A Sherlock Holmes Tale
A Baker Street Universe Adventure
By John Pirillo
Their legs seemed too thick, their eyes too far apart, almost giving them an insectile look, and were hooded to shield the eyes, or perhaps prevent them from inspection. The tails of the horses were split into two, and appeared to be born from two distinct buttocks, rather than in-between as was the usual place for a tail to go. The bellies of the horses appeared unusual as well, if anyone were to get that close. The bellies had a series of four large recesses, that seemed to have gold screws in them.
What made the carriage and the horses stand out even more was the Driver, who sat atop his station, looking more like some kind of alien being than a human, with his face wrapped in a colorful scarf, through which dark eyes peered that when they moved, appeared to be surrounded by blood. His hands were hidden in gloves that came to a point at each finger's end. His collar was a huge muffler that hid his throat. There was no bare skin anywhere.
And strangest of all is that he just sat there frozen like a statue while his ride stepped down and entered the home of Lord and Lady Berkeley, custodians of the Royal History. They had received a message from one Lord Tyndall of Fallowsbridge, a remote province in the hinterlands, near the White Cliffs of Dover. It was well known to all that the Lord was an eccentric man, as well as a dabbler in the arts.
Some whispered rumors of him having once been a student of the great Merlin, while others said he was the devil's spawn. So once it became known that he was visiting the home of Lord and Lady Berkeley, it became widely spread that the devil would be arriving in London and for all to receive communion and pray for their souls.
"Lord Tyndall, it's good to see you." Mister Berkeley greeted at the door of the large home. Usually his butler met guests, but this guest was important and he couldn't afford any protocols of etiquette being dismissed or set aside once the butler met his guest.
Lord Tyndall eyed Mister Berkeley without any form of emotion on his severely scarred face. "Is it ready for me?"
Lord Berkeley half inclined his head and stepped aside for Lord Tyndall to enter. Before he closed the door he noted the strange Driver at the top of the coach. When he saw the oddness of his appearance and the horses, he crossed himself several times, and then withdrew into the home, shutting the door behind him.
A Constable walking his route across the street paused to eye the carriage and its odd Driver. A gentleman with a lovely young daughter on his right arm was strolling past the carriage. A milk man was pulling over his van, run by a new Tesla engine, and turning it off when a horrible scream emitted from the home of the Berkeley's. It set the hair on end of all who heard it.
The Constable ran for the front door, but the Driver chose that moment to turn his horses so that the path was blocked.
The scream didn't stop for one long minute.
The Constable ducked around the horses and ran up the stairs to the home. The front door was unlocked. He flung it open and ran inside. A second and then a third series of screams were heard. Then a long silence.
"I really don't know what you mean, old fellow." Sherlock said to Watson, as he tamped tobacco into his pipe for smoking. "Just because things have quietened down doesn't mean nothing is happening. You know how many dark secrets are veiled under normalcy here."
"Indeed I do, Sherlock, but I still find it strange after so much activity by the Dark Lord, that it has become as quiet as a Sunday picnic and as safe as a walk through one's own home in the city. Not one new monster sighting. No demons. No ghosts. No vampires. No mention of zombie pirates. No hordes of the undead clamoring for attention and blood."
Sherlock eyed Watson, who had been pacing near the fireplace. "One hearing you might assume you truly looked forward to such ghastly occurrences."
Watson stopped and gave Sherlock a grimace. "Must you shoot so low, Holmes?"
Sherlock smiled. "Be of peaceful heart, dear fellow, Mrs. Hudson will be returning quite soon now."
"Never soon enough if you ask me." Watson said with a loud grumbling voice. He flung himself into his chair and watched the flames, which were burning low, play along the edges of the wood in the fireplace. "If you ask me, she's staying there so long because she can't bear being with me anymore."
Sherlock's eyebrows rose. "Watson. John!"
Watson turned to look at him, surprised at the use of his first name, which Sherlock seldom used. "This is truly not you speaking. What is eating at your heart?"
"I'll give you one guess. Should be enough for the great Sherlock Holmes." Watson said nastily.
Sherlock ignored Watson's tone. "You're jealous, aren't you?"
Watson started to deny it, and then gave Sherlock a guilty look. "Go on."
"You wanted to go with her, not so you could be together, but so you could keep an eye on her. Dear fellow, which just won't do. Won't do at all. Should she suspect such unseemly thoughts in you, you might create everything you feared could go wrong between you."
