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The Undoing of Doctor Hirsch


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

“I’m sorry, Holmes,” I said, pulling up a chair. “But I just don’t understand how the woman could’ve strapped on these gloves and fitted herself with those horrendous dentures while you were sat here talking to her.”

Almost half an hour had passed since we had first entered the bedroom and looked upon the tormented form of Judith Hirsch. While I had hoped to continue my own investigation into the facts of the matter, it seemed selfish to keep what Mary and I now knew to ourselves, so I filled Holmes in on Caddy’s story, while the inspector added occasional details. My pipe-smoking friend listened attentively, making few comments and nodding thoughtfully from time to time. On finishing my account at the point where Holmes had called us upstairs, the four of us sat in quiet contemplation and for a few minutes no-one spoke.

Eventually, I leaned towards the Great Detective and tapped his knee.

Holmes coughed. “Yes, of course,” he muttered to himself. Then, glancing across at Mary and Caddy who had seated themselves by the fire, he gazed at each of them, their faces turned towards him in anticipation.

“To answer your question, John,” he said, patting his tummy, “I, unfortunately, was not in attendance the entire time, having found it necessary to spend several minutes in the Crapper.”

I let out a groan. “So you’re saying you don’t actually know what happened?”

“On the contrary, Watson, I know precisely what happened.”

He gave me one of his infuriatingly smug grins and said nothing more. Clearly, he was waiting for me to ask the obvious question.

“And what did happen?” I said with only a hint of annoyance.

Holmes leaned back in his chair and turned his face towards the still sleeping figure of Doctor Hirsch. Her ample bosom rose and fell gently in time with her breathing. “Judith here has endeavoured to throw us off the scent with a little bit of play-acting. Thankfully, it did not fool me for a second and I instead concentrated on those aspects of the case that truly required my attention. It was clear to me from our visit to The Slaughtered Lamb that something odd had occurred.” He swivelled his head back to look at me. “Whatever power overcame us during the short time we loitered at the inn, must be due to some sort of mass hallucination.”

“Really?” said I, stifling another groan.

“Yes,” he said. “Really. However, before I continue, I should like to hear the rest of Inspector Caddy’s tale.”

At this, Caddy jerked upright. “The rest? What on earth do you mean?”

Holmes smiled. “Simply that on making the possible connection of Miss Hirsch being the brother of the American David Kessler, you must have followed it up.” He smiled again.

Caddy swallowed noisily and took several deep breaths. “Ah.”

“You might begin,” urged Holmes, “by explaining exactly what drew you to the conclusion that Kessler was indeed her brother.”

Caddy gave a short laugh. “She told me, of course. When I commented on her American accent she described how she and her brother had embarked on a tour of the Londen sights, but that he had disappeared from the hotel where they were staying.”

“And she set out to follow him?” I put in.

“Yes.”

“To Titfield?” said Holmes.

“Yes,” said Caddy again, though with a lesser degree of certainty.

“But surely she already knew he was in Titfield?” said Mary, her wonky eye pivoting back and forth. “If she was following the trail of attacks, she must have known he’d been there.” She glanced at Holmes for affirmation.

“Indeed she did,” said Holmes. “What she did not know was where he was headed next.” He peered hard at Caddy. “And she could only have known that if someone in authority had told her.”

“Wait a mo,” said I, feeling somewhat left behind. “You’re saying Caddy knew where Kessler was headed?”

“Of course,” said Holmes. “He knew Doctor Hirsch had engaged the services of ourselves and that our first port of call would be the site of the so-called attack at The Slaughtered Lamb.”

“What d’you mean, so-called?” I said.

“Precisely that,” said Holmes. “The whole thing was a set-up between Caddy and Hirsch to lure the two of us…” he glanced at Mary. “The three of us into a trap.”

“But why,” I wailed.

At this point Caddy leaped up and declared, “Because I have a book deal that’ll make my name – a book that’ll blow the lid off Sherlock Bloody Holmes and his smarmy-parmy investigations.” He hesitated, then, “I mean…before I got to know you better…and…” Caddy’s mouth continued moving but any further explanation eluded him and after a moment he sat down again.

“What you failed to realise,” said Holmes rising to his feet, “is that you, Caddy, are not, and never were, at the centre of this investigation. No, in fact someone else had an interest in getting rid of you and your book deal and at the same time making a name for themselves with the biggest detective story this country has ever known.” He paused for effect. “The reason Judith Hirsch was following Kessler is because she is not Judith Hirsch, but is in fact…”

Stepping across to where Judith lay, he grabbed her bosom and ripped it upwards.

