Chapter Forty-Eight of "Things that go bump in the Night," the new Sherlock Holmes Baker Street Adventure is now posted. www.johnpirillo.com
"Things that go bump in the Night"
by John Pirillo
Mary stopped talking a moment and looked at her friends in the office. They said nothing. She fidgeted with her royal signet ring once more, then wrung her hands gently as if cleaning them of something she wished to forget.
"I know, in retrospect it doesn't seem like such a momentous occassion, but to Challenger and I at the time it was the apex of our careers. Of course he hadn't yet unleashed that dreadful Tyranosaurus in London as yet, but that's another tale and another matter to deal with in the future. Hopefully, the far, far future."
She looked to them for confirmation, but neither spoke.
She looked at her hands again. How much they had changed in a decade. They used to be brown. Even though she was a natural red-head and burned easily, her treks with Challenger had managed to toast her complexion thoroughly, giving her a nice even tan, even if fraught with tons of freckles...or kisses from the angels as they were called by the more euphemistic sorts.
Time waited on none, the beautiful or the ugly. She mused.
She only hoped that when her final days came she could meet that adventure with open arms as she had the more vigorous and dangerous times with her beloved Challenger.
Finally, she gathered the courage to continue.
"When Challenger almost touched the sword, I felt as if I were a cat at the time who had just given up his sixth life, as I had already lost the other five when those dreaded blades narrowly missed cutting Challenger up like a butcher in a meat house slicing off favorite sections of meat for their customers."
She looked at them. "I must be forgiven for this slight dawdling, for what I must reveal next has sat in the depths of my memories far too long and now that I must unwedge it from its secure niche of my mind, I must do so delicately for fear of harming the better memories associated with it."
She continued with her reminiscence as the others listened patiently and eagerly.
"Challenger was always hot-headed and brash. More of a redhead in nature than I, and I, as you know have been accused of such more often than not during my days at the crown."
Then she continued.
"The sword is magnficent." Challenger said after calming down from her warning. He looked to Mary and I think I know how to get you inside with me.
He reached for a rose petal of granite that was one of twelve about the sword. "Each rose petal is symbolic of the twelve great knights of the round table, and also of the twelve apostles of the Christ."
Mary leaned against the blades gingerly, for fear of cutting herself deeply otherwise. "Also, the twelve zodiacs, the twelve Archangels, and the twelve quadrants of time and space."
Challenger gave her an odd look. She grinned. "Tesla told me the last one. He and Einstein have been working on a theory about that one."
"I must know more about that...after we have retrieved the sword and the ring."
"Challenger, you must realize that the sword is there for a purpose and that only the pure of heart may pluck it rightfully from the stone. Merlin has laid down that law and none dare disobey it."
Challenger chuckled. "Perhaps so, but it's worth a try...after we've secured the ring!"
He looked towards her again, then at the petals. He counted mentally in his head. "Everything in our world goes naturally clockwise, so I shall go counter to that."
"You think the petals are booby-trapped?"
He smiled. "Since when hasn't everything we've found been booby-trapped, right up until the very last moment."
"Point taken." She said in agreement. "But start with the middle one and not the first."
"Why so?" He demanded, puzzled by her request.
She pointed overhead and he noticed that there were holes over every petal, but the one Mary had told him to press. "Oh. Right."
He pressed the petal.
The room made a rumbling sound, as if something very, very large were moving.
"I don't like the sound of that." Challenger grumbled, his hand hovering over the next petal.
"Don't let it worry, you my love, the worst that could happen is that the whole roof could collapse on us."
"Thanks." He growled. "I really needed to hear that."
He looked back the way they had come again. "Each petal corresponds to a trap we have passed. The first petal was the first step, and the consequent ones the succeeding traps which we have overcome. He pressed the second petal. "That should bring us to the next one."
The rumbling grew louder, but nothing happened.
He pressed the next petal. "That should bring us to quarter of the way inside."
He hovered over the next petal. "There's a strange marking on this one."
"What is it?"
"It's an inverted arrow." He said, puzzling over the symbol. He moved to press the petal he had already touched. "I believe it means us to reverse the order of petals."
He started to go back when Mary shouted at him. "STOP!"
His hand froze over the petal.
"Which way is the arrow pointed?" Mary demanded. "Left to right or up and down?"
Challenger looked again, then his face blanched. "Up and down!" He glanced at her, wiping sweat from his forehead. "It's not reverse at all but invert."
He hurriedly went to the petal directly on the opposite side and hesitent for a moment, he pressed it.
He shivered when the sound of rumbling grew even more loud. They both felt the hard rock beneath their feet vibrating from whatever was moving. The roof overhead began dropping pieces of rock and dirt, causing them both to gasp for air as their lungs were clogged with debris.
Challenger whipped a hanky out and put it over his nose and mouth, then pressed the next petal, then the next until he had depressed nine of the twelve.
The rumbling continued to get louder and louder, then it stopped and the blades blocking Mary's way slid back into their slots.
"Jolly well knew I could do it!" Challenger roared triumphantly as Mary stepped past the last trap and moved towards him.
Then the rumbling grew louder again. The floor began to shake violently and the walls to quiver.
Chapter Forty-Nine Watson sweated in the sudden silence. He felt something moving about him, then something sniffed at him a moment, a hairy snout brushing against his cheek. He felt sharp teeth glance against his jaw, then nothing. His hand clenched his service revolver more tightly. He might die, but not without a struggle.
Holmes stood in the dark, casting his thoughts inwards into that silent place only he knew. A kind of special place where he would retreat to meditate and solve his more difficult problems. He felt the tension in his body easing and his muscles relax.
Harry had a hand in his magical bag, clutching at a certain powder in case.
Larry's nostrils flared as the scent of the creature grew stronger and closer.
He could smell Langston's fear, but his courage was great despite that and he did not move or speak.
Conan was the least prepared for this ordeal and he sweated rivers of water into his shirt as he imagined what horrors were surrounding them. Being a writer he had a very large and active imagination. Perhaps too much so sometimes.
Challenger braced for the worst and when the smell of something foul blowing into his face indicated that the beast or whatever it was peering into his own face, he stiffened, but did nothing. He didn't tremble. He was not frightened. Only scared that he might not be strong enough to overcome the enemy before it struck down his companions.
Then a whistling sound grew in the distance and came closer and closer. Something large flew past him and into the creature near them.
The sound of a battle ensued.
Challenger reactivated the Tesla lamp and the adventurers stared in horror as Count Dracula wrestled with a creature from the darkest and most unholy of hells. It was huge beyond imagination and armed with scales and claws, teeth and stinger. Its eyes were fiery pits of blazing yellow and green. Its nostrils flared with anger and fear as Dracula clutched its throat with his hands, keeping it from biting him.
Then the creature threw Dracula off as effortlessly as a child might a rag doll.
It stood up and looked at the men surrounding it. It held no mercy in its bloodshot eyes. Only death and destruction.
Someone was going to die this night!