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Lurker at the Baker Street Threshold

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  • Lurker at the Baker Street Threshold

    We can continue these literary antics in this thread...


  • #2
    Summary of story so far...

    By perdix

    Sherlock Holmes reached out a long, thin arm for the Persian slipper in which he was accustomed to keep his noxious tobacco. Then, remembering that he did not, in fact, smoke, he leaned back in his chair and placed the tips of his aetiolated fingers together. He closed his eyes.

    'And you say that this fellow, 'Bill', went missing in suspicious circumstances?'

    'Indeed, yes' Our ruffled visitor picked nervously at the antimacassar he had been using to mop his perspiring brow. The normally austere features and noble bearing of Lord James Viagra twitched convulsively as his haunted eyes flickered between myself and the ascetic features of my companion. 'He was engaged to be married to the famous society heiress and municipal car-park owner, Lady Clungella DeWanga-Smythe, and was a most excellent fellow in every way. We cannot imagine what has become of him'

    'Did this exalted scion mention the tin of cerebra that he had recently posted to the offices of 'New Worlds' magazine, of Ladbroke Grove?' Holmes raised his eyebrows interrogatively.

    'What?' I ejaculated, leaving unexplored the obvious humorous ramifications of my explosive pronouncement. Lord James sprang to his patent-leather clad feet and trembled violently.

    'But...but...but...but...but...' was all he could utter. Before Holmes could explain, Mrs Hudson staggered in, dressed in her usual matching diamante bra and panties, and toking on a gargantuan cannabinoid cigarillo.

    'Telegram for you, Mr 'Olmes' she coughed, before sinking semiconscious to the floor, from whence she entertained us with a disarticulated and wavering rendition of 'Voodoo Chile', the popular 'hit' by the youthful paisliophilic musician and chemical investigator, Mr J. Hendrix.

    Holmes gimlety eyes flickered open like eyes that were not dissimilar to gimlets.

    'Aha! As I thought!'

    'What is it, Holmes?' I gasped, doing a Nigel Bruce as hard as possible.

    He handed me the note. As I read, Billy the page entered. I was curious to note that he was dressed head-to-toe in canary yellow, and carried a salver of succulent fruits.

    'Why is Billy dressed in that unusual, somewhat icteric garb?' I inquired.

    'Lemon sentry, my dear Watson' smiled Holmes. He handed me the tray of juicy fruit segments, 'Try some? They are a gift from the noble family of fruit farmers that I helped recently with a case of lice'

    'This Galia is particularly fine!' I munched.

    'Yes, they are melon gentry, my dear Watson'.

    I hurriedly returned to the telegram. It said 'No. The dog didn't'

    'What can it mean?' I selected from my dictionary of Watsonianisms. Lord James had lost interest and was flicking listlessly through a copy of 'Hello' in the corner.

    'It means the dog did bugger all' smirked Holmes.

    by LSN

    'It would seem, Watson, that Bill was a respected yet somewhat dissolute Connecticut

    'Connecticut? Somewhere in the vicinity of Tottenham Court Road, Holmes?'
    I uttered this observation with considerable pride. Many years of association with
    the great detective had taught me a number of things, not the least being the value
    of providing him a straight line.

    Holmes cast a withering glance in my direction, then waved dismissively and smiled.
    'Don't interrupt, my dear fellow. Barristers live amidst a welter, nay, an ocean, of
    documentation. It seemed only logical to examine his papers for evidence.
    The examination revealed that at the time of his disappearance, he was working
    on retainer for a certain Mister Randolph Carter, a Republican organizer and confirmed mystic
    of Providence, Rhode Island --'

    'Rhode Island?' I said innocently. 'Somewhere near Guernsey, is it not?' If Holmes thought
    I'd been daunted by his earlier condescension, he'd misjudged my quality. I was immediately
    rewarded by the asperity of his response.

    'Watson!' he shouted, his face growing red and his blood pressure rising to level that
    gave hope of some prodigy of nature, or perhaps that sudden onset of malignant
    apoplexy. 'Hold your tongue when I'm providing exposition for this story!'

    When Holmes goes off the deep end, I can become a strong silent man of affairs.
    'Please stick to the point, Holmes,' I said. 'So his papers were checked, and he was
    engaged in some labor for this Carter fellow. I once knew a fellow named Carter in my
    regiment in Afghanistan. Bit of a cad, and perhaps, a bounder!'

    Holmes had collected himself and reassumed his mask of professional detachment.
    'Apparently, this Carter had commissioned our missing barrister to perform investigations
    in connexion with a certain hound or possibly hounds. The documentation makes it unclear.
    There were a number of rare, eldritch volumes in his possession, volumes that had been
    repeatedly consulted. There was as well a certain quantity of a malodorous substance that
    laboratory analysis has revealed to be cat excrement ichor. A nasty business.'

    'Eldritch volumes?' I said in my best Nigel Bruce imitation. 'Is this connected with that
    author fellow? What was his name? Wilde? Bit of a pufter.'

    'Watch your language,' said Holmes, casting a disapproving glance towards
    Mrs. Hudson. 'There are members of the fair sex present, no matter how comatose.
    These volumes are not those of the innocently scurrilous Mr. Wilde, nor of his betters,
    Montesquiou or Huysmans. The books in question where none other than
    Unaussprechlichen Kulten of the ghastly von Junzt --'

    'Sounds like a dead white European male of the krautish variety, and a
    blasted Junker at that...'

    'Enough of your political correctness, Doctor! The other book, of which, my dear benighted
    fellow, even you have heard, is the Necronomicon.'

    Holmes obviously regarded this as information of a shocking nature. I was suitably aghast.
    'I'm aghast, Holmes! That's the book by the mad Arab, Abdul al-Hazred bin Laden! A clue?'

    'Something of which you're in dire need, my good man. It is indeed a clue, and I care not
    at all for some of these hints of a non-Euclidean sort involving the creatures known
    as Tindalosi. Must consult my brother, Mycroft, on that score...'

    'Well, Holmes, I suppose we must, as those Americans put it, "look at all the angles."'

    'Speak to me not of Angles or Saxons, and certainly not of the verbal appurtenances of
    a bunch of bloody Septics! We must consider our next move.'

    'A move in the Great Game,' I said portentously. 'There is none greater...'

    'Kiping, Watson. That's Kipling, remember?'

    'Ah, yes, sorry. "When the Rudyards cease from kipling, and the Haggards ride no more..."'

    'Watson, you've been drinking!'

    'Only a drop at the Diogenes club. And a good thing, too, for the information you've just imparted
    to me is quite a bombshell. Not, of course, in the same manner that the young woman who
    waited on me at the club was a bombshell. You should visit the place more often. The
    curve of the lady's bust led me to mathematical prodigies while I contemplated the
    nature of the cycloid. Didn't your brother deliver a paper on the subject at the last meeting
    of the Royal Society?'

    'My brother's mathematical pronouncements on matters concupiscent are not a subject I
    wish brought up in my presence! We are speaking of our next move!'

    'Well, the next move seems simple enough,' I said matter-of-factly. 'I suppose we need
    to go to this Providence and speak with this Carter fellow.'

    'Right enough, Watson. If we can find him. He seems prone to disappear
    himself. Book us passage to America on the next ocean liner.'

