The Adventure of the
by William Hussey
Mr Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearthrug and picked up the article our visitor had left behind him the night before. Embossed in crimson upon the calling card was a gothic letter ‘D’.
“Well, Watson, what do you make of it?”
Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him no sign of my occupation.
“I believe you have eyes in the back of your head,” I remarked.
“I have at least a well-polished, silver-plated coffee pot in front of me,” said he.
As my eyes shifted to the pot, Holmes reacted with lightning speed and threw his napkin over it. Still, I had a fancy that I had glimpsed something curious before the napkin descended. I had the strange idea that, although the chair in which he sat had been reflected, the face of Sherlock Holmes was missing.
“Watson,” he said, dragging me from my reverie, “would you have any objection to drawing the blinds?”
“None at all.” I crossed the room, all the while keeping a concerned eye on my old friend. “Tell me, Holmes, are you afraid of something?”
“Well, I am.”
“Of what? Not air-guns again?”
“No. I no longer fear air-guns.”
The detective gave a dry chuckle and curled up in his chair. Despite his good humour he was even more gaunt and pale than usual. I crossed the room, took hold of his wrist and attempted to gauge his pulse. I could find none. Similar difficulties had perplexed me when examining him after one of his cocaine binges, the soporific effect of the drug having depressed the rigour of his circulatory system. He did not protest as I rolled up his sleeve and checked for the telltale signs that his miserable addiction had been indulged. Again, I could find nothing. And then I noticed something very strange: there were two puncture wounds, but not upon his arm.
“What have you been doing to yourself, old fellow?” I exclaimed.
“Peace, Watson,” Holmes muttered. “You will be pleased to hear I have no further use for the cocaine bottle.”
“Humph. Well, something very odd has happened since I saw you last. Perhaps it is all to do with your visitor of last night. I am sorry I could not be at your side. My practice is busy of late, you understand. But come, tell me about him.”
Holmes stretched his long legs towards the fire. A great shiver ran the length of his body.
“Can’t get warm for the life of me,” he said. “As to my client: he was a nobleman of eastern extraction. A Count, no less.”
“Indeed? And what did this Count want with you?”
“A trifling business of persecution. He had arrived in Whitby some weeks back and was immediately set upon by a ragtag band made up of a wild frontiersman, an asylum psychiatrist and the eldest son of one of our noble families.”
“Good God, what had the man done to attract the hostility of such an unlikely crew?”
“That is somewhat unclear. He is a foreigner, of course, and that may have been against him from the first. The Count is of the opinion that, as dangerous as these men are, their leader poses a far greater threat to his safety.”
“Who is this other man?”
“A Dutch professor with a very particular idée fixe that borders upon insanity. He is, however, a brilliant man with half the letters in the alphabet after his name.”
“Hmm. Well, it seems a most interesting case. Shall I leave you to ruminate upon it?”
“No, Watson. I should like you to stay and give me your assistance in certain matters.”
Holmes’ eyes glowed with a sudden fire. He rose and slipped across the hearthrug. Within three steps he was at the door of our Baker Street sitting room, turning the key in the lock. Then he spun around and, fixing me with a peculiar smile, he said:
“Indeed, I fully expect this to be a three pint problem…”
With sincere apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Bram Stoker!
First published at Horror Reanimated (http://www.horrorreanimated.com/)