Church Grim

~ 2013 ~

What follows is a work of fiction, but it's inspired by... something else. In 2011, an unnamed blogger began writing about The Black Dog of Saint Paul, a local legend that no one had ever heard. The blogger had received a box full of "evidence" from an unreliable source and wrote about what they found as they catalogued its contents: spirit photos, newspaper clippings, maps of Black Dog sightings, police reports, even a couple of videos.

The blogger didn't treat the topic with any seriousness, not until the Dog invaded their life. The story had supposedly been covered up by a cult called "The Laity," which worshipped the Black Dog and used it to terrorize its enemies. They had influence over the police, the courts, and City Hall. Depending on who you asked, they'd either been around for over a hundred years or they began in 1967 with a cop and crazy woman.

The myth itself begins in 1845, back when Saint Paul was a frontier outpost called Pig's Eye. A Norwegian congregation, following some obscure tradition, buried a dog alive beneath the foundation of their church. They believed the dog's spirit, called a "church grim," would protect the church and its faithful. Things didn't exactly work out that way.

The following winter, the Church Grim's nightly braying scared away all the small game. The Norwegians, desperate to avoid starvation, decided to punish the Grim by proxy. Each day, they tied up a dog in the churchyard and beat it to death. On the seventh day, just as the first blow was struck, the Grim appeared before them. It herded the men away from their victim, then tore out the mongrel's throat. The Black Dog howled no more and the Laity never again harmed a dog, not in the churchyard nor anywhere else.

Real or not, I thought it was a great story and it inspired me to write some stories of my own.

(Illustration by Levi Kornelsen. Thanks, Levi!)