My day job is working as a pest control technician for an awesome company here in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Come to find out, I have a haunted site on my route. (Yeah, I know. What are the odds that the horror author gets the route with a haunted place or even better a place haunted by a demon dog?) I have included pictures in this article that I took the last time I was in this area. This local legend of the demon dog of Valle Crucis has been around since the late 1800s.
The story was birthed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Valle Crucis, North Carolina around 1860. A few people were found dead in the nearby woods by an apparent animal attack. Instead of looking for a rational explanation of what happened, the local minister claimed he saw a “demon dog” kill these people. I’m not bashing ministers or any religion or denomination, for I myself an am ordained minister, but given the time period should we be surprised?
This urban legend has gone on for several generations, but the most popular story has to do with two young men who were students at App State. They were traveling down the road next to the church one moonlit autumn night. A large, shadowy figure leaped our from behind one of the tombstones from the church’s graveyard and appeared in front of their vehicle. The driver swerved to the side of the road to avoid slamming into whatever had stepped in front of them. According to witnesses, he slammed on the breaks and eased his vehicle to the shoulder.
The two friends peered out the window into the darkness. The figure took shape under the moonlight and they were shocked at what they saw. A massive dog, the size of a full grown man, stood in the road staring at them. it was covered in shimmering black fur and had large, yellow teeth. It’s eyes were glowing red and did not reflect back the light like a dog or cat’s eyes will sometimes do at night. One of the young men turned to the other and said, “Do you see that?” His friend replied, “No, and neither do you.”
The dog eased towards the vehicle and growled. The driver took his foot off the braked and slammed on the gas. The vehicle sped down the dark, mountain road, hugging the curves as hard as it could without flipping. Sixty miles and hour…Seventy miles an hour…the driver did his best to keep the car under control. He glanced in his rear view mirror and had the shock of his life. The demon dog was keeping us with the car. No, it was gaining on them.
The driver mashed the accelerator even harder. The car sped over a the bridge where the streams in Valle Crucis meet to form a cross (the name in Latin means Vale of the Cross). The dog stopped following them and then vanished.
The frightened friends drove into Boone and stopped at a local diner, which was the only place open late at night. They tried to let their nerves settle down but it wasn’t happening. They knew neither of them were going to get to sleep for a while. They also knew they had experienced something terrifying and supernatural. The two men shared their story and the urban legend of the Demon Dog of Valle Crucis was cemented into North Carolina folklore forever.
There are other stories surrounding this quaint little cemetery at St. John’s. Some have reported seeing the apparition of a woman wondering around the graves. Others have reported sounds of gunshots and a weeping female, all of which cannot be connected to any known event.
Is the legend of the Demon Dog true? Is this a case of lycanthropy maybe?
When I was out there, I called and whistled for the demon dog several times. I walked among the graves and tried to see if I could get him to come out. He was either napping or had better things to do. I got back in my truck and drove away. I looked in my review, and to my disappointment, there was no demon dog chasing me.
Sometimes, it’s not just the living who need help moving on from the past…but the dead.
I set the recorder down on the kitchen table. “Do you mind if I record our session together?”
“No,” Sara said, then shifted in her seat.
Sara Cane was a wife and mother of five. She had long blonde hair and deep brown eyes, which in those moments, were full of confusion.
“I don’t understand why he keeps coming to me,” she said, then eased a finger to her lips.
“What do you mean? How does he come to you?” I placed my arms on the table and leaned closer.
“In my dreams. He visits me.”
“How long has this been going on?”
Sara’s eyes glazed over in remembrance. “Not long after he died.”
I nodded. “I see. How long ago did your father die?”
“Three years ago.” She glanced back at me. “I kept getting the impression he didn’t want to face me.”
“Why?” I reached for a bottle of whiskey I had set on my table. I cracked it open and poured some in my glass. “Want some?”
“Sure,” Sara said and eased the glass I had given her forward.
I poured her a shot.
