Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Five:
Case File No. 36-244
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 PayPal.me.
Where We Left Off:
There was evidence of a creepy situation where someone was squatting in the Butler’s car and eating his snacks.
The Mysterious Mr. Valentine:
The Grumpy Old Man likes to act as if the Winchester-Nabu investigations into dead things is an unacceptable use of our time. But, let me explain that he does his share of enabling by sending us off on investigations to find things that are lost or to send us near evidence of other crimes that may be interesting. Such was the case when he told me that Gus should inspect the firewood he relocated to the back porch before it got brought inside the house. He said there was a snake skin on it and since The Cook is petrified of snakes, it would be best if Gus and I removed the evidence before she could see it.
Gus was able to activate his SuperSmeller as soon as he was next to the wheelbarrow full of wood. He knew critters had been all over that wood. The snake skin was not whole, but it was considerable length of a slender body. There are a couple of kinks in it. Without any obvious skin from a head, we can’t tell how long the creature was at the time of the shedding. The piece of skin is approximately twelve inches long.
Other scents came from mice, birds, and another unidentified creature. Gus had his suspicions but wouldn’t tell me right away. As long as it wasn’t a nest of spiders or bugs of any kind, I wasn’t bothered. I knew he’d tell me once we were inside and after he had his lunch. When that finally happened, he told me that was a scent around the logs as if something had been near them, but didn’t touch them directly.
I’ve been around people who don’t understand that the entire world doesn’t need to smell their perfume, cologne, or body spray so it felt plausible that Gus could detect a creature that had been near the logs without rubbing a scent gland on them. His SuperSmeller is far superior to mine after all. As it turned out, we had two things to consider in this one investigation.
The Snake Skin:
This region is abundant in snakes and Gorgons. Whether or not non-believers will consider the lore, doesn’t matter to us because we’ve seen the evidence. There are many creatures, beings, and spirits that people ignore or won’t believe. C’est la vie.
Due to the condition of this snake skin, we could only determine that it was a part of a larger piece. This piece doesn’t show any openings for arms nor wings (in case we dealing with a very tiny dragon type creature). We know we have the tail end and that’s about it.
Gus and I have monitored the increase in burrowing activity too. Things are under the ground — digging and moving freely. This is likely one lead species making the tunnels which are then shared by others. Gorgons are definitely involved in some capacity.
Snake creatures go into a type of hibernation called brumation. I don’t know why some scientist decided it needed its own name. They hibernate. The only difference is they stay awake SO LET’S GIVE IT A COMPLETELY UNNECESARY NEW NAME. They don’t move or eat because they can’t digest anything when they’re cold. I had to go to a couple of websites to confirm this. The first site I read comparing hibernation to brumation erroneously stated that hibernating bears don’t wake up to eat or relieve themselves. It’s not true. They will get up if it’s warm enough and they will look for food, but they go back to their dens to resume their Beef Sleep (watch The Great North).
Anyway, the snake creature was probably living happily in the wood pile because there are plenty of meals around that area. If it was a growing Gorgon, it could even have considered eating our beloved chipmunks and wolpertingers.
The Other Scent:
Gus had been sure strangers were passing through his domain, but I hadn’t witnessed much in a while. We know one of the volkolaks is still around because the bird seed bricks are frequently stolen. We saw turkeys one morning but couldn’t get outside in time to photograph them. There’s also evidence of feces and tracks of both white-tailed deer and Jersey devil-deer.
None of those were the marker that held Gus’ attention with the firewood. We know mice were living in the stack of logs because The Grumpy Old Man removed nesting material when he was putting wood into the wheelbarrow. What do mice attract? Lots of things. Certain birds, cats, snakes, and anything else that likes to eat or socialize with mice. I mean eat them as a meal not invite them over for brunch. The voles are probably willing to have brunch with them, but not the owls or hawks.
Our skies turned orange! It looked like the scene of a movie about the Earth catching on fire completely. It must be similar to what people experience in wildfires. The orange was the most vibrant and luminous I could ever recall seeing. We got up to look out the windows and within a couple minutes, the clouds were cotton candy pink and casting a lavender hue. Was it an Apocalypse? Were the Horsemen about to arrive? Or some non-Christian messenger bringing the end of the world? In Pawnee, Leslie Knope said the colorful sunsets were due to the pollution of the Sweetums factory. In these parts, usually our skies and air are pleasant which is why locals are fighting plans for a dump proposed by one company for their waste. They’re located right next to a farm.
Back to the sunset. Gus and I were on the balcony and I noticed his alert stance. Normally when he does this, I can’t see, hear, or smell whatever he’s detecting. This time was different. There was a large fluffy fancy cat coming down the private road! We watched this tuxedo James Bond cat with its luxurious locks walk by a truck and head towards the hangar. I’ve given him the fancypants name of Mr. Valentine. We lost sight of him for a couple of minutes, but he came back.
The firewood happens to be stacked right in that corner inside the walls of the building. The bay had been closed so there’s no way the cat walked into the building that way. Small critters and birds can get in and out easily. We haven’t smelled any typical male cat odor from territorial hormonal spraying. Somehow, this fancy man left enough of his aromatic presence behind that other animals could detect. Animals like Gus.
A few minutes later, Mr. Valentine reappeared and nonchalantly sat in the road watching the sky change colors. I wonder if he was sad. I wonder if he had a date and got stood up. Or maybe he was just enjoying the sunset alone and contemplating how he would survive the winter.
Gus and I took our observations and evidence to Oliver back at WNDA HQ. Oliver ran the snake creature skin through some tests and discovered something exciting! Obviously, it would need to be retested per the scientific method and produce the same results. What Oliver said was that the skin was definitely a growing Gorgon. The exciting discovery is that there’s a scent left behind humans cannot detect. This scent distinguishes the Gorgon juvenile from a snake. It also tells Oliver some basic data about the creature’s life: what kind of environment it’s from; its most recent meal; and whether its getting enough sun or not.
The tuxedo cat came around looking for mice and birds or anything that could be a meal. As it got close to the building wall, it sensed the wood pile on the other side and picked up on the scent of the Gorgon. It decided to retreat without hunting.
Case Status: Closed