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The Haunting of Sigma
A Dogman Legend

by Frank Holes Jr.



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Updated:  August 15, 2008

Click here for the website of the first Dogman novel:
Year of the Dogman
The Haunting of Sigma by Frank Holes Jr. - Release Date: July 4, 2008
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Michigan's Dogman:  
Myth or reality?


With a master’s in educational leadership from Central Michigan University, and an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Michigan State University, Frank Holes, Jr. teaches literature, writing, and mythology at the middle school level and was recently named a regional Teacher of the Year. He lives in Northern Michigan with his wife Michele, son James, and daughter Sarah.  


Copyright 2008, Frank Holes, Jr.

All Rights Reserved


From Chapter 1:

...  A deep sigh escaped the old man’s throat.  Sigma was dying, he thought.  The old are getting older and dying off, and the few young’uns were escaping as fast as they could.  A few years from now this could all be gone.  Just a few abandoned buildings along a few dusty and potholed roads.  The entire place could disappear and nobody would even miss it.  Nobody would know the town was gone.  Nobody would know it ever existed. 


Slowly the creature approached the accident from the driver’s side.  It walked fearlessly on its hind legs, claws clicking on the hard packed road surface.  The truck’s headlights shown on either side of the great oak, and in the left beam the driver could be seen lying lifeless in the tangle of shrubs and ferns.  The cloud of dust had more than caught up with the truck and the particles wafted their way through the headlights.  The creature looked on at the driver for a few more seconds before baring its large canine teeth.  A low growl emanated from the depths of its throat.  It wasn’t really loud, but then again, it didn’t have to be.  Then, as unexpectedly as it had appeared, it dropped to all fours, bounded across the road, and disappeared into the dense forest on the other side. 


All across Sigma Township folks sprang out of bed at the noise.  Wives clutched their husbands, who displayed the best false bravado they could; that howl was unnerving even the grown men.  Kids screamed for their parents.  Dogs, at first braying at doors, later on whimpered to the safety of their masters.  Most first thought it was a wolf, but the longer it carried on, the less it sounded like any normal animal.  Off and on the deep, throaty howl cascaded through the near total darkness of Sigma.  Even after it stopped about an hour later, most folks stayed awake the rest of the night, shaking and shivering, unable to get that horrible sound out of their heads. 


From Chapter 2:

...  Everyone in the little community was up and going very early Monday morning.  Most, like Joe and Bev had their own chores and work to start up anyway.  Some, like Jack and Mitchell, had businesses to run.  But for the rest, the sun peeking its powerfully bright face over the top edge of the Au Sable Forest brought a final sense of relief from the night’s torment.  The skies were clear and blue.  This glorious morning could almost make them forget the terror they’d felt only hours before.  They could almost forget the hours they’d laid awake, hearts racing, eyes darting at every shadow in their rooms.  They could almost forget how tired they were from the lack of sleep.  They could almost forget the haunting images their imaginations created for them, terrifying specters in their minds.


The people went about their business trying to forget.  No one mentioned it to anybody else.  Not that they thought they wouldn’t be believed.  Not at all.  There was no doubt everyone for miles around had heard that awful howling.  They didn’t talk about it because if they did, it became real.  It would escape from their imagination.  They’d have to give it a name.  And that made the specters real.

If it were real, they might have to do something about it.  If it was real, it might not just fade away like early morning mist out in the Dredge.


“But you know, I found the strangest thing as I looked over the scene.”

Todd gazed over his glass at his friend.  “What’s that?”

“Footprints,” Eric said slowly and deliberately.  “Footprints in the dust of the road.  No cars were through there, so there was nothing to disturb the scene.  I saw footprints.  Well, not actually human footprints.  These were a canine’s prints, they seemed like those from a wolf, but they were odd too.”

“How’s that,” Todd asked, intrigued.

“There weren’t enough of them,” Eric stated flatly.  “They were spaced a few feet apart, but you’ve seen wolf tracks, they always bunch up when the four legs are moving.  They’re always close.  These were wide, almost like, I don’t know, almost like…”  He trailed off.

“Almost like what?” Todd pushed.

“Almost like there weren’t enough feet to make enough tracks.”  He’d neglected to tell his friend about the story the old timers told him at the store early in the morning.  His mind couldn’t stop connecting that hideous noise in the dark with those unidentifiable tracks.  But that was a mental connection he’d keep to himself just yet.  He wasn’t about to tell his fellow co-workers and have them think he’d lost it himself.  But he also couldn’t keep it all in; he’d feel better if he could confine just a little with Todd, who was probably the closest friend he had on the DNR staff.  Besides, the ambulance and the sheriff’s car wiped out the evidence when they arrived.  There was nothing to back up Eric’s story or his musings.