She brought the whiskey to her mouth and sipped. “My father. His name was Michael. He did a lot of bad things he was ashamed of. He left and stopped all contact with me when I was fourteen.”
“How old are you now?” I took a sip.
“So your dad died when you were thirty-two?”
“And the dreams started not long after?”
She nodded again.
“So this has been going on for three years.”
I leaned back in my chair. “So, why did you come here today?”
“Because word has gotten out about you,” Sara said then took another sip of whiskey.
“Word about what?” I asked. “I don’t advertise anything.”
Sara huffed and smiled. “You don’t have to. Your work and reputation speak for itself. The people you help. It’s real.” She stared down at the table for a moment, then gazed into my eyes. “You aren’t a fake. You aren’t a showboat. In fact, you hate that people even know you have these abilities from God. You wish you could just stay hidden and disappear and be left alone.”
I downed my drink and poured another. “Yeah, so. Does that bother you?”
“No,” Sara shook her head and smirked. “It is the very reason why I trust you. You aren’t a phony, Mr. Kincaid.”
I meditated on her words then pushed back. “How do you know? And how do I know you aren’t just yanking my chain to try and get some sort of attention?”
Sara eyed me up and down. “Because, right now? I can feel you in my head. And you know I am telling the truth.”
I widened my eyes, nodded, then hammered down my drink. The lady was right. I was inside her head searching her to see if she was telling the truth.
“All right, fine. You want to do this? I need something. Something tangible. Something with you and your dad.” I poured another shot.
“I know,” she said. “I brought this.” She dug in her purse and pulled out an old Polaroid. “This is me and my dad. Taken in 1986 or ‘87.”
I reached across the table and grabbed it. My fingers touched the picture and I was hit with a flood of energy.
Sara saw my body jolt. “What is it?”
“Give me a minute.” I stared at the picture.
Sara’s father held her in his arms. He had brownish-blonde hair and a beard. Sara’s blonde hair was shaped away from her face. They both look terrified in the picture.
“Your father was a coward wasn’t he?” I asked.
Sara’s mouth gaped. “How did you know? Yes, very much so.”
“I can see it all over him.”
Sara gazed deep into my eyes. “I need you to help him move on. He is afraid. He keeps telling me in my dreams that ‘they’ won’t let him go.”
“Who are ‘they’?” I asked then took another sip of whiskey.
“I don’t know?” Sara shrugged. “He would never say.”
I sat silent for a few moments, nodding my head with slow movements. Then I said, “I am going to try something.” I placed the photograph down on the table. “I just need you to sit quietly and only answer me when I ask you a direct question. Got it?”
“Yes,” Sara affirmed.
I shifted my eyes from Sara to the photograph and then reached with my mind. The image came at once.
“I see your father,” I said. “He is sitting at a brown kitchen table. One of those square ones that can fold out on the edges. He is dressed in a dark brown flannel shirt and a blue vest. One of those thick nylon winter vest. His face is in his hands and he is weeping. I sense deep regret.” I paused for a moment. “I also see a newspaper clipping on the table.” I glanced up at Sara. “Does any of this sound familiar?”
Tears flowed from her eyes. “How do know? How did you know?”
I reached out and gave her hand a comforting touch. “Talk to me. Tell me what this means.”
“My dad accidentally killed someone on the job.” She breathed in deep then exhaled. “He was beside the heavy equipment. He was supposed to signal to the guy in the equipment when to keep moving the dirt. When he would, the other crew members would jump in the trench and dig. Well, one of the guys either got confused or distracted. I’m not sure which but he mistook my dad’s signal. He jumped in as my dad gave the all clear to the operator. When my dad saw the guy jump in he screamed at the operator to stop. The operator couldn’t hear my dad’s screams and you can’t just jump in because then you would get smashed. So he stood back and watched the guy literally get crushed to death.”
I finished off my whiskey. “And it was in the newspapers?”
“And he regretted this all his life?” I asked.
“The scene you described.” She wiped a tear. “Was what I remember seeing as a child. My father was sitting at the table crying with his hands in his face and the newspaper clipping in front of him.”