    'What about British Airways?' I said. 'Seems a bit more modern, not to say quicker.'

    'Lacks romance,' said Holmes. 'My dear Watson, that's --'

    'Elementary,' I said. 'Don't we know it.'


    by Grey Mouser

    'When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth'

    Watson raised a quizical eye: 'What Holmes, even...' His eyes indicated the small persian cat sleeping by the window.

    The cat stretched out a laguid paw before reassuming its serene composure on a small patch of sunlight near the window. It was hard to tell whether it was contemplating the wisdom of aeons or simply its next meal.

    'Quite possibly Watson, quite possibly', said Holmes, gazing shrewdly upon the cat. He tapped his nose. 'I've got Mrs Hudson on that case.'

    Watson was incredulous but appreciative. 'Nothing gets past you Holmes'

    'Let us hope not, my good Dr. Shall we depart.'

    The three men, followed by Mrs Hudson, left the room. The clock ticked. An insect buzzed.

    The cat opened its eyes. Very widely.

    'That dude is goooood!'

    Glancing warily at the angles, where its hated enemies the Hounds of Tindalos resided, the Feline of Soladnis twitched it's whiskers and phased into the curves of the room.

    'Damn!' came its fading voice, with a slight echo, from the extra-curvicular dimension. 'Now where am I gonna go for my free food, free beer, a warm spot in the sun and the best imported spliffs this side of the Orient?'

    by Perdix

    'I propose to pay a visit to the Diogenes, Watson, to consult my lardarse brother Mycroft' Holmes explained as we stepped out into the fog-girt thoroughfare of Baker Street, leaving Mrs Hudson slumped over the doorstep.

    'To, erm, pick his brains as it were, Holmes?' I ventured.

    'You are scintillatingly tasteless this morning, doctor'.

    Holmes strode rapidly into the miasmatic vapours, Lord Viagra and I hurrying to keep pace with him. I wondered, not for the first time, at the extraordinary energy of my friend, who could transform himself from a soggy, limpen, coke-sniffing, laudanum-drinking pomme-de-terre-de-la-chaise-longue into this curled spring of springy springiness in a moment. Indeed, it was all we could do to keep pace as he swung his cane and hop-scotched along the pavement like a spring lamb. Well, like a bipedal spring lamb. And like a spring lamb in a dark suit. And a deerstalker. Like a spring lamb on two legs,in a dark suit and a deerstalker. That could talk. Like a...

    'Watson!' I was arrested by Holmes' exclamation. He pointed into the mists. Out of the shifting particular, a dark mass loomed. It was a Hansom, rattling along the cobbles. The driver stopped and addressed us.

    'Hello, duckies!' he simpered, wriggling in his pink stretch-Lycra bodysuit.

    'You're quite a Hansom driver*, aintcha?' flirted Holmes, coquettishly. But before they could camp it up any further, a figure leaned out of the carriage window.

    'Mr Holmes!' It was Inspector L'Etrange, clad in an Ulster and leather harness with sequins, 'I was just off to the Diogenes for their fetishists' night when The Yard called me about this Brains affair. Quite a puzzle! I was wondering if you could assist me?'

    Holmes smiled enigmatically.

    'I wish you wouldn't do that, you smarmy bastard!' growled L'Etrange.

    'Never mind, my dear Inspector', smirked Holmes, leaping into the carriage, 'I shall give you all the credit, as usual'

    We joined the two detectives as the driver whipped up. Eventually, he stopped flaggelating himself and quietly encouraged the horses to get moving.

    'We were on our way to the Diogenes ourselves' explained Holmes, 'I believe my brother Mycroft will be able to illuminate the relationship between my puss-puss, the Hounds of Tindalos, Bill, and this Carter fellow'.

    'Then we must hurry!' exclaimed the still-excited Lord Viagra, 'The most exalted families in the land are awaiting your report, Mr Holmes!'

    'Yeah, what-evuh!' muttered Holmes.

    With all despatch we hurtled through the London streets, stopping only at WH Smiths for a copy of Rustler, at McDonalds for a Filet-o'-fish breakfast for four, and at Starbucks (twice) for a tray of Cafe-Lattes. Eventually, we approached the posh end of Ladbroke Grove.

    'Here we are!' ejaculated Holmes, leaping from the cab. He paid off the now hypothermic driver, and ushered us into the gloomy portals of The Diogenes Club. But as we jostled to get in (L'Etrange yelling 'Bundddllle!' like an excited schoolboy) a shady, bearded figure in a big floppy hat emerged from the shadows and pulled at my arm.

    ''Ere, guv! Wanna buy a copy of 'New Worlds'?'

    I gasped. It was none other than 'Mad' Mickey Moorcock, the outlaw publisher of Old Notting Hill....



    • #3
      'Stand back, Watson!' commanded Holmes. 'You're in great danger!'

      'What is it, Holmes?" I said, more than a little puzzled by his behavior. 'It's just that writer
      fellow from Ladbroke Grove. Probably in trouble with Parliament again, or the Arts Council,
      or maybe wants to sell us a subscription...'

      'Stand back!'

      'I say, Holmes,' said Inspector L'Etrange, 'give the fellow tuppence and send him on his way.'

      'That's all right, guv,' said the down-at-heels editor. 'No charity. Just take a look at this
      'ere non-linear post-modernist narrative. See? It's by Lang Jones, an' the bloke in the
      middle of the story, 'e an' 'is Mum, you know what I mean? Very smutty. You'll like it!'

      'Stand back Watson!' shrilled Holmes. I lurched backwards, pulling myself from Moorcock's
      powerful grip just in time to avoid absorbing the shots.

      Moorcock pitched forward, dripping green ichor on the covers of the rare copies of
      'New Worlds' -- being such as a consequence of the eldritch reluctance of periodical distributors.

      Holmes spun the cylinder of my old service revolver and made a show of blowing the
      lingering gunpowder smoke that emanated from the barrel, then handed it to me grip-first.
      'Really,' he said with an air of sang-froid, 'must I do everything? Try to carry your own
      equipment next time.'

      'You've killed him!' I said. 'Moorcock was a blameless, harmless fellow.'

      'Blameless?' said Holmes. 'You call this creature harmless?'

      I carefully considered the parameters of the situation. "Well, no man is completely
      blameless, I suppose. True, he did change the directions of British and American sci-fi --'

      'Dreadful neologism!' said Holmes. 'You must say sf or skiffy or speculative fiction if you
      do not wish us to part ways.'

      ' -- and he did addle our pates with bizarre stories that, even when they had beginnings,
      middles, and ends, didn't have 'em in the proper order... Nevertheless, Holmes, your critical
      response seems a trifle extreme, what?'

      'Please examine the corpse, Watson!' said Holmes. 'Did Moorcock have green ichor instead
      of blood?'

      'Well,' I said, 'the late John W. Campbell, before he died under very mysterious circumstances,
      thought so. Perhaps Moorcock'd been overindulging in Pernod, or even worse, West
      Country Scrumpy. Still, it seems a bit unexpected, if you understand me.'

      'Perfectly, my addle-pated friend,' said Holmes. 'Please subject the face and the hands of
      the deceased to an examination.'

      'Why," I said, 'it's a disguise! This isn't really Moorcock! It's someone else entirely.'

