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Mary and the Professor


The Diary of Doctor J. Watson

We stood in silence for a few moments while Moriarty and Klopp huddled together. Though I could hear nothing of their conversation, from Klopp’s puce-coloured upturned face and Moriarty’s scowling mouth, there could be no doubt they were arguing.

Holmes leaned towards me. ‘I don’t imagine you have a sgian-dubh down your trouser-leg, Watson?’

‘Alas, no,’ I muttered. Then something else occurred to me. ‘But I do still have that jar of chilli sauce in my pocket.’

Holmes closed his eyes and smiled beatifically, as if in the throes of an orgasmic dream. Then his features dropped back into their usual expressionless gaze and he whispered, ‘Excellent.’

Klopp barked an unintelligible order at the group of white-coated workers nearest her, prompting the minions to hurry away. They returned in a flash, carrying high-backed chairs much like those in the dining room.

Behind me, Lestrade leaned forward. ‘What’s a sgian-dubh?’

‘A small knife,’ I said. ‘Don’t suppose you’ve got one?’

He shook his head. ‘Not a sgian-dubh, but I do ‘ave a pair of nail scissors and a needle and thread pinned under my lapel.’

‘Really? Why?’

He sniffed. ‘The missus makes me carry ‘em. She won’t sew on buttons, see, so I ‘ave ter do it meself.’

‘Think you could cut through my bonds?’

‘What bonds?’

‘The ones we’re about to be tied up with,’ I said, nodding towards the minions.

The white-coats lined us up, instructing us to sit. The expected ropes appeared. In a trice, they lashed all four of us to the chairs like pigs in blankets. Except with rope, instead of bacon. Obviously.

Holmes and I were close enough to speak in low tones. ‘I think I can reach the jar,’ I said.

‘See if you can conceal it in your hand and get the lid off.’

‘Of course,’ I said, wishing I’d done that earlier.

‘Good. I’ve got a plan.’ Turning to face Mary, who was next to him, Holmes said in a loud voice, ‘Is it true what they say about a woman scorned, my dear?’ I knew from his tone of voice that he had also imparted some secret message to my dear wife. Her answer confirmed it.

‘Scorned, Holmes? Fucking scorned? I tell you, if that Italian lothario came back in here now, I’d tear his bloody face off.’ Her voice had risen in pitch to a near scream. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was really pissed off.

‘What’s that?’ said Moriarty, looking over. ‘The little woman rising from her baby carriage, is she?’

‘It’s ‘getting out of her pram’, you imbecile,’ said Holmes. He turned to me, ‘These bloody Scandinavians. Tch.’

Moriarty erupted. ‘Scandinavian? You think I’m Scandinavian?’

‘Aren’t you?’ said Holmes.

‘I’m an Icelander, you dolt, which makes me Nordic, not Scandinavian.’

Mary turned to Holmes. With a voice dripping in pure condescension, she said, ‘See, I told you.’

Moriarty glared at her. ‘Told him what?’

‘Oh, nothing. Just that I always knew there was something wrong with that so-called ice-cream seller.’

‘Something wrong?’

‘Yes. A Scandinavian lover wouldn’t have had such a tiny–’

‘No!’ he screamed. ‘Do not tell them. Do not, do not, do not!’

‘A tiny willie,’ said Mary, sniggering.

‘Now!’ shouted Holmes.

‘Sorry, what?’ said I.

Holmes stared at me and hissed, ‘The Chilli sauce, Watson. Throw it.’

‘I can’t get it out of my pocket,’ I said, demonstrating my inability to move.

‘Oh, for Christ’s sake …’

‘You didn’t give me a bloody chance,’ I said. ‘I’m not fucking Houdini.’

‘That, my dear Watson, is patently obvious.’

A sudden grinding noise came from the area at the back of the vast space. Twisting round, I saw that the floor we had arrived on had begun to move back up. I glanced at Holmes. ‘D’you think that’s …?’

‘Our saviour?’ muttered Holmes. ‘I do, Watson, I do.’

‘What’s happening?’ barked Moriarty, pushing workers aside as he stormed across the floor. ‘Who is that?’

Klopp hurried across to join him, shouting orders at the white-coated underlings. The pair stood gazing upwards as the floor reached its meeting point with the stone steps above and a second later began to slide back down again.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Outmanoeuvred Detective


The Diary of Doctor J. Watson

‘You’re forgetting something,’ I said, raising my revolver.

‘Ah,’ said Moriarty. ‘I did hope to avoid your typical English tit-for-tat behaviour.’

