From the Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)
All three of us whirled round at the sound of the voice. The man in front of us was wearing a dress. My dress, in fact. I felt a rather sickly sort of rumbling in my tummy.
“You!” He said, pointing directly at me. “Vot are you doingk vearingk my clothes?”
I smoothed a hand down my stolen overcoat and was in the midst of forming a witty riposte when Harry stepped in front of me and addressed the interloper:
“Keep your voice down, man. If Lord Manchu hears of your desultory behaviour, you’ll be on a court martial.” He glanced around then took the man’s arm. “Tell you what, come in here and I’ll bring you up to speed.”
And with that, he led the poor fool into our former prison and closed the door. Johnny and I looked at each other, but a moment later there was a dull thud and Harry emerged from the cell wiping his hands.
“That’ll keep him quiet for a while. Now, we’d better get moving.”
Continuing towards our destination, we marched in single file to the open end of the tunnel. A few soldiers busied themselves unloading hand grenades and other dangerous objects, placing them at intervals along a line of trestle tables.
“Probably intending to hand those bally things out when the troops come in,” muttered my husband as we passed by.
Harry shushed us with a sturdy finger and we hurried out into the cold night air.
Once outside, all three of us were startled by a shrill whistle from the train above us. Extra carriages had been added to the locomotive and even as we watched, the steaming beast began its return journey across the bridge.
“Damn them,” said Harry. “We’d better get up there.”
No-one took any notice of us as we climbed back up the steps to the track. A handful of overall-clad men were on their way down, but thankfully, were in too much of a hurry to pay us any attention.
Up on the bridge once more, we retraced our route along the line, the train building up speed ahead of us. The walk was longer than I remembered, but we made good time and the locomotive was just disappearing out of sight as we drew level with the station platform.
Harry leapt up onto the darkened platform and pulled Johnny and I up in one easy movement.
“Is there anyone else around here I should know about?” said Harry, keeping his voice low.
“Yes,” said Johnny. “There’s a young married couple and an old chap in a raincoat.”
“And the stationmaster,” I added.
Harry nodded. “Oh yeah, we know about that guy – we think he’s one of them.”
Johnny shook his head. “Surely not – I’m sure he said he was married.”
“Not one of them – one of them!”
“Oh.” My husband adopted his silly-me look.
Heading for the waiting room, Harry pushed through the door. Inside, the young couple were sitting at the table eating chocolate and Mac Man was standing by the window watching them.
“I say,” said Mr Raincoat. “Who the devil are you?”
Harry flashed an ID card at him. “Hollywoodland Secret Service, that’s who. Now sit down and shut up.”
The man did as he was told, apparently too shocked to object.
“Is the train coming, then?” the young woman asked, looking at me as she popped the last bit of chocolate into her mouth.
“You could say that,” I said.
“Ooh eck,” she went on, gazing at Harry. “Is he that famous actor bloke?”
“Yes he is,” I said, “and he’s not interested in you.”
Harry had pulled a length of twine from his pocket and handed it to the young man. “If the Stationmaster comes back, tie him up.”
“Really,” said the young man, waving a chocolate-stained finger. “That’s not very sportsmanlike.”
Harry nodded. “You’re damn right it ain’t, son, and if you don’t do as I say, you’ll get the same treatment.” He glanced at me and Johnny. “Come on you two, we’ve got a train to catch.”
We followed him back out onto the platform where he stood rubbing his chin.
“What now?” I said.
“Now? Well, I reckon we’ve got about five damn minutes before that choo-choo comes screaming back through here. And if we three can’t bring it to a standstill, Manchu will carry out his dastardly plan and the world as we know it is gonna change forever. And not in a good way.”
“Holmes would know what to do,” muttered Johnny, giving Harry a doubtful look.
“Oh he would, would he? Well he ain’t here right now so if you’ll put your stiff upper lip away for a moment I suggest we come up with a plan.”
My husband glared at him, but nodded in agreement.
Harry was gazing along the track in the direction the train would be coming from. “Christ, I don’t know…” He glanced at me. “Maybe if you could lie down on the track…?”
Johnnie strode forward, his hand covering my womanly bits in a protective attitude. “She bloody well will not! If you want to lay down your life, that’s fine with me, Harry, but you can leave my Mary out of it, thank you very much.”
I gave him a hug and murmured a thank you. “Actually, I did wonder about something…” Beckoning to them both to follow me, I hurried off along the platform.
Reaching my objective, I delved inside my knickers and produced a bunch of skeleton keys.
Johnny nodded approvingly. “What else have you got hidden in there?”
I gave him a mischievous grin. “Nothing you’re going to get tonight, Johnny. Now, let’s see if we can move this.”
A minute later, I had the padlock open and the three of us heaved the great iron wheel towards the Open side, tensing as the mechanism clicked into place.
“That should do it,” I said.
Harry looked up. “Sounds like just the nick of time.” We turned to look down the track and could just make out the dull glow of the engine as it thundered towards us, steam and smoke billowing upwards.
We could do nothing but stand there as the mighty beast thundered past, the additional dozen or so coaches packed with uniformed men, all gazing dumfoundedly at us from the carriage windows. As the last carriage drew level with us, a familiar face came into view. Sherlock Holmes was clinging gamely to the roof of the locomotive, a knife between his teeth. When his eyes met mine, a puzzled expression slid over his face. Then, as we watched, the Stationmaster emerged above Holmes. Struggling to keep his balance on the juddering vehicle, he rose to his full height and reached out his hands towards the bared neck of the great detective.
“Fuck,” said Johnny.
“Crap,” said Harry.
“Heavens,” said I. Then, turning to my husband, I grasped his sleeve. “He’ll be able to jump off, won’t he? I mean, before the train…?”
Johnny’s face was ghostly. “Before it plunges into the river and kills everyone onboard?” He bit his lip. “Bloody hope so, otherwise it’ll be the Reichenbach Falls all over again…”