Incredibly, the woman’s face, hair and chest came away as if they were a single piece of fabric, and with a deft movement, Holmes tossed the attachments aside leaving behind the true face and torso of the person underneath.

Caddy sprang out of his chair like a firework. “Fucking hell!”

“Yes,” said Holmes, smoothly. “Inspector Schitt of the Yard, if I’m not very much mistaken.”

“But, but, but..” I stammered.

“But me no buts, Watson. As always, it’s elementary.”

“With the greatest of respect Holmes, it really isn’t.”

A low groan came from the person who apparently was not Judith Hirsch. The scrawny bald-headed features of Inspector Schitt turned towards us, his sharp green eyes blinking rapidly.

“For fuck’s sake…” he muttered. Pulling himself into an upright position he glared at Holmes. “Couldn’t fuckin leave it alone, could you, you bleedin…” He ran out of breath and coughed vehemently several times. Clutching at himself, he rubbed his chest. “Cost me ‘alf a month’s pay did that,” he said, gazing longingly at the disguise that now lay in a crumpled heap on the floor.

“Ah well,” said Holmes. “A disguise is only as good as the individual beneath it.”

With another burst of energy, Caddy leaped forward and landed a sharp right hook to Schitt’s jaw, knocking him backwards onto the bed.

Taking hold of Caddy by the shoulders, I held him back, but his anger had already subsided. Inspector Schitt, conversely, was out cold.

“Well,” I said, sitting back down. “That explains a lot.”

“Sadly,” said Holmes, “it answers only one part of the mystery.”

This was clearly going to be one of those times when Holmes explained everything, or nearly everything, so after lifting Inspector Schitt’s legs onto the bed and assuring myself that he was relaxed in his unconscious state, we all made ourselves comfortable.

“What all of you have singularly failed to realise,” said Holmes, waving a hand towards the bed, “is that this fellow is the only person who actually understood the problem. You see, unlike the rest of us, Schitt already believed in the possibility of an actual werewolf, therefore he was in the best position to hunt down the last of the bloodline and kill it in order to end the carnage.”

“What?” said I, aghast. “You mean it’s all true?”

“Of course,” said Holmes haughtily.

“But you said…” I began.

“I said,” continued the detective, “what it was necessary for me to say in order that the inspector here would not be duped into thinking we knew more than he did.”

I considered this for a moment. “So we could learn what he already knew?”

Holmes nodded. “It would also have served his purpose rather nicely if he could catch and kill the aforementioned wolf, while at the same time, make me out to be some kind of buffoon.”

“Not some kind,” muttered the man on the bed, “every fuckin kind.”

Holmes smiled at the inspector. “Now, now, Andrew, you know you’re not as clever as I am.”

“Oh, no?” said the old man with a snarl.

“No,” said Holmes, reaching into his inside jacket pocket. Pulling out a piece of yellowish paper, he passed it to me.

Taking the telegramatical communication, I unfolded it eagerly. “It’s a telegram,” I said unnecessarily. “It reads – Mister Holmes stop. Have located the gentleman in question stop. Is lodged at the Londen Tavern in Bishopsgate stop. Best wishes Lestrade.”

“Oh my God,” gasped Mary. “This means that…” She looked at me.

“Yes,” I said. “There’s an American werewolf in Londen…”

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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Knives in the Night


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Mary, Caddy and I hurried up the stairs after Holmes, each speculating on what new horror might await us. And indeed it was a horror, for as we burst into my companion’s bedroom, there on the couch lay the prostrate figure of Judith Hirsch, bathed in the eerie glow of moonlight.

But it was not the snarling mouth and fangs of her face that drew our attention, nor even the ripped and torn clothing that lay strewn about the room, revealing a barely-clad young woman in the throes of some demented seizure. No, dear reader, it was her hands that captured our collective gaze in those first few seconds, for at the end of each arm, held out straight and strong in front of her face, a pair of metallic gloves were strapped to her hands, each finger encased in a leather sheath that held at its end a razor-like knife-blade.

An expression Caddy had used earlier popped into my head – someone with knives for hands.

“My God,” I screamed, “she’s got knives for hands!”

“Precisely, Watson,” said Holmes, in a low voice, “and look here…” He pointed to the woman’s face. “Is this the mouth of a werewolf?”

