Monthly Archives: July 2022

The Last Laugh

Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Lestrade glanced at me then took a quick look through the nearest window. My own gaze moved to Blackwood, who, with his face daubed in some red substance, raised his hands.

‘Bloody hell,’ said Lestrade.

As I continued to watch, the hooded figures halted their chanting and gazed at their beloved leader. Blackwood clutched something in his right hand. Making a series of gestures as if performing some weird magical act, he spoke words that could only have come from the demonic book he had so lately acquired. With a sudden flourish, he threw his hands up, casting a reddish powder into the air. With a flash of light, the powder ignited, causing the minions to gasp in awe.

Holmes gave me a nudge and signalled we should break the door down immediately. I couldn’t see any point faffing around with Lestrade’s jemmy, so I lifted my revolver and blew the lock off. (Admittedly, this action removed any element of surprise we may have had, but I reckoned the noise would at least ensure we had the attention of everyone in the room.)

Bursting through the shattered doors, we took up defensive positions, with Holmes and I covering Blackwood and the altar, while Lestrade and Mary kept their guns trained on the hoodies at either side.

‘Ah,’ said Blackwood. ‘You’re still alive, then?’

‘Sorry to disappoint,’ said Holmes, ‘but you’re all under arrest.’

Lord Henry Blackwood laughed. ‘I don’t think so, Shirley.’ He leaned to one side and picked up a large dagger. Holding it in both hands above his head, he began to chant strange words again. I could see he intended to carry out the ritual killing of Professor Klopp.

‘We have to do something, Holmes,’ I said.

‘I’m aware of that, Watson.’ To Blackwood, he shouted, ‘Drop the dagger or I will shoot.’

Blackwood paused, inclined his head, and looked at one of his minions. ‘You know what to do.’

Every single one of the hooded blokes swivelled towards us, their faces dull and lifeless. I guessed they must’ve been drugged, probably with a similar concoction to the one he’d used on us. But as they raised their right hands, I saw each man held a massive knife, much like the one Blackwood wielded.

‘You may have the firepower to kill some of us,’ said the villainous lord, ‘but you will be sliced up like mangoes before you can say tropical sunrise.’ He laughed.

‘Then we have an impasse,’ said Holmes.

Blackwood smirked. ‘Don’t think so, Holmesy. But I’ll tell you what, if you let me finish this little routine, we’ll call it quits.’

Holmes shook his head. ‘Frau Klopp may be a criminal, but she does not deserve to die like this.’

‘Doesn’t she? Well, I think she does. You see, like our friend Miss Ratched, her allegiance was to Moran, who of course, doesn’t exist. And since she also allowed Mrs Watson to escape her punishment, I’m somewhat disappointed in her. And you know how much I despise those who disappoint me, don’t you?’

At this, he raised his dagger again and muttered something indistinct.

‘Then I shall have to shoot you,’ said Holmes, pointing his gun directly at Blackwood’s head.

Blackwood sighed and lowered the knife. ‘You’re no fun, Holmes. I’m definitely going to have to kill you very soon. But don’t worry, I’ll make sure your replacement makes good use of 221B Baker Street and that whoring housekeeper of yours.’

‘You fiend,’ said Holmes. ‘If you—’

‘Oh, shut up, can’t you?’ He sniffed and lifted the dagger again. ‘Now, can we please get on?’

Holmes still had the gun aimed at the villain’s head. ‘I’m warning you, Blackwood. I will shoot.’

‘You know, if you spent a little time perusing the reports of your adventures related by Doctor Sidekick there, you’d realise Sherlock Holmes never shoots anyone, no matter how evil they are.’

I glanced at my companion and couldn’t help noticing how his hand trembled. Blackwood had got it spot on—Holmes would never kill anyone if it could be avoided. Apart from anything else, he prided himself on his ability to rise above actions which he considered to be the coward’s way out.

‘I’ll shoot him,’ said Mary. ‘Doesn’t bother me.’

Holmes smiled at her. ‘That’s very noble of you, my dear, but I wouldn’t wish to tarnish your reputation.’ He let his gun arm drop to his side. ‘You’re quite right, of course, Lord Henry. But while I may be unwilling to kill you, I have no qualms about shooting your balls off.’

In a flash, he raised the gun, took aim, and fired.

It took a few seconds for the reverberations of the shot to die away. But as soon as it did, Lord Henry Blackwood began to scream.

‘Arrrgghhh! You shot my fucking balls off, you fucking…’ Clutching at the space where his gonads used to be, Blackwood sank to the floor, the dagger falling uselessly at his side.

For a moment, the hooded minions stood and stared. Then one of them stepped forwards.

‘Lord Blackwood, rise up and be reborn with gonads anew. Rejuvenate yourself as you have instructed us to do. Become the Evil One. Become—’

‘Oh, shut up, you dick,’ I said, giving the man a sharp left hook. Like Blackwood, he crumpled to the floor.

