Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Three: Case File No. 38-142
AMBER LOVE 03-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.
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.
For my personal Amazon recommendations on cat things, writing guides, books, and wellness supplies, check out my influencer storefront. Also, there are a few time each year I offer my books for FREE on Kindle. You can follow my author page and get notifications; or follow me on Twitter and see if I announce any events like that. Since today’s story involves a shapeshifting creature, I’ll remind you that bear/human shapeshifters, the volkolaks, are featured in Bear Roots:
Where We Left Off:
In our last case, a specimen of fur was discovered which ended up creating a few questions about where it came from.
Little Red Riding Hood:
During one of the unusually pleasant days of January, Gus and I found ourselves in the northern woods off the Fire Trail. He managed to navigate into the areas of thorn bushes where I could not follow him. That’s how I lost sight of him. All I was worried about was that he stay away from the busy street below. Less important was him wandering over to a neighbor’s yard and trespassing. The creatures seem confused about the climate and that’s a good instinct; it does make for interesting specimens found and cute photos.
Although these temperate days should cause alarm, sometimes cute things happen that make the environmental impact move to the background. Like finding snuggling slugs at the fairy garden. Sluggling!
In December, besides opening three cases on the 25th, there was another discovery. Gus and I found some fur at the main bird feeding area. I tucked it away in an evidence baggie and put it on my desk. When January rolled around and I found a seriously weird artifact in the northern woods, I thought back to that fur and wondered if they could be tied to the same case. The seriously weird artifact was a person’s red shower cap.
The wind has been harsh this season. Garbage cans blow around regularly. If something isn’t in a plastic garbage bag, it’s probably found its way to some other property. The Cook, in fact, lost one her cute garden flags just this week. That probably explains why a shower cap would be in the middle of a woods next to a trail.
But, what if the wind wasn’t the only reason?
This area isn’t known for wild wolves. We do have coyotes. Wolves, however, are found at the preserve. Other than the preserves, the only wolves in NJ are at the Turtle Back Zoo. The preserves often take a wolf in because someone tried to illegally have it as a pet and it gets taken away. As far as I know, there are no “Big Bad Wolves” here like the fairy tales. Then again, I thought all of our town’s black bears had become extinct; it’s possible they had and new bears migrated over from the mountains. If there’s a notorious Big Bad Wolf from some other area (they would have to have traveled down from Canada somehow) wandering into our midst, it’s truly newsworthy.
Oliver told me I wasn’t seeing the big picture. If there’s a werewolf in our town, they could have easily traveled by plane or some other way from up north or Europe and landed here. Gus and I haven’t found werewolf tracks, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t here. Tracks can be trampled by other things or removed by the changes in the weather. If a werewolf simply walked up a trail of dead grass and leaves, I wouldn’t realize it. Gus might smell it though. In fact, that brings me back to the one particular bush he kept smelling every time we went near the mulch pile (the location of the mysterious panther print in the mud). Was it the panther Gus smelled or something even more worrisome?
Gus is thorough with his Super Smeller. There was something in the woods that day when I found the red shower cap. Something only Gus could smell and whatever it was, he got excited. He went through an entire area where he’s usually not allowed to go when he’s leashed. But when he’s untethered, he takes advantage of it. Since I was close to the road, I wanted to make sure Gus wouldn’t follow me. I headed back up the incline and resumed my clicking to find him. I heard his bells and then spotted him in a safe area I know well enough to get to if necessary. He came over to greet me then immediately went back into the woods. I stood there internally debating whether to follow him through the thorns or take the long way around. I opted for the long way.
Maybe if Gus came across a big wolf, they could become friends.
We were walking parallel for a few seconds as Gus stalked along one of the biggest felled trees. Then I had to take my eyes off him as I left the one trail and walked through the backyard and then made my way to the small path which runs alongside that large tree. In that minute or two, Gus managed to drop into some hunting spot where I couldn’t see him. This is exactly what happened last time he took off and bypassed me to find his way into the neighbors’ yard looking for a way to get over to the next yard. Dammit, Gus!
