A few months ago I was watching television in my living room when I heard the first howl. It reverberated through my bones like something from my darkest nightmares, leaving me temporarily immobile with the shock of it. After a few moments I tried my best to regain my composure, reassuring myself with a forced laugh of self-deprecation that it was most likely just a stray dog or coyote. I told myself that it had just startled me with it’s suddenness, nothing more. After all, I reasoned with myself, the mind likes to exaggerate things. The rest of the night passed without further events and I went to sleep having all but forgotten. My dreams, however, were less forgiving. In them I stumbled through darkened woods, heard echoing howls that seemed to come from every direction at once, was haunted by the feeling of piercing eyes following my every movement. When I finally woke a short while before dawn I was covered in sweat. A lingering unease clung to me until daybreak.
The next few weeks were pretty uneventful. Rarely I would, on occasion, hear some strange sounds as if someone was walking in another room or on the porch, but nothing that I wasn’t able to simply shrug off as my imagination. The worst thing that happened was a recurring dream similar to the first I’d had. I would find myself walking down a dark stretch of country road located near my home at night. The dirt road stretched out in front of me, seemingly for an eternity, while the trees on either side formed a dense canopy that only allowed for a few stray shafts of moonlight to illuminate my way. As I walked onward, I would always hear movement to either side, just out of sight. I remember only on rare occasion catching brief glimpses of silhouettes in the dark. But always, always, I could feel eyes on me.
Aside from the occasional dreams, it was about a full month from the first night before I heard the howling again. This time it was not singular, but a series of overlapping howls that gathered to form a melancholy crescendo. It seemed like the howls came from every direction at once and with such piercing clarity that I could have sworn the sources were almost on top of me. I was horrified, there was something that just felt fundamentally wrong about these howls. I covered my ears and closed my eyes, trying to will away the horrendous cacophony. I truly felt like I was going to be driven to pure insanity by the piercing sounds of it all.
As embarrassing as it may be, I was in the fetal position rocking back and forth with my arms over my ears when the howling finally subsided. I was trembling from fear to the point where it must have taken me a full minute to even stand. Trembling, I made quick a lap through my house shutting all of my curtains and ensuring that my doors were locked and dead-bolted, never lingering by any of the windows for long. When I finally reached the sliding glass door leading to my back porch, I heard footsteps. I was just barely able to see the black silhouettes that broke up the faint glow of the moon on my porch. If I’d had the lights on in the room I probably wouldn’t have even noticed until I was only inches away.
Slowly, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my cell phone, all the while aware of the distinct sensation of their eyes upon me. I took one quick picture as my hands trembled, then slowly backed away, unable to stop gazing into those eyes which burned like the coals of hell itself. Eventually I inched back enough to duck into my hallway, sliding to the floor as fear took hold and drained the strength from my legs. With my back pressed to the wall, I fumbled for the hall light switch, part of me expecting to hear the telltale sound of breaking glass at any moment.
Nothing, no glass breaking, no footsteps on the porch. Absolute silence filled the air, not even the chirping of crickets reached my ears. Pulling out my cell phone and staring at the screen, not even daring to look at the picture I had taken, my hands shook as I tried to figure out who to call. Who could I call? “Ghostbusters…” I whispered aloud to myself after a moment, trying to force myself to calm down with a bad joke. The cracked mockery of my voice that came out of my mouth only served to solidify my fear. I remember thinking about what I had just seen, could I really call a friend, family member or even the authorities? Even worse, the gate to the driveway was almost half a mile away and I would have to go to my car and drive the distance to let anyone in.
In the end, I crept to the over side of the hall, cautiously entering my room and retrieving my CZ-52 pistol. I sure as hell wasn’t going to look for a fight, but I decided that I wasn’t about to die without one either. I ended up sitting there against the wall until morning, only mustering the strength to lean around the corner and look out the sliding glass door when the room was bright from the sun’s rays. The porch was empty. With gun in hand, I made a few laps around the house, feeling slightly more confident with the comfort of the sun. The area was clear, I didn’t even find any tracks.
Over the next few weeks I was haunted by the same dreams of being stalked as before. I could see the silhouetted figures more clearly in the trees now as if they were getting closer. I could see the redness of their eyes reflecting in the pale light of the moon. They never howled in my dreams, they barely even made a sound as they crept along and shadowed my movements. A call to animal control revealed little except that a few people reported hearing howling as well. They said that it was normal of coyotes and that the light had played tricks on me. Unconvinced, I made a habit of locking and bolting my doors as soon as I got inside and was always indoors by dusk, with my sidearm always at the ready.
