From the Diary of Doctor Watson
It has been almost a week now since I sent off my reply to my companion’s last letter. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t worry too much at his silence, since it is a trait of his that I’ve learned to live with. However, given the very real possibility of danger in his current location, I have determined to journey back to the Village tonight. Mrs Watson is not happy, but there you go.
The Village was in darkness when I arrived last night, and as the station was deserted, I was forced to walk to Zellaby’s with only an eerie moon to light my way. Zellaby’s home is on the outskirts of the Village and I had hoped that, even given the late hour, I might find a welcoming light. Yet, the house too, was in darkness and it was with not a little trepidation that I tried the handle of the front door.
I stood for a long moment on the hall carpet, listening for something, anything, that might tell me I was not alone, but the only sound was the echoing tick of the old grandfather clock along the passageway. As I gazed around me, it occurred to me that something was very wrong. It took me only a few seconds to realise what it was: tick, tick, kerr-tick, kerr-tick…
With a single, Holmesian bound, I leapt towards the clock and threw open the door to its mechanism. There in the darkness, mewling like a wounded cat, was Zellaby, staring up at me with what I can only describe as utter relief.
After making up fire in the front parlour, I poured another cup of Horlicks for Zellaby, who’s general demeanour had not altered much since I dragged him from inside the clock. Nevertheless, he has been able to tell me something of the last few days…
“Mr Holmes was certain he could negotiate, with the Children (though they were in a state). By the time your letter he did see, he’d made up his mind how to proceed…”
He went on in this fashion for some time and I was beginning to weary of his poetic ramblings when he finally got to the point:
“So Holmes went out to start the car, but Children came they from afar, and soon surround him too they did, til Mr Holmes near flipped his lid…”
It transpired that Holmes had endeavoured to drive Zellaby’s old pony and trap to the police station with the aim of discussing tactics with the sergeant. The Children, who had been gathering outside the house, crowded around and as Holmes pulled away, he inadvertently ran the cart over several of the Children’s feet. Holmes immediately hauled on the reins but as he tried to speak to them, the Creatures surrounded the vehicle and exerted a strange force over him: Holmes climbed back into the cart and drove it straight towards a large oak tree at the end of the lane. (The pony appears to have aided the children by veering away at the last minute, forcing the trap onto its side, throwing my companion into the ditch).
By mid-morning I was at the Village hospital, having detoured through the fields beyond Zellaby’s house in order to avoid contact with the Children. I found Holmes in the conservatory, sitting quite comfortably in an old bath chair reading The Times.
“Thank God, Holmes,” said I, rushing up to him.
He turned his piercing eye on me and simply blinked. “Excuse me, do I know you?”
(To be continued)