We had hidden behind a tree, but it was still out to get us. The snarling black beast with red eyes had our scent.
It has seen us, first of all, as we cooed rather aimlessly over a hazelnut bush and ate newly formed cob nuts from freshly bit through casings. Any older and we’d have needed a hammer, but this early on they were perfect. The pale green treats had that pea sapling tang, as well as that deeper hum that spoke of chocolate and Christmas.
Phoebe had a hoodie full of the little treats and Kassie had been steadily munching her way through the wilderness for the last twenty minutes, when we sensed that something was looking at us. Then we heard it. At first we thought it was an abnormally loud gurgle from some stomach or other, and then we thought it was one of us messing around – until we had to finally admit to ourselves that the growl was external.
It wasn’t obvious. It wasn’t like one minute it was there and the next it wasn’t. I half think we became aware of a twitching in the foliage down by the river first – for we all turned in that direction. Then we saw the shadow move out from the undergrowth. But it was the teeth that did it. It sent us leaping backwards; caused our hearts to give out a thwack like a gong.
The grim was upon us.
The Gytash was coming for us.
The haunter of lonely roads – the watcher of travellers who go slightly astray – and we were assuredly lost.
The dog moved hesitatingly towards us. Doddering – walking forwards and then backwards – hackles raised. Snarling – teeth bare. Fangs hooking over the side of moist grey lips.
Some people say that the grim foretells your death. An omen of the inevitable that would prove to be correct.
First it leap at my sister, tore at her calf; chewing on her sinews. She shrieked and tried to move her way backwards. Hands in the grass. But the beast held on.
I ran at the dog full pelt. Skewering it to the ground with my body weight. It whipped round and clawed at my arms.
Phoebe held a rock in her hand, whilst Charlie held a branch. They swung together at the creature.
The rock hit off the dog’s head with a tremendous crack.
The branch snapped the dog’s legs, shattering the bones.
Its jaws finally relented and we pulled my sister’s mangled leg from its slack mouth. Blood flowed freely.
The creature whimpered, shuddered and died.
The Gytash is a Yorkshire myth – a big black dog that haunts lonely roads. Sometimes terrifying and at times leading people to safety. Strangely, when we saw a scary mythological part wolf machine, we decided to murder it brutally. And after a tetanus shot and a couple of rounds of rabies injections my sister is largely fine.