PALE HUNTER: C.J. SELLERS
Okay, stop painting your house orange, and, yes, the black trim on the windows will make your home look très chic … to any gnomes who happen to be in the area! Cheesh! Paint brush down? Good! Because it’s time for our Daily Book Giveaway! Today it’s all about the Manitou! And if you like your spirits historical, you’ll LOVE this one!!!
Our offering from the horror scene is C.J. SELLERS PALE HUNTER. It’s set in 1666, the year of my birth, and, hey, wait a minute! Why am I not liking those last three numbers? Couldn’t it be set in 1665 or 1667 or something? I suppose not! It all goes to setting that vibe! And it’s a great story to read around a campfire, but don’t start one in the living room like you did the last time! This time, USE THE FIREPLACE!!! Three ecopies are up for grabs!
And please check back tomorrow for CJ's awesome Halloween fiction!
With that Public Service Announcement out of the way, here’s more on the spooky-scary C.J. and PALE HUNTER.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cynthia Jean (C.J.) Sellers spent her early childhood in Toledo, Ohio, USA, a place like so many in The Rust Belt around the Great Lakes, that suffered disintegration of their vital core due to a dependency on manufacturing, first during the Great Depression and again after a production shift to China and the southeastern US.
Her family--forced to choose between layoff and continued employment in a new area of the country--left behind the nucleus of several generations rooted in the Toledo area, to relocate to the wilderness of rural Virginia.
This isolation from roots and family support, friends and community, combined with pressures from corporate culture, led her parents to a meltdown that ended in divorce. CJ later lost her closest family members to illnesses of the brain.
Loss of identity/self, family, and place were the impetus for CJ's decision to lampoon the dynamics of society and family gone off the rails through means of the horror genre.
That said, no family history plays out in her fiction, no characters literally resemble any persons living or deceased. Situations presented are metaphors for how life feels at times of great emotional disturbance and loss--normal life warps into the surreal.
“This is an interesting story that combines horror, wilderness adventure, and Indian lore. … If you like horror with a touch of adventure, you'll like this. The characters are interesting, the chase thrilling, and it is something different than the usual horror fare.” – Amazon Reader
Set in 1666, a pair of European traders make first contact with something unexpected.
Terrified, they attempt to flee back to the forts of New France.
Even if they make it, will they be safe there?
Can anyone protect them from the wrath of the manitou?
Terrified, they attempt to flee back to the forts of New France.
Even if they make it, will they be safe there?
Can anyone protect them from the wrath of the manitou?
CONTEST CLOSED -- WINNERS SELECTED AND POSTED ON OFFICIAL HALLOWEENPALOOZA FACEBOOK PAGE!
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by C.J. Sellers
News clipping from the DC Post:
ANIMAL CRUELTY NOW MONITORED BY THE FBI
D.C. METRO — According to the metro area’s Animal Joint Task Force, the past three fall seasons were a record high for complaints of domestic animal disappearances in the region, as well as for the discovery of remains of small animals that evidenced foul play. When this disturbing trend was reported in the media two years ago, public outcry, combined with a campaign by PETA, prompted elected officials to call an Animal Joint Task Force to discuss and investigate the matter.
According to Prince George’s County animal control agent and Animal Joint Task Force spokesperson, Dana Gibbons, “Discerning negligent losses from criminal activity has enabled federal agents to better assess patterns of abuse that may be precursors to serial violent behavior against citizens.”
An interim report issued by the Animal Joint Task Force last year detailed a complex picture ranging from random to possibly interrelated incidents of violence involving animals. Those with dark coats, particularly black cats were at the top of the list of animals targeted, which may be, Gibbons said, due to their historic symbolism as bringers of bad luck, as well as their alleged relationship to the sacrificial rituals of satanic cults.
