Chapter 1: The First Victim
My mom wasn’t happy when I decided to move to London to go to school. Even less so when I decided to stay and make it my home. To be honest I wasn’t expecting it myself, but I had made some good friends here. Although, becoming a cop when I was working towards a PhD in archaeology wasn’t part of the plan. But even as I was still working towards it, I found it to be a good fit so far.
Now I had been called on to my first case since the academy: and it was a murder case. Oh boy! I took a deep breath as I approached the building, a blue trench coat that I bought at a thrift store for a Jack Harkness cosplay covered my purple button down shirt and black slacks as I marched towards the building in scuffed brown boots. I flashed my badge and they pulled up the tape for me, making a brunette in a blue coat similar to mine turn and look.
“Either this is a freak accident, or you’re trying some sort of bonding technique, Rookie.” He greeted warmly, looking me up and down.
I looked at my coat, then at his, just now noticing how similar they were. “Cosplay can be comfy.” I excused before extending my hand. “Sarah. Sarah Sprague.”
“Alfie Scott. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting an American.” He admitted.
I shrugged, making sure to make eye contact, and seeing the pretty blue hue of his eyes. “And I wasn’t expecting John Barrowman as my partner for the case, but I guess we’re both full of surprises.” I countered with a smile.
“Well you are certainly, sassy lassy.” He countered before gesturing up to the building. “Shall we?”
I nodded and followed him into the building where a man dressed in a Sherlock Holmes costume lay on the floor. “What do you see?” Alfie asked crossing his arms.
I pulled my hair back into a ponytail before crouching down to examine the body. “Lips and finger tips are purple, no cuts or bruises, slight foam around the mouth, and by the smell, his bowels relaxed, but that could also be from death.” I listed calmly. “I’m not seeing any pills lying open around, so I’m thinking poisoning, but not necessarily suicide. But we should get a coroner report before we make too many assumptions.”
Alfie grinned. “Not bad, Rookie.” He responded, waving for the people to come and remove the body.
I grabbed a pair of rubber gloves and slipped them on, already feeling the latex sucking the moisture out of my hands. “Let’s take a look around, shall we?” I responded, feeling my curls bounce on my back as I headed for the wardrobe. Opening it up, I saw it was mostly empty, except for one pile of clothes. “Odd…” I mumble to myself, carefully moving the clothes, only to find a string that disappeared under the floor of the shelf. “That’s not a string, that’s a rope.” I corrected. “Alfie, I think I have something.”
Alfie was behind me in a second as I pulled the string. “What is it, Rookie?”
My eyes widened behind my round, half-rimmed copper colored glasses. “A secret compartment and possible murder weapon.” I said lifting up the contents for him to see. A nicely engraved dart gun and dart.
“That just adds to the poison theory.” He responds pulling out an evidence bag and holding it open for me to drop the dart gun into.
“Bathroom door’s still locked too. I’m going to look for a key, but if I can’t find one, be prepared for swearing and possible injury on my part when I try to break it down.” I told him going over to the duffle bag on the bed. “I’m surprised the CSI’s didn’t do it yet.”
Alfie shrugged. “Well, this isn’t America, Rookie. We sometimes have to do things on our own.” He informed, one hand going in the pocket of his black slacks as he watched me work.
I started sorting the items into piles, small to big, metal from plastic, usual and unusual….that sort of thing. “Alright! Let’s try you.” I said, finding a small, metal, skeleton key and heading for the door.
“Do you always talk to yourself?” Alfie asked with a chuckle.
“Oh shut up.” I teased back sliding the key into the hole. “It helps keep my thoughts organized. I also talk to animals and inanimate objects.” I said as the door opened smoothly.
“And as you can see, it works.”
Alfie chuckled. “So it does, Rookie. So it does. Now, why don’t you look around in there, while I go talk to the landlady.” He said heading out the door.
“I’ll holler if I need anything.” I called as he left. I had to admit, he was really cute, friendly, and easy to talk to too.
I went into the bathroom and the first thing I saw was an X marked on two of the bathroom tiles. I looked around and found a masonry tool-spade-thing, I don’t know what the hell it’s called, on top of the garbage. I picked it up and carefully crawled into the empty bathtub, making sure I wouldn’t be stepping on any evidence, and carefully started prying at the tiles.
I set both on the toilet to be put into an evidence bag along with the tool and looked inside. My brow furrowed as I carefully pulled the not-so-hidden tablet out of the wall. “Why would someone hide this in a wall, only to mark where it was? Kind of defeats the purpose.” I mumbled as I climbed out of the tub and turned it on.
I watched carefully as an image appeared out of static, a man in a half-mask, the rest of his face covered in shadow, and a blue cape with a hood. “Because that’s not dramatic at all.” I mumbled rolling my eyes as the static faded out with two words written on the black background: “I’m Back”.
“Dramatic or not, this does not bode well.” I said turning my head towards the open door. “Alfie! You might wanna get up here and see this!” I called.
I turned back around and saw a man dressed the same as the one who had appeared on the tablet, only I could see the rest of his outfit now: an old style blue suit, white gloves, and an M holding the cape around his shoulders. “Who are you and how’d you get past the tape?!” I demanded, reaching for my gun.
I didn’t get it out fast enough, because the next thing I know, he had me against the wall, with the only thing between me and the knife in his hand, being my own arm fighting his strength. Thinking fast I pulled the knife quickly so it was about to go into the door before throwing my right fist into his face, making him drop the knife and jump back.
I finally got my gun out and held it pointed at him. “You wanna try that again?” I asked, pulling back the hammer.
He just turned, climbed over the toilet and sink, knocking down the items I had put there, and took off out the window.
My eyes went wide as I raced over and looked out, only seeing glass on the street three stories below. “Ok, looks like Harry Houdini has left the building.” I mumbled as I brought my head in as Alfie came into the room, bracing on the door frame to catch himself.
“Rook! Are you ok?! I heard crashing!” he panted.
I looked at the tablet, knife, and other items on the floor and then at him. “You might not believe me when I tell you.”
“Try me, but first, we need to finish up here.” He informed looking at the room behind him.
I sighed. “Well, let’s look at this.” I said grabbing the garbage can and dumping it on the bed. “There’s torn paper right here. Looks like a file.”
Alfie looked over my shoulder. “Huh, should be easy to put back together.”
I started doing so, remembering the times I put together puzzles as a kid before finishing it up. “A library receipt. Looks like we have our next clue. Whatever book this is, the clue left behind is on page 68.”
Chapter 2: Getting To Know You
I told Alfie everything, as we headed for the library. Upon our arrival, Alfie quickly slid up to the desk. “Hello, we are searching for a book. Here’s the card with its number.” He said handing her the report card.
The librarian nodded. “Yes, it’s a big book with a red cover. Must still be around here, with the recently returned.”
“Like this?” I asked picking one off a cart.
The librarian nodded before checking the number. “Exactly this one.”
Alfie looked at the book. “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes? You were right, Sarah. This has to be a lead. Get to page 68, quickly.”
I obeyed, flicking through them quickly and carefully. “Here we are. The Sign of Four. It’s one of the shortest short stories about Sherlock, possibly by Sherlock.”
Alfie reached over and pointed at the page. “And look at the picture. Reminds you a bit of our crime scene, doesn’t it?”
I nodded. “The dart, the cane, the note…and the nightshade poison…” I listed, thanking the fact that the forensic had gotten my number as well as Alfie’s. “Someone seems to be obsessed.”
“Think our killer could be a Sherlock Holmes copycat?” Alfie asked.
I nodded. “Until proven otherwise, it may be in our best interest to treat it as such.” I answered. “Unfortunately, that will probably mean more murders.”
We returned to the station to submit the evidence for processing and do the paperwork. I was just signing my name after printing out the report, when Alfie walked up to my desk.
“You look like you need a drink.” He commented looking at what I had done to personalize my little cubical.
I leaned back in my chair and smiled at him. “I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting that on my first case. Then again I wasn’t expecting such a big one.” I commented tucking my bangs behind my ear.
“Well, you did very well in the academy. And what do you mean, a big one?” Alfie questioned.
I shook my head. “I get jumped by a man in a mask, who somehow got past the cops downstairs and into the room without my seeing him, and a tablet with a video of possibly said man claiming to be back. This is more than a typical murder.” I countered logging out of my computer and shutting off the screen.
Alfie hmmmmed. “You’ve got a point there, Rook.” He then looked at one of the pictures I had up of two little boys, both in superhero costumes, both with big blue eyes. The older one had blond hair and was in a superhero pose, while the younger was smiling normally, a few teeth missing, and had curly auburn hair. “I didn’t know you were a mum.”
I looked at him, my brows furrowed before I saw the picture he was looking at. “I’m not. Those are my little brothers. That picture was taken last Halloween. I bought them those costumes though.” I said getting up and slipping on my coat.
“Quite the age gap. You’re what 23?” Alfie guessed.
“Close. I’m 22.” I answered grabbing the report and quickly turning it in. “And yeah, it is a bit of an age gap, but you know what, it made it more fun. The oldest one, Ethan, he and I have a special bond.”
Alfie looked at the picture a little closer. “They sure are some cute kids.” He acknowledged as we headed for the door, away from my cubical.
“Yeah they are. Nerdy too, but that’s my fault. When you have a nerdy big sister, chances are the little ones will want to take after the big one.” I remarked, as we clocked out and headed for the door. “Now, you said something about a drink?”
He chuckled and nodded his head towards the door. “Come on. I know a nice little pub nearby.”
“So, what made you stay in London after school?” Alfie asked curiously as we shared a meal of fish and chips. I ordered a large on mistake and he agreed to share. Though I think he was expecting me to order something with alcohol. “And what made you want to be a cop?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. It just felt like home. I’m still working on citizenship, but duel citizenship makes it a bit easier.” I answered calmly. “As for the cop thing, I always knew I wanted to help people, but a doctor requires too much math, which I am not strong in at all, and blue runs in my blood.”
“Oh?” Alfie questioned, taking a fry.
I smiled. “My dad’s a cop. And before she retired, my grandmother was a social worker. It also doesn’t help that my mom has a degree in criminal justice.” I explained. “Mix it together and I’m blue da bu di da bu die.” I joked singing the Eiffle 65 song.
“Americans.” He joked rolling his eyes as my phone went off.
I looked at the message from Mouse. “Apparently someone called the office multiple times looking for me and then said they’d try my home phone. I should probably get to my flat.”
“I’ll walk you.” Alfie offered, grabbing the chips and his coat.
I smiled at him. “If only such gentlemen existed in the States.” I sighed dramatically.
I walked in the door, only to be greeted by my orange tabby on the way in. “Hi Dex. Just let me check the messages ok?” I said, shivering as I hung up my coat in the dark house. The masked man put me a bit on edge. “Maybe I should call mom. But first…”
I clicked on the button of my answering machine. “You have two new messages.” The machine announced.
“Hi Sarah! It’s Jane. I’m going to be in London in a few days and would love to see you then. Call you later!”
I smiled. Jane was a friend I met in school. A sweetheart journalist with a knack for getting in trouble. “Looks like she and my dad are rubbing off on me.” I joked, pressing the button for the next message.
“Constable, I know who did it…..the crime….Grozinsky….He was staying at the New Bedlam Asylum….Come Quickly.”
I just about fell over my own feet as I ran to grab my cellphone. “Gotta call Alfie!”
Chapter 3: Sarcasm, Disbelief, and....What?
“How did a mental patient end up dead in that apartment?” I asked as I pulled up to New Bedlam, a fairly nice mental institution. “More importantly, how did they get my name and number?”
Walking in I went to the nurse at the desk, a Middle-Aged woman, with dark hair and a stern look: Brenda Silver, according to her name tag. “Excuse me ma’am. I’m Constable Sprague, I’m here about one your patients?” I asked, standing at the desk and flashing my badge.
“Oh?” she asked raising an eyebrow.
I showed her a picture. “This man was found poisoned this morning, and I was wondering if we could go through his room.” I said politely.
She nodded. “I see. I assume you have a search warrant?”
I felt those words hit like a weight slamming against my chest. “Ma’am, one of your patients is dead. I have one on the way, but if you could let me look around until it comes.”
“I’m sorry, it’s policy. You’ll to wait in the waiting room until the warrant gets here.” She said calmly, almost smugly.
“Very well.” I said stepping away from the counter and cursing under my breath.
I crossed my arms and took a deep breath. “I need some information. Alfie will kill me if I let this slip.”
An old man in a purple bathrobe and a walker started across the lobby and stopped in front of me. “Good Morning, Constable. Are you for Grozinsky?”
I looked at him, with a shocked expression. “Yes I am. Why? Do you know something?”
His voice got quiet as he leaned in. “I can’t speak here. Meet me in the laundry room. Keep it quiet.”
He then walked into the waiting room. My heart beat a bit fast as I followed him. I didn’t see him when I went into the waiting room, but I did see the laundry room. “Where do you think you’re going?!” someone snapped as I approached the room.
I turned and saw a heavy set nurse crossing her arms and glaring at me. “I need to take a quick look into the laundry room.” I said as smoothly as I could.
“It’s for authorized personnel only. You need a key card to get in.” she said firmly.
“Can I use yours?” I asked innocently.
She scoffed at me. “Don’t be silly! Now behave! Things get pretty wild when the patients get excited.”
She turned away and I saw the key card hanging out of her pocket. With the right thing, it should fall right out of her pocket.
I saw one patient sitting at a table, coloring and decided to sit next to him. “Hey hey hey!” he cheered, getting my attention. “Have you seen the game? I wanna watch the game! Jamaica Broncos VS the Cuban Broncos.”
“You really like sports huh? Why not ask if you can watch the game?” I asked.
“Because the Admiral is watching his cartoons.” He said pointing at a guy in a captain’s hat watching Tom and Jerry on the TV. “And I don’t have the remote.”
I looked over and saw it before I picked it up. “Well look what I found.” I said to him before changing it to the sports channel.
He beamed as he got up and started jumping up and down excitedly. “Go Broncos! Go Jamaica! Go Cuba! Bronco go!”
“Alright, let’s go Bronco.” The nurse said putting gentle hands on the patient. “Time for your meds.” She then turned and gave me a cold look. “And you watch your step before I report you!” she snarled leading him away.
I didn’t respond as I watched the card drop from her pocket onto the floor as she led him out. As soon she was out of the room, I grabbed the card and went to the laundry room door. Using the card, I quickly ran it and dashed in, closing the door quietly behind me. I can't believe that worked!
It was very dark in the room, and I pulled out my phone and activated the flashlight app. “Hello? Anyone in here?” I asked. I looked at the open door, the harsh orange glow making it clear there was fire there, but it honestly looked like a gateway to hell.
I pushed open the door only to find it empty apart from a boiler. “Well, this I think, went nowhere.”
A hand hit between my shoulders, making me stumble and fall into the room as the door slammed shut and the metallic click of the lock went into place.
I got up and started hitting the door. “Hey! Let me out!” I called.
I heard the fire in the boiler flare up as the heat in the room increased, making beads of sweat start to appear on my brow. I pulled my collar up to protect my neck as I found the other side of the lock. “Just gotta put this together before I over-heat.”
It was a quick puzzle and the door quickly opened at which point I ran out and slammed the door closed, enjoying how much cooler the room seemed now.
I took a deep breath of cool air as I turned and saw a shadow coming towards me. “Who are you?! I’m warning you, stay back!” I demanded, regaining sure footing, quickly.
When he didn’t obey my command I threw my fist as hard as I could, knocking him flat on his back before he laughed. “Ouch! Nice cross! I’ll admit, I deserved that.” he said standing up. “Let me get the lights.”
The old man from before now stood before me. “Who are you?” I asked cautiously. “Why’d you lock me up in that room?”
“It was a simple test to see if you lived up to your reputation.” He responded calmly.
I raised an eyebrow. “What reputation? I just got to my position and am barely out of the academy.”
He smiled. “Well, you’ve got a good reputation already. I need you to help me stop Moriarty.”
“Moriarty? Are you serious? Who the hell do you think you are?” I asked letting my emotions probably get the better of me.
“Ah! Of course! Just give me one minute…” he said as he removed the beard and plastic flesh colored items on his face. “One of my many talents is a master of disguise.” He said before revealing his face to me. He kind of looked like a younger Robert Downey Jr. “Sherlock Holmes at your service.”
“And I’m Idris Elba.” I responded calmly.
“It’s true.” He defended. “Believe me!”
“Oh really?” I questioned, crossing my arms.
“Constable Sprague, I can assure you that this is not a usual murder investigation, though sadly there is such a thing.” He began. “And that Moriarty is just getting started. Your victim was killed with Nightshade, yes?”
I put my hand on my gun. “How did you know that?”
“Because it was Moriarty’s favorite poison.” He responded.
My phone went off and I looked at the message from Alfie. “What makes you think that it’s-”
“Because I think he wants revenge.” He finished quickly.
“Mr. Bell, Constable Sprague! What are you both doing here?!” Nurse Silver demanded.
“Oh no! The Nurse!” he gasped.
“Arthur Bell!” she said walking up to him. “What are you doing here? Why are you always getting into trouble?”
“You know there are important things to be done, my dear Nurse.” He said smoothly. “Crime never rests….”
The nurse sighed, and rubbed her eyes. “Again with your Sherlock Holmes delusions? What you need is some time in the quiet room. You’re coming with me!” she grabbed him and then turned to me. “And you Constable Sprague, the search warrant has just arrived. You are allowed to check Grozinsky’s room now.” Her eyes narrowed. “But you’ll have to wait for me to come back before you grab anything from the room! Is that clear?”
I nodded nervously. “Yes ma’am.”
I sat in the waiting room waiting for her to come back. It wasn’t the best of circumstances, but I would do my best to make do. “I’m so glad I worked in retail before this.” I said as I removed my glasses to clean them. “It certainly got me used to dealing with….difficult people.”
It also meant I was used to being on my feet, but luckily, despite the thirty minute wait of constantly checking my glasses to see if they needed to be cleaned, watching the TV, and looking at some slightly disturbing pictures drawn in crayon by the patients, the nurse finally returned.
“Excuse me, but who was that guy?” I asked as soon as she came back.
“Oh!” the nurse said calmly. “He’s just Arthur Bell, a former literature professor, expert of the Sherlock Holmes stories.” She explained.
My brow furrowed. “Why is he here then?”
The nurse sighed sadly. “When his wife killed herself, he couldn’t cope. He made himself to be the legendary detective and believes she was killed by some villain.”
“Can I speak with him?” I asked. Hey, even if he was off his rocker, he knew Sherlock Holmes probably better than anyone on the force.
“I’m sorry, no. He’s not allowed to speak with visitors….he gets too excited. Found anything useful in Grozinsky’s room?”
I shook my head. “You said I couldn’t take anything without you there, so I figured I’d wait for you to come back before I took a look.”
The nurse nodded. “I see. Follow me then.”
She led me through the asylum and opened the door. “This room here.”
I took a few steps inside and immediately put on rubber gloves. “Let’s take a look here…” I took a careful look at the old timey stuff there. There was an old photo and a package that seemed promising so far. “What do we have here? It seems that Arthur Bell and Eric Grozinsky were roommates.” I then took a closer look at the package. “Oh no.”
It was directed to me with a note written on the brown paper, “Dear Constable, I can prove it!” I was honestly hoping at this point it was from Arthur Bell. Probably was but I got attacked with a knife not long ago. It never hurts to be careful.
My phone rang and I looked. “Hey, Jane.” I responded. “I got your message, but I’m working right now, I can’t talk.”
“Ah! Ok. Just know that we are having dinner to catch up, and I’m paying.” She said quickly.
“Sounds good. I’ll see you then.” I said before we each gave a quick goodbye while I hung up before turning to the nurse. “Sorry about that.”
“It’s addressed to me.” I said setting the package on the table. “I better open it.”
I carefully unwrapped it before swearing. “It’s all shredded. But the pieces are big enough I should be able to put it back together without much of a problem.” Again, dumping the contents on the bed. I went to work. It was a map with the words Regent’s Park scribbled on top.
Gathering the pieces and carefully put them back in the package I turned to the nurse. “Thank you for your time. I’ll be back if I need anything else.” I said walking out with the package before she could stop me.
I pulled out my phone and pressed Alfie’s number. “Come on, pick up.” I grumbled, walking to the car.
“Hi Sarah!” He greeted casually. “Have you found something interesting?”
“I guess you could say that. There’s a patient here claiming to be the real Sherlock Holmes and he left me an interesting package.” I responded looking at the items in my hands.
“A package?!” he gasped.
“He left me a message of some kind. An old Regent’s Park map….Do you think we should send someone there?” I asked.
Alfie hmmmed on the other end. “Maybe….but first take it to Mouse. He will find out if there’s something else about it.” He ordered.
I nodded. “Aye Aye captain.” I responded hanging up and heading back right away.
Chapter 4: Down Cujo!
Once I got there, I was greeted by a rather large man with a mustache whose brow seemed to make his eyes perpetually closed. “Hello there! I’m S.H. Barley, the Chief Inspector.” He greeted, making me wonder a bit how I hadn’t met him before. “We haven’t met yet. Mouse told me you’ve been a great help with the Copycat Case.”
“I’m doing what I can, sir.” I answered with an unsure shrug.
He grinned. “Well, keep up the good work! We’ll catch up later. I must go to an important appointment.” He said leaving me, only for Mouse to come racing up.
“Hey again, Rook!” he greeted warmly. “Alfie told me you have something for me?”
I nodded and handed him the pieces of paper. “Yes, I have this old Regent’s Park map. I have a feeling it might be a clue. Maybe you can help me with it?”
He grinned, pushing up his glasses proudly. “Sure! Just help me find a magnifying glass and I’ll take a look at it.”
It was only then that I realized how much of a mess the station actually was. I actually had to dig around to find one, and it was on the freaking bookshelf. I handed it to Mouse and he laid the paper out on a table. “Alright, let me see…..” he mused getting a good look. “Yes! This thing is at least 120 years old! The type of paper is very rare today!” he exclaimed. “And see those numbers here? They could only refer to one thing: the John Watson Journals.”
I raised a skeptical eyebrow. “The Watson Journals? Are you telling me the map could’ve belonged to Sherlock Holmes?”
Mouse nodded happily. “Yes I am! And it makes total sense! Regent’s Park is where Baker Street and the Sherlock Holmes museum are located.”