Leaving Mary and Caddy by the door, I stepped closer to Judith’s shaking body and, fearing I might get my face slashed by those demonic gloves, knelt at her side and peered at the woman’s mouth.

Though the fangs were large and canine in style, there was something oddly man-made about them. I looked up at Holmes. “Wooden teeth?”

He nodded. “Yes, Watson. No doubt fashioned to go with her knifey hands.”

Moving back a few feet, I took my companion’s sleeve. “Look here, Sherlock, we need to examine her and find out how this bizarre transformation took place.”

“Precisely, old bean, which is why I took the liberty of borrowing your Gladstone bag before bringing Judith up here. “I popped a couple of sedatives into her drink. Any minute now, she’ll be out like a light.” He gave me a sardonic smile. “Does that meet with your approval?”

A wave of exasperation surged over me, but I knew it’d be useless to make too much of it, so I simply said, “Goodness sake, Holmes, you can’t go around dropping drugs into people’s drinks. Christ knows what might have happened.”

Holmes turned his beady little eyes on Judith for a moment. “You worry too much Johnny. See – even now she is succumbing. In a few seconds she’ll be sound asleep.”

“Hmph,” I muttered. “All the same…”

But he was right – even as we watched, Judith’s eyes closed and her mouth ceased its snarling. A short time later her hands were resting idly at her sides and her breathing returned to its regular pattern.

Kneeling down again, I carefully extracted the set of perfectly carved wooden fangs from the woman’s mouth. Wiping them clean of saliva, I held them up for my companions to see.

Mary peered at the dentures. “She’s not a real werewolf, then?”

“Apparently not,” said Holmes smugly. “Which I, of course, knew all along.”

Inspector Caddy had said nothing through all this, and still maintained his position by the door, a frightened aspect on his face. “If she isn’t one, then who is?”

We all looked at him and the possibility that one of us might be the werewolf flashed into my head. But that was ridiculous – if Mary, Holmes or myself were the guilty party, then we’d surely know.

Wouldn’t we?

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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Smoke and Mirrors…


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

I must admit I had not expected this turn of events in Caddy’s story. Though the appearance of Miss Hirsch at some point was inevitable, I’d hoped my theory might be proved wrong. Glancing at Mary, I spied a tell-tale crease at the corner of her sweet mouth, revealing that she too had been thinking along the same lines.

“And this,” I said, “was the first time you met Doctor Hirsch?”

Caddy nodded. “It was. In fact, though I only caught a glimpse of her as my aunt fussed over me in the hallway, I found myself transfixed by the young woman’s beauty as she hurried away up the stairs. Naturally, I buttonholed Aunt Agatha at the earliest opportunity, quizzing her as to who this blonde goddess might be, but Aggy is an aficionado of privacy, especially regarding the female sex, and it was all I could do to persuade her to reveal how Miss Hirsch had booked the room only a few days earlier. It seems the doctor needed a place to stay while attending to family business in the village.”

Mary offered our companion another biscuit, before asking, “And when did you see her next?”

“Curiously enough,” said Caddy, “it was the very next day during my visit to the crime scene where the boy’s body was found. Speaking to the detective in charge of the case, one Inspector Hopkins, I learned the body was discovered by a constable who, after taking a break from his beat to relieve himself, had apparently been so shocked at the sight of a bloodied corpse stretched out across the grass that he accidently urinated in the boy’s mouth.”

“Good thing the lad was dead, then,” I muttered. “By the by, Caddy, you said this Inspector’s name was Hopkins.”

“That’s right. Stanley Hopkins.” Caddy inclined his head a little. “You know him?”

I snorted. “Hah. Only too well. The man’s an ass. Constantly haranguing Holmes about his deductive methods. I’d heard the Yard had transferred him somewhere remote – no doubt to keep the useless bugger out of the way.”

Caddy smiled wryly. “He certainly is an ass in this case – the fool had trampled all over the crime scene, destroying any chance of finding a single clue to the killing.”

“But you did see the body?” I said.

“Yes. It had been removed to a cellar in a nearby butcher’s shop – the only place cold enough to store it until it could be examined.”

“And what did you find?” Mary leaned forward, her hand squeezing my knee as she spoke. Sensing her enthusiasm for the grisly facts through the grip of her slim probing fingers, I experienced a thrill of passion in my loins and was forced to shuffle around in my chair lest I betray my rising spirits. Luckily, Caddy didn’t notice my condition and went on with his tale.