When asked if there was any truth to the allegations by some private citizens that Satanists were behind the spate of pet disappearances, Gibbons replied, “We found no evidence that organized Satanic Cults were responsible, nor that animal sacrifice was ever part of the rituals of contemporary LeVeyan Satanists in DC or anywhere. What seems more likely the culprit is the witchcraft lore and urban legend that has cultivated into something like an aesthetic that captures the imagination of some who are susceptible to grandiose conspiracy theories and violent solutions. No firm conclusions have been drawn related to profiling culprits based upon forensic reports for the animal corpses found, however, once caught, these facts may help to establish a theory for that individual’s method and motive. The information is shared with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Units and Violent Criminal Apprehension Program for that use. So the public should be aware, if you mess with animals in the DC metro area, you may find the government knocking on your door.”
Mid-August, Centreville, Virginia
Two brothers converged at Bull Run Park, outside Centreville. I was a sunny, clear afternoon near the end of summer vacation. One was about to head off to college, the other — to graduate school. Colin, the oldest, had been waiting in his SUV for a quarter of an hour — apprehensive, but not impatient. The younger, more wiry and agile one, Jeff, sped his vehicle to a sudden park, hopped out, and popped open the hatch. Colin joined him. They pulled two pro frisbees out of the white Kia Forte hatchback they’d inherited from their parents two years prior. It now belonged to Jeff. Colin had been glad to let Jeff take it. Until age 18, Jeff’s modest trust fund only covered minor living expenses, not large purchases, and Colin’s was pre-planned for tuition. The used Kia was no substitute for lost parents, but Colin trusted his brother and figured the added freedom was a small consolation. Turned out he was right. The boy was responsible. They both were. Their parents’ love and influence was a lasting legacy as the teenagers grew into men.
Jeff hefted a zippered thermal cooler over his shoulder before shutting the hatch.
“Hold up,” said Colin. He poked in the satchel. “Beer?”
Jeff batted innocent doe-eyes.
Colin considered a moment. Did he want Jeff to remember his last weekend living at home for its pseudo-parental control?
“You bring cups?”
“Yeah. See?” The disposable cups were typical blue and red opaque. Their contents wouldn’t be obvious.
Colin sighed. “Okay, that’ll work.”
They got out and sat at a picnic shelter near the first hole of the frisbee golf course, downed a few beers and ate the pretzels and cheese sticks that Colin brought, and watched in comfortable silence as strangers passed by.
“So,” said Jeff, “I was thinking I’d come back next month and we’d catch the Awakefest again, if you’re up for it.”
“I want to see how this one goes. Might be my last.”
“Well, did you hear last time they threw out some goths? Not even doing anything. Just didn’t look Christian enough, I guess. That aint’ right.”
“No, doesn’t sound right. Maybe there was more to it.”
“Hope so. I never was all that into Christian music to begin with, but you know...dad used to take us so I still sorta go for him. But I doubt he’d appreciate gestapo tactics either. Not very Christian-like. Kinda kills it for me.”
“I just like the music.”
“Yeah, I know you do.”
The parking lot was shared with the public pool. Some kid yelled, “Marco!” Another replied, “Polo!” It was a game the brothers had played in that very pool, half a lifetime ago.
“That reminds me. Let’s do it different this time,” said Colin. He retrieved a sleeveless shirt from the back of his blue Ford Escape, twisted it into a rope, and corded it around his his fist like brass knuckles. “Let’s go.”
They took their stuff and walked in the direction of the first cement tee-off pad, then dropped the load near the tee, but not under foot. Colin snapped the shirt at Jeff like a wet towel but it fanned and lacked pop.
“What’s that for,” Jeff asked.
“Bear with me,” Colin said. “First, stand here, look at the target. Hold the frisbee. Close your eyes. Imagine. Try to situate the trajectory in your mind — where the basket is in relation to where you’re standing. Open them.”
The target “basket” was a pole hoisting a chain basket at around waist-height, about 75 meters from the tee off position.
Colin tied the scarf over Jeff’s eyes. “Yes Obi Wan,” said Jeff, smirking. Blind.
“You got it? Ready?”