I thought for a minute. “Thanks Mouse. I’ll look into it. I have to speak with the Chief.”
I knocked on the Chief’s door, only to hear an irritated ‘come in’. Upon doing so, I saw the Chief in a bathrobe with a towel on his neck and a woman behind him rubbing his shoulders. “Constable! You’d better have a good excuse to interrupt me! I was in the middle of an extremely important….Er…..health appointment!” he snapped.
“So I see. My apologies.” I said trying to keep my face from turning red. “This is related to the Copycat case. I think something is going to happen at Regent’s Park…there’s a man…”
“Ok…ok…hold on….” The chief said, opening his eyes with a scowl on his face. “Give me a second…let me put some clothes back on.”
“Please do.” I thought, the image of my father coming back from a run in his spandex shorts unfortunately coming to mind about it as I left so he could change.
He called me back in, this time fully dressed and with the woman gone. “Now, what were you saying about Regent’s Park?”
I cleared my throat. “Well, I found an old map. It was given to me by a patient at New Bedlam who claims to be Sherlock Holmes himself and-”
“STOP!” The chief ordered loudly and directly. “Do you realize that what you are saying doesn’t make any sense?! Is this some kind of hidden camera prank? Who’s calling now…?” he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a phone and put it up to his ear. “CI Barley. Yes? Oh and when exactly did this happen? I see. I see. We will send someone immediately, sir.”
Now I was really confused and slightly worried. “Sir?” I asked, forcing it out without my voice cracking, thankfully.
“I don’t know how you did it, but a body has been found in Regent’s Park. You’ll go there right away! I will be watching you closely!” he ordered, getting a little in my face.
I tried not to let my face contort as a result of his frankly bad breath. “Yes sir. On my way now, sir.” I agreed quickly turning and heading out the door, quickly catching a ride to Regent’s Park.
I arrived fairly quickly at Regent’s Park. I guess Sherlock or Arthur Bell or whoever he was, was right. I walked quickly and approached the tape, only to be stopped by the police officer standing there. “Sorry, no go.”
I flashed my badge. “Constable Sprague. Please let me through.” I requested firmly but politely.
“I don’t care who you are. I’m supposed to wait for CD Scott, not some rookie who just left the crib.” He snapped back.
I looked him up and down, quickly finding the not so subtle evidence of a cheater. “Well I’m supposed to be looking at a crime scene, not getting harassed by an adulterer who can’t keep his clothes straight.” I quipped back. “Shall I make a request to be let in again, or should I start looking through the directory for your number Officer Lambert.”
“What? How did you-?”
“Lipstick on the collar, tan line of a removed wedding ring and sloppily buttoned jacket.” I listed quickly. “What’ll it be, Officer?”
He growled before holding up the tape. “Fine, go in. Just don’t say anything.”
I smiled at him as I walked in. I hate cheaters. I’ve seen too many people get shattered over a disloyal partner.
I approached the other officers in bright yellow jackets. “Hello, Officers.” I greeted professionally. “Constable Sprague. Is this the body I was told about?”
One of the officers nodded. “Yes. The Mayor found it this morning while jogging.”
The officer cleared his throat. “There was a crazy bum screaming something about a big dog, but he ran away…”
My brow furrowed. “A big dog? Ok, let me take a look at the body.”
He moved out of the way as I pulled the yellow plastic sheet off, putting gloves on once again. Good thing I carry lotion because my hands would be dry as a desert right now. “A large wound on the neck, looks like a bite mark, but either not cause of death or body dump as there would’ve been a hell of a lot more blood had it been.” I mumbled before grabbing the paper that was in his hand. It was a note that read: “Meet me at Regent’s Park at 7 AM. We have business to discuss. Yours sincerely, J.S.”
“We need to find out who J.S. is and what business they had.” I stated standing up as Alfie and Mouse arrived. “Hello boys.”
Alfie smiled at me. “Found anything interesting?”
“A witness who saw something about a dog, a wound on the victim’s neck that looks like a bite mark, but I doubt it’s COD, and a note from a J.S.” I listed offering him the note.
“A big dog? Hmmmm….. Why don’t we let Mouse take a look…” he offered.
Dressed in a sanitary onesie, Mouse leaned over the body. “Little blood, so the wound was produced after death, good job, Rookie.” He responded.
“I knew all those hours spent watching CSI would pay off. The wound does look like a bite though, do you think…” I trailed off.
“A wild animal could’ve found the body before us? Possibly but unlikely. It’d be a hell of a beast to produce such a wound.”
“Too bad we’re not back in Washington, otherwise I might suggest a mountain lion or a bear, but they would’ve dragged the body off and wouldn’t be this far in a residential.” I commented.
“We’ll take a deeper look into the scene.” Alfie spoke up, putting on gloves. “Why don’t you look around and see if you can find any witnesses or clues about this ‘big dog’.” He responded before going to talk to the officers while Mouse did his thing.
I nodded and followed some rather clear paw prints down the path before I found a more secluded area of the park. The prints led up to a wooden door with a sign that was out of place. I carefully lifted the sign off the door, only to quickly look around me for anyone. Looking back at the door I couldn’t help but notice the lack of handle. Scribbled on the wood were the words ‘peek-a-boo’. I put my hands on the wood and pushed, just to be sure. “This is not going to end well.” I mumbled before hearing something in the gated storage next to me. I opened the gate and carefully moved some boxes aside before being tackled by a raggedy man.
“THE DEMON DOG! THE INFERNAL BEAST IS COMING FOR US! SAVE YOURSELF!” he cried scrambling off me and taking off.
“The hell was that?” I asked sitting up. “The bum the officers mentioned? I better try to follow him.”
I ran over and it was obvious that I lost him. I decided to take a look around the kiddie toys anyway in case I found something. And find something I did, a knife and door handle on the carousel, almost in plain sight as if taunting me.
“Well fuck me then.” I cursed, picking them up and heading back to the door.
I went back to the wood barrier and carefully tried the handle with it. It fit perfectly and opened easily. I held the knife at the ready in case anything came at me. It looked like a storage or maintenance closet. There was a blue locker with a snarling monster face painted on it, and wooden gift box. The handle, I assumed to open it, was on the shelf adjacent to it. “Oddly pretty for something like this.” I mumbled admiring the design in the florescent light.
I shivered at the note left on the box “To my favorite agent”. Creepy.
Putting the handle in the two drilled holes, I pulled on it, the box falling open, revealing a teddy bear inside. Right at its feet was a note that said “my tummy feels funny”.
“Yours and mine both.” I said to the bear before holding up the knife. “Sorry, but it’s you or me.”
I carefully cut open the bear at the seams before something large and metal fell out. “That explains the wounds on the victim. Mouse will need to test the blood on it to be sure though.” I responded, thankful my fingers didn’t get caught in the bear trap before me.
Behind the bear on the wood panel it had been leaned on, was a button. I looked at the door, and hoped I could run out fast enough if it came to it. “Please don’t be a bomb. Please don’t be a bomb. Please don’t be a bomb.” I repeated pushing it.
I heard a beep and looked over and saw the tablet attached to locker glowing. I carefully walked over to it, only to see a puzzle. Find the two identical paw prints. Easy enough. I clicked on the two I quickly found to be the same and the doors opened. I heard snarling before a Rottweiler came lunging at me, making me scream and fall back out of its reach. I relived some not pleasant childhood memories just then. It was made even worse by what was written above the angry, possibly rabid dog I barely managed to get away from. “Are you having fun yet, Agent?”
“No! No, I am not!” I shouted as Alfie came racing to the door.
“What’s wrong?” He asked coming in slowly and helping me up to get me further away from the dog. “Are you ok?”
“The last time a dog came at me like that, it took a chunk out of my sleeve and made me thankful I wore baggy clothes that day.” I sighed leaning against him. “Oh there’s the adrenaline dump. Not happy memories went through my head. Oh dear.” I said panting.
“You don’t like dogs?” Alfie questioned.
“Big dogs. I don’t like big dogs, it takes me a while to actually get used to them and it depends on the dog.” I corrected. “Some asshole is playing with us, Alfie. I found a couple messages left for us. At least I’m hoping it’s us and neither of us have been singled out. Easier for two targets to defend each other.”
“What do you think about the dog? Mouse told us the bites were produced after the person died.” Alfie suggested.
“I’m more likely to think it was the bear trap over there covered in blood. This whole thing is staged, and they’re probably laughing their ass off at the fact I screamed like a little girl.”
“I see….” Alfie said leading me out so Mouse could come in and grab the evidence. “Let’s go back to Scotland Yard, maybe get you some tea, Mouse will analyze the body and the rest of the evidence. There’s nothing left for us here…”
“I certainly hope not. You go on ahead. I need to check that carousel again for anymore clues. That’s where I found the stuff to get in the room in the first place.” I responded, finally calming down enough to stop leaning on him.
He nodded encouragingly. “Right. I’ll have a big cup of tea when you get back. How do you take it?”
“Sugar, no cream. As much sugar as you feel like putting in.” I answered, smiling at him thankfully.
“Bit of a sweet tooth aye? You got it. See you back at the station.” He said waving as he left.
I sighed. “Why can’t we have guys that sweet in the States?” I muttered before heading to the carousel.
Once there I cracked my rubber covered fingers. “Ok, this is close to where I found the paw prints….let’s see what else might be here.”
It didn’t take long for me to find a wallet, and upon opening it, I felt somewhat glad, as I headed back towards Mouse. “It’s the victim’s! John Barrymore Jr.” I stated to myself. “I gotta get more info on this guy.”
Mouse had surprisingly beat me back to the station. “Ah! Rookie Puppy’s-bane! You have returned.”
I rolled my eyes. “Oh shut up, Mouse. What have you got for me?”
Mouse held up a folder. “The autopsy results…” he said before opening the folder. “The victim had a heart condition, and that’s why there were pills on him. But the killer was….drum roll please…”
“Nightshade.” I guessed quickly.
Mouse nodded as he handed me the file. “A small but deadly dose of it.” He said as I opened and started reading. “And you were right about the bear trap you found. It did cause the wounds. Sick, right?”
I sighed. “Well, we’re not exactly dealing with a mentally stable individual, are we?”
A paper cup with a lid and straw suddenly appeared in front of my face. “Your tea, ma’am. As promised.” Alfie announced with a smile.
I smiled up at him. “Thank you so much! I think I know what we have to do next.”
Alfie put his hands in his pockets as I took a big sip of the warm cup of heaven. “Oh? And what’s that, Rook?”
“For now, we need to learn more about this latest victim. Until another lead pops up, maybe we should consider him the lead left for us.” I announced calmly, the folder now in Alfie’s hands for him to see.
Alfie nodded. “Sounds good to me. Mouse?”
Mouse waved. “Already on it! I’ll call you when I find something!”
I sighed and ran my hands through my hair. “Thanks for the tea. I really needed this.” I responded, sipping at it again.
Alfie chuckled. “You’re welcome, Rookie. It has been a rather….interesting day.”
I bushed my bangs back. “I’m on a case with a serial killer whose targeting us, I got tackled by a crazy homeless man, and I was almost attacked by a potentially rabid dog.” I listed. “Interesting, isn’t exactly the word I would use.”
“Then what word would you use, Rookie?” Alfie asked curiously, sitting on the desk nearby.
“Dangerous. I would use the word dangerous.” I responded. “I didn’t expect this job to be safe, but I wasn’t expecting a serial killer copycat as my first case.”
Alfie chuckled. “You’re cute when you get passionate, Rookie.” He then rubbed his ear. “Though a little loud.”
I looked at my feet. “Sorry. Big family, old habit.”
Alfie nodded at my excuse. “Makes sense. Doesn’t make you any less cute though.” He said with a wink, making me blush.
“Save the flirting for after the case ok?” I scolded calmly, as Mouse came back.
“Let’s see: John Barrymore. Single, 43 years. No police record, only thing about him is he’s the sole owner of Baskerville Estate…” he listed.
“Baskerville….Isn’t that where the Hound of Baskerville took place?” I questioned.
Alfie nodded. “You know your history.”
“That would explain why the body was staged the way it was.” I concluded. “Looks like we got our lead.”
“Yes, and you got tackled by a crazy bum.” Alfie reminded. “Should I be jealous?”
“Only if you think tackling me and screaming in my face about a demon dog is a valid way to seduce me.” I remarked, taking a gulp of the drink. I never thought I’d say something like that.
“By the way, we need to find out more about the last days of Grozinsky.” Alfie commented. “The previous topic was interesting, but we need to focus on the case.”
I thought for a moment. “Well, that Arthur Bell guy did mention Moriarty…”
“You want me to follow the track the patient from the madhouse gave you? Seriously Rookie?” Alfie questioned.
“It’s crazy I know, but we’re following a Copycat of Sherlock Holmes. Even if he didn’t believe he was Sherlock Holmes, he was apparently a literature professor who specialized in Sherlock. It won’t hurt to follow it up, at least a little.” I reasoned.
Alfie sighed. “You have a point. I’ll investigate Moriarty, even if I don’t think this will lead us anywhere…you owe me dinner though.”
“I can make spaghetti.” I told him with a nod and smile.
He clapped my shoulder. “Sounds good. Good luck.” He said before heading off to look up more on Arthur and Moriarty.
“How do you know so much about History anyway?” Mouse asked as I got ready to head out myself.
“I majored in it in college. I’m actually working on my Masters in Archaeology and then hopefully on to get my PhD.” I answered, trying to suck down more of the tea.
Mouse raised an eyebrow. “So what are you doing here? Why not work for a museum?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. You want to go one way, Life pulls you in another, and eventually you just stop asking too many questions and go with it.” I threw the empty cup away and pulled my hair back. “Now, to Baskerville.”
Chapter 5: More Pieces of the Puzzle
It was pretty easy to find. A huge house like that is hard to miss. I went up and knocked on the door, only for a man who kind of reminded me of Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey answered the door.
“Good Afternoon.” He greeted. “What can I do for you?”
“Good afternoon.” I greeted back. “I’m Agent Sprague of Scotland Yard. I understand this is the residence of John Barrymore?” I questioned.
The man smiled. “That’s right. He’s the owner of the house. But Mr. Barrymore is not here. He went out and has not yet returned. If you want I can try to call him-”
“That won’t be necessary.” I stopped. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but Mr. Barrymore was found dead this morning in Regent’s Park.”
“Oh my god! Lord Barrymore!” he cried, grabbing hold of the door frame.
I swallowed the lump in my throat. “I’m really sorry, but I need to ask you some questions as soon as possible. Do you have a few minutes?”
He could only nod. Poor man.
“Do you know why Mr. Barrymore was in London today?” I asked, grabbing a notepad and pen.
He shook his head. “No I’m sorry. Mr. Barrymore doesn’t inform me of all his personal affairs…”
I started writing what he said down. “Did you see some suspicious movement in the house? Any phone calls or emails or anything? Someone so rich might have some enemies…”
The butler started laughing, making me look up from my notepad and raise an eyebrow.
“Sorry. Sorry.” He apologized. “Excuse my outburst. You obviously don’t know about the Baskerville curse he inherited…just embargoes, financial problems and a lot of debts…” he listed.
I nodded and wrote that down. “I understand…could I look around the house please? I might be able to find some clues to his death inside.”
The butler nodded. “Of course. I hope you don’t mind if I stay there while you check the place.”
I nodded. “Sounds fine with me.” I agreed as he led me into the house.
It was really nice house. Had a Victorian feel to it, with modern implements of course.
“This is the living room.” The Butler said guiding me into one of the nicer rooms. “It’s where Master Barrymore spent most of his time. Please take extra care with the objects and ornaments. They are priceless.”
I nodded and pulled some rubber gloves out of my jacket pocket and slipped them on. “Of course. Do these make you feel a little better?”
The butler nodded. “Yes. Actually.”
I smiled. “Great.” I assured before looking about the room. I started with the couch, checking the cushions and finding a brown envelope on one. I also found a curious statuette of Big Ben. I don’t know why that caught my eye.
I opened the envelope and found papers inside. “An offer to buy the Manor House. Signed by J.S.” I put them back in and held it up. “I need to take this.”
The Butler nodded. “Of course. It surprises me….after so many years of service I have given to his family…”
“It was an offer, nothing official.” I assured. “And this clock is not only an ornament, but a real clock that isn’t working.”
The Butler shrugged. “It’s the first time I’ve seen it. It looks like a trinket from a fair.”
“It lacks a key….it should be here somewhere.” I said looking around for a drawer it might be placed in. I started looking around again, checking couch cushions and drawers for the key. I also made sure to look on the floor before I found it under a decorative table with flowers on it. “Found it!”
I stuck the key in place before winding the clock. I watched the hands turn before they stopped at twelve o’clock. “A bit cliché.” I commented as one of the side panels opened. “There’s something inside….”
I pulled out the papers and set the clock down and opened them up. “A letter.” I flipped the paper over but didn’t find any words or markings. “I need to take this as well and give it to my forensics guy.” I told the butler, gathering the items and heading out. “I’ll be back if I need to.”
“What is this murderer doing? What game is he playing now?” I thought as I got in the car.
I practically shoved the items in Mouse’s hands for him to analyze, making Alfie barely catch up in time. “What’s up, Rook?” he asked with some concern.
“Alfie!” I jumped turning to face him. “The murderer apparently left another message for us in the victim’s house. But guess what, the page is blank, so I was giving it to Mouse.” I rambled quickly. “Also, I found that Barrymore was selling the estate to someone whose initials match those on the note we found with the body.”
Alfie laughed. “You don’t just get louder when you’re excited, you get faster too. I’m surprised I could still understand you.”
I smiled at him. “Years of choir, my friend. Diction is drilled into you.” I reasoned, slowing down and taking a breath. “Did you find anything on Moriarty?”
Alfie nodded. “Yeah. But the only Moriarty I found was a James Moriarty, a writer from the 19th century. He wrote a book called Dynamics of an Asteroid.” He mentioned reading it off a piece of paper he wrote it down on. He then handed me a piece of paper. “I also found a portrait of him when he was young…but he’s been dead for over a hundred years… that’s what you find when you follow the advice of a looney, Rook…”
I looked at the picture carefully, nibbling on my lower lip. Not a bad looking guy, admittedly. But he had the same eyes as my father, cold emotionless ones. “Still….it’s something. We are facing a murderer who likes puzzles. Let’s keep an open mind about Moriarty. We could find some connection later…” I reasoned. “I’ll wait for Mouse to get a full scan.”
Mouse came back rather quickly. “It seems your intuition was right on track, Rookie. I did a test with hydrochloric acid and a message appeared, but….”
“But what?” I asked.
Mouse handed me the paper. “But it’s a puzzle.”
“What do these symbols mean?” I asked. I had never seen something like it before.
“Our copycat really likes detective games. It’s been encoded twice: once with the invisible ink, and the other with The Detective’s Code, a type of cryptography from the 19th century.”
“Do we have any sort of key to decode it?” I asked hopefully.
“Do you have a 19th century detective?” Mouse answered.
I thought for a moment. He may be crazy, but it may work. “I actually think I know one. Thanks, Mouse.” I said giving his arm a friendly smack and walking away.
Alfie quickly turned to follow me. “Where are you going?!”
“New Bedlam!” I called back, not missing a beat.
“Don’t forget dinner’s on you!” Alfie called.
I turned towards him, walking backwards. “I’ll be back in time! If not I can cook!”
Chapter 6: Cracking Codes
“Hello!” I greeted Nurse Silver warmly. “I need to talk to one of your patients, Arthur Bell. It’s important.”
“I’m sorry, but Arthur is in isolation. He can’t receive visitors until tomorrow.” She responded.
“I will ask him just a couple of questions. It’s vital to a murder investigation. Excuse me!” I said before heading in.
“But… Hey!” She called after me. “Wait!”
Arthur smiled when he saw me, almost relieved. “Good afternoon, agent. I knew you would return.” He greeted warmly. “…Was the visit to Regent’s Park fruitful?”
I sat down with him. “Arthur, soon they will kick me out and I’m not in the mood for these things. You better tell me everything you know or I will take you to Scotland Yard as the main suspect in the case.” I threatened, making sure my voice was low.
He held up his hand defensively. “Oh-kay, Agent! Okay! I’ll tell all! All!”
I leaned closer. “Then start talking.”
Arthur sighed before telling me the story. Apparently 120 years ago, he and Moriarty had one last battle of wits. One cup filled with Nightshade, the other filled with some elixir of life bullshit. It was obvious who was the winner in that case, but what he described Moriarty wearing is what mainly got my attention; blue old-timey suit, blue cape with a hood, and a half mask hiding his face.
“So here we are…” Arthur concluded. “When I woke up everyone had changed….I looked for Watson, but he had died decades ago…” he said sadly. “I went to the police, but when they heard my story…. I ended up here…”
I raised an eyebrow. “I don’t mean to be harsh, but it seems like a good reason to keep you here.”
He sighed. “Believe me, I know how it sounds, but it is the pure and honest truth.”
I leaned closer to him. “There’s three sides to every story, Arthur. Yours, mine, and the truth.” I responded. “I’m going to need more the coincidence to believe you.” I shifted in my seat. “Tell me about Grozinsky.”
“Grozinsky was my roommate. He was released not long ago, and I suspect, the poor fellow was in the wrong place at the wrong moment.” He answered simply.
“And how did you know he was poisoned?” I asked carefully.
“Well… I kind of heard you conversation with the nurse…I’m a master of disguise you know….one of my many talents….” He excused.
“Sounds fake but ok.” I muttered. “How did you know it was nightshade? I never mentioned what kind of poison it was.”
“I assumed.” Arthur answered. “Nightshade was Moriarty’s favorite. Some sort of signature. You just confirmed that I was right.”
“I’m still not sure about this guy. I should be careful, but what have I got to lose.” I thought carefully. “Arthur, what happened to Moriarty?”
Arthur sighed. “The wine glasses game was another of his intrigues. When I woke up I thought that only I had survived, but these murders have the signing of Moriarty…like, he’s challenging me again…”
“If your story is true, we have a common enemy. As intelligent as dangerous, and you will have to help me face it.” I told him. It wasn’t a question, it was a demand.
