from Dr J Watson to Sherlock Holmes Esq:
As promised, here are my notes from the other night…
Holmes and I arrived at Dickens’ house at the appointed hour (11:55pm) on Christmas Eve. At my companion’s suggestion, I had brought along my patented ‘ghost buster’ tool which Holmes thought might come in handy if the so-called spirits turned out to be more flesh than fiend.
I was about to rap on the door knocker when Holmes touched my arm:
“Watson, stay your hand a moment…” and he indicated the door knocker itself, which until that moment I had only perceived as an instrument of knockerability. Now I saw to my horror that the design of the thing took the form of a human face, and one I was all too familiar with.
“Why Holmes,” I exclaimed. “It’s the face of Mr Bun the Baker!”
My companion chuckled. “Oh my dear Watson – had I half your imagination we should be in a jolly fix indeed. No, Doctor, it is in fact the face of our old friend Professor Moriarty.”
“Professor Moriarty?!” I screamed.
“Yes, Watson,” whispered my companion, clamping a hand over my mouth. “The very same. Now let us proceed with caution and a greater degree of quietude.”
I quickly recovered myself and assured Holmes of my support.
“I advise you to keep one hand on your tool, Watson.” And with that, he took out his set of skeleton keys and a moment later the door swung open and we stepped inside the house.
Dickens appeared from a side door, sweat dripping from his brow and a look of consternation on his poor face. “Thank Christ you’re here, Mr Holmes, and you too, Good Doctor.” He strode forward and grasped our hands, welcoming us into his home with a passion I would not have thought possible for a man of his stature.
Leading us through to the library, Dickens bid us to sit by the fire. “Tis almost time,” he whispered, glancing about himself as if expecting some apparition to appear. “At any moment the apparition will appear.”
I would have congratulated myself on my assessment of the situation, but at that very moment, the grandfather clock in the corner struck the hour. It was midnight.
Dickens seemed to withdraw into himself and leaned back into his chair as if it might protect him from whatever he was afraid of.
Holmes leaned forward, his keen senses picking up every movement, every sound. A sudden explosion of hot air rattled from underneath my chair. Holmes turned to me, a look of irritation in his eyes. “Was that you, Watson?”
“Sorry Holmes, I shouldn’t have had that curry.”
He silenced me with a finger to his lips, and peered around the room. Meanwhile, I watched Mr Dickens and noted with some alarm that the fellow’s face had drained of all colour…
To be continued