I used the internet to try and figure out what could be going on. I poured through information about canidae. Canis lupus, Canis lupus familiaris, Canis latrans, I researched all of them. What I saw did seem like a wolf or coyote, but those eyes, those howls, they were just so unnatural and unnerving that I couldn’t accept this. Then there was the picture, that blurry picture from my cell phone that showed what I could only pray was a trick of the light. It was as if the creatures exuded tiny tendrils made of shadow that writhed in the air around them. I could only hope they were diseased or covered in wet and knotted hair.
A part of me knew there wasn’t such a clear cut and simple explanation to this, however. Despite wanting to remain skeptical, what I had seen and heard lead me to suspect there was something supernatural and malevolent about these things. Searches lead to stories of barghests and Black Shuck, mythical black dogs that are said to roam the English country side as harbingers of death. I hated to even imagine this as a possibility, that my own death was just slowly stalking me until the time was right, that my end was near.
Trying to allay my fears, I posted the picture I had taken on various forums, ranging from ones about wolves and wild dogs to those dedicated to the occult and supernatural. It seemed that every time I told my story I was either met with ridicule or nut-jobs who linked it all to ludicrous things like alien plots. I caught a few leads eventually in news reports. Stories started popping up from nearby towns of people committing suicide or being attacked by wild animals, people who had reported of hearing eerie howls much like I had. The sites were spread apart and seemingly randomized, but I kept up my search for similar incidents. I had to find something that would prove to myself that I wasn’t simply losing my mind. Sadly, all I could do was keep searching and hope to eventually find some sort of meaning to it all.
Finally, four nights ago my dream changed. After walking for so long I could finally see the end of the road. I was horrified. A few hundred feet in front of me the road simply stopped, vanishing into a wall of trees. In shock, I stood there, staring at the throng of old pines, wondering if I should turn back. I had scarcely a moment to think before I saw it. Out of the center of the mass of trees, plodded a large black wolf-like creature. Barely more than a shadow, its eyes pierced the darkness as it eyed me. Behind those eyes was an unmistakable malice. Even more frightening, there was an unmistakable intelligence in them. I was frozen.
After what seemed like an eternity, the beast sprinted at me. As the distance closed I could see its body clearly covered in flowing black tendrils that flowed in the air as if its very essence was reaching out to devour all around it. Instinctively recoiling, I braced myself for the impact as it lunged at me, covering my stomach and neck to try and save myself. At the very moment in which I knew that everything was over, its haunting howl echoed through the night and caused me to wake up with a start.
My heart was pounding in my chest as I woke, my hand was already reflexively gripping the pistol that I now kept under my pillow. Sitting upright, I was trying my best to catch my breath when I heard and saw it. Like a black smoke it poured through one of the darkened corners of my room, almost seeming to suck the light from the area around it. As more and more started to creep in I could clearly see those damned red eyes that were now dripping with blackened blood and a muzzle full of razor sharp teeth starting to form. What happened in the next few seconds will be forever burned into my brain.
I got off only three shots between the time it had formed and lunged on top of me. I remember in the back of my mind I was shocked that it even had physical form as the impact knocked me backwards onto the bed. My gun was knocked out of my hand as it pinned me and pushed its muzzle towards my throat. Its eyes were burning flashes like cigarettes in the dark, leaving bright trails as it maneuvered for a good bite. With one hand I gripped its throat while with all my strength fighting to keep its gnashing teeth from my neck. While struggling, the putrid stench of a thousand rotting corpses assailed my lungs as it’s breath washed over me.
With my free hand I groped frantically across my nightstand in a state of panic for some kind of improvised weapon. I was keenly aware of the sensation that my entire body was going numb. Those writhing tendrils of darkness seemed to permeate my very flesh, every where they flowed through my body felt like it was submerged in freezing water. I had lost all sense of feeling in my arm that held the creature at bay by the time my hand touched the base of a familiar metal surface. My touch lamp blazed to life.
In an instant the snarling atrocity which lumbered over me seemed to fade from existence. Nearby I heard a loathsome howl that echoed through my ears like a curse, then dissipated into nothingness. It took hours for me to regain feeling in my arm and my body, but I laid there until morning in complete and utter terror.
Had the light driven it back? Was pure luck the only reason I was now alive? I could scarcely believe that it wasn’t all some sort of hallucination. I wish that it had been something as merciful as insanity.
In bed, I remember pondering my situation. Trying to put some sense to this all. Three shell casings laid strewn across the floor and there were no holes in my wall. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. It told me a few things, however. There was no blood, but that beast had been hit and I was able to touch it. The sudden bright light seemed to have driven it back, but I had heard it later, so I doubted that it was fatal. It had appeared out of the darkest corner, so it possibly needed to manifest in darkness. Oh yeah, it also stalked me in my fucking dreams and toyed with me, only to then follow me into my bedroom and try to rip my throat out. I had no clue what the hell it was.