I sat again in silence. Longer this time. “Sara, give me another minute. I am going to try something else.”
“All right,” she sniffled.
I stared at the picture longer and harder. The energy hit me again and I saw Michael at his kitchen table.
“Sara, listen to me. I am there in the kitchen with your dad.”
Sara blinked. “What?”
“He is afraid of me and trying to run from me. I am assuring him it’s okay. That I am here to help him.”
Sara’s voice grew shaky. “Don’t let him run away!”
I didn’t utter a word. Sara grew nervous as the seconds ticked on. “Mr. Kincaid, is he still there? Did he leave?”
I held up my hand for her to be quiet. “He is here. He is talking to me. He wants to tell you something.”
Sara fidgeted with her wedding ring. “What?”
“The reason he has been watching you is because he loves seeing you happy. He regrets how he treated you growing up. He ignored you and favored your brother and he is sorry.”
Sara began to cry. “How did you know I had a brother? How did you know my dad favored him and ignored me?”
“Because he is telling me that now, Sara.” I kept gazing at the photograph.
“Oh my God,” Sara clasped a hand over her mouth.
“He is sticking around because he likes seeing you happy. Yet it is also causing deep regret. He wanted to be the one to make you happy, but he didn’t. But the man you are married to now. You love him deep and he loves you, correct?”
“Yes, oh God, yes.” Sara’s tears flowed.
“But your father didn’t like your first husband. He just told me that. He said he is glad you aren’t with him anymore. He was too much like him.”
Sara sobbed harder. “Yes! Yes! How do you–”
I held up my hand again. “Shhhh. I’m talking to him. Trying to get him to move on.”
Sara drummed on her lips with her pointer finger.
“He said he is scared to go, Sara. I told him for once don’t be a coward. Make your daughter proud. Go face what lies beyond.” I reached for Sara’s hand.
Sara reciprocated and grabbed mine.
“He is hugging me, Sara. Weeping in my arms. He said he knows he needs to go. He said he is happy for you. He is happy you found your husband. He loves the man you are with very much. He said he has been watching and that your husband is good for you and what you have always deserved.” I squeezed her hand.
Sara sniffed and wept more.
“I told him to come on and go with John. Sara, who is John? The name came to me and I felt like I needed to tell him that.”
Sara let out choppy sighs. “Oh my God. John is his dad. My grandfather. My dad got him to stop drinking. How do you know this Mr. Kincaid? How?”
I ignored her question. “He wants to talk to you, Sara. He said he does love you and he wants you to forgive him.”
Sara cupped her hand over her mouth and tried to steady herself. “Daddy! I do forgive you! I love you and I am happy. Please don’t torment yourself. I know you are sorry for what you did. Please, move on.”
I let go of Sara’s hand. “A door has appeared. He is walking towards it. He is opening it. Sara, he is smiling. His face is bright.” I waited to see what would happen next. “Sara, he walked through the door. He’s gone.” I blinked and moved my eyes from the photo to Sara. “He has moved on.”
Sara laid her head on the table between her arms and wept solemn tears. “I can feel it. The weight is gone. He is gone. It’s like a cramp that has given way and let go.”
I reached and patted her hand. “I know. I know.”
Sara lifted her head and stared at he with glassy eyes. “Thank you, Mr. Kincaid.” Sara stood up from the table, shouldered her purse, and picked up the photograph. “Daddy,” she said and pressed it against her chest.
Sara walked toward the door. Her steps were lighter and her smile was brighter. She paused, then turned to face me. “Mr. Kincaid? What do you think the ‘they’ were?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know, Sara. We might never know. There is so much I don’t understand. Kinda of like the more I see and learn the less it all makes sense.”
“Yeah,” She said, meditating on my words. “Yeah.” She opened the door and stepped out into the sunlight.
“Indeed,” I whispered and pushed stop on my recorder. “Sometimes, it’s not just the living who need help moving on from the past… but the dead.”
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