THE WINCHESTER-NABU DETECTIVE AGENCY
AMBER LOVE 01-JAN-2018 My work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. Also, I’m an Amazon Influencer so you can shop through my personal recommendations and buy my books with these handy links below:
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ADVENTURES WITH GUS – CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR: TWO HOUNDS OF THE BASKERVILLES
- Chapter One – The Great Hunt
- Chapter Two – The Great Escape
- Chapter Three – The DaVinci Plan
- Chapter Four – On the Wild Side
- Chapter Five – The Leash I Could Do
- Chapter Seven – The Two Snakes
- Chapter Eight – Heat Wave
- Chapter Nine – The Sleepless Detective
- Chapter Ten – Baby Beasts
- Chapter Eleven – The Blue Dahlia
- Chapter Twelve – Stray Cat Strut
- Chapter Thirteen – The Strange Case of DI Nabu and Mr. Hyde
- Chapter Fourteen – Gus and the Grumpy Old Man
- Chapter Fifteen – The Night of the Hunter
- Chapter Sixteen – On Dangerous Ground
- Chapter Seventeen – Escape in the Fog
- Chapter Eighteen – World of Witcherscape
- Chapter Nineteen – Romancing the Stone
- Chapter Twenty – Where the Sidewalk Ends
- Chapter Twenty-one – Out of the Fog
- Chapter Twenty-two – The Moletiverse
- Chapter Twenty-three – To Kill a Woodpecker
- Chapter Twenty-four – Follow Me Quietly
- Chapter Twenty-five – Hell’s Half Acre
- Chapter Twenty-six – Black Snake Moan
- Chapter Twenty-seven – Night of Terror
- Chapter Twenty-eight – Spellbound
- Chapter Twenty-nine – Ghost Rider
- Chapter Thirty – Chips in the Wall
- Chapter Thirty-one – Of Mice and Men
- Chapter Thirty-Two – The Fairies’ Dancing Place
- Chapter Thirty-Three – The Lovely Bones
Where we left off…
THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. MORNING. SOUTH HIKING TRAILS.
Unbeknownst to Gus and I, our morning adventure would present us with some death-defying moments. I recall it being a lovely day for December. The sun was out for roughly an hour. By the time we got outside, the grey of winter’s cloak cocooned us. Still, it was reasonably pleasant temperature-wise. Gus asks to go out every day, but some days he seems to keep the activities brief compared to his two hour-long summer hikes.
I think I’ll need to incorporate some other confidence training with these boys on the sly. Oliver comes out of his shell through a simple game of pitching and hitting paper balls. Gus gets his mojo up when he’s chasing Oliver and when he’s in panther mode outside. The problem I’ve witnessed is that Gus loses all that mojo around strange humans and animals that are not on his prey list.
If it’s another cat wandering into Gus’ territory, the reaction is only somewhat predictable. He wants to go after the intruder just as he does with chipmunks, squirrels, and birds. The problem arises when Gus is inside and not even allowed to put on a brave show to the strange cat. Ollie gets so upset at intruders that it leads to the two of them at each other’s throats quite literally. The fights are the worst!
On this walk, Gus had already run back to the door twice when he got scared by loud machinery driving by. It’s one of those unpredictable situations. Sometimes, he’s so focused and happy to be out that he doesn’t care about loud trucks. Other times, he gets so terrified, he runs. Don’t forget he’s leashed. So unless he gets away, Gus trying to bellycrawl sprint means he’s terrified and being held back against his will by me, the large human anchor. We ran back to the door twice, but I knew it was nice day and that he’d want to be back outside in two minutes. Instead of letting him in, I kept him out and waited for him to calm down.
We resumed our perimeter check of the property then began our hike. My SuperSmeller™ kept detecting hints of skunk nearby. They may be hibernating close to the trails. After about an hour of peaceful walking, Gus and I saw a squirrel at the base of a large tree. We were near the end of the “boulevard,” the widest trail. There’s a bottleneck in the trail and then it opens up to a scenic overlook. The thing about this trail is that it’s the actual border of other backyards which is why certain residents feel it’s acceptable to dump their shit in the woods when they have such easy access.
This particular squirrel who greeted us at the entrance to the overlook, may have been a maging, one of the local magickal creatures. It was so cute but disappeared in the blink of an eye.