The frisbee glided too far right, then skittered at random through the grass.
Colin took his turns without the handicap, but it didn’t matter. They never kept score.
The first couple times, Jeff missed, but he got better as he went along. Eventually, he had the knack and nailed the basket 8 times out of 10.
“You’re getting it.”
“Blame the beer,” said Jeff.
“Hope not. They don’t let you drink in the operating room. You’re gonna have to learn to trust yourself.”
“You mad about the beer?”
“Of course not.”
“Good, because I almost brought Shep’s weed instead.” Jeff grinned. “But I didn’t! Yes, yes, you’re welcome.”
“Well why do you think you need to bring anything like that? It’s a public park not a rave.”
“Hey, duuude, I just thought it might help you relax.”
“Breaking the law doesn’t help me relax. Just the opposite, actually.”
“Oh come on. Lighten up. You’re not fifty, you know. Sometimes I think you forget you’re not dad.”
Colin punched him in the bicep for that. And, he meant it.
“Ow,” exclaimed Jeff, grinning.
“It’s easy for you to say ‘lighten up.’ ” The implied complaint was a sobering note. Colin wasn’t one to regret, but his mood was darkening at the mention of lost parents and responsibility. He preferred to leave all that bouncing around in the back of his mind 24/7. He didn’t need it rubbed in his face.
“I know. Listen, don’t think I don’t respect what you’ve done for me,” said Jeff, pausing their frisbee game.
“It wasn’t just for you,” Colin replied, noticing his tone came off a touch sullen. He’d have to say something encouraging to lighten the mood again.
“I know. It’s gonna be weird going solo. But it’ll be good.”
“Our folks woulda been proud the way you kept your head down and your grades up. Kept your eye on the prize. Got into a decent college. That was all you.”
Jeff paused a moment, stunned. That came out of left field, but it might have been the nicest thing Colin had ever said to him. The guy wasn’t much for sentiment. Though Jeff was excited about college, he also understood the gravity of their parting ways. He felt a sudden need be uncharacteristically sincere in reply. “Naw, man,” he said. “Not all me. Easier to be strong with someone in your corner. No, you didn’t have to ride my ass about school — I wanted this. I like school — but, I mean, you were hit pretty hard, too. You’d managed to keep it together, get your bachelor’s, work a shitty job, make your car payments, spend time with your little brother, and not be a dick? Lots of kids with both parents don’t have someone that stable in their life. Just think how I’d have turned out if I’d had to go with Uncle Floyd like they wanted. I owe you, bro. Big time.”
Colin’s eyes welled up a little. There was something on the tip of his tongue, something he wasn’t saying, but he was uncertain if he ought to event attempt to put words to it. The apprehension became too pregnant with emotion — it tipped over into awkwardness.
“I’m glad to know you feel that way, Jeff. It’s gonna suck to not have to nag you to do your laundry and wash your own dishes, but hey, life is full of sacrifices.”
They laughed it off, but there was a warmth between them now. Colin’s silly game took on more meaningfulness: he was spending time with his little brother and that counted for something. Truth be told, it wasn’t something he did consciously. He just cared what happened to what was left of their family. Standing in for their dad came automatic, as he took after him. No way could he stand in for their mom, though. No way in hell. To this day, they couldn’t even mention her without tearing up.
The next hole, the terrain was different. Took a few tries, but Jeff wasn’t starting completely over — he’d developed some skill at it already. He always was a natural.
On the third hole, Jeff said, still blindfolded, “You hear that? shh. Listen.”
Colin strained to hear something other than the kids playing in the distance and the wind in the trees. Somewhere north of them, commuters and trucks bellowed down the highway between Manassas and Centreville — both bedroom communities on the outskirts of the D.C. metro area. It wasn’t as loud as the beltway, but it was still distracting.
Then Colin heard it, too. A little cry. Pitiful. “What is that?”