      'Or more properly speaking,' said Holmes, 'something else.'

      'But what?' said Inspector L'Etrange.

      Holmes leaned over and emptied the pockets of the corpse. I thought it a bit dأ©classأ© to
      despoil the dead in this fashion, but allayed my conscience by reflecting that perhaps he'd
      turn up a five pound note, or perhaps a lottery ticket.

      'Aha!' said Holmes. He scooped up a handful of what appeared to be small off-white
      spongy plants. 'And what do you think he was doing with these?'

      'Going home to make mushroom soup?' I ventured.

      'Watson, you've frequented the Diogenes Club too often, and you're becoming a witling.'

      'Thank you, Holmes,' I said. 'The right company can do much to bring out our inborn

      Holmes sneered at me, turned to face L'Etrange. 'The items in question are fungi from
      Yuggoth, and on the basis of the evidence, I'd say that's where our visitor hied from.'

      'Oh,' I said. 'Good. I can't tell you, Holmes, how much better that makes me feel!'

      'Thanks all the same for telling us, Watson! Oh, mind the strange metal cannister. Let's
      take it in tow.'

      'Contains something important?' I said.

      'Something or someone,' said Holmes enigmatically.


      • #4
        Shivering nervously (I really must moderate my imbibement of the elixir peddled by Mr. Jim Beam) I gingerly plucked the metallic cylinder out of the miasmatic muck miring the motionless mannikin of the mock Moorcock. I wiped the green ichor off with my silk handkerchief, then pocketed the cylinder and turned to show my companions the snotty contents of the kerchief.

        'Uuurgh!' ejaculated Holmes.

        'Uuuuuurgh!' gasped L'Etrange.

        'Uurgh! Greenie!' sneered Lord Viagra.

        Having completed this essential act of public schoolboy mutual disgust, I pushed aside the doors of the hallowed Diogenes Club. At first, we saw little in the darkness. Then, as our eyes adjusted to the gloom, I perceived the writhing forms of scantily-clad nubile ladies, oscillating at a disturbing and unnatural frequency along vertical chrome rods in time to a percussion section of frantic behorned drummers. A nebulous mist of pungent fumes floated irresistibly into my nostrils, and I felt my limbs begin to jerk spontaneously into motion, spasmic genuflections wracking my body completely against my will. I stared open-mouthed at my companions, who were similarly affected.

        'My God, Holmes? What is it?' I stammered.

        'Ah! I should have warned you!' Holmes grinned, 'Mycroft informed me that the Diogenes has come to a reciprocal arrangement with Spearmint Rhino, of Soho'. His deerstalker was whisked off his head by a passing nymph-like fag-vendor, and he started to click his fingers rhythmically, 'Yeah, Man. Cooool. Hey, let's go check out ma man Mycroft; he's the Daddy'

        I suddenly realised that Holmes was using this obscure patois in order to avoid arousing suspicion in the hazardous environs of this underworld. I was amazed by his powers of dissimulation as we sinuously moved through the seedy crowd of leading politicians, football-players and Jeffrey Archer. For a man who disliked and distrusted women, he was makng a damn' good job of squeezing as many of their bottoms as he could reach. Eventualy, the four of us, lacking much of the clothing that we had previously possessed, but having gained several unusual pharmaceutical preparations, approached the darkest corner, where a large man in a long Astrakhan coat and leather hat lounged in a luxuriant chair, stroking a green-eyed cat with his jewel-encrusted hands.

        'Yo! Mycroft!' Leered Holmes, 'Watchoo doin wi' ma pussy?'


        • #5
          'Pluralephenes Ralhosian' said Holmes. 'Dimension shifter. Very rare breed. Sometimes referred to as the Persian Grey'

          �Turned up at the Diogenes about half an hour ago. Why, is it yours?’ Mycroft ruffled its forehead with his fingers, a little heavy-handedly perhaps, but the cat seemed tolerant enough. 'Gotta treat 'em right, bit particular about what they eat. Those multi-dimensional cat senses can come in very handy when solving a case I would imagine. And speaking of cases, did you get that Icelandic pear cider I sent you?'

          �We got your note’, said Watson, �but the case itself went missing. Holmes and I jokingly referred to it as The Case of the Missing Case.’

          'It’s in the cat,' said Holmes, 'the little fellow ate all my Belgian chocolate too. Sorry Watson, forgot to tell you. The good Mrs Hudson solved that one as well.'


          • #6
            'Harumph!' muttered Mycroft 'Be that as it may, we'll be continuing this narrative just as soon as that L_Stearns_Newburg stops writing poetry and get his Holmesian finger out!'


            • #7
              'Really, brother,' said Mycroft, 'I will thank you to dispense with with these amateur theatrics.' He gently stroked the cat's shoulders and back and was rewarded with audible (rather than mere tactile) purrs. 'It is clear our parents failed to impart certain disciplines in your errant youth, as I repeatedly warned. Please comport yourself in a manner more suited to your station in life, not to mention your ethnicity.'

              'Very well!' said Holmes. 'We're here --'

              'To consult me on some mathematical matter, no doubt,' said Mycroft.

              'Don't finish --'

              'Your sentences? Please relieve me of the burden by getting to the point.'

              Sweat beaded on Holmes' noble brow, and his long, pale, lantern-jawed face -- so reminscent of the late American author Lovecraft -- was splotched with red, as if he had undergone some considerable exertion. 'Very well, I've come to ask you about that Einstein fellow and the fourth dimension.'

              'Only four?' said Mycroft abstractedly. 'Why restrict ourselves to a mere four? Your mind's too prosaic, brother.' The cat's ears perked up at his tone, and it raised and stretched its back in a manner such as to recall Baudelaire's phrase about le dos أ©lastique.

              Holmes proceeded as if he were treading on uncertain ground. 'I'm not up on all this rot about higher dimensions curled back on themselves, and such. Hawking's book's a bit hard to follow. Let's talk about Einstein's theory of the four dimensional space-time continuum.'

              'Very interesting,' said Mycroft. 'Einstein, the profound mystic and explorer of the great unexpected. Not much of a mathematician, though. As my friend Hilbert remarked, every student on the streets of Heidelberg knew more maths... Stop fidgeting, Sherlock. Explain your question anent this piece of paleo-physical theory.'

              'As I understand,' began Holmes in a rush, 'this fellow Einstein believed that time could be
              interpreted as a geometrical side-effect of curved space.'

              A young serving woman of obviously great refinement entered the room to refresh our drinks. She breathed deeply as she refilled Mycroft's glass, giving evidence of extravagant good health, as well as providing an illustration of one of the finer examples of curved space, put to its best use.

              When she left us, Mycroft took a most ungentlemanly gulp from his drink and eructated with gusto. 'Sherlock, you astonish me. To think we shared the same parents and tutors --'

              'Mycroft, my blushes!'

              '-- yet I'm well-informed on these matters while you sound like a complete nincompoop.'

              'Dammit, Mycroft! You know my methods! I'm not one of those secular humanists, besotted with this scientific materialist claptrap!'

              'Indeed,' mused Mycroft. 'You took to it like a duck to petrol. Small wonder you were forced to hang out your shingle as a lowly gumshoe instead.'

