I’m happy to report that I’m writing this from the comfort of my favourite armchair beside a roaring fire at Baker Street. My companion is tentatively fingering another of Mrs Hudson’s tea-time delights and I’m ashamed to say I’ve just finished off her hot muffins. It seems unthinkable that only a few hours ago Holmes and I faced such peril as I have rarely imagined. Only this morning, as we struggled against our bonds, I remember thinking that perhaps this would be our last adventure. But I digress…
When that wizened old crone gurgled Moriarty’s name, I admit that my blood ran cold. I turned to Holmes but his attention was on the staircase. I barely had time to follow his gaze when the crunching of splintering wood caused me to jump backwards in fright. The staircase (or what was left of it) had split in two halves, each section moving up and to the sides revealing a secret chamber beneath.
“I say,” came a voice behind us. “What’s all the kafuffle about, chaps?” Hannay squeezed between us, saw what we saw and immediately gave way at the knees. Holmes grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet.
“Stiff upper lip, Hannay,” he barked. “Don’t let the side down.” Then switching his sharp eyes to me, muttered. “Don’t suppose that’s a gun in your pocket, Watson?”
I glanced down at myself and adjusted my stance. “Ahm, no, actually, Holmes. Just a little…excitement, don’t you know?”
My companion nodded. “Perfectly understandable, Watson, considering the gargantuan intellect that is now upon us.” And turning to the space where the staircase had been, he smiled and gave a short bow. “Ah. Professor. How lovely to see you again.”
Moriarty strode up the steps from the underground room, followed by a brace of disagreeable henchmen. “Shirley, Johnnie and Dickie. Glad you could join us.” He made a small gesture and the henchmen moved forward waving their weapons.
“Get dahn the stairs,” said one, pointing his gun at my head.
“An don’t try no funny stuff neither,” said the other.
Holmes groaned. “It’s Don’t try any funny stuff, you dullard.”
And so it was that we were ushered unceremoniously into the nerve centre of Moriarty’s villainous emporium. In a matter of minutes we were trust up on three chairs against the back wall. Moriarty advanced toward us waving a pointy knife.
“It never fails to amaze me how stupid you are, Holmesy. Even now, as you face certain death at the hands of your arch enemy – ”
“What? Again?” Holmes laughed contemptuously.
“Don’t bloody interrupt me!” Moriarty jumped up and down several times, rather like a small child might react to having their favourite toy confiscated. He took a deep breath. “As I was saying – even now you have no clue what is going on.”
“Hah!” said I. “Holmes knows exactly what’s going on, don’t you Holmes?” I turned to my companion but he merely shrugged.
“Actually I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps the Professor might care to enlighten us?”
Moriarty straightened up, preening himself. “Why, of course, I should take great delight in doing so…”
Over the next few hours Moriarty explained his elaborate plans for world domination and other mad ideas. He went into great detail regarding the subterranean passages that (apparently) ran under the city, connecting his various hideouts, arms depots and sundry meeting places. I was beginning to grow rather tired, but then I noticed Holmes was shuffling around in his chair. I suspected he’d managed to free himself using some clever device he’d had the foresight to secrete about his person in case of such an emergency. But then he let out a loud phart and I realised he was simply suffering from his usual stomach trouble. I also realised something else – if Holmes couldn’t get us out of this, nobody could.
Moriarty’s rambling continued. “…and that is why I sent a message to that fool Lestrade.” He glanced at his pocket watch. “Ah. We are to meet in a few minutes, after which I shall kill him and then all of you. Mwah, hah, hah.”
When the staircase had closed behind him and his henchmen, I turned to Holmes. “Well?”
“Well what?” said he.
I sighed loudly. “You do have a plan?”
“Of course, Watson.” And he smiled.
To be continued.