To Sherlock Holmes Esq from Doctor Watson
My Dear Holmes,
I write these lines sitting by my window overlooking the meadow, watching the sun slowly sink in the gray of the sky. Or at least I would if Flora’s description of the farm had been stuffed with actual facts, rather than pathetically idealistic notions of country living. The truth of the matter is that I have been billeted in what can only be described as a bit of a shithole above a slightly larger shithole, locally termed ‘the cow shed’.
While it’s true that I can indeed see the meadow, this latter geographical feature might be more readily recognised by persons such as yourself, as ‘a field’. A field covered in cowshit. Indeed, the whole place is pretty much covered in cowshit – I’m beginning to think the substance must be revered as some sort of priceless local currency. Next, they’ll be telling me they grow potatoes with it!
However, I digress. I’m sure you will be less interested in my domestic situation than in the goings-on at the farm itself.
We arrived in the early evening just as the workers were gathering for their meal. Our driver (Adam Shitebreath) led the horse away while Flora bid me follow her up to the house. The farm itself is situated at the brow of a hill, which I imagine must present a fetching scene when viewed as a silhouette at sunset. Flora led me across the farmyard, taking care to tread on a series of filthy planks that had been laid out in lieu of a path, thus saving our footwear from the worst of the mud and aforementioned cowshit that covered everything.
Pushing open the back door (no-one uses the front door for some reason), I was led into a large kitchen area packed with men of various ages, along with a couple of odd-looking women. The genial hubbub ceased as I came into view and all eyes turned to me.
“Everyone – this is Doctor Watson. He’s from Londen.”
At the mention of my name, a low groan rumbled round the room and a single voice piped up “Ar be gon ter bring Mistress Doom backer loife, en?”
I looked to Flora for a translation, but she simply advised the speaker to ‘stop talking shite’, which was language I could understand.
We then pushed through the crowd towards the stairs, leaving the workers to their meal. I clutched my rucksack to my chest, mindful that poor Henri was still nestling inside.
Upstairs, Flora directed me along a series of complicated passageways that I assumed were leading to the room I was to stay in. Unfortunately, this was not the case and as the young woman opened the door at the end of a particularly long and dark corridor, I realised what it was she wanted me to do.
The smell was the first thing to hit me, followed by a familiar gurgling in my tummy. I swallowed hard, praying my luncheon would not resurface from either orifice. Thankfully, Flora guessed my predicament and crossed the room, drew back the curtains and threw open the windows, allowing sufficient fresh air into the place to quell my surging stomach.
I took a few deep breaths and turned my attention to the body lying on the bed. “She’s still here, then?”
Flora nodded. “I thought you’d want to examine her.”
“Well, yes, normally I would, but I’d assumed the police would’ve…” I looked at the body, the blood-encrusted knife glinting in the fading sunlight. I looked at Flora. “The police have been, haven’t they?”
She coughed. “I’m afraid they won’t come up this far.”
“What? There isn’t a constable in the village?”
She shook her head, then nodded. “There is, but he won’t come up here.”
I sensed my next question was one I probably didn’t want to hear the answer to. But it had to be asked. “Why not?”
“Because of the thing in the woodshed.”
“In the woodshed.” I swallowed hard. Again. “And what exactly is in the woodshed?”
Flora gave a regretful shrug. “Something nasty.”