              I feared the exchanges might well grow more heated, and while I did not object to these ill-matched siblings going for each other's throats, time was of the essence, as the young serving wench who had just waited on us reminded me by making a lurid and sexually suggestive gesture when I noticed her waiting patiently just beyond the room's threshold.

              'Really, gentlemen,' I broke in. 'Let's get to the point. Holmes here has a question about
              something called Tyndale-Aussies, or something of that sort. Gather he read about 'em in
              Unaussprechlichen Gruppen-Sex, or maybe it was Psychopathia Sexualis. Some bloody kraut, name of Kraft von Ebbing or von Junzt.'

              'Tindalosi?' said Mycroft.

              'Yes,' said Holmes. 'I wish you could explain the connection between these Tindalosi, the fourth dimension, and angles.'

              Mycroft stared fixedly at Holmes, as if examining him for evidence of some until-now-undetected mania. 'Sherlock, you astonish me. Over the years, you've come to me with many a curious issue, but this one is surely the most remarkable for its lack of sense and intelligibility. There is no connection between angles and the fourth dimension, as such. Angles are simply the result of intersections between lines or planes. They can occur in any spatial dimension you'd care to name. However, angles as we know and perceive them are purely manifestations of intersections in three-dimensional space, unless you are asking about some arcane mathematical exploration of a three dimensional homogeneous system in four-space -- which I sincerely doubt. Attempts by parlour topologists to demonstrate the so-called fourth dimension as a projection into our quotidian three are, at best, fanciful, and the sort of thing one would expect from the humourously intended essays of Mr. Martin Gardner.'

              Holmes seemed on the verge of explosion, but he surprised me, no doubt because he'd had many years of experience being lectured at these hands. 'Well, Mycroft,' he said, controlling himself with obvious difficulty, 'if you know nothing of these matters, we'll leave it at that. Good day.'

              'I did not say I knew nothing of these matters. Very, very curious. It's an odd coincidence. Not more than a week ago, an American barrister paid me a visit to inquire about Tindalosi and the same damned rot about angles. I told him much the same thing I told you. Still, it's stretching coincidence rather far, don't you think? Is there some sort of sitcom being shown on the telly these days involving the fourth dimension and Tindalosi? No telling what that Hawking fellow might be up to. Used to be a respected scientist, before he went Hollywood...'

              'An American barrister?' said Holmes, and the deerstalker cap in his hands was squeezed and twisted into some sort of strange topological construct, a mأ¶bius strip, or one of those bottles of that fellow Felix Klein, or perhaps a pair of undersized Depends for his lardarse sibling. 'Pray, did the man in question answer to the name "Bill"?'

              'Why, so he did,' said Mycroft. 'No doubt a superannuated erstwhile member of your Baker Street Irregulars, gone bad. He was most insistent. Came in here leading an ugly Rottweiler hound --'

              'How does one distinguish between an ugly and a handsome Rottweiler?' whispered a perplexed L'Etrange.

              'Off hand,' I whispered back, 'I'd suggest asking a female Rottweiler.'

              '-- and the man was deucedly improper in his behavior. That was how I ascertained his American origin. Made lewd suggestions when I wouldn't give him more information. Said that his Rottweiler, whom he periodically addressed as "Commander," had conceived a passion for my rotund organism. I showed him the door.'

              'So you do, in fact, know something,' said Holmes. 'Could we trouble you to divulge it, dear brother? Or must we find this besotted Rottweiler to jog your memory?'

              'There's much that I could say,' said Mycroft, 'but I prefer to adhere to the rules of professional conduct. There are many lacunae that must be patched before I will venture to deliver an opinion. Before I reply, I wish to consult with an expert. We should perhaps send a transatlantic cable for information to the foremost authority on these Tindalosi. That would be a colleague of mine, Mr. Randolph Carter --'

              'Of Providence, Rhode Island!' I broke in helpfully.

              Whether it was my interruption or the name of Randolph Carter, the cat broke for cover at that moment, and as is typical of the surly brutes, disappeared without a trace.

              'Teleportation?' I asked.

              Mycroft pretended I had not spoken. 'So let us send a cable requesting his immediate attention...'

              Antiquarianism was apparently something of a family trait. 'Why not,' I interrupted, 'just
              telephone him?' I removed my Nokia cellphone from my inner breast pocket.

              'Don't forget the timezone difference,' said Holmes diffidently.

              I punched a button that I'd keyed to Carter's telephone number earlier, and we were rewarded with a ring, and a voice mail message asking us to leave our name, number, and the dimensional plane where we were currently in residence. Residents of Qlippoth were requested to use a toll free number instead.

              So much for the wonders of modern technology,' said Holmes, with an air of triumph. 'Tell me, brother, will you join us on our transatlantic jaunt?'

              'I think not,' said Mycroft. 'Ask after Carter at Miskatonic University, where he's on the faculty in physics or metaphysics or something of that sort. Here's my card; show it to him, and perhaps he'll let you past the door.' He looked around, as if examining the flanks of his not inconsiderable bulk for the first time. 'Where'd the pussy go?'

              'I want nothing to do with your life-affirming urges!' shrilled Holmes. 'Whoremonger! Rapist!
              You-you-you Liberal!'

              'Calm yourself,' said Mycroft. 'I simply inquired about what became of the cat?'

              I started humming the refrain from the children's song that goes, 'And what became of the monk?' The others seemed not to notice.

              'I've no idea,' said Holmes. 'For all I know, the uncouth beast has crawled into a corner to expire of the head-staggers!'

              'I think that unlikely,' lectured Mycroft. "Let me tell you of the condition you refer to as the
              "head-staggers," and its relative rarity amongst the order of felidae...'

              One could easily predict the course of the current conversation: Mycroft would bore yet another hole in Holmes and stuff that hole full of unwholesome and virtually useless information. I, however, had other fish to fry, perhaps with a dash of malt vinegar, to be washed down by a pint of Old West Country Scrumpy.

              The young woman still lurked at the threshold, and now seemed to be holding a message for me, perhaps a billet-doux. Although I had often received the brunt of Holmes' disapproval because he held that a life of detection was inconsistent with simple, amimal concupiscence, I must admit that I'd never found it to be the case, as it were.

              Periodically, Holmes would interrogate me with school-boy lasciviousness about the nature of my marital irregularities, which seemed to hold a great fascination for him. He never tired of trying to fathom how I managed to maintain two completely independent households without slipping up and revealing the existence of one to the other.

              'The problem of the two Mrs. Watsons is a troubling one,' he'd once said.

              'What makes you think,' I'd replied, 'that there are only two?'

              'How do you manage this?' Holmes had demanded. 'You're a stout fellow, Watson, but we both know your cunning is simply insufficient to play such a game.'

              'It is simply a matter,' I'd replied with typical British phlegm, 'of having the right instrument
              for the job, Holmes.'

              Perhaps now, I'd be able to brandish my well-oiled instrument for the appreciation of the
              well-upholstered English lass who beckoned to me from the threshold...


              • #8
                I coughed apologetically and rose from my seat, stroking my already bushy and rather attractive 'tache.

                Holmes looked up at me quizically, then indicated with sardonic eyes the semi-clad lass in her skimpy panties and boned, tightly-fitting strapped chemise.

