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A Hairy Situation…


Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

As if it wasn’t bad enough to be left hanging there by one hand, gripping a six-inch lever, naked and cold, desperate for a pee and in all probability about to drop back into the clutches of Moriarty and his henchmen, I was about to be the victim of yet another catastrophe.

At that very moment, an horrendous metallic screeching assaulted my delicate ears. In all the confusion and madness of the last few minutes, I had forgotten about the SS Mangochutney. The great liner must, of course, still be sinking, disgorging hundreds of poor passengers into the freezing sea.

“Fuck me!” screamed Moriarty, his eyes as wide as tea-plates.

Still clutching the lever, I twisted round to look up at the wall behind me. As if to remind us of its plight, the prow of the ship had smashed into the iceberg, gouging a hole in the vessel’s side as if it were a tin of tuna fish. Seconds later, the sea gushed in through the twenty-feet long laceration, gallons of water pouring down the steeply-sloping floor towards the evil villain and his equally evil companions.

A lurching sensation in my stomach served to emphasise the horror of my situation and I felt my bowels loosen in the way my dear Johnny’s own bowels have often loosened when I’ve surprised him with my womanly demands at the breakfast table. (Oh, how I wished at that moment my concerns were nothing more than the cleaning of my husband’s trousers.)

The irony was not lost on me – we had leaped from a sinking ship into a sinking iceberg and already the sea had half-filled the room we were in, lapping around my naked thighs.

Staring downwards, I was rewarded in some small way by the sight of four disembodied heads bobbing around in the water like four disembodied heads.

I almost felt sorry for the Professor, Mr Claw and their stupid-faced henchmen, and had it not been for what happened next, I might have offered a few words of sympathy.

My husband told me later it had been the force of the liner smashing into us that had dislodged the bolts holding the air vent in place, for directly above my head, the very section that had a few minutes earlier held my pert little bottom, collapsed from its housing and fell away, crashing on top of the four bobbing heads in a rather satisfying manner (I had quickly discarded any thoughts of sympathy).

“Tally-ho, old girl,” called a familiar voice.

Never have I felt so overjoyed to see the round, moustachioed little face of my own dear Doctor Watson. Leaning though the gap made by the ripped vent, he threw down a length of twine, the end of which landed on the bench near my free hand. Reaching out, I grabbed it firmly, then letting go of the lever, proceeded to concentrate all my efforts in climbing hand-over-hand, up the oddly-hairy rope towards my husband. And even in my relieved state, hauling myself towards the grinning faces gazing down at me, I recall wondering where on earth they had acquired such a convenient means of escape. It was only later, in the comfort of our cabin aboard the SS Doncaster, that Johnny admitted that he and Holmes had knitted the cord themselves utilising two pencils and the entire body hair from Mr Passepartout.

Within minutes, my companions were pulling me through the hole into the room above. Johnny threw his coat around me and hugged me for several minutes until Holmes reminded us of our still-sticky situation.

“No time for that, Watsons, make haste, make haste.”

The rip in the side of the iceberg had continued its ripping yawn upwards into the space we now occupied, but the sea had not yet risen to that height. Holmes and Phogg were already clambering up the wall by means of the benches that were welded in place, giving us the means to climb up to the huge rent in the side of our most recent place of confinement.

Holmes was through first and reached down to help the rest of us clamber through and onto what was now the sloping side of the iceberg. Above us, the SS Mangochutney had somehow righted itself. Far above our heads I could make out several individuals throwing down rope ladders towards not only myself and my friends, but the remaining passengers who were still flailing around in the sea.

I won’t bore you with the full details of our rescue and subsequent transfer to the SS Doncaster, but I feel I should mention that I did feel a pang of sorrow as we stood on deck and watched the tip of the iceberg (otherwise known as Moriarty’s secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship), disappear below the waves.

As Johnny and I retired for the night, a feeling of liberation washed over me, knowing that our adventure with the Hooded Claw was over at last.

Naturally, I was wrong.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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Mrs Watson Drops in…


Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

Whatever possessed me to disrobe in front of everyone, I cannot say. It must surely have been one of those moments when my mind was somewhere else entirely (though I have no desire to explain where, dear reader, so you shall have to use your own imaginations). Suffice it to say that had I been about my senses, my evening gown would not have dropped to the floor like a wet rag and my feminine articles might have remained unstared at.

