The Eighth Guest

Chapter Six

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)
12/6/01
Fiona eventually left once they were seated in their own room. Lestrade was not surprised that the party brightened up after the woman had left; there was something strange about her that she couldn't quite put her finger on. They ordered and the starter came and went. Conversation buzzed round the room; sometimes the table was involved in one big topic and sometimes the conversation seemed to divide into groups. Holmes seemed to excel at small talk: sometimes talking of old cases back in Victorian England, sometimes moving through changes in the sciences, current events, but never stopping still for an instant.
In fact, the only person to remain quiet was Tess. A paleness had seemed to overtake her features; it was not long before she got up and excused herself from the table. Lestrade was uneasy when on the way past she grabbed her shoulder and pulled her out with her. They went straight to the ladies' bathroom before Tess would let go.
"Are we alone?"
Lestrade crouched to check under the cubicle doors. "Yep. What's up?"
A quick smile flashed across Tessa's face. "Is it that obvious?"
"Noticeable, for sure." They both shivered as the air conditioning kicked up a gear.
Tessa rubbed her hands together and shook her head as if trying to make a decision. She shrugged. "I keep thinking I heard Moriarty's voice."
The police instincts in Lestrade tightened at the mentioning of the name. "When, where?"
Tessa put her hands up to stop further questioning. "Only once, when we were walking along the restaurant. I thought it was just me at first but now I'm sure I heard it...and I'm frightened."
Lestrade put an arm round her friend as her shoulders started to shake with sobs. "Tell me everything. What did he say?"
The shaking faded. "He didn't say anything as such, he was just...humming along with the music."
"Are you sure it wasn't just another person in the restaurant?" She felt the shoulders under her arm stiffen.
"I know it sounds strange, Beth, but I heard him, I'm sure. I spent time with that monster after my accident; I'd recognise that voice anywhere. I think he's trying to scare me."
Lestrade frowned. "Why just you?"
"It came over the amplifier in my ear, I'm know it did. The thing's meant to increase the sound levels so I can hear danger, conversation, traffic, but it can be tampered with."
Lestrade sighed. Okay, calm down, she thought, follow a logical chain of thought to the logical conclusion. Either A) Tessa has gone completely insane and is hearing Moriarty everywhere, B) someone else is playing tricks on her or C) Moriarty really is here and intent on causing trouble. Taking C to be true, why now? Obvious reason, because this is an important occasion and he can cause the maximum amount of distress. Something popped into her head. "We should tell Holmes."
Tessa's face seemed to go from frightened child to the expressionless mask Lestrade had sometimes seen without experiencing any of the emotions in between. She shook her head. "No, we're not going to make a big thing out of this."
Lestrade stood dumbstruck for a second. "What...."
"Now listen, I could be wrong, it may just be my imagination and if it is there's no point spoiling the occasion for everyone. But if I'm right, and I think I am, just keep an eye on me; that's all I ask. There's no need to ask Mr Holmes to push Moriarty off another waterfall, no need to worry Peter, scare Caroline or upset Tennyson. If I go missing then tell them and quickly; if I don't, this conversation never happened, okay." Lestrade started to speak but Tessa put a hand up. "Promise me."
Lestrade sagged. "I promise, but don't go out of sight, not even for a second, agree?"
"You better believe it. I haven't got much more for him to damage. Let's go!"

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