Holmes had also raised his weapon, but the villain showed no sign of having been outmanoeuvred.

‘Would you, my dear?’ said Moriarty, inclining his head to one side.

Klopp stepped forward and reached out to take our guns.

‘Hah,’ said Holmes, ‘you think I don’t have the nerve?’ And with that, he pulled the trigger.

For the second time that day, there was a dull click.

Holmes sighed. ‘Typical.’

‘Vot’s vrong, Holmes?’ said Klopp, grasping our weapons by the barrels. ‘Did you zeriously zink ve vould haf let you vander round wiz guns full of real bullets?’ She laughed and threw the revolvers on the floor behind her. ‘No, papier mâché, a wemarkably fwexible material.’

Moriarty made a gesture towards two of the white-coated workers and the pair stepped towards us, each one holding a German Luger.

‘Keep them covered,’ said the Evil Genius. ‘And if anyone moves before Mrs Christie gets here, kill them.’

‘Now, just wait a bleedin minute,’ said Lestrade, pushing past me. ‘I’ve met this Mrs Christie and she ain’t a bad old girl if yer ask me, so I’d like to know just what you fink she’s going ter do when she gets ‘ere.’

I nudged his arm. ‘It isn’t Mrs Christie we need to worry about,’ I said. ‘It’s the other one. Ratched.’

‘Oh, right. Sorry.’

‘Yes,’ said Moriarty. ‘So, to clarify, Maudie will aid Mrs Christie in locating us down here. She will escort the silly woman into the dining room which will then descend into our little departure lounge over yonder, where she and you will be … departed, forever. After that, our team here will make the final preparations to begin the takeover of Londen.’

‘Don’t think so,’ said Holmes. ‘I think you underestimate the cunning of our favourite lady novelist.’

‘I do not underestimate her cunning at all, Holmes,’ said the Evil Genius, ‘but I’m sure you’ll agree, real life is not one of her strong points. Take that eleven-day disappearance of hers—hardly the actions of a sound mind, eh?’ He laughed. ‘No, I don’t think we have anything to fear from that quarter.’

I had to admit, I could see Moriarty’s point—a middle-aged woman who spends her time drinking tea and writing novels is hardly likely to parachute in, all guns blazing, and save the day.

All in all, things were looking rather bleak.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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Holmes Explains – Mostly…


Journal of Inspector G. Lestrade

‘I don’t bloody believe it,’ said Holmes. ‘Professor James Moriarty.’ The Great Detective shook his head. ‘But it makes no sense—why would you go to all this trouble just to kill me?’

‘As it happens,’ said Moriarty, rubbing the last traces of rubber from his face, ‘killing you would be an added bonus. Take a look around you—not everything is about Sherlock Holmes.’ With a sneer, he turned and nodded to a group of individuals who had so far remained hidden behind a screen further up the hall. As they moved forward, I recognised one of them immediately.

‘Klopp.’ Holmes laughed. ‘Still striving for that ultimate wewenge?’

‘Do not taunt me, Holmes,’ she said, scornfully. ‘You haf no more chances in your community chest.’

‘What’s she bleedin on about?’ said I.

‘Monopoly,’ whispered Mary.

‘Oh, right.’ I was none the wiser.

‘And now we are all here, perhaps you are acquainted wiz my colleagues?’ Klopp waved a hand and the four strangers moved closer.

Holmes let out a long, low groan.

‘I reckon I know who the Chinese bloke is,’ I muttered to Watson, ‘but what about the others?’

The doctor was about to reply when Holmes piped up, ‘The one with the drooping moustache, as you guessed, is Fu Manchu, apparently not in Burma. Next to him is the forger Austin Bidwell. Then there’s the Lambeth Garage Poisoner Reggie Stocks and of course, our old pal Colonel Sebastian Moran. A veritable bevvy of bunglers.’

‘Oh yes, Moran,’ I said. ‘Didn’t recognise ‘im wiv that beard.’

‘And you, Inspector Lestrade,’ said Moriarty, turning his attention to me. ‘So nice of you to join us. I feel we’ve left you out of our adventures of late.’

‘That’s all right,’ I said. ‘I ain’t bovvered.’ Despite my bravado, my face flushed and a horrible feeling of uncertainty swept over me.

‘But I’m happy that you can take part in this small … how must we say … conclusion?’

‘You mean murder,’ said Holmes.

‘Call it what you will, but as I told you, ending your miserable little lives was Professor Klopp’s aim, not mine. Unlike her, I rather enjoy your little interferences.’ He stepped to one side. ‘And now, if Doctor Watson would be so good as to ask his question …’

Watson coughed. ‘Sorry, what question?’

