AMBER LOVE 28-AUG-2017 My work is supported by the generous backers who tolerate my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmaskedand they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.
THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. INTERIOR. SECOND FLOOR BEDROOM.
It was 5:25PM. The New Jersey air was thick and damp. The kind of weather where it’s fine as long as you don’t move, but the second you take a step, your clothes are wet and stuck to you. I don’t like that kind of weather. Bad enough dealing with the bug world, but then I have my own sweat running down my back and into my butt crack like it’s taking a scenic drive on my body.
Detective Inspector Guster Nabu had been waiting all day for another walk. He had a morning ride in his orange buggy; he howled like the world was ending when Oliver had his own turn. Little did either of us know that it would truly feel like the world was ending later on.
I finished an early and quick dinner of vegetarian nachos on multigrain pita chips. I pulled on some full length leggings and socks. The boy was in his tower. I looked over and told him to follow me if he wanted a walk. I went ahead while he took the time to stretch and limber up before sauntering down the stairs to meet me in the dining room.
My ankle high boots are worn out from these walks. They don’t hold up against wet grass so my feet routinely get soaked through my socks. I told Gus to wait a moment while I went out back to cover myself and my parasol completely in OFF! bug repellent. I’ve trying to use the chemical shit since the far better smelling essential oil stuff wasn’t working. After a week, I can firmly say the chemical shit is no better and it also makes my sensitive lungs choke.
Back into the dining room where Gus hopped from the window ledge to the table and back and forth a few times, I finally got a hold of him and was able to strap his harness around him. I don’t know why he fights that part when it means we’re going out to explore, hunt, get eaten by bugs. All the things he likes to do. But he puts up a cat fuss anyway. Plus, he also hates the smell of bug spray and I’m pretty sure that’s one of the reasons he scurries away from me.
We exited out the “hobbit door” of the dining room which recesses down a couple steps; from the outside porch, anyone over four feet needs to duck to get into the house. Normally I use the other human-size door, but that exits to the driveway so for Gus’ walks, we go out the hobbit door.
This time he made a right and wrapped around to Ollie’s primary side of the house. Ollie’s tower looks out from the one set of enormous French sliding doors onto the slate slab patio currently covered again by weeds. Gus loves to smell this area but I suspect the pretty fountain which is never running is a mosquito birthing center. The herb garden is nice though.
Gus decided to skip part of the perimeter check and didn’t cover the grotto or the fairy garden this night. He went back through the vast open part of the yard and went directly to Bunny Hollow. Truthfully, he smelled around the Old Man’s garage first, but there was nothing to catch and he was quickly distracted by something in the thicket at the Bunny Hollow entrance. I bent down to look but didn’t see anything moving. Those bushes are thick though. Some parts are a maze of blackness splintered by prickly branches.
I knew the Old Man had been thinning out some of the overgrown prickly bushes and vines. My theory was he was going to finish that mystery dead end trail where Gus and I found his old ear blockers. That seemed to be case, but due to events, we never confirmed. We arrived at the opening of what I believe is the open end of that second trail. It was a good place to pause. All the branches blanketed the ground. Gus had a lot of new things to examine with the Super Smeller™.
Gus was deeply concentrating on something when I heard an unusually loud noise. It seemed to come from the sky but since sound can do strange things, I wasn’t sure if it was actually a suped up engine coming from the other side of the mountains. I looked down and the boy was fine doing his thing. Then the sound came back. It was like an airplane, but something was different about it. Airplanes you can tell are usually quite high up. Only tiny planes can land anywhere near us for Cessna fans. This noise, though, it was strange.
I looked down at Gus again and he hadn’t really moved. Sniffed one branch, moved on to another. There was typical “rush hour” traffic on the street in terms of modded cars and monster trucks which are totally ludicrous choices for average driving. Look, I’m redneck enough to admit I’m a Gravedigger fan, but I have to hear that shit every day and I’d like it quiet. I wondered, could this unbelievably loud noise be a new truck in town? Something bigger than I’ve seen before?
It got worse. Louder and louder. I looked up. The sky was so overcast, I thought if there was a plane up there it was covered, but wouldn’t be soon since it had to be plummeting out of the sky to crash into our yard or nearby. I envisioned it like a scene from Supergirl where the pilot desperately tries to regain control and then they’re saved by the Gal of Steel. But there was no Supergirl here. I was close to grabbing Gus more because I was terrified.
Then I thought about the scenes from Independence Day and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Maybe that’s not overcast clouds. Maybe it was a cloaking for a ship the size of all of New Jersey.
Then I saw it.
The trees shook. I felt panic. I thought something was coming. It was fast. In a couple blinks of my eyes, it was gone. Triangular. Military. Loud as fuck.
It’s been ages since I’ve tried to play Chuck Yeager’s flight simulator or even looked at models. An F-14? F-15? Larger?
Did that Assclown start a war? Should we take shelter?
It was gone. It became quiet, but only from the sky. I heard one more truck rumble passed. By then the wildlife in the back 40 acres had been distressed.
If you’ve never heard a deer bark or huff its warning cry, I have it on video (above: first couple seconds). You have to separate the passing truck noise but that unusual sound is a deer freaking the fuck out.
Gus and I were stricken with the fear in different ways. He understands beast-to-beast no problem. Whenever he hears a deer “barking,” he runs. I wanted to remain frozen. Gus was tethered securely on his leash and bolted out of the woods. I saw the top of the back door open and close. Another human was coming out to see what the hell was going on.
