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Going Underground…

going-underground-350
From the Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

Dear Diary

As the three of us hurried towards the bridge, a plan was forming in my mind. In the distance, a number of men dressed in what I took to be German uniforms were gadding about here and there. I grasped the sleeves of my companions.

“Put your hands in the air and pretend you’re my prisoners.”

Dickie grinned. “Oh, what fun!” He patted his partner on the head. “Like when we were in panto in Barrow-in-Furness – remember?”

Arthur chuckled. “We could do our Wilson, Kepple and Betty act.” He promptly stuck his hands in the air and began to advance in single file, sliding his feet along in a sad rendition of the infamous sand dance. Dickie followed him and I took up the rear, brandishing the gun I’d taken from the soldier.

As we reached the other side of the bridge and came within a few feet of the nearest guards, one of them took a step towards me.

“Vot is ze passvord?” he barked.

I decided to take the initiative. “Vy are you speakink like zat?”

“Ve alvays speak like zis ven we are in Englandshire.”

“Very vell,” I said, and pointing at my companions, “I captured zees prisoners ven I vos out on patrol.”

The man eyed Arthur and Dickie with a degree of suspicion, then waved us on. “Take zem to our leader.”

We started forwards again, then the guard held out a hand to stop me. “Forgive me, but you haf very large breasts for an Oberleutnant.” He reached out a hand, presumably to fondle my chesticle area, so I rapped him sharply across the knuckles with the butt of my pistol.

“Ow. Zat hurt.”

“Zis is my disguise to fool ze English detectives. Now get out of my vay before I report you for sexual harassment.”

The man jumped aside and we hurried on.

Crossing the bridge, we were able to make out a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. Several men in overalls appeared to be unloading tools and equipment from the so-called ghost train which now stood stationary on the tracks. Most of the men were heading for a flight of steps at the side of the line.

“Follow those chaps,” I whispered to Dickie.

As we descended the steps, I could see the entrance to an underground tunnel of some sort. “What on earth d’you suppose this is for?” I muttered as we passed through into the interior.

“Probably a secret tunnel,” said Arthur. “I expect it’s part of some devilish plot.”

“Really?” I said. “That’s very astute of you.”

He shook his head. “No it isn’t – but I’m sure it’s exactly the sort of thing Mr Holmes is thinking right now.”

Just then, a door opened ahead of us and Holmes himself, together with my Johnnie and a bevy of storm troopers, marched out into the tunnel. Holmes saw me immediately and twisted his head away, no doubt in order to avoid drawing attention to us. However, my dear husband was less obliging and as soon as he set eyes on me, called out:

“Hello, darling! What are you doing here? And why are you dressed like a German soldier?”

All eyes turned towards us.

“Oh, I thought we’d just trot along and carry out a rescue mission,” said I, with only a hint of sarcasm.

My husband opened his mouth, then closed it. “Ah. Sorry.”

The soldiers pushed us all together and it was only then I noticed a small man behind Holmes. He looked strangely familiar, with his piggy little eyes and rather silly moustache. There was also something unsettling about his eyebrows. And then it came to me:

“He looks just like Adolf Hi –”

“La la la la laaaaaa!” Yelled Holmes. “La la la-la laaaa…”

The piggy-eyed man glared at him. “Vot are you doingk, Herr Holmes?”

Holmes shrugged. “Just had a sudden urge to sing, old bean.” He smiled sardonically.

“The little man nodded. “Very vell. You can zing for your zupper. Before we kill you. Mwah, hah, hah…”

I turned to Johnnie. “Did he just say ‘Mwah, hah, hah?”

My husband nodded. “I believe he did, darling.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “According to your casenotes, dear, there are only two villains who use that phrase, and one of them’s a dead vampire.”

As we stared at the piggy-eyed little man, his body seemed to grow upwards and straighten out, as if he’d simply been pretending to be small.

Johnny groaned. “Oh, bugger.”

Holmes rolled his eyes and let out a long sigh. “For fuck’s sake – not you again?”

Professor Moriarty nodded as he peeled off the moustache and smoothed his hair back. “Revenge, as they say, Mister Holmes, is sweet…”

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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A Curious Communication…

Folsom Crash Paper 350

To Sherlock Holmes Esq from Doctor Watson

My Dear Holmes

I trust you’ve heard about the ‘Moriarty’s Ma’ debacle at Scotland Yard? I can’t believe Lestrade thought it was a good idea to let the Evil Genius have visitors, but that’s what a public school education does for you, eh? At least the aforementioned villain had the decency to let me have transcripts of his recordings before disguising himself as his own mother and disappearing into the mists once again. My account of what I’m calling ‘Not the Thirty Nine Steps’ will be appearing in The Strand Magazine next week.

