Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Three: Case File No. 40-144
AMBER LOVE 17-FEB-2020 Find out how all this began. Catch up on Year One and previous Year Two cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. We are in YEAR THREE still because we started cataloging our criminal investigations in the spring.
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Where We Left Off:
We found large clumps of Jersey devil-deer hair at the scenic overlook. It made us wonder if the animals are shedding are too early in the year.
Rise of the Lycans:
Two entries ago, the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency revealed the alarming discovery that a female werewolf had been brought from New York and released into the woods of New Jersey. What we didn’t have information on was why this was done. Oliver Winchester was in no mood to explore the great outdoors, so he suggested (strongly) that the rest of us band together and set out to uncover more information on this odd situation.
Though popular vampire lore would have you believe that werewolves are intended to be their servants, the lycans have their own back stories and they are not a monolith. Werewolves have been considered serial killers, but that seems like an unjust label. They’re eating. Unless omnivores are willing to call themselves serial killers, I think it’s within our right to let that be in the past and move on. Whichever legend prevails in your region, allow room for growth as we come together in the ever-shrinking, ever-decaying planet. Humans need to get over their superiority complex. I suspect any vampires or mutants out there feel the same way.
It’s most probable that the evidence Gus discovered a few weeks ago is not a sign of this being the very first werewolf in New Jersey. Nonetheless, we haven’t had any previous evidence of one in our neighborhood before which makes it our first. We have documented a couple of similar species (or would they be races at this level?) of shapeshifters including the kitsune/fox and the volkolak/bear. According to Oliver’s research, plenty of residents and cryptozoologists have speculated about the lycan population of New Jersey before. Not only that, it seems as though the Garden State has a welcoming attitude (for once) towards them:
Of the list in the above linked article, the Crooked Swamp Cave is something I find enticing and would be open to exploring (at least around it since I’m afraid of the dark). Fair warning though to any lycans reading this, I would not recommend Alpha borough as a place to set down your roots and make a lair. They are hella bigoted there (though maybe that is a good feeding ground because of that). At the end of their list is Hoboken which I would only recommend as an ample feeding ground because otherwise, it’s so urban I don’t see how anyone with a wild nature side would enjoy it. Plus parking sucks.
Another Jerseyite, Sami, blogged about her own experience in 2010 when a werewolf ran in front of her car on a dark night. In 2011, there was a scary encounter by another driver and a werewolf in Troy, Pennsylvania which was documented by Stan Gordon. The description of the creature in that encounter sounds like it could have been a number of cryptids including a werewolf, a Jersey devil, or even a volkolak. I’ve never heard of werewolves referred to as “dogmen” before reading this other post about a different Pennsylvania encounter; and apparently they’re telepathic too. Perhaps special abilities like telepathy are inherited traits and not through all of the lycan lineages.
The butler, Gus, and myself set out to explore the mountain on a beautiful day. Gus was beyond thrilled at being deep in the woods where he’s allowed to be unhooked from his leash. He led the way and we followed. Dear Alfredo Pesosvalor had no idea what hiking with Gus was like. He’s used to chauffeuring Oliver in his carriage on paved or smooth grass areas. For once, I felt like I had a physical advantage because Gus has me well-trained and conditioned for our tiny mountain. Seriously, I can’t keep up with other humans who do intense state park hiking up Baldpate Mountain and the like. Alfredo not only had to get used to wobbly rocks but also the thorn bushes. Yep, they are everywhere. I passed the shears over and tried to navigate around the branches while keeping a visual on Gus.
We went up the mountain further than we ever had before. We were higher than the notorious Murder Shed — a case file that goes all the way to our first year of investigating. Gus veered to the left and started to go under all the tangled thorn claws that stood in our way from the clearing where the shed is located. And since we haven’t been up there in a long time and the groundskeeper was fired, it seems unlikely anyone is maintaining that clearing. Alfredo Pesosvalor kept trying to convince me and Gus that there was no point in even attempting to get over to the shed. I figured we should at least try. Eventually I backtracked and gave up too so we had to wait for Gus.
While waiting, I looked around to see if there was anything around us that should be photographed. That’s when I noticed I was standing right next to a tree with two different sets of claw marks! I’m not tall and these marks were at eye-level for me. They did not look like they were freshly made. The wood beneath was plenty dirty and there were signs that the tree tried its best to heal. Not being a tree expert, I couldn’t give an estimate to Oliver when the claw marks might have been made. It wasn’t the timeline he was interested in as much as it was the fact that there were two different sizes of these scratches. Was one creature putting their own mark on the tree after another to take over the turf? Were they used as a different, perhaps inviting form of communication?