“Last time I faced him, I lost, Agent. I fell into his trap and I can no longer play his games. But you…with the right mentorship….” He leaned back. “But I can see my story still hasn’t convinced you yet…”
I pulled out the paper I had put in my jacket. “There’s a way to change my opinion, something that can prove you ARE the famous detective of the 19th century, Sherlock Holmes…” I said unfolding it. “We found this at a crime scene. It has the Detective’s Code written on it. If you are the 19th century detective, you’ll be able to crack it for us.”
Arthur grinned. “Of course. We used it among Scotland Yard agents to deliver encrypted messages.”
“Then solve it and prove to me that you are, in fact, Sherlock Holmes.” I said sternly.
“YES!YES!YES!” he cheered excitedly. “I have the Code Key right here in the room. Help me look for it.” He offered.
I sighed and decided to play along as he started. It reminded me why it was important to be neat and tidy sometimes.
“Here it is!” he cried happily, before bringing it over to me.
I looked at the old paper carefully. “So this is the key to the encrypted message…”
“If it’s what you need to guarantee I am telling the truth, I think there is no doubt.” He said proudly.
I raised an eyebrow. “I think not.”
He sighed, but was smiling nonetheless. “You still don’t believe me….but you know I can help with the case. I know you have that certainty.” He remarked, putting a hand behind his back. “Let me make a suggestion: Go, think about it….but if you want to be ahead of Moriarty and catch him, bring everything you have on this case and I’ll help you…”
“I’ll think about it. Thank you, Mr. Bell.” I responded, leaving and heading back to the station. “Sounds sketchy, but I don’t have too many options at this point. I better look more into Mr. Bell.” I laughed at myself. “Oh if Alfie heard me right now, he’d send me here in as a patient.”
Once back at the station, I sat down with the paper and key. “Let’s see if Arthur’s key actually works…” turning on the lamp at my cubical, I pulled my hair back at got to work. “Substitution code. Shouldn’t be too hard then….”
It took me a few minutes, but pretty soon, the message made itself clear. I breathed it out loud as I smiled to myself. “The academy. But which academy is now the question.”
“Well, Brixton’s Academy could work.” Alfie said leaning over my shoulder, making me flinch.
“Stop sneaking up on me like that!” I scolded. “My brother used to do that, and I once just about gave him a black eye because of it!”
Alfie laughed. “It’d be worth it if I saw you get that flustered every time.”
“We need to go to Brixton Academy. The murderer might have his next move there.” I said getting up and putting on my coat.
“So that Looney gave you the code? You sure he can be trusted?” Alfie asked.
“No, but he’s the best chance we have. If I knew more I could better judge, but…” I trailed off.
“You seem a bit obsessed with that lunatic.” Alfie pointed out.
I removed my glasses to clean them and rub my eyes. “Lunatic or not, he’s still helping us solve the case. But you’re right, we should dig deeper on him.” I agreed. “Any chance I could get you to run a background check?”
“Only because you’re using the puppy dog eyes on me.” Alfie responded crossing his arms. “Where are you off to now?”
I grinned. “Well, thanks to you, Brixton.” I mentioned putting my glasses back on and heading out, only to stop and turn to him. “By the way, those weren’t my puppy dog eyes.”
“You still owe me dinner though!” Alfie called back, only to have me wave him off.
Chapter 7: I survived! Through Sheer Dumb Luck
I checked my gun before putting it in the holster and getting out of the car. “Let’s see what surprises the Copycat has for me this time.” I said, pulling my hair back as I walked up to the building.
The building had a dome and to be honest, looked less like an academy and more like a theater. “Might as well try the door.” I sighed going up to the main door.
I rang the door bell and a big man in a white wife-beater and thick beard answered the door. It was hard not to stare at the muscles or tattoos. I cleared my throat nervously. “I’m Constable Sprague from Scotland Yard.”
“Yeah?” he asked, the sunlight shining off his bald head like a solar panel.
“Could I come in?” I asked politely.
As soon as the words left my mouth, he slammed the door in my face, leaving me outside to myself. “I guess not, then.” I responded looking around. “There’s gotta be another way in.”
I leaned against the wall to think, only to have something land on top of me.
It took me a moment to get untangled before I realized it was a whole string of pennant flags that had fallen off the building. I smiled before going over to a nearby truck and asking the driver if I could borrow his ladder. He graciously agreed, though I think it was because he saw my badge, and even helped me set it up against the building and held it while I climbed.
I never liked heights, and it took every ounce of self-control not to look down or freak out. I popped open the skylight easily, and tied the pennant flags around the vent. For how easily they dropped, they were made of surprisingly sturdy stuff that should hold my weight.
I dropped the last few feet into darkness. Given the echo of the room though, I’d say it was a pretty big and empty space. Pulling out my phone and I switched on the flashlight and started looking for a light switch. For whatever reason fuses had been left at a nearby bar area, along with a hook, which I took just in case.
I headed the other way and quickly ran over to the lit area. There was a bloody handprint on the wall. “This is not good.” I muttered before going back over to the bar area. “There’s the damn fuse box.”
Opening it up, I saw why the fuses had been at the bar. It was the same reason there was no light. Carefully putting them in, I flicked on the lights. “Now to look around without this.” I responded putting my phone away.
I went back to where I came in and saw a stage lit up with a strange machine on it and the word rache glowing above it in neon lights. “Rache…doesn’t that mean revenge? In German I think.” I stated approaching the machine.
I climbed on stage easily and went to work examining the machine. There was a box nearby with a strange lock, you had to push the squares to turn them colors and do so so it made a certain pattern, but it was easy to crack. “Simon Says?” I questioned pulling out the children’s game from the box. “I haven’t seen one of these in years.”
I went over to the other part of it and noticed that it looked like the game fit inside it. “May as well.” I reasoned connecting the game to the pedestal and pressing start. I was always pretty good at this game. And I was pleased when I completed it. Until I heard the groaning inside the machine as it turned on and started moving.
“Oh no!” I cried looking for an off switch as the doors opened, revealing the man from earlier strapped to the thing inside in only his skivvies. “What have I done?!”
Something came up behind me and pulled me to it before locking shackles around my wrists and ankles. “Nonononono.” I muttered pulling against them. “I’m stuck!”
The machine started moving again, and I didn’t want to find out what it was supposed to do.
“Fuck! Think Sprague! Think!” I ordered myself as my phone rang. For whatever reason it was on speaker, and I did my best to reach for the button. “Hi, you’ve reached Sarah Sprague. I can’t make it to the phone right now, but I’ll get back to you once I hear why you called me.” My voicemail said.
“Hey, Rook, it’s Alfie. Are you ok? Call me back as soon as you get this.” Alfie said on the other line.
“No! Don’t hang up! Come on, you smug bastard, tell me you heard me and help me!” I called trying to move my hips to my hand so I could get my phone.
I looked at the machine, not knowing what lay ahead for me. I closed my eyes. “Come on Sprague! Think! Use the fucking Force if you have to!”
Hopefully one of the guys can get to me. I pulled out my phone, with much difficulty and started typing. Mouse’s number came up first, but I wasn’t complaining as I started typing. I managed to hit send before I dropped my phone. “Fuck!”
I pulled on my restraints again, some of my hair falling in my face. “Think, dammit, think!”
The machine stopped and I looked up. A man in a cloak appeared and a lump entered my throat. “This can’t be good.”
He pushed a button and my right arm was raised with some sort of control pad. “You may think you’re clever, but I just feel like you’re trying to rip off the Riddler with these deathtraps.” I said before my brain could catch me.
He just laughed and walked away leaving me to figure out how to get out of here. “WELL FUCK YOU TOO!” I shouted after him before taking a breath and looking at the panel.
“Ok, Sprague. Calm down.” I ordered, feeling glad I wore my contacts today. Otherwise my glasses might be on the floor now. “He wants me to play along, so I might as well if I want to get out of here. I just have to stop panicking and think.” I looked at the keypad. “Domino titles…numbers…. Ok, try to think back.”
I closed my eyes, and let my brain go back as I pictured the building before I found the machine. Were there any numbers? Yes! There were some on the bottles at the bar and on the posters. There were letters with them; U-7, N-4, M-5, L-1, T-6, I-9, and A-3. Strange, I don’t remember my memory being this good. I’ll just excuse it as being in the face of death for now.
All the numbers and letters in mind I looked back at the control panel. The machine was, thankfully, still stopped. I typed it the letters in according to the numbers on the titles and sighed. “Illuminati? Really?” I sighed. “I am sick of that meme!”
The machine started again and I gulped. “Oh shit!” I looked down at the cane I had from earlier. My foot was by it, so I only had one chance. Using my toes I tilted it up towards my hand before grabbing it and sticking it in the gears. It stopped it for the time being, but who knows how long I had. The keypad near my hand changed. This one I knew. “Rache is German for Revenge.” I said to myself as I typed it in right as the cane broke and the machine started moving again before I submitted the answer. “Final answer.”
The machine stopped and I left out the biggest sigh of relief I think my body could produce, only for the man in the cloak to come back, control in hand, finger over the button.
“No! Don’t! I solved your puzzles, now let me go!” I called.
He pushed the buttons only for nothing to happen. Lights and sirens sounded and he ran off as my restraints let go and I fell onto the stage. “Get back here!” I cried trying to run after him. I quickly tripped and fell off the stage. I quickly got back up with a curse before running to the bar, only to stop in front of Mouse. “Don’t let him get away!”
“Huh?” Mouse questioned.
“The Copycat! He was just here!” I announced.
“I’m just happy you’re here and breathing!” Mouse said before I was nearly tackled.
“Rook!” Alfie panted, sweating and frantic as he held my arms. “Are you okay?! I just saw a man in a cloak run out of here like a bat out of hell…”
“That was him! That was the Copycat! We can still get him if we-!”
“Are you ok?” Alfie asked making me look at him, still holding firmly to my arms.
The look in his eyes made me stop to think; but not about the Copycat, instead about what just happened. “Physically, yes. But the keeper of this place…..the machine….it killed him.” I responded, lowering my gaze. “How did you guys find me?”
“That nutter at New Bedlam.” Mouse answered.
“Arthur?” I questioned.
Alfie seemed to frown at that.
“I hate to interrupt, but a boy came by the door and said I was to give you this message, Constable.” One of the police Mouse brought with him said, offering me a piece of paper.
Taking it, I looked it over carefully. “Nicely played. It looks like you love a riddle. Here’s one for the road. Signed: your friend.” I read out loud before looking at the stick men drawn below. “That son-of-a-bitch!”
Alfie put his arm around me, before taking the paper. “That, I think, is more than enough for today. Let’s get the EMTs to check you out and then you can go home and rest.” He stated, leading me out.
It was after he said that, that my body realized it was out of danger, and the adrenaline started to wear off and everything came crashing on me. “Oh holy hell! Another human is dead….because of me….”
Alfie sat me down by an ambulance, whose driver quickly put an orange blanket around me. “Rookie, let me ask again.” He said kneeling in front of me as I could only stare at the ground. “Are you ok?”
“Everyone I think has a near death experience… a car wreck that was barely avoided, a childhood mishap, a silly accident…” I listed. “When I took this job, I knew it would be dangerous, but I didn’t think I would’ve been strapped to a death machine…”
Alfie put a cold hand on my face. “What you need, is a hot cup of tea, maybe a strong drink, and some rest. I’ll get someone to take you home.”
“But-!” I started to argue before he held up a hand to cut me off.
“I’ll take care of the paperwork. You go home, rest, think things through, process everything….” Alfie responded before waving over an officer. “I’ll come by and check on you when I’m done.”
I snuggled into the blanket. “…Okay…”
Chapter 8: Comforting And Sharing
Mouse took me home…made sure I got in my house safely and that I locked my doors. He even offered to install a security system later, told him I would consider it.
For about the first 20 minutes I just sat in the recliner in the living room, my eyes on Dex-Star playing, but not really watching him. I then forced myself to get up and took a hot shower. Those always calm me down and clear my head a bit. I do some of my best thinking in the shower. That was actually when I broke.
I let myself break into the tears and curl up on the floor of the shower until the water ran cold. I composed myself and changed into a t-shirt and pajama bottoms before going to the kitchen and doing as Alfie suggested; make a hot cup of tea.
I made a whole pot and probably finished it in 30 minutes. I sat on the couch and opened my computer. I would message my mom, but she wasn’t off work until three and right now in the states it’s only about 11. I’ll have to wait a few hours. One of the downsides to living so far away.
I turned on the TV, but didn’t really pay any attention as I watched the rubbish that was on. Dex-Star jumped up and decided to sleep on my lap, which I gratefully accepted. Nothing like a cat to make you feel better after a rotten day.
I don’t know how long I was like that. A semi-conscious state with a cat purring on my lap and rubbish on the TV. It was only broken by the doorbell.
I grabbed my gun as Dex leapt off my lap. I headed for the door, keeping my gun partially behind me as I checked the peephole before sighing in relief and opening it. “Hey Alfie.” I greeted, pushing my hair out of the way.
Alfie smiled at me and held up a bottle of amber liquid. “I brought Whiskey, but since I noticed you didn’t drink any alcohol last time, I got you some soda.” He said raising the other to reveal a 1.5 liter bottle of Pepsi.
I smiled and opened the door for him to let him in him. “I hope you’re not allergic to cats.”
Alfie shook his head. “No. How many do you have?”
I walked into the living room only to find Dex had taken my spot. “Just that little turd.” I said pointing at him. “That’s Dex-Star.”
“Dex…Star?” Alfie questioned as I led him to the kitchen
I nodded. “Yup, named for the Red Lantern Cat.”
“Red Lantern Cat?” Alfie questioned raising an eyebrow.
I turned to him. “I’m a nerd, Alfie. In the Green Lantern comics, there’s a Red Lantern Corp, whose rings are powered by rage. Dex-Star is a cat that has a ring from that Corp.”
Alfie shook his head and chuckled as he put both bottles on the counter. “You’re right, you are a nerd. I’m glad to see you doing better.”
I sighed. “You’re right. I just needed to process everything.” I responded. “And I still owe you dinner.”
“After today, we can put it off.” Alfie offered.
I shook my head. “No, it’ll keep my mind off things. I only have pasta at the moment. You ok with Spaghetti?” I asked pulling out the box of noodles.
“Sounds fine.” Alfie agreed. “How can I help?”
“I think I have some sauce in the cupboard over there if you want to get that.” I offered getting out a pot and filling it up with water and adding salt. “And you can take off your coat if you want. I imagine it’s pretty warm in here compared to out there.”
“Oh right.” Alfie said unbuttoning his blue coat and letting it slide off his shoulders and hanging it on the back of one of my kitchen chairs. Underneath was a button up white shirt that fit him maybe a
little too well and a black tie and matching black slacks. Without the coat I could see how lean he was, but it was clear that the academy and a few years on the force had toned him out a bit. Fuck, why must I have a cop kink!? And he’s Irish too!
I looked away to hopefully avoid blushing and staring by getting out a large plastic stirring spoon-fork hybrid thing meant for noodles and putting the pot on the stove and turning it on. I then went looking for a strainer to keep my eyes on other places than Alfie’s muscled back.
“Here it is!” he announced, coming back over to the counter where I was at, stirring the noodles. “Sauce pan?”
I stopped stirring and bent down to get it from the cupboard. I made sure to bend at the knees, not the waist. I don’t know why I was so conscious of it, but I was before I put it on the counter next to him.
“Thank you.” He responded popping the lid off, his muscles leaving no slack in the shirt. Why am I focusing on that?!
We stood in silence for a moment, Alfie taking the time to pour himself a glass of whiskey and me a cup of soda.
“You know…I think I was the one who started that machine…I think I accidently killed the man they put inside it.” I admitted as he took a sip of his whiskey.
Alfie set his glass down. “You mean the keeper of the academy?” he questioned.
I nodded. “And they stripped him down. How messed up is that? Give the man one last humiliation before he’s killed.” I responded, turning down the heat and not looking at him. “And then comes me, breaking in to look for clues, and possibly turning on the deathtrap, stupidly falling for that game….”
Alfie’s arm came around my shoulder and he pulled me close to him. “It’s not your fault, Sarah. You couldn’t have known.”
“There was blood! There were clues! I should’ve known!” I argued.
He turned me away from the stove and hugged me with both arms, letting my face sink into his chest. He smelled of sweat and a cheap but pleasant aftershave. “Listen to me very carefully.” He said in a firm voice. “It was not your fault. You don’t think like them.”
“Then I’m not very good at my job.” I responded grabbing hold of his shirt.
I felt his hand on my head, as if trying to keep it close to him. I could hear his heartbeat. “You can solve their puzzles. You can plot their next move. But you think differently from them, Rookie. That’s partially what makes you special. Your mind thinks in ways, I have barely seen before. Not many people would take the word of a crazy literature professor like you did. You take risks and they pay off.” He said in a calming, relaxing tone. “You take routes and come to conclusions, I would’ve either over-looked or never thought of. And look how far you’ve gotten us to catching this guy.”
“He got away.” I pointed out.
Alfie pulled away so he could look me in the eye, blue on blue. “Only because he had you. I was worried about you, Rookie. Mouse was, Boss was, we all were. If I had known you were in safe hands, I would’ve wrung his neck.” He assured, brushing my bangs out of my face. “I ran as fast as I could to make sure you were ok.”
“How far, because you were drenched, hun?” I responded, trying to lighten the mood.
“Far enough to get a smile on your face.” he responded before his fingers trailed down to my dirty-blonde curls on my shoulders. “Did you take the time to curl your hair before I came?”
I shook my head. “No. No, that’s natural. My friends Angelique and Jane hate me for it.” I laughed.
“You should wear it down like that more often.” He complimented. “It looks nice. You don’t see curl like that often without help.”
I smiled. “Thanks.”
He looked away for a moment. “The noodles are about to boil over.”
I turned in the flash and lifted the pot off the stove and started stirring. “You and your blue eyes and Irish accent were distracting me!”
Alfie chuckled. “Technically you’re the one with the accent in this country, darling.”
I rolled my eyes and stuck my tongue out at him. I set the pot back down and carefully got one noodle on the ladle-fork thing and offered it to him. “Is it satisfactory to you? I always have a bit of trouble telling, at least so my sister says.”
Alfie carefully took the hot noodle and tried it. “It’s fine to me.”
I smiled. “Good.” I responded before lifting up the pot and pouring it in the strainer. I set the pot on a cool, unused burner and took the sauce off its burner. I then went and got a couple of bowls and the parmesan cheese and set it out with a couple of forks. “Help yourself.”
“So, you appear to be a prime target for the Copycat.” Alfie pointed out. “Are you worried?”
“You mean more than I already am?” I questioned pouring more soda for myself as he fixed a plate. “Not too much. I have my gun in reach at all times, and Dex always alerts me to visitors. Plus I have made sure to learn a few things about fighting before I joined the academy, heck before I came to England.”
“Yeah, wanting to be an Archaeologist.” Alfie pointed out, sitting at my kitchen table as I got a plate.
“We can’t know about the future until we know about the past.” I quoted. “There’s two things I have always wanted to do with my life. The first is help people. The second is learn what I can about the past.”
“So why join the Yard?” Alfie asked.
I shrugged as I sat across from him. “I don’t know honestly. I just had this feeling that I should join. Not sure what brought it on. But figured, I could still go to school on the side and maybe still get my degree. Then if I change my mind later on down the line, I have it as an option.”
Alfie nodded. “Never too late to go back to school.” He agreed. “But we haven’t had much time to get to know each other as friends rather than colleagues. Tell me about yourself.”
I took a sip of soda before answering. “Well, I’m from Washington.”
“DC or State?” Alfie questioned.
“State. Little tip, it can get irritating for people from the state to have to correct people. Anyone from DC will say ‘Washington DC’ or just ‘DC’.” I informed. “But I am from the evergreen state where Marijuana is fully legal and we are known for our trees.”
Alfie chuckled at that. “Duly noted. What else?”
I smiled at him. “Well, I’m from a big family. I am the third of six children. The oldest is 26 and the youngest has yet to turn six.” I answered.
“Quite the age gap.” Alfie pointed out.
“What about you?” I said trying to direct it off myself.
“I’m an only child. I joined the force after I finished school. I’m also 24.” He informed me.
“My dad joined right after college too. In fact that’s where he met my mom. She was a ride-along and they met in the cafeteria.” I told him.
He chuckled. “It seems then police work was in your destiny.” He joked. “Still, why London?”
I shrugged. “I always wanted to come to London. It’s rich with history, and while I took a few years of French, I’m not exactly conversational yet.”
He chuckled. “Yet you knew the German word for revenge.” He pointed out.
I rolled my eyes and leaned my elbows on the table. My mom would smack me, but she’s not here now is she…..yet. I think she plans on visiting during the summer. “I know a lot of random stuff. Like I know pink dolphins exist, Tolkien based the Ents off a word in Old English he couldn’t find a translation for, Eowyn was basically ‘How Macbeth Should’ve Ended’, Kylo Ren in Star Wars is a punk ass bitch, Sting and Michael Jackson almost played the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth…” I listed. “You know, random crap like that.”
“Labyrinth….I’ve heard about it, but I’ve never seen it myself.” Alfie commented.
I stood. “Grab your food, you can eat in the living room.” I said, picking up my bowl and heading into the living room.
“Where are you going?” Alfie asked turning around.
“To get the movie! You need to see it at least once! Especially after David Bowie died last year!” I called from the living room, scanning through my movies before finding it.
Alfie came in and sighed before taking a seat on the couch next to Dex-Star. “Alright. I’ll bite.” He agreed as I put in the movie in and set up the TV to my DVD player.
We spent the night watching movies. I introduced him to Teen Wolf. He seemed to really enjoy that. He didn’t leave until around Midnight. I was worried with how much he drank, but his tolerance is
decent and he took a cab here anyway. I let him take the whiskey home and some of the left overs. It certainly cheered me up.
Chapter 9: Deciphering Dancing Men
The next day we took another look around the academy for more clues and found some graffiti that matched what was on the first note. Mouse also thought he had a lead to crack the code given to me yesterday.
“Officer Sprague!” the Chief greeted approaching me. “Are you ok?”
I nodded. “Better than I was yesterday.” I assured with a smile.
“It’s a good think you told Mouse where you were!” Chief responded. “We’re after a murderer after all, we have to be careful of him and stay ahead of his every move.”
I nodded. “Understood, sir. But getting ahead of him is easier said than done.” I responded calmly.