Nevertheless, I could never have slid my lithesome body into that dark hole while fully dressed and since neither my husband nor that big-nosed detective could have taken on such a task with all their manly flab and muscle (though I should have enjoyed casting my eye over the naked forms of Passepartout or his hunky master), it was clear that any chance of escape was down to little old me.

No sooner had I slid into the vent and shuffled along a few yards, than I began to hear voices. Listening for a moment, I discerned they were coming from somewhere below me. Sliding over onto my back, I continued along the passage until I came to a sort of junction. One section seemed to slope downwards and the other veered off to the left. It was from the descending passage that the voices now grew louder, so squirming round, I heaved myself into the new section and shuffled along a few feet, my weight carrying me downwards rather more quickly than I’d have liked, due to the steep angle.

It was at this point that the section of vent I was lying on gave way and my hindquarters fell through the hole.

The first thing I noticed was that the voices had stopped. Then a gruff-sounding fellow shouted, “Bloody Norah, there’s a naked woman in the air vent.”

It didn’t take a genius to guess he was referring to me, so with as much decorum as I could muster, I turned myself around and dropped through the hole onto a piece of rough matting, which I instantly picked up and wrapped around myself.

“Mrs Watson,” said a voice behind me.

I turned and stared up into the dark hooded eyes of Professor Moriarty. I had to admit for an evil villain, he was a rather dashing sort of chap.

“Couldn’t resist, eh?” he said with a low chuckle. He turned to the Hooded Claw who was standing next to what I assumed must be the control desk – a big table with lots of knobs and levers sticking out of it. “See, Claw?” he said. “One look and they’re mine, mwah, hah, hah…”

Fluttering my eyelids, I let out a series of girlish giggles, but in reality I was taking in my surroundings: Two henchmen stood behind the professor, their dull faces reminding me of Inspector Lestrade after three bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale. The pair looked as if a brain cell between them would have been one too many. They were no match for me. Flicking my gaze from the men to the various dials and levers, I did a quick calculation as to which ones might earn me the most brownie points. Then, turning my attention back to Moriarty, I gushed, “Oh, please, it’s not you I want…” I swivelled my head towards the Claw and stretched out a hand, stroking his shoulder seductively.

“Oh,” he said, with a look of lecherous excitement. “You are trying to entice me with your womanly willies?”

Moriarty groaned. “It’s wiles, you stupid man.”

Claw’s mouth dropped open and he waved an accusing finger at the Professor. “Don’t call me stupid. I told you never to call me stupid.”

The other man sighed. “See what I have to put up with?”

Feeling that I’d lost my chance, I was about to remove my hand from the Claw’s shoulder when he looked at me and smiled. I made a sudden decision – I would go ahead with my plan. If it failed, at least I could say I’d tried.

Running my hand up the villain’s neck, I caressed his face, teasing his evil laughter-lines with my fingernail. “Oh, you’re just a big old softy, aren’t you Mister Claw. I bet all that evily-weevily stuff is just a show, isn’t it?” I let go of the rough matting, revealing my nakedness once more. As I’d hoped, the Claw’s eyes slid down to stare at what my husband likes to call my ‘box’. At the same moment, a sideways glance told me Moriarty’s gaze had followed that of his murderous friend. I had them. With a deft movement, I grabbed the nearest leaver and thrust it forward. The whole room, and therefore the iceberg, lurched drunkenly and a moment later the floor dropped away as the whole vessel pitched forward diagonally.

Though my choice of levers was a random one, I couldn’t have chosen better. Both Moriarty and the Claw, having nothing to hold on to, fell over and slid along the floor towards the doorway. Their two henchmen followed suit and the four of them toppled over and fell in a heap against the now sloping wall. Luckily, I was still hanging onto the lever and was able to stop myself from joining the motley crew. The only thing I had to do now, was work out how to save my companions…

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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She Vent That-a-way…


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

“For God’s sake, Holmes,” I said. “This is hardly the time for levity.”

“Indeed,” said my big-nosed companion. “For once, Watson, you are half right. In point of fact it was not levity, but levitation I had in mind.”