I felt like I would never know what was going on. I started leaving all of my lights on all night and switched all of my bulbs to 100 watt. Saving power isn’t exactly high on my list of priorities any more. I’ve tried staying awake forever. Didn’t turn out so well, but I can’t remember what I dreamed of these past few nights. That’s something I really don’t find myself regretting. I’ve heard it nightly; outside, howling, walking around on my porch. I don’t think anyone can ever become accustomed to that accursed howling, but it doesn’t completely paralyze me with fear any more. It may not have been much progress, but it is something.
Last night I had a bit of a breakthrough, although it doesn’t really help my current situation. I’d long ago assumed there wasn’t any chance of actually getting a serious response in any of the forums I had visited and given bits of my story to, but last night I received an email from an alleged government worker. It seems I’m not the only one with firsthand experiences. He has been dogged (if you forgive the pun) by these same beasts for some time now as well, but unlike myself he was able to dig up some information from classified documents that I would never have been able to get to. At first I was extremely skeptical– until I began to read through the information he had sent me. Too many pieces fit into place for it to be sheer coincidence or him making things up.
Although it is a lot of data to process, I’ll relay the story as it was told to me.
Over the past few decades, dogs have been the focal point of myriad scientific experiments. Soviet scientists, for example, used them extensively in their experiments. From studies of the effects of weightlessness on the body to attempts to preserve living organs outside the body. Some died in orbit as the first animals to ever travel into the blackness of space, countless others died deep in underground labs under the surgeon’s knife in countries around the world.
Not all of them, however, remained dead.
Dr. Peter Safar, the inventor of CPR, introduced a concept to the Army that must have seemed laughable at the time. He suggested that you could keep a body in suspended animation for hours by replacing all the blood in a body with an ice-cold saline solution. It was shelved for nearly two decades. But, again, eventually dogs were put on the chopping block in the name of science. Organs were torn and bones were broken, only to be repaired by the ones who did the damage. The saline was drained after hours of operation, blood was re-inserted into the corpses and their hearts were jump-started. Safar was right, you could keep a patient in stasis for hours until they could be operated on, then resurrected. It was an astounding medical breakthrough, one that would soon be twisted into a blasphemous mockery of it’s original purpose.
Despite many practical applications for saving trauma patients and wounded soldiers, this treatment is still not in widespread use, at least not as originally intended. The government decided to do what it had always done with new technology designed to benefit mankind. The decision was made to weaponize it. Once more, due to repeated successful re-animations, man’s best friend was placed firmly in scientists’ sights once more. Thus began the project henceforth known as the Kerberos Project. Whoever gave it this moniker likely thought it was extremely clever.
If only they had known just how fitting their choice was.
It was surmised that, while in this state of suspended animation, procedures which would almost certainly kill a living creature from shock could be carried out with significantly reduced risk. In this vein, the original plan was to test concepts on the canines, which would then be carried over to select active special forces troops if successful. One of the primary goals was to make physiological ‘enhancements’ that would make the test subjects much more resilient in combat. Wolf-dogs were selected as prime test subjects due to their oft larger and sturdier frames that resulted from cross breeding.
The first test subjects were put under with the aim of implanting subcutaneous body armor in the form of layered titanium plates, which would theoretically be able to deflect bullets. While many were able to survive this procedure, the scientists were completely unable to find an acceptable balance between weight and protection. Results varied from dogs who could not move under their own weight which were slightly resistant to small caliber rounds to dogs which were highly mobile but statistically no more likely to survive small arms fire than a dog without the augmentations. Many subjects were lost to suffocation through their own weight, while the lightly armored dogs were simply put under yet again, their armor removed. Eventually the solution was found in sheets of carbon nanotubes, woven into a lightweight ‘fabric’ that was both flexible and able to resist small arms fire. The resulting armor was a mere 0.6mm thick and capable of flexing freely. An astounding seventy percent ratio of tested dogs survived the procedure and showed an astounding resistance to small caliber handgun and rifle rounds.
Having proven the plausibility of a bulletproof super soldier, they began to focus on potential offensive enhancements to the animals. Again and again, the dogs were put into a suspended state and operated on. No real breakthroughs were to occur, however. Notions such as replacing claws and fangs with much sturdier and sharper materials resulted in the animals shredding themselves into grisly ribbons when they attempted to scratch themselves. It was in this period, however, that abnormalities started to make themselves clear. The wolf-dogs that had been under the knife the most started to show signs of instability. They ran into the walls as if chasing an unseen foe, they snarled and growled at vacant corners. It seemed that prolonged and repeated death and re-animation had resulted, unavoidably, in brain damage. The decision was made to continue the studies and to see just how many times the dogs could withstand the process before they were unable to fully function.