Sherlock reached across the gap between them and tapped Watson's arm in a friendly manner. "Time to get back to work."
Watson gave Sherlock a confused look. Then a loud rapping came from the front door. He went to the window. Constable Evans stood below. He looked up. "We need you and Mister Holmes!"
Watson felt a tug of relief in his belly. He nodded.
Even a doctor like Watson, who had performed numerous surgeries and autopsies found the scene in the living room of the Berkeley home quite distressing. Mister Berkeley hung from the ceiling, his back smashed through it, the broken wood above holding him in place. His eyes were popped out and dangling by their nerve stems.
Far worse was the Constable. He was dangling from the right wall, just above the fireplace, his eyeballs also dangling out of their sockets, an expression of utter horror on his face. His hands clutched something and were knotted into fists.
Sherlock reached up with tweezers and plucked some of the substance clutched in the Constable's hands, then placed it in a vial and stoppered it. He handed it to Watson, who labeled it quickly, then handed Sherlock another.
"I suspect we'll find the same thing on Mister Berkeley." Watson suggested.
"I suspect you're right." Sherlock replied, taking a sample from the man's dangling right hand, which was also clutched into a fist.
Constable Evans entered the room, having come from the second floor of the rather large home. "We don't need to look for Mrs. Berkeley." His face was green. Finally, he couldn't hold it in any more and dashed for the front door. He didn't make it. He threw up over the entrance until he was gasping in pain, heaving over and over and over.
Sherlock gave Constable Evans a compassionate look. "See to the Constable, Watson, will you? I'll take care of Mrs. Berkeley."
Watson nodded and gave Constable Evans a shoulder to lean on, he was now so weak from his body upheavals, and brought him outside into the fresh air.
Sherlock climbed the circular staircase, his eyes sweeping the carpeting upon it as he did so. He stopped once and unstoppered a new vial, then placed a sample within it with his tweezers from the carpet. He got back to his feet and continued to the top floor, which had beautifully varnished wooden walls and beautiful original oils of flower gardens on both sides. He turned to the right and entered the bedroom of Mrs. Berkeley. She was embedded in the floor, just her legs and right side visible. Blood oozed from the exposed body parts and coagulated in a large puddle about her body.
Sherlock put a hanky to his nose, unstoppered a new vial awkwardly, then stooped and gathered a sample from the blood.
Finished, they strode about the room, searching its walls and floor avidly, and then satisfied, he strode back into the hallway, down the stairs, and to the doorway where Watson and Constable Evans stood.
"Constable, would you mind ever so much taking a small ride with us?"
"My father ordered me to stay here with the bodies once I'd contacted you."
"I will speak to your father for you." Sherlock stated. "The Inspector will listen to reason."
Constable Evans laughed.
Sherlock smiled. "He will. I will see that he does."
"Oh, also, on the way to our objective, I'll need you to gather a few people to help us out."
"Certainly, Mister Holmes." Constable Evans replied.
Lord Tyndall's castle was known throughout the hinterlands as the Black Cloud, because it always seemed to have dark soot like air about it, flaring from its many windows and basement bars. A simple moat surrounded it, but was dry and now filled with weeds and wild grass. Its walls were singed from ancient fires and pockmarked from cannon fire, with pieces missing and some sections barely clinging together, but yet the castle held firm, despite its many deficiencies.
It stuck out on the hilltop of dark rock it commanded like a poisonous monster poised to strike its enemy down. It didn't merely sit on the crown of the hill, it commanded it, suppressed it with a dark energy that the villagers below feared greatly. Most of them said prayers every time they looked the fearful sight, and yet they served its dark master for fear of no livelihood otherwise. A village enthralled by poverty had to accept a dark master.
As Sherlock, Constable Evans and Watson stepped from the Constable's Wagon, a dozen other Constable Wagons drew up.
Constable Evans stepped out and his father, the Inspector, climbed out of the closer of the wagons. They began ordering the drivers to encircle the castle. Once the wagons were positioned, Constables climbed out, armed with rifles and bayonets.
The Inspector came up to Sherlock. "Why all this armament?"
"I would hope for a better outcome. But I suspect a lesser one. Ready, Inspector?"
