Shuckleigh’s Own Anomalous Black Cat

Shuckleigh’s Own Anomalous Black Cat

Anomalous big cat sightings are a widespread ocurrence throughout Britain and Europe in areas where there should be no such animals. Many of these sightings are of large black cats, and in recent weeks there have been numerous reports of just such a creature in the Shuckleigh area.

Our own ABC is described as a jaguar, a panther or a lioness. My enquiries have led me to discover that the black, or melanistic, forms of these big cats are extremely rare genetic sports. Since there should be no such animals on the loose here, the Shuckleigh sightings may fall into one of four types: Witnesses are seeing a very rare beast, a supernatural entity, an entirely imaginary creature, or a large domestic cat whose size has been overestimated.

Shuckleigh’s local cryptozoologist, Carmichael Jones, says ‘It is not uncommon for members of the public to mistake a large, or even normal sized domestic cat for something much bigger, when viewed in poor light or at distances that don’t give a good size comparison opportunity.’

Mrs Dobson says ‘It raced right by me. I could have touched it. it was an enormous black cat, the size of a lion.’

Arthur White says ‘It knocked me down. It was just getting dark and this big black cat, like a jaguar, but heavier, it comes barrelling down the lane and bowls me over. It stopped and looked at me, and I thought it was going to attack, but it sort of snarled and then ran off. I haven’t been that way after dark since.’

There are other witnesses who haven’t seen the ABC so close, but they are all convinced that it was not a misidentified domestic moggy.

Carmichael Jones has examined the places where the cat has been sighted, but found no physical evidence. No pawprints or hair, and there have been no reports of farm animals being killed in the neigbourhood.

Asked about the possibility of a supernatural entity, Mr Jones told me ‘That’s not my field. Cryptozoology is a serious study, all about real creatures. For instance the Shuckleigh Black Dog is not cryptozoology. It’s just a folktale.’

‘But there are still sightings.’

‘I won’t be drawn into any discussion about that. I’m tired of the anonymous letters.’

‘What about dragons and the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot?’

‘Look, what seems to be just a story can be a pointer to an actual animal. If there is a real black cat out there, I will find it. If it’s something else entirely, well, there are other people you can consult about that.’

The investigation continues. Meanwhile, if you have any news, or better still, photos, do send them in.

A Note on the Reality of Fairies

A Note on the Reality of Fairies

It is said that the Fairy Folk used to be commonly seen in these parts. They were not the tiny, pretty bewinged creatures who danced through the addled Victorian imagination – that place where nature was defanged and submitted to the unnatural niceties of the new industrial age.

No, these Fairies were dangerous, quick to take offence and often deadly. They could give, but they were more likely to take away. Take your health, your spouse, your children, your sight, your life.

Cross them once and you would never have a chance to do it again, or even to make up for it – and it was not hard to cross them.

It was thought that they had lived in this land a long time before heavy, unmagical humans ever set foot here. Then we blundered into their world and took it away, shouldered them out, pushed them into corners and wastelands and tried to deny their existence.

Even so, everywhere there was a bit of wild, they persisted. If people kept them sweet, superstitiously leaving out the fairies’ share of the butter, the cream, the corn and the apples, then they left well alone. If they were forgotten or disrespected, they made the land wither, the cows dry up, the crops fail, and they crept into houses stealing away precious but intangible things.

They are beautiful, though, these wild, savage Fairies. Dressed in green, followed by enchanting strange music wherever they go (if they’re in a good mood), silver-eyed, dark-haired, golden-skinned.

If they discover that you have seen them, they will make you pay for the sight. Your sanity will be gone with the wind, and they might well curse you with the gift of poetry.

Some say they still live in those few lost places, where humans do not care to wander, but it is best not to go looking for them, unless you are prepared to pay the price.

Image: Titania by Arthur Rackham

Interview With The Psychic Detective

Interview With The Psychic Detective

You might expect a psychic detective to live in a spooky gothic mansion, but in fact Shuckleigh’s very own psychic detective lives in an unremarkable ground floor flat in a 1960s-built four-storey block.

The door is opened by a small man with sharp facial features and a decidedly old-fashioned taste in clothing – tweed suit, waistcoat and pocket watch – though he appears to be in his early forties. Inside, the flat has a modernist vibe, white walls, mid 20th century Scandinavian furnture, clean lines and clean surfaces.

I ask about his choice of decor.

‘I need a calm and uncluttered environment, or I can find myself overwhelmed by vibrations. The minimalist style allows me to focus on the work at hand, rather than being drowned in irrelevant chatter.’

‘I notice that you never put any contact details in your advertisements.’

‘No, indeed. As my ads say, if you need me, I will know – just as I knew that you wanted to interview me.’

‘Well, you turned up at my office and asked if I wanted to interview you.’

‘And you did.’

‘Um, yes.’

‘You had been thinking of me.’

‘So if someone thinks, “I could do with a psychic detective right now”, you pick up on that and just show up at their door?’


‘What kind of cases do you handle?’

‘Anything. Lost items are my speciality – valuables, pets, people. But I will bend my talents to whatever is required.’

‘Can you describe a case for me?’

‘Well, obviously I am unable to give details of any specific case, due to client confidentiality, which I take very seriously. Once I have made contact with a client and they have accepted my assistance, if it is a missing person case, I will ask for contact with the missing one’s belongings. It may be the case that an immediate impression comes to me, but often I then go to my meditation room,’ he indicates the bedroom, ‘and empty my mind, calling impressions to me. If the person is living, the impressions come quickly and are vivid. If deceased, which I am glad to say is not often the case, impressions are more difficult and confused, and it may take me some days to condense them into a useful narrative.’

Here he pauses and looks away into the distance.

‘There is someone hovering in your background,’ he says.

I assure him that I have no desire to know who that might be, and ask if he is a medium.

‘No, no. I do not routinely attempt to call up the spirits of those who have gone to Summerland. I think it cruel and intrusive. I only work to solve problems in this world. As I said, it is rare for a missing person to be quite that missing. I prefer to work with more concrete problems such as lost or stolen objects, and less serious crimes.

‘You heard of the outbreak of pet rabbit thefts, of course? I was instrumental in solving that case.’

‘I recall that the police found the rabbits in a hut in the woods behind the old shoe factory, but they never found out who stole them.’

‘No,’ he says, ‘and they never will. But I was the one who located the rabbits.’


‘Psychic probing and radiesthesia.’


‘If you prefer the common term.’

‘But why won’t the police ever find the culprit?’

‘I believe it to be a non-corporeal entity.’

‘A ghost stole them?’

‘Not at all. There are more things in heaven and earth than you and me and ghosts.’ He laughs and shakes his head. ‘You don’t really believe in ghosts, do you?’

‘Um, well, a lot of people do.’

‘They also believe in a great many other absurd things.’

‘I thought all psychics believed in ghosts?’

‘You are mistaking me for a medium. You keep mistaking me for a medium. I am a serious investigative agent.’

‘Can you help me find my car keys?’

‘They are in your pocket.’

At this point, he ends the interview and insists that I should not use his name in the article. But if you feel you need his help, just think of him and he will show up.

If he does, please let me know.