The symptoms became worse and worse, the dogs seemed to stare at things that were not there, their ears began to twitch as if listening to sounds unheard. Speculation arose that the animals had begun to hallucinate as a side-effect of brain damage, but the tests were not interrupted. In time, every single of the surviving dogs displayed erratic behavior to some degree. The ones that had been subject to the most experiments had started to even show signs of a weakening vascular system, their heart rates slowed to an almost death defying pace and their eyes began to fill with red as if all their capillaries had burst. Extreme cases began to develop where blood actually started to slowly pour from the eyes and nose of the animals. These cases were accompanied by an inexplicable darkening of the fur and behavior that, if applied to a human, would be classified as paranoid schizotypal behavior. Both fear and aggression were markedly increased, the dogs alternately slunk from and/or bit at anything around them, be it real or imagined. The order came down from the high brass that these red-eyed beasts were too unpredictable for practical applications or to even continue research on. Research was confined to an observation only basis.
Within a week, the first reports of howling on the base began. Dogs began to disappear from their cages, each time with no trace as to how they had escaped. All of the cages found empty had been magnetically locked and there were no records that indicated loss of power. With each night, reports of strange howling grew as the numbers of subjects inside the lab dwindled. Sightings of black ‘wolf’ silhouettes were reported by the guards, often seen vanishing around a corner to never be located again.
The corpses started turning up on the fifth morning. Twelve dead. In the nearest town people were found dead in their beds, at their computers and on their couches. Some had their throats ripped open, others had their entrails devoured entirely. This was easily attributed to the escaped animals, but the most puzzling thing is that a few of the homes had been locked, without any signs of forced entry. Frightened townspeople recounted hearing an ominous howling throughout the night that seemed to be coming from every direction at once. Some even reported witnessing strange movements in the shadows and claimed to have been stalked by creatures by dark red iridescent eyes.
Within sixteen days all of the remaining animals, totaling over two hundred, had inexplicably vanished from their cages. During this period the omnidirectional nightly howling that pervaded the nearby countryside pushed people to their mental limits. Local police were inundated with calls from panicked individuals who had locked themselves in their homes, afraid to turn out their lights or even sleep until morning. It wasn’t until the end of the third week that the death toll began to wane into nothingness. Reports of the eerie howling started to be confined to the most rural of homes before they stopped entirely. The total of missing and dead was tallied at ninety-seven, with eighteen deaths attributed to suicide. Of the suicides, four were notable for happening in the victim’s beds and for a complete lack of physical trauma or traces of known drugs or medications in their blood streams.
In the end, nondisclosure agreements were signed by staff. The government wiped its hands of responsibility and claimed the incidents in town were due to a massive rabies outbreak. All data was classified as Top Secret and summarily filed away.
This is basically the meat of the information he gave me. As far as I can gather from our correspondence, this happened originally in a remote location in Arizona which was blacked out of the files. Given my location in rural South Carolina and the fact that I have only witnessed a few at most, I could only assume that most of these animals have branched off into small packs and been roaming ever since. Sadly, I can’t do anything but speculate on the details of what really happened based on what I’ve seen. The conclusions I’ve drawn only serve to horrify me even more, but I can’t think of any better explanations.
These dogs were taken into the realm of death dozens of times, only to be ripped back into our world. What if, each time, they took a part of the realm of death itself back with them? It’s as if they began to see and feel that which exists on both sides of the veil of death simultaneously and it cracked their minds. They underwent this turbulent transformation into some sort of semi-physical manifestation of the other side, becoming literal avatars of death. Now this transformation is complete and they aren’t broken minded killers any more, but stalking agents of the afterlife that like to toy with their victims before taking them down. At will it seems that they can manifest out of the blackness and travel the void between both worlds, somehow neither truly alive or dead, but something in between.
I don’t know if they can be killed, but the light holds them at bay. Earlier, I gathered all of my courage when I heard my demonic stalker on the porch and confirmed this theory. I slowly opened the back door after I had flooded the room with light. I locked eyes with the beast, but he simply glared with hatred through the glass door. He made no attempt to press forward through the light. It was a horrific few moments, but I had to be sure that the light could offer protection. I now feel like a prisoner of my own home, but at least I am alive for as long as I have power.
One fear keeps repeating itself in my mind, though. What happened to the four reported dead in their beds with no explanations why? Did they reach the end of the same road that I did and simply never wake up?
They’re out there. They’re hunting.
The only advice I can offer is to keep your lights on… and try not to dream.