“Shh,” answered Jeff. He took off the blindfold and wandered a little toward the trees. Frustrated, he closed his eyes and listened again. He pointed in the direction he heard it, then opened his eyes. “There,” he said, and headed into the woods toward the sound. Colin followed at his heels.
They almost didn’t see the black kitten up in the tree obscured by brushy foliage. It had instinctively grown quiet when it heard them coming. Jeff saw it first and started cooing, “Kitty, kitty. Come down kitty, it’s alright.”
“Can’t be even a year old,” said Colin. “Wonder where it came from.”
“Assholes dump their pets off in parks,” Jeff said. Not even hesitating, he’d scaled the tree trunk and was reaching over to the cat, which prompted a stream of, “Meow, meow, meow...”
Jeff scooped it under the torso and pinned it against his chest before it could protest. Then he ambled down, awkwardly. “I think it’s slipping.”
“I got it,” said Colin. “Let go.”
The kitten fell, but Jeff managed not to. Colin caught it deftly, but the kitten panicked and scrambled to flee, scratching up Colin’s chest and forearms while trying to gain traction.
Colin yelled in pain, which panicked the kitten even more.
“I got it,”said Jeff, seeing a crisis developing. He scooped the kitten back up against his chest, petting. They made adoring eye contact. “Orange eyes,” said Jeff. “Never seen orange on a real cat’s eyes before.”
In under a minute, the kitten was purring and they were already pals for life.
“Oh geeze,” says Colin. “Look at you two. You know, you can’t keep it. They don’t take pets in the dorms.”
“So I’ll get my own place. I’ve still got my trust fund.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Don’t worry. It’ll be good. I’ll make it work.”
“I’m not. I know you will.” Suddenly, Colin was overwhelmed with pride and hugged an arm around Jeff’s shoulders. “My little brother’s gonna be a daddy.” They laughed. It was a great end to the day — they’d worked together and did some good.
Having a kitten in the house lightened the mood of Jeff’s imminent departure and took the pressure off Colin to come up with something worthy as parting words. Ironically, he’d just graduated a communications major at American University. He could talk up a storm about public policy on politics and economics, but when it came to articulating emotions, especially something as profound as a brother’s love, he was at a loss.
Jeff’s friend who lived in the neighborhood, Shep, came by to see the cat and brought an orientation package sent from the school he and Jeff and a few of their other friends got accepted to: Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Jeff’s packet seemed to have gotten lost in the mail.
Jeff and Shep ended up playing Defiance — a shooter video game — while the kitten crawled over their laps and laptop keyboards, attacked elbows, and scaled and scouted-out the couch.
Colin lounged some distance away in a chair, thumbing through the info packet. His brother planned to go into medicine and VCU had a good hospital and medical school. Colin was glad he’d prodded Jeff onto this path by suggesting on a few occasions that with Jeff’s memory, natural dexterity, and confidence, he could probably be some sort of surgeon. If he was honest, he thought Jeff could do anything he put his mind to. Sometimes kids just need a little encouragement in a direction. His dad had done that for him, too.
“So what’s this cat’s name,” Shep, asked, multi-tasking with the game.
“I haven’t decided,” said Jeff.
“It’s kinda evil-looking. You should name it ‘Satan.’ ”
“Naw, man. It’s cute.”
“You don’t want a cat with a cute name, though. That’s for girls.”
“I don’t care. I just can’t think of a really good one.”
“How about Mrs. Norris?”
“Oh, from Hogwarts?”
“Yeah. It’s in between Chuck Norris and Mrs. Norris.”
“Norris, for short.”
“Even better. Less girly.”
“Well, it is a girl cat.”
“Meh. Still. Oh fuck!”
“Ha! Gotcha. You’re dead,” laughed Jeff.
The doorbell rang, as if on cue.
“You expecting someone,” asked Colin, rising to open the door.
“Oh yeah. I forgot.” He elbowed Shep. “We met this girl earlier. You’re gonna looove her.”
