THE WINCHESTER-NABU DETECTIVE AGENCY
￼AMBER LOVE 26-FEB-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 FORTY-TWO: FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOG
- 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
- Chapter Thirty-Four – Two Hounds of the Baskervilles
- Chapter Thirty-Five – Training Day
- Chapter Thirty-Six – The House on Haunted Hill
- Chapter Thirty-Seven – Guardians of New Jersey
- Chapter Thirty-Eight – The Big Country
- Chapter Thirty-Nine – State of the Agency Address
- Chapter Forty – A Real Stick in the Mud
- Chapter Forty-One – Despereaux Time, Despereaux Measures
Where we left off…
Detective Inspector Guster Nabu has been practicing his skills in lock picking and art theft for reasons he has not disclosed. The adventures continue.
THE WINCHESTER-NABU ESTATE. EXTERIOR.
The fog was thicker than molasses early in the morning. It was the day after Gus had been to see the doctor for more vaccinations necessary for his exotic adventures. He was clearly feeling much better and had all the energy to spare. It was only six-thirty and he wasn’t upstairs anywhere near me asking for breakfast which meant he managed to convince someone else to feed him. I lingered a bit longer in bed knowing that with the warmer weather, Gus would have me outside exploring and exhausted as soon as possible.
I found Professor Oliver Winchester with Gus and the rest of the full-time Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency staff huddled around a television watching more tragic news about yet another mass shooting in an American school. I had already seen enough of it online so I went to set up the coffee pot.
Gus finally got up and greeted me. I asked him if he wanted to go outside early, secretly hoping that one adventure today would be enough for him. That’s when the Grumpy Old Man presented us with a new assignment. He needed a special key retrieved from the house on top of the mountain. Suddenly I felt like a Baggins as a sense of mysterious fear swelled up inside me. Of course Gus was eager to take on a new case. Instead of turning on the coffee, I went back to my room to change into jeans and pulled on my hiking boots.
Everything outside was wet. It felt more like autumn than winter. There were still areas with a lot of rust colored leaves on the ground. I wasn’t sure if we were going to take a direct route up the mountain or end up checking the perimeter first. Gus decided to head straight through the driveway and go up.
Normally, he pushes his boundaries and tries to go farther than I want him to. There’s only so much trespassing I think we can get away with. Since this morning we were sent up to someone else’s property with intentions, I was surprised when Gus stopped where we normally do. He hunkered down and wanted to backtrack. I tried to explain that it was okay and that we had to go do something important for someone else. He crouched low again, an intense look in his eyes that wasn’t focused on me at all.
I was left without much choice. I picked him up and walked towards the buildings. Gus’ nose for investigating everything possible got the better of him and he quickly landed on the ground smelling everything. His SuperSmeller™ launched into turbo drive.
We were instructed to look for a cooler on the porch. There was a proper porch of this house, one that overlooked the hill below. In the back was a small “mud porch” for lack of a better term. It appeared to be the informal yet more common entryway to the house. Along with the cooler, there were other stacked pails and buckets. The old fashioned swing cellar doors sat below two windows at an incline. Gus had to check it out. The doors were secure. He peeped through the windows. Nothing alarmed him so I tried to convince him to focus on the mission at hand. We were sent to find a key.
The tomato red cooler was on top of a crate or something. I honestly didn’t pay much attention and kept my eyes on the boy. The house certainly would make a charming a home for people like it reasonably quiet and not pressed up against neighboring houses. Traffic noises still carry up through the trees though so it’s not totally serene. We thought about checking the front porch too. Gus would have for sure. The issue was that there were wooden blockade horses put up to keep anyone from going through and accidentally over the cliff of what made up the front yard. The thick fog draped behind a curly tree making the scene that much creepier.
“Come on. We can go on the trails now if you want,” I said to Gus.
The detective had other ideas. We opened the cooler and retrieved the key without a problem. Then Gus wanted to go exploring over the mountain. The landscape is pleasant with a few trails which Gus and I have gotten to know well. The problem for me is that Gus prefers to go off the trails and he did so once again. There was a long trail by the garage that went up the mountain, but no. Gus went behind the house and headed straight up the boulders, jumping like a video game character.
Wet leaves over mud plus moss on rocks made for a slippery escapade. My sweatshirt and jeans got dirtier the farther we went. I finally decided to put on my holey work gloves so that I could better grab onto the trees and rocks for hoisting my zaftig ass up the terrain. Gus was not willing to slow down for me at all.
We stepped around various piles of poop likely from deer or rabbits – the small Raisinette kind of poop piles. Could’ve been wolpertingers too. Never know. Then Gus found some interesting locations of note. There were at least two portals to the fae world. One as through a rocky cave; the other a gutted tree stump.
Gus is an expert at locating these magical doorways. That’ll be a different story for another time. If I had any idea how to do it, I’d chart them on a map but I couldn’t even figure out where the hell we were. All I could tell was that it felt like we were hiking away from home instead towards it.
I agreed to get to the top of the mountain before finding a way back down preferably to a trail. The leafless trees opened up the view. It was beautiful in a Gothic country estate kind of way. With the fog still lingering, it was the kind of scene where you could hear bagpipes if you only stood still and listened hard enough. I appreciated the minute of rest Gus allowed.
He tried continuing on in the direction away from home, but I stood my ground. I kept my promise that we got to the top, but it was time to figure out where the hell the trails might be. We never did get to them. Fortunately, we did come to a ridge we had taken to get up there and ended up behind the little cottage right at the spot where Gus began the hike.
He challenged me about going the easy direct route on the paved road back home, but I won. He trotted alongside me and we got back to the Old Grumpy Old Man’s workshop. So much for going directly home to coffee and a shower. Gus insisted on checking the security of the workshop and Ollie’s mobile office/residence. At the one end of the building, the dirt was like quicksand from winter’s thaw. Both of us slid and splashed in unseen swampy puddles. Great, more mud. As we completed the check of the building and the trailer, Gus thought we could head back up the hill.
Hell no, my dear boy. Hell no. It was just after 8AM and I longed for hosing the dirt off my body and getting into clean comfortable clothes.
Thankfully, he didn’t argue “too much” about my refusal and bounced to the back door where he yelled at me because I picked him up. He thought he’d be sneaky. Right before the back porch, he tried to make a sharp left and go over to Ollie’s wing where he could check the patio for chipmunks and then continue around our own yard. Nope. No, sir. Scooped him up and forced him inside placing his muddy paws down on the mat.
I unlaced my boots, pushed the coffee maker button, and went to catch up with the boys. We briefed the team and left the key on the counter. The shower wasn’t scalding but hot enough to feel oh-so-good.