Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Three: Case File No. 14-118
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Where We Left Off:
There was a week when it seemed all the local wildlife decided to graze through the Winchester-Nabu estate. We suspect the lack of dog residents next door may have something to do with their return.
The blasting heatwave of August brought not only discomfort and humidity, it brought along something supernatural. It was quite a long time ago that we revealed our investigations in the Freemasons and their sorcery with machinery. The Black Vonda seemed like it would be the spookiest story and perhaps the only time we would dive deep into the mysteries of the Freemason brotherhood.
Then last week brought us something new and equally as intriguing. The Grumpy Old Man in charge of the fleet and the grounds, had started accumulating lawn mowers of all brands. Ride-ons and push mowers. Every week, there appeared to be yet another one. The GOM didn’t open up voluntarily to reveal why he had a sudden need for so many lawnmowers. Gus and I try to keep our distance. Oliver has a decent relationship with him — as decent as they’ll allow since both are not exactly warm, friendly personalities.
Gus and I went out in the morning and conducted our patrol and critter snack distribution. I followed him around the hangar and he noticed something was wrong. All I was paying attention to were how overgrown the weeds are around boulder I spent so many months painstakingly trying to clear away. When I checked in with Gus, he was standing on a particular spot where one of these old inoperable mowers once stood. Gus used to climb on it and smell around for critters. Now it was just gone.
We looked around the scene and noted the tire tread marks (thanks, Autocorrect, for mangling my caption in the photo). Gus activated his Super Smeller and picked up a trail. It was leading him inside the hangar where he often investigates and holds his own work hours. He has to make sure any of the critter residents are paying their rent and has found some squatters in the past.
He stood at “his” door — it’s his preferred entrance for some reason. I couldn’t dare keep him waiting and pulled the keys out. The door didn’t open as much as it should. There was a chainsaw blocking it on the one side and a tub of something blocking the way in. To me, the smells of oil, grease, and grime were about the same. Gus knew better and corrected me immediately. There was something else normally present but in small quantities. He entered and snaked around the blockades making his way directly over to part of this grouping of lawn mowers behind the big truck. The newest mower was over near a bay door away from the mess. I had a hard time navigating my way in the door, but once I did, I wondered what the hell we stumbled upon. Gus was busy doing his thing, but my feet decided I was too scared to move on.
There was a piece of machinery, rod-shaped, lying across one of the work benches. Underneath it, there was a bucket of what looked like blood. I was not about to stick my nose near it and take a whiff.
“Gus, what do you think of this?”
“It’s important. Take a sample.” But he kept doing his own thing and wouldn’t come near the bucket of… red stuff.
“Gus, don’t you think it’s unusual that machine parts are bleeding?”
“Whatever. We just take the evidence to Oliver. He’ll figure it out.”
Oh, delightful. Gus decided we were the scene of the crime techs and not people who solved the mysteries. I know evidence collection is the main part of our job, but I’d like to think that all the research I do for them means something too.
“Gus, I really think there are particular magical-related things you should look for. Do you see any sigils on the floor or ceiling?”
“Just the usual.”
“The usual? What do you mean the usual?”
“The old man’s truck is full of sigils and symbols. We covered that already. But, no, I haven’t found anything specifically on these mowers unless you count brand logos as sorcery.”
Not for nothing, but brand logos kind of are sigils. They brainwash people into servitude and loyalty. Scientists study them. Colors and shapes are carefully chosen to have a predictable effect on the mind of the observer. That’s a lot like other magical symbols drawn on the sidewalk, graffiti’d, and imprinted on every piece of clothing. A lot of people show their power symbols to try and impress others. But sigils on the sidewalk or carved into candles are usually quite different in motivation when you understand the context. There was no pentagram, hexagram, Seal of Solomon, or veve under the mowers. That didn’t mean there wasn’t a ritual taking place.
Gus ran up the loft for a bird’s eye view. From there he could see that the machines were in a particular arrangement that we didn’t notice standing next to them. He saw that there was a process almost like an assembly line. Certain mechanical parts were removed from one and ready to be cleaned and lubricated. The other had the hood up with freshly reworked parts awaiting installation. The bucket of bloody red liquid was closer to the one ready for installation.
“I think I see what’s happening down there, but I have to talk to Oliver.”
“If you say so, Gus. Let’s get out of here. This is creeping me out.”
So we left the hangar and continued our snack distribution to the critter community.
Once we were back at home, Oliver was intrigued by our report. His theory is that the Grumpy Old Man under direction of the Grand High Poobah is conducting experiments to bring other machines to life as they had done with the Black Vonda automobile. In other words, the Freemasons are not only continuing their old school traditions of masonry, art, and architecture, they are also involved in the mechanical industries. Perhaps even the tech industries. They’re essentially Frankenmasons now.
We believe that there is experimentation occurring by the Frankenmasons to bring other machinery to life since they have already successfully done so with automobiles. Oliver has the closest relationship to the Grumpy Old Man so he’ll keep an eye on things.