When Colin opened the door, the sun was setting over the townhouse complex. He was surprised to greet a smoking hot girl his own age skimpily-attired and carrying a paper bag about the size of six long-necks.
“Oh, hello. I’m looking for Jeff.”
“He’s here. Come right in,” said Colin, gesturing broadly.
“Wicked Ale, anyone?”
“Hey, Amber,” said Jeff from the couch, not looking up from the game. Shep looked briefly and waved.
The kitten ran toward the door, but not to escape — it attacked some bead bangles on the newcomer’s flip-flops.
“What a curious creature,” Amber said, entering and pulling the beer out of its sheath of paper. “What’s its name?”
“Norris,” the boys chimed in unison.
“And you are?” She smiled innocently at her host.
“Nice to meet you, Colin. Got a bottle opener?”
“Um...yes, on my keychain.” He handed her the Swiss Army Knife attached to keys.
She opened beers and passed them around, then sat near Jeff on the couch. They all took turns playing Defiance.
Within a half hour, Jeff said, “Hey bro!”
“Yeah,” said Colin.
“Mind going to the store and getting beer?”
“Mind if I do mind?”
“Awww. Not cool, man,” said Shep.
“Shut up, Shep,” said Jeff. “That’s alright, bro. It’s cool.”
“I’ll go if one of you drives,” said Amber.
“Let’s do it,” yelled Shep, inebriated. He’d drank more than his fair share.
The boys hopped up and left with Amber without further interaction. Colin, fuming, was left alone with Norris the kitten. As if on cue, Norris peed on the college info-packet. It dribbled all over the carpet and Colin had to clean it up. He did so in sullen silence, recalling how his outbursts had frightened the animal. While he was busy cleaning, Norris found another pile of paper. Junk mail. To crap on, this time. As Colin threw the mail in the trash, his cellphone vibrated a clatter where he’d left it on the counter.
“Hey, what’s up?”
“There was an accident.”
“God, what? How bad is it? Everyone alright?”
“I’m okay. I was in the back. They need Shep and Jeff’s next of kin at the emergency room. It’s Inova Emergency Center on Chainbridge Rd. Entrance is across from a church.”
“I know where it is... What happened?”
“I...he...Jeff was playing daredevil. Well, he was dared. Started he was talking about playing frisbee blindfolded, then Shep dared him to drive with the lights off…”
“Fuck! I knew I shouldn’t have let him go.”
“Guess I shouldn’t have offered.”
“No, you shouldn’t have.”
“I’m so sorry. Look, I gotta go.”
The other end went quiet. He stalled a moment, dismayed and imagining what he might have done to diffuse that situation. He hadn’t been drinking. The ale Amber had given him sat untouched on the table, warm and skunky.
Colin cursed himself, then grabbed his keys and went to find his brother at Inova.
Six hours later, he returned home, alone. Jeff wasn’t coming home. He wouldn’t be going to VCU, either. Or the concert in September. Jeff was dead.
Colin sat down at the kitchen table and cradled his head in his hands. Norris hopped up on the table and nuzzled his hand. Probably hungry. Colin got up and found lunch meat in the fridge and set it in a dish on the floor. The cat gobbled it up, quickly while the man drank his neglected Wicked Ale in stunned silence.
Colin attended to the funeral and other legal and monetary details, but his brother’s room sat untouched. He had no plans to mess with any of that and no need for the space, so he shut the door and left it shut.
When Shep came by after the funeral, looking for some way to express condolences and make amends, Colin shut the door in his face, but that was the extent of his retribution. Then he remembered Shep’s laptop was still sitting by the couch. He fetched it and yelled at Shep to come back. Shep took it and thanked him, but the thanks were cut short by the door slamming in his face again.
College resumed. Colin pursued his master’s degree in communications, as planned. He had more than enough money now to go on and seek a doctorate, if so inclined. Months passed. Committed to a certain course and unsure what else to do, he focused on his studies. He’d been through all this before. Last time, the brothers had each other to lean on. This time, all Colin had in the world was Jeff’s cat, Norris, though Colin barely paid attention to it. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to require much of him beyond food, water, and a clean cat box.