More interestingly, I had a curious communication from the daughter an old acquaintance this morning: it seems that my former school chum Henry Poste has popped his clogs after a typically ill-fated adventure charting the inlets of the California River. He and his good lady wife (who I never met) fell to their deaths after the wind dropped and the water-cooled glider aeroplane they were travelling in plummeted into the murky depths of Folsom Lake. He always was a bit of a risk-taker, so it’s no surprise, really.

However, their daughter Flora has found herself in a rather sticky situation, and it is she who wrote asking for assistance. Having stayed temporarily with an old friend, she accepted an invitation from distant relatives the Starkadders. Arriving at the oddly named ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ last weekend, she was given a reasonably warm welcome, and while family relationships appeared normal at first, two days ago she was wakened during the night by a ‘blood-curdling’ scream. It transpired that the Starkadder matriarch Aunt Ada Doom, had been stabbed in the heart and is, unsurprisingly, dead.

Reading between the lines, I suspect Flora is concerned that something sinister may be afoot. I suggest we take ourselves off to Sussex without further delay. At the very least, she promises we shall be well fed, and if things take a turn for the worse, we will be on hand to intervene.

I look forward to your speedy response.

Watson

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Cutting Table…

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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Posted by on April 23, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Director’s Cut…

Hitchcock Holmes
From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

As I sit here in front of a warm fire, a mug of Cocoa on the arm of my favourite chair, my dear wife rubbing my poor feet in that special way of hers, I can only thank God that this nasty business is all over. In detailing this final account of the adventure I’m calling ‘Not the Thirty-Nine Steps’, I’m indebted both to Inspector Lestrade and (somewhat unusually), to the Evil Genius Professor Moriarty, who sent me his own account of events (no doubt in the hope that I might paint him in a more favourable light than I might otherwise be inclined).

Lestrade’s contribution was, I felt, a little begrudging – as he handed over his notes, I detected a hint of cynicism. He muttered a half-hearted ‘For the record’ then cajoled his features into what he likes to think of as a smile. I was unsurprised, therefore, to read a footnote in one of his entries commenting on the ‘utter drivel Watson will conjure up’ in place of actual conversation. Well, he can just bugger off if he thinks I shall write anything but the truth – drivel or otherwise!

So, to continue…

As I stared up into the face of the silent movie director and impresario Alfred (Tch!) Hitchcock, I noticed another familiar visage at his shoulder.

“Hannay!” I exclaimed. “What the hell..?”

But Hitchcock was quick to silence me with a finger to his bulbous lips. “Not a word, Doctor – we are filming!”

I struggled to my feet and couldn’t help the sarcastic quip that slipped out as I dusted myself down. “Would’ve thought it’d be rather superfluous in a silent movie…”

The little fat man slapped me so suddenly and so vehemently that it was all I could do not to scream like a girl.

“Cut!” There was a general murmur of disapproval in the background and Hitchcock turned back to me. “This is the age of sound, Doctor, so be a good chap and shut the fuck up during filming.” He smiled genially and with a hand on Hannay’s elbow, urged the other man to step forward. “And as it happens, you are mistaken about our friend here.”

“Ah, sorry old bean,” said the man who apparently wasn’t Hannay. He gave me what was obviously a practised wry smile and added, “Buchan’s the name, Johnny to my pals.”

“Ah,” said I. “I see.” I shrugged as nonchalantly as I was able and offered him my own wry smile. “So you’re not in league with Moriarty after all?”

Buchan laughed quietly. “On the contrary, Doctor Watson, we’re all in league with Moriarty.” He glanced at Hitchcock and the fat man winked conspiratorially. “Shall we re-set, Hitch?”

“Better tie them up first,” said an all-too-familiar voice behind me. I felt a sliver of ice slip down my spine as I turned to see Holmes and Lestrade pushed roughly to the ground. Professor Moriarty strode through the ripped scenery, brandishing a large pistol. “The final scene approaches, I think.”

I helped Holmes and Lestrade to their feet and the three of us stood in the centre of what was now a large circle of sour-faced villains.

“You’ll never get away with this, you know,” muttered Holmes, straightening his tie.

“Oh, I think we will,” said Moriarty. “You’re to star in an extraordinarily ingenious scene involving a circular saw and several large skewers. I’ve also commissioned a new musical score by Herman Herrmann with lots of ‘Eee! Eee! sounds. It’ll be a hit at the box office – especially when I reveal how a terrible accident resulted in the death of that stupid detective Sherlock Holmes. The punters love a good murder, you know.” He signalled for his men to bind our wrists while he, Buchan and Hitchcock huddled together.

“I say, Holmes,” I whispered. “I’m awfully sorry about this.”

Holmes smiled that sardonic smile of his. “Don’t worry, Watson – everything’s going to plan.”