“One other thing,” Eric said, looking around for a moment to be sure no one else was listening in on them.  That wasn’t hard because they were the only two left in this section of the bar.  “They weren’t the nice, finished off prints of a wolf.  Usually you can see the back of their paw, the footpad, you know, really well.  In these prints, the print is elongated, almost as if it was dragged.  Or as if the paw was long in some way, longer than a normal wolf’s track should be.”

“That’s absurd,” Todd said, leaning back in his chair. 

“I know, it should be,” Eric said, locking eyes with Todd.  “I know it sounds crazy, but the tracks almost looked human in a way, you know, the way human prints will trail off toward the heel, especially if the weight is on the balls of the feet.

“I know, it sounds crazy.  Maybe it is.  But I know what I saw.  Something ain’t right out there.  I’m not sure I want to go and find it out, but some part of me does want to go looking for whatever made those tracks.  To see what it really is.”


The bright headlights created a cinema-like show featuring a star unlike any ever created in a Hollywood special effects department.  The creature wasn’t quite on all fours, and yet it wasn’t quite standing on two legs either.  Jimmy Dean was intrigued by this.  It was sort-of halfway in between, transitioning, in the process of standing upright.  Its long arms (front legs) were hanging down, knuckles just above the hard packed road, claws at the end of each front finger (yes, they were fingers, visible even from here) clicking and scraping at the dust.  It was completely covered in dark fur.  The creature’s shoulders and head were turned into the oncoming vehicle.  It opened its muzzle, revealing long, sharp canines.  Pointed ears wiggled in the light.  Jimmy Dean was sure it was some sort of gigantic wolf, and yet that face, formed by the muzzle and the glowing yellow eyes, was surprisingly, even shockingly human.  Horribly, it seemed to be grinning evilly at him. 


From Chapter 3:

...  Stevie knew exactly what was out in the forest darkness.  He’d heard the song, and he believed it. 

His grandfather took out his hearing aids each night before retiring to bed.  He didn’t have to worry about hearing any crazy sounds in the depths of the night beyond their house. 

Though Stevie had only heard the howling in the distance last night, it was something else that had spooked him so badly he’d wet the bed for the first time in fifteen years. 

Outside the thin panes of window glass, scratching sounds could be heard.  Stevie recognized two distinct noises – one was the sound of scratching on the dry, hard packed ground of their backyard.  He was pretty sure it was toe claws grating on the multitude of pebbles and rocks.  The second was the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  Only this, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, was claws scraping on the little barn-shaped utility shed behind their trailer. 

The song had first played on April Fool’s Day, Stevie knew that for a fact.  He almost didn’t make it to work, as he was certain the Dogman was going to jump out of the woods and knock him right off his bike.  The forest seemed a bit creepier to him since that song started playing, a bit more dark, dank, and foreboding.  

He hadn’t set foot in the woods all spring or summer. 

And now, hearing those awful sounds in the darkness (and yes, it was very dark at their home – they didn’t have any of those fancy outdoor lights, no thank you), Stevie knew that the creature had somehow left the confines of song and radio and emerged in reality here in his little town.  The Dogman had come to Sigma. 


From Chapter 4:

...  At one point Lloyd was worried a fight might actually break out.  But the men managed to keep their strong opinions in check.  The bar tender, the only one sober in the room, managed to carefully steer the conversation from one patron to another just when things started getting steamy. 

“Fellas, fellas, let’s just relax a bit here.  Maybe it’s that Dogman they’re always talkin about on the radio,” Lloyd offered, calming the conversation down a bit.  That brought a mixture of laughing, sputtering, and various cursing from the assembly.  Various stories of the Dogman started flying around the bar, mostly in the form of jokes to be played on the tourists.  

A few minutes later, the bar once again lapsed into quietude. 

“I tell you what,” Wade said slowly and carefully, “if this continues another night, we might need to have a gatherin’.  Maybe it’s time we take the bull by the horns.  Maybe we need to go out there in force and make it shut up.  Then we all could get some real sleep.” 

Again heads nodded up and down the bar.  Even Jeff was in agreement, though his was silent.  His gaze was focused out past the cigar smoke and on through the dusty windows of the bar to where the street met the darkness and the Dredge beyond.  Time for a bit of action, he thought to himself.


Folks had laughed and joked all spring about the Dogman.  A crazy song, fit for April Fool’s Day.  The more it played, the more they found it amusing.  Imagine that, a monster in their backyards.  It was laughable.

