|Tales I May Regret Telling, Pt. 3: Black Shuck
||[Dec. 27th, 2017|01:37 am]
This was, as best I can place it, sometime between Thanksgiving of 1996 and January of 1997. Christmas lights were up. It was eight or nine at night, on a cold, rainy night, and I was driving home from the stable where I went riding after work. I'd deliberately gone by the backroads as I wanted to see the Christmas lights, which struck me as especially pleasing on such a night. The night was, in fact, one of the sort that my maternal grandmother would have referred to as "blacker'n Shuck" - no moon, no clouds, cold soaking rain relieved only by my headlights and the decorated houses I passed.
A few words about my grandmother may be in order. She, like myself, was not fully grounded in the consensus reality. We both had faith in the evidence of our senses, and in the power of our reason. I don't really accept that there's such a thing as 'the second sight', or 'being an experiencer' (a newer term for the same thing). I think most, if not all, people can see things we're told can't be, but I think most of them sort of edit them out in real-time to make perception conform to expectation. And where she heard of Black Shuck, I never asked, and wish now that I had.
On my way home I went south through a little hamlet of a dozen or so houses, the name of which I've long forgotten. A couple of these were very nicely decorated, and I slowed the better to admire them, but also because at the south end of this wide spot in the road, the road took a very sharp, abrupt left-hand turn, and then 50 feet further on, an equally abrupt right-hand turn to continue its southern course.
I was coming out of that second turn at no more than ten miles an hour, if that, and approaching me was a big ol' car, a Lincoln or a Cadillac, at about the same speed, preparing to negotiate the turns. And just then, with no warning, something ran across the road from left to right, in between our cars. I could see it silhouetted in his headlights, and it ran right through mine, but I couldn't see the least detail. It was dead black, and just drank up the light, with no highlights, not even the wet surface reflections one might expect on such a night.
It was about as tall and long as a calf, but much bulkier. The shape, and the rollicking run, made me think of a fat, clumsy, short-legged puppy chasing his ball. It had exactly that aspect to it. And one more thing - it did not have a head. The short neck just stopped a bit past the shoulder. It crossed the road, and disappeared into the darkness of the pasture to the right, behind a large tree. I did not see how it crossed the fence. It was in sight for fewer than three seconds, maybe only two, but I know exactly what I saw.
I slammed on my brakes, and so did the other car. I could see the elderly couple inside by the glow of my headlights, staring with an absolutely stunned, open-mouthed expression. I'm sure I looked much the same. I thought about rolling down the window and saying something to them, but they almost immediately drove on. I sat there for a bit. I had no doubt at the time that Black Shuck had just crossed my path. I thought about turning around, and proceeding home by a different route, but decided almost immediately that would be foolish and feckless. I had fully intended that road to be my path when he crossed it, and you can't cheat such things.
So, I drove on home, in a very sober mood. Over the next few days, I gave each of my subordinates at work a gift to remember me by, not something purchased, but something that I valued and used - a fountain pen, a pocket knife, a glass paperweight, something which each had admired at some point, things which seemed to me to have something of myself bound up with them. That seemed very important to me. I got my affairs in order, and waited to see what would happen. And a fortnight passed, and I was still alive. And a moon passed, and I was still alive.
It occurred to me belatedly that maybe he was crossing the path of the people in the other car. I wonder too, if it even *was* Shuck, or any bad thing at all. I had no sense of dread or menace from it - it shocked me, but didn't frighten me. Rather the opposite, in fact - it really gave off this impression of playfulness.
And so ends my meandering, and rather inconsequential story of the time when I may have met Black Shuck.
Original posted at https://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/27454.html