                'Have a care, Watson. This could easily develop into the case of The Hound and the Basqued Devil'. He chuckled in that bloody annoying way of his.

                'Bah!' I huffed, pushing my way between the distrait figures of Lord Viagra and L'Etrange, who were hypnotised by the shadowy convolutions of the stage show. The girls were certainly putting on a good display of their interesting bits, although the drummers, with their curious turbans and odd horns, were the subject of considerable ruffianly cat-calling from the riff-raffish audience, with occassional bottles of Brown Ale being lobbed in their general direction. Indeed, it reminded me not a little of the Hawkwid gig in Dulwich that Holmes and I had once attended, when Lemmy had got his fingers caught up in his bass, the amps had all blown, and the audience became a little restive in consequence. I believe I wrote it up as the Case of the Heckled Band. The papers called the ensuing riot 'The Dulwich Horror'.

                Dear me.

                As I approached the girl and her singularly pneumatic chest, I perceived that a strange aroma, if not a miasma, was permeating the air of the club. I began to feel even dizzier than usual as she beckoned to me with an enticing, crooked finger. Her crumpetesque face swam before me as I reached out for what should have been the note, but oddly I found my hands contacting other, more topologically interesting regions. My eyes crossed as she giggled, and slipped the note into the waistband of my plus-fours. I gasped lasciviously as her mouth approached mine, her perfect lips parting to reveal....

                ....a triple array of saw-like teeth, licked by a green, mould-grown tongue that flickered out towards mine with snakish speed!

                I reeled back. I was aghast. Wrong! She was a Ghast, one of the dreadful, hippocephalic denizens of the underworld! With gentlemanly flair I head-butted the foul creature on the snitch, applied my right patella with not inconsiderable force to its groinal region, and heroically legged it towards the door.

                'Holmes!' I squealed manfully 'Leg it! It's a trap!'

                My companions leapt from the table, scattering bottles, spliffs, pills and dirty underwear in myriad directions. As we rushed out of the club, the faces of the punters seemed to writhe as their rubbery bodies jostled us, transmogrifying their features into a terrible panoply of hate unseen since Germaine Greer.

                We tumbled out, dishevelled, into the street. When we were well clear of the area, I stopped, panting.

                'Wait! Where is Mycroft?'

                Holmes, adjusting his trousers with a troubled look, murmured thoughtfully.

                'He was always a bit odd, that one. I remember the time he tried to push a garden cane halfway up my...' I blanched. Holmes cleared his throat, 'well, anyway, I'm sure he'll be fine. He's very independent'.

                I remembered the note stuffed into my pants. The paper was crumpled, and I staggered over to a gaslamp to read the strange, scrawling handwriting.

                'Baked Beans, Tuna, Bananas, Twenty Marlboro, Toilet Roll...Good God, Holmes! What devilish code is this?'

                'Erm, try the other side, old chap' muttered Holmes, helpfully. I turned the note over. The paper was covered with calculations, inexplicable eldritch figures and bizarre cryptic kabbalistic symbols. I could not make it out.

                'I can't make it out!' I stammered.

                Holmes frowned as he twitched the paper from my hand.

                'Clearly, this is a key to the mysteries into which we have been delving. Into. Er...' He scratched his ascetic bonce 'Blimey! Buggered if I know what it means'

                'But' Lord Viagra had renewed his 'Equity' subscription, and was allowed a speaking part again 'Why would that dreadful creature want to aid us? Surely the Ghasts are against everything decent folk stand for?'

                'Oh, I don't know' smiled Holmes 'They're not all Republicans. Besides, I think it really fancied you, Watson. You dirty old sod, you!'

                I felt a bit sick as we hailed a cab. The last thing I needed to complicate my already multidimensional matrimonials was an amorous Ghast.

                'Hail, cab!' we yelled in unison.

                'Where to, guv?' asked the cabbie, who had changed into his White Rinestone-studded Elvis outfit.

                'Southampton!' ejaculated Holmes, commandingly, 'we are bound for Americaland!'

                'What's up wiv 'Eafrow?' muttered the driver, launching rather suspiciously into 'Hound-dog' as we sped into the London night....


                • #9
                  I leaped into the cab, for the nonce forgetting the limp I had invented to exempt me from further service in Afghanistan. I expected Holmes, in his usual courtly -- or perhaps sycophantic -- fashion to hold the door for our noble client, and perhaps also the luckless Inspector L'Etrange. Instead, he all but fell into the hansom and slammed the door.

                  'I say, Holmes!' said Lord Viagra. "Be a good chap and open the door!'

                  'Watson and I will report to you our findings as soon as we possess something worth communicating,' said Holmes. 'Until our next meeting, milord.'

                  'But,' said L'Etrange, 'how shall we get home?'

                  'Hail a taxi,' suggested Holmes as the driver shook the reins , the horses started, and we started to pull away. 'Or take one of those blasted big red lorries, if you've a mind.'

                  L'Etrange immediately stepped into the street to hail an oncoming black taxi, which, heedless of the good inspector's gestures and cries, barrelled past so closely that its left front fender (and perhaps hood ornament) intersected the unfortunate man's three dimensional personal space, and sent him careening into the arms of our upper class twit of a client.

                  'Holmes!' I exclaimed, grabbing his shoulder with my left hand. 'A strange black taxi just ran down L'Etrange! Could it be a part of the plot against us?'

                  'Most doubtful,' said Holmes as he broke my grip on his shoulder with an Aikido hold, and perhaps dislocated a few of my fingers. 'You see conspiracies everywhere, Watson. L'Etrange's mishap is solely attributable to the behaviour patterns of the London taxi driver class. Foolish man. Teach him to step off the curb!'

                  'So we've no leads at all?' I said, perhaps more forelornly than I felt. 'After all that unseemly commotion at the Diogenes Club, I thought it was like that time Moriarty was after us.'

                  'Nonsense,' said Holmes. "Professor Moriarty is no longer interested in us, especially since I cleared up that five-year note I owed him.'

                  'That's at least a small favour,' I said. 'Going over the Reichenbach falls in a barrel was unpleasant enough the first time. Wouldn't care for a repeat performance... So we're back where we started, eh?'

                  'I did not say there were no leads. Indeed, Watson, the game's afoot, and we must now make our steps most purposeful, as well as careful.'

                  Outside and atop the hansom, the driver continued to sing, 'You ain't nothin' but a hound dog!' Holmes suddenly looked serious. 'Ah, yes, hounds. I must admit, Watson, to being perplexed by the curious matter of the hound or hounds.'

                  'What do you mean?' I said. In fact, I felt I could make a fairly decent educated guess, but Holmes does take on so when I don't let him lecture me from time to time. Having met some of his relatives, I understood: it was probably a relief to be able to dish it out rather than simply take it.

                  'Consider, old fellow,' said Holmes meditatively. 'Lord Viagra comes to us with a case that touches on these dastardly and noxious Hounds of Tindalos, which by themselves are enough to make one shudder...' I shuddered on cue. 'Then, Mycroft tells us a strange encounter with this fellow "Bill" (if that's his real name) and an eldritch Rottweiler hound. Now, our bloody hansom driver prates of "hound dogs" in his attempt to drive us insane, and is attracting the annoyed attention of every mongrel cur in this end of London. Don't you find this concatenation of coincidences a trifle too... coincidental?'

