Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Two: Case File No. 36-88
AMBER LOVE 21-JAN-2019 Catch up on Year One and previous Year Two cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. This 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. For a one-time tip, you can go to the new PayPal.me.
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Where We Left Off:
The notorious thief known only as Parker has found his or her way to the Winchester-Nabu estate.
Army of Daylight
We have to go back to early December, 2018 for this adventure. People around the world were complaining about the weather. Too warm. Too cold. Too rainy. In New Jersey, we had a little bit of everything. It was December after all, so the frosts were strong in the morning and then by midday, I was comfortable enough to take Gus out on patrol. Oliver has been joining us frequently too, but because his carriage is not all-terrain, sometimes he gets into the mud too deep. When his butler isn’t around, Ollie’s favorite human, the Cook, takes him out for patrols.
It was a Wednesday and the skies were blue for a change. Reports said light snow was approaching. Northeast people wanted the snow for visuals but not for road conditions. The winter holidays were approaching and that means the greeting cards would be all wrong if there wasn’t snow. It also meant people would be preparing and partaking in the pagan traditions of decorating trees indoors and outdoors, putting up evergreen wreaths, drinking spiked hot cocktails, and celebrating with lights. Sure those traditions evolved and worked their ways into every other religion, but know the origins. Solstice was only a couple weeks away and the new birth of The Sun was going to be a time for festivities.
Getting back to our patrol, Gus spent some time on the north end border. He has a certain spot there where he likes to explore. We eventually made our way up the slight incline on the west to Bunny Hollow. Though it’s not bunny season, it’s a good place to listen to the winter birds. For Gus, it’s still a decent squirrel spot though not as busy as summer. And as you know from last time, Parker is at large so Gus needs to interrogate the squirrel community.
It’s rarely completely quiet even for out here in the sticks. Snow days honestly are the best quiet days because there can a span of time between plows and snow blowers making a racket. Since this was a non-snow day, the usual monster trucks went by; the neighbor was scrapping metal or whatever the hell he does that disrupts the pleasantness of serenity; and then something different entered our little area.
It’s not uncommon to hear chainsaws, especially after a storm when debris needs to be cleared. Sometimes, there are other yard projects that need tree removal; or even the occasional utility company buzzing throughout several days. This random Wednesday stood out because the chainsaw sounded close to us. Like way too close.
Gus was in the bushes of Bunny Hollow that separate it from the inner circle trail which isn’t so much of a circle anymore. He refused to come out because of the noise. And that wasn’t all. There were voices. I figured if these folks were hunters, they were definitely not after deer and weren’t afraid of their prey hearing them. They were after something else. Something that was confrontational enough to come out in the daylight, not back down from noise, and want to face off against humans invading their territory.
The only times I’ve seen humans fight with chainsaws were in the movies. Maybe even a video game clip or something. Not in real life! Who goes after what with chainsaws? Maybe you’re working your shift at a super mart and the undead begin to rise. It happens. But well, we haven’t had that in our neck of the woods before so Gus told me I had better be worried and scared. Mind you, not scared enough for him to head home because he was totally find hunkered down in the bushes where he couldn’t be seen. I was out there on a trail to deal with shit on my own. Thanks, Gus. Have I mentioned cell signals and wifi don’t work out in our woods? Yeah that’s not a thing that only happens in horror movies. My phone is a camera and that’s all it’s good for out there.
Our wildlife is already scarce — alive anyway. The roads are unfortunately spotted with deer carcasses. I haven’t seen bears in a long time, nor the foxes. Gus and I have been taking photographs of tracks for our evidence files. Needless to say, even living deer are hard to find no less something larger or meaner. Even the hybrid devil-deer which was somewhat forced reproduction due to the near extinction of Jersey demons, are not likely to get involved in a fight unprovoked. Like their white-tailed cousins, they are more likely to flee which is why so many people haven’t seen them and don’t believe they exist. Not to mention, that the once aggressive monstrous personality of the Jersey demons curtailed as they evolved.
I wouldn’t leave Gus behind. I tried to send a text to the Grumpy Old Man. “There are voices out here and chainsawing.” No reply. No idea if the message even went through before I left the woods. I kept talking to Gus in a whisper pleading with him to come out so we could go home. I even said we could go back out later (not that he has any reason to believe me). But, dammit, we were both scared and I was not willing to crawl into a bush while wearing a bright red coat and hunter-safety orange hat. What good would it have done?
Curiosity clawed at my insides. I wanted to know what the heck was going on out there. It sounded like it was only one trail away. I paced the trail I was on, but couldn’t see anything. Every time I explored around the trail, I returned to where I suspected Gus still was safely hiding. Then I’d head back out and look for cover behind trees, peering my gnome-shaped head around to look from a new vantage point. After about thirty or forty minutes, the chainsawing stopped. Then the voices stopped. All I could glean was that there was at least one man and one woman and they seemed be in a jovial mood about whatever they had just done. I heard a pickup truck leave the private road but never actually saw it to give a description.
Gus finally came out and tried to convince me to explore and look for evidence. Maybe there was a body out there! I told him, “No forking way!” Besides whoever they were, they had a pickup. They probably put their trophy in the bed of it before driving off.
There may be chainsaw assassins in our woods.