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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Five: Case File No. 49-257

AMBER LOVE 18-APR-2022This 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 cat detectives investigated strong evidence that the squatting rodents criminally living in the building have uses for onions as well as garlic.

V Wars:

The vampire population among New Jersey wildlife is far worse than we thought. According to most of the divining groundhogs, Spring was coming early. I somewhat did. We had unusual snow squalls here, but no accumulation. The wildlife was ready to come back above ground and into the light in March. By April, Gus and I had seen a couple of our chipmunk friends and Bun Solo. The 50-70 degree days also reinvigorated the meadow voles.

Gus in the woods

It was only a short while ago that Gus discovered the voles are susceptible to vampirism. He thought he vanquished the only volepyr (Old World spelling) residing around the Winchester-Nabu estate. In reality, there is an entire population of them nesting and brooding under the brush in the woods. We have a few areas where we have been dumping branches and twigs broken during storms. Adding that brush to the woods where there is thriving carpet greens and thorn bushes have created the perfect place for rodents to stick together. They’ve basically got a huge city where they are protected. There’s even a size appropriate river for small creatures after a rain or when the snow thaws due to a PVC pipe under the ground directing fresh water through this border region.

Gus on a tree

The voles are vulnerable at certain places. Their engineering of tunnels is a nightmare for us in our open grassy areas. We don’t care what they do in the woods or under trees. It’s probably good for trees. I don’t know. But in the grass, these burrows are not entirely underground. They’re mostly above ground and look like train tunnels were built everywhere. Gus can smell when rodents are under the grass. His Super Smeller also makes it easy for him to find them in the woods.

Gus in the trees

Gus made up for missing several days of outside patrols due to the weather. It was a Caturday and he was ready for action. We ended up in the woods at the northern edge where the Gus Superhighway of Trees is located. This constitutes a series of trees taken down by storms or the utility company. The trees are just like a road going in different directions, inclines, declines, “off ramps” of upturned roots — and it’s like they were made specifically for Gus to enjoy.

I was about fifteen feet from Gus on a different log. He dove down into the foliage. Imagine those cartoons where an ostrich sticks its head in the sand. That’s basically what I saw — a shoulders to tail version of Gus wiggling about.

Gus came to the surface with a large rodent in his jaws. He trotted with exuberance from log to log then leaped up to a fallen tree. He took that tree to the roots and hopped through the border to get into the flats of the yard. I met up with him and his victim to give him some “good boy” pets and examine the perp.

Fishing through my adventure bag, I pulled out my gloves while trying not to let the bag of chicken treats fall out. The vole had shown signs of life when in the jaws of its feline assailant, my dear BFF Gus. When I picked it up, I was thinking maybe it was traumatized and bit stunned but would bounce back and start to wriggle in my hand. I saw the miraculously bellowing movement of its belly. It was breathing!

vole in Amber's gloved hand


I walked over a tree stump just over the border into the woods. The shape of the stump made for a pretty cave. I used my free hand to move away the leaves and make a bed of nearly black soil for the critter. When I put it down, it wasn’t reacting anymore. Its eyes stayed open. I have to say, usually the rodents close their eyes when they lie in their final moments to death. I kept going back to check on it. It seemed gone for good. I thanked it for its sacrifice and told Gus he could come over and take the body to do whatever he wanted with it. He was already on to another stakeout.

vole death

I contemplated what to do. Do I stop Gus from making another kill or do I let him follow The Grumpy Old Man’s orders to kill on sight? I walked back to the first victim and picked it up. I relocated it to a brick more out in the open at the border. Gus came by and sniffed in passing, but showed no more interest in it. He wanted another vampire to fight.

Gus took a short break to walk around and work out his muscles the way a fighter or a shark circles around but stays hyperaware. He went back over the border and I watched from a distance. This time the zoom lens would come in handy.

Gus utilized that tree superhighway to bolt through the forest at jaguar speed from one tree to the next. He walked calmly back at the end of his run and stopped in the middle of one of the trees. He turned sideways, looking down into the forest floor about six feet away.

Holy Laws of Physics, Batfriends! (Okay, wrong superhero)

Gus jumped from the tree with the beauty and mechanics only an organic killing machine could display. I heard the rustling of the leaves. I lifted my camera and waited. It was only a second or two when Gus moved into frame. He was behind a bush and clearly had another volepyr in his jaws. This time he was clamped on the ass-end of the creature unlike the first one.

He had to do more than hop or trot through the leafy carpeting. He jumped high! He had chosen his direction and stuck with it. Leap-Land-Leap-Land! Graceful and fierce simultaneously.

Moment to pause and cry for Chadwick Boseman again.

I was already in the grassy land. Gus slowed his speed and carried victim #2 around for a few feet to savour his victory. Then I kid you not, he dropped it like he had tasted something foul. Oh… perhaps the malevolent notes of sulphur with a bouquet of evil?

He opted to stand proudly next to his kill while the sun shone down upon him as if the Ancients Ones themselves wanted to surround him with gold.

I got closer and thought there was a worm on the victim. Unless Gus had accidentally grabbed a worm at the same time as the vole, it seemed too weird. I got a closer look. It was intestines.

AND THEN, Gus went back to the woods to hunt some more! He didn’t catch anything else which left me time to make some important observations. I left the bodies where they were in exposed places for scavengers to to take.

CLUE gif

Case Findings:

  • Vampyric rodents do not burst into ashes nor flames in the sunlight.
  • The corpses are still sought after as food sources for other animals.

The next day, the second vampire’s body was gone presumably taken for food. At the time the first victim was still on the brick where I left it. The day after, the first body was gone. Both volepyres served a purpose after being slain by Gus. We don’t know how large the volepyr population is. There’s no census of such things. We may come face to face with them again.

Case Status: Closed

2nd vole of the day, dead in the grass

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