by John Pirillo
Mrs. Hudson stood on the hilltop watching the wafts of smoke curl into the air, and in the distance the Chimera dragged itself higher and higher into the air, its lion tail wagging behind its webbed wings, its crocodile face turned away from their direction. "Quite a sight."
Holmes climbed up beside his friend and dusted himself off, then pulled out his pipe and thrust it between his lips without lighting it.
Harry climbed up beside them next, looking paler than a ghost and bone-tired. "Remind me next time to not have there be a next time."
"Granted." Holmes replied with a hint of irony in his voice.
He turned to Hairy. "Where's the Driver?"
"Still coming out of shock."
"I should think so, Harry." Mrs. Hudson scolded him. "You could have at least warned us."
"But then it wouldn't have been so much fun." Harry said with a sigh.
"Thanks." She said next, giving him a quick hug.
His eyes lit up for a moment, before the fatigue took over again. "Remind me next time..."
"So now we know someone is onto us." Harry finally stated the obvious.
"But how?" Mrs. Hudson asked, as perplexed as he was.
"I suspect Watson will be finding out that answer for us."
He turned around and looked down the steep rise they had climbed. The Taxi Driver was outside the cab, smoking a cigarette. He looked like he was having an argument. "Perhaps we should return before he loses his argument."
The others nodded and followed him down to the cab, where the Driver, looking shell-shocked and a bit crazy at the moment, shook his head and said. "I don't care. They paid me and we're going."
"And once we return home." Holmes told him. "You shall be handsomely rewarded with far more than your fare."
Harry agreed. "And I will give you front row tickets for your wife and family and relatives to see my next show."
"Oi! Guvnor! Really?"
The Driver gave him a bear hug. "You's a right good man, Mister ''Dini."
He let go and climbed back into the cab, blew its horn. "All aboard."
Mrs. Hudson laughed. "Men!"
Holmes nodded. "Indeed."
She gave him an inquiring look and he ignored it and climbed into the back, after giving her a hand up inside first. Harry climbed in from the other side and slumped onto the back seat all by himself. "I've got to renew my batteries." He said, then fell instantly asleep.
"Oh drats!" Mrs. Hudson exclaimed.
"Whatever is wrong, my dear Mrs. Hudson?"
"I so wanted to find out how he cloaked us from that monster trying to kill us."
"Don't be in such a rush. I'm sure once he's awake, he'll be ready to talk about it...for hours."
They both laughed lightly, then looked out their windows as the landscape flowed past.
The high chalky white walls on their left soon descended and turned into curving flows of light hillocks and spiraling hills resplendent with blossoming daisies, petunias and marigolds. Even an occasional sunflower stuck its head into the sky, soaking up as much light as the English weather permitted.
It began to lightly rain as they continued their journey.
Through the distant mists the first tower of the approaching town came into view. Harlington Downs. Named after Lord Harlington who had at once time, allegedly under the Great King Arthur, settled the lands from Stonehenge to the sea, starting from the Northern Downs and ending in the Southern. A splendid spread of grasses and wild life that lived near the great sea, and farmers who etched out a living harvesting wheat and oats for the stables of London, and chalk for the builders and merchant marines.
A very thriving industry of sorts spotted out of Harlington Downs, sporting some of the best and finest tailors of their times. It was even said that a very young Arthur once lived there as a King of Threads, some called him, before he went on to become a knight and eventually the man behind the throne of England for a time during the Golden Camelot years, when Merlin was young and healthy and the people throve on honest and hard work.
"So." Harry said with a yawn, sitting up like a manikin jerked from stillness by its top strings. "What have I missed besides nothing?"
"Harry, you're so cynical sometimes." Mrs. Hudson scalded him.
He made as if to doff an invisible hat and then grinned. "At your service and willing to dispense more if it pleases you."
"What I'd like to know, Harry, is how you managed to hide us from that Chimera when we were so close to being cooked geese in the oven of its breath."
Harry glanced across at Sherlock, who yawned and then closed his eyes. He looked back at Mrs. Hudson. "Well..."
Several hours later as their cab pulled over to park near a pub, Harry put the finishing touches to his explanation, and then noticed that not only was Holmes snoring, but Mrs. Hudson as well.
"We're here." Harry said, biting the slight touch of anger he felt for a moment. After all, these were his friends, even if he did bore them to death sometimes. He smiled. Maybe he could come up with a proper spell to keep them awake when he was talking to them.
That brought a happy smile to his face as they both opened their eyes to look at him.
Mrs. Hudson immediately said. "Harry, don't you even dare think those thoughts!"
Holmes smiled. "I forgot to tell you, Harry. She's become a mind reader as well as a good criminal investigator."
Harry sighed. "Oh well. Perhaps a good meal will settle everything."
They climbed out.
The Driver hoisted down their luggage. "I know just the place to stay if you don't mind my presuming?"
Holmes nodded. "Not at all. You Mrs. Hudson? Harry?"
They both shook their heads.
Harry watched Holmes and Mrs. Hudson go into the pub. It was named "Stonehenge."
"Here let me give you a hand with all that." Harry said, taking some of the luggage off the driver's hands.
"Yer a fine gentleman, Harry Houdini." The Driver said.
Then Harry said. "I bet you can't wait to find out how I hid us from that flying monster..."
As they walked away from the pub towards the far side of the street Harry's face lit up as he found a new and willing audience for his stories.