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Still in the Belly of the Beast…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

From the diary of Doctor Watson

Day 2, Loch Ness (continued)

I have to say I was more than a little perturbed at my companion’s sudden departure, but reading his note now (in the general tranquillity of this railway carriage), I can see that Holmes was merely thinking of me and my likely reaction to the contents of his stomach erupting in the confined space we then occupied. (NB: his note, having been sent rather optimistically by carrier pigeon to the ‘Beast’s’ last known position, was perhaps not one of my friend’s better ideas, but I shall forgo that for now as it all turned out alright in the end).

Miss Adler had of course noticed Holmes’ departure and was a little miffed at this but instead of screaming the place down as I expected, she simply tossed me a wad of paper, muttering, “Page 42, I think…”

I flipped through the foolscap sheets to find page 42 and was glad to note that it did not describe the manner of my death, but something along the lines of the following:

Scene 16:

HOLMES AND WATSON ARE IN THE SUB

HOLMES: Now Miss Adler, as you no doubt intend to kill myself and my companion, I should like to know what devious master plan is simmering away in that cunning, but rather beautiful, little brain of yours.

ADLER: Ah, Sherlock, my love, if only you knew. In fact, it is your old adversary Professor Moriarty who is to blame for your present predicament…

And so the dialogue went on to detail the scene where Holmes and I are taken to an underground cave where that very individual is waiting for us on the end of a rickety wooden jetty. However, given that Moriarty is of course long dead, I was at a loss to explain why he would be hiding out in an underground cave. I was just about to pose this question to Miss Adler when a loud grinding noise came to my ears and the ‘Beast’ came to a sudden standstill.

“What’s happening, Miss Adler?” said I.

The young lady sighed and pulled her skirt down to a more respectable level. “Well, Doctor, since Sherl has done a bunk there’s not much point in continuing shooting today, so I’m dropping you back at the hotel.”

And with that, she slid her hand over a large red knob and gave it a sharp tug. The hatch opened slowly and I looked out to find that we were indeed back at the small pier within sight of the hotel.

Irene Adler flicked her hair back. “Go on, then, bugger off.”

“But what exactly is this, Miss Adler?” said I waving the wodge of papers.

 

Looking back, I suppose it was inevitable that those people at Ealing Studios would want to ‘get in on the action’ (I believe that is the correct phrase) with a film version of one of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. That he had (of course) flatly refused to indulge their comedic whims and willingly take part in the movie (initially entitled: Sherlock Holmes and the Loch Ness Monster and Moriarty and a Few Other Baddies), was no surprise to me, but Miss Adler was clearly quite put out that her starring role had been cut short.

I glanced up from my diary. Holmes was puffing away at his Meerschaum pipe and had that knowing smile on his face. I gave him a querying look.

“I know what you’re thinking, Watson,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “If it hadn’t been for my sudden departure, you might have had a new role in life as an actor.”

I pursed my lips and shook my head. “No, of course not, Holmes. It had never entered my head.” Nevertheless, as the train chuffed its weary way towards London, I couldn’t help wonder if our ‘adventures’ would ever make it to the silver screen.

Holmes nodded to himself. “Of course you know who took the role of Moriarty?”

I shook my head. “Eric Porter, perhaps?”

Holmes laughed. “No, it was that fool Rathbone.” He chuckled and gazed out of the window. “No talent. Probably end up playing some fool of a detective in one of those dreadful Hollywood farces…”

Watson.

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Posted by on May 9, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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In the Belly of the Beast – or Not, as it Happens…

From Sherlock Holmes Esq to Doctor Watson:

Watson – I have been putting off sending this missive as I have been experiencing a rather strange emotion – a totally unfamiliar sensation – and in discussions with our friend Logan McRae, he surmised, no doubt quite correctly, that the feeling I have been noting at regular intervals, is none other than common-or-garden Guilt – tinged perhaps with a soupcon of Remorse. It is he who has convinced me that you require an apology…going against the grain, as it does, I have agreed to furnish you with an explanation for my last (no doubt “unforgivable” in your eyes) course of action, before leaving you “in the lurch” as you no doubt saw it.

I have been turning it over in my mind, and have to admit that at the time, I saw no other Solution; we were both Ms Adler’s captives In the Belly of the Beast, as you so aptly put it; the stench of hot vegetable oil was turning my stomach; the strength of Ms Adler’s perfume¬† (did she really say it was ‘Poison’?) was making me light-headed; your irritating nervous habits of constantly clearing your throat and drumming on the red leather upholstery were fuelling my senses of irritation and annoyance that we had been forced in to this frustrating state – all these several things were building in to a volcanic kernel of Fury at my own helplessness that I could not have ignored the compulsion any longer. To request a Toilet Break was my Way Out and I did feel something to think of you still ensconced in that Infernal – in the heat and the stench, comparatively so – Contraption, but I convinced myself that I was going for Help, and you would be free in no time…I did Not expect to have been deposited on the ground so close to the Local Constabulary’s Watering-hole.