“I scrutinised the body at the butcher’s, but Hopkins refused to allow me space for a proper examination. It was only when Miss Hirsch arrived unannounced that the Inspector stepped outside the room to berate her on the inappropriateness of a woman viewing a corpse. While he babbled on at her for several minutes, I took the opportunity to unfasten what was left of the victim’s clothing and found a great many slashes and cuts to his body that could only have been inflicted by someone with knives for hands, or…” He dropped his head for a moment and took a deep breath. “Or by a werewolf.”

Leaning back in my chair, I almost wished I hadn’t given up smoking. At times like this, a pipeful of hard shag would’ve helped me think. Curling my fingers into a fist, I stuck the end of my thumb in my mouth and puffed away for a minute. The charade seemed to work, for the next question came into my head like a bolt of lightning. “Do you happen to know if there was a full moon on the night of the attack?”

Caddy nodded solemnly. “There was.” He gazed into the fire for a moment, then went on. “Doctor Hirsch did me a favour, albeit inadvertently, so when she accosted me in the street a short time later, I was keen to hear what she had to say.”

“And her gorgeous blonde locks and luscious breasts had no bearing on your desire to speak to her?” Mary gave him a playful wink, though her wonky eye may have given him the wrong impression. Nevertheless, he admitted that his initial reaction to the young woman was aided by her devastating beauty.

“She is a beautiful woman,” he murmured, “but my first thought was to know why she had come to where the body was stored. And when she told me the reason, I was so excited I almost wet myself.”

Mary giggled. “Yes, Johnny does that.”

“Tch, d’you mind, darling?” I chided. “Let’s not tell all the world my inadequacies.”

“Sorry, darling,” she said, then turning back to Caddy, she gave him one of her ‘wanton’ looks that rarely fails to achieve the desired effect.

Naturally, Caddy complied. “Well,” he said. “When I first heard her voice, I was struck by her accent – it was that of an American. Which is why I had initially assumed her to be a native of that country.” A frown creased his brow momentarily. “What a fool I’ve been – it was simply a device to add a touch of veracity to her story. It seems the man who was attacked in the fish and chip shop in Walthamstow is actually the brother of Judith Hirsch.”

I stopped sucking my thumb and leaned forward. “You’re bloody joking?”

Caddy rolled his eyes. “Of course I’m joking, but that is what she told me and that’s why I’ve been following her – I thought if I could find Kessler, I’d solve the case and prove that Sherlock Holmes is a fraud.”

“Sorry,” I said. “What was that last bit?”

He blinked several times. “Oh, I didn’t mean to say that.”

Mary had straightened up, her face all seriousness. “Then what did you mean?”

Inspector Caddy coughed. “Er…just that as well as wanting to find the werewolf, or unmask whoever it is that’s going around pretending to be a werewolf, I’ve been trying to prove that Holmes and his methods are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.”

Now it was Mary’s turn to roll her eyes. “Well, that’s nothing new, dear.”

I gave her a sharp poke in the thigh with my finger. “I’ll thank you not to undermine Holmes, Mary. If anyone ought to do that, it should be me.” I sniffed. “And I’m not going to do it, so there.”

We sat in awkward silence for a few minutes, until our reverie was interrupted by a knock at the door. Before any of us could move, a head popped around the door and the Great Detective himself gave us a wide smile. “Ah, there you all are. Wonder if I might spare you for a moment?”

“What’s going on, old chap?” I said, getting up.

“Just a small issue with Doctor Hirsch. You might want to observe.”

With that he disappeared, leaving the door ajar. Hurrying into the hallway, I peered up the stairs after him and noted, with a sense of impending doom, that the window was filled with the light of the moon. A very full moon.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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Caddy Tells His Tale…


The Journal of Buckingham Caddy

It was after midnight when we arrived back at the inn. Holmes had already disappeared into the Snug Bar with that woman in tow, and I have to say I was very happy to see the back of her. Doctor and Mrs Watson escorted me into the innkeeper’s own front parlour, which they were able to persuade that same gentleman to relinquish for an hour or so.

Having received our order of hot chocolate and a selection of Yorkshire biscuits, the landlord left us alone and, seated around the fire, I finally felt myself able to relax. “So?” I said, gazing at my companions in turn.

“So,” said Watson, dipping a Custard Cream into his cocoa, “vis-à-vis werewolves etcetera, why don’t you start at the beginning?”

