The Initial Pose: Case of the Vanishing Corpse
"A Sherlock Holmes Story."
"And you say the body was right on this spot?" Watson asked, as he examined a Persian carpet with bright swirling mandala patterns, his legs tucked behind him as he leaned down on one elbow, a magnifying glass in his other hand, as he peered through it at the fibers of the rich carpet.
"Oh yes, Doctor!" Emily Forsworn, an elegant English lady, still wearing the ball gown she had worn to Queen Mary's Ball, an event that occurred each year about Easter, and was mainly for raising money through charitable events sponsored by Her Royal Majesty for the benefit of the homeless and impoverished. All the moneyed lords and ladies attended, as well as celebrities like Harry Houdini, Nicolas Tesla, Madame Curie, Albert Einstein and Thomas Alva Edison.
It would not even surprise those attending the event to find Jules Verne, or the incomparable H.G. Wells showing off their spouses and children, while chatting up H. Rider Haggard, Shakespeare or Lord Byron. Always a busy event and a great one for networking. Unfortunately, it was also a focus for robbers and thieves, hence someone like Watson being on hire to attend should things get out of control, or worse, someone die, as had happened.
"I see nothing." Watson declared, then fumbled to his feet, brushing the lint of elegant shows and clothing from the knee caps of his pants.
Lady Forsworn clutched at her heart. "Whatever will I tell his wife, when I return home without him?"
Sherlock intervened on Watson's behalf, when he walked up, with Madame Curie clutching his right arm. "Trouble, Watson?"
"That's an understatement." Watson growled, his eyes ever so briefly indicating Lady Foresworn who just chatting away, even though no one was paying attention now to a single word she said.
Sherlock looked to Madame Curie. "Will you excuse me a few moments, dear Madame?"
"Not at all. I see Jules is entering with his dear wife, whom I haven't seen for over a month now."
Sherlock gave her a quick smile, then turned to Watson. "All ado about nothing?"
"And that's exactly what I can see. Nothing!"
Lady Foresworn rushed between the men, interjecting herself closely to Sherlock, whom she gave a close look, like a hunter seizing up its prey. "Mister Holmes?"
"In person." He acceded. "Watson here has told me you were looking for an invisible person?"
She gasped. "How clever. I never thought of it that way. I knew you were smart, but this is just incredible."
Watson rolled his eyes. "He means you saw something or someone who is no longer there."
"Oh!" She clipped, her enthusiasm dulled for a moment, then she fluffed her elegantly balled roll of blonde hair that was iced with frost diamonds and ruby pearls, and smiled at both of them. "I feel so protected with you two standing beside me."
Watson sighed. "Dear Lady Foresworn, there is nothing here to be alarmed about. Perhaps, you mistook something temporarily in this position that your uh..."
She gasped. "Are you implying I've been drinking too much?"
"Uh." Watson started to answer.
Sherlock moved in to his rescue. "Dear Lady, perhaps we should be allowed to spend some extra time to examine this case a bit more closely. I'm sure you'll understand."
Mollified, she gave Sherlock a gracious smile, though she gave Watson a cold smile for a moment, before waltzing away, immediately latching onto an older couple, who had just come into the ballroom.
Sherlock eyed the area Watson had been kneeling on, then the area about it. He immediately went to the near wall and crouched. "Watson, come here, I need you."
Watson came over and dropped beside Holmes. "You see something?"
Sherlock pointed to a mark on the floorboard, and the wall, which was made of a highly polished red wood. "Something, or someone impacted here, however briefly."
Watson took out his spyglass, and Sherlock took it and leaned closer to the wall. He plucked something from the floor near it and held it up. "Ah-ha!" He exclaimed.
"What is it?"
"Take a look." Sherlock suggested, standing to his feet again.
Watson did. His eyes widened. He looked up. "This can't possibly be found here. Not at this hour, and certainly not with all these good people."
"And yet it is so." Sherlock nodded.
Watson stood up and peered around. "The last time this happened, we nearly lost London."
Sherlock continued to survey the ballroom, then his eyes froze on a man, who towered over most others, and who had a cloak on his shoulders and an odd colored sword at his waist. "Doctor, do you see that tall man?"
"Yes. That's Lord Dunsany, the writer of horror tales of odd creatures from beyond."
"No. Not him, what is next to him."
Watson looked again. "I see nothing."
Sherlock looked at Watson. "Whatever I do next, be ready to assist."
Watson gave Sherlock an exasperated look. "Every time you say that I get hurt."
"Attend me, Watson, the lives of everyone here could be in peril otherwise."
Watson nodded, then followed Sherlock as he forced a path through the royalty of England, ignoring greetings and upsets as he closed in on Lord Dunsany. Finally, he reached the side of the tall man. "Lord Dunsany, pray give me a moment of your time, good sir."
Lord Dunsany lowered a wine glass he had been sipping from, peered at Sherlock as if examining a fly beneath a microscope. "I know you?"
"Now Watson, restrain him!"
Watson moved so fast that Lord Dunsany had no time to react. Watson clasped his arms about the tall man, so he couldn't move.
The crowd about them gasped in shock and began backing away as Lord Dunsany's face began to twist and turn, shifting into something red and hideous.
"Oh dear God!" Watson exclaimed as he realized he was holding a Mummy creature in his arms. He swiftly let go and went for his concealed weapon, the same time as the creature grasped Sherlock by the throat and lifted him from the floor.
"This time you will not escape me!" The Mummy creature declared, crushing Sherlock's windpipe.
The sound of three gunshots and the Mummy creature let go of Sherlock, who fell to the floor, gasping for air. It turned about and fixed huge red eyes upon Watson, red ichors pouring from the wounds through its body.
"I shall have you again, Doctor Watson." It declared.
Watson smiled grimly. "I think not!"
The Mummy creature gasped as a huge lance spiked its head and went down into its body cavity from a leap that Sherlock had made with a ceremonial lance he had grasped from a Royal Guard, standing by, petrified with fear.
The Mummy creature made a horrible scream, then fell to the floor and began to dissolve into a smoking puddle of red and black ooze.
Lady Foresworn ran up. "That's the man. He's the one who was laying on the floor!" She gasped.
Watson turned to Sherlock. "That means the real Lord Dunsany is now captive and held somewhere within these confines."
Jules Verne came up and looked at the smoking monster's ooze. "Wells and I just met Lord Dunsany before we came in. He didn't recognize us, or acknowledge us."
"Hurry Watson, there still might be time to save his life." Sherlock uttered, dashing for the magnificent ivory inlaid doors that exited the ballroom.
They rushed outside, followed by Jules and standing between several Tesla Coaches was Lord Dunsany, as if frozen on the spot. A man was trying to get him to climb into a carriage.
"Shoot him, Watson!" Sherlock ordered.
Watson didn't need to be told twice. He shot the man harassing Lord Dunsany. The man let out a hideous scream and as Watson and Sherlock ran up, Lord Dunsany woke up as if from a bad dream, plucked out his great sword and slashed it across the throat of the fake man. Its head spun from its body, and its body spewed a fountain of red ichors, spattering Lord Dunsany, who spit it out and backed way in horror.
Jules looked at the smoking ooze the imposter man had become. He looked at Watson and Sherlock." The war is not over yet."
Sherlock shook his head. "No. It is not."