“Levi…” I began, but Holmes cut me off with a raised finger.

“This is not the time for antagonism, Johnny. As the Professor pointed out, we are shortly to be disposed of, so I would urge you to, as our Yorkshire friend here would say, ‘shut tha bloody trap, lad’, and allow me to expand on my strategy.”

Phogg chuckled and patted the great detective’s arm. “Eeh, that were a rate good impression o’ me, Mister ‘Olmes – I almost thought I were talkin to meself. D’you do anyone else?”

“I’m not one to boast, Phogg,” said Holmes, modestly, “but my rendition of ‘Throw Another Chair Leg on the Fire, Mother’ by Miss Pamela Ayres, is said to be uncanny in its authenticity. However, we must press on. Mary?”

Turning to my wife, I saw that my darling had slipped out of her evening gown and was now standing in front of us stark naked. Not having looked upon her unclothed form for some time, and in such unforgiving light, I was taken aback and, I’m ashamed to admit, the shock caused me to temporarily relax my bladder.

“Oh, Johnny,” murmured Mary, stepping towards me. Grasping my jacket, she fastened the buttons, thereby hiding the worst of my embarrassment. Then turning to Holmes, she gave him a mock salute. “I assume you do have some lubricant?”

“Of course,” said he, “I never leave Baker Street without a tube of Johnson’s Marital Emollient, but if I’m right, I think we may proceed without it. Look here…”

And with that, he dropped to the floor and rolled under one of the workbenches. I crouched down beside him and watched as he pulled at a section of mesh that ran along the length of one wall.

“Some sort of vent, eh, Holmes?” I said, prostrating myself on the ground next to him.

“One of the few details I recall from the blueprints of the secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship, is the necessity of air vents.” He tugged at the mesh and it began to come away from the wall, revealing a dark but narrow space beyond – a space just large enough to accommodate an unclothed woman.

“Phogg, Passepartout,” I hissed. “Give us a hand here.” The two men knelt down beside me and all four of us slid our fingers into the gap and pulled the mesh out of its meagre housing, tearing it clean away.

“Now, Mary,” said Holmes, “d’you think you can squeeze yourself into that hole?”

Mary sank to her knees beside me and peered under the bench. “I should think so, but what will I do when I’m in there?”

“That, I’m afraid,” said Holmes, “I can’t help you with. But I imagine the vents will lead to a central system from which the whole iceberg can be controlled.”

“I see,” she said, nodding.

As she crouched there beside me, I couldn’t help noticing she was trembling. Whether from the cold or the desperate mess of our situation, I couldn’t tell, but I felt a warm glow growing in my belly. Then I realised I’d wet myself for a second time.

As Mary slid herself into the air vent, I wondered if we’d ever see each other again. Glancing at my companions, I saw the look of concern in all of their faces. Except for Passepartout, whose gaze was firmly fixed on Mary’s buttocks. I gave him a smack across the back of his head and he, eventually, had the good grace to avert his eyes.

When Mary had disappeared from sight, we all got to our feet. “What now, Holmes?” I said.

He shrugged. “Now, we place our trust in that amazing and wholly exceptional naked woman we know as Mrs Watson. And just hope she doesn’t fuck things up.”

I sniffed. “Couldn’t make things any worse.”

Holmes lifted a hand to silence me. “Hark! Here that?”

We all dropped once more to our knees and strained to listen at the air vent. For a moment all we could hear was the chug-chug of the iceberg’s engines, then in some distant part of the vessel came a yell of consternation.

“What did he say?” I whispered.

Holmes looked at me. “Sounded like – There’s a naked woman in the air vent.”

“Bugger,” said I. “Bugger, bugger, bugger.”

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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On the Rocks…



Diary of Doctor J. Watson

As the three of us hurtled downwards, I closed my eyes in the firm belief that Holmes was a complete chump and we would shortly perish in the icy waters. But then, knowing that my companion often made apparently foolhardy decisions only to prove a theory he already knew to be true, I opened my eyes again – just in case. And then something amazing happened:

A giant spoon-shaped object appeared out of nowhere and we fell into its ladle-like cavity with a thud. Or, three thuds, to be precise.