“Right.” Taking a breath, I closed my eyes for a moment, and allowed myself to drift back to the first time I heard mention of the dreaded creature. “It began with a visit to my great Aunt Agatha. I was due some leave and had booked a ticket on the 4:15 from Euston to Titfield in Staffordshire, with the intention of spending a long weekend with my aunt, followed by a few days in Cannock. However, before I left Scotland Yard, I called into the office of Chief Inspector Schitt, who had asked to see me.”

“That’s Schitt of the Yard?” said Watson, with a smirk.

“Don’t be childish, Johnny,” said Mary, giving her husband a sharp look.

“Sorry darling,” he muttered. “Continue please.”

“The Chief had been asked to interview a chap by the name of David Kessler, an American who had been attacked by a madman in a fish and chip shop in Walthamstow. It appears a deranged killer had escaped from the Londen Asylum for the Really Rather Mad and caused a furore over a piece of battered haddock. The American got involved in the argument and chased the lunatic into an alley where he was brutally attacked.”

“Hang on a mo,” said Watson, leaning forward, “you’re not talking about the serial killer Hannibal Lecter by any chance?”

I nodded. “We thought so at the time, but it turned out Lecter was giving a speech on ‘meal preparation for cannibals’ at the University of Exeter. Day release, apparently.”

Watson visibly relaxed. “Thank God for that. Go on, please.”

“The Chief told me this American fellow was staying with relatives in Staffordshire and as there were still several unanswered questions regarding the attack, he wondered if I might have time to follow it up. To be honest, I was a little put out he expected me to give up a portion of my holiday, but the case intrigued me, so I agreed.”

“What questions did the Chief Inspector want you to ask, Buckingham?”

Mrs Watson smiled kindly and for a moment I was thrown by her use of my Christian name. I coughed to hide my discomfiture. “Well,” I said, “he was interested to know if the American was travelling alone and if so, why had he entered that particular fish and chip shop. You see, the place is situated in a seedy and, to a certain degree, dangerous area of Walthamstow and the Chief wondered if there might have been another reason for visiting the place, other than to buy haddock and chips.”

Mary nodded thoughtfully. “Anything else?”

“Indeed,” I said, getting into my stride. “By a peculiar coincidence, the American’s travelling companion, one Jack Goodman, had also been attacked in a similar manner only a few days before. Unfortunately, the fellow died of his wounds.”

Doctor Watson leaned forward again. “And that was when you heard about the werewolf?”

“Yes. Of course, we all discounted the theory as utter rubbish, but having read up on the subject, I discovered that a person of a certain mental instability could, given the right circumstances, begin to believe that he or she might be endowed with a lycanthropic tendency, that is, they might have the ability to turn into a werewolf during the course of a full moon.”

My companions said nothing, though it was clear my narrative had piqued more than their interest. “It was only after my arrival at Titfield, that the significance of my visit became obvious to me. While waiting for a Hackney cab on the platform, I picked up a copy of the local newspaper, The Titty Gazette, and saw the headline. The chomped-up and bloodied remains of a local boy had been discovered the previous day. I knew there had to be a connection.”

Pausing for a minute, I gazed into the fire, recalling the horror of that dreadful headline. “I tried to put the thing out of my mind, at least for a couple of days, but on reaching my aunt’s house, I found that I wasn’t the only visitor. Aunt Agatha had long been in the habit of letting out the rooms at the top of her house and one of her lodgers at that time was a young woman. A woman by the name of Judith Hirsch.”

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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Watson Works it Out (Sort of…)


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

“Come along, darling,” said Mary, tugging at my sleeve. “We’re going back to the hotel.”

“Ah,” said I, still gazing at Caddy’s face. Only now he was no longer there – I was staring instead at the grey stone wall of the inn. Turning to look past my wife, I saw Holmes and Judith walking back towards the road where we’d left the pony and trap. Poor Inspector Caddy trailed behind, one hand clutching the bandage round his neck. I judged his general demeanour to be that of a troubled and somewhat disconcerted individual.

“Johnny?” said Mary, still tugging at my sleeve. “Are you quite alright?”

I nodded. “A little distracted, Mary, nothing more.” But as we walked back up the track, I knew Caddy was not the only person to be confused by what had happened. Holding my wife back from our companions, I put a series of questions to her concerning her and Judith’s sudden appearance at The Slaughtered Lamb. As is her habit, Mary gave a detailed but concise account of their unusual journey and how they had reached the inn just as Caddy stumbled down from the moors.

