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The Strange and the Familiar

01 Jan

Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

As the carriage raced along towards whatever my fate might be, I noted with a degree of disquiet that my captors made no effort to cover my face. Clearly, they were not concerned I might recognise my surroundings, which could only mean they did not intend to keep me alive long enough to reveal their identities or the particulars of their hideaway.

Nevertheless, I took careful note of our route in the unlikely circumstances of an imminent rescue attempt (a rescue attempt I feared would not be forthcoming, since my dear husband and his big-nosed companion would not yet be aware of my disappearance, and even when they did notice my absence, the likelihood of identifying Colonel Moran and his villainous gang as possible culprits, had to be somewhere in the region of little-chance, and no-fucking-chance.)

Reaching into my coat pocket, I extracted one of my notebooks, thinking I may as well update my activities (given the likelihood of it being the last thing I’d do).

“I see you keep a diary, Mrs Watson,” said Moran. He had placed himself between me and the carriage door—rat-faced Ratched having taken up residence on my other side, preventing any escape.

Tilting my chin upwards in a rebellious pose, I said, “Of course, I expect I shall need it when the case gets to court.”

Moran chuckled. “Ah yes, the optimism of the Watsons—always worth a laugh.”

“Don’t underestimate my husband, Sebastian. After all, he helped put you in gaol last time.”

He nodded, solemnly. “Indeed. But not for long. As you can see.” He waved his hands in a regal gesture.

I said nothing for a moment, then as we approached Russell Square, I leaned towards Moran and muttered, “So, Moriarty got you out, did he?”

The colonel grinned. “Now then, Mary, you know better than to ask leading questions.” He sniffed and gazed out of the window. “Besides, Moriarty’s dead.”

Though I knew him to be an accomplished liar, the tone of Moran’s voice gave the impression that, on this occasion at least, he told the truth.

At that point, the carriage rolled to a stop, and I saw we had drawn up a few yards away from a recently erected monument.

Moran nodded towards the famous statue. “Ah, yes. Bartholomew Cavendish. Hero of the Indian Wars. Also known as the Duke of Bendover. Best known for his habit of ordering unruly subordinates to drop their trousers, prostrate themselves over his desk and—”

“Yes, Colonel,” I said, interrupting. “I’m well aware of the stories surrounding that man’s accomplishments.”

“Curiously enough,” he continued, “bending over is one of the many activities Maudie has in mind for you.” He laughed, maniacally.

Maudie herself had begun to alight from the vehicle and I saw two burly henchmen approaching. Reaching in, they grabbed me roughly by the arms and hoisted me out and onto the street. For a moment, I had the urge to scream, but one of the men produced a dagger and pressed it to my stomach.

“One word out ov you, girlie, an I’ll slit yer gizzard faster than a Dundee fishwife.”

I smiled sweetly. “Actually, humans don’t have gizzards. The primary function of it in fish is to aid the digestion.”

The man scowled. “That so? Well, ‘ow about I slit somfing else instead?”

I coughed. “No, that’s alright. I shan’t be any trouble to you.”

“That’s what I thort.”

The two gripped me firmly and led me towards a grand looking house with several steps up to a large front door. But it wasn’t the main part of the building we were headed for, and I found myself being pushed down a metal staircase that presumably led to the cellar. In any case, we were soon in a darkened room below street level, where a distinct but recognisable aroma filled my nostrils.

Peering through the gloom, I saw a dark figure sitting by the fire at the other side of the room. As I moved towards him, the smell of the tobacco filled my nostrils. The potent and slightly sweet aroma seemed awfully familiar to me and as I searched my memory, a churning sensation in my tummy told me I already knew the identity of the stranger.

As I stepped closer to the fire, the man with the pipe turned his head towards me. “Ah, Mary. I wondered when you’d show up.”

“Oh, my God! What the fuck?”

“My sentiments entirely, my dear. But have a seat—if we’re lucky, our abductor might entertain us with an explanation.” He turned to look back at Colonel Moran, who now stood a few feet away, a smug expression on his face.

“Au contraire, old friend,” said he. “Surely, as the world’s greatest consulting detective, you’ve already worked out what’s going on?”

“Of course,” said Sherlock Holmes, but the tight line of his mouth told me that for once, the hero of Baker Street did not have all the answers.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2022 in Detective Fiction

 

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