                  'Well,' I said reluctantly, 'perhaps; but it's by no means the most extreme case of this sort we've experienced. Remember the case of the Obese Toad of Bulgaria? Recall the strange coincidences of the occurrance of obese toad droppings found at the scene of every crime? Then, it was revealed that Inspector L'Etrange had simply been on a high-fibre diet? Don't make too much of coincidences, Holmes.'

                  'Watson!' said Holmes with some asperity. 'Just who is the detective here?'

                  'Why, I believe you are, but you need to provide a little more proof than wild suppositions.'

                  'How can I provide proof over this ungodly racket!' snapped Holmes. He stood up in the hansom and leaned out the window to address the driver. 'My good man, we'd thank you to restrain your musical impulses...'

                  A large, furry paw reached in the window from above, seized Holmes by the lapels of his trenchcoat, and yanked him through. There was a bloodcurdling scream and the sound of a struggle above, Holmes' shouting making counterpoint with canine snarls and feline hisses. The hansom started to rock back and forth. I held on tight, and started to consider whether it was a good idea to pitch in a bit, or wait and see how Holmes handled this one...


                  • #10
                    The hansom careered across the road all but missing fellow carriages and London shrubbery in its passage. There was a muffled cry from above as it came to an abrupt halt in a juniper grove. Shaken, Watson stepped out to see Holmes lying dishevelled and still breathing in a juniper bush, his trench coat covered in rips and tears. The air was sweet with the smell of crushed juniper berries and varnished pine.

                    �Good God Holmes, are you alright?’

                    Holmes stirred, motioning Watson to help extricate him from his botanical predicament. The hound-coachman was not so lucky. His mangled body lay wrapped around the base of a birch tree. The Persian grey, ruffled and alarmed, peered down at them from the top of the hansom. With Watson’s help Holmes struggled to his feet. Watson proffered him some brandy from a hip flask, which Holmes readily took up with shaking hand.

                    I do believe,’ gasped Holmes between swigs, ’that’s the last time we’ll be hearing dreadful ditties from our canine coachman. Lend me your shoulder dear fellow. Let us continue our journey. They hailed a cab by the roadside. As the cab pulled up Holmes heart sank as he saw the familiar head of Lord Viagra jutting from the nearside window.

                    �I say Holmes, old chap, you set us a merry chase there, we were hard put to keep up the pace.’

                    Holmes peered into the cab and saw L’Etrange slumped in the far side seat clutching his side and looking the worse for wear. �He’s taken quite a whack,’ said Lord Viagra, probably broken a rib, but good sport that he is he wants to carry on with the case.’

                    Holmes and Watson exchanged a fatalistic glance and joined the others in the cab.

                    �Hurrah! We’re all back together again!’ enthused Lord Viagra vapidly. �Drive on Sir. To Southampton we go!’


                    The fog from Southampton docks crept along the streets like a foggy creeping thing, muting the sound of hard leather soles upon the glistening cobbles as the well-heeled foursome made their way to Southampton’s famous Hotel Royale through narrow lamp-lit streets.

                    �I say Holmes, strange that the driver would not take us all the way to the Hotel. He booted us out fast as he could a mile from our destination and didn’t even pause for a tip.’ Watson peered through the gloom, his roundish features only barely visible in the dim radiance of a nearby gas light. ’Damned uncivil.’

                    Holmes nodded, aquiline and inscrutable as he puffed contemplatively upon his pipe, smoke drifting slowly as it merged with the ambient fog. �Yes Watson. His claim to have to repair his cab at the inn just outside town was a ploy to cover up his unease about entering the dock district. We had best be cautious gentlemen, tonight may hold some danger for us. More danger than the night has already held that is.’

                    �Terror! Danger!’ Lord Viagra looked troubled though he disguised it well, or feigned disguising it well. �Where’s L’Etrange?’

                    �L’Etrange!’ shouted Watson and Viagra into the gloom. Holmes refilled his pipe.

                    A shape moved towards them in the mist. It was L’Etrange. �Ho, what’s up?’ he said, adjusting his scarf.

                    �Gentlemen, let us pause awhile, and speak softly too.’ Holmes adopted a confidential sotto-voce as he braced the collar of his coat against the chill. He indicated up ahead where several shadowy forms huddled near the light of a streetlamp. �Please, no more leaving our company for now. We are close to the Docks, and, I believe, the source of our driver’s apprehension.’

                    �I think I’m going to sneeze,’ said L’Etrange �Sneezing and freezing down Southampton way. I knew I should have unpacked my overcoat.’


                    • #11
                      �Hoy! You, stop there!’, a harsh brogue barked out of the mist. Several shapes detached themselves from the shadows close to a nearby wall. �Ho, blads, to me! Looks like we’ve got us some of Spylock’s snouts!’

                      The foursome found themselves surrounded by a mean looking mob of what looked to be sailors and warehousemen, led by a surly unshaven brute. As they approached, Lord Viagra darted for the darkness, only to be rounded up by two of the ruffians. �Hey, you can’t stop me. I’ve an, err. That is I must….’

                      �That’s a fine cut of cloth yer wearin’’, said the brute. �Fetch a fair penny or two.’

                      �I should think so, it’s finest Pilkington,’ spluttered Lord Viagra. �So don’t crease it. Please.’

                      �Well, decent folk know to stay away from �ere at night, so yer can’t be decent folk now, can yer. I’ll lay good odds yer working’ fer Spylock. Reckon the Guvner’l want to have a word with yer. Grab �em lads!’

                      The ruffians moved in on the foursome. In the struggle that ensued Lord Viagra put up no resistance. L’etrange was putting up a fair fight until he was clubbed into submission from behind. Holmes and Watson found themselves back to back, the good Dr staunchly adopting the finest Queensbury, whilst Holmes was all elbows and knees, chopping and jabbing with great determination in a style reminiscent of both occident and orient. But at last they too were subdued and captured and all four escorted through the streets and alleys to a warehouse by the docks, and there ushered in through a side door and ejected into a cold dark corner by some half assembled crates, where they were guarded and watched while the brute and some of his cronies warmed themselves by a brazier, drinking liquor, laughing, and making frequent mention of the arrival of the one they called �The Guvner.’


                      �OK,’ said Lord Viagra, �how about this one then….why was six scared of seven?’ He had been cheering them up intolerably for the last hour and this was his twenty second joke.

                      �I don’t know, you’ll have to tell us. Why was six scared of seven?.� L’Etrange played along with Lord Viagra’s jesting, though Watson was clearly annoyed and Holmes remained impassive, hopefully working out some master plan that would get them out of this scrape.

                      Lord Viagra grinned. �I love this one. Simple but to the point. Six was scared of seven�, he paused for effect, �because seven, eight nine.’

                      �Bravo,’ said L’Etrange.

                      �Bloody marvellous,’ said Watson drily.

                      �Oy!’ spat one of the ruffians. �Put a rag in it will yer! I don’t get paid to hear you yabberin’ on all night.�

                      �What do you get paid for then?’ Asked L�Etrange. �Or more specifically who pays you?’

                      �Shaddap! Or I’ll shut you up.’ The ruffian pulled a crude brass knuckle duster from his pocket. Slipping it on , he punched the side of a nearby crate, which splintered under the impact.

