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The Cutting Table…

23 Apr

Circular saw350

From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

The next few hours passed like a blur as Holmes, Lestrade and I were trussed up and bundled into the back of one of those new-fangled ‘horseless carriage’ machineries and transported to the place of our execution. Had my focus not been drawn by our perilous situation, I might have admired the strange vehicle as it trundled through the dark streets of Edinburgh, clouds of noxious gas bellowing from its rear, accompanied by intermittent phart-like gurgling noises. A similar mode of transport chugged along behind, bearing Moriarty and the rest of the film crew.

We had been tied up and shoved onto the passenger seat of the vehicle, while the arsehole formerly known as Hannay sat at the wheel, casting the odd glance over his shoulder and grinning like the proverbial cat. Holmes sat beside me and (to my consternation), spent the whole journey attempting to engineer ‘a quiet smoke’. Having managed to extract his Meerschaum pipe from his top pocket using only his teeth, he gave me one of those ‘Would you mind, Watson?’ looks, and urged me to lean over his crotch to grasp his pouch with my own sturdy incisors and pull it out of his trouser pocket. How he succeeded in opening the small bag of Hard Shag, stuffing his pipe and lighting it using only his mouth and left ear, will forever remain a mystery.

Lestrade, on the other hand, was considerably less relaxed, screaming, “Arrrgggh!” and “Eeargh!” several times throughout the journey (in a surprisingly varied selection of tonal ranges). Thankfully, he eventually settled down and adopted a ‘fed-up’ expression.

We arrived at our destination in the early hours of the morning – a remote farmhouse on the outskirts of the city. In the dim light, I could make out two or three large barns. While Moriarty supervised, the three of us were manhandled off the motor vehicle and into the nearest of these, where we were made to stand in one corner of the building while the crew set things up. Once again, had I not been preoccupied with thoughts of my impending death, I might have enjoyed watching the proceedings: several large pieces of ‘set’ were arranged to resemble what I eventually realised was a representation of a stage play I’d seen at the Almeida a few months ago, entitled ‘Herr Batman Gets Cut in Half by Count Von Joker’, a piece of German-expressionistic theatre I hadn’t understood at the time, but which now made perfect sense.

“Don’t worry, friend Watson,” purred Holmes, still puffing on his pipe. “I have a plan.”

I snorted rather scornfully. “It’d better involve a bloody miracle then, or we three are about to be well and truly fucked.”

“Now, now, Watson, no need for that sort of talk. Stiff upper lip and all that.”

I didn’t bother replying as my attention was taken by the extended workbench that Moriarty’s henchman had manoeuvred into the middle of the ‘theatre’ set. Slotted in one end of the thing was a shiny circular saw, with a small steam engine fixed beneath. More worryingly, the parallel conveyor belts that ran the length of the table would ensure any item placed there would quickly be thrust towards the jagged, yet twinkling, teeth of the saw. I began to feel sick.

“Now gentlemen,” said Moriarty, tying a bloodstained apron around his waist. “Who’d like to go first?”

At this point, Lestrade gave way to his cowardly side. “It’s Holmes you want – do him, let me and the Doc go.” A familiar smell hit my nasal passages and I realised the poor chap had weed himself.

Hitchcock finished setting up the cameras and wobbled over to where we were waiting. “I assume you don’t want to rehearse this bit?”

Moriarty grinned. “I’d be happy to do a run-through, but I think Mr Holmes might find it a bit difficult. The first cut, as they say, is the deepest.” He broke into a hearty laugh.

Holmes gave him a sardonic smile. “Shoot me from the left, won’t you, Hitch? It’s my best side.”

At a signal from the Evil Genius, four henchmen dragged Holmes to the saw bench, untied the ropes that held him and strapped his manly form onto the despicable device. My companion now lay face up with his legs either side of the circular saw. It didn’t take an evil genius to work out what would happen when the machine screamed into life and the conveyor belt shunted the great detective towards his final problem.

“Wait!” I yelled. “Haven’t you forgotten something?”

Moriarty inclined his head and gave me a condescending smile. “Really, Doctor Watson? Don’t you think it’s time to give up?”

I knew I was grasping at straw-like articles, but I soldiered on. “Of course it is, any fool can see that, but I wanted to point out that you haven’t filmed the scene before this one – the one where you capture Holmes and bring him here.”

Hitchcock glanced at Moriarty. “He’s right, you know. We haven’t.”

