From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson
By the time we reached the terminal, there was no sign of the Count and his carriage. Nevertheless, we could not afford to bask in our petites gloires. Hurrying down to street level, we took the bull by the proverbials and stepped out in front of a passing cart. The driver shouted something that sounded vaguely objectionable, but Holmes calmed the fellow’s temper with a handful of coins.
“Always useful to keep a supply of French francs, Watson. Money opens doors like no key I’ve ever known.” We climbed aboard the rickety vehicle and Holmes barked an address in the driver’s ear. We took off at a gallop and in a matter of minutes, the cart pulled into a narrow lane called Chemins des Dune and came to a standstill in front of what I took to be a garden shed, of the French variety.
“I hope you’re right about this, m’dear,” I muttered to Mary as we followed Holmes to the door of the run-down structure. However, on stepping inside, we found ourselves in a small room facing a desk, behind which was seated a dapper little man wearing a monocle.
“Ah, Mishter Holmsh – we’ve been exshpecting you.”
Holmes raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“Yesh indeed,” said the little man, getting to his feet. “Mycroft alerted us to your shituashion at Cashtle Dracula and hinted that you may be in need of ashistansh in travelling back to Londen.”
Holmes glanced at Mary and pouted a little. “Seems I owe you an apology, Mrs Watson.”
At these words, the clerk stepped forward. “Mishesh Watshon? The Mishesh Watshon?” He grasped Mary’s hand and shook it vigorously, wiping away a morsel of spit as he did so. “We weren’t exshpecting you. Come in, come in…” And he led us through a door in the back wall of the shed, down a flight of stone steps and into a large underground chamber, chattering away mindlessly to my wife the entire time.
A dozen or more individuals hurried here and there among the desks and workbenches located on either side. Our guide pattered along gaily towards what looked like a large wardrobe in the middle of the room, at which point Holmes pulled me sideways. “I suggest you keep an eye on your wife, Watson, it seems she possesses womanly wiles that are more womanly and indeed more wily than either of us expected.”
I put on my best smug expression. “Speak for yourself, Holmes. Speak for yourself.”
The chatty little man finally stopped gossiping about Whitehall shenanigans and held open the wardrobe door. “Through the fur coatsh, then shtraight down to the shtationhoush and it’sh directly in front of you. The engineer will send you off as shoon as shteam’sh up.” He smiled and wiggled his fingers at Mary. “Bye then.”
And so it was that ten minutes later our LubeTube carriage was hurtling through a well-greased tunnel at several dozen miles per hour. As Mary promised, it took a mere nine minutes to reach Londen and as we alighted, a familiar face advanced down the platform towards us.
“Oh for Christ’s sake,” muttered Holmes. “What the fucking hell does he want?” Adopting an expression of pure condescension, Sherlock greeted his brother with his usual decorous charm. “Mycroft, how are you? You’re looking well – been working out?”
Mycroft Holmes nodded at me, winked at Mary and patted Sherlock on the head. “Don’t trouble yourself to feign pleasure, Shirley, I’m only here to give you this.” And reaching into his inside pocket he took out a sheet of paper. Passing it to Holmes, he bowed to Mary and I, turned on his heel and walked off.
Holmes studied the document and stuffed it into his pocket without speaking.
“Anything important, old boy?” I asked.
“I’ll let you know.” Picking up his bag, he headed off towards the exit.
“Scuse me, govnor,” called one of the engineers. “It’s this way, mate.”
Holmes did an about-turn. “Yes, of course it is. I knew that.”
We emerged into the cold dawn of a new day onto a well-kept rooftop garden. From the spectacular view of the Thames, I quickly realised we were on top of the Houses of Parliament and on the lawn in front of us, a steam-powered gyrocopter was already powered up and waiting.
“Hmph,” said Holmes. “At least he’s good for something.” We climbed aboard the machine and stuffed our bags in the back, while Holmes discussed our destination with the pilot.
Settling into his seat, the great detective turned to us and took a deep breath. “Now, it seems that friend Lestrade has a brother, and – ”
“Really?” I interjected. “I always thought Grayson was an only child.”
Holmes looked perplexed. “Grayson? Who’s Grayson?”
“Lestrade. That’s his name – Grayson Lestrade. You didn’t know, Holmes?” I couldn’t resist a smile and feigned a cough in order to hide my joy at discovering (for once) something my illustrious colleague did not know.
He sniffed. “In any case, it is Lestrade’s brother not our dear inspector, who has been communicating with the Count. Apparently he’s an estate agent.”
“D’you think he’ll be at Carfax?”
“Whether he is or not, we must get there A. S. A. B. P. – As Soon As Bloody Possible.” He leaned forward and tapped the pilot on the shoulder. “Anytime you’re ready, my good man.” And seconds later we were flying over Londen towards Purfleet, Carfax House and, inevitably, Count Dracula.