“I see,” I said, though there was nothing illuminating about my conclusions. Clearly, the inspector had followed Holmes and myself from The Golden Fleece only a few minutes before Mary and Judith did the same. Even accounting for the women’s speedy mode of transport, Caddy must have arrived on the scene shortly after our arrival and before theirs, and yet he had apparently wandered up on the moors long enough to offer his throat to the werewolf.

No doubt Holmes would unravel the mystery while smoking a pipeful of Hard Shag in front of the fire, and I would look on dumfounded as usual, amazed at his massive intellect.

But no, damn it! (I said to myself), for once it would be me who solved the puzzle. After all, I knew as much about the affair as he did, and quite possibly a lot more. All I had to do was to get Caddy alone and have him relate his own account of recent events.

Reaching the trap, I helped Mary up and slid in beside her, noting Caddy had opted to ride shotgun, a decision I suspected had something to do with Miss Hirsch. Glancing at the good doctor, still deep in conversation with Holmes, I pondered at the peculiarity of her happy smiling countenance – surely the most battle-hardened soldier could not have recovered his rightness of mind with such ease? Perhaps she really was a werewolf. Perhaps she had somehow frozen time itself, carried out the savage attack then returned to normality in time to witness the aftermath as if she were a mere onlooker.

Oh, you dolt, Watson (I said to myself, again). What a pile of absolute crap. But then, such an occurrence was no more ridiculous than the events we’d witnessed at Castle Dracula, and even Holmes had made that observation.

As the trap trundled back into town, I determined to learn Inspector Caddy’s version of events before Holmes got his sticky fingers on the man. Although, I noted with a sidelong glance at that same personage, the big-nosed detective was already so deeply absorbed by Judith and her bouncing breasts, that a little subterfuge on my part might go completely unnoticed.

And as if by magic, as Holmes assisted her down from the cart, Judith slipped her arm into his and the pair trotted off into the Snug Bar with nary a backward glance.

“You know,” murmured my wife with a demure smile, “if I weren’t aware that Sherlock Holmes is an inveterate woman-hater, I’d think he was trying to get into her knickers.”

“Really, Mary,” I said, affecting disbelief, “I’m shocked you could ever think such a thing. Besides, they’d never fit him.”

She giggled girlishly and as I helped Inspector Caddy down from the cart, I began to see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Unfortunately, as I soon discovered, it was not a light, but a raging inferno.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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Pointy Teeth, Pointy, Pointy…



Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Inspector Caddy collapsed in a heap in front of us, Holmes hanging onto the fellow’s neck where some creature had ripped it open.

“Quickly Watson,” he said, as blood spurted through his fingers.

Whipping out my handkerchief, I fashioned a make-shift bandage. Pulling Caddy’s necktie loose and undoing his shirt, I saw that the wound stretched from one ear to the other. By some stroke of luck his attacker had simply ripped the flesh apart, missing the carotid artery and jugular vein. Nevertheless, the fellow might still bleed to death without urgent attention. “Mary, get me a needle and some cat gut.”

My wife crouched down next to me and unfastened her coat. “Nice to see you too, Johnny,” she said, taking out a small metal case about the size of a tobacco tin.

“Sorry, darling,” I said, “but this is no time for niceties.” Giving her a quick glance, I noted how her cleavage shimmered in the moonlight. I made a mental note to spend more time with her bosoms, assuming we survived further attacks by whatever had violated the inspector.

“Number one or number two?” asked Mary, holding out an assortment of already-threaded needles.

“Number one,” I said, taking the smallest of the proffered selection. “And thank you for being so well organised.”

“Isn’t that the role of a doctor’s wife?” she said, with only a hint of sarcasm.

Grasping Caddy’s loose flesh, I began to sew the torn skin together. “Hold him steady Holmes,” I commanded. With as much concentration as I could muster, I did my job and within a few minutes the blood flow had ceased. Taking out my spare handkerchief, I discarded the bloodied one and tied a fresh bandage.

“Thank you, thank you,” gasped Caddy, finally able to speak again.

Holmes and I hauled the fellow to his feet and immediately I was reminded of my companion’s earlier exclamation. I gazed across the lane to the moors beyond but there was nothing to see except darkness.

“I think we scared it away,” said Holmes. “For the moment at least.” He gave me a sardonic grin and added in a low voice, “For once I’m grateful for the presence of your dear wife. Whatever did this, apparently doesn’t like crowds. Or women.”