Therefore, I trust and hope that you can see how a couple of minutes can have stretched to a couple of hours and then to a couple of days…need I go on? However, McRae has assured me that they have managed to narrow down the range of your present location to 100 miles or so…or a rough approximation….

Be strong! – Think of England! (or Scotland, if you’d rather…but perhaps this may have curbed your Nationalistic Fervour somewhat…).

Your Friend (I trust you will not be thinking of adding “Former” to that sobriquet).

SH.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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In the Belly of the Beast…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

From the diary of Doctor Watson

Day 2, Loch Ness (continued)

As we pelted up the shore towards the trees, I caught a whiff of the Monster’s hot breath in my nostrils. Rather unexpectedly, it smelled of fried chicken. I cast the image aside in my haste to escape the terror behind me. Throwing myself behind a large oak tree, I stumbled over Holmes and McCoatup, who were clinging together like a couple of sailors who’d just found out it was their turn to play ‘hide the sausage’.

“Careful Watson,” muttered Holmes, fiddling with himself under his duffel coat. “You almost squashed my Meerschaum.”

I hushed him to be quiet and the three of us crouched there for what seemed like ages, expecting every moment to be our last. Eventually, when we could detect no further sound from the monster, I dared to take a peek at our pursuer. The Monster had stopped and seemed to be ‘grazing’ on a patch of grass. But once again, it was the figure sitting astride the beast’s scaly back that drew my attention. As I stared at her, the woman waved at me, as if we were friends, merely passing in the street:

“Good evening Doctor, is Shirley around?” Her voice was like pure honey dripping from a hot spoon: rich and velvety with just the right amount of saccharin.

At the sound of her honeyed tones, my companion and the Inspector peered round the trunk of the tree. Holmes made a tutting noise and picking himself up, strode out from his hiding place. (Our detective friend, however, stayed exactly where he was).

I watched as Holmes approached the beast – it was clearly some sort of mechanical device made from overlapping sheets of metal and painted the colour of…well, monster. The shape of the creature was obviously modelled on the many sightings of ‘Nessie’ over the years, being somewhat dinosauric in outline: from its long neck, it widened out into three large humps before tapering off to a tail. I estimated it’s whole length to be around forty feet and perhaps six feet in diameter at its widest hump.

“Another one of your tricks, Miss Adler?” said Holmes, with only a trace of irritation. “A steam-driven contraception to scare off the locals?”

Miss Adler swung a leg over and slid down to the ground, brushing her wet hair back in a seductive manner. Then pulling a hidden leaver, she opened a hatch on the side of the beast. Inside I could make out some sort of piston engine and several rather plush-looking red leather seats. “Steam? Oh come on, Sherl, you can do better than that?” Leaving the hatch open, she sauntered up to him and pinched his cheek playfully.

Holmes sighed and glanced at me. “Tell her, Watson.”

For a moment, I was baffled, but catching the look in his eye and the curious shape of his tongue, I saw his meaning. “Oh, of course, Holmes,” I began. “In fact, Miss Adler, my companion and I were just discussing how your…” (I glanced at Holmes again)…”how your Submarine might be powered. We assumed some sort of vegetable oil fuel base, eh?”

The woman seemed taken aback, but quickly regained her composure. “Something like that, yes.”

At this point, our friend Inspector McCoatup stepped forward. “Right, lassie. Ah’m arrestin’ ye on charges o’…”

Holmes quickly laid a hand on the man’s arm and gave him one of his famous smiles: those smiles that seem to say “Don’t be a twat, Angus.”

McCoatup flushed and waved a finger at the monster. “Well, in any case, we’ll hae tae tak that thing intae custody…”

“I don’t think so.” It was Miss Adler who spoke. But this time the velvety honey-saccharininess in her voice had gone. In her hand she held what looked very much like a Luger and it was pointed straight at my head. “Mr Holmes and Mr Watson into the sub, please, before I’m tempted to blow someone’s brains out.”

And with that, my companion and I began to climb into the belly of the beast.

