I was disturbed last night as I tried to settle down. The sun had only just set, the sky was that bright-yet-deep blue that one occasionally sees at twilight, the final throes of the light of day.
Occasionally, there’s the odd sound that can be heard from out in the Grinds… a dinosaur’s roar, the occasional disembodied school hand-bell, an air-raid siren, a hovering helicopter, a scream… it all goes on out there. But last night, the sound that disturbed me was really strange. Almost guttural. And, as odd as it sounds, almost foreign; alien.
And unmistakeably dog-like.
I looked out through the window, and scoured the Grinds trying to see where this noisy animal was. Well, see as far as I could anyway.
Obviously, at that time of day, shadows are everywhere. What light remains plays tricks with the old eyes, and, even the slightest of breezes can cause movement where you’d least expect it.
At first, I couldn’t see anything.
Then, I heard the heavy breathing, the fiercest of growls… and the scratching.
And then the blackest of dogs jumped up at the window, paws desperately trying to get in through the (reinforced!) glass. Ferociously growling, barking, and slavering almost insanely. The dog’s wide eyes glowing red, but whether that was through anger or just a natural look I do not know. A lot of the creatures out in the Grinds have flaming red eyes! Sometimes I wake in the early hours and have the same look!
In the few seconds that I saw this dog, I spotted the eyes, obviously, and the size – a very muscular Great Dane. If the glass in the window was ordinary glass, the dog would have been through. Luckily, in my case, I was safe. I think the dog just appeared to scare the living daylights out of me… obviously its intention had already worked on the day’s daylight!
However, I digress. After two or three minutes, this dog vanished. Cleared off, and I never heard or saw it again. The glimpse of it was enough for me, and it sent me into research mode. I discovered two possibilities as to which Dog of Darkness it could have been, but I was surprised to find out that there are actually quite a few others (most of which have been passed down through legend and folklore).
The first choice, considering the dog resembled a Great Dane, would be the link to the Norse Garmr. Garmr, or Garm for short, was/is the Hound of Hell responsible for guarding Hell’s Gates at Ragnarök, or the Time of the Gods; the time when the Norse Gods fall and civilisation comes to an end. He is mentioned in the Poetic Edda; and one line struck me as I read it:
Till the house so high | of Hel he reached
But only because of the link to the Mansion, and the Rivers of Hell that flow beneath.
Garm, it is said, is a blood-stained hound. The dog that was knocking at my window looked rather clean, it must be said. Snarling and ferocious, but clean all the same. So, that said, I don’t think my dog-like visitor was Garmr.
The second choice is more like it. No, not Scooby Doo, who coincidentally IS a Great Dane. My visitor was a Gwyllgi (pronounced like ‘gwishkey’); a spectral dog that usually haunts lonely roads and leaves without a trace. The Gwyllgi, you may be surprised to hear, is actually a Welsh ‘legend’, a black dog of the twilight. Some legends have it that the dog tries to bring fear with it to all who cross it’s path.
Which, when you think about it, when one comes snarling at your window just after sunset, it kind of achieves its goal!
The thing is, I’m not in Wales, although I am quite close to the border. So, was this a lost Gwyllgi… or are they now branching out into England also?
I’m sure there will be more to this in time to come…