Cats photoshopped as noir detectives

AMBER LOVE 30-OCT-2017 My work is supported by the generous backers who tolerate my cat stories at and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.


Index of Cases




Where we left off…

Detective Inspector Guster Nabu and I hiked the mountain behind the Winchester-Nabu estate. We came upon a clearing with a singular tree in the center and a creepy shed at the far end.


Picking up where we left off, the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency posed the question to you, dear readers. What do you think the shed is? There are many possibilities. Consider carefully as we dive into them.

K2 summit


The tree at the summit of the mountain isn’t an ordinary tree; and the shed is not an ordinary shed. The clearing is caused by the magical energy network underneath the soil. It’s similar to the cause of authentic crop circles. They’re not alien signals from another planet at all. They come from Earth. More specifically, they come from another form of Earth.

Hot spots like these don’t always appear so blatantly as doors. However, they are portals leading to Magic Earth. There are magical beings around us here all the time. They can travel back and forth at will. Many choose to never leave Magic Earth. They have no need to. However, some find that things we consider waste to be discarded have value to them over there.

Classification: Magings

Any being from the animal kingdom of Magic Earth is called a maging. Pronounced MAY-jing so there’s no confusion like gif/jif. They have a similar scientific breakdown into species just as we do here. Fae happen to be the most common, but there are others.

A typical example of a diminutive fae is what Gus chased around as prey one evening. We believed it to be a common moth. The SuperSmeller™ has keen maging detection. Besides moths, there are critters that burrow in our soil and use the mole tunnel network to travel around with least visibility to us. I’m not sure if Gus can communicate with any of the magings. It will require further testing and analysis.

earth pig 1

There are hints of a bizarre maging in the area which I have been calling Earth Pigs. They are not at all related to Earth’s sus scrofa domesticus (domestic pig), but the name “earth pig” comes from the shape, particularly the nose. The interesting thing about their snouts is that they are shed and left for us to find on the dirt much like the rack of antlersChapter 17 Gus and I discovered halfway up the mountain.

earth pig 2

Gus is open to testing the communication possibilities, but he thinks Oliver would be better suited. This is likely to be true. Both felines are chatty, but Gus uses his voice to whine to humans; Oliver uses his to speak to humans and to other critters. For all I know, the Finch FamilyChapter 3 that roosted in our snapdragon pot was a family of magings. Oliver spoke to them often.


If the crystal shardChapter 18 we found on the mountain was brought over from Europe, there must have been a specific story about how it ended up in the dirt instead of kept somewhere for safe keeping by the family. One of our theories about the mysterious shed incorporates both artifacts we discovered halfway up the mountain: the antlers and the crystal.

Assuming the area is or was the residence of Jersey Devils, we brainstormed about why the crystal would be here. There has to be some sense to its existence. Are the devils really from Magic Earth? Do they do anything besides primal behavior (eat, sleep, make little devils)? How smart are they? Can they be trained/domesticated?

rusted can

Hypothesis for Cases 18 and 19:

The species known commonly as Jersey Devils are magings from Magic Earth. They are intelligent creatures with a grasp of different languages. They are also known for their wits in avoiding detection and executing elaborate challenges. This intelligence level is often misrepresented in human publications which tend to depict them as primal, and frankly, stupid.

A particular sect of humans who have been vetted and approved by the magings, are able to interact with them and bargain on mankind’s behalf. This insight brings us to the collective bargaining agreement of 1897 when President McKinley’s administration promised workers fair wages. The Master Agreement between Jersey Devil Curating and Protective Services and Humans of the Skylands subregion of New Jersey, July 1, 1897-1907 documented the trade agreement where local devils would house and provide security for items the humans considered of great mystical value.

jersey devil
Source: The Odyssey Online Museum


Our hypothesis, based on these understandings, is that the devils were contracted to keep items like the crystal in a bunker and ensure their safety. As employers slid back into old ways of treating workers like crap, the devils attempted to return to the bargaining table. A strike turned violent. Technically, it turned explosive. The devils had enough of the humans’ shitty treatment and blew up the bunker which is why artifacts left to be found are in pieces. The entrance to that bunker remained standing. The bad blood between the devils and humans boiled out of control which lead to vast falsehoods spread as urban legends. This eventually led to the 1909 panic of devil sightings. Schools closed and posses were formed to hunt the beasts.

This hypothesis does not negate our top theory of the antlers. We still believe they are most likely from a wolpertinger. Since Jersey devils are far more common to our area and the collective bargaining agreement was discovered during our research, we also have to wonder if a taxidermied wolpertinger or perhaps collection of them weren’t also under the protective services of the Jersey devils at the time of the bunker’s explosion.


This theory is related to the one above about the bunker. The bunker was built within a greater expanse of the underworld by magings. I should clarify that it’s a closed off gateway to the underworld. It was sealed long ago through mundane and magical means. If you’re wondering how we could possibly know this, you must realize that Gus and Ollie each have unique supernatural gifts.