“Oh, my arse!” exclaimed Mary, rubbing her hindquarters.

Looking up, I saw that the giant spoon-shaped object was in fact a giant spoon and had emerged from the side of the iceberg like a mechanical arm. With a metallic grinding of gears and a juddering shudder, the thing began to retract itself and we disappeared through a hatchway into the darkness of the iceberg.

“See, Watson,” said Holmes, giving me a sardonic smile. “Something always turns up.”

I was about to reply, but as the hatch clanged shut, we found ourselves in total darkness. “Wish we’d brought Mary’s lamp,” I muttered.

“I dare say all will be revealed shortly,” said Holmes. And a moment later, a light came on above us.

Blinking in the sudden glare, we stared at our surroundings.

We were in a kind of workshop with a planked wooden floor beneath us and work benches around the walls. There was a door in the wall opposite the hatchway and as the giant ladle lowered us to the ground, the door swung open and a familiar figure hove into view, followed by another familiar figure.

“Ah, said Holmes. “The Grin Twins.”

Beside me, I heard Mary gasp and realised she had never met the Claw’s companion before. “My dear, this is Professor Moriarty.” I nodded to the evil genius. “Professor, this is my wife, Mary Watson.”

Moriarty moved towards us, his eyes focused on Mary. “My dear lady,” he gushed, proffering his hand. “How lovely to meet you at last.”

Taking her fingers in his, he gave her hand a gentle shake and I noticed a smile slide across Mary’s face.

“Delighted, I’m sure,” she said, though I was pleased to observe her tone was one of pure condescension.

“Ah, me,” said the Professor, giving a short laugh. “I should not have expected anything but disdain from the wife of a man who can barely dress himself without help. However, I’m glad to have met you, if only to have the pleasure of saying goodbye.”

Mary’s mouth dropped open. “Goodbye? But you just saved our lives.”

Holmes snorted. “Of course he did, because he wanted to be sure of our deaths. Isn’t that right Professor?”

“Alas, yes,” said the villain, with an evil grin. “And while I should be thrilled to spend a little time exploring your delicacies, dear lady, we do have to kill you all, and I promised Claw I’d let him do the honours.”

“What?” I spouted. “You scooped us into this ridiculous contraption only to commit murder?”

At this point, the Hooded Claw stepped forward. “Actually, that was my idea. You see, knowing the ineptitude of the lovely Captain Smith, we couldn’t rely on the ship sinking and the three of you, along with Mr Phogg, slipping into a watery grave. There was always the possibility of your being inexplicably rescued at the eleventh hour, so we took the precaution of making sure we could finish you off ourselves.”

“Really,” said I, my temperature rising. “And what about the twelve hundred other people on the liner? Are you going to kill them too?”

The Claw looked aghast. “Oh, no, we’d never do anything as meanspirited as that. No, some of them are bound to survive. The strong ones. The good swimmers. Of the others, well, freezing to death in the icy waters of the English Channel isn’t such a bad way to go, is it?”

“You absolute rotter,” I muttered. “I’ve a good mind to…”

But whatever I’d been about to say was lost, when a man was thrown into the room by the two would-be-nuns we’d met earlier.

“Phileas Phogg, I believe,” said Holmes, giving him a cheery wave. “My name is Holmes, this is my assistant Doctor Watson and his wife. You’re safe now.”

Moriarty guffawed. “Oh, Mr Holmes, you do make me laugh.” He nodded to one of the henchmen and another man was thrown into the room.

“And you must be Passepartout,” said Holmes. “I’d offer you tea, but as you can see, we’re somewhat indisposed.”

Passepartout and Phogg stumbled across the floor towards us as the entire room began to tilt to one side.

“Ah-ha,” said Moriarty, looking upwards. “We’re casting off.” He lifted his hat and smiled. “Duty calls, I’m afraid, but I promise to see you before you die. Adieu.” The Professor and his Hooded companion slipped out, slamming the door behind them, leaving the five of us looking at each other.

“Eeh, well,” said Phogg. “Ah’m rate glad to see thee, Mr Holmes, but Ah reckon us lot’re up Shite Street wi’ nowhere to go.”

