Somethings, are even more frightening when not seen. This is a story, of such a time. The boys were anxious to make an early start, Gary and James were brothers, Carl and Jesse were their cousins. The boys had grown up together, known each other their entire lives. The boys were country boys, used to the woods, hunting… and dogs.
Gary and James owned Old Sport, a Lab Retriever, fiercely loyal to them, as they were to him. He was coal black, fast as lighting, and as strong as could be. Old Sport easily towed two boys at a time when they went to the swimming hole on hot July afternoons.
Country boys don’t speak of love for their animals like some city folk do, It’s just there to them. They show the love with a pat on the head, or here sport, up on the bed call at night. They love their animals, the animals know it, and the animals love them back, that’s how it is in the country.
So it was no surprise that Old Sport was racing about the yard, this way and that, as the boys prepared to leave that morning. Sport loved to hunt as much as he loved the boys, today he would enjoy both, his young master, and the thrill of the hunt.
Sport was already sniffing the air, jumping and barking as the boys started up in to the hills. This was to be a fun trip to an old cabin back in the hills. An over-night sleep out that boys seem to love, as much as candy and Coca-Cola. Jesse the youngest always full of questions, nagged at Carl his older brother till Carl was ready to pop him on the side of his head and tell him to shut up a while. Old Sport with the magic knowledge that only dogs possess, quickly drew Jessee’s attention, into a game of fetch.
Gary and Carl both 13, each carried a rifle of 22 caliber. Both boys had been taught well the use of firearms, and learned it. For both had many times brought home rabbit, and small game for stew at home. Jesse and Jimmy knew if they behaved even reasonably well, their older brothers would allow them to crack off a few shots later on in the day. Both boys waited anxiously for this to come about.
The true hunt wouldn’t begin until the following morning, but if Old Sport scared up a rabbit, they would surely take a shot at it. But in truth all the boys were really interested in was getting up to the cabin, shedding there clothes and jumping in the huge swimming hole and playing the day away. Then hunting there way back down the hill early next morning. This had been their pattern for many weeks and it was comfortable to them.
Jimmy, Jesse and Sport now ran up ahead playing, as Gary and Carl hung back, rifles safely tucked down and away under there arms. The boys walked slowly forward as the July sun was now making any effort a sweaty business. “Bout a mile and a half to go”, spoke Carl, “yep”, answered Gary, his eyes keenly looking into brush. “Want to stop at the clearing just up from the cabin and let the young-ins shoot a spell” asked Gary “I reckon,” answered Carl.
It was then Gary stopped, and closely looked all around, “What” asked Carl. “Duntno”, said Gary.. “something don’t feel right.” Carl eyes followed where Garys had been. “Don’t see nothing”, spoke Carl.. “AWWW come on its hot lets go” Gary was uneasy, he had no idea why, and didn’t like the feeling. But was also aware his cousins ability to tease, was acute, so shrugged it off, and continued on.
The boys reached the clearing, and enjoyed watching their brothers shout with glee every time there aim was true and bark jumped off a tree. The rest of the day was spent laying out bed rolls, and swimming in the pond. The boys had brought bread and lunch meat and water, and were quite content at the days end to lay about on their bed rolls, and talk as boys do. Old Sport laying between Jesse and Jimmy, as dusk turned to dark.
The boys talked on and on endless boy talk, sports, summer plans, then ghost stories. Jimmy and Jessee loved these stories and begged for there brothers to tell them. Even though it meant, also begging to sleep with them when they finished the tales. The night had cooled considerably, and a mist was forming outside. Which could be seen clearly through the one cabin window. A perfect night for ghost stories, and thrills.
The boys were huddled close, chill bumps starting to form on their arms. Carl was telling about a headless man who looked for little boys who stayed out to late at night. Jimmy and Jessee’s eyes were as big as could be and holding their breath till when Carl would jump at them and try to scare them, which he managed to do quite well every time he told the story.
The stories went on for some time. The night sounds outside the cabin adding to each tale. Old Sport lay across the two youngest laps as they petted and stroked him and listened to their brothers. Sport all at once rose up and faced the door. Leaning low, as if to attack, a low growl forming in his throat.
The boys were motionless, shocked and fear held them frozen. Sport, was seeing, smelling or hearing some thing… they couldn’t, and Sport knew it was bad. The Little ones moved to there brothers and protective arms found both their shoulders. No words passed between them yet only the bond of brothers was spoken, silently.
Carl passed a rifle to his cousin, Gary pulled back the action on his single shot 22. As Carl crawled toward his own 22. Jesse finely broke the silence between them. “Is it a bear”, he asked. “No…shhhhhhh”, said his brother. “But what is it then”, whimpered Jimmy. “Dang it Jimmy, be quiet”, hissed Gary. The two oldest boy’s rifles at ready inched towards the only window. Sport moved again to block them. Both boys inched back. Then they heard… first as if from a distance, but quickly growing louder, a low and very sharp scream, but not a human one… not human at all….
A foul odor begins to fill the cabin, the boys tense and scared, now were becoming terrified. Jesse and Jimmy began to whimper, Gary and Carl were close to it as well. Only Sport seemed fearless as his back fur rose up and his growl deepened to match the scream.. of what ever was out there.
The boys now heard it clearly just outside the door. The stench, and screaming was more then they could deal with, rifles forgotten, they now huddled together, tears on all their cheeks. Their eyes locked to the flimsy cabin door with it’s small wood bolt, the only thing keeping “IT” out.
Then with a mighty leap Sport crashed through the window. The sound of his growl and attack, filled the night air. And as quickly as it began, it ended. The stench drifted away… the scream went silent, and Sport ceased to be heard.
The small lantern inside the cabin, the only source of light begin to flicker. The boys so terrified, not one of them moved to check it. Nor because of their fear would they open the door to call Sport home. At some point in the night they found the safety of sleep.
Early dawn light spilled in through the shattered window, and as they woke, each boy was sure a nightmare was what happened during the night. None of the boys spoke, and no one moved toward the door. Then a whimper was heard just outside the door, a whimper Gary knew well it was Sport. He moved to the door quickly now with the courage of morning light to chase away night fears.
All the boys bare-footed and still fearful from the night before, went through the door… each one bumping into the other as the first boy froze in his tracks. All their eyes focused on Sport, their savior, he still stood guarding the door to the cabin, but weak oh so weak and shaking slightly… and his beautiful jet black fur, now as white as snow.
There are many instances of human hair being turned white almost instantly by shock or deep terrifying fear. This story happened to our uncles. As relayed by my grand mother. As a youth myself I once asked one of my Uncles about this story and Old Sport. My Uncle, just sort of stared away from me, lowered his head a little, and softly said, ” best dog there ever was”, and wouldn’t or couldn’t say any more.