Gus is no stranger to the magical worlds. Like all cats, he possesses the ability to see things humans don’t. If you think your cat is simply staring at the ceiling, trust them, there’s something up there.


The way Gus was immediately drawn to the shed meant something. He couldn’t wait to investigate. He smelled all around it. He tried to open the door. Meanwhile I was like, “Whoa, dude, slow down. I’m exhausted. Sweating. Unprepared for whatever might be in there.” I was fairly pooped. I’m not sure what I said exactly. Most likely it was more like, “Fuck no, dude. We are not going in there.” I think I’d have to be pretty drunk off my ass to try and open a portal to the underworld.


If opening the shed revealed a dirt floor covering a hatch door, it would be easy enough to remove the dirt. Hatches to the underworld are going to be covered in sigils protecting the entrance. For humans who follow Christianity lore, that may seem like the underworld is the same as Hell. It’s not. Hell is just the prison system. It’s a world remarkably similar to the operations on the surface. There are races and species of various beings. There’s an economy of resources. The thing is, the underworld doesn’t have the same kind of political system. It’s probably why things run more smoothly down there. Anytime a particular group upsets the balance, we feel it in terms of earthquakes and oceanic activity.

If the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency staff decided to try opening this door, I’m not sure exactly what disturbance would happen. Breaking a seal might not be that difficult. We have iron railway spikes that could easily penetrate a seal. However, I’ve watched The Mummy (1999) enough times to be wary of disturbing closed off realms or containers. Gus would love it if we returned to the summit and opened the door to see what’s inside. Me? Not so much.


Once upon a time, this little nugget of a town was integral to connecting larger cities. There was a stop on the canal and eventually that was replaced by the railroad system. This was in 1830-1850. The swatch of land where the railroad and canal intersect was known for having a store, a blacksmith, and a warehouse by 1836. Much later in 1900, a woman entered the local industrialized scene and had a dairy built for making cheese and selling other milk products. Who would’ve thought a woman with money would be revered in this little burg back then?

The reason for this history lesson is to paint the picture of the times. Canals then the railroads and then roadways were responsible for anyone being here after the Lenni Lenape indians. I’m not even sure there were a lot of indigenous people here, but that’s the tribe associated with the area; they were later forced to join the Iroquois from my understanding.

hobo signs trains railroad

Old railroads stir up a lot of images in my own head: dirty exhaust, loud whistles, coal cars, rich people traveling to the city, and “tramps” or “hobos”. Back then those were the words used to described homeless people who hopped on and off the trains without paying in order to move between towns. For other people, the imagery of the old railroad may be horrific. Natives like Geronimo were shipped via the trains across long distances onto reservations (circa 1886). The hobo population became customary during the Great Depression.

It should be obvious that colonists weren’t the best examples of human beings. They didn’t even treat their “own kind” well if differences were financial. Classism and racism abound. There’s another type too and I don’t know what -ism it falls under. The progress of medicine was not always the same thing as the progress in other sciences. Medicine had a whole lot of evil experimentation. It had its own brand of racism and sexism (hello, Darwin). Mental health, deformities, or other disabilities often left people in the worst of conditions with the blessing of the medical community.


When a boy with facial deformities and communication problems was abused by family and doctors rather than treated like a human, it made matters worse. Earl Robert Appleby had a tragic life. As soon as he was born, his parents were terrified to have him seen by anyone outside the family and the doctor. They kept Earl sequestered, sometimes shackled. The deformities were likely caused by the physical abuse his mother suffered from his father. Earl ended up being a strong boy since he lived a life doing hard labor for the family.

Another day, another beating. Earl never had the luxury of being educated, but he still managed to figure out how things worked. He knew he could unlock the shackles with a couple scraps of metal or actual tools lying around. He was probably around the age of seventeen or eighteen when he snapped. He couldn’t take the whippings and the abuse any longer. His father locked him up for the night and when he came back in the morning, Earl was out of those chains. He wrapped a length of it around his father’s throat. Earl put the cuffs around his father’s wrist and leg in case the man wasn’t actually dead. He walked out of that shed, went in the house, and hugged his mother. The last thing he did was take the remaining bread and a metal cup. He went out to the yard and gathered a few other tools which he stuffed into a burlap sac. Unable to speak the words, his mother still knew it was goodbye.

Gus at shed

Earl walked a mile to the tracks and hopped on one of those trains. He had to learn the hobo signs and hand gestures to communicate with other people. The hobos were far nicer to him than anyone else had ever been.

As for Mrs. Appleby, it took all her inner power to shuffle her feet through the house and across the yard to the shed. She saw the body lying there. She closed the door and padlocked the latch leaving her dead husband inside.


The smaller building (pictured below) which appears buried in the ground, houses the well water system for a house below. The shed is up at the summit at the end of a series of poles with electrical cables connecting them. The shed is the accessible structure of the power supply for the well house to deliver water to the residential house. But what fun is that? This is New Jersey and common sense simply won’t do.


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