(A Sherlock Holmes/Doctor Watson Adventure)
by John Pirillo
Inspector Bloodstone stood at the entrance to the storage area, a Bobby on each side of him. He kept glancing inside anxiously, wringing his hands. He hated these kinds of cases. Because hhe always seemed to be assigned them and he always had to get his face rubbed in salad oil every time the famous detective was brought into the case as well.
He watched as his forensics specialists worked their way down the long aisles, flashing beams of light from their Tesla flashlights, searing the shelving, walls, ceiling and floor for clues. Ocassionally, one would drop to a knee, or step up to pry something free, or hurry up a photographer to take a photo, but none of them seemed to have any green flags for him.
He twisted his licorice red mustache, and shoved a red forelock out of his face and turned to the Bobby on his right. "The Red Dragon tonight still?"
"Spot on, Inspector. The little lady is expecting me back later because of this. So what's one more hour." He laughed.
The Inspector laughed with him, then turned quickly to look at a familiar cry for help.
"Look here, Holmes." Watson blurted out, pointing with his umbrella at a slight smear on the floor behind the open door.
Sherlock pressed his deerstalker hat back from his forehead and dropped to a knee to examine the evidence. He pressed an oversized magnifying glass into the niche between the open door and the seal of the portal.
"Tweezers, Watson. Quickly!"
Watson fumbled in his medical bag and handed a pair of tweezers over.
Sherlock didn't even look, his hand was out stretched waiting. Watson pressed the tweezers into his palm, and Sherlock's thin and wiry fingers engulfed the tweezers like a hungry spider clasping its helpless prey.
He expertly drove the tweezers into the niche, then using the magnifying glass to watch, prised a tiny substance onto the tip of the tweezer. He raised it to examine closer.
Again, Watson fumbled through his bag, this time not so easily finding a vial.
"Patience, Holmes, they must have slipped in with the bandages. Ah, here they are."
He pulled out a tiny clear vial, uncorked it, then handed it over, again to an outstretched palm, where Holmes wasn't even looking, his eyes still on the tweezers, though with the magnifying glass now put away. He carefully manuevered it into the vial, then Watson deftly corked it, and swept it into his bag, carefully placing it into a smaller bag, labeled "evidence."
Holmes scrambled in both knees for a time, pressing the magnifying glass to duty again, then finally sat up, rose to his feet and shook his head. "Nothing more."
"Do you think it's relevant?" Watson asked him.
Holmes thought it over a moment, but didn't reply. Instead, he went to the display case, whose door was shut and locked. The Museum Director, Hyamus Portashaw, a portly man of distinguished features, wearing a tux somewhat rumpled from a party he had returned from early, and leaning on a silver handled cane with an exquisite carving of Isis at its top, eyed the proceedings warily.
"I just don't see how Mister Burns could possibly have stolen the mummy stored in this case. It is not even unlocked!"
Holmes eyed the Director thoughtfully a moment, then nodded. He turned to Watson, who stood near a very quiet and respectful Bobby, who was watching the investigation like a rapt student. Anyone who worked with Holmes and Watson knew they were an extraordinary pair of investigators and watching them was like watching a finely tuned engine.
"I think we need to speak with Doyle about this." Holmes finally said.
Watson's eyebrows rose.
Holmes nodded. "Yes. But not now."
Watson nodded in return, and turned to the Director.
"Are you quite sure that no one saw him exiting the Museum?"
The Director shook his head. "Impossible. He is locked in for the night and only in the morning, which it now is..." He coughed to emphasize that he was being inconvenienced in a major way. "...Morning. And just now as you see, we three are the only ones here."
Holmes turned to face the door, then turned to face the empty mummy case, then he looked up. "Is this room hermetically sealed?"
The Director had to thank about it a long time, his mustache quivering at the same time as his jowls, as if one wound up the other and made it run. "Nothing in here would benefit from such a thing."
"Nothing in here." Holmes agreed. "But what about something outside of here?"
Inspector knew his moment of triumph was at hand. He had made sure there were no glaring errors for his rival to expose and demean his forensics abilities.
"I assure you, Holmes." He said, stepping into their view. "That no such thing was or is possible. This room is as airtight as....pardon the expression...a fly's bottom!"
The Director's eyes widened and he looked up, noticing as Watson did the very large vent overhead.
The Inspector blushed, thinking they were upset at his poor taste in description.
"On it." Watson answered. He headed to the back of the room.
"What's wrong?" The Inspector demanded.
"Nothing." Holmes replied, watching as Holmes found a large dark item next to some particularly tall shelving, hefted it with a grunt, then came forward with it, huffing and puffing.
"Dratted heavy, you know." Watson complained, setting the stepladder down beneath the vent.
Holmes climbed the ladder carefully while Watson steadied it.
"I don't see how anyone could have used this as a way to get in." The Director said in an annoyed voice, again glancing at his pocket watch to remind them he was a busy man.
"It is never a good idea to assume, Mister Director." Holmes replied drily.
Holmes ignored him and touched the vent gingerly with a finger, then withdrew it. On the tip of his finger something glistened. He looked to Watson, who left the ladder, retrieved his bag and took out several swabs and a vial.
Holmes carefully swabbed the edges of the vent, handing each one back to Watson, who carefully stopped them in their own vials. "Might I have the use of your winter gloves?"
Watson pulled out a pair of bright red gloves. The Inspector started to make a joke about them but when he saw the look in Watson's eyes and heard him clear his throat meaningfully, he immediately retreated back to the entrance to converse with his Bobbies.
Holmes slipped the bright red gloves on and then very carefully shifted the grill over the vent. It made a slight grinding sound, then slid out and fell to the floor, nearly striking the Director on his head.
"God's sakes, Detective Holmes!" The Director yelped.
"Sorry, old man." Holmes replied, though his eyes had no hint of sympathy in them. He did not find the man to be a very likable sort.
Watson caught the drift of Holmes' thoughts and wedged himself between the Director and the step ladder, in case he had any ideas. "Anything up there?" Watson asked.
Holmes pulled out a box of matches, struck one and held it over his head, looking into the vent opening. "Ah!" He noted.
"What is it?" The Director asked, his anger piqued by curiosity.
"It seems you've had someone exit the room."
"A man exited the room?"
Holmes looked at him with an odd look on his face. "Did I say a man?"
The look on Holmes' face caused the Director to shudder as if a very cold wind had suddenly blown across him. He shivered, then stepped back towards the vault door. "I think I'll wait in my office. Let me know when you two are ready to leave."
Holmes nodded, then looked to Watson, who gave him a curious look.
"Not a him?" Watson asked. "Then a her?"
Holmes did not reply.
Now it was Watson's turn to shudder.