At the sight of their wounded leader, the hooded minions seemed to rouse themselves. Looking around, they blinked, rubbed their eyes, and dropped their weapons. Some started to cry.

Holmes let out a long sigh. ‘This is going to be a nightmare to sort out. Blackwood will no doubt convince the public, or at least the politicians in his pocket, of his innocence. He’ll probably claim we tortured him. Even if he goes to jail, he’ll escape, and we’ll be left to pick up the pieces. Again.’ He shook his head.

Lestrade sniffed. ‘You’re right, ‘Olmes. He’ll be runnin Londen’s criminal networks before we can say Jack bloody Robinson.’

‘Ours not to reason why,’ muttered Holmes, resting a hand on the inspector’s shoulder.

Lestrade nodded solemnly. ‘Course, there’s one way of makin sure that don’t ‘appen…’

Before anyone could stop him, he raised his gun and blew Blackwood’s brains out.

Blood splattered the floor in a wide arc, some of it landing on the faces of the minions. The evil genius sat quite still for a second, eyes wide and staring, then he fell forwards, still clutching at his ruined gonads.

My mouth dropped open. ‘Jesus wept…’

Holmes sniffed. ‘Yes, Inspector. That certainly is one way…’

Lestrade gazed up at Holmes. ‘You ain’t gonna say anythin, are yer?’

‘You did what I could not do, Inspector. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.’

One by one, the hooded men came to their senses and removed their cloaks, revealing that many were politicians, lords, earls and even one or two members of the royal family.

‘What’s happening?’ said the Earl of Rochester. His face suggested a mix of emotions, including confusion, embarrassment, and horror.

I took the man’s head in my hands and examined his face. ‘Some sort of all-encompassing sedative, I should think. Something to make you pliable and easily influenced.’

Holmes nodded. ‘The doctor’s right. By the time you all came to your senses, you’d be implicated in murder, treason and probably a few sexual shenanigans to keep you under his power for as long as he needed you.’

As the others began to come out of their trance-like states, it took several hours to convince them of what had happened, before we were able to arrange for them to be taken to the police station at Isleworth.

In the aftermath that followed, Holmes and I were kept busy rounding up Blackwood’s thugs, the four fakes, and rescuing Mrs Hudson from the demands of her most recent lodger.

‘He weren’t no bovver, really,’ said she, watching Lestrade handcuff the fake Holmes. ‘Course I knew it weren’t you as soon as he told me he didn’t like muffins. So, I just kept me distance until yer turned up.’ She gave us both a big sloppy kiss, pressing her bosoms into my chest.

Although several politicians and more than forty police officers had died, the situation turned out not to be as bad as we’d anticipated. It seemed some of the dead, including the Commissioner of Police, had been on Blackwood’s payroll for years. Having outlived their usefulness to him, they’d been lumped together for death via the bombs at the Diogenes Club and Scotland Yard.

Professor Klopp turned Queen’s evidence and spilled her guts in the way only the worst villains can do. Maudie Ratched, meanwhile, managed to evade her captors outside the Diogenes Club and was last seen boarding a slow boat for China. 

By the time things had begun to get back to normal, Lestrade had been promoted to Chief Inspector, Mrs Hudson had married the pizza chef from the shop downstairs, and Holmes and I decided that putting ourselves in the path of danger had begun to lose its appeal.

While I won’t say we’ll never get together for another adventure, I doubt if I’ll ever feel the need to leap up at the drop of a deerstalker and run to Baker Street to answer the call of the world’s only consulting detective.

But then again, I might.


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Posted by on July 20, 2022 in Detective Fiction


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Gunning for Blackwood

Diary of Doctor J. Watson

As the carriage reached the end of the street, we were hindered by crowds of onlookers, some of them jumping up, trying to see our faces. Just as the vehicle lurched forwards again, the door flew open and Lestrade clambered inside.

From his face, I could tell things were not good. After a pause to get his breath back, he gave us a short account of his partially-successful mission.

‘At least the place weren’t chocka wiv coppers,’ he said. ‘I reckon the blokes what ate the soup will be goners for sure, and the powers that be will ‘ave ter think about finding a new HQ.’ He paused. ‘That’s supposin there are any powers that be after all this palaver.’

We continued our westward journey in silence for a while. With Holmes up top acting as driver, I had no clue as to his plan. Or if he even had one.

After about half an hour, the carriage pulled to one side, and we all climbed out. The night had a cold nip to the air and the lack of streetlamps made it difficult to gauge our location.

‘Watson,’ called Holmes, still sitting up top. ‘Climb up here.’

I did so, and as I moved into position next to him, he pointed across the darkened fields to a shadowy shape silhouetted against the sky. As I watched, the moon slid out from behind a cloud, illuminating the vast mansion.

‘Tossingly Park.’

‘How are we to do this?’ I said, gazing at our objective.

