As the three of us hurried towards the bridge, a plan was forming in my mind. In the distance, a number of men dressed in what I took to be German uniforms were gadding about here and there. I grasped the sleeves of my companions.
“Put your hands in the air and pretend you’re my prisoners.”
Dickie grinned. “Oh, what fun!” He patted his partner on the head. “Like when we were in panto in Barrow-in-Furness – remember?”
Arthur chuckled. “We could do our Wilson, Kepple and Betty act.” He promptly stuck his hands in the air and began to advance in single file, sliding his feet along in a sad rendition of the infamous sand dance. Dickie followed him and I took up the rear, brandishing the gun I’d taken from the soldier.
As we reached the other side of the bridge and came within a few feet of the nearest guards, one of them took a step towards me.
“Vot is ze passvord?” he barked.
I decided to take the initiative. “Vy are you speakink like zat?”
“Ve alvays speak like zis ven we are in Englandshire.”
“Very vell,” I said, and pointing at my companions, “I captured zees prisoners ven I vos out on patrol.”
The man eyed Arthur and Dickie with a degree of suspicion, then waved us on. “Take zem to our leader.”
We started forwards again, then the guard held out a hand to stop me. “Forgive me, but you haf very large breasts for an Oberleutnant.” He reached out a hand, presumably to fondle my chesticle area, so I rapped him sharply across the knuckles with the butt of my pistol.
“Ow. Zat hurt.”
“Zis is my disguise to fool ze English detectives. Now get out of my vay before I report you for sexual harassment.”
The man jumped aside and we hurried on.
Crossing the bridge, we were able to make out a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. Several men in overalls appeared to be unloading tools and equipment from the so-called ghost train which now stood stationary on the tracks. Most of the men were heading for a flight of steps at the side of the line.
“Follow those chaps,” I whispered to Dickie.
As we descended the steps, I could see the entrance to an underground tunnel of some sort. “What on earth d’you suppose this is for?” I muttered as we passed through into the interior.
“Probably a secret tunnel,” said Arthur. “I expect it’s part of some devilish plot.”
“Really?” I said. “That’s very astute of you.”
He shook his head. “No it isn’t – but I’m sure it’s exactly the sort of thing Mr Holmes is thinking right now.”
Just then, a door opened ahead of us and Holmes himself, together with my Johnnie and a bevy of storm troopers, marched out into the tunnel. Holmes saw me immediately and twisted his head away, no doubt in order to avoid drawing attention to us. However, my dear husband was less obliging and as soon as he set eyes on me, called out:
“Hello, darling! What are you doing here? And why are you dressed like a German soldier?”
All eyes turned towards us.
“Oh, I thought we’d just trot along and carry out a rescue mission,” said I, with only a hint of sarcasm.
My husband opened his mouth, then closed it. “Ah. Sorry.”
The soldiers pushed us all together and it was only then I noticed a small man behind Holmes. He looked strangely familiar, with his piggy little eyes and rather silly moustache. There was also something unsettling about his eyebrows. And then it came to me:
“He looks just like Adolf Hi –”
“La la la la laaaaaa!” Yelled Holmes. “La la la-la laaaa…”
The piggy-eyed man glared at him. “Vot are you doingk, Herr Holmes?”
Holmes shrugged. “Just had a sudden urge to sing, old bean.” He smiled sardonically.
“The little man nodded. “Very vell. You can zing for your zupper. Before we kill you. Mwah, hah, hah…”
I turned to Johnnie. “Did he just say ‘Mwah, hah, hah?”
My husband nodded. “I believe he did, darling.”
“Oh, no,” I said. “According to your casenotes, dear, there are only two villains who use that phrase, and one of them’s a dead vampire.”
As we stared at the piggy-eyed little man, his body seemed to grow upwards and straighten out, as if he’d simply been pretending to be small.
Johnny groaned. “Oh, bugger.”
Holmes rolled his eyes and let out a long sigh. “For fuck’s sake – not you again?”
Professor Moriarty nodded as he peeled off the moustache and smoothed his hair back. “Revenge, as they say, Mister Holmes, is sweet…”