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The Point of the Game


Diary of Doctor J Watson

General MacArthur’s bound hands flew up in front of his face, as if he might somehow possess the ability to stop a bullet merely by waving it away, but there was no need. I heard a dull ‘click’ as the revolver’s hammer hit the firing pin, revealing that the weapon was not actually loaded.

The old man dropped his hands. “Nearly shat myself there,” he muttered. Then letting out a loud guffaw, added, “Knew you wouldn’t have the nerve, Holmes. Ha!”

“Nerves don’t come into it, General,” murmured Holmes, sliding the gun back into his pocket. “However, bluffing can work miracles.” He glanced at me, “Eh, Watson?”

I nodded, though I too had been convinced in those few short seconds that he fully intended to commit murder right there in front of us. I let out a long sigh. “Probably best not to shoot the prisoners, though.”

Holmes sniffed and said nothing.

“Well then,” said MacArthur, his bravado returning in spades. “Like I told you, won’t get anything out of me. Old soldier. Sworn to secrecy.” He jerked his head forward defiantly, sticking his chin out at Holmes. “And you can’t shoot me, so you’re buggered.” He chuckled and settled back in his chair, his face a portrait of arrogant self-satisfaction.

“I zink zat you are right, Herr General,” said a quiet voice behind me, “Holmes cannot shoot you, but I can, and I vill.”

Whirling round, my gaze met the deep-set dark green eyes and stark white face of Professor Helga Klopp, her stout, leather-clad body framed in the doorway. I observed her raised arm, the German luger grasped in her right hand. But before I could move, the gun went off with an ear-splitting roar.

For a moment, my senses were filled with a high-pitched whine and the stench of cordite, then turning back to look at the general, I saw the neat round hole in his temple, the glazed look in his eyes and the splatter of blood and brains across the far wall.

“Oh, fuck,” gasped Mary. “She’s killed him.”

The Professor stuck a hand down her knickers and pulled out another gun, aiming it directly at me. “Vell, Doctor Vatson, ve meet again, you handsome man.” She gave me a saucy wink, then looked at Mary. “And you? His slut of a vife, ay?” She turned back to me. “Vonce again you dizappoint me, Johnny. We could have made zuch beautiful muzak togezer.”

“You fiend,” said Holmes, spitting out the words. “You’ll never get away with this.”

“Vell, I might.”

Mary tugged at my sleeve. “What does she mean – making beautiful music together?”

“Tell you later,” I whispered. I was intent on sliding a finger into the trigger guard of my own revolver, but as I’d been silly enough to put it in my rear trouser pocket, I’d have to be careful. At best, I might easily shoot my arse off, at worst I might get in a couple of rounds before Klopp killed us all. I decided to bide my time. Holmes would have something up his sleeve for sure.

Lestrade had remained dumbstruck through all of this but now he stepped forward. “Alright, alright, Miss Plopp, this ‘as gone far enough. I’m arresting you for murder and several other incidences of bad behaviour that I’ll detail later. Get yer hands up.”

“It’s Klopp, dummkopf, and no, I don’t zink I vill get my hands up.” She turned the luger on him and after a moment’s hesitation, Lestrade did the sensible thing and stepped back, leaning against the dining table.

We all stood there staring at her, unable to say anything. Then Holmes sniffed and clicked his teeth. Recognising this secret signal, I glanced at him and he gave a small nod. I saw his eyes flick up to the ceiling and grasped his meaning immediately. Such a dangerous move could get us all killed. Even so, I reached up and scratched my nose to let him know I was willing to try.

“So, Professor,” said Holmes, sliding his hands into his trouser pockets, casually. “What now? Going to shoot us all?”

“Eventually.” She looked at me, her tongue sliding seductively around her wicked mouth. “But first we haff to finish ze game.”

“Ah,” said Holmes. “The game.” He ambled slowly across the carpet to a point just shy of the exact centre of the room. “And what is the point of this game?”

“Ze point, Mister Holmes is wewenge.”

“It’s what?” said Holmes.

“Wewenge,” she said again.

“Revenge, you mean?” said Holmes, mockingly.

“Off course zat’s vot I mean, you imbecile. Do not play me for ze fool, Holmes.”

“Why not,” said he, “you’re rather good at it.”

Klopp strode right up to Holmes and pointed both guns in his face. “Do not push your luck Mister Holmes…”

Whatever she intended to say next will remain a mystery, for it was at that precise moment that I made my move. Stepping quickly to one side, I pulled out my gun, took aim, and fired. The chain holding up the chandelier parted company with its housing and the whole thing crashed to the floor. Or more specifically, it crashed on top of Professor Klopp.

“Run!” yelled Holmes, waving his hands frantically.