Moriarty sighed. ‘The one you always ask when Holmes solves a case.’

The Doc looked blank for a moment, then his face lit up. ‘Ah.’ He hesitated, glanced at Holmes, then said, ‘But what I still don’t understand is, why set up all these people to kill each other for no reason?’

Frau Klopp smiled. ‘You see, Holmes, at least your rather stupid friend has ze decency to ask ze question, vhich of course, you cannot answer.’ She shrugged.

‘Oh, but I know the answer,’ said Holmes, rather smugly.

Klopp’s face dropped. ‘No, you don’t. You cannot know. You haf no idea.’

‘Yes, I have, actually,’ Holmes continued, ‘and I’d be happy to share it with you.’

Klopp’s face turned beetroot with rage, her mouth twisting into a snarling grimace much like my Aunt Bertha’s pet bulldog. Finally, she nodded. ‘Fine. Haf it your vay.’

‘Well,’ said Holmes, taking out his meerschaum, ‘I must admit the whole thing did rather stump me for a while. You see, I couldn’t work out why you’d go to all the bother of having each guest kill another guest.’ He stuck the pipe in his mouth but didn’t take the trouble to light it.

‘Zat’s easy,’ said Klopp, ‘I zimply—’

‘Hold your fire, Frau Rent-a-mouth. I haven’t finished.’

Klopp growled, but said nothing.

‘You see,’ Holmes went on, ‘the thing made no sense at all, unless you looked at it from that precise point of view.’

‘And vot point of view is zat?’ said Klopp.

‘That it makes no sense. In which case the only sense one can make of it is that the whole thing intends to make the detective—me—think he cannot solve it.’

‘Vich is entirely correct,’ said Klopp, triumphantly. ‘It vas a game, a game designed to baffle and befuddle you and force you to admit that you are not ze greatest detectif in ze vorld after all. And so, because you haf not solved it, you vill haf to kill yourself.’ She clapped her hands together. ‘Tah-Dah!’

Holmes took out a box of Swan Vestas and lit a match. ‘And that’s where your plan falls apart, Klopp.’ Taking his time, he relit his pipe and puffed away. ‘Because, being Englishmen, my companions and I do not view failure as a reason to take our own lives.’

Klopp’s face had turned an even deeper shade of beetroot. ‘Yes, you vould! Zat is vot Englishmen do!’

‘Sorry, old thing,’ said Holmes. ‘But it isn’t.’

‘Told you it wouldn’t work,’ said Colonel Moran, striding forward. ‘Let me get my elephant gun. Blow them all to buggery.’

‘Perhaps I could shoot them all with poisoned darts?’ suggested Fu Manchu.

‘Or I could give ‘em a nice glass of cyanide,’ muttered the Lambeth Garage Poisoner.

‘What about a death sentence, signed by the Queen?’ said Bidwell the forger. ‘It’d be no bother to run one off the press. Easy as pie, actually.’

‘No, I don’t think so,’ said Moriarty. ‘The fact is, killing these pieces of garbage was only a means of ridding ourselves of the four people in Londen who cause each of us the most trouble.’

‘But if zey are not going to kill themselves, vot are we going to do wiz zem?’ demanded Klopp.

‘Simple,’ said Moriarty. ‘We’ll leave them in the capable hands of Agatha Christie.’

I glanced at Holmes and saw his face darken. This was something he hadn’t expected.

Moriarty pulled out a half hunter and glanced at it. ‘By my calculations, she will at this very moment be making the trip across to the island in a paddle steamer accompanied by her faithful maid, Maudie.’

Klopp’s face brightened. ‘Ah, Maudie. I vonder if she still does a bit of nursing on ze side.’ She cackled fiercely.

I looked at Holmes. ‘Nursing?’

Holmes gave a short, humourless laugh. ‘I see,’ he said. ‘Maudie. Also known as Mathilda. Mathilda Ratched, in fact, formerly of The Ullswater Institute for the Utterly Indisposed, where I spent a little time during a previous adventure.’

‘Yes,’ said Moriarty. ‘I believe she had a few difficulties finding work after your, ahm, meddling. I further believe she would like to settle your hash, if that’s the correct expression?’

‘Yes, Professor,’ said Holmes. ‘It is.’

‘Zen,’ said Klopp, ‘zer is only one more zing to zay.’ She looked at Moriarty.

The master villain smiled, and said, ‘Mwah, hah, hah!’

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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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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