“We may well be in the location of that particular avenue, Mr Phogg, but all is not lost.”

“You have a plan?” I said.

“I do,” said Holmes, “and it involves a small tube of lubricant and your wife.” Turning to Mary, he said, “So, if you could pop your clothes off…”

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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Into the Unknown…


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Regaining his balance, Holmes began to make his way along the passageway. The ship was already listing badly to one side, and I could hear faint screaming coming from somewhere above us. Taking Mary’s arm, I followed my big-nosed companion, keeping one hand on the handrail to steady myself.

“What’s the plan, Sherlock?” I said.

“We have to get aboard that iceberg, Watson,” he said, glancing at me over his shoulder. “It’s our only hope.”

“But what about the Claw? Won’t he be heading there too?”

Holmes spun round. “Of course, which is precisely why we must take control of the thing.”

We reached the first flight of steps to the next level and hurried upwards. Emerging into another passageway, we were pushed roughly aside as dozens of third-class passengers thudded past us, screaming and shoving each other out of the way in their haste. Two of the women were thrown to the floor, but their companions simply ran on, desperate to escape what would soon be a watery grave.

“Quickly,” said Holmes, helping one of the ladies to her feet.

“Oh my Christ,” said the woman, struggling to reclaim her poise. “We’re all goin ter drahn.”

The other female took hold of her friend’s collar and slapped her about the face. “Calm yerself, Doris, we ain’t dead yet, gal!” And with that, the pair hurried off towards the next staircase.

“It’s no good,” said Holmes, pulling Mary and me to one side. “We’ll never get past the crowds in time.” He looked around helplessly.

“Yes we will.”

I turned to look at Mary who was pulling at a hatchway in the wall.

“Here – see?”

Peering past her, I observed what looked like a dumb waiter, expect without the usual ropes or pulleys. “It looks like a dumb waiter,” I said. “Except without the usual ropes and pulleys.”

“My God, Watson, you’re right – it’s a laundry chute.” He clapped Mary on the back. “Well done Mrs Watson.” Then lifting his right leg, he clambered inside. “Quickly now, no time to waste.”

A moment later, he had shimmied up the pipe and was gone.

“Come on, darling,” I said, pushing Mary into the hole.” Women and detectives first.” She didn’t need to be told twice and a minute later I was climbing up after her.

Due to the ship’s ever-steepening angle, the climb was not as arduous as I might have otherwise expected. Already we were moving diagonally upwards and the going became easier as the liner tilted slowly downwards.

Above us, the wails and screams of the other passengers had grown considerably in volume and I must admit to feeling a little disappointed in my fellow man, wishing they would pull themselves together. After all, the English are renowned for our ability to keep a cool head in a crisis.

My thoughts of stiff upper lips and such like were pushed aside as we scrambled out onto what I took to be the upper deck. Hauling ourselves into another passage, I was heartened to see an open doorway opposite.

“Stick together,” said Holmes, latching onto my sleeve.

I grabbed Mary’s hand and the three of us half slid, half walked out onto the deck, which was by now sloping downwards at such a steep angle, I doubted we’d be able to stay upright for more than a minute or two. But then I saw it – beyond the railings and towering high above us, was the iceberg.

“How are we going to get aboard?” I shouted to Holmes.

The great detective gave me a sardonic smile. “Simple Watson – we shall jump over the side.”

“No, really, Holmes – how are we going to get aboard?”

He cocked his head and stared at me. “Don’t you trust me, Watson?”

I was about to say something when Mary butted in:

“Whether he does or not, is immaterial. I trust you.” And with that, she took his hand and looked at me. “Well, Johnny?”

Allowing that I might be doing something I’d live to regret, I grasped her little hand in mine. To Holmes I said, “I hope this isn’t one of your something’ll-turn-up ideas…”

Climbing over the rail, we stood there wobbling precariously for a few seconds, then Holmes counted to three and we stepped off the ship…

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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Good Vibrations…


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Taking the lamp from Mary, I spent a few moments studying our metallic prison in the hope that we’d missed some possible escape route. But there was nothing. As sticky situations go, I had to admit to feeling the three of us had landed ourselves in a hole from which we could not possibly hope to escape. Even so, Holmes puffed contentedly on his pipe as if the problem was a minor irritation in an otherwise cheerful venture.

