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A Church Grim (AKA Kirk Grim) is a kind of supernatural black dog. Unlike most other kinds of supernatural black dogs, this one is a guardian spirit, rather than an aggressive four legged embodiment of your imminent death.

Let's say you're an early Christian. You've just completed building your new church, cemetery included, and old Mr. grapples-with-wolves up the road has finally got himself killed after years of wolf wrangling. What do you do?

Why, find a pitch black dog and bury it alive before burying the other guy, of course!

Cemeteries needed a guardian, because if there wasn't a guardian around to protect the newly dead, Satan himself could just waltz right in and take his pick of the ectoplasmic litter. The first thing buried in a new cemetery was the volunteer. In order to save a human being from the job, a pitch black dog was chosen. It would die, then rise up in spirit to keep the satanic riff-raff out of the church and the cemetery.

Similar practice was done to a lamb, only instead of guarding against the devil, the lamb would ensure that nothing catastrophic would happen to the church-building itself.

Seeing a spectral Church Grim is- if not straight up bad luck, then at least a portent of a Significant Event. Seeing the lamb signals that a child is going to die. Both of these points are moot if you are the minister of the church in question, in which case you'll just be wondering who the hell keeps letting these animals wander around your church yard.

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(This is the product of writer's block and an Internet website that yells at you when you stop typing for a certain amount of time).

Sometimes on a dark night in the church's cemetery, one would see the silhouette of a large, black dog sitting at the gate’s entrance. It would be there for a brief moment, and then disappear, leaving the viewer to usually mark it off as the night playing mind games. This night, however, the dark shadow sat on top of a hill, watching a second dog spirit trot over to meet him.

"They stopped doing this church grim thing a long time ago," It said, sitting next to the smaller dog, "How are you the new guy?"

"Well, I was playing and this landslide-"

"Suckered into it by the last grim, got it."

"What are we? What do we do?"

"Well," The larger dog thought for a moment, "We're suppose to be protectors of the churchyard. The humans buried us here so that, well, frankly, so that they didn't get stuck with the job."

"Who are we protecting the church from?"

"Demons and whatnot."

The smaller dog snorted. "And what in the name of all things bright and shiny do those humans think we can do against the dark forces?"

"I don't know. Maybe that's why they stopped doing this church grim thing."

"Not to mention the fact that, what are demons going to do with a bunch of corpses?"

The elder ghost got up, "Reanimate them. Possibly using them to get the dead one's friends and family on to the devil's side. Let's go patrol by the front gate."

The smaller dog followed his guide, "Well, so what? Don't the humans already know those guys are dead? Wouldn't they do something about it, like, I don’t know, kill them again?"

"Some people have qualms about cutting down zombie loved ones."

"Not me. If I ever saw my uncle Rover coming at me, I'd flip my little doggy shit. He fell in a crop shredder, you see, so he's not a pretty sight."

"Please stop talking."

"I was just saying. Anyway, how long do we have to be here? A week? Maybe two?"

"I've been here since the 1800s."

"So...a couple of weeks minimum?"

"We're suppose to stay here until the end of the world. The only reason the last church grim got off was because you came along."

"Can't I just get some other dog to take my place, too?"

"A future church grim needs to be buried alive on the church grounds. If that were to happen, you can go."

The smaller dog sat. "Can't you be the church grim?"

"I'm already taking care of my own church; I just came here to help you out."

"Well, maybe-" The younger spirit's ears perked up. "Do you hear that?"

In the silence that followed, both church grims heard the sound of footsteps crunching through the dead leaves. The younger grim shot off into the dark, tripping over his own feet and barking at the top of his lungs. His desperate attempts at running managed to slow him down enough for the second dog spirit to stroll calmly next to him and still make it to the creature that had just entered the cemetery before him.

The older church grim sat at the angel's feet while the second dog ran in circles around the angel, barking and trying to bite the light the angel cast on the ground.

"What can we do for you?" The bigger grim asked.

The angel snapped his fingers, sending the smaller dog running, and looked down at the one by his feet. "We've been collecting the church grims for a while now. If you're ready to come home, we'll be happy to take you."

"Home?" The dog asked as his friend ran back at the angel, only to turn around and run away again. "Home where?"

"Heaven, of course. You are dead, aren't you?"

"Well, why didn't you come get us sooner?"

"It's a long story."

"Won't the people who buried us here be a little- Stop that barking, he's a friend!- upset if we just up and left?"

"Who cares? They're long gone."

The smaller dog jumped at the angel. "How do you know he's a friend, he could be- wait, we can't go. We're suppose to be protecting the cemetery."

The angel snorted. "What's the devil going to do with a bunch of corpses? Besides, we got people taking care of this stuff."

The dogs stared at the angel, then shrugged their little doggy shoulders. "Ok."

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