Diary of Doctor J. Watson
No amount of pulling and twisting did any good—the ropes were too tight and our balancing act on top of the bomb too precarious. Anything other than small movements might trigger the mechanism and blow us to smithereens.
‘Don’t worry, darling,’ I said. ‘Holmes will find us.’
‘Before or after the bomb goes off?’
I told myself to stay positive and tried a different tack. ‘You wouldn’t happen to have one of those clever little devices about your person?’
‘Which clever little devices?’
‘You know—like your wind-up lamp, or that vibrating thing you had on the SS Mangochutney.’
‘Even if I did have that ‘vibrating thing’, I’d have to remove my French knickers to get at it.’
‘Oh. Of course.’
We fell silent for a moment. Then, realising the end must be near, and with a trembling lip, I murmured, ‘Mary, I want you to know that you have been the best part of my life. You’ve brought me companionship, unexpected joy, thrilling escapades, and laughter. Not to mention undreamed of carnal adventures of such intensity—’
‘Will you shut up a minute?’
‘Quiet. There’s someone outside.’
I listened. Something squeaked. For a moment I thought it must be the toilet seat, then I recalled a similar sound when I’d pushed open the bathroom door only a few short minutes earlier.
‘For God’s sake, Watson. You’ve not got the squirts again, have you?’
‘Holmes!’ I cried. ‘We’re in here but don’t open the door. There’s a bomb.’
I heard muttering, a few thumps and a minute later Sherlock’s head appeared over the top of the cubicle.
‘One thing we can say for the Watsons—they never do anything by halves.’ His beady eyes took in our situation, and he barked instructions to Lestrade.
‘D’you know about the bombs in the dining room?’ said Mary.
‘I do,’ said Holmes.
‘I expect Mycroft’s panicking, is he?’
Holmes coughed. ‘He would be if he could talk.’ In typical Holmesian pragmatism, he outlined the events of the last few minutes. As he finished, Lestrade returned.
‘I got scissors, a knife and a tin-opener.’
I heard Holmes clamber down from on top of the toilet and a moment later the big-nosed detective’s face appeared under our cubicle door. Twisting himself round, he managed to get one arm under the door and stretched upwards until able to position the scissors next to the wire.
‘You do know that cutting it might trigger the bomb, Holmes?’ I said.
‘I do, Johnny. So, let’s hope it doesn’t.’
I closed my eyes and heard a metallic snip. Holding my breath, I opened my eyes and looked down. The wire had been cut and we were still alive.
Using various other kitchen utensils, Holmes and Lestrade cut through the ropes holding Mary and I together, then lifted us bodily, one by one, away from the bomb and into the relative safety of the washroom.
‘How long have we got left?’ said Mary.
‘Not long enough,’ said Holmes. ‘The external doors and windows are locked and shuttered. I suggest we use this explosive device to fashion an exit.’
‘You what?’ said I.
‘We need to blow the bloody doors off.’
‘What about the antidote?’ said Lestrade.
Holmes rubbed his chin. ‘Hmm. Given the occupations of our dining room friends, I did consider leaving them to their fate, but even Mycroft doesn’t deserve that. Besides, we don’t really want to start a war between America and Russia, which is exactly what would happen if the ambassadors were killed.’
Lestrade shook his head. ‘I don’t see ‘ow we can ‘ope to find a bottle of antidote in a place this size. It just ain’t possible.’
‘For once Lestrade, you’re absolutely right.’ He turned to Mary. ‘Where would you hide such a bottle, Mrs Watson?’
Mary frowned. ‘Why are you asking me?’
‘Because, Mary, I seem to remember a certain incident on a certain steam ship where you extracted a small device from a certain part of your anatomy.’
‘We were just talking about that,’ said I. ‘She’d shoved it up her—’
The slap echoed around the small room. ‘What the hell was that for?’ I whined, rubbing my offended features.
Mary glared at me. To Holmes, she said, ‘You’re right. I kept if up my vagina, but as I’m not in league with Lord Henry Blackwood, I can assure you that—’
‘Yes, yes, I know, Mary. I’m simply suggesting that a woman in the employ of Blackwood, should she fall foul of him, might, as punishment, serve as a receptacle for such a hiding place.’
I looked at Mary, who inclined her head in a way that suggested she already knew the answer.
‘Of course,’ I muttered. ‘Ratched.’
‘Ang on,’ said Lestrade. ‘Why would Blackwood punish Maudie?’
‘Tell him, Mary,’ said Holmes.
‘Because, Inspector, I broke her wrist. Blackwood might easily see that as a betrayal—don’t forget, she wasn’t his woman, but Moran’s and as Moran doesn’t exist…’
Holmes glanced at his watch. ‘We have to find her. And we have only fifteen minutes before the bombs go off.’
As we raced along the corridor, I wondered what would be worse—being blown to bits or having to give Maudie Ratched an internal examination.
Either way, it wouldn’t be pleasant.