Alfie nudged me. “I have faith in her.”
I smiled at him. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go thank Mouse.” I said walking off to find the forensic.
He was easy enough to find. Busy processing evidence for another case. “Hey, Rookie!” he greeted upon my entry.
“Hey Mouse! I wanted to thank you. Boss told me if it hadn’t been for you, I might not be standing here right now.” I responded with a smile.
“I didn’t do it alone. Arthur Bell helped me. He helped me decipher the message.” Mouse responded, still proud of what he had done.
“Arthur…?” I questioned. “How did he know I was in danger? Why were you at New Bedlam?”
“Alfie referred the task to me…” he responded still obviously kind of butt-hurt about it. “Anyway! Arthur found a symbol on the paper that didn’t belong to the detective code. A kind of signature. The Ankh. A symbol carried by the Egyptian gods-.”
“The symbol of life and death. I’m familiar with it.” I responded.
Mouse sighed. “That’s why I like you. You take time to learn little details like that.” he praised. “Anyway, Bell understood it as a possible danger sign on your life.”
“It makes sense why that symbol was painted on the wall outside the academy. Like I had passed his sadistic challenge.” I sighed and sat down. “I’m too young for this shit. I’m 22!”
I looked up at Mouse as I ran a hand through my hair. “You know, I’ve been in a sort of test, with the copycat as a judge. My getting out of the hellish contraption couldn’t have been by chance, now that I think about it.” I looked up at the forensic, his messy hair still somehow out of his face, and his slight buckteeth hidden by think, plump lips. His glasses on his face, slightly sliding off, but with a lanyard on to keep them from being lost. “He let me go because I passed his test.”
Mouse thought for a second, letting out a low quiet hum. “I remember you have mentioned something about several messages in Brixton when we took your statement….” He recalled.
I nodded. “Yeah. During the test, one of the words I had to decode was ‘revenge’….Arthur said something about the copycat being Moriarty himself, the guy who’s looking for him….think there could be a connection?” I asked.
Mouse smiled and rolled away in his computer chair to get something. “Well, we also have this new puzzle with the little dancing guys. It’s clearly the next step in this game…now where’s my laptop…” he said, handing me the cypher before rolling away to find his computer.
I stood up. “I’ll help you look. The sooner we crack this code, the better. A life could be at stake.”
Mouse stood up. “Yeah, and I’m hoping it isn’t yours.”
“It’s right there.” I said pointing at it, hoping to change the subject.
Mouse quickly got back in the chair and rolled over to it. “Great! Thanks! Now I need some time alone to decipher this.”
I nodded. “Ok. Just text me if you want me to bring you coffee or a snack or something. I’m going to go talk to Alfie.”
Mouse smiled. “You two sure are close. You have something going on? Something maybe going to happen?”
I shook my head. “Eh, work relationships can be dangerous. Besides, if there is, I’ll let him make the first move.”
Mouse nodded. “Uh-huh….you like him. I can tell.”
I shrugged. “Maybe, but I think I need to get to know him more before anything happens.” I said as I headed for the door. “Let me know when you have something!”
“Will do, Rookie!”
I went back to the desks and sat at mine as Alfie rolled over, sitting backwards in a desk chair. “Are you sure you’re better, Rook? You’ve lived through a very stressful situation….the boss will surely give you the day off if you ask him.” He offered.
I shook my head. “No. I’m going to see a professional about it in the morning on Wednesday just to be sure. I’m fine though, I got it all out last night as you witnessed.” I responded calmly. “And Mouse is already working on the newest lead the copycat left for us.”
I then paused after logging into the computer. “Hey, Mouse told me that you referred him to the favor I asked you of looking into Bell.” I called out.
Alfie nodded. “Yeah, the boss told me to do something else…fortunately, I could rely on Mouse. It saved your life possibly and he seems to be very interested in this case…. Looks like you’re not the only one, Rook.” He laughed.
“How could you not be? It’s a serial killer case!” I responded. “Those are huge! One day Investigative Discovery will make a movie out of it! Probably! At least an episode of one of their shows!” I calmed myself down. “Anyway, what do you think of the new clue…you know the one with the dancing stick men?”
Alfie rested his arms on the backrest of the chair. “Honestly, it reminds me of nautical symbols. Doesn’t it?”
I looked at the copy I had. “A bit yeah. My grandpa served in the navy and some of the symbols do seem familiar….”
Mouse came running in shortly after that comment. “Good! You’re both here! It was just as I thought…a substitution code!” he said holding up the paper he had done it on. “I managed to figure out the key to decrypt it.”
“But not decode it?” Alfie questioned, almost teasingly.
I smacked his arm. “More than you did.” I muttered. “Great, what does it say, Mouse?”
Mouse sighed. “That’s where I need our master of puzzles.” He said gesturing to me. “Rook, even deciphered, it makes no sense.”
I stuck out my hand for the paper. “Alright, give me the key and I’ll see what I can figure out.” I said, pulling out a scratch piece of paper and a pen out of my pocket.
“I gotta watch you work.” Alfie said scooting up next to me.
I rolled my eyes as I pulled back my hair to keep it out of the way. “Alright, let’s see here…” I said before filling out the letter for each symbol. “Popeye Jig….?” I questioned.
“Told you it didn’t make much sense.” Mouse reasoned.
“Let’s try googling it.” I responded turning around to the computer and typing it into the search engine. “Alfie mentioned it looked like Nautical symbols so I’m wondering if it’s not a nautical type of dance…”
Mouse straightened up at that. “A short while ago, a new school frigate opened up! It was all over the news. We can surely go investigate there!”
I closed google and looked at him. “But the news said it was in Liverpool. Boss would never let any of us go.”
Alfie smiled. “You never know. Why don’t you go ask him?” he asked. “Considering what happened yesterday, he may be a bit softer to you.”
I made a face at him as I went up to go do it. I walked up to the Chief and held my head high and confidently. “Sir, the Copycat’s message has been decoded. Our lead to what it might be though is in Liverpool. May I go investigate?”
The Chief nodded. “Alright, I’ll talk to Liverpool police. Let me see the message…” I handed him the paper. “The Popeye Jig? Why on earth do you need to go to Liverpool for that?”
“Sir?” I questioned, tilting my head to the side.
“Why, I have one right here on my fishing rod.” He said going to a tackle box. “Have a look.”
“That is a fish hook.” I said looking at it.
“A popeye jig, yes.” He agreed.
I shrugged. “I guess it could be used as a weapon if you’re creative enough…”
The chief laughed. “If the copycat is trying to kill trout, sure.”
I sighed. “This is getting ridiculous. I need to speak with Arthur. If he could solve the detective code, then maybe he’ll have something to say about this….” I sighed, leaving the chief to his devices.
I let Mouse and Alfie know where I was going, better two people know and it’s habit my mom made me develop, before I headed out. Now if anything happened, they could hopefully find me again. But next time, if I was lucky, maybe I could get my gun out in time.
Chapter 10: Anchors Aweigh!
“You again!” the nurse frowned upon seeing me.
I smiled innocently. “Just in time for visiting hours….”
She sighed. “Yes, you may go in. THIS TIME.” She added as if it was a warning.
I waved it off and walked into the room, seeing Arthur sitting at a table people watching, his pipe in his mouth. I’m surprised they let him have that, but I guess if he couldn’t actually smoke it….
“Officer Sprague!” he greeted, waving me over. “Good to see you’re alright.”
I smiled and sat next to him. “Thanks partially to you so I heard. But while I am here to thank you, I need something else.” I said pulling out my copy of the message. “The murderer, left us another puzzle….” I said before pulling out my phone and pulling up a picture of the fishhook. “And it possibly, points to this.”
Arthur looked at it. “A hook? I doubt it. Moriarty is replicating the cases from my past…..there has to be something else, surely.”
I smiled. “That’s what I was hoping you could help me with.” I said showing him the message.
“Ah! The dancing men!” he sighed fondly. “This code was used in an old case of mine. A jealous husband type of crime. There is a crime of passion being hatched somewhere…”
“And how today is in a city like London, that doesn’t narrow it down much, but it sheds a bit of light on how it might be used. But what about the contents of the message? What does Popeye Jig mean? I don’t think a fishhook has anything to do with it.”
Arthur thought hard. “I don’t remember it being in any of my cases…but listen-when I’m out of inspiration, a ‘little help’ always allowed me to open up my imagination to more…creative solutions.”
I gave him a look. “I’m not getting you opium. But it does remind me of how Popeye the Sailorman always used spinach to help him out, but I don’t think you know who that is…” I said before I stopped dead in my tracks and then head desking. “I fail! All the music trivia I know and this went right past me! The Popeye Jig was the opening song of the cartoon!”
I googled the song on my phone and played it for him. “Officer, in my times, that song was part of a very popular dance among Navy cadets.” He informed.
“It’s probably still danced today…” I thought. “The River Thames festival! Thousands of young Cadets and sailors will arrive this afternoon for the event.”
Sherlock leaned back and smiled. “You should hurry. Moriarty is a genius and he loves to have an audience, so he’s sure to be planning something big for the occasion.”
“Children will be there.” I grumbled gathering my things and standing. “Thank you! I’ll let you know how it goes.” I assured before leaving in a hurry, calling the others to let them know what I had found.
I had a radio piece in my ear, and my gun on my hip as I kept a close eye out for suspicious characters. “I never liked crowds. But the fact that a serial killer chose a place like this…” I mumbled. “He probably chose a place to cover his tracks. I gotta be careful. Don’t want to end up like last time…”
Alfie sighed. “Well, this is nice.” He admitted. “But we’re wasting time, Rookie… I know you like history but, it doesn’t look like there are any dangerous criminals in these waters, Captain.”
I sighed. “It fits with the clue. The cadets are doing the dance. I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
Alfie sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Fine, fine. If it makes you feel better, we’ll give it ten more minutes, but I swear if nothing happens then…”
“I’ll buy you dinner.” I finished. “But if there is something, dinner is on you.”
“Deal.” He agreed.
I smiled. “Good. Now look,” I said pointing at the dancers.
“Poor kid’s a terrible dancer.” He admitted.
I shook my head. “No, she’s doing a different sequence all together.” I said pulling out my notepad. “You got a pen?”
I looked over and saw a piece of chalk on the nearby chalkboard. “I’ll just improvise.” I said grabbing it. I pulled out the key and crouched down, chalk in hand, watching the girl. “Let’s see, B-E-L-F-A-S-T.”
“Belfast? The ship?” Alfie questioned as I leaned back for him to see.
“What else? Let’s go look.” I said standing up and putting the chalk back as we past the board.
“You go ahead!” Alfie said. “I’m going to wait for the cadets to finish. I want to talk to that girl.”
I nodded. “You got it.”
Alfie smiled. “Hey, holler at me if there are masked men around!” he laughed.
“Screw you, Alfie!” I called somewhat playfully in response. “You’re going to owe me dinner!” I called running towards the ship.
Climbing up the ramp, I saw a couple of tourists and a man smoking a pipe. “Everything seems fine, but looks can be deceiving.” I thought as I looked for little details.
“HEY!” A man shouted running out of the door and onto the deck. “POLICE! HELP! HELP!”
“Alfie owes me dinner.” I thought getting in the man’s path and pulling out my badge. “Scotland Yard!” I called, showing him.
He stopped in front of me and tried to catch his breath. He was an older man, probably 50-60’s, in a nice suit and jacket with coat tails. “Sir, I’m Constable Sprague, what’s the matter?”
“Police, thank goodness.” He breathed. “It’s terrible! The Treaty has been stolen!”
“Treaty?” I questioned.
He took a deep breath, a hand on his chest as if to slow his aging heart. “I’m Percy Phelps, the curator of this museum. An invaluable naval treaty from the 19th century has been taken from one of the displays!”
“Oh no.” I thought. “Show me.”
He led me inside to some sort of conference room where a case stood, the glass broken near the bottom. “This is where it was.”
I looked in it. “Well, it wasn’t taken by force?”
“What are you talking about, Constable?!” he demanded.
“The broken glass is outside the case, not inside.” I pointed out. “And here, is a discarded paperweight, probably what was used to break the glass without the thief cutting themselves.” At times like this, I’m glad I started carrying rubber gloves with me. I put it on the table. “Don’t let anyone touch that, we need to send it in to see if it has fingerprints on it.”
I then stood up. “Who has access to this case?”
The man opened his coat. “It’s gone!” he gasped.
“Does anyone have access to your personal wardrobe, Mr. Phelps?”
He shook his head. “No one but Old Joseph…” he thought. “He’s a retired sailor and war hero. He’s been working here since ’71. He’s incapable of…”
I shook my head. “Nevertheless, I’m afraid I’ll have to speak with him.”
He nodded. “Please wait here, I’ll fetch him.”
“This can’t be coincidence.” I thought, looking around the room.
I looked at the mannequin in a sailor’s uniform. It was holding a clipboard and I decided to have a look. Glad I did as it had the same words that were written on the door at Regent’s Park Peek-a-boo. It was too light in color to be blood, but it was still a creepy red. A familiar scent filled my nose and I removed the paper and brought it to my face. Lemon. “Invisible Ink?” I questioned.
A light! I needed heat to make the ink appear. I went outside to the man with a pipe and politely asked for a light. He was really nice about it and gave me one without any hesitation. Even told me I could keep the lighter. Apparently he didn’t like the color and it was a cheap plastic one anyway.
I went back to the crime scene and carefully held the lighter to the paper, making the symbols appear. “Another puzzle.” I sighed, pocketing the lighter.
I went into the control room, and Mr. Phelps joined me. “Constable, I can’t find Old Joseph. I’ve tried ringing him, but it seems his phone is off.” He informed.
“I’m assuming it’s unusual.” I pointed out.
Mr. Phelps nodded. “I’ve never seen the man set foot on land, except when he goes to Kent to visit his daughter on Christmas Eve.”
I nodded. “He’s probably nearby then.”
Mr. Phelps shook his head solemnly. “I’ve looked everywhere. He’s not on board.”
I pulled out my phone. “What’s he look like? I have a man who can keep an eye out.”
He gave me a brief description, which I texted to Alfie along with the context. He was probably talking to the kid right now.
I looked around the room and found a bunch of titles on an odd panel. The titles had the same design as the message I found. I pulled out the paper. “You got a pen?” I asked. Mr.
Phelps handed me one from his pocket and I started writing the letters with the corresponding symbols. “Anchor?”
A loud sound echoed through the ship. Metal clinking together in a loud machine. “Not to worry, it’s just part of procedure.” He assured. “At twelve o’clock precisely, we lift the anchor, to show the visitors how it was done in the past.
My heart skipped a beat. “Show me!” I said with urgency.
“But… the stolen treaty!”
“Just show me!” I urged.
We ran out onto the deck, where Alfie was standing with the kid. “Rook, I think you’ll want to hear what this young woman has to say….”
“Later! Something is about to happen, and I don’t think it will be good!” I said before I heard it. “Do you hear that?” I asked. It was muffled by the sound of the anchor, but it was there: a cry for help.
“Hear what?” Alfie asked.
I turned to Mr. Phelps. “Stop that anchor now!” I cried running over to the control board.
Mr. Phelps followed me in. “I need the key to override the anchor system!”
Mr. Phelps gave me a confused and fearful look. “I haven’t used those in a very long time…” he then pulled out his ring. “The keys are identical, exactly.”
It took me only a second to find them. “Got’em!” I said going to the control panel. I put them in and quickly turned off the anchor. “Let’s hope I’m not too late.” I sighed before rushing back to the deck.
“Quiet please!” Alfie called, trying to wave everyone back. “Stay calm, everyone! This is police business!”
“HEEEELLLLLPPPP!” Someone shouted, loud and clearly now the anchor was off.
I went over to the hole and held out my hand, only for Alfie to put a flashlight in it. “There’s a man down there! He’s in the anchor locker!”
Mr. Phelps gasped and looked in. “Oh my god! Old Jospeh! If you hadn’t stopped the machine, he would’ve been crushed to death!”
“How’d you hear that?” Alfie asked.
I pointed at my ears without looking at him. “Autism and years of choir. I’ve been trained to hear things that sound out of place, you know.” Once I saw the sailors had him and were bringing him out I leaned back. “Remind me to send my choir teachers a thank you card.”
Alfie clapped my back. “I owe you dinner.” He praised.
“Thank you!” the older man, Old Joseph, thanked. He was in a blue jumpsuit, like what a janitor or mechanic would wear, and his silver beard and hair had clear spots of red in them, most likely his own blood as his face was badly beaten.
“Sir, who did this to you? Did you see his face?” I asked.
He shook his head as he got help to sit down and Alfie called for a medic. “I didn’t; he wore a cloak and a very creepy mask….the only thing he said before locking me in there was ‘This is between you and me. Getting help is cheating, you’ve broken our treaty’.” He quoted. “I don’t know what it means.”
I sighed before writing down the words. “Because it wasn’t meant for you.” I said calmly, thinking about how I had gone to Arthur for help.
Chapter 11: A Treat For Jospeh
“Well done, Officer Sprague!” the boss praised clapping me hard on the back, taking the air from my lungs and nearly knocking me over.
“Thanks, but I’m only doing my job…” I responded humbly, only to think “And putting people in danger in the process.”
Alfie slung his arm around my shoulders, looking at me proudly. “Boss, I told you Sprague had the capacity to solve this!”
“We haven’t caught him yet, Alfie. We’re nowhere near catching him, and he’s certain to attack again.” I pointed out.
Mr. Phelps cleared his throat to get our attention. “I’m sorry to interrupt the celebrations, but that was my employee…have you thought what may have happened to the naval treaty?”
I nodded. “I have a few thoughts. May I speak with Joseph please?” I requested with a straight face and in as polite a tone as I could.
Mr. Phelps nodded. “Yes, but please be gentle with him. You understand.”
I met Joseph at the ambulance that was looking him over. “Joseph, why do you think the masked man wanted to kill you?” I asked calmly. Alfie was standing right behind me.
Joseph shook his head. “I don’t know! I was doing my chores in the cabin where the naval treaty was…until someone covered my head! I couldn’t see anything until they locked me up….”
I thought for a moment. Doesn’t seem like the copycat…. “So that’s when the killer found you and took the naval treaty?”
He nodded. “That’s right! That’s what happened!”
I don’t want to accuse an innocent man, but that doesn’t seem like our killer. “I’ll take another look at the cabinet where the treaty was…. There’s got to be something we missed.”
Alfie followed me to the cabin. “Why do you keep saying we? With how fast your brain is going, you’re doing all the work and I’m along for the ride. How is your brain not catching fire with how hard and fast its working?”
I rolled my eyes. “Hilarious, Alfie.” I responded, entering the cabin. “Don’t think I’m going to forget that you owe me dinner now.” I said looking at the cabinet. “A pile of clothes?”
Mr. Phelps walked in. “What?”
I picked up the clothes with gloved hands and set them on the table. “Someone was changing their clothes in here….” I then laid out a string of nautical flags. “And it’s odd that these were in the cabinet and not on display somewhere else.”
“What’s really curious is that signal flag!” Mr. Phelps declared pointing at a red one with yellow marks. “In my 40-year career at the museum, this is the first time I have seen one with that pattern.”
I took note of this and took a picture of the flag with my phone. I pulled out the safe box from the cabinet. “And this I know wouldn’t be in there. Too out of place.” I pointed out. “The lock is unusual, the flag is either a clue, or the answer.” I said calmly.
Moving around the pieces on the lock, and occasionally looking at the flag, I worked to match the symbols up. “How does your brain figure this out, Sarah?” Alfie asked as it unlocked.
I shrugged. “Still trying to figure that out myself.” I said pulling out the contents.
“The naval treaty!” Mr. Phelps cried, carefully taking it from my hands.
I nodded. “Yeah, but why would a crew badge be in here?” I think I already had the answer. It didn’t surprise me that the Copycat left the treaty. If he steals something it’s to further his game, not for profit.
“The treaty never left the ship! Amazing!” Mr. Phelps said, carefully checking to make sure it was not only alright, but authentic.
I looked at the badge again. “Excuse me, boys.” I said, leaving Alfie to look after Mr. Phelps.
I could catch Alfie saying “Quite something, isn’t she?” It made me smile.
“Feeling better, Joseph?” I asked, approaching the man again, this time, my hands in the pockets of my blue coat.
“Yes ma’am. A little shaken still, though.” He responded, giving me a smile.
I looked at his arm where the badge should be, only to find it missing. “Joseph, I couldn’t help but notice you’re not wearing your crew badge.” I pointed out, watching his responses.
Unfortunately all they did was seem to confirm my suspicions.
“Err…No, ma’am.” He said checking his arm. “I must’ve lost it when the masked man kidnapped me…”
I cocked my head to the side, and let my mannerisms speak for me. “It’s a bit odd though; he beat you, and dragged you to the anchor pit, all for no apparent reason?” I questioned before crouching in front of him to meet him at eye level. “Can I tell you what I’m thinking, Joseph?”
“I think your intention was to sell the treaty to our killer… and when everything suddenly went south….” I paused. By that time Mr. Phelps and Alfie had joined us.
“Joseph!” Mr. Phelps gasped. “What have you to tell us about it?! Surely there’s a mistake! Tell her she’s wrong!”
Joseph looked at Mr. Phelps before sighing and hanging his head. “I’m sorry, Mr. Phelps. I’m really sorry. My Susie is pregnant, you know. She’ll need the money and….”
I cut him off. He’s a better father than mine, even if he did do something horribly illegal. “You said you never managed to see the killer’s face, but you interacted with him before…?”
“Only over the phone.” Joseph answered, not meeting anyone’s eye. “I was going to meet him on the dock this afternoon.”
“That explains the change of clothes. Were you changing when the murderer attacked you?” I asked.
Joseph thought. “I honestly can’t remember, ma’am.” He looked up at me. “Maybe if I go back to the Anchor pit, I may jog my memory…”
I nodded at the officer nearby, as Joseph stood, wrapped in the bright orange blanket they carried. We walked together down there.
I shivered, glad I had my coat. “Wow, it’s like a prison down here…” I said looking around.
Joseph chuckled sadly. “Tell me about it.”
I looked at him. “Can you remember anything, Joseph?”
Joseph shook his head and shivered, pulling the blanket tighter around him. “All I remember is the darkness, the filth, the terror…we struggled for a few seconds, but I’m too old. He beat me hands down.”
