From the Diary of Dr J Watson:
When I heard nothing from my illustrious companion following the delivery of a certain publication, I began to experience a growing feeling of dread. (It put me in mind of the opening passage of a story by our old pal Poe – ‘The Balls of the Pants of Usher’ or some such thing). In any case, I determined to seek out my friend and reassure myself that he was in no danger and was in fact simply ignoring me. As usual.
However, my anxiety was not to be so easily exorcised, for as I approached the door to 221B Baker Street, I ran smack into Inspector Lestrade, who was exiting that very building with some haste.
“Lestrade, old fellow, what’s to do?”
The inspector’s usually pallid features were even more pallid than usual and he gripped my arm, pulling me to one side. “Watson, thank God you’re alive – after witnessing the…” and here he held a hand to his face as if he were about to experience his breakfast a second time. “I was about to fetch a doctor, but you’ll do. Quickly…” And he pushed me through the doors and up the stairs.
My companion’s rooms were untidy (even by his standards) and Holmes himself was lying on a makeshift bed in the centre of the room, his face a rather nice shade of scarlet. The hue was so fetching that it put me in mind of our first case together – ‘A Study in Deep Purple’ but my short reverie was indeed short-lived as a shriek from my friend’s beautiful lips jerked me back to reality.
“Arrrrggh!” He said.
“Holmes!” I shrieked.
“Watson!” Screamed Lestrade. “Control yourself, man.”
I knelt down by the bed and held a hand to my companion’s forehead. “Tell me what you know, Inspector.”
And he did just that. It seems that the pages of the book I had sent to Holmes had been infused with a strange potion. Holmes, being thorough as was his wont, had scrutinised the pages over the course of a few days and at the end of that time had begun to realise that in doing so he had actually poisoned himself. Calling for Lestrade, he was able to utter a few garbled phrases (mostly containing the words ‘fuck’ and ‘shite’) before lapsing into the coma that I now found him in.
During the next few hours, Lestrade and I were able to transport Holmes to Hardacre’s Sanatorium, which deals with many such strange cases. I collected my bag on the way, along with my old chemistry set and four pairs of latex gloves, and set to work to identify whatever it was that had laid out my companion in this way.
Late into that first night, I sat back from my studies and rubbed my head. Lestrade, who had stayed by Holmes’ bedside mopping his brow, cast me a hopeful glance.
I shook my head. “I haven’t been able to identify the exact quantities involved, but I’m certain of one thing – the pages of this book were drenched in the poo of Fu Manchu.”
I nodded. “Indeed.”
(To be continued)