"The Hounds of Blairsden"
When I was in high school, my friends and I would drive around the Bernardsville Mountains, trying to defeat our boredom. Though my corner of New Jersey was filled with more local legends per acre than anywhere else I've ever lived, those roads were particularly ripe with folklore. And at night, they were terrifying.
If you grew up in Basking Ridge, you must have heard about Jacob's Ladder, the old winding road through the hills with the seven pronounced bumps, under which it was told were buried seven bodies.
One of the stories I'll never forget has to do with an old estate which stood at the top of a steep hill, overlooking a large mirror-like pond. Blairsden. The mansion's name was carved into a stone wall at the estate's ruined gate, just above a terribly creepy relief of a goat's head. That's right... a freakin' goat's head greeted any trespassers who were nervy enough to cross the gated off bridge which led from the road across a small creek. Past the gate was an abandoned driveway which hugged an overgrown hillside and which, once upon a time, led up the hill to the stone house at the top. I was a curious teenager. I explored this driveway one afternoon with a friend of mine. The scariest thing that happened to us was when we got back in my car and realized we were crawling with ticks.
But Blairsden came with a much creepier history than a mere insect infestation.
The house's story went like this: Blairsden was built by rich young man for his new bride. But before they even had a chance to share their perfect love nest, the poor girl died. The young man was left inconsolable. He moved into the house by himself. Supposedly, he bought himself a number of hunting dogs for sport, and also to keep himself company.
The dogs, however were no comfort. The man fell into a deep depression. One night, he drowned each dog in the pond at the base of the hill, before taking his own life.
A sad story... but it doesn't end there. Legend says that if you look into the water in the dead of night, you can see the glowing red eyes of the dogs looking back at you.
My friends and I would often freak ourselves out by driving by the pond, but we never saw the red lights for ourselves. This didn't stop us from trying... or going even further.
Though Blairsden's old driveway was locked and crumbling, a newer driveway had been built on the other side of the hill. The mansion itself had been turned into a rest home for retired nuns... or so we believed... which somehow made the house even spookier. On several occasions, my friends and I would drive all the way up to the house at night. Thinking back on it now, it seems like quite a rude thing to do, bothering the nuns like that. But at the time, we cherished every thrill we could get.
Past a ten foot wall, the driveway circled a long thin reflecting pool. Along the wall were stone busts of important looking men. My friends and I would drive quickly past them, holding our breath, hoping the nuns wouldn't chase us off the property... or call the police.
The last time I drove up to Blairsden, I was by myself. I'd come home on a break from college, and one night, I decided to check out the place for old-time's sake--the best kind of sake when you're on a break from college. The leaves were off the trees and the hills were especially dark. I pulled into the mansion's long driveway and tried to make my way up to the top, but when I reached the wall, I found the entrance chained off. I figured that maybe one too many people had had the same idea as my friends and I over the years, and the nuns had had enough.
I had put the car into reverse and was trying to pull a k-turn, when looking over my shoulder, I saw someone walking in the road behind me. I nearly hit him. The red tail lights reflected off a man in a long coat. He didn't look at me. Just kept walking by. I pulled forward and up the road. Looking into the rearview mirror, I noticed that he was walking at least four large dogs. I swear one of them looked back at me, its eyes glowing red...
I drove as fast as I could away from there...
I tried to fall asleep at my mom's house, but all night long, I heard a dog barking in the woods outside. I haven't been back to Blairsden since.
**** What do you think??? Real story, or did I make it up? Leave your vote in the comments below... Keep coming back. The more you vote, the better your chance to win a signed copy of The Stone Child. Winner will be revealed after Halloween!*****