I put on a brave face, but couldn’t help wonder if Holmes might be talking bollocks…

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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In the Manner of an Evil Genius…

Fleshmarket Close Watson and Moriarty 350
From the Memoirs of Criminal Genius Professor James (Napoleon) Moriarty

Via M-CRaP

“Ah, Lestrade,” I say, sauntering up to the chap in the corner. I Lift my hat in that frequently-observed cordial greeting one frequently observes in Europe (a sign of gracious bonhomie, I’m told). “May I buy you a drink?”

“Get tae fuck, ya poncie cock.”

I infer from this less-than-cheery salutation that I have erred somewhat. “Excuse me, I mistake you for someone else.”

“Ye wantin a smack, son?” The speaker begins to rise from his seat and the throb of conversation in the hostelry drops to a stunned hush.

“A generous offer, but one which I shall decline.” I doff my hat and retire to the end of the bar. Clearly the recent artist’s impression I have of Lestrade is imprecise.

[Note to Evil Assistant – remove Hans Holbein III from our list of certified portraitists]

I desist from talking into my device for a few moments (apart from the talking I’m doing now) and concentrate on watching the door.

Ah-ha (I say to myself) – an odd-looking person with sweaty eyeballs has entered the room. I watch him carefully and note with satisfaction that the ominous silence (that recently fell in response to my own actions) has once again fallen ominously.

The newcomer approaches the bar and appears to be asking for some kind of beverage, to which the other drinkers respond with grumbling sounds and several unintelligible phrases. I deduce from their tone that a resounding welcome is not on the agenda.

I make my move (again). “Inspector Lestrade?” I hold up what I believe is a large-denominational note in the currency of this region and wave it at the landlord, but Lestrade (if it be he) is already heading for the door.

“Scheisse,” I say into my patented Moriarty-Conical-Rite-a-Phone and make my own move towards the door.

At that precise moment, the person I unsuccessfully conversed with earlier, once again appears in front of me, blocking my exit. “Ah’ll tak that, pal,” he mutters, and reaches out for the monetary note.

I hold the piece of paper out of his reach and announce: “In circumstances such as these, dear heart, I predict that a distraction is called for.” (I say this in my native tongue, so as not to alert the individual). Then I drop the note to the floor, muttering “Oops!” and in an instant, the entire assemblage of the room converges upon the item allowing me to make my escape.

Back in the alley, I look left and right and am gratified to spot a dark figure disappearing into the even darker darkness. Clearly this is a trap, however I have no option but to follow, since it is also part of my evil plan. Mwah, hah hah…

[Note to Evil Assistant – remove the last two mentions of the word ‘clearly’ – I have clearly been over-using it. And that one]

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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Time For Your Close-up Mr Holmes…

Silent Movie 350

From the Journal of Inspector G Lestrade

Proceeding in a southerly direction (or easterly if my constable is to be believed) we hurried up the alley after the figure I suspected to be the Evil Genius Professor Moriarty. Ahead of us, the dark shape seemed almost to merge into the shadows and I feared we might lose him, but then he stumbled, giving away his position. A moment later, I saw the shadowy shape dart down a dark alley.

“Quickly, Painter,” I whispered. “Don’t lose him.”

I pushed him in front of me and followed his echoing footsteps towards a dim light in the distance. Then, about halfway along the passage, a hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed my lapel, halting me in my tracks.

“Arrgh!” I whispered.

“Shut up, you fool.” A Swan Vesta sparked into life, illuminating the face of Sherlock Holmes.

“For fuck’s sake, Holmes, I almost shat myself. What the devil d’you mean by…”

In an instant (or a couple of instants), his hand was over my mouth, muffling my words.

“Hush Lestrade, lest you endanger the life of my companion further.”

“Sorry, Holmes,” I muttered. “What’s afoot?”

He slapped my face. “That’s my line. Now, listen carefully. I believe we are involved in the making of what is commonly termed a moving picture and…”

“Really? How exciting. Will Errol Flynn be in it?”

Holmes slapped me again. “Moriarty is attempting to bring to an end the life of this country’s most significant inhabitant, and…”

“Is he? Who?”

“Me, you dolt. He means to film the whole thing in MoriartyVision and…”

“What’s MoriartyVision?”

The great detective snarled and I sensed he was becoming a little irritated. “It’s like VistaVision but with more cunning. Listen, Watson will by now have intercepted the film’s director and with any luck my canny comrade will have assessed the situation and be, even as we speak, positively throbbing with the excitement of what he is about to do in order to execute the necessary actions and avert my death.”

“Who? Watson?”

He nodded.

“Really?”

Holmes nodded again, but now his confident smile had faded somewhat. “You doubt Watson’s abilities?”