“You fought?” I questioned hopefully. With any luck there may be some DNA. “Where?”
“Over here…” Joseph said leading us to the place. “Exactly.”
“Get Mouse down here!” I ordered the cop looking around. I pulled out a fresh pair of gloves, having discarded the old ones a while ago, and picked up a piece of blue cloth. Out of place for the rest of it. One of the links in the chain was also bloody.
I turned to Joseph. “Do you remember having tugged the killer’s clothes?”
Joseph put his hand to his chin. “I…might have…..I can’t remember. I’m feeling a little dizzy…”
“Just sit down a minute.” I said leading him a little ways from the crime scene and helping him sit while the CSIs came in and I handed them the cloth for evidence.
Joseph smiled at me. “I bet your parents are awfully proud of you.”
I smiled at him back. “I try to give them reason to be.”
He chuckled. “They did a good job I think. Thank you.”
My smile grew. “I’ll tell them how cooperative you were. With any luck we can get you a light sentence.”
He nodded. “Thank you, Officer.”
Chapter 12: Family Matters
“Mouse, I have something for you!” I called, carrying a box into his lab.
“Evidence! You shouldn’t have.” Mouse teased pretending to be flattered. “Let me see what you have here for me…”
“Well, for one thing, we have a giant chain link covered in blood, and a piece of cloth possibly from the killers over dramatic wardrobe.” I stated calmly.
Mouse smiled. “Great. I’ll get started on it now. I should have the results by tomorrow.” He said proudly.
I smiled. “You’re the best, Mouse.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.” Mouse responded with a smile.
“There are only three named Angels in the bible: Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer.” I informed calmly.
Mouse grinned. “I’ll take that.” he laughed as I left his lab.
I grabbed my coat, having finished my paperwork not long ago and turned off the light on my desk. “So you sing?” Alfie asked, making me turn around to face him. His coat was draped over his arm, with his hands in his pant pockets.
I nodded. “I do. I wouldn’t say I’m good, but I’m not terrible. I did choir in high school and a little in college. Because of it, I know two songs in Latin. I still have the music from college too.” I told him, draping my coat over my own arm.
Alfie smiled. “You’ll have to show me some time.” He started walking and I followed. “Can you read music too?”
I shrugged. “Kind of? It’s something I know, but I keep forgetting. I played the clarinet in 5th grade, but I haven’t since. I need to get my music skills back. Read music properly.” I laughed.
Alfie smiled. “Still, you’ll have to sing for me. I even know a few karaoke bars we could go to.”
I shook my head. “Oh no. I’m not nearly confident enough for that.”
Alfie raised an eyebrow. “You’ll chase a killer after nearly being killed no problem, but you get nervous singing in front of people?” he questioned. “You strange person.”
I raised an eyebrow back at him. “If you’re just figuring out now that I’m strange, I’m going to start wondering how you got this far.”
“OI! Be nice! I am buying you dinner after all!” he responded nudging me.
I smiled up at him and made a face. “Because I won our bet! You need to stop doubting my instincts, Alfie.”
Alfie chuckled. “You’re right, I do. They saved a man’s life today.” He reminded.
I sighed. “But possibly endangered others. You heard what Joseph said the killer told him.”
Alfie nodded. “That I did. How do you attract so much trouble, Rookie?” he asked holding the door open for me.
I thanked him as I exited the station with him. “I probably inherited my dad’s shitmagnet. It must’ve activated when I joined the academy.”
“Shitmagnet? What are you talking about?” Alfie questioned.
I chuckled. “Basically, something would always go wrong. Him getting called to track someone down at the last minute as we’re eating dinner, a neighbor pounding on the door because of a domestic right as we’re going to bed, that kind of thing.” I explained.
Alfie sighed. “Probably never had a loony after him though.”
I shook my head. “I don’t have a loony after me.”
Alfie looked down at me and stopped walking. “Sarah, you’ve got messages from a serial killer. How can you not think this guy is crazy?”
“Because he’s not.” I responded. “Crazy would imply he has no impulse control over what he does. That he doesn’t know why he’s doing it or comprehends that he’s doing it. Whoever this man is; he knows what he’s doing, and thinks and plots every step of it. He is fully aware of himself and what goes on around him. He’s evil, he’s not crazy.” I explained, looking Alfie in the eye.
Alfie sighed through his nose as he processed my words. He then offered his free arm, the one without his coat. “All the more reason to walk you to dinner and walk you home.” He responded giving me a reassuring smile. “If he’s like that, he’s all the more dangerous right?”
I smiled and accepted his arm. “Yes he is. But I’m hungry now and don’t want to think about the case.” I whined.
He chuckled. “What do you feel like having?” he responded.
“Burgers.” I replied without much thought.
“So,” Alfie said as we sat at the restaurant, each with a burger made to our own liking. “You’ve told me a bit about your father, what about your mum? What does she do?”
I smiled. “Well, she is awesome to start with. She was a stay at home mom until she and my dad split when I was seven. She now works as a phlebotomist.”
“A what?” Alfie asked.
“You know, she’s the lady that takes your blood at the doctor’s office and does all the tests. She works with bodily fluids all day.” I described.
Alfie nodded. “Oh. I always thought that was a nurse. I didn’t know it was something different.” He admitted. “So where do the little one’s come from then? The two youngest?”
The thought of my little brothers made me smile. I should skype them tonight. “My dad remarried when I was ten. They’re technically my half-brothers. And I love them very much.” I responded honestly. “I think they’d like you. Probably ask if you were Captain Jack Harkness though, especially if you wore that blue coat.”
Alfie chuckled at that. “Ah! So they’re as nerdy as their big sister then.”
I smiled proudly. “Of course. From their first character death to their first con.” I said, putting my hand over my heart proudly. “I feel bad for laughing at it still, but when I think of how Ethan reacted to Gandalf, I can’t help it. I mean he had seen Lord of the Rings several times before, but it was like that one time clicked. I had to pause the movie to try and calm him down. He was inconsolable until I managed to make dinner and get him to the table.” I laughed at the memory.
“He likes Gandalf huh? Whose your favorite then?” he asked grabbing one of the fries and pointing at me with it. “In Lord of the Rings only of course.”
I thought for a moment, taking a sip of my soda as I did so. “Hmmmmm….I’d have to say….either Radagast the Brown, or Galadriel.” I answered. “Galadriel sunk an entire kingdom at the request of its king to protect it, and Radagast has a sleigh pulled by giant rabbits. What’s not to love about either?”
Alfie chuckled. “Fair enough. I was always partial to Aragorn and Saruman myself. One is a badarse and then other is played by Sir Christopher Lee, may he rest in peace.”
“And you can’t forget him as Count Dooku.” I reminded. “Say what you will about the prequels, but he and Ewan McGregor did fine in my opinion.”
He chuckled. “On that note, I’m glad we can agree.”
There was a bit of silence between us after that as we ate. That was until I heard “Do you have a boyfriend?”
I just about choked on my burger. “What?” I asked, coughing to make sure I didn’t actually choke.
“Do you have a boyfriend? Is he back home in the states? Trying to make long distance work or trying to get him to come up here?” Alfie questioned.
I shook my head. “No. No boyfriend. Michael, my last boyfriend, and I broke up mutually when I decided to stay in England. He didn’t want to leave his family and I wasn’t going to force him. I didn’t want to leave mine either, but this became my home.” I responded. “But my family and I visit each other. I asked for the Christmas season off so I could go home.”
Alfie chuckled. “If we’re both single then people are going to start asking questions if we keep hanging out so much.”
“Mouse already is.” I pointed as we both laughed. I don’t think he sees me like that. Maybe one day, but like I told Mouse: I’m going to wait for him to make the first move.
Alfie walked me home and when 11 came around I opened my computer and called home. My mom was quick to answer and my two sisters even quicker.
“’Ello, old chap.” My sister Beckie did in imitated accent.
“Hey Y’all.” I greeted back in a Southern accent. Both of my sisters are in the Southern states. Beckie in Tennessee and Rachel in North Carolina.
“Guys, stop being dorks or I’m going to hang up.” Rachel announced.
“Oh please, you love us.” Beckie reasoned making kissy faces at the camera.
“What time is it where you guys are?” our mom asked with our brother Daniel sitting next to her. Daniel, Beckie, and I all had the same dirty-blonde hair, with mine being the only curly one of the bunch. Rachel had light brown hair and was jokingly the black sheep of the family as she was the only one with brown eyes and olive skin to go with it, showing that our mom did in fact have Native American in her background. The rest of us were fairly fair skinned coming from the strong European side our dad carried, with three of us having blue eyes. I was jealous though; despite being fairly fair skinned, my brother tanned very easily and very nicely, Rachel even more so. Beckie and I took after our dad in the sense that if we were in the sun too long we looked like giant walking lobsters.
“It’s about 11 here.”
“Five for me.” Beckie answered.
“Six.” Rachel announced.
“And we’re three.” Daniel said. “How are my beautiful girls?”
Beckie sighed. “Busy. I’ve been getting a lot of hours and today is my first day off in a while.” She responded. “And I’m doing fine in school.”
“I’m doing fine on my end. Etta is being a stinker.” Rachel said as said canine companion laid her head down on her arm and coming into range of the camera. Etta was a white dog, medium in size and was a mix of Pitbull and Terrier. She was also deaf with Rachel teaching her ASL. “I’m also working with the cutest little boy. He signs very well for his age.” She mentioned.
Rachel worked as an ASL interpreter in the school system down there while Beckie worked in in-home care. Both were still going to school, Rachel working towards her Masters.
“What about you, Sarah?” Our mom asked looking at me.
I sighed. “I’m kind of stressed honestly. I’m working on my first case and it so happens to be a murder case. There’s more to it than that, but because it’s an open investigation, I can’t disclose too much.”
“Oh come on! We’re across the sea!” Beckie encouraged. “It’s not like some serial killer is targeting you or anything.”
I bit my lip and looked away from the camera.
“Oh. My. God.” Beckie gaped.
“Are you serious?! Tell me you’re just joking for Beckie’s benefit.” Rachel responded.
I sighed as they waited in anticipation. “Unfortunately not.” I said quietly.
I heard my brother crack his knuckles. “Mom, where’s my passport, I got to go England.” He stated coldly looking at my mom.
“No! No! It’s not like that!” I tried to stop.
My brother braced himself on the table. “Not like that? Sarah, you just said some psycho killer was out for you! How is it ‘not like that’?” he asked doing air quotes.
I ran my hand through my hair. “I apparently got a reputation…somehow…in the academy it must’ve been. He sees me as a potential rival and keeps leaving me clues like he’s challenging me to catch him.” I explained. “I don’t think he’d hurt me directly.”
My brother stared at me for a moment before turning to my mom. “Mom, where’s my passport, I gotta go to England.” He repeated.
“Look! I’m fine! Jane is coming into town if it makes you feel better. I have also made friends with people on the force and my partner Alfie has started walking me home every night.” I assured.
“Alfie?” my mom and sisters all questioned at the same time.
“Is Alfie just your partner or is there more happening there?” my mom asked.
“Is he looking after you? Do I need to lecture him on protecting you and your oblivious tendencies?” Rachel quizzed.
“More importantly,” Beckie continued. “Is he hot?”
I groaned. “Guys…”
“Would you like him the way you like your tea?” Beckie declared loudly.
My mom looked at Beckie’s screen. “What do you mean by that?” she asked suspicious.
Beckie shrugged. “Hot and British.”
I sighed in defeat. “He is attractive, and he’s Irish actually, I think I’m the only American in our precinct.” I admitted. “But I don’t think anything will happen. And if it does he’ll have to make the first move. You know how bad I am at reading social cues.”
“No need to speak there.” Rachel responded, only half teasing.
“Anyway, I need to take a shower and get to bed. I got a lot of work to do tomorrow.” I said leaning back and taking off my glasses to clean them.
“She’s got to catch the crazy guy.” Beckie responded. “And then fall in love and marry her hot British partner.”
I rolled my eyes. “That last part is up for speculation.”
“Be careful, sweetie.” My mom begged. “I don’t want to get a call saying something happened to you. And get on facebook every night and message me that you’re ok.”
“Me too!” My brother responded. “Add a nerdy quote or fact or something so I know it’s you.”
“Me too!” Rachel added.
“Me three!” Beckie agreed.
“Just message all of us.” Mom concluded. My mom was an average sized woman. She had medium length red hair that she kept dying to keep the gray away and soft brown eyes. Her face, especially in the spring and summer time, was covered in freckles. Despite her kind and humble appearance, I knew that if anyone ever touched one of us, one of her babies, they would face a fate worse than hell. My mom knew how too.
I nodded. “I will, I promise.” I responded with a nod. “I’ll let you know how I’m doing too. If I get in trouble again, I’ll be sure to call you guys first thing to let you know I’m ok. Roaming and long distance fees be damned.”
“Wait what do you mean again?” Rachel asked suspiciously.
“Love you! Goodnight!” I said quickly hanging up and closing my computer. I leaned back. “Fuck me.”
Chapter 13: Capes, Cloaks, Crooks, and Kids
After clocking in the next morning, first place I went, was Mouse’s lab. “What have you got for me, Mouse?” I asked hopefully.
Mouse sighed. “I’m afraid it’s not good news, Rook…” he sighed. “The cloth didn’t have any useful samples for us to conduct a DNA test…”
I nodded. “It was a small hope.” I acknowledged.
Mouse then pulled out a file. “As regards to the rusty link, you were right. It was blood. Shark’s blood to be precise. A shark probably got caught on the anchor chain.”
“Damn.” I cursed. “I’m back to square one. Maybe I should talk to Arthur again….”
“With the help he’s been giving us, go for it. Just be careful ok?” Mouse requested.
I nodded. “You sound like my brother.” I joked. “Yeah I will. Let Alfie know where I am, will ya?”
Mouse nodded. “Will do, baby sis.” He joked saluting me.
“Hi again.” Nurse Silver greeted. “I’m beginning to think you’re feeling affection for me…”
Oh dear. “I think I’m a little young for you, lady.” I thought. “Um….well….”
“Ha!” she laughed. “I know, I know… come in. He’s waiting for you.” She said waving me in the waiting room.
I sighed and smiled, nodding as I walked into the waiting room, where Arthur sat at the table, legs crossed and pipe in hand as he set up a chess board. “Welcome back, Constable. How’d it go?” he asked curiously.
I sighed as I sat across from him, as he turned the board so white faced me. “I saved a man’s life, and uncovered a theft.” I responded as he gestured for me to play.
He watched as I moved the pawn, not questioning the game. “Oh? Tell me more.”
I recanted the events of what happened on the Belfast. Old Joseph, Moriarty, the naval treaty, everything. With him, I figured I may as I well. For now though, I left the message out, and instead focused on the game.
Arthur hmmmmed at my story. “Your story is interesting, but full of inconsistencies at the same time. Why would Moriarty want an old naval treaty?” he asked curiously, taking one of my pawns. “Why kidnap Joseph?”
I shrugged. “You said he likes an audience. It seemed more like to get my attention than for profit, especially since he gave it back.” I reasoned, moving my bishop. “Also left this behind.” I said pulling out the cloth. Mouse wasn’t happy, but we had registered it as it was. “Check.”
Arthur leaned in and took it from me, after I forced gloves on him beforehand. “Hand me a magnifying glass, Constable.” He waved.
I pulled one from my bag; I had brought a small one with me to hold notes and evidence on this trip. “Here you are.” I responded. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Nurse Silver crossing her arms and shaking her head, in pity or disapproval I don’t know.
Arthur put the pipe between his teeth. “Let’s take a look at this…” he leaned over it and looked carefully and closely at it. “Yes, just as I thought! This is a very fine cloth, hand made by the best in the trade…”
“Sounds extremely expensive.” I retorted as he moved his piece without looking.
He sat up and removed his pipe. “Where do you find the best suits, made with the best materials?” he asked, more trying to help guide my thoughts.
“Saville Row?” I said going through the shops in my head.
Sherlock shook his head. “West & Ward, if I’m not wrong. Then again, you don’t seem like you care about fashion much. I don’t either, but learn your shops and fabrics, it’ll help you greatly.” He advised. “Anyway, if I recall correctly, and I doubt this has changed, they always keep strict records of their customers.”
I perked up at that, having just finished moving my piece. “If you’re right, there’s a chance we’re closer to finding the killer than I thought!”
Sherlock shook his head. “Too easy if you ask me….”
“I didn’t, but now that you bring it up…” I responded as he took his turn.
“What will you do?” he asked curiously.
I smiled before glancing at the board. “I’m going to look into it anyway. Even if it’s not the killer, it’s a key stepping stone, maybe someone who knows the actual killer.” I moved my piece as I stood. “Checkmate.”
Arthur looked down and laughed heartily as I gathered my things and headed out. “Good luck, Officer!”
I turned and winked, clicking my cheek to my teeth in a friendly gesture as I gave him a two finger salute before heading to Saville Row and texting Alfie where I was headed. As I headed to the car, I got a call from the Chief, thankfully after the text to Alfie went through. A good chance to let him know what I have.
“Hello, Officer!” he greeted warmly. “I’m calling you to know whether you have found anything related to the case…”
“Quite possibly. I’m headed there now. West & Ward for the cloth on the cloak…”
“What are you talking about, Sprague? West & Ward? Cloaks? I very much doubt these gentlemen still have them! Do you realize the nonsense you’re saying?” he demanded on the other line.
“….Sir…” I breathed. Intelligence comes in different forms I suppose. That or he hasn’t even touched the file. I’ve been keeping it updated…
“Don’t waste time with those games, Constable.” He chided making me roll my eyes. “Come to the station, quickly.”
Wait, I could work with this. I am a terrible liar, but mainly because it shows on my face. This…this was a phone call. “Of course, sir, but let me run an errand I had pending…”
“Very well, Constable. But do hurry.” The Chief ordered, hanging up.
Now, time to go window shopping.
I stood outside the shop, the slight breeze blowing my hair to the side, some of it getting in my face. I sighed upon reading to store hours. “Doesn’t open ‘til 2….” I threw my head back in frustration. “I don’t have time for this. I need to find Mrs. Dunlop.”
I looked up and saw an open window with a kid reading comic books. “Hey kid!” I shouted waving.
“What?” he asked sticking his head out the window.
“Do you know, Mrs. Dunlop?” I called.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“The police.” I said flashing him my badge. “I need to speak with Mrs. Dunlop.”
“She’s not here.” The kid wrote off.
“Can you tell me where she is? Or where I can find her?” I asked, trying to keep my patience. This kid was going to be a nuisance.
He smirked at me. “Sure, but information is not for free.”
I looked before me, and picked up the paper book that was on the sidewalk. “There’s a comic book here….Is it yours?” I asked holding it up.
“It’s mine!” he complained. “Give it back!”
“Sure, in exchange for what I asked.” I responded back, smiling knowingly.
The kid frowned. “Hmmmm…. I don’t trust you. Give me the comic book first.”
I chuckled. “Kid, I got my own comics at home, do you really think I need to steal yours?”
“Do you want to know where Mrs. Dunlop is or not?” he responded, frowning and making a pouty face.
I sighed, seeing an abandoned dog leash and flag pole. “Never hurts to improvise.” I muttered putting something together and pulling the comic up to him.
“Oh…” he said disappointedly. “It was about Sherlock Holmes.”
“Never dis on the intelligence, kid. Only the writing that portrays it. Now where’s Mrs. Dunlop?”
“At the beauty salon around the corner. Sherlock is a cheap copy of Batman anyways.” He pouted.
I smiled and shook my head. “But Sherlock actually happened, and if anything, Batman copied him. Batman was first released in 1939. Sherlock lived in the mid to late 19th century. Look it up, you might find something interesting.” I advised, waving as I walked away. “Thanks, kid!”
I easily found the salon and went in. I asked the woman at the hair dryer if she knew where Mrs. Dunlop was and I was directed to the waxing booths. It took some coaxing from the owner and Mrs. Dunlop, but I got her to give me her keys with the promise to give them to the kid I saw earlier, if I didn’t run into one of the owners first. She understood better than the nurse at New Bedlam about a murder investigation and the urgency.
I went back to the shop, and went inside to look around. If I was lucky, maybe one of the owners would show up early. There was a cupboard to the side with a strange lock, and a picture of a symbol nearby it. A subtle but easy code to unlock it. I moved the suits out of the way and found a safe. Again, the clues were subtly hidden about the room, but easy to find. This one was a bit harder though as it was all about guessing the right combination.
A man cleared his throat and I whirled around. “I see you found my specialty suits.” He said, trying to act polite. “You wished to see me?”
“Mr. West, I’m guessing?” I asked, only to receive a nod. “I’m Constable Sprague of Scotland Yard. I’m investigating a murder and I need you to have a look at this.” I said pulling out the cloth I had Arthur look at and handing it to him.
He looked at it carefully and rubbed it between his fingers. “Hmmmm….”
“Is it one of yours?” I asked politely.
He squinted at the stitching. “It’s certainly from one of our providers, but I couldn’t say for certain if this sample came from us. We mostly use it on-”
“Capes and cloaks?” I finished.
“My! You know your fabrics, Constable.” He praised.
I smiled. “My stepmother and several friends of my mothers were avid seamstresses. I also have been in my fair share of stage productions.” I answered, hoping to play on that a bit. “But I’m looking for the man who may have bought a cloak from you, in that color, with a hood.”
He nodded and looked at the fabric again. “Not many of those around these days, let me tell you. Let me get the books….” He said leaving the room, giving me a moment to look around and go back to that safe.
It took a little more effort, but I got it open, only to find….a crown? “Two of the jewels are missing. But why is something like this here, and why would two jewels be missing?” I thought to myself.
I closed the safe and put the suits back in front of it, and pretended to be examining them when Mr. West came back. “I can see that last entry, but…I’m afraid it doesn’t make any sense.” He informed me.
I scoffed, not at him though and I made sure my behavior made that clear. “Seems very little does these days.” I commented. “But what doesn’t make sense?”
“Alexander Holder? You said this was connected to a murder, correct? Has he come to any harm?” Mr. West asked.
I blinked. “Not that I know of. Who is he, if I may be so bold?” I asked politely.
“He’s a banker, very well respected throughout the city….I was….keeping something of his safe for a few days, as per his request.” He informed me. “Now I’m concerned some ill has befallen him.”
