From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson
“Quickly, Watson, there’s not a moment to lose.” Holmes ran to the window, then turned and ran to the door, then turned and ran to the big comfy chair by the fire and sat down.
I stared at him. “Holmes? You alright, old boy?” I said, noting the unusual lack of expression on his features.
“No, actually. I don’t think I am.” He looked up at me. “Watson, for the first time in my life I don’t know what to do.”
“Oh,” said I. “Well, we’d better…er…”
“Go after the Count?” Suggested Mary, slipping on her shoes.
Holmes glanced at her. “Yes, I suppose so…”
I pulled up a chair opposite and crossed my legs. “Perhaps we ought to talk it through, eh Holmes?”
He nodded absentmindedly. “Yes. Talk it through.”
Mary went to the wardrobe and fished around among her clothes. “Maybe this’ll help?” She produced a bottle of French Brandy and three glasses.
“Oh, I say, good show old thing.” I held the glasses while she poured. “Righto, Holmes, what’re the options?”
The effect of the brandy was immediate – my companion seemed to rise up a little in his chair and his face took on its more usual hue. “We must pursue the Count. In addition we must ensure he cannot return to his coffin, and we should probably all start wearing crucifixes.”
Mary frowned. “If he’s already gone, why would he come back to his coffin?”
Holmes leaned forward. “Good point. In which case he must already have made provision for a coffin on board whatever mode of transport he’s using.”
“Can’t he just turn into a bat and fly to Londen?”
“Are you suggesting he carry his own coffin and whatever else he may need en route? No, Watson, he must have prepared for this. I think he planned to take Mary with him and join forces with Lestrade…” He held up a finger. “At Carfax.”
“What’s Carfax,” asked Mary.
“The Count’s Londen residence,” I said. “Probably heading there now.”
“But if he intended going there all along, why did he invite you and Sherl here?”
“Ah. She’s got a point, Holmes.” I looked at my wife. “Though if he was planning to take you with him as one of his…vampy brood…”
Holmes sat up straight. “No, no, Watson – oh, what a fool I’ve been!” He beamed broadly. “He couldn’t have known Mary was coming so she cannot have been part of his plan. In which case, he must have…” He drummed his slender fingers on the arm of the chair.
“…wanted us out the way perhaps?” I finished.
“Precisely. Especially if Lestrade is involved.”
I shook my head. “Must admit I’m surprised – never took Lestrade for a vampire.”
Holmes rolled his eyes. “He’s not a vampire, you nitwit. At least, not yet.”
“Then what’s the Count want with him?” I knocked back my drink and poured myself another. “All sounds a bit silly to me…”
“It may sound silly, Watson, but you can be assured there’ll be a perfectly valid reason for his actions. We just have to find out what they are.”
The activities of the next hour began with Holmes and I hauling the three coffins up into the courtyard and setting fire to them. Then we gathered our belongings together, found an old handcart and headed down the hill to the village. If we were to get ahead of the Count, we’d have to move fast.
Back at the Skream Inn, we roused the landlord and his wife who, given the circumstances, seemed completely unsurprised at our sudden appearance.
“You are still alife, zen?” said the old man.
“For the moment, yes,” muttered Holmes. “Now, my good man, is there any way at all of getting us back to England very, very quickly.”
He shook his head and scratched his nether regions. “Zer is a cart zat you take get in ze morning when Yumpin Yimminy brings ze milk. Or you could walk…” He shrugged.
“For God’s sake, man is there no means of getting out of this damn country that’s faster than walking pace?” Holmes let out a low groan.
The landlord’s wife nudged her husband and pointed skywards. The old man looked up and a smile lit his features. “Vell, zer is ze cable car?”
I let out a low groan, similar to the one Holmes had let out. “Unfortunately, we need to go a bit further than half a mile down the hill.”
The old man nodded his head. “Ya. You vould need to change at ze bottom and get ze next one, then change again and so on.”
I peered at him. “What? You mean there’s a cable car system that goes to…where?”
He shrugged again. “Vell, only as far as ze French coast.”
I looked at Holmes. Holmes looked at Mary. Mary looked at me.
“Well, buggering hell,” I said. “So how come no-one knows about it?”
He gave a wry smile. “Because all ze English think cable cars are crap.”
And so it was that half an hour later, having ascended the incredibly long ladder to the cable car station, the three of us loaded our bags into the car, grabbed a selection of German sausages for the journey from our ever-faithful landlord and let off the brake. As the carriage shuddered out from the safety of the station recess, it gave a sudden lurch and I recalled why I never travelled by cable car.
“It’s exciting, isn’t it?” said Mary gazing out of the window at the approaching dawn. “Just like in that silent movie – what’s it called?”
“You mean Where Eagles Dare?” I ventured.
“No – The Man Who Fell To Earth From A Cable Car. Very messy as I recall.” She grinned. “But it’s just a movie.”
I glanced at Holmes. “Fancy a sausage?”