We ran.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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Caught in the Act


Diary of Doctor J Watson

Beneath the bedsheet, the sounds of the house came to me in subtle, oddly-subdued ways. I heard the soft creak of the French windows in the drawing room followed by the familiar slap-slap of General MacArthur’s hob-nailed boots as he crossed the hall, the soft swish as his heels caught on the carpet, then a hesitant, halting step as the old man paused outside the dining room. I imagined I could feel his gaze on me and wondered what he might be thinking.

There was a deep, almost mournful sigh, a cough, then the footsteps retreated back into the hall and the slow clop, clop up the stairs.

One down.

More footsteps in the hall. This time there had been no creak at the French widows – had someone wedged them open? The step was light and quick, reminding me of the confident, swaggering gait of that infernal ice-cream seller, Mario, whose amorous attentions towards my dear Mary had almost brought us to blows. Suppressing a growl of anger, I forced myself to concentrate. The footsteps had stopped in the hall and there came a swishing noise as if the individual turned sharply on his heel. Two steps on the soft carpet followed, then receded back into the hall. Whoever it was, had changed his mind about gazing upon the body of Sherlock Holmes. Again, I discerned the clop, clop of footsteps up the stairs.

The next sound was unexpected. It was as if something, or someone, had disturbed the air in the room. I stared up at the bedsheet that covered my face, striving to see through the thin material, but there was only whiteness.

A soft breeze seemed to waft the sheet, and I wondered if someone had opened the window. But that was impossible – at the very least, I’d have heard the scrape of wood against wood as the sash was forced upwards. So that wasn’t it. But still this soft wind blew against the sheet, as if someone was blowing gently in my ear. What could it be?

A soft intake of breath, then, “Hallo, Dokter Vatson. I haf come to kill you.”

It was her! Professor Klopp! With a swift movement, I threw back the sheet, jumped up, and thrust my hands forward. Making contact with the villain’s face, I twisted my fingers, grinding the chilli sauce into her damned eyes.

“Ow, ow, you fuckin arsehole!” screamed the man, rubbing his injured orbs.

In the same instant, Sherlock Holmes sprang out of the cupboard. “Ha!” he yelled. “Now we’ve got you. Klopp.”

“It seems not,” said I, sitting on the edge of the dining table.

Billy Blah had crumpled and sat on the floor, cross-legged like a naughty schoolboy. “What the hell was that for?” he whined. “Wasn’t going to do anyfing…”

“No, of course you weren’t,” said Holmes, his face creased in a snarl. Then leaning forward, he dug his hands into Blah’s jacket and pulled out a vegetable knife. “And you wouldn’t dream of stabbing Johnny through the heart?”

“No, I were just gonner…” He let out a loud sob and continued rubbing his eyes.

Mary and Lestrade appeared in the doorway.

“Where’s Klopp?” said Lestrade, staring at Mister Blah.

Mary glanced at me. “Are you alright, Johnny?”

I nodded and turned back to our captive. “How did you know Holmes wasn’t dead,” I said, handing the man a handkerchief. “And that it was me on the table, not him?”

Blah sniffed and wiped the hankie across his face, blinking furiously. “It’s what she said.”

“Talk sense, man,” barked Holmes. “What did she say, exactly?”

Blah looked at the Great Detective, his lower lip trembling. “She told us what you would do.”

Holmes rolled his eyes. “Which bit of it?”

“All of it,” said Blah, blowing his nose on my handkerchief. “From when Dixie Dean first went to see you at Baker Street.”

At this, Holmes sank down and sat with a thump on the floor. “All of it? Every detail?”

Kneeling beside them, I took my handkerchief back and wiped the chilli sauce from my throbbing hands. “Dixie Dean was the fellow masquerading as Doctor Armstrong?”

Blah nodded.

I looked at Holmes and saw from his face that this was as much a blow to him as it was to me.

“I think, dear friends,” said Holmes, in a low voice, “that we have greatly underestimated Frau Klopp.” He poked a thin finger at Blah. “Where is she, Billy?”

The other man shook his head. “More’n me life’s worth, mate. Yer don’t know what she’d do.”

“I know what I shall do if you don’t tell us,” said Holmes.

“Don’t care,” he sobbed, looking up at Mary. “She ain’t a woman like what you are, Mrs Watson. She ain’t human.”

“Of course she’s human, you stupid man,” said Holmes. “Though I suspect she has more resources in her arsenal of skills than we could ever have imagined.”

Blah nodded sadly. “She ‘as. And you lot are gonner be bloody sorry by the time she’s finished.”

“Why, said Holmes, his voice almost inaudible. “What is she going to do?”

Billy looked at each of us in turn. “She’s going to kill yer. Kill all of yer. And it’s gonner hurt. A lot.”

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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