                      Somewhere in the warehouse could be heard the sound of pan pipes - the rise and fall of a simple but effective melody. The ruffians looked around bewildered.

                      The pan pipes played their tune again, that simple and quirky melody, this time with a hint of variation. All eyes now turned to the warehouse balcony where there stood in the shadows of the upper level a lady in a wide ballroom gown. She wore a little set of pan pipes on a cord in lieu of a necklace. �Just when I was about to enjoy myself at the ball in the Hotel Royale this evening, the goons and cads come crawling out of the night to spoil my fun. Again!’

                      She flipped over the balcony and landed with catlike grace on the warehouse floor some twenty feet below.

                      �Well.’ said Pike, the ruffian who had threatened Lord Viagra. �Jus’ what we need, a reject from Pablo Fangy’s circus.’

                      �That’s no reject, Pike,’ said one of the goons from the back of the warehouse. �She’s The, The… I mean that’s… ’ His voice trailed off.

                      She moved into the radiance of one of the nearby oil lanterns, uncomfortable in all her finery, frowning especially at the restriction it offered her at the waist.

                      �Let these men go,’ she said, arms akimbo as she faced up to Pike, �and I won’t have to hurt you. Or risk ruining my gown,’ she added wistfully. She was probably a third of the build of the truculent Pike.

                      Pike grinned an unshaven grin. �Hurt me? Wheeew. Ehehehe!’

                      He tried to grab her - and ended up in a pile of crates ten feet away.

                      Unfazed, the Lady walked over to Holmes and company. She sensed Pike rising from the pile of wrecked crates and, without turning, she tracked his approach, deftly avoided his angry charge and struck him unconscious with a single blow to the chin.

                      The rest of the ruffians, nine in all, closed in, spreading out to surround her. There followed two minutes of extreme activity featuring some expert dodging, flipping, spinning and punching, all performed by the Lady. Some neat twirling of the ballroom gown was in the mix too, among the high kicks. The Lady took great pains to avoid getting her splendid gown crumpled, torn or soiled in the melee. Even the quickest of the villains was a laggard by comparison. There was also much doubling over winded, getting thrown across the room and being punched unconscious and generally outmanoeuvred, all performed by the warehouse villains. By the time the dust settled the Lady had decorated the warehouse interior with the unconscious forms of her antagonists.

                      She took out a notepad and pencil, murmuring to herself: �Today. Eagerly looking forward to attending ball at the Hotel Royale. Rented ballroom gown at great expense, went to ball at the Hotel Royale, left ball at the Hotel Royale to answer distress call at request of small grey cat.� Then she scribbled out loud: �Save famous gentlemen, go back to Hotel, enjoy rest of ball. Undisturbed!’

                      She frowned upon noticing a tear in her gown, and left hurriedly through the side door of the warehouse.

                      �Who was that!’ asked L�Etrange. �Amazing woman, but always going around in a bit of a huff by the look of things.’

                      Watson was about to answer, but Holmes beat him to it: �Scruffy the Panpipe Player. Only this evening she didn’t look very scruffy, indeed quite glamorous.’

                      �She certainly was a striking young Lady,’ professed Lord Viagra. �In many senses of the word. Lets head to the Hotel with all speed.’

                      �Just a moment gentlemen? Take a look at this.’ L’Etrange’s voice came from the centre of the warehouse, where the scuffle had revealed something extraordinary that had previously been hidden behind the stacks of crates. �What do you make of it Holmes?’


                      • #12

                        'Some sort of decorative wooden box,' said L'Etrange. "Looks expensive. And there's odd writing or designs. Some sort of blasted foreign script, no doubt...'

                        There's no telling what might lurk within the confines of such a strange container. I thought back on some of the lethal parcels we'd received in days gone by from the likes of Professor Moriarty, not to mention less gentlemanly hooligans such as our raffish erstwhile hosts. And then there were the burning bags of human, erm, end products we had placed on the doorstep of our regimental commander in Afghanistan... The hazards where clearly numerous, so I kept my distance, well up wind from L'Etrange and the strange box.

                        Evidently, Lord Viagra was bound by no such constraints. 'I say, let's have a closer look. Very odd, the writing is. I'd say it's Russian, eh?'

                        'I don't know,' said L'Etrange. 'It's Greek to me.'

                        'No it isn't!' said Lord Viagra. 'I did Greek at Balliol, and I can't make out a thing. Perhaps it's Egyptian?'

                        'It looks a little like Arabic to me,' I said, just to muddy the waters.

                        'And what do you know about Arabic, Watson?' said Holmes. He stepped closer and took the box from L'Etrange's hands, examined it for a moment with a worried air. Then his eyes widened slightly, and he put the box under his arm in a proprietary way. 'I'll just take this piece of evidence into custody, gentlemen.'

                        'But what's this all about, Holmes?' said L'Etrange.

                        'This box is an ancient artifact,' said Holmes. 'The reason none of you identified the script was not due to your lamentable erudition, such as it is. The writing is in an ancient tongue known as "Stygian." Viagra's guess of Egyptian wasn't terribly far off, but was much too modern a provenance. I must study the box, as well, perhaps, as the artifact it purports to contain.'

                        'Artifact?' I said. 'What artifact?'

                        'The writing on the box,' said Holmes, 'claims that it contains an object known as the "Shining Trapezohedron."'

                        'Sounds like some sort of geometrical mumbo-jumbo,' said Viagra with a sneer. 'It's all yours, Holmes. Shall we hail a cab and take you home?'

                        'Do so,' said Holmes. 'For yourselves. Watson and I have a steamer to board for Providence.'

                        We saw Viagra and L'Etrange safely away, then Holmes said, 'Watson, tell your wives, however many of them there are, that you'll be away for the next several weeks. Go home and pack your steamer trunk. Don't forget your medical bag or your revolver. Or your passport, for that matter. Meet me at the ticket agent's office tomorrow morning at 8 am.'

                        'Very well,' I said, being used to Holmes' dictatorial ways. 'Will you be in disguise?'

                        'Of course,' said Holmes.

                        'How will I recognize you?'

                        The Persian grey leaped onto his right shoulder. Holmes offered the box as a seat to the cat, but it hissed and shifted to his left shoulder.

                        'I suppose,' said Holmes, 'that you should be able to recognize me by my feline companion. Later, Watson.'

                        'Hasta la vista, baby,' I replied.

                        Holmes regarded me with contempt. 'And remain vigilant. There's still the matter of this fellow that our captors called 'the Guvnor" being at large.'

                        'Right-o!' I said and skipped away, whistling. I had several long, tender farewells, fond and intimate, to deliver. Only a true cad would want to keep such ladies waiting. It was a big job, I shall readily admit, but someone had to do it, and at least it was a task for which I was well -- nay, admirably equipped.


                        • #13
                          "Don't you understand, Holmes?" said Randolph Carter. "Three times I dreamed of the marvelous city, and three times was I snatched away while still I paused on the high terrace above it."

                          "What is this?" I said. "A bloody travellogue?"

                          "Quiet, Watson," said Holmes. "Go on, Carter."