There wasn’t any noticeable evidence around the tree to gather. No hairs or tracks to examine. I photographed the claw marks and called Gus back.
The butler was so ready to go home. I think he was caught in those thorn bushes for fifteen minutes. Gus enjoyed his walk back. He opted to trespass slightly less than on our ascent. He cross the invisible border in order to run across all the felled trees. In between he would hop up to a rock for his good boy treats. The humans were worn out from the exploration. At least we had something to bring back for our case file though it wasn’t much.
Photographic Evidence Examined:
Back at the detective agency office, first we dined. Then we got to work on the identification of the claw marks. It would make sense that we would have to rule out the most common wildlife in the area first. Black bears will definitely mark trees. In fact, when bears mark, they’re quite adorable and usually take a few moments out to scratch their backs on the tree which leaves behind hair. The marks we discovered weren’t fresh though so there were no hair samples to compare. However, we haven’t seen Arthur the volkolak or black bears in months. It could have been one of an ursa’s last actions before hunting season. The marks were only at eye level for me which is, as I said, not particularly high. Bears will stand up as tall as possible to mark a tree in order to show a sign of who the biggest bear in town is.
I’ve been following along with our weekly investigations, you may recall that we discovered evidence of a wildcat hybrid like the pumpard. We don’t know who in the realm of science is allowed to craft the names of species, so we called our new discovery the pancelot, a cross between a black panther and ocelot. This would be an animal much smaller than a bear or volkolak. However, it might be too small not in height but in terms of the size of the claws. Cougar claw marks are narrow and like the domestic cat would also show four marks since the fifth is more like a thumb in a different position. Wildcats would also use the trees more like a scratching post showing a series of scrapes and scratches done at the same time. Therefore, we’re likely not dealing with a feline species.
This opens up the possibility that werewolves have been in the vicinity before. Oliver’s internet research showed that they exist in New Jersey even if no one around here has personally written about them. That must also mean there is active breeding and mating in the lycan population. Would werewolves mark trees like cats and bears? Other canines don’t, but then again, most other canines wouldn’t spend time being bipedal either — aside from begging for table scraps.
In the photograph, it seems clear that there is a left-hand pattern and a right-hand pattern. The color of the tree’s scars and the type of residue in both sets of marks show that they were made at the same time or near the same time.
Gus wanted to go on the observation deck even though we just had two hours outside hiking, but sometimes it’s a good idea to clear one’s head after doing so much cerebral thinking. That’s when he finally said that his Super Smeller picked up scents in the thick thorn area which matched faint notes left around the tree.
“Gus, are you saying something or someone urinated on the tree and bushes?”
“Yes. And they didn’t match, but they were familial.”
“Did you tell Oliver?”
He stared straight ahead at birds eating in the grass and said that no, he had not mentioned this fact to Oliver because he wanted to make his partner do some work on this investigation.
I opened the door and we found the butler scooping the litterbox while Oliver was in the other room drinking from the serenity fountain. I called for everyone to assemble and explained what Gus had told me. This relieved Oliver who immediately came to a conclusion, but still hoped for more evidence.
On a later date, Gus and I set out alone for one of our usual perimeter checks. This time, he could immediately tell that a stranger had been on privet drive the previous day. We ran around to check our perimeter and then headed up into the neighbor’s domain (which Gus firmly believes is his more and more every minute).
The New Yorker had been back with a similar trailer as before. We didn’t get to investigate while he was here. Instead, Gus sniffed his way, zig-zagging across from trail to trail. Before we reached the top of the driveway, Gus veered slightly to the left into the grass at the beginning of another trail, but he didn’t head down the trail. There was something suspicious in the dirt.
I followed him and visually examined the clue before picking it up. It’s appears to be a dog toy. But not just any dog toy. This is big. This a toy for large dog… or canine creature.
The claw marks in the tree were left some time ago by a juvenile werewolf. In other words, a child from a mating pair was lost in our woods. The New York visitor is one of the neighboring estate’s caretakers. Among human possessions, he delivered a werewolf mother who had been forcibly separated under threat of death from her child. Oliver believes the baby werewolf had been left in the woods in New Jersey before being hunted, captured, and brought to New York for someone else to have as an “exotic pet” as rich people are want to do. The juvenile was rescued just like its mother and returned to our woods. The dog toy belongs to the younger lycan. There’s a stress bite in the one round ball end of the fake dumbbell. Since it’s plastic, Oliver believes we should dispose of it properly now that the pup can find its mother and have access to all its natural play things in the environment. We hope disposing of it doesn’t cause the pup further trauma like taking a human child’s favorite blanket away.