“That explains the crown.” I thought. I shook my head. “I need to speak with him. If you give me his address I can look into it for you.”
Mr. West promptly scribbled on a piece of paper and handed it to me. “Here you are. Please let me know if everything is alright.” He requested.
I nodded. “I will call the store personally.” I assured. “Thank you for your help, Mr. West.” I said offering my hand, which he promptly shook.
I pulled out my phone and got in the car. “Alfie! I got a potential name for our copycat. I’m driving towards Kengsington. I’ll text you the address and meet you there.”
“Well done, Rook!” Alfie praised proudly. “But wait for me, please. Don’t do anything stupid.”
I laughed. “Don’t worry, Alfie, I’m too smart for that…” I assured. “But I am still American, so I can’t promise I won’t do anything brash.”
“Rookie, No!” Alfie scolded.
Chapter 14: Red Herring And New Incentive
I was leaning on the car outside as Alfie stepped out of his. “Oh thank God you’re here and not in there!” he praised.
I chuckled. “Again, brash, not stupid.” I assured, standing up straight to meet him, my hands in my pockets.
Alfie looked at the house. “Nice neighborhood, expensive.” He commented.
“A lot of serial killers do pretty well for themselves.” I reminded as we walked up to the door. “And he’s a banker.”
“That explains it.” Alfie cemented as he rang the doorbell.
We waited a few moments, but there was no answer, so Alfie rang again. Again: no answer. I pounded on the door. “Is anybody home? This is Scotland Yard!” I called. I looked at Alfie. “I looked up his car, that’s it right there!” I said pointing at the vehicle.
Alfie leaned on the railing. “Hey, Rook, you sure this is the guy?”
I shook my head. “He was the name the place gave me about the cloak. If he’s not the copycat, he’s at least a lead.” I responded confidently.
Alfie sighed and let his head fall back as I tried the doorknob. “That’s not good.” I said as it twisted.
Alfie straightened up. “Doors not locked?” he questioned drawing his weapon as I did the same.
I counted down on my fingers and mouthed the words, “One….two….three!” on three we both pushed hard on the door, weapons at the ready, only to see a man in cloak matching the killers, hanging from the stair well.
“Fuck me.” I cursed, lowering my gun.
“I’d like to take you out and buy you dinner first.” Alfie commented only for me to smack his shoulder.
I gave him a small glare. “Just call it in, Smartass.” I ordered, putting on my gloves. “I’m going to get him down. You got a knife?”
“Always. Good habit to always have one.” He said handing it to me, before I handed him an extra pair I had while he pulled out his phone.
“Reminds me of NCIS, Gibs rule 9. Always carry a knife.” I commented, carefully climbing up and gingerly cutting him down. Alfie helped catch the body and carefully lower it to the ground.
“Any chance he can be revived?” Alfie asked.
“Let’s take his mask off. If so I’ll begin CPR.” I told him, removing the mask. I then shook my head. “No, he’s been dead too long. But this is Alexander Holder. His picture is up there on the mantle. Also matches his license photo.”
“Well done, Rookie!” Alfie praised, clapping me on the back. “We got him.”
I shook my head. “I don’t think so. After all this and we get one name and he gives up? Too easy.”
Something beeped and we both looked down. “Looks like there’s a phone in his hand.” I mentioned, carefully prying apart his fingers. Death grip isn’t just a saying folks.
“Next time you think you’re clever, think again. Look into your heart. You are missing something.” I read aloud, before looking at Alfie. “Told you.”
“That’s just insulting.” Alfie sighed. “Do you think you’re clever?”
I chuckled. “I know I’m clever. The question is how clever do I think I am?” I countered, as our guys pulled up.
“Did you study in philosophy too or are you just cocky?” Alfie asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I couldn’t take philosophy without my dad breathing down my neck. He’s big on making sure we kept our faith through college. And I’m not cocky, I’m confident. There’s a difference. Again, the question is not if, but how much.” I corrected. I then looked around the house. “Now….what could he have meant by ‘look into your heart’…”
“You’re not sick, are you?” Alfie questioned.
I shook my head. “No, I-.” I paused. “Oh, please tell me I’m wrong!” I pleaded pulling out my phone and calling Jane. “Please pick up! Please pick up! Please pick up!”
“Who are you calling?” Alfie asked, his brow furrowing in confusion.
I sighed when it went to voicemail. “My friend Jane. She’s coming into town and wanted to get together. And she’s not answering her phone, which is not like her at all.”
“I’m sure she’s fine, Rook.” Alfie tried to assure putting his hand on my shoulder. “Why are you so worried?”
I turned to him as I tried to call her again. “Because if the Copycat has been watching me like we think he has, this would be the perfect opportunity for him to get someone close to me without crossing oceans.” I remarked back.
Alfie nudged me and looked at the phone we found in the guy’s hand, which he had taken from me when I pulled out my own. “Hey, uh, Rookie?....” Alfie said, lightly pulling on my coat to make me look. “You’re going to want to see this….”
He turned the phone to show me the message and I dropped mine. “Oh no…” I felt myself going into shock. It was becoming harder to think straight as I looked at the photo of my
friend, gag over her mouth and fear in her eyes. “Nononononononono!”
Alfie handed to phone to a forensic guy before coming over and grabbing my shoulders before I fell over. “Rookie? Rook?!” he said trying to get my attention before giving me a firm shake. “Sarah!”
That snapped me out of my clouded head, but my breathing was still erratic and my heart still racing. His hands were probably going to bruise my arms as they kept me upright.
“Sarah, I need you to try and calm down. You can’t help your friend if you go into a panic attack.” He stated calmly, making sure to keep eye contact with me. “Just breathe with me ok? Follow my lead…”
He started taking deep breaths and slowly letting them out, which as he moved his hands so they were around my back and a little less painful, especially as I regained my footing, managed to coax my own breathing to match his. “There you go.”
“It’s my fault. I dragged her into this. I pissed off the Copycat. I gotta save her!” I pleaded clinging to Alfie’s coat.
Alfie kept trying to keep me calm by smoothing out my coat and hair. “Hey, keep a stiff upper lip on me now. We’ll find her. Alive. I promise.” He assured. “Let’s let our people work, and when your mind is a bit clearer and you’re further from an anxiety attack, we can take a better look around.”
He led me outside and over to curb. “Now, take a moment to calm down. Tell me about Jane. How’d you meet, how long you’ve been friends…” he trailed on.
I nodded and kept trying to keep with the deep breaths. “Alright….alright. I’ll tell you about her…” I took another deep breath. “Her name is Jane Goodheart. She’s a journalist for Amazing Magazine. Not very original I know. We met in college. Our dorms were right next to each other that quarter and were roommates after. We are very close friends….”
“Why would the Copycat choose to kidnap a close friend of yours specifically? And why does he seem to have a fixation on you?” Alfie asked, in an almost protective manner.
“Because I’m a woman, because I’m autistic, because I’m entertaining, because he finds me interesting, because he sees me as a rival, because I’m American…” I listed. “I have no fucking clue. But I want- no…I need to find the answers. They may hold the key to helping Jane.”
Alfie stood up, a look in determination in his eyes as he held out a hand to help me up. “Then we can’t wait any longer!” he declared. “I’ll go back to the station while you secure the scene.”
I accepted his hand before pulling him into a hug. “Thank you, Alfie.” I said before pulling away. “For everything.”
He smiled and pat my arm. “You got it, Rook.”
I took another moment to compose myself before going back in to look for clues and evidence. There were several people in there trying to clean up and help, but I found what I needed; the rope from the victim’s neck, a couple of plastic bags, and a velvet pouch containing two gems. “I bet these are the missing ones from the crown in Mr. West’s safe.” I whispered to myself. “I need to get these to Mouse right away.” I said, dropping them all in evidence bags and heading out the door.
“Uncle Alex!” A hysterical woman sobbed as a police officer held her behind the tape. “What…what happened?!”
I approached her. “I’m afraid you can’t come any closer, Miss. This is a crime scene. I’m afraid the owner of the home has been murdered.” I said as sympathetically as possible. The words come out so smoothly, yet my gut twists every time I have to say that to a loved one.
She raised her hands to her mouth. “Oh no! I told him a thousand times he shouldn’t….” she paused. “Who are you?”
I waved the officer on so it was me and her. “I’m Constable Sprague of Scotland Yard. Can I speak to you briefly about your Uncle?”
She nodded and I came out from the tape line and took her off to the side. I pulled out my notepad and a pen. “Are you Alexander Holder’s niece?” I asked. “I don’t mean to be rude, but you see, I fear somebody else may be in danger. His killer is…a very dangerous man.”
She nodded and wiped her eyes. “I understand.” She said dabbing them with a handkerchief. “Yes, my name is Mary Holder, I’ve recently moved here from Buckinghamshire. My uncle has let me stay here while I find a place of my own.”
“When you saw him, you mentioned you warned him repeatedly against something or someone. What was that?” I asked, writing down what she said.
She looked away. “Oh, that….” she looked back at me. “I-well I think he was helping a ‘friend’…” she used air quotes. “Look into the New Cheapside Hoard find….you know, the 17th century jewels….”
I nodded. “Yeah I know of them. The famous jewelry hoard with more than over 400 pieces of jewelry all invaluable.” I responded. “I read that there was a new find, but I haven’t seen the article as what it was yet.”
She nodded. “Yes, a new set of jewels was discovered recently….but then some of the pieces went missing….”
I think I knew where this was going. “Let me ask you something, Miss Holder. Would the missing jewels look like this?” I asked pulling out the evidence bag with the two gems we found in the velvet bag.
Her hand went to her mouth again. “Oh my goodness! The missing stones!” she looked at me. “Somebody killed my uncle for these, but didn’t take them?”
I shook my head. “I’m sorry, Miss Holder, but I don’t think whoever killed your uncle had these in mind.” I told her, putting the jewels back.
She sniffed and wiped her face with the handkerchief again. “Then why? Why?”
I shook my head. “I don’t know yet, but I will. Thank you for your time, Miss Holder. Please stay close. We’ll contact you if something comes up.”
She nodded and I let her go before heading back to the station myself.
Chapter 15: Off the Case Desperation.
I walked into the station, only for the Chief to come up to me. “Ah, Constable! Just the woman I wanted to see.” He greeted warmly. “They tell me you saved a man’s life, and found the identity of the copycat! Well done!” he praised.
“I wouldn’t count on that last part, sir, but thank you for the praise.” I responded. “I regret to say there’s been another murder.”
His brow furrowed, like a kid who was told there was no Santa Clause, trying to wrap his mind around it. “But I was just on my way to a press conference to announce the good news!”
I looked down. “Sorry, sir.”
“At this moment, you are off the case! I shall leave your new assignment on your desk.” He said solemnly.
My head shot up. “But-!”
“No buts Constable.” The Chief responded. “My decision is final.”
I sighed and went back to my desk. “This can’t be happening. I need to find Jane. Why is this happening?” I sat in my chair and thought. “I may hate it, but I am personally connected with this case now. It’s not right, but maybe if I play my cards right I could probably trick the Chief into thinking I’m working on the case he gave me.”
I looked at the file the Chief left for me and started flipping through it. Maybe there was something I could do to at least start this case. “A breaching of the peace complaint?! Seriously?!” I screamed in my head.
Mouse came up to my desk. “Hey, Rook, are you ok? What was the Chief saying to make you look so melancholy. CI Barely looks livid.”
Mouse! Mouse can help! “Mouse, I need your help! The Copycat has kidnapped my friend Jane Goodheart, and I need to find them both: alive.”
Mouse nodded. “Of course I’ll help, but didn’t the Chief just take you off the case?”
I handed Mouse the evidence from the latest crime scene. “Mouse, please! Any evidence, any clues you get could help me find Jane and save her life.” I urged. “I’m the one the Copycat wants after all.”
Mouse nodded. “It was a dumb move on the Chief’s part.” He acknowledged. “Ok, I’ll help you! But you can’t tell anyone it was me!”
I leaped from my chair and pulled him into a tight hug. “My lips are sealed!” I breathed. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I will bake you cookies!”
Mouse hugged me back. “You’re welcome.” He said before pulling away. “Just keep out any nuts. I’m not crazy about nuts in my cookies.”
I nodded. “Easy! Thank you so much!”
Mouse grinned. “It’s my job after all.” He responded heading to his lab with what I gave him.
It took only an hour and by then the case the Chief has given me was done and filed. That only took me thirty minutes before I did an incident report on the body found.
Mouse placed the papers with the results in front of me. “I found partial prints on the plastic bags, one set belongs to the victim, and the other….to someone without a record. Nothing on the database.” He informed. “We still need the report of the phone company for the mobile. No one touched the phone except the holder, you, and Alfie, but you two hand gloves on.”
I sighed. “What about the number that sent the message from?” I asked curiously.
Mouse put his hands in the pockets of his lab coat. “Disposable. No longer active.” He responded. “Did you find anything else on him?”
I shook my head. “No. Forensic arrived right after, they have anything else. Let me know if something comes up?” I asked politely.
Mouse nodded. “You got it.” He responded before leaving to do some digging.
I sighed and looked at the data I had. There wasn’t much, but maybe I could find something. I went through my notes and saw what I had about the Cheapside Hoard find. “The crown…I need to pay, Mr. West a visit.” I said grabbing my coat.
I arrived back at the tailor shop and saw a very disheveled looking Mr. West. “Mr. West, what happened? You look…. exhausted. Is something the matter?” I asked, checking on him. His hair was out of place, his tie pulled down, his collar rumbled….
“What?” he asked looking up at me. “No, I…. I can’t really talk right now. I feel ill…”
“You’re worried about Mr. Holder.” It wasn’t a question and he knew it.
“Er…why would you suggest that?” he asked.
I looked around the shop, picking up what details I could. “You’re sweating, your tie is a bit messy, unlike someone like you, and the card in your pocket says Holder on it.” I pointed out. Those were just the little things. “Did you send Mr. Holder a message about an hour ago?”
Mr. West shook his head violently. “No! I…I can’t reach him. He was supposed to retrieve a purchase today.”
I nodded. “I see. Well, I regret to inform you that Mr. Holder was murdered some time this afternoon.” I informed. Mouse had given me time of death in the folder he gave me.
Mr. West started shaking. “….What?...”
“This was one of the last places he visited. I need to have a look around if that’s alright with you.” I stated, pulling out the rubber gloves.
“But…” he paused before looking down. “Very well. I’ll be in my office.” He said shuffling out.
“Maybe I can find some more of the jewelry Mary Holder mentioned.” I thought looking around the area. “They’d be worth Millions of pounds, and even if not related to the Copycat, would be a good motive for murder. Mr. Holder could be related to the Copycat, but for all I know the jewels aren’t.”
The crown was actually out of the safe and behind the counter. It must’ve been what Mr. Holder was supposed to pick up. I thought of the two gems. I should see if they fit to make sure. I pulled the stones from my pocket, having grabbed them when I left. The first fit, then I placed the second.
Crowns don’t make that sound. I looked and found a secret compartment hidden on it. “What the actual hell?” I whispered. “I’ve heard of decoder rings, but this is ridiculous.”
I carefully opened the compartment and found another pouch. It looked like a watch made of turquoise. Was it from Cheapside? I opened it up and found something engraved on the lid. “Even things of incalculable worth can be destroyed in seconds.” I saw a burst of yellow and orange and dropped the box to the floor.
“What was that noise?” Mr. West asked coming out of his office.
“Mr. West, who are you holding valuable for? And why do they spontaneously combust?” I asked, glad the fire was a brief flash and now I just had a burnt watch.
“I’m not….” He tried to deny.
“Lying doesn’t look good in a criminal case, Mr. West…” I warned.
Mr. West sighed and nodded. “Alright. I’ll tell you everything. I just need a drink first.” he said going over to wear there was a tray with nice decanters. Complimentary alcohol I’m guessing. A place as high end as this can certainly afford to do so. He poured himself a glass and quickly shot it down before pouring another one. “It all started a while ago. Mr. Holder, one of our oldest customers, came to retrieve two capes he ordered…”
“Two? Why two?” I questioned.
He shook his head. “I didn’t inquire. He asked, seeing the trust we had built over the years, if I could hold something of his in my safe….it was a breathtaking coronet.” He sighed, looking to the closet with said safe.
“Which had two missing beryls….” I added.
He gaped. “How could you possibly….”
“You gave me permission to look around. I found it.” I said pulling the crown out from behind the counter. “Go on….”
He cleared his throat. “Unorthodox as the request was, I did his bidding. I thought nothing of it for weeks….but two days ago, a messenger came from Mr. Holder.” He took a sip of his drink. “He came to check up on Mr. Holder’s coronet and requested I kept it for a few more days…”
I perked at that. “What did the man look like?” I asked pulling out my notepad.
“Ordinary, in decent clothes. Average height, slim, brownish hair, dark eyes…”
It wasn’t much, and it wouldn’t exactly narrow it down, but it did help. “Mr. West you’ve been a great help! Thank you!” I said.
He thought for a moment. “Now…what was that pop sound I heard earlier..?”
“It was something to do with the crown. I hope you don’t mind if I take this back to the station to have it looked at, do you?” I asked putting the watch back in the crown and lifting it up.
He shook his head, and just waved at the door.
“Take care of yourself, Mr. West.” I said leaving and putting the crown in the car, hidden from sight.
I pulled out my phone and called Alfie. “Alfie, I think I may be onto something!”
“I’ve heard that before, Rook. And anyway, I’m sorry but I don’t think we should be talking about this case anymore…” he trailed off.
“Don’t blame me for a premature call I didn’t make. I said he was a lead, not the killer. Besides, even if it’s not related to the case itself, it is related to the murder.” I argued.
“Sarah, I know you’re desperate. I know he’s got your friend….we’ll do our best to catch him in time.” I heard Alfie say.
I frowned. “The Copycat is average height, slim, brown hair, dark eyes, and probably elegantly dressed too if Mr. West from West & Ward thought him to be ‘decent looking’…” I rattled off without hesitation.
“Rook, that could be anyone…Mouse, me, the chief… well, no strike the Chief, especially after his dumbass decision to take you off. You know, just get back here and let us do our thing.” He tried to coax.
“Fine.” I said in a cold tone. “I’ll come back and get my stuff. If you won’t help me, I know someone who will.” It’s not often I hear that amount of ice or venom in my voice. But I thought
Alfie would at least talk to the Chief about putting me back on, or say something that wasn’t that. “Mouse’s hair is black by the way.” I ended hanging up.
Chapter 16: An Electrifying Turn
I didn’t even look at Alfie after I discretely handed Mouse my findings. He tried to talk to me, but I just gave him the cold shoulder. “Rookie, what do you want me to say?” Alfie pleaded.
I grabbed my coat and turned sharply at him. “I don’t know! Talk to the Chief and get me back on! If the Copycat finds out I was taken off, he’ll kill Jane out of anger if nothing else.” I hissed. “I’m going to work on this case as a civilian if nothing else, because I am NOT going to let Jane die because of some…..insane call that I didn’t even make!” I closed the draw and headed for the door. “If you’re going to help me, then help me. If you’re going to stop me, then stop me. But do not stay half way! The neutral road is a very lonely one.”
I left with that, throwing my coat the rest of the way on as I stalked for the door, every ounce of paper work I had in the done folder, having done it when I was waiting for Mouse. I wouldn’t hate Alfie for picking either side. In fact either one, depending could save my life in the long run. But I have walked the neutral road, not knowing when to intervene or not; and in some ways, I’m still walking it. It hurts, and it’s confusing and all it does is put unnecessary stress on you and possibly cost you relationships with the people you love. I’m not having it anymore.
I told Mouse where I was going. Just Mouse. If Alfie wanted to find me he could either ask him, or call me. I was kind of hoping he would. Regardless of which end it was, it would mean he made a decision.
I walked up to the Nurse at the front desk at New Bedlam: Nurse Silver as always. “I’m here to see Arthur. I’m in a rush….”
Nurse Silver sighed and nodded. “Word of Warning: he’s not on a good day today…”
“That makes two of us…” I said with a stressed sigh. “Please let me through.”
“Okay, okay. But only because I’ve grown fond of you.” She reasoned letting me in.
“Thank you.” I breathed in relief.
“And that boy…” she said catching me. “He’ll come around.”
I blushed. I don’t know what she thought she knew, but I think she was talking about Alfie. I don’t know, maybe she had the mothers’ sixth sense or something.
“Ah! Officer!” Arthur greeted, though it was clear the day was not going well. He seemed to perk when he saw me though. “What have you for me today?” he asked setting up the chessboard.
“Nothing good I’m afraid. In fact I have some very, very bad news.” I said sitting down by him.
“Tell me.” He said waving for me to go first.
So I told him. I told him about what happened with the tailor, about Jane, about Alfie, about getting kicked off the case, everything. Partially because I was desperate, and admittedly a good part of it was because I needed to rant.
“Average height, slim, dark-eyed…as vague as it is, it described Moriarty perfectly.” Arthur informed, a frown on his face.
I fiddled with my queen. There hadn’t been a start to the game yet. I was too emotional and stressed to focus on chess. “I should text Alfie and see if there isn’t anything we can get off security cameras….but I don’t think he’d help me. One: cause I’m off the case, and two: I kind of snapped at him before I came here. I do feel bad about it.”
“So you should.” Arthur said, crossing his legs and leaning back in the chair, pipe between his teeth.
I looked up at him, confused and a little shocked. “I should?”
He nodded and removed his pipe. “It means you’re human, my dear. Which is more than Moriarty can say. Keep your guilt, it is a precious thing, even if it doesn’t seem like it.” He encouraged, giving me the kind of smile a father would give to his child. “Now, back to the case; we need to save your friend Jane. Now, if the Copycat was able to get a watch like the one you described, and as valuable as it is, I would assume he would have access to other such things.” He smiled. “Like…”
“A gem dealer, a collector, a museum…” I paused and looked at him. “The Cheapside Hoard Collection has been on display at the London Museum for months! I’ve been meaning to go check it out!”
“If I ever get out, perhaps we can go see it at civilians and not detectives.” He responded. “But for now, go. You’ll need help getting into such an important exhibit.”
I ran a hand through my hair, which at the moment was down. “They’ve taken me off the case, Arthur. I’m on my own here.”
He smiled. “Not completely, Ms. Sprague. You’ve got me!” he said proudly. “I can help you!”