I shook my head. “Not at all, I just know that when this nasty business is all over, he’ll be sitting at home writing up his notes in preparation for one of his famous articles, and I can imagine the utter drivel he’ll conjure up to place in our mouths. You know what he’s like, Holmes, he’ll make us look complete fools.”

Holmes shook his head. “No, Lestrade, he’ll make you look a complete fool. Quickly now.” And he began to sprint down the passageway towards the sound of shouts, screams and several other unearthly noises…

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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Moriarty and the Death of that Stupid Detective Sherlock Holmes

Clapperboard 350

From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

As I squeezed through the sweaty throng of the Snug Bar, it occurred to me that if Lestrade was already present, I might endanger not only my own life, but his too. The rubber mask was beginning to itch and as it was considerably smaller than my face (Holmes has a narrower, more angular skull), sweat was already pouring down the inside of the wretched thing, filling my eyes and making it difficult to see anything clearly. However, neither of these issues, or indeed the small matter of the unsettling silence that fell over the bar on my entrance, was uppermost in my mind. I ignored the fact that all eyes had turned towards me and instead approached the bar and declared in a rather higher voice than usual, “A large Babycham please, potman.”

An uproarious shriek of laughter broke out among the regulars, with taunts of “Och, the fairies are in,” and “Haud me back!” which I was easily able to ignore, for my attention was now taken with the dark figure at the end of the bar. I saw a sly smile steal across Professor Moriarty’s features as he began to creep towards me, his eyes wide and staring.

“Inspector Lestrade,” he announced in a loud voice (prompting the background laughter of the crowd to cease abruptly). “How lovely to see you again.” He reached out a hand, presumably with the intention of greeting me formally, but I knew a theatrical cue when I heard one, and I turned on my heel and headed for the door.

Or at least I would have done if a hairy hand had not grasped me by the collar. “Not sae fast, ma wee man.”

I whirled round to find the barman staring into my sweaty eyes. “Oh, do excuse me,” I began, fumbling for my wallet, but Moriarty was quicker. He held out a fifty pound note, fluttering it in front of the publican. The man’s gaze and grip loosened immediately and I saw my chance – whirling round (again) I legged-it for the door and this time no-one stood in my way.

Back in the alley I glanced to my right and spied Holmes lurking in the shadows at the end of the lane. Hurrying along, I couldn’t help noticing several other individuals lurking in other shadows, as if waiting for their own thespian-type cues. As I quickened my pace, I became aware of footsteps behind me – no doubt the Evil Genius giving chase. But then I also became aware of more footsteps, as if two or more additional people had joined in the chase.

Holmes beckoned me from the corner and I slipped into the narrow alley beside him.

“Well done Watson, the bear has been baited.”

“Bear? What bear?”

He rolled his eyes. “I was simply observing that Moriarty is on your tail.” He paused and looked over my shoulder. “In fact, it would seem you have attracted something of a following…” Grasping my wrist, he stuffed something into my hand, then pushed me down the passageway towards a dim glow at the end. “Run towards the light, Watson and don’t look back.”

As I hurried along, I noticed Holmes had dropped back, but being a trusted companion, I determined to do as I was bid. As the passage narrowed, the light became stronger. Reaching the end, I was somewhat startled when a small figure jumped out in front of me.

“What the devil!” I muttered, but the young boy simply held up a chalked board, slapped a piece of wood across the top of it creating a sharp ‘crack’, and shouted something along the lines of ‘Scene 31, take 1’ whereupon he vanished into the shadows.

At that point, the alley split into two and I stood for a moment contemplating my choices. Then I noticed a sign on the wall in front of me – a piece of paper bearing the words Left, Watson!

Recognising my companion’s handwriting, I turned sharp left as instructed and ran down the narrow steps that led into what appeared to be Moriarty’s maze of subterranean passages.

Standing at the bottom of the steps with a wall in front of me and several passages running off to right and left, I suddenly remembered the piece of paper Holmes had thrust into my sweaty palm. Fumbling for a box of Swan Vestas, I struck a match and held it up next to the crumpled note. I read:

Watson – If you should come upon a series of subterranean passages, do not be fooled.

I gazed around me, but once again all I could see was what looked like a series of subterranean passages. What on earth could Holmes mean?

Before I could ponder the question further, the still-burning match flickered and went out. Plunged into darkness, I took a step, tripped on the cobbles and stumbled forward. Reaching out a hand to save myself, my fingers appeared to completely miss the stone wall and continued in a forward motion unrestricted. I tumbled headfirst through the ‘wall’ and collapsed in a heap on the other side.

A moment later a light came on above me. Shading my eyes against the sudden glare, I stared up at the portly figure standing over me.

“Ah, Doctor Watson. Glad you could drop in…”

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2016 in Detective Fiction

 

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