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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Four: Case File No. 26-182

AMBER LOVE 09-NOV-2020 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.

Where We Left Off:

The body of a catbird named Imogen was discovered at our doorstep. We learned that there was a hit put out on her.

The Moon-Spinners:

Now that weird shit won’t be the normal headlines in your average news outlet, enjoy the oddities of our mysteries and tales.

Our past encounters with the vodní­ci were wrapped in mystery because their rare appearances at the Winchester-Nabu estate. The last encounter was in the spring as COVID-19 quarantines were beginning. Back then, the cat detectives determined that Nick von Vodní­ci’s sudden visit was not virus related. Rather, Nick was deeply worried about the wildlife habitat and expressed that many others were too. We didn’t expect another vodní­ci to show up, but we were graced with a different variety in the form of a Pickerel frog.

Months have passed in the blink of an eye. The Presidential Election is upon us. All the humans are stressed to the brink of collective cardiac failure. The wildlife, simple-celled organisms, and plant life are worried too. Some beings were able to make comebacks while others saw extinction and endangerment from all the protections that have been removed. Gus found the vodní­ci frog near the back porch in the plants and tried to “encourage” conversation with it in his particular Gus style (smacking it a little).

The vodní­ci said he was looking for a place to stay cool while questing for fresh rainwater. Gus didn’t fully believe the creature since it kind of looked like he was about to break into the house through the mouse tunnels. The tunnels might be there, man, but it’s a still a B&E. Shit got weird. Weirder.


This vodní­ci warned Gus and me that it had special powers. I noticed when I was unable to get a single clear photo. I was only a foot away at one point and still couldn’t get a perfect picture. At that distance, I should have something more professional. This time I can shift the blame from my terrible photography skills to the magical powers of the vodní­ci in my presence. Electronic disruption could halt most of the world. Besides technology, living beings are electrical conduits. Our bodies are mostly water.

While Gus was facing off with the vodní­ci, Oliver was making his rounds to check in with all the other residents. He went to Gnome Grove and the Fairy Garden to wish them a Happy Mabon (the second harvest which falls on the autumnal equinox). Gnomez Addams and Gnome Chomsky had concerns about the presence of a powerful vodní­ci. They’ve had more encounters with that sort of creature than any of us, so it was peculiar that they would be shaken by one arriving at the estate.

In West Deptford, NJ which is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, PA, reports show that the environment is polluted with chemicals. That’s about a two-hour drive by car from us, but a bigger metropolitan area so it’s easier to find data on it; plus this report is recent. Every time regulators come up with rules about chemicals, manufacturers get newer chemicals phased into the process which bypass the regulations. Are such forms of pollution responsible for the vodní­ci’s powers or responsible for the vodní­ci’s aggression towards humans? (Not that I blame the mystical amphibian at all. Humans suck.)

hypnotoad animatronic

Gus soon found himself mesmerized by the vodní­ci. It was a lot like that notion of a hypno-toad. I grew worried about Gus, but I was with Oliver in a different part of the property. I felt it like Spidey-sense. I told Oliver he had to wrap up his meeting with the fairies so we could get back to Gus.

Without his leash, Gus walked up the stone path. He appeared to be focused, but not in a hurry. We followed behind him about twenty paces. Gus navigated around parked cars and made his way to the driveway. He continued his slow, meaningful pace. He turned right and went towards the Grumpy Old Man’s place. Gus works there all the time so it’s not odd. What was strange was that Gus didn’t go to the left of the building and see if any critters were in the cinder blocks. That’s what he normally does. Instead he went directly to the front door and waited until I caught up to him.

He pawed at the door to let me know he wanted to go inside. Again, this part isn’t unusual. The door wasn’t locked though. I looked back at Oliver in his carriage and he gave me a lift of his chin meaning, “Go on.” The door has a few right-wing type stickers on it about the Second Amendment. There are streaks of rust on the thin white paint. It squeaked when I pushed it open.

Oliver in buggy

Gus paused at the threshold but didn’t look anywhere except inside the darkness of the workspace. He shook his head as if getting cobwebs off his ears. He looked back at me for only a second and seemed fine. He went into the hangar for his mousing patrol.

But there on the other side of the threshold, Oliver alerted me to something peculiar. I know there’s tall grass by the door that he and Gus like to chew. I first thought that’s what he wanted. He pawed at his window screen, agreed to take the grass proffered, but that wasn’t what he meant. I turned back and saw what I thought was a clump of mowed grass. It had been stuck to the inside of the door jamb for months. I figured the door had been opened when the grass was mowed and a divot kicked up sticking to the door. Grass can get all over, but I am still adamantly opposed to people who use leaf blowers to get rid of it.

dead frog

When I squatted down to get a closer look, I noticed that the clump had a strange shape. That’s when the Grumpy Old Man came over and told me what happened. It wasn’t kicked up grass. The greenish-grey mass was a squished frog! He said he didn’t know when it happened, but took on the blame saying he must have closed the door while a frog had been clinging to it. It seemed so weird. There are other places for a frog to go. Why would it have chosen the narrow side of a door?

After a minute, Gus returned to see what we were talking about. He said he knew already. Things were remaining high on the Weird-o-meter. The Pickerel had indeed hypnotizes Gus and ordered him to go up to the hangar. Gus said he was aware of his movements but felt like he couldn’t control his body until he broke the enchantment. All of us were grossed out and no one wanted to touch the flattened frog creature. It’s still hanging there.

close up of Gus

The Pickerel was gone by the time we got back to the house. It seems the aggressive attitude and nonconsensual hypnotism on Gus was the vodní­ci’s way of getting us to pay attention to a wrong done against one of their kind. I don’t know the funerary rites of the vodní­ci creatures so for now, the squished creature is still in place. There may also be a way of turning the corpse into a protective talisman, but I think I would need vodní­ci permission. Next time Gus finds one, I’ll have to inquire about that.

Case Findings:

Gus found another vodní­ci creature who hypnotized him into finding a murdered kindred frog. The death was accidental. The corpse is remaining in place until we can confer with the vodní­ci about what to do.

Case Status: Closed

collage of frog
Not a Strecker’s Chorus Frog after all. A Pickerel Vodnici!

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