Moriarty glared at me. “A small matter – we’ll use stooges dressed as you three. A couple of long shots should do it, I think.” He took a step towards me. “In any case, the punters won’t remember the penultimate scene, they’ll remember the last one: the one where Sherlock Holmes gets sawn in two. Mwah, hah, hah…”

The next few minutes passed in a blur (much like the earlier one), and I had to force myself to concentrate. As the circular saw started up and the set was lit, I saw Moriarty take up his position next to the staircase at the edge of the set.

“Action!” Hitchcock clicked his fingers and the next few seconds seemed to slow into some sort of slow motion that was very, very slow. I watched transfixed as Moriarty took his cue:

“And so, Mr Holmes, this is the end. I will be rid of your meddling forever. Goodbye.” He started up the staircase and moved along the gantry. The cameras tracked his progress as he looked down on Holmes, the conveyor belt juddering my friend’s nether regions ever closer to the saw.

Holmes, however, appeared unconcerned. “Do you expect me to talk?” he called.

“No Mr Holmes, I expect you to die.” Moriarty laughed again.

Holmes stared up at him. “But what about the plans for a top secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship designed by the famous submarine boffin Bruce Partridger?”

Moriarty sneered. “You cannot distract me from my purpose, Holmes.”

My soon-to-be-sliced companion chuckled. “You don’t know what they are, do you?”

Moriarty stopped. “I’ll have an abundance of time to peruse them, Holmes, after I’ve seen you in halves – preferably two.”

Holmes lifted his head and peered at the screaming blade. I detected a note of concern in his voice as he looked straight up at the ceiling and yelled, “I think we can safely say this would be a good time, dear brother!”

At that moment, it seemed that the whole roof of the barn was lifted away as if by some gigantic, unseen hand. The cold air gushed in and the whirling blades from the flying machines hovering above us filled the air with a great noise. Seconds later, dozens of hunky, leather-clad men descended into the barn on ropes, and in the melee that followed, Hitchcock, Buchan, Moriarty and his men were caught and tied up, Lestrade and I were set free and (most thankfully) the deft flick of a switch ensured that the circular saw juddered to a halt a mere three millimetres from the testicles of the great detective Sherlock Holmes.

“You took your bloody time,” barked Holmes to the man in the white suit.

Mycroft smiled and helped him up, then gazed around as his men dragged their prisoners into the centre of the barn. “You know me, dear brother, I like a dramatic ending.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Good thing we gave you that locating device, eh?”

Holmes stuck a hand down his trousers and fiddled around for a moment before pulling out a small metal box. “Your patented Telegraphical Steam Conduit.” He handed the device to his brother. “Indeed, as Watson pointed out, we’d have been fucked without it.”

Mycroft slipped the device into his own pocket. “I suppose you do still have the plans for the submarine?”

Holmes nodded. “Of course. In fact I never gave them to John Buchan at all – what he thought were the submarine plans was merely a design for a new type of exploding cigar I’ve been working on. Would have been rather fun if Moriarty had tried to build it.”

“So the plans are…?”

“In the safest place I could think of – inside Mrs Hudson’s knickers.”

Out of the corner of my eye, a sudden flash of Evil Genius tore towards my companion, his face fixed in a snarl of rage. I stuck out my leg and Moriarty fell in a heap on the ground.

“Ow!”

“Tch,” muttered Mycroft. “Keep him under control, can’t you?” Two of his men hauled the Evil Genius to his feet and tied him up. Again.

As we climbed into one of the steam-powered gyrocopters, I slid in behind Holmes and half-listened to the idle bickering between the brothers. Another adventure at an end, I thought, allowing myself a satisfied sigh. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help wonder if all this might have been resolved more easily and with considerably fewer threats to human life. But then, it wouldn’t have been half so much fun!

As the machine rose into the early dawn, Lestrade rested his head on my shoulder. He stank of wee, but I didn’t mind – I was already thinking about the title for this adventure…

 

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2 Comments

Posted by on April 23, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “The Cutting Table…

  1. stephrichmond

    April 30, 2016 at 12:24 PM

    I’ve only just discovered there’s a book. How did I not know this.

    Liked by 1 person

     
  2. colingarrow

    April 30, 2016 at 1:15 PM

    To be honest, Volume 1 (Something Wicker This Way Comes) was an experiment. The next one’ll be better!

    Like

     

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