But nobody laughed, nobody joked now.  Nightmares in Sigma had become far too real. 

Some loaded bags, and some loaded guns.  And everybody stayed awake. 


From Chapter 5:

...  And what he saw chilled him to the bone in a way he’d never been frightened in his life.  There at the edge of the dim, fading light from Allen Wallace’s house trailer across the street was a shadowy figurine lurking

He could see it, walking on two legs in a hunched over way, its arms dangling out in front of its chest.  No trick of the light, it appeared fuzzy at the edges, indicating it was covered in fur.  The head above the thick shoulders and back was topped by two pointed ears.  And very distinctly, a long muzzle like that of a dog or wolf poked out from the figure’s face. 

Lloyd stared unblinking at the creatures as it stole its way along the edge of the street toward the ball field. 

Very slowly, Lloyd’s hand reached up to the room’s light switch.  The creature’s head seemed to be swiveling slowly from right to left.  As soon as its attention turned to the ball field and the Dredge, Lloyd flicked the switch off, entombing the bar in darkness.  He could still see out the dirty windows, and was still rooted to the very spot. 

The creature’s head snapped to focus directly at the bar, and in the blackness of that face he could see the glowing yellow eyes, piercing the night, penetrating the double paned windows and stabbing right into the heart of Lloyd Horner. 


I hope you have enjoyed this sneak preview of The Haunting of Sigma.  Look for it in bookstores and online.  You can also find special bundles featuring our novel with Steve Cook’s The Legend: Legacy Edition CD set.  It is the perfect gift for those who enjoy a good, scary campfire story that has just the littlest bit of truth to it. 


You can also find more information, as well as updates on the Dogman legend and novels, on our website.  There are reports of sightings and encounters, as well as a place for the kids to submit their own fictional Dogman stories.  And we offer educational discounts for teachers and schools.  Check us out at:

Latest News: July 14, 2008

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From the back cover of the novel:

"The creature would suffer the best mankind could throw at it and still survive.  It could live through crashes and impacts of every sort.  It wasn’t a werewolf, and couldn’t be taken down by silver bullets, nor by any bullets of any sort.  It had survived the ravages of fire and ice, of great storms and time eternal.  It had seen the rise and fall of many native civilizations, and it had even aided the destruction of cultures.  Its roots traced back to the blackest of supernatural magic.  It wasn’t any sort of animal native to our world.  And it was a far cry from its once human origins. 

"Days were quiet and nights were silent.  That was the one nice aspect of the little community out in the woods.  Very little excitement ever happened.  Folks’ lives generally followed their basic routines.  They worked hard.  They played hard.  In many cases they drank hard.  The community was fairly close-knit; everyone knew each other. It was a rare event that an outsider bothered anybody or anybody got themselves really riled up.  At least it was that way until that third week of June, 1987.  The haunting of Sigma had begun, and the town’s days were numbered."

In The Haunting of Sigma, Frank Holes, Jr. returns fans of the legendary Dogman to the wild world of cryptozoology in Northern Michigan .  This darker, far more sinister prequel to Holes’s first novel fully establishes his hold upon the imaginations of readers all over the Midwest .  June 1987 ushers in the hot, dry summer season, but something else far more horrifying has taken up residence in the deep wilderness in Kalkaska County .  The Dogman, a supernatural combination of canine and man, has returned to wreck havoc upon the tiny, sleepy community of Sigma.

Eric Martin, a young conservation officer with a propensity for trouble, uncovers clues to a mysterious beast stalking the dense forests.  The townsfolk share nightmarish accounts of horrifying grunts and howls that permeate the dark hours.  Gigantic, mysterious wolf-like prints are scattered at the scene of several ‘accidents’ and vandalized properties.  Pets come up missing, and livestock are slaughtered mercilessly.  A number of residents disappear completely in the chaos.  Phone lines go dead and the power is lost unexpectedly.  And the clues all connect back to a preposterous folklore song about an even more unbelievable legendary creature. 

Some folks packed their bags to escape the madness.  Some folks loaded guns in an attempt to solve the problem themselves.  And every night during that long week, everyone stayed awake.  Only a handful have discovered the creature’s true identity, but they may be far too late to save the desperate inhabitants and the little village from total destruction.  In this terrible prequel to the regional thriller, Year of the Dogman, Frank Holes, Jr. yet again spins a tale of suspense and horror as Sigma counts down its last few days of existence. 


In the seventh year of the '80s decade, the Dogman arrived in the  little northern Michigan community of Sigma...and it was never the same again...   

The Haunting of Sigma
a novel by
Frank Holes Jr.

Terrorizing the North, July 4, 2008!



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