I walked down the trail in Bunny Hollow, entered the woods with my continuous calling and clicking, then waited. Didn’t hear his bells. I moved on to see if he was at the neighbors’ — I couldn’t see him there, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t. I stood patiently and clicked again. He came right back from the Boulevard Trail which runs in the opposite direction of where I started at the Fire Trail and the shower cap. I don’t even remember if we went back home right away or if we explored more. He’s usually good about waiting for me to hook his leash into the harness. I say usually because sometimes he thinks it’s a hilariously good time to trot away from me. But usually, he knows that if he’s in on the paved areas, he needs to be hooked up.
Somewhere around this time, we also discovered a stranger way up the mountain at the main house. The Grumpy Old Man investigated it first. He told us that it was the son of the nephew of the old people who own the house. He was there, not to clear anything out; no, he was there to bring more stuff over. I guess they have no plans to consider selling it any time soon. It was a darn good thing The Grump Old Man asked Gus to go check it out, because Gus was ready to keep investigating. The boy couldn’t wait to get more evidence and see exactly what the heck was going on.
He led me right up the mountain to the main house as ordered by the GOM. Waiting for us there was a large pickup truck with a white trailer attached to the hitch. Gus noticed the New York State license plates which are different from the city ones. There was mud caked on it too. Mud that told Gus all kinds of information. He was particularly drawn to the cargo trailer.
“Gus, we know the owner of the truck is here doing things. Don’t make him come out and chase us off.”
“I’m working as fast as I can!”
“Yes, I can tell. You’re going in circles like a lunatic. Get what you can, but then we really should leave before he notices us poking around.”
I thought our fifteen-minute inspection was enough time, but then as we were leaving, Gus spotted the burn barrels and decided those were suspicious. They’ve been there for ages. Something new must have been burned because Gus felt the need to pay particular attention to the ashes.
“Okay, Gus, there’s a stranger from New York here and if he’s been burning things, we really don’t want to be caught trespassing and snooping. Let’s go.”
“I have all I need. Let’s get back to Oliver and meet in the library.”
He trotted so rhythmically down the paved hill, it was as if he had received wonderful news. But knowing Gus, wonderful news could mean something exciting yet scary is going on.
I served lunch and we went upstairs to find Oliver. He had been peacefully napping inside his plaid carriage which is now an upstairs fort for him rather than a vehicle in the fleet. Gus stood up to the front window of the carriage and woke Oliver up to tell him all about our discoveries.
This man from New York (approx. age 30) arrived with some household items in a trailer, but that wasn’t his main cargo. He was transporting a female werewolf to our tiny hill in New Jersey! This werewolf had already been exploring all around the 100 acres of the mountain during which time it encountered one of the older neighbors, a lady we haven’t seen in person in many years. She’s the owner of the shower cap. She was taking out the garbage — and wearing the shower cap to cover her curlers — when she spotted the beast and fainted. The cap fell off in her struggle to get back to her feet and crawl to the safety of the indoors. The cap then blew away into the woods near the trails. The werewolf has not been spotted by a human since.
The New Yorker was up at the main house the whole day and then left with the empty trailer, but not before burning some things. Those things were items of torn clothing with some spatters of blood! It wasn’t human blood though. It was from one of the turkeys. No bones were found, but we didn’t dump out the burn barrels to see. The turkey could have been eaten in the woods and it was the werewolf burning her own clothes to hide any evidence of a connection.
Gus has discovered one of the most exciting cryptids of all time right here in our backyard! A New Yorker — no idea if he’s a servant, friend, family member, or what relation to this cryptid might be — delivered and released a female werewolf in New Jersey. The beastly sized wolf was spotted by a local old lady and scared her nearly to death. We will definitely keep our eyes peeled for further evidence.
Case Status: Closed