Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Three: Case File No. 49-153

AMBER LOVE 20-APR-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 the final stretch of 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 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

Add a little suburban fantasy to your reading with a story about friendships, shapeshifters, small town politics, animal rights, and folklore. Ursula, a bisexual woman of color protagonist, trying to hold her life together and save her friends from being murdered.

Where We Left Off:

We examined a horrific crime scene with the partial remains of a victim. It was grotesque. So yeah, there were pictures for those interested in the science and research.

Love’s Land Frog the sequel – Frog Harder:

The same day Gus & I discovered the gruesome remains of half of a groundhog, there were two other interactions with wildlife. The first was a rescue. The last was Gus being his excited nature-loving panther self.

Sometimes on our patrols, Gus will spend time thoroughly inspecting the gigantic hoarded mess of the Grumpy Old Man which has consumed the back porch. That’s our main entrance for going out on patrol being the furthest door from traffic. When I see Gus heading for the back door, I sometimes hope it’s to go inside early; but I usually know it’s for him to snoop around.

B99 gif

On that wild March day during quarantine, Gus went to the back door but didn’t look at the handle so I knew it wasn’t that he wanted to be let inside. It’s quite honestly horrible architectural design. There are two steps down in order to be at the floor level so one, even my height, has to crouch down to reach the door handle and then step down into the building’s ground floor. It’s in this strange arched step area that Gus finds toads. For whatever reason, they want to come inside where it’s cooler, I guess. I don’t really know what toads want. Tea? Do they like tea?

We’ve had two documented cases previously with toad creatures: Y2CF51 “Love’s Land Frog” and Y3CF23 “Cloverfield.” In our first toad encounter with Amanda Seyfrog, we still didn’t know what we were dealing with. It wasn’t until our third year of investigations that we learned more and classified our toad friends as Anaxyrus daemonia. We believe these are smaller varieties of the vodníci in Czech — vodyanoy or vodyanoi in Russion or nix/nixe in Germanic languages — water spirits who can spend time on land. Perhaps you’ve heard of the comic book characters Man-Thing, Swamp Thing, or Solomon Grundy. These vodníci could be the real world inspiration for those iconic characters fused born in nature.

vodnici toad frog vodyanoy
vodyanoy by Christophe MacLaren


Among our list of concerns about these A. daemonia or vodníci is if they are harbingers. This latest visitor arrived at the doorstep on 21-March. The first reported COVID-19 case was a couple weeks prior to this on 04-March. New Jersey’s curve of the virus outbreak is currently looking pretty steep on the dynamic chart. Maybe overall it won’t be when all is said and done, because Governor Murphy took a hard hand on steering the rules of quarantine and sheltering-in-place. As of this entry, it’s still scary. This toad was extremely late if it was trying to warn us about the rules of quarantine.

B99 gif

Did the vodník have something to say about the outbreak? Was it trying to seek shelter? Could its toxin offer up some kind of cure? (Honestly, do not lick toads as a cure).

I think we found an answer it’s not virus-related. As you are undoubtedly aware, food shopping during this crisis has been difficult. When the elder humans left this morning to try again at getting supplies, I noticed noises outside. This road is always noisy (ahhhh, the scenic countryside of rural NJ where everything is land developments), but the noise was coming from right next door. I shifted the gauzy curtain and looked out the window next to my desk. I saw a construction company pickup truck and several people. They put up a ring around the house. It’s a fence made of black plastic sheeting. This is the house that was burned in a fire and needs to be demolished for a new one to be built. Apparently that demolition may be next week.


Fortunately, the vodník on our doorstep didn’t suffer any damage by Gus. This may have been why it was trying to get into our house — for safety. It knew construction was coming, like the farm animals in The Secret of NIMH. The animals living around the debris and property are going to need to find new places to live. The burrowing animals might have the best chances, but I don’t know how well toads and vodníci will do. Everyone needs a safe house right now.

close up toad

It would be a bad idea to invite the vodníci into the house. We already have mice. We’ve seen what happens when the cats think they can bite the toad demons. The frothing at the mouth is rather horrifying to witness. I wouldn’t want the boys exposed to even more of the toxin lest it do real damage to them. The vodníci had to be relocated.

close up toad on the ground

I put on my gloves and carried the creature to Gnome Grove, the place where Amanda Seyfrog had a successful release. Gnomez Addams has been out on duty since mid-March and the squirrels of the grove are running around in excitement these days. Spring is in the air for them. Since many of the Indo-European names have similarities in their word to describe these creatures like neck, nihhus, nicos, nicker, näkki — we’re naming this one Nick von Vodníci. Nick practically jumped out of my hand on the journey to the grove. I put him down and he began to wiggle-waggle his hind legs to hide in the soil and pine needles. He was gone the next day, hopefully to a new home that is not inside the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency.

B99 gif

Case Findings:

Nick von Vodníci had not come to do any harm. He was seeking shelter. The creatures of the woods around the estate have some psychics among them and news can spread quickly from one species to another. The creatures are worried and panicking about their homes.

Case Status: Closed.

animated frog and toad

Subscribe to my newsletter

Avoid those algorithms! Get news delivered to your inbox. You'll also receive a free short story when you subscribe!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.