I sighed and patted Mary’s arm. “Never mind, darling, at least we’re together.”

She gave me a look that told me this was not what she wanted to hear. “Really Johnny, you do have a knack of stating the fucking obvious.”

“Oh, I’m bloody sorry,” I huffed. “But as I can’t very well say Don’t worry, Holmesy’ll get us out of this soon, I think we’d be better off facing facts – we’re going to die and it’s not going to be nice.”

“Come, come, Watson,” muttered Holmes. “All is not lost.” He turned his piggy little eyes on Mary. “I’ll wager your wife has something else up her sleeve that might entertain a little optimism.”

“Like what?” I said, staring at Mary.

Mary blinked. “For once Holmes, I think you’d have to agree my husband is right – there is no hope.” She gave herself a shake as if to demonstrate that her sleeves (or any other part of her attire), contained no surprises.

Holmes was not to be put off. “Really, Mary? And what about that…” he glanced at me, then back at her. “That other piece of apparatus my brother gave you?”

Mary frowned and shook her head. “What apparatus?”

Holmes gave her a sardonic smile. “Mary, we’re all adults here. Why don’t you…” He coughed. “Why don’t you extract the other device from your person?” His eyes slid down her body and focused on my wife’s private area.

“I say, Holmes,” I started. “What the hell are you insinuating?”

“Calm yourself, Johnny.” He turned back to Mary. “I’m aware your husband’s hearing is not what it was, but my own audio facilities are perfectly intact. When you were first ushered into this chamber, I distinctly heard a soft buzzing noise above the pounding of the ship’s engines. I expect you switched it off when you were fussing with your evening gown earlier.”

I have never witnessed such a change in my wife’s countenance. Her face flushed a shade of scarlet that could have ignited a small fire, if such a thing were necessary. Taking a long breath in, she focused on Holmes – even her wonky eye appeared to stare straight at him. When she spoke, her voice was a mere whisper but there was no mistaking the tone – she was very angry. “He told you?”

Holmes raised an eyebrow. “Mycroft and I don’t always agree, but he can never resist boasting about his latest inventions.” He glanced at me. “I suggest you and I give the lady a moment, John.” He turned his face to the wall and after giving my wife a sharp look, I did likewise.

Mary let out an irritated sigh, then I heard the rustle of her gown being lifted and sensed she must be bending down. There was a soft slurping noise and a grunt, before she sniffed and coughed.

“Here.”

We turned to face her, though both of us had the good grace to keep our attention toward the floor. I glanced at Holmes as he took the device from her and wiped it down with his handkerchief. The thing resembled a small torpedo and had a switch at one end. I raised my gaze to meet that of my wife’s but her face was turned away.

“Hold up the lamp, Watson,” muttered Holmes, running his fingers over the contraception. “As I thought. With one or two adjustments…” Taking a small screwdriver from his inside pocket, he undid one end of the phallic object and pulled free one of the wires from inside. Then, moving to the door, he fitted the loose end of the wire into the lock.

“What’re you trying to do, Holmes,” I said, trying to sound interested.

“There are certain locks, Johnny, that are susceptible to vibration. If I’m right…” He flicked the switch on the base of the device and I could just make out a low whine coming from the door.

Holmes nodded slowly. “Just a little more…”

As I watched, I discerned that the metal door had begun to amplify the buzzing and a moment later there was a sharp click.

“Hah!” exclaimed my companion. Tossing the device aside, he grasped the door handle and twisted it. Incredibly, the door opened.

“My God, Holmes,” I gushed. “You did it.”

“With Mary’s help,” he murmured, giving her a sly smile.

Stepping out into the corridor, all three of us blinked in the harsh light. I turned off the lamp and gave it back to Mary, who shrugged and mouthed a ‘sorry’ to me. I was about to say something magnanimous, but a sudden lurching sensation threw all three of us against the wall. An unearthly metallic screeching noise came from the starboard bow, as if a gigantic knife had gouged a hole in the side of the ship.

“Bugger,” said Holmes. “I think we’re too late.”

Before the words were out of his mouth, the vast liner tilted to one side, throwing us to the floor.