‘If I remember rightly, there’s a long driveway leading up to the house. We’ll be shaded by trees until the last hundred yards or so.’

‘Then we leave the carriage out of sight and approach on foot, eh?’

‘That’s the game.’ He rubbed his chin. ‘My only concern is our lack of weapons.’

Holmes had stopped rubbing his chin, so I rubbed mine. But it didn’t help. ‘Blackwood’s family have lived there for years, haven’t they?’

‘I believe so,’ said Holmes turning his beady eyes on me.

‘Huntin, shootin and fishin, etc?’

‘Of course.’

‘Then there must be a gun cabinet.’

Holmes blinked, then clapping a hand on my shoulder, muttered, ‘Watson, I think you’ve got it.’ He rubbed his chin again. ‘Trouble is, it’ll waste valuable time looking for it.’

‘I’d rather waste time than try to arrest Blackwood with only our fingers.’

Holmes laughed, despite himself. ‘You’re right, of course. In which case, I suggest we approach via the front—he won’t expect that. Blackwood’s a stickler for doing things properly so the gun cabinet will be somewhere away from general view, perhaps near the servants’ quarters, which I suspect will be on the left of the entrance hall.’

‘What are you two gassing about?’ said Mary.

Holmes explained the plan to her and Lestrade, then we resumed our journey. Ten minutes later, we pulled up again a short distance beyond what I supposed must be the gardener’s residence.

Walking through the main gates, we could now see the house in all its glory—an impressive neo-classical mansion probably dating from Tudor times. Boasting four storeys, I couldn’t help admiring the five ornate columns supporting the elaborate front portico.

As we hurried up the steps between the columns, I saw the actual entrance to the house had been set further back. If anyone occupied the rooms on either side, they’d spot us for sure.

Now in semi-darkness again, we came to a halt at the huge double doors. Holmes tried the handle.


Lestrade pushed him out of the way. ‘Let me ‘ave a go.’ Producing a crowbar, he set about forcing the lock.

‘Always carry burglar tools, do you, Lestrade?’ said Holmes, with a smile.

‘Course not, but I ‘appened to pick this up off a pal of mine on the way back to you lot.’

With a sharp crack, the wood splintered, and the door opened.

Lestrade slid the jemmy down his trousers and waved us inside.

There were doors to our left and right—the one on the left, if Holmes proved correct, would lead to the servants’ quarters. Ahead of us, a set of double doors almost certainly went through to the courtyard and then to the great hall.

Holmes signalled that we should go left.

Thankfully, this door did not require Lestrade’s expertise, but opened easily. Inside, a short hallway led to two more doors. A quick peek inside one revealed a passageway with rows of pegs for outdoor clothing, most of which were of poor quality and therefore clearly belonged to staff. Backtracking, we entered the second room and found two cabinets, each bolted to the wall and fastened with solid padlocks.

Holmes nodded to Lestrade and the inspector made short work of the padlocks, flipping them open as easily as oyster shells.

The first cabinet contained an array of bottles and potions, many filthy with age and built-up grime—no doubt Blackwood’s personal collection of ‘magical’ mixtures. I noticed three empty spaces and dusty marks, suggesting bottles had been removed—bottles Blackwood might be using at this very moment.

The second cabinet revealed what we were looking for. Several rifles, pistols and other armaments were held in elaborately carved racks. On quick inspection, we found all the guns were loaded, as if their owner had prepared for trouble. Noticing the pepper-box revolver I had lately encountered, I resisted the urge to take it and instead grabbed a Colt Peacemaker, its long barrel giving the weapon a satisfyingly weighty feel.

‘Arm yourselves, comrades,’ whispered Holmes, helping himself to a Howdah pistol. Mary opted for a Derringer while Lestrade chose an army revolver. Thus, suitably equipped, we set off back to the entrance.

The door to the courtyard filled me with trepidation— according to Holmes, the courtyard would be overlooked by all the rooms on either side and above it, as well as the windows in the great hall, which we guessed would be straight ahead. Taking hold of the brass handle, I gave it a twist. The door opened and a moment later all four of us were standing in the courtyard. The layout appeared to be exactly as Holmes had said, with windows on three sides, though most lay in darkness. However, we did have one thing in our favour—the great hall had been lit with hundreds of candles and even from this distance, we could make out dozens of dark figures moving around.

Holmes motioned for us to approach the doors by keeping to the left-hand side. As we reached the first of the hall’s windows, I sneaked a look inside. There were, indeed, several dozen individuals dressed up in hooded garments, moving around in a circular fashion and intoning the words of some no-doubt demonic chant.

But it wasn’t the hooded people, or even the red-cloaked figure of Blackwood himself that made me gasp. In the centre of the circle stood an altar, very much like the one I’d seen at Roderick Usher’s house only a few weeks earlier. Stretched across it, stark naked and bound with a series of straps, lay Professor Helga Klopp.

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Posted by on July 10, 2022 in Detective Fiction


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