It was only now that I became aware of Doctor Hirsh, who had retreated to the safety of the inn door. Her face was etched in terror and for the first time I realised she had been telling us the truth. Except, that if she was telling the truth, she too should be displaying some sign of the lycanthropic tendency.

“Judith,” I said, approaching her. “Are you all right?”

Her eyes had a curiously green tinge to them. Moving closer, I took her chin gently in one hand and examined her.

“What’s wrong,” she whispered, staring hard at me.

I blinked. Whatever I’d seen a few seconds before was no longer present and her eyes were as clear as those of a child. “Nothing,” I said, removing my hand. But there was something, something I could not easily explain. Though the green tinge in her eyes had truthfully disappeared, another part of her face had caught my attention. When she’d spoken, I’d caught a glimpse of a somewhat enlarged and pointy canine tooth. Turning away, I made as if to comfort my wife, and taking her to one side, I said, “Noticed anything odd about Judith’s mouth?”

Mary frowned. “No, not really. Unless…”

“Unless what?”

Moving close, she ran her fingers seductively up the side of my face. “You think she is a werewolf, Johnny?”

“Of course not, such things don’t exist. Nevertheless, she may believe herself to be one.”

“Whether she is or not doesn’t explain what happened to this chap.” She indicated Caddy who was now in deep conversation with Holmes. “Someone, or something attacked him.” She looked up at me, striving to keep her feelings in check, but even her wonky eye betrayed her state of mind – she was genuinely scared.

Turning to look at Judith, I said, “Was she with you the whole time?”

Mary nodded.

“She couldn’t have slipped away? Even for a moment?”

“What could she achieve in a moment?”

I shook my head, recalling how day had changed to night within a matter of seconds. “I don’t know, darling, but if this werewolf stuff is really true, Christ knows what she might be capable of.”

I peered at Judith who was talking to Holmes, but it was the curious body language displayed by Inspector Caddy that told me what I needed to know – his face was white (which might be expected given what he’d been through), but his body was rigid. He stared at Judith, mouth open, eyes wide, fists clenched tightly. The man was terrified, as surly as if the werewolf itself were standing right in front of him.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Night Comes Down…


Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

On discovering Johnny had deserted us to accompany that reprobate Holmes on a mission of discovery, Doctor Hirsch and I took it upon ourselves to follow the rascally pair to wherever they were headed.

We’d learned of the deception via the maid who, on delivering a second round of teacakes and scones to our room, happened to mention she’d seen that ‘handsome Mister Holmes’ hurrying across the street with ‘that funny little Doctor bloke’.

Judith let out a low growl. “I knew it,” she muttered. “The stupid man doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’ll get the pair of them killed. Or worse.”

“We have to go after them,” I said, checking through my husband’s spare trousers.

“What’re you looking for?” asked Judith.

“His gun,” I said, holding up the actual weapon. “Wonderful – they don’t even have the means to protect themselves. Bloody men.”

Out in the street, we halted for a moment as a young lad emerged from the baker’s shop opposite. As there was little else in the thoroughfare to look at, we watched this lanky and apparently stupefied individual as he stood scratching his head and uttering obscenities. Hastening to where he stood, I looked at the boy and I noted two things: his trousers were tucked into his rough woollen socks and the laces of his boots had been double knotted as though to keep them from dangling. I then inspected the area immediately outside the baker’s shop that seemed to have caught the lad’s attention. The familiar imprint of a slim tyre had left a faint impression across the pavement in a diagonal line, presumably after being wheeled from the road to lean against a display board while its owner delivered his wares. I noted the specifics of the tread and calculated the likely distance between the two wheels. Then, clicking my fingers in a school ma’am sort of way, I addressed the lad directly.

“You’ve lost something? A method of transportation, perhaps?”

The dull-faced young man waved a hand as if attempting to grasp some unseen object. “Sum-uns nicked me fookin bike, missus.”

“A Velocipede twin-cogged machine with sprung rear forks, I believe.”

The lad’s mouth dropped open like a trapdoor. “Ow d’yer know that, luv?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” I said. “It’s called paying attention,” I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.

Judith stepped forward. “Quickly now – how long ago did this happen?”

The lad gazed at her, at me, and back again. “Couple o’ minutes, I reckon. Can’t ha’ been more. I were only in t’shop long enough ter count out five loaves and a dozen stottie cakes.”