He navigated through the maze of human interactions and responsibilities numbed with grief. Disconnected from the world. His friends tried to help, but he said he just needed some time. They left him to it.
Sometime in October, the cat jumped on Colin’s lap, and when he picked it up, its belly was bulbous and firm. He realized Norris was several months pregnant with a litter — probably was already knocked up when they’d brought it home. It must have been, since it hadn’t been out of the house since then.
The next day, he drove Norris to a walk-in animal clinic in Manassas where a young vet confirmed, Norris was, indeed, pregnant. And perfectly healthy. No worms or fleas and no apparent complications related to the pregnancy.
Colin decided to stop off at a pet store on the way home and buy Norris a better quality of kibble and some cat toys. Not as a reward. More to keep her strength and spirits up since Colin wasn’t great about remembering to pet her every day.
The region was warm and overcast that day, but not hot or humid. At a Petsmart ten minutes west of Bull Run Park, he left Norris secured in the cat carrier with the car windows rolled down a few inches each. A pair of old ladies passed by and nodded amiably on their way out of Petsmart as he wandered in. After perusing the cat aisles indecisively, he got around to asking someone on staff which was the best quality food for a pregnant cat. The employee directed him to the resident vet/pharmacist, who showed him an expensive brand of food in a small pink bag. Despite the cost, he added a variety pack of cat toys to the order and a squeaky mouse on an elastic string with a plastic vice contraption on one end. The package directions showed it mounted at the edge of an open door frame, and hanging down, tempting. He wasn’t quite ready to face his empty house, however. He wasted additional minutes staring at the aquariums of fish before he remembered Norris was waiting for him in the car. So, he paid for his stuff at the checkout and rushed out.
He’d already got in the SUV and started the engine when he noticed a piece of paper was pinned under the windshield wiper. It was a hand-scrawled message, written in pen on cute, cat-themed stationary:
Dear Mr. Jerkface,
We liberated your pregnant cat from your steaming hot SUV. Thanks for leaving the windows open for easier access. If you want kitty back, come get her at 26 Sunshine Lane, Quantico, Virginia.
PS. Don’t make trouble for us. Remember, this is all your fault. You should take better care of those supposedly under your protection. Hope you learned a valuable lesson and never do it again.
A glance into the back seat confirmed that the cat carrier had been removed. He got out and looked the car over for evidence of forced entry or vandalism, hoping for an excuse to report the break-in to the police — other than cat rescue. Everything on the vehicle looked fine.
After a few minutes fuming at the wheel, Colin set out for a destination that Google Maps estimated to be 41 minutes south of Petsmart. The road to Quantico was vaguely familiar. He’d been on it a few times, as Quantico housed an important base for the Marine Corps nearby. Their dad drove the boys to see it when they were kids. They weren’t allowed on the base, so there wasn’t much to see. Colin thought after he retrieved Norris, he’d take another drive by now, as an adult, for nostalgia’s sake.
The map showed that somewhere not too far out in the Potomac River lay the coordinates of the border between Virginia and Maryland. Concerned Citizens’ residence turned out to be an isolated but respectable-looking cottage located on the flat western shore. Several large willow trees flourished between the bank and cottage, providing what was probably a solid canopy of shade in the warm months. Being that it was October, only a few straggler leaves still clung to the swaying branches. The rest carpeted the grass in yellow dashes.
He pulled his SUV into the driveway. An elderly woman peered out between the drawn curtains of a front window. In that brief glimpse, he thought he recognized her as one of the two elderly women that had passed him in the parking lot of Petsmart. When they both came out of the house to greet him in a surprisingly friendly manner, he became certain of it.
