Hell-Hounds on My Trail
Last week, pursuant to his Mobberly duties, your Ned investigated the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, a nature-trails-and-local-history operation over on the other side of Short Hill. Rumor had it that a house where Mobberly had been wickedly ambushed by Perfious Yankeedom only to escape by the skin of his teeth was being excavated by the minions of Professor Quackenbush. (Whether this is actually that residence or merely a historical chimera is awaiting confirmation; I have written to the Professor under the assumed guise of Nosirrah Doowrehs, a Levantine dealer in Civil War antiquities and other curiosities, and am awaiting his promised reply. Please don't tell him it's actually me!)
At the Blue Ridge Center, an affable young man who identified himself as Ron greeted me and gave me the run of the place. A 900-acre nature preserve dedicated to ecological experimentation and historical preservation just south of Loudoun Heights, it is dotted with both butterfly habitats and the ruins of early-nineteenth-century farmhouses, which are being studied by Quackenbush and his henchmen for clues to the whereabouts of Prince Roderick's Purloined Orb. It is one of these farmhouses that purports to be my Mobberly locale.
The gloaming encroached as I glimmed the ruin, mentally reconstructing the events described in dusty tomes I have unearthed. (Should Professor Quackenbush confirm my -- sorry, Doowrehs' -- theory, I'll blog it in the near future, but for now it must remain a tantalizing dream.) Time passed, and the gloaming stopped the glimming, and, glum, I made my way back to my truck. Ron was shuttering the office cabin as I passed him. I asked him if I could return some day soon with my kids and dogs; they'd enjoy the place in fine weather.
Ron suddenly looked stricken and pale, the face of a man who's been badly frightened. "Keep away from there with your dogs, mister," he stammered. "You don't know what's out there. I'm telling you, man, keep away!" This last was hissed gutturally, his features tightened and anxious. "Just keep away!
He disappeared in the dusk.
It was not until the next morning, as I browsed the local Loudoun Times-Mirror over my coffee, when the full purport of Ron's warning became clear. Here I reproduce the complete article, with not one word omitted:
KILLER DOGS RUNNING LOOSE IN NEERSVILLE
Three killer dogs are running free in the Neersville area of western Loudoun -- and Animal Control wants them.
On Feb. 4, the dogs broke into a pasture at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship on Harpers Ferry Road between Purcellville and the West Virginia border, killing 90 chickens and injuring several sheep, according to Rob Carey, the center's spokesman.
The dogs -- a Rottweiler with a chain collar, a black Lab/Rottweiler mix and a long-haired tan dog -- were spotted again the following weekend, Carey said, when they acted aggressively toward a man who was hiking with his dogs on the Blue Ridge Center's trails.
Animal Control set traps around the property for the dogs but has not yet found them. They apparently cross back and forth between Virginia and West Virginia, said Animal Control spokeswoman Laura Danis.
If you see these dogs, call Animal Control at 703-777-0406.
I've got some better advice: If you see these dogs, bend over and kiss your ass an affectionate goodbye, because your doom is sealed. The Hounds of Hell have been unleashed, and it is time to rue the day you ever crossed swords with Quackenbush...
Up Next on the Mobberly Trail: Short Hill Reveals Her Secrets