Judith turned to me. “We’ll never catch them without a horse and trap.” We moved away and began to discuss the matter in low tones, when the delivery boy interrupted.

“Where is it yer’s are going?”

“Not that it makes any difference, but we must get to the Slaughtered Lamb as soon as is humanly possible.”

“Oh,” he said, with a dopey grin. “Yer’s are wanting a drink, eh?”

I sighed and was about to resume the discussion with Judith when the lad uttered the solution to our problem.

“So why don’t yer’s just do a slider?”

“A what?” said I.

“A slider,” said the lad again. “Get a couple of bits of cardboard and yous can slide down the hill all the way to the Lamb.”

“Down the hill?” said Judith. “But the Slaughtered Lamb is up on the moors.”

The lanky youth nodded. “Oh, aye, it is. If ye go by road. But if’n yous run over to the timber yard yonder, there’s a track that takes ye right down to the back of the inn. It’s where they used to haul up the stones from the quarry.” He shrugged. “I can show yer if yer like?”

I glanced at Judith. “In for a penny…”

And so it was that two minutes later, after hurrying along several lanes and narrow alleys, we arrived at the old timber yard. The delivery boy led us through to a gap in the fence at the far side of the yard and pointed.

“There. That’s the track. Just need ter sit on a bit o’ cardboard and yous can slide right down to the back door.” Crossing to one side, he rummaged in a pile of rubbish and pulled out two battered cardboard boxes. Flattening them out, he gave us one each. “Mind though,” he said, with what I took to be his ‘serious’ face, “don’t yous be stayin out after dark – it be a full moon tonight and yous don’t want ter be meetin with a werewolf.”

Adopting somewhat indelicate seating positions, Judith and I readied ourselves and on a count of three, pushed off from the top of the slope. In a matter of seconds, we were hurtling along at an alarming rate, our respective lady parts bouncing up and down like balls in a juggling contest. Risking a quick glance at Judith, I attempted to conceal my terror, but felt gratified to see that she too was absolutely petrified.

Moments later the slope had levelled out and I could see in the distance a gathering of stone buildings. The nearest of these seemed to be the target of our route and seconds later we glided to a bumpy but largely pain-free stop at the door to what I presumed was the ‘outhouse’ behind the Slaughtered Lamb.

Clambering to my feet, I helped my companion up and we rubbed each other’s bottoms to relieve the throbbing sensation that still reverberated throughout our feminine physiques.

“Come on,” I urged, grasping Judith’s hand. “There’s the back door to the inn.” Within seconds we had negotiated the trail of empty beer barrels that littered the inn yard and pushed through the door that led to the rear part of the public house. As the door swished to behind us, the sound of a heated conversation came to my ears.

“What the fu–”

I stared at Judith. “That was Johnny’s voice,” I hissed.

“Shh!” Doctor Hirsch put a finger to my lips and motioned to a wooden hatch in the wall. Giving the hatch a gentle push, we raised our heads to peer through the aperture into the main room.

As we looked, a strange and unnerving sensation swept over us, as if some kind of dark fog had dropped upon us, changing the scene before our very eyes. And as I watched the crowd of people in front of us, a crowd that included Holmes and my darling Johnny, I saw what Holmes had seen – that an eerie darkness had fallen over the inn and its surroundings.

“Oh my God…” I gasped.

Judith shushed me to be quiet.

Focusing on the scene before us, I shook my head to clear the mugginess in my brain. Then a voice broke through to my consciousness.

“You can’t let ‘em go.”

“They’re being forced back outside,” whispered Judith. “Quickly, we have to reach them before the–” She stopped and stared at me. “Quickly.” Taking my hand, she pulled me backwards and we ran to the door and out into the inn yard. Veering left, we hurried around the corner of the building, heading for the front door. I was all too aware that the night had properly fallen and we were now engulfed in an almost complete darkness. Only the meagre illuminations from the windows of the inn served to light our way.

Rounding the corner, I slid to a halt. In front of us stood my husband, Sherlock Holmes and an approaching stranger.

“Oh shit,” muttered Judith. “It’s him.”

“Who?” I whimpered, not really wanting to know the answer.

But it was Holmes who replied. “Caddy? Inspector Caddy, are you alright, man?”

The other man raised his head and stared at him. “Beware the moon…”

As if on cue, a low howl echoed from somewhere distant.

“Oh, crap,” said Holmes. “It’s coming back!”

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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