The women lured him into the house for tea and a chat, they said. He obliged because he had no choice. They weren’t waiting to start the chat. Indeed, their chatter was non-stop. Reminded him of the stream of meows that cat made when it was stranded in the tree. He supposed the had nothing better to do than talk incessantly. They were stranded in their old age. Ignored and dismissed. Too many of their friends had passed before them. They were probably lonely and forgotten by a world that continually produced new strangers who also didn’t care if they existed. He chided himself for his lack of charity, but was more inclined to be judgmental than usual, considering how presumptuous they’d been by stealing his cat. And the rude note. And the inconvenience of the long drive. The only consolation was that Norris absolutely hated car rides. Colin hoped the cat drove the old ladies nuts with its cries to be let out so it could barf in peace.
Sisters, the old ladies were. Identical twins, they said. Old age had wrinkled them in ways that differentiated them completely. Myrtle’s hair was a little wild and her expression was quizzical and dotty. In contrast, Mildred had a serious, downcast visage. She also seemed to be the one in charge of this kidnapping. Myrtle swore that Mildred got touched in the head in recent years. Seriousness aside, she wasn’t all there. Colin’s impression was just the opposite. Myrtle was the sort they coined the term “hair-brained” after. She lost her fork three times during the course of their meal and conversation. Colin excused himself to the restroom at one point, and took the opportunity to peek in the closed rooms down the hallway, looking for Norris.
“Did you find the washroom,” yelled Mildred from the front of the house.
“Yes, thank you,” he yelled back, doing as the Romans do. The smell in this part of the house was atrocious. Like filth and urine.
At the end of the hall, he came to a door he expected to be no more than a closet. When he reached for it, he heard a meow. He turned the knob — one meow became several. He opened it and as many as fifty cats darted out the door past him. He spied Norris running among them. He turned to catch the cat. That was when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a fry pan moving swiftly in the direction of his temple. Too late. Fade to black.
MISSING STUDENT FOUND — SACRIFICIAL VICTIM OF ELDERLY SATANIC ANIMAL HOARDERS
QUANTICO, VIRGINIA — Agents of the Animal Joint Task Force branch in Quantico, acting on a tip by a junior marine, raided the home of two elderly women suspected of animal hoarding. The report turned out to be true. Over four dozen cats were recovered from the home of Myrtle and Mildred Pence. In the course of recovery, a missing student from American University, Colin Willsbaum, was found buried in cat manure in the basement, in an advanced state of decomposition. Evidence in the form of a note from one of the Pence sisters to Willsbaum showed that Mr. Willsbaum’s pregnant cat, Norris, was stolen from his vehicle while parked at the Petsmart in Manassas. He apparently came to the residence on their invitation to reclaim Norris. This was prevented by the Pence sisters whose ulterior motive appears to have been the sacrificial mutilation of an innocent human being during a Satanic ritual. The house also contained a large cache of Satanic and witch paraphernalia. The murder weapon was also identified at the premises.
Due to advancing dementia, the Pence sisters have been committed to a mental health facility for the criminally insane while being assessed for their competence to stand trial for theft, murder, and animal cruelty. In a statement to the press, spokesperson for the office of the District Attorney, Janet Messer, implied that, due to the rate of their physical and mental deterioration, the D.A. did not expect the women to live long enough to have their day in court. Also from that statement:
“This heinous murder was a terrible tragedy, but we have reason to believe it was an isolated event triggered by the perpetrators’ infirmity. Colin Willsbaum has no living relatives, but had many friends and acquaintances who will mourn his passing. The one positive outcome from this raid is that we now have a large piece of the puzzle involving the disappearance of many cats throughout the region. The Animal Joint Task Force has posted photos of the recovered cats on their website in hopes that they may soon be reunited with their owners,” Messer said.
When asked what will become of Norris the cat, Messer replied, “Two months prior, Colin Willsbaum’s family’s fortune was put in trust for the care of Norris and her assigns in the event of Colin Willsbaum’s death. Norris was found among the cats at the scene and is now considered a ward of the state until executors of the trust assume guardianship. Norris is a very lucky cat.”