“Yeah…” I said curiously.
“Help me get out of here.”
That took me aback. “Wait…what?”
“Help me out. Together, we’ll find this maniac and save your friend Jane. It’s a promise…”
I looked away. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Arthur.”
He shrugged. “I haven’t let you down yet, have I? And if we’re caught, I will take full responsibility and come right back here, no complaints –except maybe about the food- and no fuss.” He swore.
I looked at him. I looked for any deceit in his eyes and in his face. I had people manipulate me and pull on my heartstrings before. But his face wasn’t that of someone doing that. It was one of determination and seriousness, concern and stability. It was probably what I needed most right now. “Alright.” I agreed. “What do we do?”
“Well, now you have to take me out of here.” He said gesturing to his room.
“Easier said than done, especially with visiting hours being over now.” I reminded.
Arthur nodded. “Yes, but I’ve heard them speak of you. They think highly of you and they know you’re a cop.” He reminded. “You just have to prevent them from seeing me get out.”
I nodded and went into the hallway to get a good look. There was a large blue laundry bin and a janitor out in the hall mopping the floors. I grabbed a couple of pillows from the bin, carefully watching to make sure he didn’t see me before I went back into the room. “This is so illegal.” I muttered before turning to Arthur. “There’s someone cleaning the corridor.”
He smiled encouragingly. Like a father teaming up with his child to steal a few fresh baked cookies right before dinner. “A minor obstacle. It shouldn’t be a problem for you right?”
I sighed. “I was never really a trouble-maker.” I admitted before putting the pillows on the bed. “We need to make a decoy. I got these to do one of the oldest tricks in the book.”
I laid them out and pulled the blanket over them so they looked like a person sleeping in the bed. I just hope they fall for it. I looked over and saw a glass pitcher full of water. “Give me a moment.” I said quickly knocking to the ground. “Hide behind the door while I get the Janitor. You can figure out what to do from there, I’m guessing.”
Arthur smiled at him and put his hands in his pockets. “Well done, Ms. Sprague.”
“Hello.” The Janitor greeted as I left the room. “Leaving already? Shall I open the door for you?” he asked curiously.
“I was about to leave.” I said playing innocent. Please let this work. Just pretend I’m talking to my dad, he could never tell when I’m lying. He’s falsely accused me of it enough I don’t think he’d know when I was. “But I’ve made a bit of a mess. I’m rather clumsy and dropped a jar of water onto the floor….”
“Say no more. I know what you need.” He said coming into the room. “Not one of the dangerous ones, right?”
I shook my head. “No, he’s harmless. He’s been sedated with something quite strong. Bit of a waste of time coming all the way here.” I remarked watching Arthur carefully slip past him and out the door.
“Bad luck is what that is.”
“Thank you, sir.” I said stepping out of the room.
“Now do I put on my invisibility cloak or what?” Arthur asked after the janitor closed the door.
“Oh, you’ve read Harry Potter, have you, Smartass?” I responded. “No. We need to get to the recreation room with you being seen. So…” I went to the laundry bin and held it tight, as if to keep it still. “Hop in.”
“There? It’s disgusting…” he complained.
“Changing a baby’s blow out diaper is disgusting. And if you’re who you say you are, you’ve done worse, I’ve read your books. Now stop complaining and get in.” I retorted nodding at the bin.
He sighed. “Ok…” he hopped in and quickly covered himself. “Just like the movies. I haven’t had this much fun in…well I don’t know.”
“Sh!” I responded helping to cover him up before grabbing the box of chocolates on the janitor’s cart. Time to play cupid. Arthur isn’t the only one who people watches while we talk and play chess.
I got the keys from the janitor, hearing him mumble about the nurse he liked before I did so. Then went and opened the door, into the recreation room, where said nurse was waiting. I pushed the laundry cart into the recreation area as casually as possible.
“What? Do you work here now?” she asked, looking me up and down. “A little suspicious, don’t you think? What are you carrying in there?” she asked.
“I was just trying to clear the hallway. Obstructions like that are fire hazards. I was also asked to give you these.” I said handing her the chocolates.
“Chocolates? What does this mean?” she asked. “Who asked you to give me these?”
“The Janitor. I guess they’re some kind of invitation, he wasn’t very clear. Poor man was so in love he was a nervous wreck. You might want to find out yourself.” I said pointing her in the direction of the janitor.
“Oh…how…intriguing.” She said, blushing as she looked at the chocolates. “I’d better go…investigate.”
I nodded as she left the room. I looked down the hallway and listened in on the conversation.
She stood before the janitor who stopped his mopping to look at her, a straight face but love-struck gaze. “You?” she asked.
“Me?” he questioned nervously.
“You and me?” she asked pointing at the both of them.
He smiled and nodded, still clearly nervous. “You and me.” He confirmed.
I almost wanted to gag at how quickly they were on each other, kissing so hard they it seemed like they were trying to suck the other’s face off, and pawing at clothes. Good Night, you’re in a MENTAL WARD!
“That worked out nicely.” Arthur complimented quietly, peeking out from laundry bin.
I pushed on his head to put him back in. “Sh! They’ll catch you!”
“What now?” he asked curiously.
“Just stay quiet and let me handle it!” I whispered.
I saw him nod before going and looking around in the laundry room. How the hell is this place open? I found an unopened syringe laying around and some sedatives in the first aid box.
I grabbed them nonetheless and went back to the recreational area. I glanced down the hall and saw the Janitor’s clothes down the hall, but the janitor nowhere in sight.
“This is what you get for getting it on in a mental facility.” I mumbled gathering them up and going back to the laundry room. I filled the syringe with the sedative and held it carefully and in a way that it would remain hidden from view, after I dropped the clothes off with Arthur.
I entered the recreational area again, only to see a doctor and a patient in a wheelchair, gasping as I nearly ran into him. “What are you still doing here?” he asked. It sounded more like curiosity than anything.
“Well…” I started trying to think of a good excuse.
“Gesundheit.” The doctor said, clearly thinking it hand been me. Not the brightest crayon in the box…
“Thanks.” Arthur said, clearly saying it out of habit and not thinking.
There was a good solid second of silence and I started panicking, my heart racing and my hands sweating. “Shitshitshitshitshit! SHHHHHIIIIITTTTTT!” I swore as he looked at the laundry bin.
“What? Who’s in there?!” the doctor demanded diving in.
“FUUUUUUUUUU-!” I thought grabbing the needle I had with the sedatives and quickly plunging the needle into his back, injecting the medicine into his body.
“Ouch!” I heard him say, still inside and digging. “What a wreck…” and with that he fell in and passed out.
“I don’t know what you’ve done, but it worked.” Arthur commented, hopping out and stretching. “It was getting tight in there.”
“We’re almost there. There’s just the nurse at the front door now. Go put on the clothes I gave you and hurry.” I ordered.
Arthur went quickly into the laundry room and changed before coming out, his hat gone and looking very different without it. A little silly too.
“I think I hate you, but it might work.” He admitted, shoving his hands in the pocket.
“I’ll get you some better clothes on the outside.” I assured. “I’ll distract the Nurse and you head for the door.”
Arthur nodded. “Alright, let’s go. For Jane.”
“For Jane.” I nodded.
“For Jane.” I snapped my head and saw the guy in the wheel chair smiling. He’s crazy no one will believe him….I hope.
I walked out to the desk. “I think I’m finished here.” I said walking up to her.
“Long day, right?” Nurse Silver asked.
“The Longest.” I sighed rolling my head and rubbing my neck as if it was stiff. “And with guy troubles on top of it…”
“Oh? So I was right.” She responded hoping to get in a little gossip.
“He’s flirted with me a bit, but I don’t know if he’s interested in me like that or not. It seemed to be more in a playful friendly sense.” I reasoned watching Arthur walk up. “I feel kind of
stupid about it, like I’m in high school again, but I never really dated in high school.”
“Hey Joe, wait a minute!” Nurse Silver called as he walked by, both of us clearly cursing in our heads. I can’t read minds, but for a moment I think ours synced up and we could read each other’s. Just for that second. “I’ve got a tip for you to win over that girl you like….”
“Do something quickly!” I didn’t hear him think it, but again, I think our minds were so in sync that it allowed us to temporarily read the others.
I leaned my arms on the desk, rather sloppily and knocking over the coffee sitting there while asking. “You got any dating advice for me?”
She shrieked and jumped up. “My uniform! Look what you’ve done!”
I gasped and started grabbing Kleenex. “I am so, SO sorry!” I apologized as Arthur slipped away. “I’ve always been clumsy, I should’ve been paying more attention! Are you alright? Did it burn?”
“No. No it didn’t.” she sighed. “You’re alright. Look, my advice? Flirt with a few other guys in front of him. See if he notices or reacts. If he does, he’s into you. If he’s not, his loss.”
I smiled. “Thanks. I have to go now, but I really appreciate it.” I said, throwing the used napkins away. “Again, really sorry about the uniform.”
“It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.” She said waving. “Go on, get back to work.” She said waving me off.
I smiled and hurried out the door, beaming.
I got outside and saw Arthur standing there with his arms spread, feeling the wind as it blew our hair back. “Ahhhh….. the sweet scent of freedom.” He turned to me. “Now, let’s go to town and try to find your friend.”
I nodded. “If you’re good, I’ll buy you lunch along the way.” I said as a red van pulled up in front of us. “Uh-oh.”
The window rolled down and I saw the bad end of a stun gun pointed at us. “Run, Sarah!” Arthur called turning towards me, running and putting himself in the way. “RUN!”
I heard the gun go off and he fell down in front of me, seizing as the electricity filled his system and before I could react, I heard it go off a second time.
Fire seemed to fill every nerve I had as they all tensed at once. The hair on my neck stood and I wanted to cry out in pain, but with my throat tensed and mouth clenched shut, nothing came out but a pained groan after it stopped and I fell to the ground. As soon as I hit the pavement, I had a brief look at Arthur unconscious next to me, my hair obscuring my vision, or what vision I had, it was so blurry, before it all went dark.
………….I did tell everyone the copycat would be pissed off…………
Chapter 17: High Stress and Heartbreak
I woke up with my head pounding. The air smelled like ply wood and it was dark save for a sliver of light. I was on my back, lying straight. I remembered the asylum, and the van… “I have to get out of here.” I breathed calmly. “Arthur could be in some sort of death trap, I could be in a death trap, and I need to save Jane.”
I saw something sparkle in the darkness and felt around. It was a flashlight. I turned it on and did my best to keep my breathing in check despite my rapid heart rate. “I can’t be buried alive if there’s light there.” I told myself carefully, though the notes carved into the wood seemed to try and convince me otherwise; a stick figure in a coffin with scratches around it “Rest in peace Constable” really, dude? No comma? “Buried alive” was another one next to a picture of Jane with her head locked in a guillotine. And finally “End your misery” with an arrow pointing at a dagger.
I grabbed the dagger and let out a bitter chuckle. “It’ll take more than that, fucktard.” I insulted under my breath, wiggling the blade into the sliver of light. The sliver got bigger and one appeared on the other side. A little looser and I was able to push the lid off, quickly sitting up and climbing out with a shiver.
“Next time I’m in one of those things I hope I’m dead….” I breathed in relief before pausing. “Never mind, I want to be cremated.” I then felt my belt and pockets to see what I had. “No phone or gun. That should’ve been expected. But it seems I have everything else, so I should be able to work with that and what I can find.”
I then looked around and saw the church I was in. Light filtered in from stain glass windows and stone men lined the floor as they covered those laid to rest. I couldn’t help but notice however, one was set up with a pipe in his mouth. “Arthur!” I cried running over to it. “Don’t worry, I’ll get you out!” I promised looking around in the church for something I could use.
I looked in my own coffin and saw a vase. It must’ve been under my head. Explains why it hurt like it did and why my neck is as stiff. I needed to break it open. I went over and slammed my foot on it, thankful for the thick ankle boots I was wearing. Inside was a medallion of some kind.
I ran to the podium to see if it would fit there. It was the most obvious place. Sure enough there was a box with a hole that looked like it would fit. Below it was a carved script that read “I’ll judge you with my sword, and you’ll pay in blood. –Demian 11-19.” It wasn’t one I was familiar with, so I put it in the back of my head and opened the box. A sword lay inside.
I ran over with the sword and a thing of oil and went to the grave where Arthur was. I put some oil on the sword and wiggled it in just a little before oiling the other side to make it more slippery. I pushed on the sword to make it either lift or move the sword. It took all my strength and bent the sword, but I got it open.
Sure enough, Arthur was inside. “Thank God you’re alive.” I praised as he gasped for breath.
“Barely.” He breathed, as I helped him out. “I was almost out of air.”
He sat on the stone man next to the one trapping him and caught his breath. “Do you know where Jane is? Did you see her?”
Arthur shook his head. “No. I fear I was out before you were.” He apologized.
“We gotta find her. Look at this.” I said handing him the picture.
He looked it over before throwing it to the ground. “No time to waste then.”
“Ahh, the resurrection of the master through his student.” A voice taunted making Arthur shoot to his feet and me whirl around and grab the shield from the column. Hey, it was better than nothing. “Wonderful.”
“Where’s Jane?!” I demanded, putting myself in front of Arthur, the shield at the ready.
“Are you a master already, Constable?” he asked, grinning. “Or simply a small student still? Though you have a lot of promise.”
“I repeat myself.” I growled through my teeth, trying to keep myself from saying something stupid. “Where. Is. Jane?”
“Let the woman go, Moriarty!” Arthur added.
The man nodded and put his hand to his pale chin. “Yes, I think you have potential, but you still need practice….”
In a flash of smoke he was gone, leaving me and Arthur with ringing ears in the church. “We need to go after him.” I say trying to shake my head to get the ringing out. It has great acoustics in here, but that’s not always good.
“Don’t worry, he’s an illusionist. There has to be a physical way out of here.” Arthur assured.
I laughed, still holding the shield. I’m bringing it, it might come in handy. “Like that convenient sewer drain?” I asked going over to the lid. “It’s a puzzle and it’s missing a piece.” I said before turning to him. “Check your coffin, it might be in there.”
I heard his steps as he brought over another medallion. I put the medallion in and it turned open and seemed to unlock, at which point Arthur lifted it up, revealing a tight spiral staircase. “Well done, Constable.” Arthur praised.
I looked at him as I slid my legs into the hole and onto the stairs. “Don’t slip.” As soon as the stairs widened out I started going down as fast as I could, jumping the last few, where the masked man waited.
“Ah, at last.” He praised. Why was he altering his voice like that?
“There he is!” Arthur cried. “We have to stop him right away!”
He charged past me before I could grab him. “Arthur, wait!”
As Arthur was about to strike, the man pulled out a knife from under his cloak, grabbed Arthur’s arm and thrust it into his side. “This is for you.” He grunted upon doing so, throwing Arthur to the ground.
“Arthur!” I cried. I was afraid to move because, just to my left was Jane, stuck in an all too real looking guillotine, duct tape over her mouth.
“That’s right, stay still, Constable.” He mocked. “You wouldn’t want your little friend to lose her head. I hope my latest invention entertains you.” He said backing up towards the door.
“You can stop Jane’s beheading, or rush it. Her life is in your hands, decide wisely…”
Another POP! And a puff of smoke and he was gone. I ran over to Arthur but he held his hand up, blood on it. “Help Jane first!” he ordered.
As much as it pained me, I obeyed and went over to Jane. “Are you ok?”
She nodded, her voice obviously muffled by the silver strip.
“I’ll get you out, just give me a moment.” I said going over to the box. A candle was burning through a rope and above it were two buckets. One labeled water, the other labeled gas.
There were levers color coded with the buckets. “It’s got to be a trick….”
I went back over to Jane and picked up the bike lock keeping the door closed. That passage… “One…One…One…Nine.” I scrolled in only for it to open and fall. The door opened and I ran in. “You always were one for getting in trouble.” I joked, taking off the tape.
“Probably because of my trouble magnet friends?” she asked coyly.
“I guess shitmagnets run in the family.” I responded as I looked at the locks, which were the same colors as the bucket and levers. Over to the side was a mace. “I got an idea….”
“Hurry up please!” Jane begged as I grabbed the mace. “I like my head where it is!”
I held in a Harry Potter joke as I went over to the box and used the mace to break the glass, safely putting out the candle. “Ok, I think I bought us some time at least.” I said grabbing the buckets, the chemical smell of lighter fluid more than clear in both, before dumping the stuff out to get the keys inside.
I went back over to her and used the colored keys on their respective locks, freeing her. “Be glad I take after my mom in common sense.” I say, lifting it up enough for her to slide her head out. I let it drop once she was clear and the blade fell.
“A little too close.” Jane responded, leaning back on her hands, sitting down and catching her breath from the fear and near-death experience. “Thanks.”
I nodded and ran back over to Arthur. “Do me a favor and don’t be dead.” I pleaded rolling him over.
“I’m alive.” He groaned. “Barely….”
“I’ll look after him.” Jane said reaching into her bag that they for some reason let her keep and pulling out a scarf. “You go after Crazy McLunatic.”
I nodded and went over to the door. “Colors…I’m starting to wonder about him with all the colors.” I joked quickly solving it. I paused before going in. “If I don’t make it back, look after the boys. Ethan gets my Deadpool Comics, and Declan gets my Riddler costume and Guardians of Childhood books.”
Jane nodded. “Then you better make it back.”
I nodded before going into the darkness of the cavern. I could hear running water as an opening from the roof let some light in, showing me a waterfall and the man in the cape and mask.
“You’ve got nowhere to run!” I called. “So stop and turn yourself in! I solved your puzzles!”
“Turn myself in?” he laughed. “Cute Constable, real cute. But you don’t get to give orders; you play our game. This is the last level, and I’m the boss. Get it?”
I saw him pull out a sword and now I was thankful I brought the shield as I held it in front of me. “I hope you know how to defend yourself, Sarah, or everything will have been in vain.”
He smirked. “En guarde!”
With those chilling words he lunged at me. I held up the shield and managed to block him before I heard a strange metallic noise. I looked behind it and saw him stunned, sword now broken. I threw my fist out as hard as I could and knocked the mask right off his face. The hood fell back as he turned his face away as quick as he could, holding it.
“Ohh Rook…” he said with a slight chuckle.
“No. No No No No No….” I pleaded desperately to myself, my heart entering my throat.
“I had to see if you were good enough…”
He finally turned and a pain rippled through my chest. It had to be a nightmare! It can’t be true! “Alfie?!” I gasp.
“Surprise!” he called back in a playful tone, wiping the blood from his lip. “Good punch, I must say. Daddy taught you a few tricks, did he?”
“I trusted you….you were my partner, MY FRIEND!” My voice was getting louder. “HOW COULD YOU?! HOW COULD YOU BETRAY US ALL LIKE THAT?!”
“Rook, it was just a game….” He excused.
My hands clenched into fists and I clenched my jaw. “Games don’t put people’s lives at risk….” I growled through my teeth. “You killed people, Alfie! You killed two people and almost added a third to that list! How is that a game?! Have you gone mad?!”
“Casualties of war, Sarah. But now, oh-ho,” how could he laugh at something like this? At a time like this? “Now I see you were good. Very good. A formidable opponent, in fact. They’ll be pleased….”
“They?” I question, barely audible, under my breath. “What are you talking about? Are you delusional?”
“Me? Delusional? No….I’ll be compensated for this….” He said smirking. “You’ll see…”
It was like for a moment I could read his thoughts. “Don’t you dare, Alfie! I know what you’re thinking!”
He let out a chuckle as he stepped back. “I’m sure you do.” He almost seemed sad. “So sweet, so good-hearted, so…Naïve. It truly was a pleasure sparring with you, and spending time
with you.” He paused, looking down. “Give your family my regards. And I’ll see you in hell!”
He spread his arms out and I ran towards him. “No!” I shouted, grabbing his gloved hand as he tipped back. I dug my heels into the ground as gravity did the work, I nearly fell off with him, and lay hanging off on my stomach. “NOOOOOOO!”
My screams were swallowed by the darkness with him, one hand reaching out for nothing, hoping he would appear to grab it in false hope, the other clutching his white glove.
I felt tears streaming down my face. I seemed to be frozen, denial and shock keeping me there as a draft blew my hair into my face, causing it to stick on tear soaked cheeks. I could’ve been like that for….hours… and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.
“Rook!” Mouse’s voice sounded, as footsteps came towards my body. “Oh God…” he pulled me away from the cliff side and sat me on the ground. I could only stare as I clutched the glove tighter. “I thought he had killed you!”
“He’s gone, Mouse….He jumped off the cliff…” I shuttered before snapping out a bit. “What about Jane?! What about Arthur?!”
Mouse pushed my hair from my face, as he checked to make sure I was ok. “Your friend is fine and the Medics got to Arthur just in time….though I don’t think he’s ever going to leave that hospital after this….”
I looked away from Mouse’s face and instead looked past him at the cliff and ravine. “Mouse….Alfie….he…” I hiccupped. “He was the copycat! And now….Now he’s gone! That stupid coward jumped!”
I could see Mouse swallow as his throat tightened at the news. I think, while he knew what I was saying was true, that like me he didn’t want to believe it. He helped me to my feet and started leading me out of the cavern, arm around my shoulders. “Come Rookie, let’s go outside. The Copycat…” he paused. “The Copycat is gone, and you’re a hero! We’ll let our boys handle this and…and maybe we can figure this out a little better.” He reasoned as cops ran in. “We’ll get you something nice and hot to drink and calm you down a bit…”
I nodded. “…Ok…ok…”
Mouse held me close to him as we walked, never letting go of me.
I saw flashing colored lights and heard shouts, orders, footsteps pounding in and out of the church as Mouse helped me into an ambulance where Jane was waiting before climbing in with me.
“Sarah?” Jane asked as I was sat down across from her.
“I think she’s gone into shock.” Mouse said as the EMT came over to check me out. He looked down at my hand, the one that had the glove in a white knuckled grip. He lifted my hand, careful not to touch it himself, asking for a pair of gloves from the EMT looking me over. He put one of the gloves on and held it under my hand. “Sarah?” he called. “Sarah, that’s evidence…”
It was kind of a blur. I was so out of it I don’t remember much past that. I remember arriving at the hospital without the glove in my hand, I remember being sat on a bed as they checked me over: lights getting shown in my eyes, things getting strapped to my arm only to be taken off later, things getting shoved in my mouth to either make it open or just be held there, my throat being felt, and a female nurse being brought in to ask more personal questions. I remember answering them all in as few words as possible and in a quiet voice.