“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
As I said, the tree was enormous. Gus has only attempted to climb anything like that once before and barely made it off the ground. And that tree was still considerably smaller in circumference.
Gus has steadily advanced his parkour training and though, not an expert yet, he has reached a certain mastery of smaller trees up to I’d say eighteen inches in diameter. Those parkour practices are often posted to our Instagram with still pictures and videos. Therefore, this large tree caused Gus to pause at the base of it. He looked up and all around trying to find the squirrel. Our position was perilous though. If we had only gone passed the tree into the overlook spot, it wouldn’t have been so unusual to see us there. However, with Gus on the side of the tree, he was positioned right at the opening into someone’s backyard. Someone who owned two large dogs.
“He said that there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. but I did – some little distance off, but fresh and clear”
“A man’s or a woman’s?”
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered: “Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
I tried to keep still at first to see if Gus would finish up his stalking so we could be on our way. Both dogs looked like Labradors, a pale strawberry-blonde one and an even bigger black one. They were free-roaming as they were in their own backyard so that wasn’t a shock. The human walked through his yard and noticed us. I nervously waved and said, “Hi,” like a burglar being caught in the act.
I looked down at Gus and back at the dogs. They were no longer statues staring at us. They were dead focused on us and charging! My reaction time was too slow in my attempt to scoop Gus into my arms. He was already on his way up the tree.
Hounds barking! They surrounded us as well as two dogs can. It was military precision. The pale one stayed about three feet away, clearly the meaner of the two. He growled and barked, feet planted in a way that he could push off the ground and leap on top of me if he needed to. The black one barked but had his tongue lolling out. He seemed kind of happy to meet a stranger. I took that cue to pet him and noticed the choker chain collar, the style I’ve heard almost all dog trainers denounce as a source of obedience because they can cause injuries.
I looked back and Gus was puffed up, hair on end. He was Halloween-catting out of my reach while only his claws held him in place on the tree. I was so worried for him because I wanted him to know that he would be safe if I held him. The black dog could easily have stood up and reached Gus in my arms and I guess Gus realized that. He didn’t see the friendliness in that dog at all. The pale one was still in place growling.
I checked again to see that Gus wasn’t falling and used my hands to dig into my bag for some old stale cat treats. I fed them to the black dog who inhaled them in a gulp. I know you shouldn’t feed a strange pet without asking because you don’t know if an animal has allergies, but I was trying so hard to reach an accord. The pale dog didn’t sway to my gesture of good will.
Thankfully, the owner called them and the dogs obeyed perfectly. They galloped to their human without even looking back at us. Then I had to convince Gus to come down. It’s obviously been a good thing Gus and I have been training with tree and rock climbing so much because it saved him from being a snack that day.
The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency could write this off as a mere case of guard dogs in their backyard. However, things are not always so transparent. The “boulevard” trail is also the place where Gus and I have found three tarps in the woods. They used to be covered by the overgrowth of foliage and unkempt prickly bushes. Now in the beginning of winter, they’re so easy to spot.
We investigated the story behind one of the tarps previously in the case of Lillian Opal Foster, a suffragette and radical feminist who set traps for evil men chasing her through the woods. There are still two other tarps along with other debris still unexplained.
THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. INTERIOR. OFFICE.
Back at the agency, we reviewed our story with Professor Oliver Winchester. The cold case files were analyzed again. We believe there’s a connection between the tarp closest to the property these dogs guarded and a large blue barrel Gus found deep in the woods off-trail.
Oliver suggested we refer back to the famous case solved by none other than Mr. Sherlock Holmes. When Holmes was hired to investigate terrifying large dogs with glowing eyes, there are several witnesses. The town feasted on the urban legend much like Americans have done with Area 51. Mr. Holmes closed his case by explaining away the evil hound sightings as hallucinations caused by mind-altering toxins poisoning the environment (at least in the two versions of the case we reviewed; there may be discrepancies).
A random barrel found in the woods is most certainly suspicious. Couple that with tarps and it seems like the Winchester-Nabu case may resemble the Holmes-Watson case of the Baskervilles. The details got even more bizarre. Poisons have seeped into the grounds where humans live for a lot of sad reasons. Sometimes it’s intentional polluting by companies that don’t want to be careful about how they get rid of waste. Sometimes that’s the exact same reason individuals do it on their own property like dumping used motor oil right on the ground. There are many Native American tribes who have speaking and warning about this very thing for ages. They get arrested instead of heard even after massive tragedies like the Clearwater Horizon or the many mainland oil spills from broken pipelines.
THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. LATE MORNING. INTERIOR.
Two days before Christmas, there was commotion at the property at approximately half past eleven. We saw a vehicle with emergency lights go up the driveway to the main residence on top of the mountain. Then one by one, more showed up. Trucks of various sizes. Two ambulances. They were from the fire department, police, and EMS. Different municipalities too not even just ours. The regular size fire truck showed up and they were told to wait and see if they were truly needed; navigating up there would be complicated with all those other vehicles. Fire fighters left the big rig and got into the bed of a pickup truck and followed the convoy up the hill. Guster Nabu watched from his private residence on the second floor.
The Grumpy Old Man read the text alerts and said two people (the owners of the acreage and house up there) were on the floor, conscious. Then there was a message that it was possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Fortunately, it was not, so the rescue workers were all safe. The people are old, nearly 100. Plus the wife is almost completely blind from cataracts. Worse though, the husband has shown signs of dementia and only recently stopped driving after he had a car accident.
The groundskeeper of their property visits them daily. He knocked on the door on Tuesday the 19th and no one answered; he didn’t go in because they told him they like to sleep late. By the next day when they didn’t answer the door again, he found them. They probably don’t even know how long they were there on the floor. The groundskeeper came down and checked in with us after the people were taken to the hospital.
Gus came in to see who arrived, but quickly made himself scarce. Talking to people isn’t really his thing. Oliver took over the inquiry at that point. He rubbed against the man’s ankles to frisk him presumably. Then he hopped up on a chair to get a better vantage point for his interview. The facts were already getting distorted by misinformation. The men present kept referring to CO2 when the original message said CO, carbon monoxide not carbon dioxide. It became frustrating to watch the witnesses fudge their statements!
At this point, we’re not absolutely sure what happened. While it is possible something was in the air that affected the elderly humans, it’s also possible they both fell because they’re old and slipped. The angered dogs maybe aren’t being chemically altered into beasts with glowing eyes. But then again, maybe they are.
Basic Safety Tips from the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency:
- Have smoke alarms.
- Check your smoke alarms every six months to make sure the batteries are working.
- Have carbon monoxide detectors in open areas of your house on each floor. You can get the ones that plug directly into outlets instead of using batteries.
- If you are risk for anything like severe allergic reactions to bees, food; or if you have a mobilization disability; or if you are elderly (don’t be embarrassed) – get an alarm system that you can operate if you fall or can’t speak. People make jokes about the commercial all the time (I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!) but it’s a very real scenario and should be taken seriously.
- Make the acquaintance of your neighbors and don’t be shy about checking in on people if you haven’t seen them for a while. I know I wasn’t personally great at this if I didn’t “like” certain neighbors, but once I became friendly with someone I had a person I could count on. I could leave them messages to check on my cat and give a spare key for emergencies. Obviously, only give a key if you have utmost confidence and trust in someone.
- Have a sign visible [#ad] in the front door or in windows about how many pets and people are likely to be inside. There are even signs to let rescue workers know that an animal inside is a service animal [#ad] and not to separate them from their human handler.
- Clean up chemicals that may spill like antifreeze which animals tend to ingest.
- And for the love of gods, even if you or someone you care about it old, get a basic cell phone and learn how to use it. There are plans specifically for seniors who don’t need high data plans. First of all, don’t mock the tried and true flip phone model. They are great phone models and I kind of miss that cover. The screens don’t get scratched. There’s no butt-dialing. There are new models all the time, but as of now, here are several models that offer the basics, have pre-paid plans, or have specific features like large visible buttons. You can add 5Star on to the Jitterbug Flip model for essentials:
“The addition of 5Star turns the Flip into a personal safety device that’s customized specifically for an older audience. With one-button touch for emergencies and agents standing by 24/7, there’s plenty of peace of mind for the phone owner, as well as their families and friends. Additionally, the LED flashlight on the exterior of the device doubles as a reading magnifier for assisting with small print reading in dimly lit areas. The included GreatCall Link app assists family with staying up-to-update with your health and safety while not intruding on your independence.” Lifewire.com November 13, 2017