I managed to halt Gus and scoop him up. I carried him to a spot I know he likes but is out in the open. It’s the short border of a rock wall and shrubbery where we’ve watched the strays catch mice. It took him a couple minutes before he would sit. When he did, his tail flicked with obvious signs of agitation.
I think it was 15 minutes before Gus would take his eyes of the north end of the yard’s tree line and that’s not even where the deer was unless he could tell it had moved by use of his Super Smeller™ and sensitive cat radar.
He finally took two steps. Then three more. Then sat again. He only paused a minute or two before mustering the courage to get back up.
We walked back out of step to the beat of all the animals we could hear. The local burro voiced displeasure. The crows had been noisy all day instead of only at certain times. By 6-whatever o’clock, they were being weirder. We got back to the Bunny Hollow entrance and Gus quickly changed his mind when a rabbit caught his attention. It was running as fast it could from one yard to another and up the hill. Gus tried pursuing as it snuck into the bushes. I didn’t want him that riled after what we just went through.
Then I noticed the crows again. They deftly swooped like a helix in motion as they went low from tree to tree. Gus wasn’t interested. He led me around the turn to the extra wide trail we call The Boulevard which runs behinds several houses.
Gus was lit up with stimulation. Every moth, every hanging branch that caught his leash, every mosquito sent him to pop up his back and take a couple inches of air under his feet. He was determined like a bloodhound.
We hiked on until reaching the fork divided by a big old tree stump covered in vines. Go left to a dead end a few feet away or go right to another intersection of trails. Gus surprisingly chose the second option; usually I have to coax him to avoid a dead end. There was something he wanted. Something he couldn’t quite pinpoint in the trees because of the movement.
It was a family of squirrels just as freaked out as everyone else. There were two little ones so small I thought chipmunks had gotten really confused about where they lived. Here’s the odd thing about squirrels. They weigh, what? Like a pound or two. They chatter and crash through branches so loudly that it’s the forest is full of Predators. And since you often can’t see them but only notice the bouncing branches, that’s exactly what it feels like to be a human with a cat underneath them.
Oh, I had had enough. My heart was not done racing and Gus wanted to chase squirrels. Nope. I was done. I picked him up and had to deal with his squirming and crying. His squirming, by the way, is more difficult to handle than when he goes boneless with dead weight. My clothes now completely stuck to every inch of my body. My sunglasses coated in bug spray from lifting them up onto my toxic hair. And then there was my desire to cry that simply wasn’t coming. All those sensations — yeah, I was done.
I got the boy back to the house and unhooked him. He wasn’t pleased. Grandmère informed us that she had already taken half of a sedative. Yeah, I would be too. I was willing to see if I could calm down without substances and took a hot shower first. I even scrubbed the several days’ worth of bug repellent out of my hair and used my favorite lavender soap. I sat back on the bed for a few minutes. I checked over the video and photos I shot. Answered some tweets.
Nope. This body was not calming down. Half a sedative and some Netflix consumed before I started to mellow out.
All I heard was that Assclown in Chief was golfing at Bedminster yet again instead doing his real job. I was furious. That incredulous, monumental oaf was responsible for god know how many millions of dollars it cost for those jets to come out AND he made them terrorize New Jersey’s wildlife, domestic animals and humans. That fucking asshole is a spineless coward with the nuclear codes and I wouldn’t trust him to make the decision of a thumb-wrestling match.
The world was already watching him with seething fury as he defended neo-Nazis and modern white supremacists who killed a woman in Charlottesville. Always deflecting. Always shaking hands with that pick-up artist smirk on his face. Constantly siding with the despots and oppressors.
So, yes, I most definitely hated that man before this incident, but let me tell you, if I had seen him face to face and he didn’t have a platoon of Secret Service, I wanted to flay him alive, rip out his eyeballs, and throw them to the nearest coyote for a snack.
I was astonished that I slept at all. Even more shocked to my core when I saw the clock at 4AM because Gus and Oliver were wrestling, but then I didn’t see the clock again until 7AM. They let me stay in bed. Gus didn’t throw things off every shelf he can reach begging for his morning walk. The rain was pouring and the windows were open. He was there in his tower sleeping peacefully. I could not believe it.
I finally got up and he hopped down to have a good stretch before coming over for some loving scratches. I made coffee. Ollie came out from wherever he was. I took them out on the balcony where they ate catnip and snapdragons then slept for over three hours! I finally had to wake them up and bring them inside. Ollie was particularly annoyed. Gus followed me around while I procrastinated. Eventually I made my way to the desk to write this and he’s back in his tower curled up.
I couldn’t leave the story there. I did my own investigating (ok, so I typed into Google) and found the FAA site where pilots are supposed to check for messages about restrictions, detours, whatever. I scrolled down passed Arizona and Boston announcements. I found New Jersey’s posts. Sure enough something about the Secret Service and the restricted radius. Only emergency or pre-approved TSA flights were allowed to be the zone above Morristown.
Then I found a news article. It said that someone piloting a Cessna violated the posted restrictions on the zone and that’s what caused the military jets to take off and nearly shoot them down. At least, I don’t think they were shot down unless it was covered up masterfully.
We can be pretty confident that Gus’ next adventure will not be so harrowing. Stay tuned. If you’ve enjoyed the Adventures with Gus, consider supporting us on Patreon or sharing the links!
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of AmberUnmasked.com and Vodka O'Clock Podcast. Author of The Farrah Wethers Mysteries, comic book short stories, prose, and non-fiction. Cosplayer and figure model.