Jane was by my side as soon as she was allowed in. “Sarah?” I heard her ask. “Sarah?”
That finally made me look at her. “Do you have your phone? I’ll pay you back, but…” That’s when it hit and I started breaking down, tears streaming down my face again as I came out of my stupor. “I really need to call my mom.”
Jane didn’t hesitate to pull out her phone and dialed the number for me before handing it to me as it started ringing. “This is Linda.” I heard the comforting voice on the other end answer.
“Mom?” I questioned, broken voice and blurry vision, having trouble swallowing as my throat tightened.
Chapter 18: Family Assisted Recovery
I talked to her for a while, and she promised to get on the soonest flight she could out to see me. No way she’d come without Daniel, not after this, he wouldn’t let her leave without him. My statement was taken, and as soon as Mouse would let him, which was surprising he held him off that long, the Chief came in. He was angry at first, but Jane came to my defense quickly. He then calmed down and asked if he could hug me, which I accepted. I needed all the hugs I could get.
Arthur would be fine. He would live and get the care he needed before going back to New Bedlam. I think Mouse and the Chief had a new respect for him after Jane told them how he helped try to save her and my account of our abduction.
Mouse was the one to take me home. We pulled up in front of my house and he turned to me. “Hey, if you need anything… call me ok?” he asked, only to receive a nod. “I’ll pick up your family from the airport for you. I’ll bring them here too.” Another nod was his only response. “And if you need to cry, you cry. You call me. You can cry on me, hell I might cry with you. But don’t hold back what you need to.”
I looked at him. “I will.”
Mouse leaned over and hugged me tight. “He was my friend too.” He said. “I know how much it hurts.”
“I fell for him.” I admitted holding onto him, trying not to cry again and stain his already stained lab coat. “I fell for him fast and hard. And it hurts.” I sobbed pressing my face into his shoulder.
“I should come in with you then.” Mouse said letting go and getting out of the car.
After getting inside and getting something drink, we sat in silence. For a little while anyway. Then Dex-Star came in and we started nerding out over comics. With the melancholy circumstances, and the pain we were both feeling, it felt nice to have something to talk about that could bring a smile to our faces.
It wasn’t long before we were on my couch, both our feet on it as we sat facing each other. We started sharing good moments with Alfie. It seemed like only days, but it actually took about 6 weeks to get to this point. Alfie had come over with Mouse after work more than once and it usually ended when I broke out Card Against Humanity and they found out just how dirty my mind was. The look on Alfie’s face was hilarious.
It did end up in tears again though. Both Mouse and I ended up crying on each other’s shoulders when we started asking why. We considered maybe he had been blackmailed into it, maybe he was trying to keep us safe, but the more we dissected it, the more we saw it was of his own free will. It made it hurt more.
I got a call later from Arthur. Mouse had found my phone and had given it back to me, and I guess Jane gave him my number. I guess he wanted to make sure I was ok. His speech was a bit slurred, but I think it was the morphine and I could hear Jane snickering in the back ground as he focused on making coherent sentences. I had him on speaker and Mouse and I were both smiling, thankful he was doing as well as he was.
“Mom!” I shouted as I saw the middle-aged red-head woman and the 6’4 dirty blond man next to her. “Broski!”
My brother ran ahead of my mom and just about tackled me in a hug. He held me close, as if he was afraid he was going to lose me and put my head in his shoulder. Despite jet lag, he was pretty strong, and the only reason he pulled away was so my mom could get in. After I started hugging her though, he put his arms around us both. “I missed you.” Mom said as she kissed my cheek and held on, as if for dear life.
“I missed you too.” I said before leaning up to kiss my brother’s cheek. “I missed you too, Broski.”
“Hey beautiful.” He said kissing the top of my head.
We finally pulled away, but my mom and I still had our arms on each other. “Do you have any bags you need to get?”
Mom nodded. “Yeah, two.”
I nodded. “Let’s go get them then.” I said before turning. “But first, let me introduce to you guys one of my friends: Mom, Daniel, this is Mouse.” I said with a smile.
“Mouse?” My mom asked raising an eyebrow.
I shrugged. “It’s what he likes to be called.”
Mouse walked up and shook my mom and brother’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you both. I gotta say, things have gotten more lively since your daughter joined up.” He tried to joke.
“So I’ve heard.” My mom said in a serious tone, sending me a look. “We will be talking about that later.”
I swallowed before pulling them towards the baggage carousels. “Is there anything specific you guys want to see while you’re here?” I asked. “I mean, might as well do a little touring while you’re here.”
“Yes, you could take us to the place you where you were fucking abducted!” My mom whispered harshly.
“Why not introduce you to the man who helped save me and Jane?” I suggested as my brother and Mouse grabbed the bags, already bonding.
“You mentioned Jane was in town.” Mom recalled. “How is she doing with all this?”
“Well she is actually kind of used to it. The world is a weird place and she and I apparently either have a knack for getting in trouble or having horrible taste in men.” I said as we headed to Mouse’s car.
“Another thing that we will be talking about.” My mom mentioned as Mouse popped the trunk.
I cleared my throat. “Well, since it’s still early, do you guys want anything to eat when you get home?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
Mouse closed the trunk and my brother came up to me. “We just want to make sure you’re ok.” He said, putting his massive hands on my shoulders. My brother easily stood above most of the men in London. Police training or no, someone would have a hard time fighting my brother and a good portion of it is his size. He may be skinny, but there is a lot of muscle there.
I nodded as he hugs me again. “Yeah, I know.”
We got to my apartment and I saw Dex take off up the stairs to my room. “That was Dex-Star.” I said calmly. “I have a spare bedroom and a pullout couch.” I said holding two of the bags while my brother got the others.
“Hey, forgive me but I gotta get back to the station. The Boss has something for me.” Mouse apologized, only sticking his head in the door.
I nodded. “Alright, tell him I say thanks for the time off.”
Mouse winked and clicked his tongue before closing the door as he left.
“He seems nice.” My mom said with a smile. “I’m glad you’ve got good friends like him to look after you.”
I nodded and looked at the corkboard I had full of printed selfies. Some up there had Alfie in them. I considered taking them down, but I wasn’t sure yet. “Yeah, a few of them are better than I could’ve hoped.” My eyes moved to one I took of me and Alfie, both of us making faces with Mouse photobombing in the background. “Others not so much.”
My mom sat down on the couch. “Well, all things considered, your place is really nice. I’m honestly surprised at how clean it is.” She responded as Dex started peeking in from upstairs.
“Hello handsome boy.” My mom greeted trying to coax Dex-Star over.
“Hello there, Dexter.” My brother said holding out his hand and getting the cat to come to him.
“Dex-Star.” I corrected.
“That’s what I said.” My brother said confused.
I shook my head. “No, you said Dexter. His name is Dex-Star. There’s a dash there. Dex-dash-Star.” I corrected. “I named him after the Red Lantern cat.”
Daniel got close enough to pick up and hold the cat. “You are such a nerd. I’m just gonna call him Dex.”
I smiled and sat next to my mom. “Yeah, he’s a pretty sweet cat. Nothing like his name-sake.” I responded.
Daniel looked around my flat and saw my wall with pictures and went over to it. “You’ve got a lot of pictures on here.” He commented looking them over as Dex jumped out of his arms.
His eyes stopped at one before pointing. “Is this him?”
My brow furrowed as I got up. “Is that who?” I asked going over and looking at who he was pointing to.
His finger was directed at Alfie’s image. “The cock-sucking fucktard who should be thankful he offed himself before I got a hold of him.” He responded.
“Usually I’d get after him for his language,” my mom started. “But from what I’ve heard it seems too accurate to be corrected.”
I sighed and removed the picture from the board so I could bring it over for my mom to see. “Yeah. This is him: Alfie.” I agreed giving her the picture to look at.
My brother’s jaw clenched as his hands tightened into fists. “Alphonso Bean better be counting his blessings that hell got to him first.” my brother snarled.
“I can see why you fell for him.” My mom responded, as she got up to look at the others. “But then again, men like him are easy to like until you see their true colors. Look at your father.”
I sighed. “Well, working together and practically being together 24/7 gives you a chance to get close to a person.” I responded. “And it doesn’t help that I’m a sucker for pretty eyes, intelligence, and a smooth accent.”
My brother came over and wrapped his arms around me. “And he took advantage of your kindness, trust, loyalty, and heart. And if he weren’t already dead I would kill him.” My brother hissed. He pulled away and looked me deep in the eye. I could see the dark rings around his blue eyes from the lack of sleep. “You’re going to find someone better, someone handsomer, someone more intelligent, someone loyal, kind, and compassionate. You are going to find someone who will treat you right. Until that day comes, every guy is going through deep screening before they can get too close.”
I smiled and hugged him tight. “Thank you, broski. Thank you for coming.”
I could hear his smile as he hugged me again. “Well, if I can’t kick his ass then you better believe that I’ll come to be here for you.”
I knocked on the door and looked into the room. I had in my hand a bouquet of peonies. “Hey, Sherlock.” I greeted, looking at the man in the hospital bed.
“Constable!” Sherlock greeted, beaming upon seeing me. “I’m glad to see you’re doing better.”
I smiled. “I should be saying that to you, but to be honest, you look terrible.” I teased.
Sherlock laughed, the IV showing itself off on the back of his hand as he pushed away the tray of hospital food before him. “I haven’t been eating much. The food isn’t exactly edible.” He responded, wrinkling his nose at the tray. “I like the Jell-o though.”
I smiled. “I’ll talk to the doctor about maybe bringing you something from the outside world. So think about what you want.” I told him, helping him move the tray. “I brought you these. Thought they’d add a splash of color.”
“Peonies. They mean healing, you know.” Sherlock responded as I set the vase on the table by his window.
“That’s why I chose them.” I informed, grinning. “But, bringing you flowers isn’t the only reason for my visit.”
“Oh? Another case so soon, Constable?” Sherlock asked.
I shook my head, walking over next to him. “I think we’ve been through enough where you can just call me Sarah. Besides, immortality potion or not, you’re older than me. May as well have the mutual respect of calling me by my first name.”
“Very well, Sarah.” He said trying out the name. “What is the reason for your visit if not for a case?”
I put my hands in my pockets. “I have some people who want to meet you. I just need your ok to let them in.”
Sherlock’s brow furrowed. “What kind of people? How many?”
I gave him a reassuring smile, sitting on the side of his bed. “Just two. They’re close to me and want to say something to you.”
Sherlock looked me up and down, as if deducing me. “Alright. You can bring them in.”
I stood up and went to the door. “He said you could come in.” I announced, letting my mom and brother into the room. “Sherlock, allow me to introduce my mother Linda, and my not-so-little little brother Daniel.” I said putting my hands on their shoulders.
My mom approached him. There was a look in her eye as she walked up to him. It was a look I wasn’t familiar with and I hadn’t really seen, and got a little concerned when she turned back and looked at me before looking back at him. “My daughter has told me all about you, Mr. Holmes. Even that Moriarty, battle of wits, immortal story.” My mom stated.
Sherlock looked at me, almost surprised. “I can’t keep secrets from my mom.” I admitted. “I figure if this is going to be an issue, then it’s best if they know so they can prepare.”
My brother put a hand on my head. “Because she’s smart like that.” he said approaching the bed. “She also told us about what happened at that hospital and at the church.”
Sherlock looked at my brother. “She is very intelligent. She has great potential as a detective.” He remarked, smiling proudly. “A fine replacement.”
“Regardless.” My mother cut-off. “You protected her, and looked after her. And I want to thank you for protecting my daughter.”
“It can’t be easy looking after someone who has no sense of self-preservation.” My brother said, slinging his arm around my neck and pulling me to him.
“I have a sense of self-preservation! It just gets over-ridden by protective instincts.” I excuse looking at Sherlock. “Just like someone else I know.”
“You protected my sister from this Copycat killer. And helped her save Jane.” My brother reminded.
“That makes you family to us. She trusts you, and you have proven to us that we can too.” My mother said with a smile. “And Lord knows she needs to be shown a positive male influence.”
“What about Daniel?” I asked hearing her say that.
“Daniel doesn’t count. One: he’s your brother and grew up alone in a house with four women, and two: he’s younger than you.” Her mother brushed off.
I rolled my eyes as Sherlock held his side as he laughed and sat up. “Thank you, Mrs. Sprague. You have raised your daughter well. What’s the modern saying? She doesn’t take no shit from nobody?”
I grinned. “Jane showed you Wilfred Warfstache, didn’t she?” I asked.
“The funny biracial man with the pink mustache and odd speech pattern, who has an excellent speaking voice and plays games for a living?” Sherlock asked.
I just nodded.
“Yes she did. She also told me to look up something call Five Nights at Freddy’s.” he informed.
I sighed and rubbed my eyes. “I’ll show it to you when you get out of the hospital. What did New Bedlam have to say about all this?”
Sherlock shrugged. “I don’t know yet. I’ve been too drugged up for them to attempt to tell me anything. Apparently when you get stabbed viciously in the side with a large dagger by a man in a mask, they give you a substantial amount of morphine to keep the pain at bay.”
I chuckled at that. “Well, if they permit me back in after last time, I can promise I will visit you. I’ll even bring you food from the outside world to enjoy.”
The door opened and a staff member came in, I instantly recognized him as one of the doctors from New Bedlam, particularly the one I drugged to get Sherlock out. “Not planning another escape are you?” He asked upon seeing me.
“Nonsense, Doctor! My protégé knows when to let her mentor rest! This is merely a pleasure visit.” Sherlock defended, grabbing the flowers I brought him. “See? She brought flowers and everything.”
“We’ll wait outside. I’m sure this is a more private conversation.” My mom said getting behind my brother and pushing him towards the door.
“I’ll be right behind you.” I call as the doctor stepped in front of me.
“Actually, I would like to talk to you for a moment, if I could.” He requested in a professional, formal tone.
I waved my family ahead and looked at the doctor. “Yes?”
“Constable, I have heard from many people about what happened, and I wanted to let you know of my relief that you and Mr. Bell are ok.” He responded gently. “But there is the issue of the fact that you did try to break him out of a mental institution.”
I nodded, biting my lip in anticipation. “Well I succeeded, but yes, I have been expecting this talk.”
The doctor nodded. He wore blue scrubs, like the last time I saw him, and had nearly shaven blond hair and glasses. He had a strong jaw that etched out his face well, and to be honest, wasn’t that bad looking. “In light of recent events, New Bedlam has permitted you to keep your access to the facility. We do not in any way condone your actions, but it has been a blessing in disguise if you will.”
I raised an eyebrow. Not expecting that reaction. I was expecting a polite but firm request to stay away. You know the kind that you know are actually commands and a threat to call someone if you show up again? “This is unexpected. May I ask how?” I asked.
He pushed up his glasses. “I can’t go deep into details, but I will say it has forced us to do some reevaluation of Mr. Bell. It is clear that he is no danger to others or himself. Except perhaps when a beautiful young woman is in danger.” He mentioned with a chuckle, glancing at Arthur.
“It’s called Chivalry. I recommend you look it up and follow a few of those rules yourself, Doctor.” Sherlock declared. “All the ladies love it.”
The doctor cracked a smile and looked back at me. I shrugged in response. “He’s not wrong.”
“But you are a special case if I’m not mistaken.” The doctor responded.
I put my hands on my hips. “I’m still a woman. And let me tell you, manners and respect are very sexy. It’s the little things that we remember.” I responded coyly.
“Like an optimal place to stick a syringe?” The doctor mentioned.
I sighed. I knew that was coming. Frankly I’m surprised he remembered that was me. I wasn’t exactly subtle, but I was kind of hoping the drugs maybe messed with his memory a little bit. “Sorry about that. Desperate times.” I tried to excuse.
The doctor waved off my comment. “Understood, but you do owe me one now.”
“Now doctor, she just mentioned she was desperate, are you really going to make her pay up a supposed debt for that?” Sherlock mentioned, reminding us he was there.
“I’m not going to be filing a law suit or anything if that’s what you’re worried about, Mr. Bell.” The doctor assured. “A cup of coffee and a pleasant conversation would be payback enough.”
My eyebrows raised as I looked at Sherlock for help. “I was just an excuse to get the Constable here, wasn’t I?” Sherlock accused. “And in front of a patient? How unprofessional!”
I held up my hand. “Down boy, I’m a big girl. If I can go toe to toe with a serial killer, a date request is nothing.” Despite the confidence in those words as they left my mouth, my head was screaming. A date?! No one really asked me on a date! Two boyfriends I had started out as friends before we went to that level and so there was no asking out, more just asking for a relationship. Other than that I have only been asked out once when I worked as a cashier at a freaking Dollar Tree.
The doctor looked back at me, hands in the pockets of his scrubs. “So?”
My mind was racing. I was wondering what his thought process was, as I was still recovering from a traumatic situation. Granted he likely doesn’t know a lot of the details, but you’d think getting tased in front of a mental hospital would give a few clues. Then of course there was Alfie. I was still getting over him. While we never acted on or admitted anything, there was, at least I felt, chemistry between us. I had felt something for him. And finding out it was all a lie….well, let’s just say it’s another scar I can add to my collection.
As crazy as it was though, he was pretty cute, and maybe going out with him might actually settle some things. Call it rebound or whatever, but it might work in my favor. He just said coffee and conversation, and if I’m paying I don’t have to worry about him trying to guilt trip me into anything about that, and if he pulls the needle in the ass card to try and guilt trip me, I can just end the date right there. I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
“Constable?” Sherlock asked, making look over.
“I suppose a cup of coffee couldn’t hurt. It might help take my mind off recent events.” I agreed.
The doctor grinned and handed me a piece of paper. “Here’s my number. Give me a call.” He said before walking out of the room.
There was a brief moment of silence before Sherlock spoke up. “He didn’t even try to hide it. He was only here for you.” He grumbled.
I looked at him and shrugged. “At least I can still come see you.” I reasoned.
Sherlock nodded. “Very true, but I do have a request.” He informed, sitting up a bit more, wincing as it lightly pressed on his wound. “Will you walk me through your thought process as to why you accepted? I’m curious, I was not expecting you to say yes.”
I came over and helped him get comfortable before sitting on the bed next to him. “You’re acting like you’re my dad.” I said gently.
Sherlock held his wound as he looked down at me. “At this point, I may as well be. But surely you have standards, why say yes to a man who came to a patient just to ask you out in front of said patient?”
I shrugged. “I have some feelings that are kind of tangled up right now. I figured maybe a date with a cute doctor, however….blatant he may be, may be what I need to sort some things out.” I answered calmly.
Sherlock’s gaze turned into the stare of deduction. He was reading me carefully, as if I were the clue that would make or break the case. “My dear, I am aware of the whole ‘rebound’ coping mechanism. Frankly, I do believe there are better ways to do it than wasting your time with him.”
Blunt. So terribly blunt. But honest at its core. I swear this man could read me better than some of the people I’m closest with. I have a hard mind to understand, so the fact that this man could translate it in the couple weeks I’ve known him, compared to the people that needed years to do so? I had to admit, I was impressed, and a little flattered. Someone who could read me, and understand my thoughts at least somewhat clearly. I hadn’t had that really before. It was refreshing.
“I am more than aware that this is rebound for me.” I responded. “But how did you guess?”
Sherlock smiled. “The times you talked about Alfie with me, you had a fondness in your voice. Your cheeks would flush ever so slightly, and you seemed to brighten. It was not hard to deduce there was at least attraction to him.” He reasoned, giving his evidence straight forward.
I felt my face get hot. Shit, I really had been gone for Alfie. “I guess it’s a good thing his true colors were revealed then, before I got into anything.”
Sherlock put his hand over mine. “The heart is not easily controlled, my dear.” He said giving my hand a comforting pat. “The brain, however, is once you know how. Now tell me what you were thinking accepting a coffee date?”
I laughed. He really did sound like he was my dad. Kind of wish he was, my dad’s a bit of an asshole, and not in the likeable way. “I told you, rebound. I gotta sort some things out with this whole, my partner was the Copycat nonsense. You already deduced I had a thing for him, can’t you accept that I’m trying to figure out if I will bite me in the ass later and emotionally scar me?”
Sherlock pat my hand again. “It has already scarred you, my dear. He was someone you considered a friend, and he was supposed to help mentor you through your journey into the realm of crime solving and justice. It was a task he failed at and it nearly cost you dearly. All you can do now is wait to see just how deep the scars run.” He really wasn’t beating around the bush, was he? I’d love to see what this guy can do in the modern age, because this is some heavy shit. Patting my hand again, he leaned back against the pillows. “But, no matter how deep they are, and how you choose to deal with them, you know you can come to me, for any kind of advice.” He seemed to perk up. “I do miss Watson, terribly, but I believe he had a good long life with Mary. I could do with another friend; one perhaps in the present rather than the past.”
I grinned as I pulled the blankets up to cover him a bit more. “Fair warning, I have some crazy friends, and you’ll get dragged into the craziness too. I mean late night talks, heated debates about fictional characters, scolding each other for our horrible taste in men….” I paused. “Oddly enough that last one ended up translating to the real world. Don’t tell Angelique. I’ll never hear the end of it otherwise.”
Sherlock laughed. “Yes, you have found a Watson of your own it seems.” He responded, tugging the blankets up to his level of comfort. “Thank you for your visit, Sarah. But I ask if we may do this another time. The medication is starting to kick in again and it’s making me rather sleepy.”
I stood. “Of course. Rest up, old man. Maybe I’ll have another case by the time you get out of the hospital.”
Sherlock smiled. “Crime never rests, my dear. Once I have my strength back, perhaps I can help you in your next big endeavor.”
I nodded and turned off the light in the room to help him rest easier. “See you soon, Sherlock.” I said closing the door to the room, rejoining my mother and brother.
Indeed I would be seeing much more of Sherlock. I would uncover secrets long buried or forgotten, and solve cases that would make me a household name and mark me down in history. Not quite the way I expected, but life never goes as planned. My adventures with Sherlock Holmes are proof of that.
This is the last chapter. I plan on doing another story following the next case in the game, but until I can get to that point in a new game. There will be a break. Thank you so much for reading.