The Inspector touched the bulge in his coat and nodded. Sherlock looked to Watson, who didn't even bother hiding his own weapon. He'd learned that caution was a one way street when dealing with monsters and evil.
Sherlock stepped across the small bridge that crossed the moat and took up the huge door knocker there and slammed it home. A huge gong struck within the castle and reverberated throughout its depths. The door remained closed. He struck the knocker home again. Again, the entire castle reverberated with the sound.
"Inspector, if you please?" Sherlock requested.
The Inspector nodded, and then jerked a hand towards the door. Four Constables came running up with a door ram.
It took them four tries, but finally the old wood shattered, sending the four of them flying through the opening they had made. They recovered, dropped their ram, and retrieved their service revolvers, scanning for trouble. None was forthcoming.
Sherlock and his friends entered. Sherlock didn't stop. He headed for the main hall, which had a gigantic evil looking dragon over its entrance, its mouth open revealing sharp teeth, and a throat straight from hell, clutching victims within it. As they passed beneath it, drops of something red struck the men.
"What the devil!" Watson uttered, and then fingered the wetness. He eyed it closely, and then gagged.
The Inspector got it immediately. He turned about. "Constable, see that our men take down those caught within its mouth!"
Immediately, Constable Evans had deployed a dozen men with ladders from their wagons and tools. As everyone watched, a series of body parts were disengaged from the dragon's mouth, and brought down to be placed in a massive mound of gore and grossness.
Sherlock, however, did not remain to watch, or Watson. They entered the main hall. The Inspector followed, his weapon at the ready.
Sherlock turned to him. "There's no need for a weapon, Inspector."
"There could be a villain lurking about..."
Sherlock shook his head. "This is no villain we are seeking. No ordinary person at all, but a Warlock of the First Ranking. A Druid Master."
Sherlock didn't have to answer. He went to a table set with empty plates. Upon the table was a book. He hefted it and eyed its spine, which had its title. "The Queen's Treasures."
"Why would the Lord Tyndall seek that of all things?" The Inspector demanded, confused by the book being there.
"Because the book is not of earthly treasures, dear Inspector."
Sherlock handed the book to Watson, who placed it in his black bag. "I'm afraid we have once more been too late in the game."
"What do you mean?" The Inspector demanded, starting to get angry with the evasiness of Sherlock's answers.
Sherlock turned to face him fully. "When I surveyed the home of the Berkeley's, I noticed one thing missing in common from their library. This book and one other, which the Queen had entrusted to them to guard and keep secret from the masses."
"This one and the Golden Monkey."
"Golden Monkey?" Watson declared. "What in God's name is that?"
Sherlock closed his eyes and recited:
"When darkness flails and Light does wail
The door to darkness will open
Beware the teeth of the Golden Monkey
His bite will cause all to be broken."
"Drat it, Holmes. Stop riddling me. What does the Golden Monkey have to do with any of this?"
"The Doorway to Hell." Sherlock answered. "And I'm afraid the Count now has the way to open that door."
"Your move, Watson." Sherlock said, eying the Queen he had put into play.
Watson eyed the Queen, and his King who was now exposed. He moved his rook. "Rook to King's guard. Your move, Holmes."
Sherlock didn't move, instead he leaned back and clasped his hands on the table. "Watson, we must consider other options in this war."
"There are no other options."
"There is the option of you and good Mrs. Hudson escaping to the Fairy Realms with Lord Graystone. He has offered shelter there to all who wish it."
"I will not give up that easily." Watson said grimly.
Sherlock nodded. "I knew you wouldn't. None of us shall. We shall fight these dark souls with our dying breaths if need be."
"Hello! Anybody home!" Mrs. Hudson's voice hollered from below.
Neither Sherlock nor Watson had heard the door being unlocked and opened.
Watson jumped to his feet, knocking over his men. He dashed downstairs and enfolded Mrs. Hudson in his arms. They clung to each other, both sobbing with relief and job to be together again.
"I've missed you so much." Watson told her in her right ear.
"And I you, John." She whispered back.
Above them Sherlock went to the window that overlooked Baker Street. He saw Lord Graystone and Lady Shareen climb into their Tesla coach and it drive off. As he watched he thought of all the good that existed in this world. He clenched his hands into fists as he heard the laughter of Mrs. Hudson and Watson below. "I shall not fail this time, Watson." He promised, his eyes as hard as rocks.