Not to keep you awake or anything but… demonic dogs of England

But, suddenly, I became convinced that I was being watched by another set of eyes – but, unlike all those other eyes around me, this pair was covert, lurking, absconding. A great fear – unlike any other – welled up inside me, some pressure of ante-diluvian panic and I started to run through the woodlands. And, as I ran, I also started to stumble. And the faster I tried to run, the greater and more frequent those stumbles became. Indeed, after a time, my running became nothing more than one constant stumble. I could feel all of the eyes of the experienced nighttime practitioners also looking upon me, part worried for me but also in part scornful as my body continually did its utmost to return to the earth. Were they questioning my foolish behaviour or were they just spectating, waiting to see this great, hidden carnivore pounce upon me? Whilst they made no move for me, they parted company with their branches and brambles at the prospect of the panting beast. In my head I could hear my father’s discussion of the identification of the wicked in St. Paul’s address to the Romans[1]. At that point in my imaginings – and I shall for the time being, call them just imaginings – I was still unaware of what might be following me. But, suddenly, I was conscious of the sound of a heavy animal’s thunderous paws running through shallow water. That in itself was rather strange as I did not know of any pools in that area. Do not forget, even as a small child, I knew those woodlands well! The paths through them were my streets, the trunks of the trees my crown posts[2]. The river was quite far away and the ground still felt parched dry beneath my feet; the leaves were still brittle and breaking beneath them. Such inconsistencies, I guess, are the matter of dreams; the saplings growing in that febrile, fertile soil of fear, seedlings of a crop that will never be harvested properly because the time for such a reaping never arrives. I had to run faster back toward home. I broke from the woods as soon as the density of trees would allow me to do so. I broke out onto the open floodplain – now it might have made sense to hear splashing paws but nothing in the sound of them changed in the slightest. Suddenly, the cloud removed itself (albeit rather briefly) from the early budding moon so that there was a burst of relatively bright semi-illumination across the floodplain. If I were to turn now, then I would see it – I was certain of that. However, I did not know whether I really wanted to see this being. True, it might prove to me that I was running for no reason and that whatever animal was following me was totally harmless and could be turned away simply by facing it and gesturing. On the other hand, my mind was still overbrimming with fear and the creative forgemastery of my imaginings. However, my father had always taught me to have no fear that is grounded in irrationality and so, gradually, the former logic got the better of me.


Therefore I turned. And what met my eyes was worse than I had imagined: it was something hideous, the likes of which I had not only never seen but I had quite simply never imagined either. Then I had a fear that was no longer rooted in the irrational! It was a large dog that was following me but it was truly unlike any other canine for its frame was massive and, although its coat was dark and shaggy (the precise colour still being obscured by the poor light and – thankfully – still a little too great distance). There was also something colloidal about it – disgusting, filthy. I felt as though I would be unable to touch it even if it were clearly dead at my feet. That was an in-built revulsion from the unclean and that beast was so obviously unclean and a carrier of poor humours from some place else – perhaps even from the Pit itself[3]. It moved in unfamiliar fashion too, not like any natural thing. Its ability to bound forward meant that it was moving forward towards me with some alacrity but each and every time its paws landed it sent up spouts of water on either side of it.


[1] See Romans 2.

[2] Crown posts: architectural elements within the frame of a timber-framed building.

[3] The Pit: Hell.