all bad the monk went insane, and it said that he heard voices, and he wrote this Codex when he realized what he had done he tried to destroy it but he couldn't. When he died, they found him clutching the book with a note asking the monks to destroy it. I say so you're telling me that he wasn't a bad guy he's batshit crazy. Pete says yeah basically
The next day at school lunch my mind is filled with what's going happen next. I go to my place on the playground with my lunch, and I see Marcy, but she doesn't come to sit with me, and it worries me. After a bit I go to her and as I approach I notice a large bruise on her face. It's hard for me to imagine how she got that did she fall?She sits alone under a tree her head down hiding from the world. I sat next to her, and I ask you want to talk she quietly almost too quiet for me to hear, says no. All I can do is reach my hand over and take hers; I am not sure what to do. As I take her hand, I feel it dread, the hate, the fear what has been done to her the people that know why do they let this happen. I know what the Black Dog is for how could people do this. My mind is filled with the people she has told that he has touched her and what he has done, and they have told her that she is making it up, and I can see every time it has happened it makes me sick. I sit with her until the bell rings and she leaves for class. I can't stand up I am sick to my stomach. I am so angry all those faces with fake smiles teachers, the school nurse, the priest, her mom its like no one cares enough to question the actions of her father or try to find out why she's disturbed or bruised the weight of it is overwhelming.The rest the day school is just a blur I don't even know if I made my classes. On my walk home that blackbird follows me I could see out of the corner of my eye had no idea why it was there what it was doing, but it had a purpose. I got home I stare at that picture, and it stared at me there was something there I don't know what but a feeling. My parents got home we had dinner, and I went to my room, and I waited till It got dark, and for the first time, I wasn't asleep when I became the black dog. It was the strangest sensation it was like floating away becoming lighter than air the smell of brimstone and sulfur swirled my senses were so powerful. I could see everything hear everything, and I had a single-minded purpose. I was gonna punish Marcy's father. I had no idea where Marcy lived, but I knew her smell and that all I needed. I passed along my room I moved to the dark I was so fast it was seconds from my house to Marcy's house that was fifteen or twenty miles away. I was standing outside Marcy's house. I could see him he was sitting at a table drinking beer I didn't see Marcy had no idea where she was. The house was well lit it had floodlights on every corner almost too well lit it was like he was waiting for me. I walked around the outside of the house and waited I finally found a small corner that was dark enough for me to slip through. The man drank for hours he got up went to the kitchen and as he moved to the hallway the light was out overhead, and that's when I sprang I attacked him. I could see around his neck a set of dog tags this wasn't just an ordinary guy. I lunged at him he sprang back. He said oh my I see you devil ran into his living room. I could not go it's too well lit he grabbed a shotgun and started shooting down his hallway the pellets just passed through me. I stood there waiting then he reached behind him and picked a metal rod, and he came into the hallway. He hit me with the rod I felt it burned and cut through me all I wanted to do was throw up. I didn't think I could be hurt, but I was wrong. I let out a mighty howl he grabbed his ears and fell to his knees. I struck I reached into his chest and pulled out his essence this was the most twisted horrible thing I have ever seen to this point. I consumed it and turned to run when behind me I saw Marcy the shotgun shells and passed through me, and blown a hole in the wall exposing me to Marcy she sits and stares at me her face is pale white. I think I have done more harm than good.
I left Marcy's house I was wounded that rod had done some damage. I can barely move that essence or soul whatever it didn't help. My spirit is broken I didn't see Marcy how could I've missed her. I can see everything else. I'm moving along slowly from shadow to shadow that damn blackbird is still following me. All the sudden a woman she's clad in black she looks like a witch something you would see on a Halloween special is blocking me from reaching my home. It's hard to believe this stuff exists, she begins to say something I'm not sure what it is, I begin to feel weak I noticed these bands coming from the ground tying me down. I feel like the life is draining out of me. She looks at me, and she says you're an abomination you shouldn't be here. I'm sorry, but it's over I could feel my eyes closing. The bird that has been following me in a puff of smoke turns into Pete he is wearing a robe and a pointy hat. I can't even look at it him without wanting to laugh, He starts to say a chant and moves his arms in a way that looks like an old Bruce Lee movie. The Witch is focused on me until she starts to fade away she looks at him and says paybacks a bitch, and she's gone. I am exhausted, and I change back to me Pete helps me home there is so much I want to ask but not now. Pete says Iron and Magic don't mix that rod could have seriously hurt you. I don't know whats going with you yet but its definitely magic.
Monday morning comes, and its time to go to school I can barely get out of bed it looks like someone hit me in the chest with a baseball bat. I can't let my parents know. I get dressed and go off to school it starts off normally no one talks to me as usual at lunch I go out and look for Marcy, and she is not there. I don't know why I thought she would be. I ask one of the teachers about her absence and all I am told she's sick. The rumor going around school is her father went nuts started shooting at ghosts and then went catatonic. Marcy is off to her grandmother I am not sure if I am happy or not I am glad she's safe but I think I liked her and I am going to miss her. After school I go to Petes I am almost too afraid to knock on the door my curiosity is more than my fear, and I knock. Pete opens the door, and we sit down Pete says first you have nothing to fear here, I say that's a load off my mind. I ask Pete ok so tell me what you are and what that was last night. Well, Pete says last night that lady was a witch an honest to goodness broom-flying witch and shes the school counselor. I say So you killed the school counselor? Pete - No I banished her to the in-between. Pete- You see the in-between is the place between the upper realms the lower realms and here. Pete- We People with Magic come out of or access the in-between. I am a sorcerer an order of people who pledge to keep the world safe from those who exploit the in-between the witch you ran into last night was from an order which seeks to exploit the in-between. Pete- you have been caught up in someone's Magic very powerful and Scary. Me-Wow that is a lot to take in where do you get magic from how does it exist why do people not see it? Pete- It comes from a lot of sources the witches make deals with entities from other realms and covet their magic because it comes with a very high price. Sorcerers study tomes found in the in-between we have tried to share our magic with mankind a few times, but it never works out well. Atomic energy-Flight- penicillin-a few things we learned to keep to our selves.