To be continued…

Watson

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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A Wet Welcome…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

From the diary of Doctor Watson

Once again, I find myself writing this in another railway compartment with my companion sitting opposite me. It has been some time since I was able to bring my journal up to date, so I shall spend the journey back to London detailing the events of the last ten days – the memory of which, even now, sends a shiver down my spine:

Tuesday
We were conveyed from the station by pony and trap in pouring rain and biting wind, a situation I would gladly have exchanged for a warm bed and a large whisky. Holmes, however, kept his eyes on the loch as we trundled along in the semi-darkness, the cart hitting every possible pothole along the way. Arriving at the hotel very late, we were greeted at the door by a rather surly constable, whose demeanour was not remotely brightened by the weather. Welcoming us with a surly “Ye’ll hae had yer tea?” he hurried us through the hotel lobby and into a darkened lounge where another, equally dour policeman, awaited us.

Inspector Angus McCoatup was a giant of a man with a large moustache. He poured three tumblers of Scotch and bade us to sit by the fire. “Be a wee change from your posh lodgings in the city, eh, Mr Holmes?”

“I am at home in the humblest cottage, the most proletarian of dwellings, Inspector.” Holmes gave him a surprisingly unpatronising smile and took the glass from the the other man’s outstretched hand, swallowing the drink in one gulp.

As I reached out to take my own drink, Holmes laid a hand on my arm. “No, Watson, I need you sober tonight.” Seating himself in the chair nearest the fire, he left me to make myself comfortable on the pouffe.

“Now Inspector,” my companion continued, “tell us what has been happening.”

The Inspector twiddled his facial fungus and took a moment to gather his thoughts. When he spoke again, his voice was low. “Whatever you have read in the newspapers should be treated as what it is: a pile o’ sheep shite. I’ll tell ye this, Mr Holmes, I dinnae ken what it is that’s oot there, but it is no monster.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “Whatever it is cannot be real. It just cannot.”

I leaned forward to get his attention and asked “And the woman? What of her?”

Holmes gave me a sharp glance, but said nothing. The Inspector nodded. “We do have the newspaper folk to thank for one thing…” and reached into his coat pocket. Pulling out a sheet of paper, he passed it across. “One of the reporters does a clever wee trick – sketching folk, quick like, caricatures, sort of. Anyway, he was oot in a rowboat the other night when the monster, or whatever it is, appeared oot o’ nowhere and came floating past him. Must have scared the shit oot o’ him, but he kept his head. Quick as a flash, he whips oot his notebook and does a sketch of the beast as it sails past and into the darkness.”

Holmes and I stared at the rough drawing. It depicted the head and body of a great beast, fire gushing from its gigantic mouth and smoke swirling all around. But our attention was on the small figure apparently ‘riding’ on the beast’s back. Her face was turned towards the artist and could only have been in sight for a few seconds, but the likeness was uncanny.

The Inspector leaned forward and tapped a finger on the piece of paper. “Ye’s can probably disregard the flames shooting oot o’ it’s mouth – I reckon that was what ye might call artistic licence.”

Holmes’ face was rigid, his eyes bright. “It is her. Irene Adler.” He turned to look at me. “Come Watson, we have much to do…”

To be continued

Dr Watson

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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On the Road Again…

from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:

From the diary of Doctor Watson

I write this in yet another railway compartment with my companion sitting opposite me. It seems that we have been travelling for days, yet if can only be a matter of hours. We should arrive in Inverness by teatime where (I hope) our transport to the Clansman Hotel near Drumnadrochit will be ready and waiting.

Holmes is currently reading up on newspaper reports of the Monster’s latest exploits, though as yet the only news of the woman, is from a certain Inspector Angus McCoatup, who responded to my telegram with more than a teaspoonful of disdain. No doubt he imagines he can solve this mystery himself.

At this point, my companion looked up and observed, “I expect you, dear Watson, are of the opinion that these sightings of Nessie are based on fact?” He raised his eyebrows in a manner that suggested any opinion I might have would be misguided, if not completely wrong.

“Well,” I said. “The locals certainly seem to think there is some truth to the matter. Though I suppose…”

“Nonsense man! Even these ridiculously optimistic reporters have discerned that something is amiss. Look at this one…” He waved a copy of the Inverness Examiner in my face. “It says here – ‘According to one onlooker, a figure resembling that of a very beautiful young woman was seen to be riding on the back of the Monster as it thrashed through the water at the edge of the Loch last night after closing time. In this reporter’s opinion, it appears more likely that a 12-year-old Malt Scotch had more to do with the sighting than anything based in reality!’..”

Holmes dropped the paper on the floor. “If I know Irene Adler, this so-called ‘monster’ will have more to do with money and sex than mythical beasts. Mark my words.” And with that, he said no more.

To be continued.

Watson

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2015 in Detective Fiction

 

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