The ship was sinking.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2017 in Detective Fiction

 

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Three’s a Crowd


From the Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

Finding myself locked in a cramped cupboard below decks with my husband might be, in any other circumstances, an opportunity for a bout of adult fun, but squashed together with Mr Gooseberry himself, Johnny and I would have to forego that particular delight until later. Assuming, of course, the Hooded Claw didn’t kill us all in the meantime.

The darkness crowded in on us and I began to feel a little uneasy. “Come on, then, Holmsey,” I muttered, “light another one.”

Holmes let out a sigh. “Alas, dear lady that was my last Swan Vesta.”

I blinked in the darkness but could only make out the dim shapes of the fat-headed detective and the noble outline of my dear husband’s face. “Right then,” I went on. “Mary to the rescue. Again.” Undoing the buttons on my evening gown, I reached inside my corset and unzipped the secret pocket I’d sewn into the fabric for just such an occasion. Pulling out the emergency flashlight, I fastened myself up again before fitting the handle into its base.

“What’s that whirring noise?” said Johnny.

I didn’t bother replying, and instead began rotating the small handle. After a moment, the lamp flickered into life, illuminating our faces once more.

“Oh, I say, “said Holmes. “That’s rather clever.”

“It’s a clockwork lamp,” I said, unclipping the handle and sliding it into the small compartment in the base of the device. “Mycroft gave it to me.”

Johnny sniffed. “Did he, now? And what did you give him?”

I narrowed my eyes and showed him my don’t-you-fucking-dare face. He quickly changed the subject.

“At least we can see where we are,” he said, brightly. Turning around he tried the door but it was firmly locked from the outside.

Gazing at our surroundings, all three of us immediately understood the predicament we were in – the small compartment appeared to be a store cupboard of some description, with a stack of built-in metal shelves on one side and an area of about three-feet-square, just large enough to accommodate the three of us, on the other.

“Living in a box,” muttered Holmes. “Living in a cardboard box…”

“What’s that, Holmes?” said John.

“Just a music hall ditty I heard the other day.” Holmes slid his bony hands into his pockets and leaned against the wall behind him, humming a tune.

Crouching down, I examined the floor, but if I’d hoped for a handy escape hatch, I was disappointed. “Do you think they’ll come back?”

“Who?” said Holmes. “The baddies?” He shook his head. “No need – we’re out of harm’s way so they can safely continue with their evil plan.”

Johnny nodded solemnly. “To kill poor old Phogg.”

“Well…” the other man made a face. “Along with twelve hundred other people.”

I stood up and held the lamp to his face. “What d’you mean, Sherlock?”

“Simply this, Mary – after they bundled me in here, I heard two of the rogues discussing their strategy with the Claw. Apparently, they cannot risk killing Phogg by himself as it would be obvious, so they plan to crash the ship into an iceberg and blame our old friend Captain Smith.” He laughed gently. “After all, he does have a reputation for accidents at sea.”

“That’s ridiculous,” said Johnny. “We’re in the English Channel. No icebergs for miles.”

“Ah,” said Holmes. “But this isn’t any old iceberg, Watson. This is an M21.”

“Oh, crap.”

I frowned. “What’s an M21?”

My husband took my hand. “You recall the details of Moriarty’s secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship?”

“Designed by the famous submarine boffin Bruce Partridger?” I nodded. “What’s that got to do with icebergs?”

Holmes interjected. “I’m surprised you didn’t hear about it, Mrs Watson, as you’re so well-in with my dear brother.” He gave a snort of derision before continuing. “Mycroft heard a rumour that Moriarty planned to use the Partridger blueprints to manufacture a series of gigantic sea-going icebergs that could destroy the British fleet.” He raised his head and gazed at a spot on the wall. “If I’m right, the Hooded Claw is in league with him and intends to sink this ship, making it look like a freak iceberg-type accident.”

“Oh my God,” I murmured. “And there are no lifeboats on board.”

“Indeed,” said Holmes. “Though even if there were, we wouldn’t be able to get to them.” He sighed. “No, Mr and Mrs Watson, I think we’re properly fucked this time.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his Meerschaum pipe. “Could I get a light please, Mary?”

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Detective Fiction

 

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