From the Diary of Doctor Watson
It has taken me some little time to come to terms with the bizarre episode I faced yesterday afternoon and I am only now able to put pen to paper and collect my thoughts in a cohesive manner.
My companion’s reaction to my visit yesterday gave me quite a start. His quip “Excuse me, do I know you?” was (thought I, in my stupidity) just another Holmsian joke, but no – it was in fact, merely the tip of the iceberg.
Holmes turned his head slightly as if talking to someone else. He went on to speak rapidly, recounting numerous antics and anecdotes. The fact that I stood there in the conservatory quite alone, did not seem to deter him and though I waved a hand at the empty space he continued to address, there was no change in his demeanour. I watched, dumbstruck, as his head swivelled between my own face and the void next to me, Holmes nodding occasionally and giving that sly wink in answer to (presumably) whatever communication he thought was emanating from our imaginary companion.
I studied him carefully over the next few minutes. He appeared to have succumbed to some strange trick of the mind, which convinced him that our old pal RLS was in the room with us and clearly holding a most interesting conversation. After some minutes, I retired to Matron’s office in the hope that what I was witnessing was not some feature of my own troubled imagination.
“Och Doctor Watson,” gushed the large lady, giving me a playful dig in the ribs. “We’ve heard soooo much about you from dear Mister Holmes. But you’re much smaller in real life.” She guffawed loudly and I detected a quick glance in the direction of my nether regions. Then her face changed as she recounted the dreadful incident when my companion was brought into the asylum (yes, dear reader, I too was shocked to learn that the building we were presently occupying was not the village hospital but the local Insane Asylum!!!) It seems that Holmes was having some sort of continual hallucination that also included whatever was going on in the real world (which explains why he could see me as well as Bobby Stevenson).
Matron leaned forward conspiratorially. “I believe those vile creatures have done something to your friend, Doctor, but how long it will last we cannot say.” She then went on to tell me how another villager had been forced by the Children to drive his car into the duck pond, and yet another appeared to believe he had turned into a mole and had spent a whole day digging holes all over the village green.
I left Holmes writing out a series of letters (to me, I believe) detailing his ideas on ‘the Problem of Thor Bridge and how the new Science of Mesmerism will sort things out…’ At least my companion could come to no further harm in the Asylum. As I left the building, I pondered on the problem ahead of me – if Zellaby was aware of these bizarre goings-on, he had neglected to mention them to me, but given his own clock-fixated behaviour, that’s hardly surprising.
I decided the only way to tackle the problem was to tackle the creatures themselves – The Children.
Last night I telephoned Inspector Lestrade. Since it seemed I have no option but to take over the case myself, I decided I had better get some help.
(to be continued).