                          "All golden and lovely it blazed in the sunset, with walls, temples, colonnades and arched bridges of veined marble, silver-basined fountains of prismatic spray in broad squares and perfumed gardens, and wide streets marching between delicate trees and blossom-laden urns and ivory statues in gleaming rows; while on steep northward slopes climbed tiers of red roofs and old peaked gables harbouring little lanes of grassy cobbles. It was a fever of the gods, a fanfare of supernal trumpets and a clash of immortal cymbals --"

                          "Sounds like you tied one on at the White Hart," I said. "Or perhaps you're describing a trip you once took to Brighton? Lovely place, but let's not overdo it."

                          Holmes and Carter regarded me with unconcealed hostility.


                          • #14
                            After I had bid adieu to the last of those charming ladies, the sun was almost up. Remembering the appointment with Holmes, I paid a quick visit to 221B Baker Street, where Mrs. Hudson informed me of the existence of a message that had arrived an hour before. The news it bore was no surprise. 'Have underestimated departure frequency, not to say availability of berths. Meet at docks, 1pm. Holmes."

                            I satisfied myself that it was not a trick (for only Holmes habitually mangled the Queen's English in that pseudo-telegraphese manner) and yawned, fixed myself a pick-me-up from some Armagnac and that ghastly black fluid Mrs. Hudson calls coffee, packed a steamer trunk more-or-less as Holmes had suggested, and informed Mrs. Hudson I would return for it shortly after I had availed myself of elevens. Perhaps she understood.

                            I set off by the tube for the British Museum to do a spot of research before the trip. All very well to play the foil to Holmes childish need to affirm the primacy of the -- that is to say his -- intellect, but experience has shown that when involved with one of the Great Detective's notorious escapades, a bit of luck hurts far less than the consequences of its absence; and luck favors the prepared mind.

                            Exiting at Russell Square, I found the British Museum and entered. My visits to this august institution and monument to the good old days of imperialism are regrettably infrequent. Thus, I availed myself of the opportunity, however brief, to admire the gate guardians from Persepolis and the Elgin marbles. The intrepid spirit of cultural theivery that animated our heroes of yesteryear never fails to lift my spirit, almost as if I had heard a sermon from the pulpit, with Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King" as text.

                            Having paid my respects to the vanished spirit of Empire, I presented a pass at the door and asked to be shown to the special collection, specifically the one dealing with works on the occult.

                            The fellow (in the Pickwickian sense) examined the pass closely, then burst into laughter. 'Haven't been 'ere in a while, have we? Or did you inherit that pass from your grandsire?'

                            'No need to be rude!' I remonstrated with growing asperity.

                            'No, no,' the fellow replied. 'Problem is, it's been a few years since you visited our establishment, my good man, and a few minor changes appear to have escaped your notice. In particular, the special collection was moved nearly ten years ago. I'll give you the address.'

                            I strode agitatedly to an -- if possible -- even more unfashionable London neighborhood, disdaining the tube, and in due course arrived and was shown into the special collection. I presented a list of books I wished to examine and have copied.

                            'Interesting list, sir,' said some sort of blasted johannes factotum who endeavored to assist me. "Von Junzt, the Comte d'Erlette, the Book of Eibon, and the illustrated Necronomicon. Lively bedtime reading, eh?'

                            I ignored his conversational gambit with dignity, and accompanied him into the stacks to obtain the requested volumes.

                            'Just one more,' said the factotum, 'and we're done! Now, where has the copy of the Necronomicon got to? Hope it hasn't gone missing again.'

                            A young man seated at a table, perhaps twenty-eight, slightly built, with glasses and exceedingly bad hair that he hid beneath a ghastly stocking cap, started and looked our way guiltily. 'I'm sorry. Are you looking for The Necronomicon? I've got it here...'

                            'I say,' said the factotum, 'that won't do at all! You can't just take books out with your own hands! Whom do you think you are?'

                            'My name is Doobian W. Greystoke,' the young man admitted sulkily, 'or at least I think it is.'

                            'Seem to think you're a comedian, do you?!' said the factotum. 'Well, you've made a serious --'

                            'Leave off,' I said mildly. 'He's done no harm. If you could take these books in hand and attend to the copies I requested, I'd like to speak with this chap for a moment and call at the front desk for the copies in perhaps fifteen minutes. Is that acceptable?'

                            'Well, perhaps,' said the factotum. 'Very well, still it's very irregular...' And he headed towards the front.

                            'So are his bowels, no doubt,' I animadverted. 'Mr. Greystoke, I am John Watson, M. D. This is my card and here are the results of my most recent urinalysis.'

                            'You aren't trying to sell me something, I hope,' said Doobian Greystoke.

                            'Not in the least. I wondered what you were doing with this book? I notice some sketches there. You are an artist? Or an illustator?'

                            He admitted that was indeed his calling, albeit his work had so far not met with the success and acclaim that in a more perfect world would have been its natural due.

                            'Ah, another undiscovered genius. Do you mind?' I said, and snatched up the drawings before he could prevent me.

                            'Thief!' he expostulated. 'Ruffian! Churl! You-you meanie! Give those back!'

                            'Very interesting," I said, ignoring the state he had inexplicably got himself into. 'Very interesting indeed. You are not without talent and a certain intelligence, sir. These are creatures described in the book, no?'

                            Doobian Greystoke stammeringly admitted they were.

                            'You seek artistic inspiration from strange quarters,' I mused. 'Perhaps, filled with inexpressible ennui by the taedium vitae of our quotidian existance, and like a modern decadent, you wish to explore the frontiers of sensation and out of the way corners of knowledge? Is that why you study this book?'

                            'Nothing of the sort. I've no such ponderous pronouncements to make,' said <Grey> a trifle testily. 'Nothing to assert but my genius!' And he chuckled slightly. Like Holmes, he had that raffine' ability to laugh unselfconciously at his own jokes.

                            'Then just what was the inspiration for these imaginative graphic productions?'

                            'Perhaps I just bloody well like to draw monsters.'

                            'Oh,' I said. "Now I see. Your interest in monsters and their graphical rendering leads one to suspect that I should perhaps introduce you to my colleague, Mr. Holmes.'


                            'Sherlock Holmes.'

                            'Sherlock Holmes?'

                            'Yes,' I replied. 'That Sherlock Holmes. Surely you've heard of him?'

                            'Can't say that I have,' replied Greystoke. 'He didn't by chance once produce an episode of "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer"?'

                            'No! He's Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective!'

                            'Oh! I see. He's a nark.'

                            'Close enough,' I replied, 'but he's also a great man, or at least he says he is. Come to elevens with me. There's the matter of a business proposition to discuss, and afterward, the prospect of your introduction to Sherlock Holmes. Is that satisfactory, Mr Greystoke?'

                            'Elevens? Will there be bagels? You'll pay? Very well. By the way, "Doobian" is a bit unwieldy as given names go. I generally answer to Doob.'

                            'Right-o!' I replied encouragingly to this remarkable personal confidence. 'Let's pick up the xerographic copies of the pages of these eldritch tomes -- the idiot factotum should be done by now -- and then we'll seek egress.'

                            Doobian W. Greystoke's left eyebrow raised sardonically in a manner that would come to seem characteristic on closer acquaintance, I would find. 'What are you waiting for? Let's go.'
                            Last edited by A_Non_Ymous; 07-12-2007, 02:51 PM.